ZEN Phono
ZEN Phono — the ultra-affordable phono stage from iFi audio

Fall in love with your LPs all over again.

Pedigree. Performance. Peerless.

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.

ZEN Phono — the ultra-affordable phono stage from iFi audio

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

Hissless whisper

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 analogue 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.

ZEN Phono — the ultra-affordable phono stage from iFi audio

Mil-spec RIAA

The EQ circuit uses multiple TDK C0G capacitors in parallel. This is for 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.

ZEN Phono — the ultra-affordable phono stage from iFi audio

Super sub-sonic

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.

Majestic measurements

ZEN Phono: –151dBV
Stereophile Class A+ rated Phono: –131dBV

20dBV

quieter

Cookie-Cutter ‘Sub-Sonic Filter’

Tom Evans who makes very nice phono stages made the following astute comment:

A rumble filter simply adds to the bass cut making your already “cut” records sound bass light. Plus, it “time-steps” the bass in relation to the higher frequencies (where our hearing is most sensitive) so much so it can confuse the ear into believing the bass is playing out of tempo.

iFi solution:

Since the very first iPHONO launched in 2012, we have used our own in-house ‘Subsonic Filter’. It made it into the iPHONO2 and the iPHONO3 and now, the ZEN Phono which is the very first time this filter is seen in such an affordable price level.

As there is only minimal vertical modulation remaining at very low frequencies with an an actual cut LP that is playable, we know that “vertical modulation” at low frequencies must be warp.

So we designed a filter to take advantage of this.

This is not artificial but real knowledge. By understanding fully how LPs are cut and replayed,  it is possible to filter record warp strongly without at the same time attenuating low bass or adding group delay.

As with many other iFi audio products, we’ve incorporated a custom OV Series operational-amplifier. This top-notch component contributes to the extremely low noise, low distortion (0.0001%) and wide bandwidth.

TDK C0G (Class 1 ceramic) capacitors offer high stability and low losses for resonant circuit applications.

Getting ever closer to the theoretical ideal of pure, frequency-constant capacitance, these capacitors reduce capacitor-induced distortion to vanishingly low levels.

They are pricey but are a perfect addition to our products.

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.

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.

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.

Texas Instruments 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.

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Gain settingsMC (v lo)@
MC (lo)
MC (hi)
MM
72dB (+/- 1dB)
60dB (+/- 1dB)
48dB (+/- 1dB)
36dB (+/- 1dB)
AI Sub-sonic filterRemedies only the 'warp' in LPsNo 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)
Output Impedance:BAL
SE
200 Ohm resistive
100 Ohm resistive
Input impedanceMM: 47K Ohms (Load: 110pF)
MC High: 47K Ohms
MC Low: 1K 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)
-119dBV (unweighted)
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
Dimensions160(l) x 113(w) x 35(h) mm
6.3" x 4.4" x 1.4"
Power Supply:DC 5V / 500mA
Net weight:515g (1.14 Ibs)
Warranty:12 months

A big surprise!

“Purchased the iFi ZEN Phono after all the positive reviews. For the money I thought no problem sending it back.
I owned a valve phono amp now priced at £1700. When I compared the two the IFI was clearer and more controlled and for the money it is I believe unbeatable. A big surprise, I have since sold my original phono amp.”

Amazon

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Just buy one!

“Got this to replace a £200 musical fidelity pre amp and cannot believe how much more clarity it brings to my vinyls. Seems to be less noise than my previous phono amp plus there’s no need to unplug RCA cables when switching from MM to MC cartridges if you’re lucky enough to have both! For £130 it’s an absolute bargain.”

Watch the video on the actual Amazon review for the full effect!

Amazon

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Wow, what a great phono preamp!

Got a new Fluance R82 turntable. Tried hooking it up to phono input on my Onkyo 696 AV Receiver. Sounded ok. Next hooked it up using the ifi zan preamp. Sound was much better. Really like listening to my old LP records again.

