The Zu Essence is a big speaker, with a really big sound, fully capable of rocking out like few high-end speakers anywhere near its $3,600 price can. The Essence's wham-bam dynamics are explosive, so please trust me on this, you'll never get that sort of impact from a bookshelf or smaller speaker. My complete Essence review appeared in Home Entertainment magazine, but let me share with you the gist.
Speaker design over the last decade has mostly been devoted to producing greater accuracy, higher resolution, lower distortion, and wider frequency response, but those qualities don't necessarily produce a sound that will stir your soul. Accuracy is one thing, but there's an artistry to speaker design no computer will ever match. Zu designers are definitely more interested in musicality than accuracy, and it totally works.
The Essence is 49 inches high and 12 inches wide and deep. It has a 10.3-inch full-range driver and a 2.5-inch foil-ribbon tweeter. The advanced technology tweeter is sourced from Taiwan, and then entirely rebuilt and modified in Ogden, Utah. All of the 10.3-inch paper-cone driver's parts are made in the U.S., and assembled in the Zu factory. The completed tweeters and woofers are extensively tested and sorted into matched, close-tolerance pairs that are used in production speakers.
Zu offers a range of standard painted and wood veneer finishes, and a slew of extra-cost custom paint finishes. Zu's paint shop does outstanding work, with overall build quality the equal of speakers that sell for many times the Essence's $3,600 price. In the context of today's high-end speaker market the Essence is a steal!
This speaker can rock out better than any speaker near its price, and since the Essence is unusually efficient, it clicked with very low-power amps, like the $378 Miniwatt N3 (3.5 watts per channel amplifier). Actually, the speaker sounded best with a First Watt J2 (25 watt stereo amp), but I've also used the Essence with my 400 watt per channel Parasound JC 1 power amps, no problem. In fact, the Essence delivered great sound with every amp I've tried. … Read more