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Rejoice, Vinyl Lovers!
Stereophile "Recommended Component"
A Top Ten Audio Bargain - CNET.com
"It Gave Me a Taste of the Best"
It's no secret that LP lovers have taken a hit since CDs became the sound reproduction medium of choice for the masses. Most manufacturers now design their preamps and receivers without the extra preamplifier gain stage and the RIAA equalization that phono cartridges require. People who still enjoy listening to their record collections have had to settle for using the often outdated phono preamp stage in their bulky older equipment.
The compact and affordable Zphono is perfect for music lovers who want to hook up their analog turntables to today's line stage preamps, amps, and receivers. Parasound's low price and high performance make this unit a favorite with audiophiles.
"[It] gave me a taste of the best that high-end audio has to offer at a price almost anyone can afford. I don't think I can go back," reports Stephen Mejias in his "The Entry Level" column for Stereophile, posted March 15, 2012.
"Parasound's handsome Zphono phono stage is the paradigmatic 'It does what it says on the can' product," notes John Marks in his "The Fifth Element" column for Stereophile.com, December 6, 2014. "I have no idea how they can sell it for $199 –perhaps it's a loss leader to introduce people to the brand."
A Top Ten Audio Bargain
CNET.com listed the Zphono as one of its Top Ten Audio Bargains. "If you're getting serious about getting the best sound from LPs, you need a high-performance phono preamplifier, like the Parasound Zphono ($200). It'll work with any receiver or amp and give you a whole new appreciation of how good LPs can sound," notes Steve Guttenberg in his March 24, 2012 post.
"Clarity and Rhythmic Organization"
Parasound's Zphono won a "Recommended Component" rating in Stereophile.
Stereophile's Michael Fremer praises the Zphono for making "an impressive showing for a budget-priced phono preamp: similar to the NAD PP-2's overall performance, but with more extension, air, and sparkle on top." According to Fremer, "The overall picture had a pleasing clarity and rhythmic organization. Cymbals rang cleanly and with more metallic edge than through the PP-2, and, overall, there was more 'air'."
Huge Performance Features
Parasound’s new ultra-low distortion Zphono preamp is only half as wide as standard A / V components, but it's bursting with huge performance features. If you've got hi-fi or home theater gear that lacks phono inputs compatible with your turntable, the Zphono is the great-sounding, space-saving solution.
The Zphono is Parasound's successor to its critically acclaimed PPH-100 half-width phono stage. Zphono sounds even quieter and cleaner than the PPH-100 and will bring out details in your vinyl recordings that you have never heard before!
The Zphono employs advanced circuitry and high quality components to provide the extra gain stage and RIAA equalization circuitry that are required for highly accurate and low-noise reproduction of the low level output of a phonograph cartridge. In fact, its RIAA curve is accurate to 0.25 dB.
A rear panel switch is used to select between moving magnet or moving coil cartridges. The Zphono also features an exclusive AC line polarity switch to ensure hum-free performance in all installations. Zphono works with all line-level preamps, integrated amps, and receivers. It includes no-mar isolation feet for standalone use and a high-quality removable AC power cord.
Note: Parasound products cannot be shipped outside the USA.
Stereophile "Recommended Component"
"[It] gave me a taste of the best that high-end audio has to offer at a price almost anyone can afford. I don't think I can go back."
- Stephen Mejias, "The Entry Level" column, Stereophile, posted March 15, 2012
A Top Ten Audio Bargain - CNET.com
"If you're getting serious about getting the best sound from LPs, you need a high-performance phono preamplifier, like the Parasound Zphono ($200). It'll work with any receiver or amp and give you a whole new appreciation of how good LPs can sound."
- Steve Guttenberg, CNET.com, March 24, 2012
"Parasound's handsome Zphono phono stage is the paradigmatic 'It does what it says on the can' product. I have no idea how they can sell it for $199 – perhaps it's a loss leader to introduce people to the brand."
- John Marks, "The Fifth Element," Stereophile.com, December 6, 2014
Audio Advisor Insight - Parasound High Value to Price Ratio
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|Product Reviews Click here to review this item|
|I am shocked!|
Call the cardiac unit! I am in shock and I might need a jump start! Okay, okay, I am not really in that bad of condition but I am truly shocked at the performance of the Parasound Zphono phono preamp. And no, no one is paying me to write this review. I have a fairly expensive preamp with a built-in phono section and it was just not cutting it for me. The sound was good but I was missing some expanse of sound that one gets with vinyl. At the price of $200, I would have been silly not to try the Parasound. I had tried some other outboard phono preamps that cost 2-3 times more than the Parasound and was disappointed in the performance of those pieces so hence my expectations for the Parasound were rather low. Well, this is one of those examples of do not judge performance by the price. I would recommend using an aftermarket powercord and I also have my Zphono plugged into a power conditioner but truly, the sonics of this little unit are well above its price point. If you are looking to spend a little and yet get a lot, I would highly recommend the Zphono.
