Zu Soul Owners' Impressions: Standard / Superfly

Category: Speakers

Zu Soul Owners’ thread for Zu Soul Standad and Superfly editions: Impressions

Q: So, Where Art Thou!? A: art thou = are you (a Zu Soul owner)?

Q: So, where the heck are you?

In case the title of this thread falls flat in the call to arms for current-owners and owners-in-waiting and owners-to-be, please know there are a number of folks (see Speakers: Zu Soul Superfly thread) who have been beating the drums, imploring and attempting to incite the reticent few….

An appeal to your, shall I say, pristine Souls!

My initial impressions will be short, for speaker/wiring break-in/burn-in take precedence over baring my Soul.


Some necessary detail and fully Skip-Able.

Room: 13X12X8; One window, asymmetric, behind system; one window to the left of left speaker. Surfaces: plaster on wood walls, suspended hard wood floors. On Second floor, with attic above.

Speaker placement & seating position: 7’X7’X7’ triangle. Speakers placed 2’ from side and back wall (front to listener). Standard factory-set height gap, placed on TAOC composite platforms, no toe-in or elevation adjustments at this time.

System chain: Standard wall outlets, Analysis Plus Oval & Audio Art power cables, MIT Z PowerBar, PC based Pandora Subscription (high resolution feed) via cable modem/CAT6 cable, M-Audio Audiophile 192 Sound Card using s/pdif coax out, Madrigal Audio Labs Digital cable, Audio Research DAC7, Artisan Silver Ultimate Silver Dream IC, Ayon Sirit II Integrated amp (12AU7, KT88/Genelex Gold Lions; Triode/Pentode 40/60wpc), Zu Wax speaker cable, SR Composites SRX audio rack.

Preferences (disclaimers) of note:

-lean towards a neutral presentation;
-appreciate a cohesive soundstage which to my ears is more natural vs. the “precise” & pinpoint placement of instruments/voices;
-ears are sensitive to brightness;
-not overly particular about calibrated or measured placement, nor audiophile room treatment approaches; the furniture or a simple decorative fabric for wall hanging can handle these issues to my needs (see Cobra’s posts regarding this).

Of late, I have rotated a pair of Gemme Tanto V2s and Chario Academy Sonnets in the same room and system. So the ‘impressions’ from these two reproducers are what is front of mind & ear for personal taste, comparisons and contrast.

Zu -bees: I had NO prior experience with Zu speakers, prior to the Soul Superfly . Naturally, I had been curious about the Zu brand and house-sound as I have with a number of other speaker manufacturers. I have been (slowly) gravitating towards experiencing higher efficiency speakers employing full range drivers. Dare I admit this: I tend not to do much research on speakers prior to purchase since I believe that my own system components and chain, my room, and a true long term personal evaluation is what works for my needs. What I’m attempting to communicate, is that I am approaching these with something akin to a blank slate.

Only now, once the Superfly went in-system, have I started reading about the Superfly (not much out there) as well as Zu speakers in general (a lot on the other speakers) within the discussion groups/forums and professional audiophile journal print/online review sites.


Preliminary Impressions:

This pair arrived on July 27th via FedEx. Serial numbers are 35 & 36. Finish is Cosmic Carbon.

The Finish: There have been a lot of questions about the “look” and reaction to the cosmic carbon finish.

Here are my initial impressions: In the home theater system, where my other component finishes are generally gloss piano or matte black and the furniture and trim is in the dark brown/mahogany/reddish color palette, the cosmic carbon stands out, in fact a bit out of place, as a very light finish during the daytime (non-direct sunlight) and the metal billet also stands out under this lighting. During the evening and at night, the finish makes a graceful exit to “disappearing” and appears darker and is a much better fit with the other gear and furniture, even the metal bits fade into the visual background. The cosmic gray also appears ‘darker’ in tone under incandescent lighting.

In my office, my main 2ch room, where the walls are “elephant gray” the match with the décor is complementary and is easy on the eyes. This is the case during the day as well as under incandescent and fluorescent lighting.

Since our response to ‘how something looks’ is so subjective and personal, your visual interpretation is what really matters.

For me, coming from the wood veneer finishes of Totem and Gemme, and the solid cherry of the Charios, the Zu’s were quite different (which I expected). The silver metal driver parts and rings, especially so. Within the short time they have been on display, I have become very comfortable with their aesthetic fit in the office. Daytime in the home theater room (living room) is a different story, from an aesthetic perspective. If you are particular about aesthetic cohesion within a room, then one of the optional finishes should be a strong consideration.

From a purely general perspective I have to say that Zu’s fit and finish of these speakers is excellent.


Other preliminary impressions and photos to follow.
Initial Performance Impressions (continued):

I have been listening to the speakers driven by the Triode mode (40wpc), off the 8 Ohm taps, of the Ayon Spirit II.

My experience is remarkably similar to what Phil (213Cobra) has posted.

- the speakers are not fussy about placement.

- they appear to be more on the musical side of the equation (vs. providing a highly analytical experience).

- they sound natural and ‘speaker-live’ to my ears.

- they are dynamic!

- bass is excellent; there has been boominess, on certain pieces, which could be placement and room driven - will report on it once the speakers have had proper break in.

- holding off on comments regarding micro dynamics, transparency and resolution, etc. until the speakers have had more play time.

- there has been some thread debate on their high frequency driver. I hear no issues to report on, at this time. In fact, I would have to say the hf performance is very satisfying.

- wide sweet spot and good off axis performance, mainly limited by my room size. (As an aside, will drive them in the living room, to get a feel for their ability in a larger space).

- they have been comfortable with, and adept at, reproducing music across genres.

- my FAVE so far is their tonal coherence.

Bottom line: I am enjoying them! Thoroughly.

Even at this very early stage, I believe that most potential buyers will find these speakers to represent exceptional value and will be highly satisfied with their performance. This is not a light statement, since I have reserved my opinion, sometimes for extended time periods, on other speakers that have resided in my 2 channel systems.

As for my experience interacting with Zu Audio, it has been wonderful. An initial online ordering glitch was handled seamlessly. Gerrit has been my primary contact and follow through has been terrific, both interpersonally as well as with online communications.

(( Please note: One photo has been posted (in daylight) of the Superfly in the Virtual Systems speaker forum. If you have suggestions regarding how to post multiple photos, other than creating an online album with a 'disguised' link, please email me at David_ten via Audiogon. Thanks. ))

Photos added to give those interested a feel for the "look" of the cosmic carbon finish at different times during daylight hours. Some photos are with a flash assist which helps contrast the "look."

Posted at Audiogon under: Community/Virtual Systems/Ever Evolving
Initial Perfomance Impressions (continued):

Sensitive to, I would say responsive to, speaker cable changes. Started with Zu Audio Wax cables. Then rotated in a pair of PNF standard cables. Now have Audio Art SC-5 SEs in system.

This, for me, is a strong positive attribute. I had planned on pure Ag (preferably) or hybrid Cu/Ag speaker cabling and it looks like that choice will be rewarded.