Zu Audio OMEN Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Zu Audio OMEN Loudspeaker Reviewed


Zu_Audio_OMEN_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review.gifThere seems to be a loudspeaker movement underway in Utah. A movement that began with Wilson Audio now includes brands such as RBH and Zu Audio. Zu Audio has been around for about 11 years now and is the brainchild of Sean Casey and Adam Decaria. Zu Audio prides themselves on hand built, high quality, affordable loudspeakers built right here in the good 'ol US of A. Zu Audio offers several different loudspeakers but their entry level series is the OMEN series with the OMEN representing their entry floorstanding loudspeaker. The OMEN retails for $1,500 a pair and is available direct via Zu's website.

Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore subwoofer pairing options in our Subwoofer Review section.
• Look for an amplifier to drive the OMEN loudspeaker.

The OMEN is a compact floorstanding loudspeaker measuring 36 inches tall by 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. The OMEN weighs a respectable 53 pounds apiece thanks in part to its hefty MDF construction with real wood veneer on top. Standard finishes include Ghost Black (black ash), Honey Walnut and Sangria Red, though custom finishes, including automotive lacquer finishes, are available at an extra cost.

The OMEN utilizes a single, 10-inch full-range driver coupled to a single super tweeter. The OMEN has a reported frequency response of 34 - 25,000Hz with an efficiency of 98dB into a nominal 12-Ohm load. In other words, the OMEN can be powered by amplifiers with power ratings as low as four Watts on up to 200 Watts, which is the OMEN's maximum input power rating. The OMEN utilizes zero crossovers or filters of any kind, for that would "color" the speaker's sound - in fact the machined billet super tweeter doesn't kick in until 12,000Hz and up. Another way the OMEN achieves its surprising bass output is thanks in part to its unique cabinet design, which employs Zu's own ZuRG driver/box/room loading technology. You can read more about Zu's ZuRG tech in the OMEN DEF feature review.

In terms of the OMEN's sound quality the best way to describe it is seamless. Those of you unfamiliar with full-range drivers should do yourselves a favor and hear one properly implemented in a loudspeaker such as the OMEN, for it is a thing of beauty. Vocals were rich with lifelike tone and presence that bordered on palpable. Despite its compact size, the performance was still appropriate in its size and scale, even when playing back orchestral works, for the OMEN is one of those speakers that can really jam if the mood calls for it. Bass was surprising from such a compact loudspeaker, though a subwoofer will most likely need to be used in most rooms for full-range sound - although some of you with smaller rooms might be able to do without. The OMEN's high frequency response is smooth and grain-free and remains largely composed at high volumes, though if you push it too hard (just like any loudspeaker) it will compress and get a touch nasty. In terms of dynamics, they don't get much better than the OMEN and its soundstage is equally impressive, possessing astonishing width and depth with solid definition throughout. For a $1,500 a pair, the OMEN is an astonishing achievement from both a build and performance standpoint.

Read about the high points and low points of the OMEN loudspeaker on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Zu Audio OMEN Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

4

Value

4

Overall

4

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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Zu_Audio_OMEN_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review_black.gifHigh Points
• The OMEN's build quality is first rate and its finish is exquisite at its price point. Furthermore, some of Zu's custom finishes rival higher-end brands such as Wilson Audio, albeit at a much lower price point.
• The OMEN's design and construction allow it to be paired with a wide variety of components including but not limited to entry level AV receivers on up to more esoteric tube gear like my Decware single-ended triode amps.
• The OMEN's sound is infectious for it's so smooth and natural, especially throughout the midrange that you'd be hard pressed to fault it considering the OMEN's modest asking price.
• The OMEN produces a surprising amount of bass for such a small, compact loudspeaker, thanks in part to its full-range driver and unique cabinet construction.
• For those of you looking to support local business and the US economy, the OMEN speaker and Zu Audio for that matter are manufactured and built in the USA and come with a five year warranty.

Low Points
• The OMENs sound their best when the center of their 10-inch full-range driver is placed close to ear level, which given their rather low profile may require you to adjust your seat or place them on a small stand or platform of some type.
• The OMENs, like all Zu Audio speakers, do not have speaker grills, meaning their somewhat delicate full-range drivers remained exposed at all times. Those of you with children have been warned.
• Because of their unique construction the OMEN needs to maintain a constant distance from your floor, otherwise they become a sealed design, which will skew their performance specs rather handily.
• Though some have labeled the OMENs as "party speakers," they don't like super high volumes as much as you'd think and can sound aggressive and compressed when driven hard.
• For true full-range sound reproduction you'll want to mate the OMENs to a subwoofer or two, which does add a bit to the budget, especially considering you'll need a subwoofer that is as fast as the OMENs are.

Competition and Comparisons
Truth be told, there aren't a great deal of $1,500 loudspeakers out there that rival what the OMENs are capable of achieving. I didn't say there were none, just not a lot. One possible option would be Aperion Audio's Grand Verus Tower Loudspeaker which retails for about the same money, features a slightly more lifestyle friendly cabinet design and is equally adept at playing a wide range of musical genres much like the OMENs. I think the OMENs possess that last ounce of "magic" that full-range drivers tend to have going for them, especially when mated to tubes, but that's not to suggest the Verus Towers are the lesser speaker - just different.

Another option, one that appears eerily similar to the OMENs themselves, is the Tekton's M-Lore loudspeakers. The M-Lores are made in the USA (Utah ironically), feature full-range drivers with high efficiency, are about the same size and shape as the OMEN, yet retail for $649 a pair or less than half as much. Like the OMENs, the M-Lores are built by hand and come with a 30-day money back guarantee. I have not heard the M-Lores personally (though a review is in the works); suffice to say that on paper the two appear evenly matched.

For more information on floorstanding loudspeakers including the latest news and reviews please check out Home Theater Review's Floorstanding Loudspeaker page.

Conclusion
For $1,500 direct, the OMENs represent a considerable value - one that should provide any budding or even die-hard enthusiast with years of enjoyment - in some cases becoming the last speaker one would ever purchase for their sound quality is that infectious. For true full-range sound they require a subwoofer and careful consideration must be taken to ensure they're properly installed and situated in your room for the best possible performance but then what compact floorstanding loudspeaker doesn't have those same issues? I won't go so far as to classify them as class leaders or "giant killers" for that distinction belongs with their larger sibling the OMEN DEF, but they are very solid performers offered at a reasonable price.

Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore subwoofer pairing options in our Subwoofer Review section.
• Look for an amplifier to drive the OMEN loudspeaker.


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