Amazon

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Nice Upgrade in my System from the Schiit Mani

Easy quick setup. I have only listened to it for 8-10 hours in my system and can tell you it improves as it settles in.

It’s connected to a Fluance RT-85 with 2M Blue Ortafon. It replaced the Schitt Mani phono pre amp. I was impressed with the Mani when it was with the RT-81. Once upgrading to the RT-85, I wanted see if the IFI Zen Phono would push the sound more.

Out the box honestly I was not impressed. By the third track I started hearing clear differences. The sound stage seemed more open as the detail and clarity were clearly better. Horns, drums and acoustics sound more natural. Most importantly in my system the instruments seem to be placed in the right spot. Hard to put my finger on it. It just sounds natural. I am looking forward to how it will ultimately sound.

I do recommend upgrading if you are looking to squeeze out more. The Fluance RT-85 and IFI Zen phono are a great combination.

I have Marrow Audio PH2 phono cables and MA2 interconnects in this system. I have not used the stock cables. Definitely recommend the IFI Zen phono.

Amazon

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Great bang for the buck

“It is the perfect match for the Nagaoka MP-500 cartridge. The subsonic filter is a welcome addition on some of my less than flat records.”

Amazon

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A clear bargain

“This flexible little phono amp looks and sounds great and provides flexibility rarely seen at, or near, this price point. Build quality is solid and the fact that it can work with moving coil cartridges is a bonus. A solid recommendation for those moving up from integral phono stages in amps or turntables. It’s no more than a guess but I suspect you might need to spend at least double to better it.”

 

Amazon

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A first class replacement to the built in phono pre amp found in many amplifiers

The iFi audio ZEN Phono preamp is extremely good value for money this has replaced my old Project phono stage which has served me well since the turn of the century. The iFi audio ZEN phono preamp has a similar build to its headphone amp iFi Zen DAC and it’s fully balanced too much to my surprise and carry the 4.4mm balanced output as well as the normal output. The front is simple with just the power button and a subsonic filter button the rear has the input and the dual outputs a 4 switch gain switch. It is built like a tank but the only thing which has made me remember its price is the power button which rattles when used. The sound quality is really good for the price and could take on more expensive devices.

 

Amazon

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The iFi ZEN Phono Review. Make your Vinyl SING!

“I have a system in the budget room that sounds really good for around twelve hundred bucks and i’ve been enjoying vinyl in that system when i swapped in the ZEN, the first thing that jumped out was the dynamics and the sound and the boogie factor and the slam and the depth and the separation of instruments which i didn’t get from the Mofi…”
Give it a watch to see what Steve says about how the ZEN Phono compare to the Icon Audio PS1 MkII!

Steve Huff

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ZEN Phono – “Yes, you should”

The ifi zen comes highly recommended by a lot of trusted audiophiles from YouTube and the like. So… is it right for you? Yes, you will like it. I currently have a douk audio tube phono amp with upgraded tubes. I also had a schiit mani which my son ran off with. I like all three of these amps and will probably replace my schiit mani. Why do I want all these phono preamps? Because phono preamps change the sound of my music system the most. If I want to change the sound of my system, I simply have to change my phono preamp. Buy the ifi zen. Buy the schiit mani. Buy something else as well. The ones I’ve mentioned sound great… but they’re different.I like the schiit mani because it’s very forgiving with some of my poorly pressed vinyl. I like the douk audio tube amp because it’s open and airy. I like the ifi zen because it’s very detailed. It’s also excellent with my live recordings.Phono preamps are very easy to swap out. At these prices, you should get a few and have fun. Yes, you can get the ifi zen and be happy with it for the rest of your life. Just know you’re getting a great phono preamp.

Amazon

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Looks great sounds great

Probably can get something of similar sound quality for less cost, but no way can you get the build quality or features of this thing as well as the sound quality for $150.

I have previously used ifi stuff before so I wanted to try their latest zen line of products, and can say this is really cool. Look sharp sounds crystal clean and will slot in nicely with any hifi stack.

