Early review of Zu Audio Omen Def - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 03-26-2013, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello fellow AVS clones,

Long time lurker here but not too many posts thus far. I, like many of the lurkers on this board, am a "real world audiophile." I say real world because I have a living room for my theater (at least for a little while longer but I will be building a dedicated theater room soon). I don't have uber expensive gear ie.... McIntosh, Nordst cables, Moon Audio ect. I do however have what many would consider entry to high end gear.

Prefacing my review I will give you a little insight to my set up. It consists of:
Arcam AVR 300 receiver
Oppo BD 83 Blueray player
NAD T534 DVD/CD player
Zu Audio Omen Def main towers
AV123 Bigfoot RSC200 center
Seaton Submersive Sub
Kef Q70 surrounds
Cables are from Blue Jeans and Monoprice

I also have a Marantz 2230 (1973 model) that is about to get repaired but is currently being used with the NAD player and a Carver AV505 amp.

I will begin my review by saying that I have toiled over the "Zu" sound for some time now. I have owned the speakers for about 3 weeks now and have seen dramatic changes withing that period of time. You see, I am a fairly intelligent man but, unlike some of the engineers on these boards, I didn't get to finish my engineering degree due to kidney failure and resulting transplant. None the less, I do know what to look for with regards to music reproduction and have been critically listening to some pretty nice gear for 30 years at many of my friends homes and my own. I toiled with the sound because it is simply different than the laid back (non fatiguing) sound that I have heard from SOME big name, big budget speakers I have heard. Now, I have had the pleasure of spending quality time with some Montana KAS towers and Wilson Sashas driven by McIntosh gear. These are truely great sounding speakers and neither fit into the dreaded laid back audiophile sound category. Different is the best description of what I am hearing. The reviewers are right. full range sound without crossovers does have it's benefits.

These speakers arrived via UPS and arrived in good shape. Boy are they shipped in imposingly huge boxes. That's because they ARE imposingly huge! Once I got these guys unboxed, I was simply taken aback by their sheer presence. The fit and finish is excellent. Rapping on the cabinet produced a nice, solid thunk though not quite as inert as the Wilsons and Montanas. They are remarkably well braced for this price range though. I bought them with a B stock cabinet and the blemishes were all but invisible without a magnifying glass. They have the new upgraded drivers seen in the Superfly and Definition models. Sean, after investigating what my listening habits and preconceived wants were, recommended that we upgrade the caps to the Clarity brand to get that "open and airy" sound that we talked about.

At first I was really unimpressed with these speakers. They sounded clinical and had very little low end. When I spoke with Sean and Christian, they assured me that If I would give it at least 2 weeks at home and allow them to burn in a bit and come to my home's operating temp, that I would be shocked at the difference I would here. Now from a sales perspective I could understand why they would tell this because lots of companies want you to get used to the sound you are hearing. No amount of "getting used to" was going to make me fall in love with what I was hearing.

I finally took an entire day out of my schedule to fiddle with placement, fine tune delays, level match ect...and was not much more impressed. I could tell a little difference but attributed that to better placement. About a week later they seemed to really be opening up so I played hooky from work and did a complete set up with my Sub and tried to get good integration. What a disaster it was. I had all kinds of phase issues pop up and the home theater aspect of these speakers was really disappointing me. The next day I played around a bit more with sub placement and moved the speakers a little closer to the wall. I also toyed around with the height of the plinths. Man, it all the sudden started to sound nice and tight and after adjusting the crossover point it just kept getting better.

Fast forward a few more days. Just like they the Zu crew said. They are opening up more every second I have them running. I spoke earlier of the Zu sound that I toiled with. The Zu sound, at least to my ears, is much more seamless than most I have heard. The word "cohesive" is used by some of the reviewers. If you are a lover of Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Kansas, or Rush, you are will be in for a treat. I am jumping ahead of things though at this point. Today I did some really critical listening of Chesky Records Ultimate Demonstration Disk. I ran it through my Arcam AVR 300 and the Oppo player. I was not prepared for what I heard!

I used to play this disk to show off some custom designed towers. I would always use the old Marantz 2230 though because, as good as my Arcam sounds, it was just embarrassed by the Marantz. When I first got these new Zu's I listened to this disk through the Arcam! Again, totally unimpressed. Today, It was like a totally different set of speakers. Very weighty, detailed, open, and percussive. I listened to a few tracks of note that I will cover here.

First up was Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pidgeon. The first thing that I noticed was that her voice seemed to be very "live" sounding. Each shake of the shaker was easily discernible from the next. The big bass felt very tuneful and each pluck sounded as if you could hear the musician's fingers initially touch the strings. The resonance of this instrument was as if you were playing it. The piano sounded as if you were just out in front of it.

