If you’re serious about your vinyl, chances are you’ll be interested in a phono pre-amp to replace the one in your integrated amp at some point. Well, if that’s you, and you are looking to leap without spending a ton, then iFi’s new ZEN Phono will likely perk your interest. The $149 ZEN Phono is the latest addition to the ZEN line of affordable high-end audio gear, following the recently released ZEN CAN headphone amp, a device we will be reviewing very soon. The ZEN line also includes the ZEN BLUE Bluetooth DAC, which we reviewed here, and the ZEN DAC headphone amp/DAC, which we reviewed here.
The ZEN Phono is said to offer phono stage performance never before offered at this price, using top quality components to provide ultra-low distortion, while incorporating the ability to support more expensive moving coil (MC) cartridges as well as more common moving magnet (MM) types. Most budget phono-pre amps don’t support MC cartridges at all. Still, ZEN Phono takes this support even further by offering gain adjustment for different MC types, so you can even use it with some more exotic models.
Another feature offered by the ZEN Phono is the subsonic filter, which pulls out any unwanted subsonic output caused by warped records. iFi says their filter surpasses many other “warp filters” by not affecting the deep bass of a recording.
Lastly, it has a balanced output, which is a rarity in this price range. This will allow you to take advantage of the balanced inputs on some of the more expensive gear. Like the other options in the iFi ZEN series, the mix of features and price almost make this phono-pre amp a no brainer!
The iFi ZEN PHONO is available now via AMAZON.
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.