Review: ZU Loudspeaker and Cables Definition Speaker

Category: Speakers

If you’re an audio addict and spend too much time on audiogon and other audio websites reading about “the latest and greatest” offerings, you probably have stumbled across rave reviews of Utah based ZU Loudspeakers and Cables and their excellent Definition and Druid loudspeakers. And upon completion of reading those same reviews have asked the question, “But where can I hear them?” I too asked this question until last week.

Before embarking on a family ski trip to Park City last week I realized that ZU Loudspeaker and Cable’s home base was a mere 76 miles away from Park City in Ogden, Utah. Knowing that after three days in a row of skiing everyone would welcome a day of rest I emailed Adam Decaria, one of the founders of ZU and asked if he welcomed visitors to audition his speakers. To my delight he responded “yes”. I arranged a Thursday; 8:30AM listen with the intent of returning to my family by 11:30 AM. What I didn’t plan for was the worst blizzard of the season. As I ventured out at 6AM last Thursday morning I was welcomed by snowed packed streets along with four wheel drive cars spinning 360 degrees and with one ending upside down. Being the sensible audio nut I am I decided a two wheel drive vehicle wouldn’t make it in this type of weather so I dejectedly returned home to cancel my appointment.

However, by 11AM the roads cleared and I attempted a second try to Ogden, however this time with wife and four kids ages 8; 6; 5; and 3 years old along for the ride. We made it in just over an hour and were warmly greeted by Adam Decaria and Sean Casey. When I mentioned I had the entire family not an eye batted; all were welcomed to listen and wander around the facility.

What I appreciated about the listening arrangement was the simplicity of the room and set up. There were no sound treatments doctoring the room; giving the room a more realistic impression of what one could expect in a typical home set-up where a dedicated room isn’t available. The front end was a carousel DVD player connected to a DAC into an Audiopax pre-amp and then 30 watt monoblock, Audiopax amps.

My time was limited to an hour so it is difficult to write a thorough review, but I can attest that my time listening is in agreement to the reviews I read at 6Moons and others. The reviews of the Definition are right on the money, so read them with confidence.

I brought with me three of my favorite test CDs: Autumn in Seattle, a very well recorded jazz trio CD; The Firebird Suite on Reference Recording; and Diana Krall’s Live in Paris. All sounded dynamic, seamless from top to bottom without the compartmentalization of most loudspeaker designs where you can hear the woofer, midrange, and tweeter separately. The Definition throws a huge, seamless, sound stage from top to bottom with outstanding inner detail, vocal warmth and musicality with the Audiopax tube set-up or the all solid state PS Audio on hand for comparison sake.

One of my pet peeves with speakers is how they sound at both low and high volume. Most speakers need a certain level of volume to shine. What I found is the Definition sounded great at low levels and outstanding at high volumes. I never heard any hint of harshness or strain at high volume levels. What is interesting about the Definition is its rather small box and foot print. I wondered how this speaker dealt with cabinet noise. What I learned is that the cones are not the usual long-throw type cones so there isn’t an issue with cabinet resonance that can create unwelcome distortion. The bass extension and top end sweetness that emits from this small box is truly amazing.

I could go on and on but I am not a seasoned reviewer, nor did I have an extended listening session. But what time I did have left me with the impression of a speaker that is easy to listen to with a seamless, detailed, yet musically engaging presentation that could satisfy me for a long time. If you have the opportunity to hear this speaker, it will amaze you. If you are in the Salt Lake City area, call Adam or Sean and venture to the factory and give them a listen and tour the facility. You won’t regret the time spent. This company needs to be heard and promoted; the products offered represent excellent value and quality. While I am still extremely pleased with my present set-up, the Definitions would be first on my speaker short list.

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I have decided to have Adam and Sean bring a pair of Definitions with them to Scottsdale, AZ as they are coming to the area to do an installation of another pair of Definitions. The chance to listen to this excellent speaker in my own environment is too good to pass up. And having the designers come to set-up the speakers to perform at their best makes it an easy decision. I will post impressions later.
Check out the "request to hear the Definitions" thread. Phil, 213Cobra, has made some west coasters an offer that they cannot refuse. Very cool...check out all the posts on that thread...