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bifcake
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Zu speakers

I'm curious: What is it about Zu speakers that prevents them from being reviewed by Stereophile?

dbowker
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Re: Zu speakers

Could be lack of distribution, or just too new or? Anyway, there was this link http://blog.stereophile.com/he2006/060406zu/

bifcake
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Re: Zu speakers

I remember JA mentioned in one of the forums here that he didn't agree with Zu's design philosophy or something to that nature and so he took a stance against reviewing them.

linden518
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Re: Zu speakers

I don't think it's anything against the company, since there was recently a really favorable review of Zu's modded version of the Denon 103 cartridge in Stereophile...

bifcake
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Re: Zu speakers

It's something specifically about the speakers that JA had an issue with.

Editor
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Re: Zu speakers


Quote:
I'm curious: What is it about Zu speakers that prevents them from being reviewed by Stereophile?

I answered the same question in a thread last September. To recap, while I have enormous respect for the guys at Zu, from having listened to some of their speakers at Shows, I believe Zu's design goals for their speakers are sufficiently different from the consensus at Stereophile that I am not sure what would be gained by arranging a review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bifcake
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Re: Zu speakers


Quote:

Quote:
I'm curious: What is it about Zu speakers that prevents them from being reviewed by Stereophile?

I answered the same question in a thread last September. To recap, while I have enormous respect for the guys at Zu, from having listened to some of their speakers at Shows, I believe Zu's design goals for their speakers are sufficiently different from the consensus at Stereophile that I am not sure what would be gained by arranging a review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Hi John,

I am not quite sure what that statement means. Does that mean that having heard the speakers you don't like them or does that mean that you don't agree with the Zu's technical design philosophy? Doesn't everyone design speakers with the goal of reproducing music in the most exacting and emotionally compelling way? How would their design goals differ from that?

Please elaborate. Thanks

RGibran
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Re: Zu speakers

You mean,

"because Zu's design goals for their speakers are sufficiently different from the consensus at Stereophile",

and that

"I am not sure what would be gained by arranging a review",

why is Stereophile NOT going to review ZU speakers?

RG

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Re: Zu speakers


Quote:
Does that mean that having heard the speakers you don't like them or does that mean that you don't agree with the Zu's technical design philosophy?

Having heard some of the Zu speakers at Shows, and with some of my writers having heard the speakers under more familiar circumstances, I think the things they do well are not as relevant to the magazine's readers as the things they _don't_ do as well. I see no point in organizing and publishing a review that I know in advance will be negative. I would rather devote the magazine's resources to reviews of products whose balance of performance aligns with what I believe to be our readers' needs and tastes.

A judgment call on my part, but that's the role of a magazine editor. I will, of course, continue to listen to what Zu has to offer.


Quote:
Doesn't everyone design speakers with the goal of reproducing music in the most exacting and emotionally compelling way?

The question is unanswerable as asked.


Quote:
How would their design goals differ from that??

A successful loudspeaker design involves balancing _all_ the various aspects of reproduction so that weaknesses are not extreme. If a designer maximizes just _one_ area of performance -- sensitivity or bass extension or midrange purity or stereo imaging or minimizing harmonic distortion -- it is certain that other areas will be compromised.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Zu speakers

Here's a story. At a recent show, I made a point to hear the Zu speakers at the urging of Steve Guttenberg. In the room, the presenter spoke at length about soul and spirit and a bit about technology (which seemed a bit retro to me) before he put on a classic rock recording which, unfortunately, I cannot not recall at this moment.

It was big and full and forward and detailed but the balance was entirely different from my experience with this track from any number of systems and speakers. In other words, it was different from the consensus of other mainstream speakers. When I pointed this out, the presenter asked me if I had been at the sessions so that I could be certain about how, exactly, the track should sound and, of course, I had to say no.

However, the gentleman sitting to my right spoke up and said that he had built the mixing board for those sessions and was present throughout the process. He, too, said that the presentation via the Zu's was nothing like he had heard before.

We all agreed that the sound was more than pleasant and was, in fact, rather exciting but it was not what I would choose in a pursuit of an accurate reproduction of what is in the recording. If your goals are otherwise, I can readily understand the attraction.

Kal

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Re: Zu speakers


Quote:

Quote:
Doesn't everyone design speakers with the goal of reproducing music in the most exacting and emotionally compelling way?

The question is unanswerable as asked.

I have been thinking some more about this and I will attenpt to answer the question. If you are designing a speaker for your own personal use _only_, then yes, it could be said that your goal is to reproduce music "in the most exacting and emotionally compelling way." However, to maximally achieve that goal, the design will be so tailored to your own specific needs and tastes that the speaker will most likely be found unlistenable by anyone else.

A speaker designer who wishes to make speakers that appeal to a large number of listeners has therefore to balance _all_ the aspects of speaker performance so that no one area is too compromised. He also must accept that this will also mean that no one area will achieve its maximum performance. However, _if_ he know what he is doing then enough potential customers will find enough of what he has done sufficiently satisfactory for _their_ needs and tastes to keep him in business.