Amazon

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Amazing value

I do not have multi thousand phono preamps to compare this too. Suffice it to say it clobbered every other phono pre I have in house. And I read at least one review saying essentially this is in the ball park of the expensive phono preamps . So there you have it.

Amazon

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Worth the money, a good performer.

I comp’d this preamp against four others I was deciding amongst: modded RS 42-2111, DIY tube, Puffin, and Slee Communicator 2. This iFi took a week to break in, after which it greatly improved over new. I ran it with a DIY 5V linear power supply. The iFi is a level presenter of music: neither forward nor recessed, not calling attention to itself, not wrongly altering the music. The deeper tonal and timbral elements of well-played instruments were pleasantly revealed. Gave a genuine “Feel” for what the performers and engineers put in the LP’s grooves, didn’t hide anything much. Its playback is very comfortable, but maintaied an energizing pacing/rhythm/timing.

Results: The iFi and Slee were nearly equal in music-savvy and properly vibrant to my ears. I liked iFi more than the Puffin (good try, but too much DSP alteration of the music, adding “effects” and lacking “aliveness”). The DIY and the RS just lacked too much note/timbral richness in comparison, teaching me how delicate is a phono preamp’s circuitry and component choice. So the Slee pulled ahead in clarity and fidelity: it could cleanly reveal background voices that the iFi left slightly muffled. The Slee retails for twice the iFi’s price, but’s worth it. At their price points, the iFi and Slee are excellent values.

Amazon

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iFi Zen Phono Review, Highly Capable Phono Stage

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YouTube

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Comprar a ojo cerrado

Excelente sonido, excelente estética.

Amazon

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Connection advice

The phono stage was very well packed and very well made. I had some slight difficulties connecting to my Exposure 2020 Amp until I experimented connected it to the Tuner input and then it worked perfectly. I would recommend anyone to buy this device.

Amazon

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Brilliant Phono Stage

I recently bought the Zen Phono and I must say that I am very impressed with the sound improvement that I have over my previous phono stage Namely the Schiit Mani there is more definition in the sound of the Zen Phono it sounds like some of the musicians were hiding in the background and they have all been brought forward with the Zen Phono. It is also an attractive unit it matches the other units in the Zen range as can be seen in my Photo. I would highly recommend this unit.

Amazon

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Accurate and Clean and very transparent : Killer Of Giants

Excellent preamp. I tried a Tubebox S2 and it was distorting waveforms and had a horrible 2db chamnel imbalance. Then the Alva Duo. That was great until i discovered oscillation at 30-35kz region. So finally settled on the much more affordable Ifi Zen phono. I was blown away. Great sound, no distortion, clean spectral, Extremely flat frequency response.
Everything youd want in your signal path. No coloration. Tells it how it is.

The power management is great. Very quiet and no noise or hum.

Crosstalk correction, prefect channel balance. More 3D sound with inner detail, boasting frequency extension unheard of anywhere near this price range. Detailed smooth treble, rich mids and accurate bass extension.

Im very pleased this keeps up with preamps and eliminates the competition up to the $500 range easy.

With a VM95ML a real giant killer!!!

Amazon

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Best in Class (by far, actually)

I’m really impressed. I’m only about halfway through my “burn in”, yet it already sounds great. I have a just-serviced Sony PS-X600 turntable with a Biotracer tonearm. This little preamp makes it sing. For the money, it’s pretty amazing. Great buy! Don’t be the least bit afraid of this product. You’ll have to spend a ton more to match the sound.

UPDATE: Burn-in complete. The sound quality is stunning– simply stunning. Friends cannot believe that this little $150 box produces such a wide, well- defined soundstage. This is a true budget audiophile gem.

Amazon

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Excellent phono stage – gain up on my MM cartridge too!