Next up was "ask me now by McCoy Tyner and Joe Henderson. The sax sounded as if you could actually hear the wetness in the reed. Each valve could be heard closing and opening. The sax sounded as if it was 6 to 8 ft out in front of me, dead center stage. The sound stage that the Omen Def produces is, in a word, immersive!

Last up was probably my favorite. Grandma's hands by Livingston Taylor. As the disk stated, this was an excellent test of mid range purity. The finger snaps did indeed sound flesh and bone. A light foot tapping could be heard that frankly, I had never heard before.

I listened to quit a few different genre of music today. Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Seether, Alice in Chains, Godsmack, Metallica, and Travis Tritt. How's that for culture shock. All I needed was a little Snoop Dog and I would have covered the gamut. Each one sounded incredible through my Omen Defs. I followed music listening up with a few movie demo clips.

These speakers are equally impressive for home theater use. Again, the sound stage is huge! It sounds like an Imax theater in my home but with much better impact. I put in a few of my favorites beginning with Master and Commander. WOW! every board in that ship creaked and squeeked. It sounded as if every wave was in the room with me. These speakers, teamed up with my recently upgraded 2400 watt Submersive, produced a startling effect. Felt and sounded as if the cannons were mounted to my couch!

The biggest single difference I have heard with these speakers vs others was experienced today with Superman Returns. The orchestra music in the intro was awe inspiring. I quickly cued up two more of my favorites. First was Saving Private Ryan. The Omaha Beach landing was as if you were there! Every splash, bullet ricochet, impact, and shell casing had detail that I had never heard before. I followed this scene with the PODs emerging scene from WOTW. The sound levels that the Omen Defs are capable of are staggering. I measured, at listening position 12 ft from sound stage and 14 ft from the sub, peaks of 120db and I had more to go!

Last up, just a few minutes ago. I listened to a drum session with Dean Castranovo. His kit was litterally in the room with me. By the way, all music was played without the sub, full range, and with just a bit of bass and treble attenuation. Not pure direct mode I grant you but not boosted too much either.

I will conclude this "early" review by saying this. I have traditionally been a harsh critic of buying without hearing equipment. That being said, my experience with the Zu crew has been very positive. When the say that it will take quite a while to see the ultimate benifits of these speakers, they are not shi**** at all. Per my experience thus far, the Omen Def is a fantastic value and should be on anyone's list that is looking for a great sub $3500 speaker pair. If you have tube amps, I am told these speakers are absolutely sonic bliss! My solid state Arcam sounds pretty incredible thru these guys so I an only imagine what my Marantz will sound like with it.

Kudos to the Zu crew! Next up.... a matching center. I can't wait!
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post #2 of 29 Old 03-26-2013, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone? bumpity bump
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post #3 of 29 Old 03-27-2013, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
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No one? Took me like an hour to write this. Would have thought someone was interested in these speakers.
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post #4 of 29 Old 03-30-2013, 11:05 AM
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Miller,

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I have the Omen Def's coming late next week, with the upgraded Mundorf caps...

Your review was a good read...looking forward to getting mine. smile.gif
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post #5 of 29 Old 03-30-2013, 01:29 PM
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I've heard that the Zu's are similiar to the Tekton Design Pendragon's. I read alot of reviews on the 2 brands and eventually went with the lower cost of the Pendragons. Tekton Design also says to give them 20 hrs. to open up and come alive. I have approx. 12 hrs. on them and I can definately tell the difference from out of the box.
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post #6 of 29 Old 03-30-2013, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kensmith48 View Post

I've heard that the Zu's are similiar to the Tekton Design Pendragon's. I read alot of reviews on the 2 brands and eventually went with the lower cost of the Pendragons. Tekton Design also says to give them 20 hrs. to open up and come alive. I have approx. 12 hrs. on them and I can definately tell the difference from out of the box.


Congrats Ken!

I was looking at the pens or the new Enzo. The pens were just too big for my space. If it were not for me getting a good deal off audiogon on a pair omen def mk1-b, I would have ordered the Enzo's...

So what do you think of the pens so far? Did you get any upgrades? Or just the stock version?
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post #7 of 29 Old 03-30-2013, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by tvckmiller View Post

No one? Took me like an hour to write this. Would have thought someone was interested in these speakers.

