I asked Jon about the show, and his favorite part, and he shared this:
“There was this 8-year-old kid that came up with a pad and paper, and his first question was about the benefits of a high-efficiency design speaker. I dragged Zu’s Sean Casey over, and he said, ‘Well, they’re just better obviously’. The kid laughed and Sean kinda grinned, and he took this kid and his dad off to the side and spent the next half-hour or so giving this kid a master-class on speaker design. I mean, seriously, who does that at an audio show? Well, Sean Casey does. He was just back there, like it was nothing, and this kid was writing in his little book like a madman. Dude. Not too long ago, I was that kid. That was beautiful thing Sean did. Brought tears to my eyes.”
Sean is my hero. And Jon is a romantic and sentimental sap. Who knew?
The most surprising thing in the room, for me? Well, that’s easy: the whole room. This was another system that wasn’t affordable by “normal person” measures, but by audiophile standards — and by the quality of the sound I was hearing — this whole room was a steal. $15k for a total system — all wired up and ready to violate your sensibilities. Here are the numbers:
- Zu Audio Druid Mk V: $5,200/pair
- Zu Audio Submission (is that the most totally bad-ass name for a sub or what?): $3,999
- Zu Audio Mission cables
- Peachtree Grand Integrated: $4,499 (but Jon has a few b-stock’s he’s clearing out at $2,999 with full warranty — better move your ass)!
The demo was also something of a departure — on a couple of fronts. One, while Peachtree and Zu Audio have shown together in the past, the Zu speakers were usually one of many in a suite stuffed full of systems at various price points. Play a tune on one system, then move up and see “how little you lose”, that was the typical pattern. So, to see an almost exclusively all-Zu setup headlining in this giant room at RMAF was a total statement. Two, I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard “audiophile music” played on Zu speakers. I mean, I thought there was a rule about that sort of thing. Sure, there were some off-the-wall stuff thrown in there, but Jon’s demo (at least, the one I saw) treated us to several “audiophile classics” — stuff I might even have heard in other demos at the show (gasp!). I know. Weird, right?
Here’s the takeaway: whatever you might have heard about, or thought about, or absorbed via osmosis from that Troll-filled feeding bin you’ve been slumming about it, forget it. I’m going to wave my hands and say that all that might have been true (whatever it is) — but it’s now time to get over it. Sean Casey and the Zu Crew have taken the “Zu House Sound” somewhere new. Somewhere you’re going to want to visit. Somewhere many of you would find not only homey, but exhilaratingly so. Zu is good.
I’ve talked to Sean in the past about this, but what I think happened is a convergence of high-technology and old-school voicing — with their new nano tech impregnated (heh heh) drivers, the sound is super-fast and natural, with … wait for it … very good midrange detail! Add on the awesome airiness from that Radian “super tweeter”, and you’ve got a sound that only lacks the ability to play at 120dB with subterranean bass. Oh, wait, sorry — this system had that too. And did I mention that the prices?
Winner winner, chicken dinner!
Seriously, I’m hoping to get a pair of the new Druid/Submission combo asap. Just an outstanding showing here and one of my contenders for “Best in Show”.
Before I go, I should mention that I did quiz Jon about Peachtree’s plans and future, and he got a bit sly on me. “Check with me at CES,” he said. That man is such a tease. Well, looks like I’m headed off to Vegas.