Zu OMEN - hmm

I might still be under the influence of the open baffle Spatial Hologram I heard at CAS14 earlier this month... wow! Top sound in my (and my friend's) book. Or the Magico S5 room (omg is that resolution level for real? you can hear the grass grow through those things).

I went to the Zu room as well - hoping to hear some well setup Zu speakers and learn about the right way to do it - but the sound was awful (sorry Sean) so I did not bother asking.

Yesterday I ran into a video advice on "setup tips with Seam Casey from Zu Audio". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCoKDfdxzDg

Bingo! Now I will learn how to make my Omens sing - from the man himself.

What did Sean Casey say in the video? To stop tweaking the bottom gap, tilt and toe-in, stop adjusting them, stop doing all this nonsense that gets old fast. Why? because they already sound good right out of the box, that's why. Spend my money on music instead.

Hmm - what if they actually DON'T sound good? Is there some advice for that case? What if, after the 3 years I had them, many SS and tube amps, days of gap adjustment, tilt adjustment, swap of few speaker cables including Zu Libtec, what if they still sound like an amplified live event through a pro speaker on a stadium? (Incidentally - all adjustments do make a difference, but mostly between dull and blare. I know, I'm probably too harsh, but that video got me really upset).

I hope that my recent listening to real speakers at CAS will soon wear off so that I can return to living with my Omens that "sound good right out of the box".

Or I might have to buy the Holograms. The tough part would be to convince my medium-size dogs to stay away from those beryllium transducers located so close to the ground. Maybe if I throw in the Omens to sweeten the deal? That should keep them busy for about 3 years?

Choices, choices.
Sorry to say, but I had a disappointing audition of Zu Soul Supremes last weekend. I was expecting much more.

Hi Cbozdog,
After 3 years of ownership and multiple amplifiers, you still aren't satisfied with your speakers.The Spatial Hologram may be the logical next step.
Good Luck,
Sounds like you don't like your speakers. Many people do.
I know I had to work a lot with mine, bottom spacing, tilt, all the usual things people seem to do with them. I thought I got them sounding pretty good. I've since moved on.

Why are you mad at Zu? Sounds like it's time to move on. 3 years is a long time for a lot of folks around here.
I attended Capital fest looking to find good floor standers . One of the rooms I stopped in was Zu and I left dumbfounded scratching my head thinking what the fuss is over this brand. That said if someone is getting enjoyment with them than good.
If I were you I would change the speakers to something more to your liking .
Thank you - it seems that changing speakers should make me happy.

Fine, problem solved, I'm not mad at Zu anymore :).
"Thank you - it seems that changing speakers should make me happy."

I'm not sure you had to come here to find that out. But I'm glad you have been enlightened, nonetheless.....

Changing speakers is the solution kindly offered by audiophile brethren. Thank you - I will.

Regarding the original post, so far nobody seems to find the dark humor in the "setup tips" from Zu.

Maybe is just me, but the "setup tips" seem to say to existing customers "you can't get any better. Please minimize disappointment. You got the Zu? Just live with it". But to someone who didn't already own the speakers, the video would say "they are what you wanted - regardless of your circumstances".

Interesting take on post-sales marketing. Post-sales, other companies might try to either a) actually help the customer, or b) get more money through upgrades, or c) simply pretend that the customer does not exist. Well - not Zu - the high-adrenaline marketing effort continues.
Chozdog I feel for you. I've never owned any Zu speakers but have had other brands that proved disappointing though others praised the performance. It's difficult to change speakers compared to other pieces, but it's time for you. Once you have gone through tubes and ss amps, that's good enough. Have you used amps recommended by Zu? That would be my only question.
Hi Foster_9,

Thank you. I did look for recommendations from others - most people use them with tubes (Decware). I used them with a Sophia Electric amp. I ended up using SS for what seemed best compromise to me. Zu brochure (and video :)) does indicate that they match equally well with anything... no specific brand needed according to all i read.

Just one more note - the video is funny as hell and worth watching even if you don't care about Zu. Just look at the host on the couch - visibly inconvenienced by the event. The sound coming through my laptop speakers is indeed awful - as one would expect over the internet in a home video, so that's ok... but Sean (as speaker designer) knows that, so when he says that the sound is great - who can contradict him? One clue can be the host: he seems unimpressed (vaguely nodding approval when prompted to show enthusiasm).

Ok, done.
I watched the video and it is hilarious on many levels.

From the first minutes, the lively room and echo is extremely obvious. That is a horrible room, so that should be addressed before going any further.

And Chuck certainly is Mr. Personality....

