Zu Audio Essence Floorstanding Speakers


Essence, like all Zu products, is built around the critical human voice (A1, 55Hz, through A6 and all the possible harmonics, to approximately 10kHz). Essence is simply complete in form and quality of sound. Essence is the speaker that will amaze and delight the most bleeding-edge USB-DAC'd computer audio evangelist, vinyl bottle head vigilante and silver-disc bits-spinner equally.

User Reviews (2)

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Deutschefach   AudioPhile [Apr 28, 2011]

Essence is a high efficiency, high output, direct radiating floor standing loudspeaker. It features a fullrange high efficiency Zu designed and built driver, full implementation of the ZuRG acoustic technology
with fixed gap, no crossover or filters on full-range driver, complimented by a high output transformer
coupled ribbon tweeter to provide the sparkle and resolution from 10,000 Hz and up.

Efficiency of 97 dB SPL @ 1 Watt, 1 meter
Impedance of 12 ohm, nominal full bandwidth, 9 ohm minimum

Perfect for tubes, but I run Transistor gear and they are just wonderful.

I have been searching for a high-end product for ages that I could afford. My standards are very high though which until recently meant going without. To complicate things even more I live in Europe, and many US/Canadian products are not well known or distributed.

What first caught my eye is that a huge number of reviewers of these speakers bought a pair. I asked myself why? The need for fun, for audiophiles who have limited funds.

So I could not resist, despite the challenge of getting a pair to listen to in central Europe.

I will first say I am a professional musician with over 15 years on the stage as a classical singer. So I have good ears. We own 2000+ CDs in every type of musical style. I boiled it down to three speakers: Magnepan, Martin Logan and Zu Audio. Magnepan makes remarkable speakers and they are Audiophile speakers. One can hear the fly buzzing on the back wall of a recording space and he will image as approximately the size of a bunny rabbit. That is detail for that one has to have a room and a wife who will accept giving up living room for "living sound". Great speakers but killed by the WAF.

ML builds very transparent speakers that try to carry the transparence down until they can not anymore. This means one hears the bass kick in in the baritone vocal range. That also means that you can only play your plastic speakers at modest volume levels. They are great speakers, and many people including myself find them very good. They also have better WAF because of their smaller footprint.

The Zu Audio Essence builds the sound from the bottom up. So this speaker follows a very natural contour of the human voice because it has no crossover or filters on the full-range driver. The tweeter takes over very naturally unlike most speakers that cut and slash their way though the Frequency spectrum. This lets the listener relax and listen rather than be nerved by the strangeness of the speaker design.

Now for the fun. These speakers can do it all. The TB Tweeter they use gives realistic symbol crashes and does not beam at all. I am running a Moon i-3 integrated and the system sings. Bass is deep and accurate rather than boom boxy.

The speaker is revealing of detail and I find myself rediscovering things I never noticed before even with headphones. One can sit and listen to a complete CD mesmerized by the artist rather than nerved by the speaker. One can play them loud with only a few Watts and with the right front-end you will be wildly happy. I can imagine that I can improve the synergy by adding tubes or a passive pre.

The Essence are fuller and more fluid than the discontinued Druid was and different from the Omen Defs. The Defs have a different tweeter and 2 full range drive units so they will probably have a bit more slam but not necessarily more swish. This is a great speaker and perhaps the best they have brought out until the new Dominance came out or the Experience which is in development. At 5k this still reasonably affordable Hifi. The Dominance at 40,000 and the Experience at around 18,000 are too rich for my blood even though they will be staggering to listen to. That is the same way feel about the Essence.

The speaker is lively, detailed but not fatiguing, matches to SS or Tubes and is loads of fun to listen to. They an also play louder than you can safely listen to before destroying your hearing. By the way the speaker just keeps getting louder: the amount of harmonic distortion is minimal because the drives are designed right.
Instruments sound like they should and so do voices. To make the speaker any better in resolution they would have had to create an extra crossover to bridge the move to the high range. That would have been a huge mistake.

As it is the speaker is getting better with every minute of play and burn in. A marvelous speaker.

I think you should audition them. They beat the crap out of speakers that would cost you up to 15,000 and if you get them off the 5000 list price as I was able to, you will never stop smiling. I would have paid full price, and not blinked they are that good. No they are not as transparent as the Maggies or the MLs but they are amazing and delightful non the less.

This company is putting the fun back into audio and they have done it right here. I will renew my review in a couple of months. I recommend the speakers. They are fab.

Tbadder   AudioPhile [Mar 22, 2011]

Rich in tone, images are continuously saturated in realistic color. Tubes apply here. Though you can run these on as little as a 300B output, do yourself a big favor and go with 30 to 50 watts per channel. And don't be afraid to turn it up to 11! These babies rock. They don't like complication (the only significant weakness I can find) but if you're into four piece rock outfits, jazz conbos, strings quartets, singer/songwriter types, or bass heavy dub-step/reggae then the Essence will push your buttons. Non-fatiguing, some say that Zu in general lacks resolution, maybe so, maybe they don't have that last 2%, but that ribbon tweet adds enough ambience and refinement to more than make up for any sins of omission. I love these. They are a part of my favorite system. Don't forget to augment these with Zu's own Event cabling, the synergy is awesome and lends balance to the presentation.

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