Miller,

Did you get the latest Def's? The mk1-b?
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post #8 of 29 Old 03-30-2013, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, they are the latest drivers mk1b. They are really starting to shine now. I listen to music in 2.1 now with my crossover at 40 Hz. Just a slight fill on the low end for weight is all they need. Most impressive is their huge, immersive, soundstage. They will take some getting used to though. They are a little forward with female voices. I'm pretty happy so far. Was listening to Dire Straits earlier and I was shocked at the different bass notes that I hadn't noticed before. How much were the mundorff caps? Are they a big step up from the Clarity caps?
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post #9 of 29 Old 03-31-2013, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by tvckmiller View Post

Yes, they are the latest drivers mk1b. They are really starting to shine now. I listen to music in 2.1 now with my crossover at 40 Hz. Just a slight fill on the low end for weight is all they need. Most impressive is their huge, immersive, soundstage. They will take some getting used to though. They are a little forward with female voices. I'm pretty happy so far. Was listening to Dire Straits earlier and I was shocked at the different bass notes that I hadn't noticed before. How much were the mundorff caps? Are they a big step up from the Clarity caps?


The guy I bought them off of (audiogon) said Zu charged him $280.00 for the upgraded Mundorf's. Supposed to smooth out the highs some, won't know until next weekend...as long as they show up Friday that is...

Yea, love Dire Straits, I'll definitely fire up my SACD Hybrid "Brothers in Arms" disc.
I plan the on doing the same as you likely, I'll dial everything in for 2 channel listening, then cross at 40hz over to my dual 18" subs...
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post #10 of 29 Old 03-31-2013, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for the review. I'd definitely be interested in listening to these. Is there anyone in the SF bay area who has some?

Also, has anyone heard both the Omen Defs and the JTR Noesis? The Noesis are currently at the top of my list.
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post #11 of 29 Old 03-31-2013, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by David H. View Post

Thanks for the review. I'd definitely be interested in listening to these. Is there anyone in the SF bay area who has some?

Also, has anyone heard both the Omen Defs and the JTR Noesis? The Noesis are currently at the top of my list.


Haven't heard both, but you have 2 good choices there. I thought about the Noesis myself, but I listen to a lot of music. If I was mostly movies, I probably would have went with the JTR's.
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post #12 of 29 Old 03-31-2013, 04:24 PM
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I've heard the Noesis, but these new Omen Defs sound interesting, so I'd like to check them out before purchasing.

The Noesis are excellent for music by the way; really, they're no joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may just end up going with those cause I need something that will excel at both, plus I've been playing games lately.

Have you heard the Omen Defs, and think based on what you've read the Noesis would be better for movies?
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post #13 of 29 Old 03-31-2013, 05:15 PM
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Just based on what I read...I think both would do good with movies, but the Noesis dont go low enough for 2 channel music listening where the def will go to 30hz or close to it depending on room/setup... plus I just got a good deal on the Def's, so it was hard to pass up

But you're right about the JTR's, I heard nothing but rave reviews about them...wish I had the coin to get both to compare...
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post #14 of 29 Old 04-06-2013, 10:07 AM
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My Def's arrived yesterday. Haven't got them dialed in yet and just doing some 2channel direct thru my onkyo 3008. But I will say this, so far I absolutely love them. The midrange is just killer. The highs are nice and smooth and base is tight and impacts with authority. I listened to everything from country to pop to metal. At 100 db of sensitivity...when cranked up...they will blow your mind. Crystal clear and just loud as hell, never distorts or breaks up. I just listened to "rhythm of love" by Yes at extreme levels thru my onkyo and that song has never sounded so good.


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post #15 of 29 Old 04-07-2013, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mechx View Post

My Def's arrived yesterday. Haven't got them dialed in yet and just doing some 2channel direct thru my onkyo 3008. But I will say this, so far I absolutely love them. The midrange is just killer. The highs are nice and smooth and base is tight and impacts with authority. I listened to everything from country to pop to metal. At 100 db of sensitivity...when cranked up...they will blow your mind. Crystal clear and just loud as hell, never distorts or breaks up. I just listened to "rhythm of love" by Yes at extreme levels thru my onkyo and that song has never sounded so good.



Glad to hear your impressions. Most of the time I run them full range or close to it by just setting the crossover to 40 Hz and turning the sub off but lately have been augmenting the sub in with them for low volume listening. Nice extra weight but not night and day because there isn't much down that low in most music. Still struck by the detail they provide. I recently had a friend bring his Paradigm Sig 8s over and got to AB them. I think the Sigs might have a very slight edge with the highest frequencies due to their Beryllium tweet but the mids and lows go to the Omen Defs easily. For home theater it's no comparison. Pop in Master and Commander and you will see the difference. The Zu's will transport you to the deck of the ship. Every detail is there.