I saw no mention of outriggers. Having had speakers with a downfiring port, I don't know how you can optimize the downfiring gap on carpet without outriggers.

OTOH, the only thing that fixes is bass extension and the tonal balance that goes with it. If you have other problems consistently through all the changes you've made (cabling, component swapping, location, etc.) then these speakers are simply not for you.
Hi Johnnyb53,

You're right - outriggers would make tweaking a breeze. I might try them, but is not clear to me that the Zus in particular would work with outriggers. Two concerns:
- the "fingerports" would line up with the location of the feet so that a solid steel bar would practically cover (at least) two of them
- such solid steel bars have their own thickness (1/4"), using up most of the "recommended" spacing even before starting to tune the gap (they might only allow increase but not decrease in gap height).

Hey Shakeydeal,
What amp did you here them with? I have the Druid V's, which sound wonderful once dialed in. They are a bit finicky and can sound terrible with the wrong amps and placement.
At a Zu house party I once heard Def 4's sound terrible to wonderful just by changing amps. It really sounded like two totally different speakers. I was dumbfounded!
It's all about synergy, but I'm sure you know that!
It was a Line Magnetic 219IA. No slouch by any stretch of the imagination.....

Some of the Zu speakers have unusual impedances (I believe the Omen is 12 ohms), and I have always suspected that has something to do with amp matching, especially tube amps. I rewired my SET amp to the 16-ohm taps and thought the Omens sounded a lot better.
Hi Snopro,
I think that you summed up well the problem. You, Germanboxers, 213cobra, Gsm and other Zu owners are people who's opinions I've come to respect. I can't believe that you all would put up with a lousy sounding speaker for very long. The four times I've heard the Zu at shows I was disappointed. Excessively loud rock/pop music that sounded terrible, I couldn't stay in the room. I'd like to hear them under better circumstances with a good amplifier.
For the record, the owner was using the 16 ohm tap on the amplifier, and the Soul is a true 16 ohm load.

Just my two cents.

I´ve been using the Zu Druid MK IV and Zu Method for almost six years now and I don´t feel the urge to upgrade. I´m really and truly happy.

My amps:

Leben CS-300

First Watt F5 (clon)

Most important:

Yamamoto YDA-01 DAC and Esoteric UX-1

Though I advised you to move on, I do believe in synergy. Long ago before audiophilia was my lifestyle, I owned and sold a pair of speakers called Infinity to a friend. I was disappointed in them though I liked them at the dealer. I came by my friend's house one day and heard those speakers and felt like a real sap. He used different gear with the speakers of course, and it completely changed the sound. I really liked the way they were playing. I was not a happy camper that day. Although you have tried tubes and SS,you have probably missed the amp to make the synergistic sweet spot. That could make the difference in what you're missing.
Hi Foster_9

In retrospect, I did go through electronics and cabling refinement without touching the speakers gap/tilt for about 2 years - and while learning a lot of the basics of audiophilia I eventually found what I thought was a good synergy with the small Krell (clearly leaps and bounds over what I could get with the Zu/Sophia), and enjoyed it.

Few months ago I started gap/tilt adjustments, with surprisingly great effect on sound. It went back and forth from good to awful, with glimpses of greatness every now and then (greatness to be lost at the next turn of the feet while searching for even better). The CAS further opened my ears (sadly not on Zu - which sounded worse than what I could do at home).

One of the two: either it takes more experience and patience than I have to set them up well - or the Zu video advice saying that "forget the gap/amplification" is right. I'm ready to believe either, but not both.
My experience with the Def 4s (I have none with the Omens) is that they magnify differences among amplifiers - both good and bad. I have not adjusted the gap at the bottom although the rounded "spikes" rest on Yamamoto ebony footers. However, Sean installed my pair of Def 4s and tweaked the many knobs that controlled the crossover/bass amp.
Chozdog, if it takes so much in the way of fine tuned tweaking and fine adjustments to get them to sound pleasing, plus the precise amplifier, then it sounds like they're just too finicky.
I think higher efficiency speakers are more "finicky" pretty much by definition in that all aspects of both sound and noise are amplified more efficiently than otherwise.

SO I think it kind of goes with the turf to expect to do a lot of tweaks and maybe even fixes or changes to get sound just right with higher efficiency speakers. Its the proverbial double edged sword in a sense.
I hear what you're saying Mapman. But this fellow has held on for a good long run with his speakers and has gone through a roller-coaster of performance (SQ), amp changes, and tweaking, to no avail.
Yeah, as we all know, sometimes it just does not work out no matter what.

