iFi Audio – ZEN Phono
Product Summary:Technology keeps pushing the miniaturization, value, and sound quality of these amazing phono preamplifiers. iFi has a winner with its Zen Phono Preamplifier.... Click To Read More
Trial Period 45 Days
Countries Shipped North America
Break-In Time 100 Hours
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The ZEN Phono Preamplifier is a one of a kind phono stage. Using trickle down technology from AMR/iFi phono pre-amps, iFi has created features, performance, and eye-pleasing aesthetics that bring a new, refreshing feel and sound to any room. The noise floor is an amazing whisper-quiet –90/96dB (36/60dB, BAL 2V/SE 1V, A-weighted) on MM/MC respectively. It can handle moving magnet and moving coil cartridges from <0.25mV to >2mV and brings true high-end performance and flexibility to the novice vinyl collector. A custom-made Intelligent Sub-sonic filter can distinguish between a warp in the vinyl record and a true bass note, letting low and mid-range frequencies pass through untouched. Together these features deliver a hassle-free listening experience free of unwanted noise or complicated setup.
LPs + ZEN = Magical combo.
You’ve spent years building your dream LP collection. We know because we have done the same!
The ZEN Phono is a wonderful enhancement to your vinyl setup. It will max out every MM/MC cartridge.
Choc full of AMR/iFi trickle-down vinyl technology, it will have you poring over your LPs into the wee, small hours.
Spec’d to make you smile
Unlike any other entry-level phono stage. The ZEN Phono has:
- MM/MC from 36dB >72dB gain. Super-silent noise floor -151dBV
- Precise RIAA with Balanced output, performance comparable to +$1k phono stages
- AI sub-sonic filter. Addresses warp without eliminating bass or causing phase issues
Flagship phono amplifiers create their own power supply off the mains, like a mains regenerator. This is fundamental to a well-designed phono stage. Without this, it will struggle to amplify the signal without added noise. This is why phono stages ‘hiss’ so annoyingly.
Unusually, the ZEN Phono has its own high-tech clean power supply. It creates a 1.2MHz power supply (20,000x mains frequency of 60Hz). In this circuit, a 10uF filtering capacitor = 200,000uF at lower, audible frequencies. With serious levels of noise filtration, it performs at the level of well-designed LC filtering circuits as found in classic tube amplifiers. Further, located on its own ‘island’ PCB, it is isolated so there is no noise pollution of the analog stage.
Just super clean +/- 12V DC.
Measured EIN (Equivalent Input Noise) is -151dBV. It is 20dBV quieter than some Stereophile Class A+ phonos which are -131dBV.
The EQ circuit uses multiple TDK C0G capacitors in parallel. This is for the best stability and the least distortion. They beat polystyrene capacitors and are close to Teflon. Read more here.
Already using the lowest tolerance capacitors combined with multiples in parallel, tolerance is exponentially improved by the square root of the number of capacitors. This is quite a natty circuit design.
The RIAA EQ tolerance level (+/- 0.15dB) is impressive as it is en par with hand-selected capacitors!
With great circuit comes great components
The ZEN Phono has some seriously good audio components backing up the fab circuit design which has trickled-down from its ultra-fidelity AMR PH-77 and iFi iPhono siblings.
Scroll down for more on the most consequential circuit highlights/boutique components.
The intelligent sub-sonic filter is from the iPhono range and is quite special.
Normal sub-sonic filters remove ‘rumble’ AND bass and cause phase issues.
Our unique AI phono sub-sonic filter removes ‘rumble’ only.
With MM/MC, high/low and very low, the ZEN Phono is able to handle just about any cartridge. From 36dB all the way up to 72dB. So as your vinyl system grows over time, the ZEN Phono will always keep up.
Balanced circuit design. Just not seen at this price point it is a superior method to the traditional single-ended circuit approach. Balanced circuits reduce noise and crosstalk. Less Interference – clearer sound.