|Addendum to below|
I wrote the review below. Important addendum! I added a Pangea AC 14 power cord to this unit, let it break in, listened again. Huge improvement, especially in the bass, which got louder and punchier. Dynamics overall improved. My review below are what I heard using the stock power cord. I still prefer the sonics of the phono section of my tubed Quicksilver preamp, which have a smoothness and silkiness with massed strings which the Parasound could not match. But with groove heavy material, you might well prefer the Parasound. Do NOT use the stock power cord for anything except to warm it up while youre waiting for your AC 14 to arrive. For $25.00 for the 0.6 meter pr, you can NOT use this unit without it! The improvement is marked....be advised.
|- Mark B, NM|
|Not bad at ALL!....|
I was having some problems with my Quicksilver preamp or so I thought so I bought this little unit as a backup until I could sort the problems out, since most seemed to be phono section related. I really didnt expect much...solid state, high speed op amps yuck!, I thought.. pretty ordinary looking parts. I expected the sound to be a bit grainy, and shut in, as used to be typical of entry level SS. I was pleasantly suprised when I patched it into my signal chain. Bear in mind, I listened to this with a tube linestage downstream of it, which combination I highly recommend...a little bit of tube schmaltz helps this unit out. The sound was clean, clear and correct. No silicon grain, and surpise of surpises, there was plenty of air there...it captured the recording venue with surpising accuracy. Not much coloration could I catch it out on. A bit dry, but to be expected. If the recording was made with tube electronics, it was appropriately liquid. If with SS, it could sound...well, lets just say you could tell how good the electronics were. Pretty chameleon like, for this price point. Now the weaker points: 1. The signal to noise specs dont tell the whole story. Even in MM mode, the unit had considerably more hiss than did the tubed phono stage of my QS...its not THAT quiet of a preamp, but I had no probs with MM, in my system. I would NOT buy this unit to drive a low output MC...not with a signal noise ratio of only 58 db! Its going to be too noisy in the quiet passages. Anyone with low output MC probably isnt going to be looking at one of these anyway! The best way to drive a MC is the old fashioned way...get a PROPER step up transformer, and drive a high quality MM phono stage, the way it used to be done! 2. Once I sorted my probs out, I was able to compare this unit with the phono stage of my OLD Quicksilver full function preamp. That unit has an amazing phono section; it considerably betters the EAR 834P I once had. Via the tape outs into a very minimalist tube line stage, it was clearly the better phono pre, as youd expect. More liquid, compelling sound. Still, the little Parasound sounded amazingly close, about 95% of the time. Not bad! It was during real extremes that the QS showed its stuff. Wilson Audio records Brahms sonata for piano and violin, Op. 78. When Julie Davidson, the pianist, really leans on the keys, triple fortissmo, the little Paraound lost its grip a little bit, and sounded a bit rough. The QS kept it in an iron grip, and kept its focus and sweetness. Thats what a really big power supply will do for you. But the Parasound has nothing to be ashamed of! Do pair it with a GOOD cartridge; its good enough to really appreciate it. Dont pair it with a dull sounding, closed in cartridge like the Shure 97xE, or thats what youll get...dull sound! Now, if you take that same cartridge and put in a JICO stylus, youll get altogether a different sound! The point being, this unit is revealing enough to show you the diff. Recommended! Im using a Shure V15VxMR with the Jico SAS stylus, and I feel NO need to upgrade to a finicky MC.
|- Marc B, NM|
|A true bargain|
Just received the Parasound Zphono a few days ago. The installation was easy and the manual is very informative. So far Id have to agree with the remarks of Stereophiles Michael Fremer....a solid performer that greatly exceeds the standards of its price class. Also, the Zphono is dead quiet in my system, no hum or buzz even at very high volumes. Very happy with my purchase and the unit arrived more rapidly then expected.
|- Dave D, ME|
I purchased the Z-Rack several months ago, including the Z-Pre, Amp, tuner, phono stage and fan. Along with it, I also got the Rega RP3 +Elys and run everything through new KEF bookshelf speakers in an attic office 11 x 14. I like everything about this system! After 2 or 3 days, everything really broke in, the sound is fantastic and the components are very easy to use. I listen mainly to vinyl classic rock, jazz and some classical. Theres nothing that doesnt sound great, from moderately loud Miles Davis to louder Floyd or Zep or Howlin Wolf. And the footprint of this system is nice and compact. You could fit it on a bookshelf. Both AA and Parasound were were very available and easy to work with. My only complaint is that the fan is a bit loud. I dont run it unless Im listening at a certain volume. I would certainly purchase this system again if I had to do it all over!
|- Al T, PA|
At Micheal Fremers suggestion I bought this amp. I couldnt be more pleased! In fact I bought a demo, which was used very little, have it powering my Ortopon MC 10 cartridge, it is a very low output cartridge. I bought a Rega 10-24 turntable equipped w/this cartridge, and the pre-amp for less than 1K, very good amp. Highly recommended!!
|- Jeff D, OH|