PRICE REDUCED (for quick sale, as I already purchased a replacement.)
##SET-amp-lover/owner’s dream come true.
Selling probably my all-time favorite audio component, he one that most gave me that "absolute sound" from day one - only because the audio-itch has me curious to try other things and I can’t afford to hold on to multiple systems. The Zus are truly amazing speakers - not only do I find them really beautiful and well-designed (hand-made in Utah - for reasons I dont understand most that people buy and that are reviewed and pictured are in their black, red, and grey cabinets, which are utterly inferior in my humble opinion to this beautiful walnut cabinet design. Zu makes every pair custom, and I had to wait a few months while they built these for me. Another reason I love the design is that they don’t have grills, and the baffle and front drivers are designed to stand alone, with machined aluminum contrasting with the wood.), but the proprietary driver technology they developed is something special - the same basic driver and technology in their higher end “Essence” model, Stereophile CLass A rated this year (see below for an excerpt from Art Dudley’s review. Feel free to disregard it if you think it an unfair reference, but if, like me, you find it helpful, I need not explain why.)
Of course, perhaps what makes the Zus so special is their high-efficiency - 98db and 12 ohm impedance - so few prominent, widely regarded high-efficiency speakers are available these days. I ran them with a 2-watt 45 SET amp and had no trouble whatsoever driving them to the necessary volumes. They drive from low to high volume smoothly and consistently, “effortlessly,” as the audio critics say.
##The Omens are basically a single full-range driver “plus” - with a tweeter, as they say "just for the extra sparkle and resolution a the very top." The imaging and presence of the sound is truly amazing, which I understand is a feature of full-range drivers as they dont rely on the combination of multiple sound sources. The resolution and detail is really really great, too. And, perhaps because of their high sensitivity and impedance, they perform consistently from low volume to high. THere really aren’t that many excellent high-efficiency speakers around, those that allow one to use a single-ended triode amp, which is what let me to them in the first place.
##5-year warranty, with 4+ years left on it, I believe transferable, claiming of which in either event I will facilitate. Rated 8/10 only because of 1 noticeable flaw, a few millimeters in length on the upper-right corner of one of them. I can provide a picture if this is a concern.
OMEN BOOKSHELF SPECIFICATIONS
ZU AUDIO OMEN Bs Mk.I [REV-A] LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS + INFORMATION
DESCRIPTION: High efficiency, high output, direct radiating bookshelf or stand-mount loudspeaker. Omen bookshelf features Zu’s full-range driver (Zu260FRD/G4), no crossover or filters on full-range driver, complimented by a composite dome time- aligned machined from billet tweeter to provide the acoustic sparkle and resolution from 12kHz and up.
Architecture - Zu / orthogonal Scandinavian
Dimensions H W D - 18x12x12[45.8x30.5x30.5cm]each
Weight - 35 pounds [16kg] each
Packaged - packed as a matched pair in foam encapsulated FlexPak 44 x 17 x 17” [112 x 43 x 43cm] 80 pounds [36kg]
Bandwidth - 50—25kHz
Efficiency - 98dB SPL @ 1W, 1m
Impedance: 12Ω, nominal full bandwidth
Horizontal Listening WIndow: 40 ̊, Vertical : 40 ̊,
Reccomm. Listening distance: 3 feet [1m] or more
Accepted connectors: via standard 5-way binding posts: 1/4” spade [6.3mm], oversized 5/16” [8mm] spade, bare wire, banana plugs
Internal cabling: ZuMission hookup wire
Power Recommendations: 4—12 watt (average room, moderate volume) 12—36 watt (large room, loud listening) 36—200 watt (large room, concert levels) 200 watt (maximum input power)
Amp considerations: anything that sounds good (floating load, any amp type or circuit is fine)
Tolerance: better than 1% driver pair matching, 0.1% on all other electrical components
Tweeter detail: 1x Zu APT-L2 tweeter assembly // bandwidth: 12k—25kHz
High-pass filter detail: 1st order bessel @ 18kHz (12kHz acoustical) PulseX 1uF + 10Ω 10W R
Full-range driver detail: 1x Zu260FRD/G4, 10-1/3” full-range driver // bandwidth: 50—12kHz (direct and unfiltered)
Cabinet: North American MDF skinned with real wood veneer
Included: Installed 2x hard press-on full-range driver covers, 1x owner’s manual
Life expectancy: 100 years; cabinet, and drivers, including the Zu 10.3” [260mm] drivers; even in direct sunlight
Manufactured origin: U.S.A. all parts and labor excluding just a few small parts
RoHS | WEEE
Warranty & Service: 5 years limited on cabinet and drivers—warranty does not cover misuse, abuse, components upstream from the loudspeaker system, modifications or non-factory service.
