Does high efficiency have a sound? Well, that depends on a great many things, up to and including your definition of efficiency and “sound.” But regardless of the semantics of the situation, Zu Audio out of Ogden, UT is continuing to make a play for high efficiency speakers, and the latest, greatest flagship unveiled this week–the Zu Audio Definition 6–is no different.
I had the pleasure of attending a somewhat exclusive mini launch party this weekend attended by a small handful of fans and owners of Zu Audio gear. Those familiar with the brand might know their penchant for bucking the traditional audiophile trends almost as well as their affinity for full range, high efficiency drivers. The lines start with the wallet friendly Omen (usually restricted to occasional sale variations dubbed “dirty weekend”) but the real product alignment of the company now pools around the 6 series.
The event was centered around the launch of the long awaited Zu Audio Definition 6, which represents the flagship efforts of Zu Audio founder and designer Sean Casey. Starting at $25k, the financial presentation is a bit of a departure from the majority of the 6 series (roughly $3k/$6k/$12k, for the Union/Soul/Druid respectively) but perhaps slightly more in line with the previously mentioned traditions of the high end. What a majority of the series holds in common is a concentrically mounted tweeter in a 10” paper cone full-range driver.
For the Zu Audio Definition 6, that includes a pair of a pair of drivers per speaker, plus an additional tweeter assembly and a 12 inch eminence powered sub. That’s a grand total of 6 speakers per tower with a set of 3 vertically aligned tweeters. Sean elaborates that the tweeters are generally tuned to 12k-35k htz, with some small tweaking to the center tweeter for a smooth and relaxed presentation in the highs.
Those paying close attention might notice a slight gap in the model numbers. The Zu Definition has been around since 2004, but the last iteration was the “4.” Sean made a slight jump over the number 5 to get all the models in the line up to the current series. But in doing so he did keep the high efficiency allure running across the board, it’s also the reason the Zu Audio Definition 6 has a powered sub – 101 dB. That’s still enough to have these physically large speakers driven by tubes, and the active demo on display was indeed being powered by a pair of Absolare SET power amplifiers with 2 x 845, 2 x 6SN7 glass.
The sound of the Zu Audio Definition 6 in the medium-sized room at the get-together was, first and foremost, a very dynamic presentation, even with the reasonable playback volume attendees managed to muster (no ear bleeding involved). Be it a result of the 101 dB or some other refined technical trait, stop and start speeds of the wide range of music playing left little off the table. Punch, thrust, quickness, a wide array of audiophile descriptors play in this field to help articulate this sense of immediacy that can often tread into sub regions of “realism” or even a natural sense of urgency in the delivery. It was most impressive, as was the natural and even-handed tones from the wide array of drivers. There was a cohesiveness to the structure of things, and plenty of low end to lend support from below.
The Zu crew is an affable bunch, and it appears so are the majority of their consumers. While much of the playlist that consumed the day did consist of classical music, strings, Jazz and the like, “Keith Don’t Go” and “Hotel California” were nowhere to be found. Attendees were elated to hear Sean’s newest creation and connect with each other in their shared passions, as was I. Thanks to Sean and his Los Angeles-based host for their hospitality that day. The vibes from the crowd that gathered were almost as fun as the ones from the Zu Audio Definition 6.
Interested parties for the Zu Audio Definition 6 can be directed to the Zu Audio website, but it’s probably best to give them a call. Sean says build times are around 8 weeks for the Definition 6 at the current moment. The pair on display had a phenomenal color and gloss coat to the wood cabinet, Zu is known for their automotive quality paint jobs and will dress you a pair with pretty much any color under the sun.
More info: Zu Audio
If you would like to hear even more direct from Sean Casey himself, check out our interview with him from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.
Looking forward to my pair in Nextel white 🙂
Thanks for sharing this!