This OV series operational amplifier is another example of a top-notch component used to get extremely low noise, low distortion (0.0001%), and wide bandwidth. Learn more here.
Panasonic ECPU capacitors. Each ECPU capacitor is constructed from some 3,500 layers of ultra-thin dielectrics less than 0.5μm thickness. It offers class-leading Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), low impedance and frequency stability, and vanishingly low distortion.
TI low-noise ICs offer great unity-gain bandwidth, very low noise, and distortion, high output drive capability, Common-mode, and Power Supply Rejection Ratios of over 100 dB, wide maximum-output-swing bandwidths, and high slew rates. Learn more here.
TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications. They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.
muRata control-type, low-ESR high-Q multi-layer capacitors. The ‘ESR control’ aspect of the Murata is something special. Their noise suppression abilities are impressive.
Great value for the price
I had my Stanton ST.150 turntable connected to the phono input of my Marantz PM6006 integrated amplifier until now. The phono stage on it is good for a mid-range built-in amp and while it sounded pretty good, I was always left wondering if I could get more out of a dedicated stage.
This little ifi Zen Phono has been the perfect choice for me. I did not want to spend a lot of money on a high-end one and the others all seem either too lazy and cheap or mediocre from the opinions I have read.
So when I saw this latest ifi model, I decided to jump into the pool and buy it. Well, I couldn’t be happier with it. The sound from my Stanton ST.150 and my Ortofon Concorde MKII stylus has gained a ton of detail, warmth, and reduced background noise. Connected to my Topping A90 amp it sounds great. I have tried it with several headphones and it is a joy. It shines especially with the Grado RS2e and the Beyerdynamic DT-1990s and also with speakers in a stereo system. If they are high resolution like my Klipsch, a joy.
I like it so much that although at the moment I have it connected only through the RCA output I have already ordered a 4.4mm cable to dual XLR to get the most out of it.
- INPUTS – Selectable MM and MC cartridge input
- OUTPUTS – RCA and Balanced 4.4mm Pentacon Outputs
- CUSTOMIZE TO YOUR TURNTABLE SETUP – Ultrawide 36dB to 72dB gain
- INTELLIGENT – subsonic analog filter
- ACCESSORIES – Includes 5V DC power supply and RCA cable
|Gain settings||MC (v lo)@||72dB (+/- 1dB)|
|MC (lo)||60dB (+/- 1dB)|
|MC (hi)||48dB (+/- 1dB)|
|MM||36dB (+/- 1dB)|
|AI Sub-sonic filter||Remedies only the ‘warp’ in LPs||No negative impact to bass response|
|Max Output Voltage (RMS)||20v RMS bal output into 100k (< 1% THD & N)|
13.5V RMS bal output into 600R (< 1% THD & N)
|200 Ohm resistive|
100 Ohm resistive
|Input impedance||MM: 47K Ohms|
MC High: 47K Ohms
MC Low: 1.4K Ohms
MC V Low: 110 Ohms
|Signal/Noise Ratio:||94dB(A) MM re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL|
80dB(unweighted 80kHz BW) MM re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
84dB(A) MC Hi re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
71dB(unweighted 80kHz BW) MM re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
90dB(A) MC lo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
79dB(unweighted 80kHz BW) MC lo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
79dB(A) MC vlo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
69dB(unweighted 80kHz BW) MC vlo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
|EIN (equivalent input noise):||0.6nV|/Hz (unweighted) MC lo/vlo|
6.5nV|/Hz (unweighted) MM/MC hi
|-151dBV (A weighted)|
-141dBV (unweighted)-130dBV (A weighted)
|Harmonic Distortion:||< -110dB / 0.0003% MM re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL|
< -80dB / 0.01% MC lo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
< -86dB / 0.005% MC vlo re 2V BAL/1V UNBAL
|Dimensions||158 x117 x35 mm|
6.2″ x 4.6″ x 1.4″
|Power Supply:||DC 5V / 500mA|
|Net weight:||515g (1.14 Ibs)|