Omen Bookshelf delivers on performance, even more than all that Zu driver goodness and machined aluminum suggest. The Omen series represent the meat and potatoes of what Zu is about, standardized and designed for high-volume loudspeaker production—the only way to get this level of quality, performance, and good looks at this price. Our drivers, machine work, cabinetry, finish, assembly, packaging, all done by us in Ogden, Utah.
Our objective for Omen Bookshelf is simple, create and build a proper bookshelf loudspeaker that will sound awesome, look sweet, and matchup well with the vast majority of amps—at a price that most music heads can afford.
Even though Omen bookshelf is our entry level loudspeaker, they are still built to last a lifetime: cabinet material, adhesives, driver assemblies... every component is a high quality part.
OMEN BOOKSHELF TECHNOLOGIES OLD & NEW
Omen Bookshelf, like all Zu products, is built around the critical human voice (A1, 55Hz, through A6 and all the possible harmonics, to approximately 10kHz). Serving this critical region of tone is Zu’s 4th generation (standard motor) 10.3” [260mm] paper coned full-range driver. And despite what many audio snobs might think about it based on price, Omen Bookshelf is a true state-of-the-art bookshelf loudspeaker.
ZU260FRD/G4 FULL-RANGE 10” DRIVER
This is Zu’s proven 10” [260mm] full-range driver, with the addition of the high frequency diffusion detail in the face of the pole piece extension. This “phase plug” is a carry over from the research and testing we did with Essence, which gives Omen Bookshelf a more linear management of high frequencies and broader dispersion from the directly coupled to voice coil inner cone.
####Art Dudley, Stereophile, 2011 on Zu Essence (not omen) loudspeaker:
For 15 years, lovers of low-power amplifiers have clamored for more and better high-efficiency loudspeakers (footnote 1). For 15 years, their choices have remained limited to products with varying combinations of colored sound, poor spatial performance, basslessness, high cost, and cosmetics that range from the weak to the repulsive.
The genre has, so far, failed to attract the lions of the loudspeaker industry. Yes, the Klipsch and Tannoy lines still include some high-efficiency models—living fossils, mostly, from an era when all amps were low-power amps—and, among smaller firms, Audio Note and Avantgarde have distinguished themselves by making consistently recommendable high-efficiency speakers. But many of the rest seem stuck in Hobbyland: Try as I might, I can't imagine a Polk, a Dynaudio, a JBL, or a B&W bringing to market a loudspeaker whose buyer is asked to assemble much of the thing himself, or to supplement an already enormous cabinet with a subwoofer just to hear notes below 60Hz, or to pretend that the lower-treble spike that's slowly draining his will to live doesn't exist.
That in itself makes the emergence of America's own Zu Audio all the more interesting. From their beginnings in 2000, Zu has embodied the progressive attitude to which, in so many minds, the flea-watt amp movement seems linked. Yet at the same time this Ogden, Utah–based maker of cables, phono cartridges, and high-efficiency speakers has impressed many with the sheer professionalism of its efforts...
The Zu Essence is not a hair-shirt product, in which regard alone it has surpassed at least half the high-efficiency loudspeakers in the domestic marketplace. Inasmuch as it's among the more affordable choices—exponentially, in some cases—it has surpassed many of the rest. The Essence is something of a milestone.