That's why there are so many loudspeakers in our "Recommended Components" listing; that's why the question "What's the best loudspeaker?" is meaningless. The "best loudspeaker" for one audiophile will not be the "best loudspeaker" for another with different needs and tastes. But...

There is strong evidence that general listener preference in loudspeaker design does follow an established pattern. And in that context, the Zu design philosophy is sufficently different from that pattern that I don't believe their speakers will satisfy enough of Stereophile's readership to justify our investment of resources in a review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Elk
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Re: Zu speakers

While not questioning your decision not to review these speakers (it indeed appears to be the correct decision), it would be of benefit and interest to at least me to know what else is out there and how these products are either unique or "non-standard".

I read magazines such as Stereophile as much for learning what is out there as for what I might personally enjoy. Thus, I enjoy columns such as Mr. Dudley's experience refurbishing a pair of Quads. I'll never do this, but it was great to journey along with him. Similarly, I like learning about monster house-sized horn speakers, etc.

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Re: Zu speakers


Quote:
While not questioning your decision not to review these speakers (it indeed appears to be the correct decision), it would be of benefit and interest to at least me to know what else is out there and how these products are either unique or "non-standard".

In general, before I comission a review of a product, I need to match the product to a specific reviewer. Not to ensure an automatic "good" review, but to ensure that the reviewer is sympatico with the product's design goals, ie, the reviewer shares with the designer a belief about what aspects of design are important and what are not. Thus you don't see me reviewing flea-powered SE amps or horn speakers; you don't see Art Dudley reviewing kilowatt monoblocks or powered subwoofers; you don't see Sam Tellig reviewing multi-channel components; you don't see Wes Phillips reviewing analog playback equipment; and so on. In each case, the design goals for the product being reviewed are too different from the individual needs of the reviewer for a fair assessment to result.

In the case of Zu, having heard the speakers at Shows and having discussed the company's speakers with members of my reviewing team, I don't believe such a match exists. Organizing and publishing a review would satisfy no-one, therefore.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

KBK
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Re: Zu speakers

The way I see it John, is that you are stating the grounding points for good, common basic sense..and even that could be considered as a review of sorts, when nothing could be further from the truth. Peoples does as peoples does.

As an aside:
And yes I know, the signature is actually a Hunter S thingie, but it was just as fun when you said it. Nearly peed myself when I read that review.

bifcake
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Re: Zu speakers

Quite a number of other publications reviewed Zu speakers and wrote their impressions. I would think that Stereophile would want to contribute their impressions regardless of how differing they may be from everyone else. As a reader, what am I supposed to infer from Stereophile's silence? Is Stereophile not reviewing their speakers because:

a) They're bad
b) They didn't get to them
c) They don't satisfy the reviewing criteria vis-a-vis the number of dealerships available

I think it's Stereophile's responsibility to its readers to publish even those reviews that are not glowing and I think it's Stereophile's responsibility to its readers to review products that are gaining momentum in other review outlets. Stereophile is one of the most important if not THE most important voice in audio and if that voice is silent on a particular product that's gaining momentum, then it's Stereophile readers that are getting shafted.

BTW, when you said that the speakers are "sufficiently different", what do you mean by that? They don't timbre properly or they don't have the dynamic range or what?

dbowker
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Re: Zu speakers

Alex-

Re-read JA's and Kal's comments and it becomes clear. "It was big and full and forward and detailed but the balance was entirely different from my experience with this track from any number of systems and speakers. " It's like designing a camera for some special effect- cool but not somehting you'd review along side traditional Nikons or Minolta's for users looking for accuracy. Or an AV magazine reviewing a TV that made EVERYTHING super colorful and warm, with some faux 3D thrown in, no matter what you fed it. Pleasing to some, but not accurate to what was fed into it.

According to the posts, Zu is looking for their version of pleasing sound and obviously have no qualms about tailoring their designs to force it to happen. In others words- they use euphonics or tonal balance in such a way as to no longer be in the realm of accurate reproduction. That sounds to me like a good enough reason to skip it. In some ways it's out of respect to Zu so as to not just bring in a pair just to trash it in a review.

dcstep
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Re: Zu speakers

I fully respect and support JAs opinion and action in this case.

However, I would like to say that we the readers miss seeing what reviewers we've come to know have to say about a product that draws raves in some quarters. I have invested years of reading Stereophile in learning the reviewers. For instance, I know that I'm cut from different clothe than Art and I've come to know his bias, so his reviews are useful to me, despite our differences.

So, a review in Stereophile of a Zu would be useful to Stereophile readers. Would it be useful to Zu is a question? I'm not sure. I think there ARE Stereophile readers looking for what Zu has to offer. They may be the minority, nbut I think they're there.

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Re: Zu speakers

I think Stereophile understands its own mission, has established credibility and is not obligated to satisfy every reader's request. We come to the magazine for what it offers- it's not a wish fulfillment center.

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