Stereophile's Budget Bulls-Eye

It's always nice to see yourself, or at least the vehicle for your thoughts, in the spotlight. That's certainly what happened in the Peachtree-Zu room, which paired the Peachtree Audio Nova ($1200) integrated amplifier, which was featured on Stereophile’s August cover, with Zu Essence speakers ($3500/pair). Add in the Apple TV and $500 worth of Zu cables, and you have quite a nifty system that delivered excellent sound.

Wait, you say, $3500 for the Zu Essence speakers that just splashed across the cover of the October issue? Yes. Since the Utah company decided to ditch its dealer network, Zu lowered the price by $1500!

Shame on Peachtree Audio and Zu for displaying a dual cover story system that costs $5200 (plus the Apple TV) and sounds genuine high-end! Countless letter writers who were poised to complain that Stereophile only reviews ultra-expensive gear will have to find some other reason to cancel their subscriptions. Maybe I need to write another controversial "Green" "As We See It” or tout the huge benefits of upgrading stock power cables to Nordost Odin. Come to think of it, my forthcoming report on Nordost's RMAF seminar, "New Approach to Audio Measurement... Why Cables Really Matter," should give those letter writers something to live for.

Stephen Scharf's picture

I spent quite a bit of time listening to the Peachtree/Zu combination Sunday morning when it was quiet. I thought the matchup of Peachtree and Zu was perfect, and they had one of the nicest rooms in the show. I have to complelely agree wtih Jason's observations; the sound quality was truly excellent; genuine high-end. In my book, the Peachtree Nova/Zu driven by an Apple TV was a *KILLER* combination, and for the money, is an off-the-charts value proposition. Anyone looking to put together a music server or CD-based system for about $5000 would be hard pressed to beat this very sweet matchup. I had never heard the Zu Essence before, what a lovely speaker, absolutely gorgeous, and wonderful synergy with the Nova. This set-up gets my vote for dynamite pairing of the show...

zanon's picture

I'm getting some Zu Druids soon. Looking forward to matching them with different amps. I have a t-amp right now (SI) and am looking for an interesting tube amp to try also. Would the Decco work? Maybe as a pre, or just by itself?Also, why use an apple TV. Why not an airport express, feeding into the optical in on the Peachtree?

Stephen Scharf's picture

The Decco would work fine....the Zus are very efficient as you know, and yes, you could just use it as a pre, or by itself. Or mix and match to your hearts content. ToneAudio's review of the Essence said they really came to life with a tube power amp. They were using an Apple TV because it is a really cheap way to get a music server for $225! But yes, you could stream via an Airport Express optically to the Peachtree...that would work fine.

Tim K's picture

The picture shows a Sonos setup too. I'm guessing the Apple TV was for storage and video and the Sonos was for music? Either way, it's pretty awesome what you can put together for little money these days. For my friends looking for their first venture into hi-fi - this is exactly the type of system I would put together for them.

Matt's picture

"Since the Utah company decided to ditch its dealer network"Very nice of Zu to do. After they signed on a billion dealers to buy their product LESS than 1 CES ago - just so the can get a review in stereophile - most likely - they have now decided to 'ditch' (your words) the dealers who had to buy into their line.Well played, Zu.

Kenn's picture

The link to your green "As We See It" appears to be incorrect here is the correct link

Stephen Scharf's picture

If you go to the Zu website, they clearly explain their rationale for returning to direct sales, much of their decision influenced by their customer base, and consistent with the new business model for NHT. I wouldn't rag on guys one's never met; the Zu guys are nice folks, and make some really nice products. By the way, their products have been reviewed in Stereophile previously, so being a direct sales company does not obviate a review in Stereophile. I wouldn't rag on guys one's never met; I've talked to them on the phone and met principal Sean Casey yesterday. The Zu guys are nice folks, and they make some really nice products, and are taking a very fresh approach to audio if you ask me. We need young guns in this industry like the guys at Zu.

Laura's picture

Jason,Stick to reviewing high end audio, a subject you know very well; and please, no more "green" As We See It columns. The last one demonstrated that you do not understand one thing about climate change.