With its very good bass extension, superb musicality, lack of egregious timbral colorations, and impressive spatial performance, the Zu Essence qualifies as the first loudspeaker I've heard that combines genuinely high efficiency with a level of audiophile performance for which no excuse needs to be made, all while being priced within the reach of the serious-but-not-crazy hobbyist. I'm really impressed with the Essence—and, yes, I could happily live with it myself: It's that good.
......Other distinctions between the old and new models are the results of gradual refinements, according to Casey. That dual-cone drive-unit, now in its fourth generation, is assembled by Zu with components engineered by Zu and Eminence, and it's said to be the product of much greater precision and consistency in manufacture. More tangible is the driver's newly designed alloy phase plug, which is used both to extend its treble response and to produce a more even dispersion pattern.
With the review pair positioned as described, the Essences sounded pleasantly up-front, a perspective made all the more enjoyable by their very generous spatial depth: Though slightly amplifier-dependent—unsurprisingly, amps with global feedback sounded spatially a bit tighter and smaller than those without—the soundfield was consistently larger than average for non-horn speakers. Inasmuch as the Essences required me to sit somewhat closer than I usually do, they tended also to sound grander and a bit more enveloping than the Audio Note AN-E SPes, which have been my reference speakers for some time. Big as it was, the Essences' soundfield seemed airier and less substantial than that of the corner-loading Audio Notes, although individual vocal and instrumental sounds within that field had fine body and delineation.
I was very impressed with the Essence's reproduction of the great Clifford Curzon recording of Brahms' Piano Concerto 1, with George Szell and the London Symphony Orchestra (LP, Decca/Speakers Corner SXL 6023). From the very first notes, all of the sonic attributes one might hope for from such a product were in place, including powerful, surprisingly well-extended bass, very good string color and texture, and—again—a big, spacious soundfield. Yet the Essence's musical attributes were equally obvious and compelling, including an almost uniquely clear exposition of the timing between the entrance of the timpani on one hand and the brass and strings on the other: Among loudspeakers capable of reproducing the drum's fundamental at a convincing volume level, it's rare to find one that can also be that explicit about a timing distinction, no doubt measured in microseconds, that helps communicate the humanness of the playing.
The Zu Essence was a timing champ in the broader sense of the word, as well; for that reason, and thanks to its very good bass extension and impact, it proved a wonderful speaker for uptempo pop music. Bill Berry's galloping drumming on "Pretty Persuasion," from R.E.M.'s Reckoning (LP, IRS SP 70044), was as propulsive as I've heard from any home system. The same could be said of the altogether more synthetic percussion throughout Sade's Love Deluxe (LP, Epic 472626 1). On "No Ordinary Love" from that album, the electric bass had temporal realism, believable timbral color, and what seemed to me just the right amount of decay at the end of each note. And I heard and admired that last quality equally well while listening to plucked string basses in various classical recordings.
Notwithstanding its affinity for rock'n'roll, the Essence played with excellent timbral realism such natural, small-scale recordings as a 1960 release of members of the Vienna Octet performing Brahms' Clarinet Quintet (LP, Decca/Speakers Corner SXL-2297). The Audio Note AN-E, despite its fine sense of touch and humanness, sounded a bit nasal and chesty by comparison. Solo singers, too, came through the Zu quite free of such timbral distortions. Dame Janet Baker—whose famous recording of Elgar's Sea Pictures, with Sir John Barbirolli and the LSO (LP, EMI ASD 655), has so interested me in recent months—sounded herself: uncolored, physically there, melodically limber, her artistry intact. And on the most recent entry in the Neil Young Archive Series, Sugar Mountain: Live at the Canterbury House 1968(LP, Reprise 512563-1, footnote 4), both voice and guitar sounded just plain right—as did Guy Clark in his sprechgesang on "The Guitar," from a collection given me by Zu's Ron Williams (AIFF file, no catalog number).