Leve' Write Up:
I first noticed the Zu Druids in a Six Moons review two years ago. I was impressed by the Druids distinctive look and fine paint job, however I quickly dismissed it without ever having heard it, because it’s a full range driver and it’s different. My first experience with full range drivers was my 84 Toyota, I certainly wouldn’t call it hifi. Later I upgraded to a 20 year old Jaguar, that one actually had a four inch driver with whizzer cone. It sounded better, but still did not approach hifi quality by any stretch of the imagination. My 24 inch television was another example, and the tube is in the wrong place. I had never heard a full range driver that was built with the intension of being the finest of its technology.
After having gone through several rooms at the 2007 Home Entertainment show I came to the Zu room-- it was surprisingly full. Sean co-founder of Zu was welcoming people at the door and Ron was sitting on the floor running the demo. They had a pair of Druids driven by a push pull 2A3 Integrated amp made by Melody. (I later found out Sean drove the Druids all the way from Utah to New York for the show.) I wasn’t expecting much from this exhibit. I expected to be there for less then one track. Just so I could confirm all my preconceived notions about full rang drivers. From the first note I could tell that my preconceived notions where going to fly out the window. The bass was there, not only was it there but it had an impact that startled me. The Zu room was located down a long hall with no exhibitors across the hall, so they could play it at a realistic volume and Ron wasn’t afraid to ask people what level they wanted to hear it at. I also expected mushy bass but that’s not what I got the base was impactfull and tight. I never thought you could do this with only 10 watts of power. The mids were well articulated, and why not, this is what full range drivers are known for. The highs where well extended with the help of the super tweeter that picks up after 12 kHz. The 2A3 let all the depth and image through and allowed the Druids produced a real presents. Ron allowed people to play their own material, many exhibitors do not have this kind of faith in there own equipment, only playing their own music, you know, the type of stuff that sounds good on everything.
Well as I said I wasn’t expecting to stay for more then half a track. I came to the show late and had a lot of exhibits to see. But I ended up staying for another four tracks. This was a full room, there was only sitting room on the floor, which actually sounded as good as sitting level and since Ron was also sitting on the floor it somehow made it seem more socially OK. The Zu guys did classical, jazz, and even lots of rock. The Druids handled everything with flying colors. I was getting comfortable and enjoying the music.
But this isn’t what I came here for. I came here to hear as many systems in as short a time as possible and thumb my nose at 50% of them and complain that the other 50% are out of my budget. With this system I couldn’t do any of those things, the speakers were only about 3 grand and the amp was about the same. I had to tear myself away with the promise that I would find something even better, after all I still had three more whole floors to visit. But through all the exhibits, and I certainly heard many a more expensive system, my mind kept on coming back to the Zu room. As predicted I missed one half of the last floor because I ran out of time and exhibitors where closing up. I don’t know why but I decided to go back to the Zu room just to see if anybody was still there, perhaps in the hope I might get to listen to one more track. It paid off, Ron was still there, his uneaten banana on the floor three hours later next to him where he had left it. Sean and Ron where both inside now. Apparently I wasn’t the only one that had this idea because there where still many people inside including Les Turoczi from 6moons.com. We spun more cd’s, for 2.5 hours after the show was over in fact. At one point Sean crawled behind the equipment and started braking down some of the equipment. Apparently the audience wasn’t ready to go home just yet so Sean broke down only the equipment that wasn’t being used, carefully pulling all the tubes out of his backup amps with a small white cloth.
Sean also twice manage to unplug something being used by accident after all we had the lights turned down in the room, to show off the tubes. The first time he unplugged the amp and plugged it back in. Next he unplugged the CD player. This time he said “this time I know it wasn’t me” jokingly. They really are the nicest bunch of guys you could ever hope to meet. But all good things must come to an end. As we where all leaving the room I got to talking to Sean and Ron about their design philosophy. They invited me to have dinner with them where we talked more about Zu’s future plans and Sean was even curios about my work in physics at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Having dinner with Sean, Ron and Ron’s wife, and Jayme from Blue Sky, reminded me of my weekends in my youth when I would hang out with friends who where jazz musicians. They played at borders books once a month for almost no money. The ritual was the same each time they played. I would come and listen then when the crowds clear off I would help them pack up their equipment, which I got real good at. On several occasions when I had a bass swung over my shoulder, for transport, people would mistake me for a member of the band and complement me on how well I played. Then we would go out to a greasy spoon type diner to round out a great night. Now my friends now longer perform together. But my trip to the Home Entertainment expo brought back those memories. It was more then I ever could have hoped for!
Levente B. Hajdu