Jon Iverson has a nose. I mean, he just knows—for instance, we were walking through the Alexis Park, I mean Alexis Villas, when he stopped in front of Zu's logo and said, "I think this might be worth investigating."
We stepped inside and were greeted by Adam Decari and Sean Casey, two young'uns from Ogden, UT, who had spent time working for Ray Kimber (must've been their first jobs out of college, because these guys can't be much over 30). "Welcome to the Zu!"
Zu is technically Zu Cables, but what intrigued me was the two loudspeakers on display: the Definition ($9000/pair) and the Druid Mk4 ($2900/pair). Zu makes the drivers themselves, using paper cones on their 10.5" driver and machined aluminum for their super tweeters. There's no network and the speakers are specced at a sensitivity of 101dB—and power handling of 200W!
"We started Zu because we couldn't figure out why hi-fi seemed so dead and uninspired," Sean Casey told me.
Jon Iverson and I were excited that Zu was showing a speaker as ambitious and affordable as the Druid, so we asked to demo it. Sean laughed and said, "We're using a $200 Sony DVP-MC650V SACD changer, a $6500 Audiopax preamp, and a $3000 2W Yamamoto A08 power amp (and Zu cables, of course)." We were impressed by the dynamic ease and flow of the Druids. The top end was extremely natural and detailed, without a hint of ringing, although I found the lower midrange a bit lean. What the Druid did well, it did spectacularly, and what it didn’t do, it did without additive colorations. The Druid is a novel, perhaps even noble, product. It sure ain't a me-too product and I liked its look and its sound. Besides, I have to give props to any company that shows the Epiphone Les Paul of one of its principals in its brochure.
What's Zu? Zu is new and exciting—and I predict you're going to hear a lot more out of this company. I suspect the high end will be the better for it.