I think of high sensitivity speakers though as like listening under a magnifying glass....every little detail, good or bad becomes magnified and bigger/more significant. SO I think that puts getting things exactly right higher up on the difficulty scale for the end user, in general.

Compare that to a high efficiency amp. There, the designer/maker has handled the task of delivering high quality efficient performance for you. You may or may not like the results, but it is what it is, whereas speakers are always a function of how the owner sets tehm up overall.
Took me some time, and eventually the help of of a friend in the audio business to get my Druids working well - that was 5 years ago and I have no wish to change

MOST important, for me was getting the 'speakers W-I-D-E apart. Where I had them (too close together) they squarked.

I my room they are 11' apart and I sit ~11' from the midline

Having the 'speaker axis pointing directly at you tightens the focus, and more toe out opens the sound, which is where I have mine

The music fills the room almost completely like this and very submersive. It's a beautiful sound

Rest of system consists of Leben CS-300 and a 47 Lab CDP
I owned the Druid 4 for a year, give or take. Never figured out how to get the most out of them. I read and reread reviews, posts, swapped gear and cables in and out. May have been my listening area/gear/ears but they always seemed thin sounding.

Since then I've been happy with Usher cp6311 and Sonus Faber Concerto Grand Piano. I have Monitor Audio Silver in my home theater setup that I prefer over the Zu as well.

Very subjective hobby....
Dear all,

Thank you for chiming in with your experience on the Zu speakers fussiness. The OP was more of a tongue-in-cheek at the cheeky marketing totally disconnected from customer. Your comments took the discussion in a more constructive direction.

With your encouragement, I did more tweaking.

I finally (for now, in my room) found the gap for most satisfying musical rendition be about 9.5mm with about 0.0mm tilt. Now when I say "about" I don't mean "set it to some value around 9.5mm". I mean "set it within about 1/10mm of the perfect value (which I cannot measure accurately due to hardwood / speaker bottom imperfections, but seems to be around 9.5mm). Changing the gap from "perfect" even by 1/10 changes the tone (the vocal sss and th and ch turn dull - very easily identifiable as the soundstage tilts towards the other speaker).

Which brings me to the method (admittedly imperfect): first I tweaked the gap of both speakers (one at the time) and listened for clarity and soundstage tilt. At one point, one of the speakers sounded clear and provided the view into the detail of the performance. I left it alone, measured with an upside-down nut and bolt the gap under each foot (turned the bolt until the combination nut/bolt matched the height at that point) then transferred it exactly to the corresponding foot of the other speaker. And did some more minute adjustments to the level of 2/10mm.

Finally - I can understand why a solid plank of wood (or granite) under each speaker with 3/8" screws passing through and providing the gap adjustment might be better than speakers directly on hardwood: the bottom seen by the finger ports (the solid plank) can be made perfectly flat (whereas the room hardwood is what it is), the gap can be tuned much easier, and set for good (so the speakers can be moved without spending days on gap fine-tuning). I might consider this solution at a later time.

Is the Omen providing now the perfect experience? Hard to say (I'm still reminescing the CAS). It does provide a high level of detail with this gap setup, and the sound does not harden at any volume level. The soundstage is not perfect (possibly due to speakers being too close together, also possibly due to residual gap imperfection that might slightly tilt different frequencies towards either of the speakers) - in other words then do not disappear completely. So - is probably still not as good as it can get in a perfect world.

If I decide to fiddle with it more I'd probably go the bottom plank route instead of keeping them on hardwood.

Thank you again for all the help.

For what is worth, I had my Druids on squares of tile that rested on my carpeted floor. It made the adjustments much easier and consistent. I also used stacks of typing paper under the speakers between the spikes to experiment with gaps rather than adjusting the spikes each time.

Best luck with them, they have a strong following. I wanted mine to work and I am stubborn, so I worked my butt off on them, just couldn't get it right.
Chi dog, Zu's like to be spaced wide apart. If you have room space them about 10ft. from the tweeter center point and work from there.

I hear you.

WAF is non-negligible factor here. The best I can do at this point is keep room and spacing in mind as possible reason for part of the limitations regarding soundstage.

Thanks, C
Cbozdog -

Can you be more specific in what you liked about the Spatial Hologram and what was driving them, if you call?
If I remember right they were driven by a 300B.

On one hand it was the lack of box resonance (there was no wood or MDF vibrating to add audible contribution). On the other hand - the bottom extension was very good (probably owing to the 2 15' drivers covering a lot of area). It felt clean, extremely precise and satisfying. I tried to find a fault but could not.

