Zu or Harbeth

Hello Gentlemen,

I soon may be in the market for some new speakers. I currently have a pair of Vandersteen 3a's ( my "waterproof" digital camera got soaked, so I haven't updated my system photos for a while) and I really enjoy the sound. That said, I am sure there are better speakers out there.

The Harbeth 40.1 has been on the top of my list since the beginning, but lately I have been looking at the Zu Definitions and/or Presence. At this point in time I am only interested in speakers from these 2 companies for various reasons, esthetics being one of them.

I have read all the reviews for each of the speakers and would love to hear from anyone who owns/has owned these speakers.

My room is about 16'x25' with an a-frame ceiling with a 20'peak.
Also I have a Mcintosh MC 2500 beast of an amplifier, which I love, and have no plans on upgrading, not sure how this would mate with the Zu's.

I also plan on buying used.

Thank you in advance.
Phil, does your Zu assessment pertain to the Essences as well? Maybe when the Zu boys make their new statement speaker then it'll really be something.
I think this a really hard recommendation to make beucase they sound so completely different that it should be easy for you to detemrine which approach you like. The differences are not hair splitting, and it really is a personal preference. I would undoubtedly choose the Harbeth over the Zu, which doesn't mean it is better. I suspect Mac and Harbeth would make a very good combination.
Based on what I heard at RMAF this year, I would say that the comments above are pretty much on-mark. Their presentation (good term) IS quite different. The Harbeths would most likely be more forgiving of upstream problems; the Zus definitely have more jump and as Ryder said, the PMCs that I heard at RMAF fall somewhere in the middle.
Thanks for all the replies. I will try to address all the posts. In regards to the forward/recessed presentation, I like the images to be in realistic positions as they were recorded, not hovering ghosts 4ft infront of my face, but not so far back that I want to move closer to the stage. It has been my experience that this can be somewhat addressed by placement.
Much of the music I listen to is intimately recorded acoustic and electric folk rock, beard rock stuff. I try to place myself at the small bar room, or studio as opposed to recreating the stadium sound.
I do not listen overly loud, but as a player of music myself, if it's not loud enough, the illusion is shot. I like /need realistic sound levels.
I really enjoy the bass the Vandersteen's produce. Their specs are 26-30 hz. The Harbeths are only 38hz. Zu's 16hz, I don't listen to boom boom music, but that bottom end really helps create a space, and I'd miss it if it were gone. That said, my old Spendor sp1/2e's sounded much lower then their specs when paired with good amplification, and the 40.1's have a 12" woofer???

I do agreee that the Harbeths would blend quite well esthetically as the Spendors did. I prefer the wood box look to most speakers out there, but the Zu presence in red with black trim, not the silver, would fit nicely as well. The Vandersteens are the ugliest speakers ever, but were a local steal, and sounded better then the Spendors in my room, but I won't miss looking at them when they're gone.
I am not a detail junkie, I am a trick my brain into thinking it's real junkie, and too much detail does not achieve this. I need enough detail, but most importantly weight and tonal accuracy. If there is a guitar at the back of the room, I don't want to hear the frets buzzing from my chair, I want to hear the wood. I want a real natural sound, and I have heard both of these speakers described as having such a sound.

Lastly, obviously it would be better to listen to them myself, but I live on a tiny rock in the middle of the blue pacific, and while it has it's perks, Hi-Fi ain't one of them. I know of only 2 other systems on the whole island. Neither have Harbeths or Zu's. I appreciate all the posts and you may have talked me into a weekend trip to San Francisco to hear some speakers, and live music. Many good points with much to consider.

Thanks again,
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