“Something about listening to vinyl with this phono stage makes it better (new toy honeymoon phase?) – the instrument separation is excellent. good sound stage (which i think is dependent on your gear and how the music is recorded and mastered (huge part)). crystal clear – and runs very quiet. no extraneous noise.”
“I took a shot in the dark and it appears as though i’m on the winning end”
Read more…

Amazon

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ZEN Master

“An absolutely outstanding affordable phono stage that delivers a performance far in advance of its cost”

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Hi-Fi Choice

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IFI Zen phono review. A Schiit Mani alternative.

Watch the full review here…

YouTube

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Brilliant little amp

Nothing to dislike

Amazon

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Review: ifi ZEN Phono Stage, Affordable Audio with Great Sound

“An Easy Recommendation”

“The ZEN Phono Stage throws a relaxed, large soundstage with low-end weight and an open midrange from a dead quiet background. It simply belies its price. Most importantly, it engages you. Album after album revealed sound I would associate with products considerably above the price point of the ZEN Phono Stage.”

Watch the full review here…

The Audio Beatnik

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Great preamp

I needed a new preamp and being a fan of ifi Zen line made this purchase a no brainer.
Sound’s great with my mm cartridge and having a 4.4mm output makes it very unique.
You can spend more money (Trust me I have lol ) but unlikely to get better sound than this at triple the price .

Amazon

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Best Price-Quality

Unmatched audio quality for that price!!

Amazon

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Brill

Excellent

Amazon

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iFi Audio ZEN Phono

“There were finesse and power when required, and every record I played sounded more than good enough at least to my ears. True, playing the same records through my own phono stage, at about eight times the asking price of the Zen Phono, delivered a fuller sound, a little better at the frequency extremes, but eight times better? I think not.”
“This is indeed a fine little device, and its current UK selling price represents something rare these days, a bona fide bargain.”

HIFICRITIC

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Awesome product

I do not know why it has taken me all these years before I got myself a dedicated phono stage, however, it was probably laziness as all my AVRs have had phono stages.

Having upgraded my turntable I happened upon this product. It has tremendous professional reviews and I can now see why. I really can hear the difference between my AVRs built in phono stage and this external one.

So simple to use and a thing of beauty to looks at and hold, I would think that this is going to provide many years of pleasure.

Amazon

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Good little preamp

Bought the ifi zen and was not really sure what to expect. But it has really improved the sound quality over the built in phono stage. The subsonic filter works well on older records. Cuts down on background noise. Would defo recommend

Amazon

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Great Value

This Phono pre is about twice the price of the one that I’ve upgraded from, it creates a much lower noise floor and greater clarity during playback, I’ve got to wonder what the ifi Phono 3 can do.

Amazon

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Highly recommended

I bought a Den9n DP47F Turntable from Japan, and it comes with a MC cartridge and on my Marantz 7012 avr it just wasn’t cutting it , so I posed this dilemma to the AV Forums uk podcast and Steve recommended the IFI Zen Phono, his praise for the item sold it to me , and it is a great piece of kit love it .

Amazon

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It’s all about the quiet gains…

“… for the avoidance of doubt, the performance figures for the Zen Phono are serious stuff for a £150 phono stage”

“Pros:
Astonishing performance for the asking price
Excellent specification
Well made

Cons:
Nothing of note”

avforums

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iFi’s “Cost Is An Object” Zen Phono MM/MC Phono Preamplifier

“Well, here, the iFi Zen Phono is clearly the least costly link in a chain that includes the M6, darTzeel electronics and a pair of ($139,000) Wilson Audio Specialties XVX loudspeakers… but were you to sit down and listen to the system without knowing the source, there’s no way you’d imagine you were listening to a $149.99 phono preamplifier.”

“For one thing, the blackest of backgrounds hides the cost. For another, the phono preamp’s spatial delivery was solid, stable and 3 dimensional as few, if any “cheap” phono preamps deliver.”

“I don’t think anyone sitting here would guess they were listening to a $149.99 phono preamp—until I switched to one that was considerably more costly. It’s that good.”

“The iFi Zen Phono is a no-brainer, easy to recommended, timbrally honest, especially quiet MM/MC phono preamp that’s priced near the bottom and performs many steps above its pay grade.”

