The budget friendly Zu Omen has gone through a few changes over the years. An official “Mk2” version was released into the public’s eye at T.H.E. Show in Newport.
While the Omen remains the entry level floorstander from the company, it still often feels like one of the very few qualified entry points into high end audiophilia on display in the $1-$2k range. You can no doubt find a few similar finical offerings from companies like KEF or GoldenEar, but very rarely will they be loaded and ready to hear in the listening rooms. This Omen marks the [second time] I have heard a sub $2k pair of speakers at a show from Zu that felt completely in place among the ever expanding rows of big money rooms. Granted, this time around the $1,800 loudspeaker was driven by a very capable pair of solid state Pass Labs amplifiers, so the setup did have a fairly pretty back end pushing it. Even so, the devices actually creating the sound waves can be found in the same pricing ballpark as a few feet of high end cable.
The new Omens feature the same nano-coated drivers as the Mk.I-b (upgraded from the original), but with some significant updates to the tweeter assembly and cabinet. The Eminence ASD 1001 aluminum alloy dome is now supported by an all new lens and high pass clarity cap. Structural revisions include a new cabinet design with stainless steel inserts and an updated backplate assembly. On paper and in execution, the Zu team has produced another tight package for the average man (or woman) to sink their teeth into. For those with slightly loftier goals, Zu also had their full-range Druid ($5,400) ready to be swapped out into the rig consisting of Rega RP6 turntable and Neve console acting as a pre amp, no digital sources this time around.
I caught up with a multitasking Sean Casey backstage on their adjacent porch on Sunday afternoon. The scene had been painstaking (but yet somehow effortlessly) recreated as an homage to the a classic freshman university dorm room. Sean’s creative well continues to sprout new products into the market, including a upcoming high end piece called Experience that should debut in the $30k area. At that price point the new loudspeaker would land just above the company’s upper register $12k Definition but just under the flagship Dominance ($64k).
Update: (Sean’s remarks from the comment section below)
“The “Neve” console was a Rupert Neve Design 5060 (RND is Rupert’s new effort). Phono pickups were Zu/DL-103 (standard on the Rega P6 and Prime on the Luxman PD444. Phono stages were both K&K. And as for the room, no painstaking efforts there, we fit what would fit in the truck, drove from Ogden to Newport, unloaded, gave it a quick eye/ear and called it (yes, we did get the slipsticks and lasers out, but that was just to mirror the mate). Thanks to all that attended.”