I hope more people get to experience these speakers. They are a throw back kind of product for sure. Can't wait to hear what my old Marantz 2230 sounds like on them.
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post #16 of 29 Old 04-07-2013, 09:30 AM
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Yea, I raised them up a little about 5/8" off the floor and the bass really came alive today. The detail and the soundstage in the midrange is still just amazing me, now I get what everyone has been saying about Pink Floyd's Dark side of the Moon, what a great recording. Listening to Peter Gabriel now, the imaging is awesome.

These are a hidden jewel for sure, they don't get much talk...

Your marantz should sound fantastic with these....the urge to pair these up with a tube amp is...well, I have stop spending money, but soon, I hope. smile.gif
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post #17 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 12:15 PM
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Bought a pair of Omen Def Mk.I-B on ebay yesterday.
The listing stated:
The NanoTec drivers(X4) were installed 6 months ago plus,I had the tweeters upgraded with Mundorf Caps($240)

Does anybody have info on these upgrades?
Specifically, I want to find out how I can verify these upgrades after I get the shipment.
The auction listing shows a pic of a sticker that comes with the upgrade---but I want to actually see the goods--if you get my drift...

I suppose the upgrade is a DIY project?
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post #18 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by hidesertrat View Post

Bought a pair of Omen Def Mk.I-B on ebay yesterday.
The listing stated:
The NanoTec drivers(X4) were installed 6 months ago plus,I had the tweeters upgraded with Mundorf Caps($240)

Does anybody have info on these upgrades?
Specifically, I want to find out how I can verify these upgrades after I get the shipment.
The auction listing shows a pic of a sticker that comes with the upgrade---but I want to actually see the goods--if you get my drift...

I suppose the upgrade is a DIY project?

Yes, Zu offers the MK1-B as a DIY upgrade for the regular Omen Def.
The Mundorf cap is easy to identify, see pic below as the cap is HUGE compared to the stock cap.



The woofers will clearly have "Zu103ND/G1-16" stamped on the center cap of the driver...this identifies the newest upgraded nanotec driver you should be getting.

Hope this helps...
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post #19 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 12:37 PM
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Here's a pic of the regular stock cap, big difference from the mundorf cap. You will easily be able to tell the difference. I wouldn't worry as I'm sure the seller is giving you you all the upgrades included...be sure to let us know how you like them.
Spend some time with placement and height adjustment...I had to lower mine to about 1/4" off the floor (hardwood) to get the best bass response. I originally was thinking that raising them higher was giving me more bass, boy, was i wrong. If you have carpet, get a couple pcs of MDF 14x14, paint them black and put under your defs, it will make a big difference.. smile.gif

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post #20 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 12:56 PM
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mechx,
thank you!
Pics are a thousand words. I appreciate the info.
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post #21 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 01:00 PM
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No problem, enjoy your Def's...and watch your hearing, the Def's can and will cause damage to the ears when cranked too high. I have gotten mine over 110db at the seating position 12 feet away. smile.gif
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post #22 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hidesertrat View Post

I had the tweeters upgraded with Mundorf Caps($240)
Wow, at $240, they were a real bargain.
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post #23 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 04:02 PM
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Wow, at $240, they were a real bargain.

Wrong, as you can see from the above they are mundorf silver/oil caps, quite different than your link... So $240.00 is not unreasonable for both caps "installed". The upgraded caps come with the tweeter. They send you both new tweeters with new caps attached. Then you send the old tweeters back to Zu.
The caps alone can be up to $75.00 each...actually up to $83.00 each on your linked site.
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post #24 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 04:50 PM
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I added the wrong link, but still only $55 each and that's for the 1kV rated versions so lower voltage rated ones will be cheaper (not that a high voltage rating is relevant for a speakr anyway). Hell, I can even get the 1.2kV rated for $49 in Australia and we have a 10% GST added.

Sending the tweets back is relevant, how? You get the same type/model tweeter back, no? So you get someone else's secondhand units?

Having heard a couple of Zu speakers in the past, Def is the correct name for them - after hearing them, I wished I was.

A pair of full range whizzer cone drivers run without crossover beyond a series cap to the tweeter stinks of incompetence in speaker design. Casey shoiuld have stayed building bikes or at least been honest enough to get a white van to sell his speakers out of.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/zu-essence-loudspeaker-measurements
http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/measurements/zucable_druid/
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post #25 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

I added the wrong link,/

Yes, you did, thanks for clearing that up. And I respect your opinion, although your links are irrelevant to the Omen Def's, Casey's designs are not for everyone. We get it, you hate them...and it's ok. Thanks for sharing...
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post #26 of 29 Old 06-09-2013, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

I added the wrong link, but still only $55 each and that's for the 1kV rated versions so lower voltage rated ones will be cheaper (not that a high voltage rating is relevant for a speakr anyway). Hell, I can even get the 1.2kV rated for $49 in Australia and we have a 10% GST added.

