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First rumblings. "I know your pair is inbound awaiting the Duelunds' arrival in Utah. This is just to increase anticipation. Personally I am so happy, I cannot restrain my excitement. I don't know whether I should share my opinion before your review but I'll take a chance: Best Zu ever, better than the Def 4! I don't have the Duelunds but Salvo changed the stock capacitor to the Intertechnik Audyn-cap which he claims is one of the best high-pass filter caps on the planet. The Duelund may be a little better still but as I'm 150% satisfied already, I really don't feel the need to try any others. I don't know whether it's the shallower cabinet or the single widebander but the soundstage is truly 3D holographic. The Radian 850 is comparable in quality to the TAD drivers in Salvo's German hornspeakers and really one of the best compression tweeters available.

Giuseppe's system with Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB MkII, Convergent Audio SL1 Legend preamp, Plinius SB301 power amp, TW Raven One turntable, Leben CS250P amp standing by

"The Druid V reflects perfect choices in a very simple but well-executed project. We also tested the Druid V with Salvo's personal Zanden 300B SET and the results were unbelievable. Transparency, dynamics, textures, tone, tonal balance - everything was in place. Only the break-in time was exhaustively slow. During this period the speaker changed its personality a lot. The floor gap also was very important to fix the correct low-frequency extension. My room is around 65m². After several setup adjustments the low end—probably the only aspect where the Definition 4 actually wins—now is satisfactory. With the Submission you will be in an even better position." - Giuseppe d'Agata

With Zanden Audio's Model 7300

Not having heard any of Zu's fully nano'fied models since my Essence had launched, it was interesting that someone familiar with the Definition 4 would give the new Druid the nod. Of course theoreticians expect comb-filter effects from the Def 4's D'Appolito array and unavoidable interactions from its active subwoofer inside the same enclosure. The smaller simpler speaker really might have measurable advantages to make a Druid V/Submission combo a viable alternative not just for the wallet but on raw performance. That would be 'simple really does it' and find that instead of a publicity stunt or price-point fill, the reborn Druid actually was the brand's full undiluted essence. No wonder then the actual Essence had been discontinued.

with FirstWatt SIT-2

21 January 2013 17:58: Burn-in finally hit the 600-hour mark including the Duelund VST Cu caps. Your pair is getting detailed ready to ship. I've also ordered a 1:1 Lundahl high-to-line-level transformer to mate the Submission to systems with bridged amps. This will have proper case work and be available to all. Beginning this year all our speakers receive 600 hours of near soak-test-level burn-in with music dynamically varied (low levels during production hours, cranked to '11' for the remainder of the day and non-working weekends). We are in an industrial park with a liberal 24-hour workday noise ordinance.

Burn-in is done in matched pairs to the complete electromechanical system of drivers, cable harness, connectors and high-pass network. This part of our manufacturing and forced aging is an important stage of our latest quality assurance program. It's all done before final assembly where guts meet cabinet and final tests and measures are performed.

With the 15lbs Radian 850 tweeter assembly, heavier larger-motor widebander and massive 6061-T6 billet base, the 80lbs Druid V eclipses its predecessors—Mk.I through Mk.IV/08—by more than 20 pounds. Unless you're particularly frisky, the days of casually slinging one over your shoulder are over. So is complaining about a hooded treble. The new tweeter vaults straight into modern super turf though with a 1st-order 8kHz high-pass, it's admittedly brought in two octaves above where its common Beryllium, diamond and related hi-tech competitors start strutting their stuff. Even so its shallow filter means it remains well active below. With Duelund cap this treble system makes zero excuses to anything. It's probably fair to say that you'll be hard-pressed to find its equal in another sub €10K speaker not a Zu. (The integral micro textile cover across it simply prevents dust from getting into the gap and voice coil.)

With quad-core iMac (PureMusic 1.9), SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Metrum Hex, Concert Fidelity CF-080XLS

Like a car or motorcycle whose center of gravity seems beneath the asphalt, the new plinth makes the Druid V seriously bottom-heavy. Given how high its two massive drivers are off the ground, this makes for much improved stability and mechanical grounding. 16Ω load impedance means that most amplifier power ratings are being halved. I had on hand FirstWatt SIT amps, Bakoon's AMP-11R, Clones Audio's 25i and Yamamoto's A-014 300B SET with premium Takatsuki or EML XLS bottles and 16Ω tabs. Finally I had the big ModWright KWA-100SE for a brush with on paper perfectly redundant but perhaps still beneficial high power.

Tweets. As a Zu fancier, the critical 'as is' range is the upper midrange/lower treble of the whizzer's lair. No matter how superior the actual tweeter—and this one is mega—what follows below isn't covered by as super-quick and dedicated a small unit as the 4.5" Fostex in my Gladius 3-way. It's covered by a wrapped edge of stiff paper like a vet's paper collar you've seen dogs wear. In this region Zu's universal weapon of 10.3" hard-hung widebander still isn't as illuminated, informative or resolved as what happens outside this 1-3kHz window now that the three top octaves have gotten spit-polished to inspection levels whilst the main cone has undergone chemical doping for higher rez. Don't look for a Rethm, Voxativ or Lowther-type super-modulated presence region. Despite plenty of sparkling ultra fizz on its very top and clearly tweaked-up general reflexes, the Druid doesn't come with their peculiar vocal zoom function. That's not where this transducer accelerates hardest [Kinan Azmeh & Dinuk Wijeratne's Complex Stories, Simple Sounds at right].

It also means that the spiderwebbiest of decays don't track as long. Using one of my standard tracks ["Promenade" from Melos by Vassilis Tsabropolous, ECM] its sharply struck signature triangle had proper air and carbonation at its very top but the lower lazier harmonics shut down clearly sooner than they do with my Fostex/Raal ribbon Cypriot combo. Extreme micro ambient recovery—what we might call spatial wetness—isn't the Druid's beat. It's somewhat more damped and thus less generous on ring-outs and fade trails.

Zu's extra torque unleashes where the Lowther types lose their lunch: in the power zone between 100 - 250Hz. Play any music with driving beats—inspired by the BBC's hilarious Death in Paradise, I cued up some Caribbean Zouk, Sakésho and solo Mario Canonge—whose entire gestalt revolves around this solar plexus of upper bass. Here the Druid V kicks hard where other widebanders go soft and polite. Fiery drum rolls, furious fistfuls of syncopated left-handed piano chicanery, cracking rim shots, tipsy steel drums, counter-punching snarling bass... it's those lower-chakra elements of virile charge and exuberant physicality which the Druid V caters to with special readiness.

That doesn't pigeonhole it a rocker as though it couldn't do Baroque. It's simply a convenient albeit lossy characterization which nearly instantly sums up obvious strong points. What it fails to include is the acquisition of serious refinement since the original's days. This makes the widebander principle far less of an exotic curiosity where obvious shortcomings are traded for special virtues. Now it's simply another valid design choice of arriving at a modern well-resolved linear speaker that sounds very 'normal' to cut unceremoniously to the chase.