Read more…

Analog Planet

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iFi Zen Phono review

“Among the cleanest sounding components we’ve heard at this level”

What Hi-Fi?

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Excellent iFi product

iFi is a serious company that amazes us by the price / quality ratio. This phono pre paired with the iFi iPower X power supply becomes a must.

Amazon

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iFi ZEN Phono

“The ZEN contributed a wide soundstage with awesome instrument separation. Detail retrieval from this record was astonishing considering my modest system… A bona fide audiophile component for the price of a few premium LPs, a ridiculous value… The iFi ZEN Phono has given me a deeper and wider view into my recordings, a powerful and necessary upgrade to my system”

Read the full review…

Audiophilia

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sound quality

fantastic build quality and looks absolutely beautiful. however, it’s not about that, it’s about the quality of sound. i purchased this to hopefully improve the sound quality of my yamaha rxa3080 av receiver even though it had a built in phono stage. to my amazement the the quality of the yamaha was extremely good and the IFI AUDIO ZEN could not improve on. this is not to say the ifi zen isn’t any good, it is very good and you should put it at the top of your list if you have a budget to mid range amplifier.

Amazon

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A true touch of British audio ‘class’ and excellent value

Pros
Superb construction quality. It comes with a good (if short) phono cables that appears to be gold plated. Sonically, it is excellent i.e. transparent with good timbre and high dynamic range for many different types of music. The rumble filter is very clever and useful.

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Amazon

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Review del Zen Phono por Fernando Meza

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YouTube

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Zen Phono! reseña: Nada mejor a este precio!!!

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YouTube

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iFi Zen phono, 150 € frente a los gigantes

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YouTube

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Review: iFi Audio ZEN Phono

“The main job of a phono pre-amp is to amplify the phono signal as per the RIAA EQ curve, in as clean and neutral way as possible in my opinion. The Zen phono nails it in that respect, vinyl playback in my system is immensely enjoyable with the Zen phono effortlessly amplifying everything evenly with a clean background. It is controlled and measured yet perfectly balanced, allowing you to enjoy the music as it was intended.”

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Sound Perfection Reviews

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Zen Phono! reseña: Nada mejor a este precio!!!

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YouTube

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Incredible

I’ve used odd bits of iFi kit for years, mainly purifiers and DC power supplies and have always been please with the results.

This is the first piece of their HiFi kit I’ve tried and I’ve got to say I am impressed.

I’ve just tested this back to back against a phono amp which costs over ten times as much and it held it’s own very well.

Read more…

Amazon

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Test iFi Zen Blue, Zen DAC and Zen Phono: an incredible amount of HiFi for 150 euros

“The three test candidates of the Zen family from the British specialist iFi Audio provide impressive evidence of this… The iFi Audio Zen DAC earned the most laurels: It not only shines with its versatility as a USB DAC headphone amp, but also and above all with its fantastic, airy, natural sound – a real favorite killer.”

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LowBeats

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ifi Audio Zen Phono RIAA Preamplifier Review – And Now for Something Completely Different

“The ifi Audio Zen Phono preamplifier is an excellent performer suitable for a wide range of phono pickup cartridges at a budget price.”

Read the full review here…

audioreviews.org

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Helps to provide a full bodied open sound.

Recently I moved and consolidated my audio and home theater systems. My Yamaha receiver does not have a phono section. I asked advice from my audiophile friend. He knew my price parameters and my turntable before he inquired through a friend of his who writes for an high end audio magazine. The iFi Zen Phono Preamp was his recommendation. It’s under $200 and works with MM as well as MC cartridges. It sounds open and full bodied. Superb imaging and clarity. I’m thrilled with the results. I am in a Zen-like state! HAHA!

Amazon

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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.

Amazon

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iFi ZEN PHONO 1st review!

“I can’t think of any other phono preamp that sounds like this for this price”

Watch the full review here…

YouTube

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