Comparing with other rooms I liked, the Magico S5 felt unreal - as if you'd grown superhuman hearing, and the Pass Labs room (running a vintage set of Tannoy drivers in handmade MDF huge enclosures) felt pleasant, motherly, somewhat imprecise but very easy to befriend and immerse into.

But the Holograms - I could not find any issue (neither scary, endearing or any other flaw).

They were saying that there is NO room correction of any kind. If I remember right (again) - there was a mac mini on a stabilizer shelf on the floor, but they were running analog source from the back of the room. But I might be mistaken about the analog (too many rooms...).


That does appear to be a problematic room. And I understand that circumstances prevail, but it would seem that you would have issues with any speaker.

Is there any other room in the house that would work? A basement that could be finished, spare bedroom, anything?

Hi Shakey,

I've moved them around during these years while other speakers held main room status. They also spent some time in the second system room while the Tekton m-Lores / Sophia Baby was relegated to main room. The m-Lores were great in the living room (sweet, clear and coherent). Main reason for reinstating the Omens / Krell: dogs bumping into furniture while playing (the m-Lores appeared too light and fragile and prone to be knocked over).

It turns out that I'm not spending any time in the second room - though the m-Lores clearly sound more satisfying than the Omens (save for the potentially better Omen bottom extension).

In my view, while the room is likely "an" issue, it is not "the" issue that bothers right now. Right now, based on experimentation to date I'm more inclined to blame the strong dependence of tone (and overall sound quality) to sub-millimeter gap changes for the left-over artifacts.

But I wouldn't mind at all to find out that I'm wrong with my thinking - especially if the correction leads to a solution that is easy to implement.
To conclude the saga on my end - I have now ceased all tweaking on the Omens with the realization that I don't have what it takes (either room, patience, source, amp, cables or ears). Will get something else that works for what I do have.

Your saga sounds an awful lot like my Klipschorn saga. I tried darn near everything I could think of to no avail, hours and hours I spent. All the well-known tweaks and a bunch I made up myself.
@Cbozdog - sorry to hear your Zu tale of woe. Are you considering moving up the Tekton line at all? I've been looking into Pendragon's a bit, but have never had the chance to hear them and there is very little recent discussion about them. Since you liked the Lores, I'm curious why you would or wouldn't get another Tekton product?
I briefly owned the Pendragons. They were very good speakers, especially for the $$. I wouldn't call them giant killers, but they did some things very well, and were always easy to listen to.

@Philtangerine - I love the m-Lores (they are the 8" version of the Lores' 10" driver). Do I see myself going up the Tekton path? Well, regardless of the musicality and aesthetic pleasure, in the back of my mind I still have the idea that Tekton like Zu have found this great niche: plywood cabinetry, modern coloring, off-the-shelf pro drivers that almost feels like I would be able to do it all by myself (I wouldn't, but can't shake the feeling). If I wanted to go up, I would feel a bit uneasy going this way right now.

Which is not to say that this path is wrong. It just would not make me 100% happy even if the music reproduction turned out sublime - and I need at least the possibility of 100% in order to go to my next step.

Right now, personally I'm drawn to exploring laterally a bit more before committing to the final solution. The Holograms is what i would get (if it weren't for the dogs). Maybe they'll come out with an aesthetically-pleasing solution that makes them less vulnerable to dogplay. At this time I believe that they might go 100% (but as with anything, I might find it not true).

Just a short note on this old thread... I still have the Omens in a side system, now driven by the Wadia Powerdac 151 through Slinkylinks speaker cables - but that's not the reason for writing. The reason is dust mites.

If your room is in the real world (and not a class A cleanroom) then dust tends to accumulate on exposed surfaces (having pets does not help either). I found that periodical removal of said dust from under the speakers can yield a step improvement in clarity and definition. YMMV based on your cleaning practices :).

The bottom finger design does not seem well thought out after all - clearly sealed enclosures or side vents do not suffer from this issue. However, knowledge of the flaw and periodic maintenance might make the speaker more bearable for some.

As another side note - I do recommend the Slinkylinks if you can find them. Designed with very low capacitance and inductance (at the expense of some DC impedance). Without going into accolades for this product (which I think it actually deserves) - this implementation of pure silver does remove congestion from the delivered program.
I liked my Zu Druid MK4 and now i like them even more after upgraded them with pair or new nano drivers. I use WLM Minueta (triod) tube amp with Stereovox cables. The best cables i ever heard: Stereovox Colibri (interconnert) and Stereovox Firebird (speaker cables) with Xhadow plugs (banaba, spades, rca). Maybe i will upgrade tweeters soon.

P.S. As far as i know Druid is much better than Omen