Sending the tweets back is relevant, how? You get the same type/model tweeter back, no? So you get someone else's secondhand units?

Having heard a couple of Zu speakers in the past, Def is the correct name for them - after hearing them, I wished I was.

A pair of full range whizzer cone drivers run without crossover beyond a series cap to the tweeter stinks of incompetence in speaker design. Casey shoiuld have stayed building bikes or at least been honest enough to get a white van to sell his speakers out of.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/zu-essence-loudspeaker-measurements
http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/measurements/zucable_druid/
Why the vitriol?
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post #27 of 29 Old 06-10-2013, 08:11 PM
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Folks,
beware of psycho ebay guy by name of tomcentral , selling: Zu Audio Omen Def Mk.I-B /GHOST BLACK on Ebay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zu-Audio-Omen-Def-Mk-I-B-GHOST-BLACK-/261224554009?_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT&nma=true&si=K%252FfihxFITwgqENpq6WfLQI8jB9c%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

Item number:
261224554009

This guy is not a well puppy. I won the bid on his acution. ($2,325) ---and mind you, I am good for it---He called me, wanting to deliver--I said no--proof of delivery for you--proof of payment for me.
He then claimed to be admitted to a hospital, near death--unable to get UPS shipping charges, and called me to insist on local delivery from Arizona to Barstow, Ca.--even from his freaking hospital bed...
Then, called me a "control-freak" for me wanting him to abide to ebay auction terms. Yeahhh, a real piece of work. May he rot in his alleged hospital bed...

Thank God, I got him to cancel the ebay auction. What a POS.....!!!

Control-freak ??? Really?? ? Yes, for sure, when it comes to scammers.....

Anybody out there wants proof of what I say--let me know--I have copies of all his emails, and text messages. Will be more than happy to expose this POS. Just ask me, please.
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post #28 of 29 Old 06-10-2013, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hidesertrat View Post

Folks,
beware of psycho ebay guy by name of tomcentral , selling: Zu Audio Omen Def Mk.I-B /GHOST BLACK on Ebay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zu-Audio-Omen-Def-Mk-I-B-GHOST-BLACK-/261224554009?_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT&nma=true&si=K%252FfihxFITwgqENpq6WfLQI8jB9c%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

Item number:
261224554009

This guy is not a well puppy. I won the bid on his acution. ($2,325) ---and mind you, I am good for it---He called me, wanting to deliver--I said no--proof of delivery for you--proof of payment for me.
He then claimed to be admitted to a hospital, near death--unable to get UPS shipping charges, and called me to insist on local delivery from Arizona to Barstow, Ca.--even from his freaking hospital bed...
Then, called me a "control-freak" for me wanting him to abide to ebay auction terms. Yeahhh, a real piece of work. May he rot in his alleged hospital bed...

Thank God, I got him to cancel the ebay auction. What a POS.....!!!

Control-freak ??? Really?? ? Yes, for sure, when it comes to scammers.....

Anybody out there wants proof of what I say--let me know--I have copies of all his emails, and text messages. Will be more than happy to expose this POS. Just ask me, please.

Would delivery have been COD?
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post #29 of 29 Old 06-11-2013, 11:29 AM
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Seller was willing to take COD, or Paypal.

However, after the close of the auction, he demanded a 3% "Paypal" fee--which was not mentioned in the auction, and which is against Paypal/Ebay regs.
This rubbed me the wrong way, and I refused, since those were not the original auction terms.

He also demanded $100 for gas in order to deliver. I suppose that was not unreasonable in itself.

I used the Ebay "Request Invoice" page to request a final invoice and used the comments section to document our mutual decision to have the item shipped via UPS, with delivery confirmation.
For a sale of approx. $2,500 I wanted everything to be by the book--protecting all parties.
He than initiated an offer to mutually cancel with Ebay. I accepted the offer, and the sale was cancelled.
He texted me, letting me know that I was "just too dificult to deal with"
There were just too many red flags popping up. His insisting on delivery to the very end was a bit strange. More so, since he was unable to drive, being hospitalized.
The auction offered shipping via UPS. I chose that option and was willing to pay for it. Don't know why that makes me difficult to deal with.
Been on Ebay for 13 years, with a perfect 100% rating, over 270 transactions. Never ever had a problem with a buyer or seller.

Oh well--it was not to be. Enough of these unpleasant things. Time to move on and find some other speakers and enjoy life.
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