This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Reviewer: Mike Smith
Financial Interests: Click here
Source: Rega Planet slaved to Lessloss 2004, Red Wine Audio modified Squeezebox, Altmann Attraction DAC
Preamplifier: ModWright DM-36.5; Wyetech Labs’ revised Jade [on review]; Lamm LL2 Deluxe; Red Wine Audio Isabella; Shindo Monbrison
Amp: Red Wine Audio 70.2; Shindo Cortese
Speakers: Zu Definition 2, VMPS 626r
Cables: Zu Varial and Ibis; Lessloss DFPC; Zu Mother; Ack! Digital; miscellaneous other
Stands: Salamander rack x 2
Powerline conditioning: Wiremold power strip
Sundry accessories: Sorbothane vibration dampening
Room size: 26 feet by 17 by 9, asymmetrical with numerous halls and doorways.
Review component retail: starting at $11,000/pr

"Knowledge is a polite word for dead but not buried imagination."
- e. e. cummings
In some ways, this review closes a circle. My planet started orbiting the moons around my discovery of Zu. I was on the hunt for an efficient speaker based around a substantial and coherent midrange. I stumbled across the Druids in April of 2005 and over the interceding 3.5 years, have ascended the line. In that time I have owned the Druids, Definition 1.5s, Definition Pros and now the Definition 2s. My acquisition of the Definition 2 pair with its November 21, 2007 delivery makes this a birthday of sorts.

I don't pretend this is a neutral review. The Zu sound captivated me from first listen and continues to bend my ear. A guilty admission? I like to skip to the end of reviews. It misses all the actual content but ultimately I want to know the observer's judgment on the subject. For the similarly inclined, I like these speakers. A lot. I cannot think of another that I would trade them for. For the rest willing to persevere a long missive on the subject, these speakers deserve your attention.

Previous models offered an early choice between active or passive. The stock 1.5 configuration arrived with onboard amplifiers and preset subwoofer equalization. Upgraded Pro status meant burlier subwoofer drivers and a steep learning curve for non audio professionals. For this reason, Zu did not target this model for the home market. Once speakers left the Ogden factory, a trip back to the factory was necessary to go Pro. I originally had the 1.5s and sent them back for the upgrade. Packing and shipping speakers is clearly not impossible but it's not fun either and risks the shipping gauntlet. This approach has been bettered with Zu's stout boxes.

In the Gen 2 model, Zu now has combined the ease of the former 1.5 model with the flexibility of the Pro model, allowing the user to switch on the fly. An internal Hypex plate amplifier is included. Unlike with the Presence, it is not located on the rear (side) of the speaker but above the solid maple bottom plinth.

When my pair arrived, one of the amps was silent. I contacted Zu who immediately offered to replace the amp. Instead, I asked for instructions on accessing it. Zu sent a formal DVD with easy directions. In fifteen minutes I had removed the plinth, found a loose wire, replaced the bottom plate and restored the speaker's upright position.

The speakers arrive configured for the internal amp option. On the speaker back sits an unusual terminal cluster. There are three sets of customized Cardas patented binding posts (my favorites), an attenuator and IEC power inlet. The single central binding posts feed the main front array while the paired posts control subwoofer input and output. Internal wiring runs Zu's patented B3 geometry.

At first inspection, little change is obvious from earlier models. Footprint and outer dimensions are unchanged at 12.8" x 12.5" x 49". Weight remains close to 100 pounds flat per side. Overall placement of primary features has not changed. Cabinet wall junctions have been rounded over slightly more as a minor cosmetic update that belies several meaningful updates where it counts - inside.

Throughout this review, I will reference the older Definition models for comparison. Genealogy is clearly shared, familiarity with them may prove beneficial. Like the next evolution of a superhero suit where powers increase but look remains the same, the old medium-density fiberboard shell has been replaced by a 3/4" super-ply/maple core with composite gelcoat/polyester epoxy shell as subbase for either the now-standard matte finish or optional high-gloss auto lacquer. The latter finish is available in any conceivable color and custom designs are possible. Flames anyone? Cabinet bracing has been significantly increased. Driver and super-tweeter network tolerances have been tightened to 0.1%. Clearly the revisions are evolutionary, not wholesale.

No doubt, the core of Zu's design ideal is their heavily modified Eminence 10.3" driver. Each of their speakers includes it, the Definition 2 two per side. They are proud of it as the owner should be since grills are not an option. This driver is not the fickle flower that comes to mind with general widebanders. It has usable output from around 12kHz down to 40Hz or so though from the measurements in my room, the fronts drop sharply from there.