I was fooling around with a guitar that came into my shop and has the ZW set in it. I had the same thing on a Jackson 11 years ago. It was my first heavily modded guitar and from time to time I still felt sorry for selling it, it was such a long time ago I even forgot how EMGs sound. Today I had that chance again and I must say I am not pleased at all. Back then I never understood what people mean with it being too compressed.
On first impression the 81 is not that hot at all, I have a lil 59 in my Strat and that one sounds more organic, distortion sounds are defined like grains of sand, but EMGs sound a bit muffled. There's lack of clarity and lack of gain when you play normally, but on plam mutes you start to feel again it's not the gain issue. I noticed EMGs have a more "choonk-choonk" kinda voice when your palm mute, but with passive pups they are more vocal, more defined and clearer, they sound more like "oomph" to me
I even tried it against friend's ESP Horizon with an SH-6 which in my opinion is a really killer axe for the money and it just sings compared to EMGs which are very flat, lifeless, altough they have a certain character. No matter what I played with EMGs I always felt some of the Metallica in it.
I intentionally used my main tone setting, as I know SH-6 will be a just slightly too bassy (thumpy) and I was expecting the same or worse from EMGs but it was the complete opposite. Even fiddling with EQ didn't get me the sound I'd like.
For the price and extra accessories you need to put in, like battery and not to mention their stupid quick-connector principle, it's not worth the money, IMHO.