• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

ifi Zen Phono Review (phono stage)

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 9.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 57 48.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 46 39.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 3.4%

  • Total voters
    118

sx70nk

New Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
3
Likes
4
Location
New York, NY
Schiit Mani vs Zen Phono

Just to preempt my comment, I am a big fan of the site and trust Amir's measurements 100% - I am also no expert on what any of these measurements ACTUALLY mean. I just get the sense that testing is done objectively by someone extremely knowledgeable who does not try to sell me anything, and I take comfort in that.

Here is my own purely anecdotal observation regarding noise, after replacing the Mani with the Zen Phono two days ago. Amir's test may be pointing to other types of noise than what I am about to say, but the noise I am reporting on was very clearly audible: With the Mani and the volume turned up half way (and before playing the record), there was always an audible hiss coming from my speakers (or my headphones, when using the headphone port of my integrated amp, the Peachtree Nova 300). That noise was only there when playing records (& of course not using the built-in phono stage), otherwise with any digital signal fed into my pre-amp, I could crank up the volume to max and the speakers remained 100% silent. That noise is gone now, after switching in the Zen Phono pre-amp and using the exact same RCA cables (not the balanced port) that were used before. No idea why, just wanted to share this.
 

TOR

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
49
but the noise I am reporting on was very clearly audible: With the Mani and the volume turned up half way (and before playing the record), there was always an audible hiss coming from my speakers (or my headphones, when using the headphone port of my integrated amp, the Peachtree Nova 300). That noise was only there when playing records (& of course not using the built-in phono stage), otherwise with any digital signal fed into my pre-amp, I could crank up the volume to max and the speakers remained 100% silent. That noise is gone now, after switching in the Zen Phono pre-amp and using the exact same RCA cables (not the balanced port) that were used before. No idea why, just wanted to share this.

Did you check on Amirm's Mani2 review? There is a very prominent persistent 60 Hz Power supply noise where Zen Phono do not. I am not sure if this is what you hear from the Mani. :)

Once music start playing, it will drown out the power supply noise. According to Amirm measurement, the Mani should produce better quality sound (less distortion & noise, ie noise other than the 60 Hz hum) than Zen Phono.
 
Last edited:

cgallery

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
39
Likes
43
Can we get someone to record pops and ticks and show the spectrum?

I have a Keith Jarret album w/ a 4th side that is blank but grooved. Recorded two minutes, imported into Audacity, and did a a frequency analysis, is that what you wanted?

Cartridge is an Ortofon Super OM30, phono preamp is a Realistic 42-2109.

two_minutes_of_silent_groove.jpg
 

Bob from Florida

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
607
Likes
492
Can we get someone to record pops and ticks and show the spectrum?
I have 2 copies of Special EFX Double Feature because on track 3 side 2 of one of the copies there is a defect that resulted in a locked track that has a nice loud scratch sound once per rotation. The music playing at that point is at a reduce volume so it makes it a convenient place to get a spectrum recording of a loud “pop”. I recorded it with my spectrum app on my iPad at my usual seated position with the spectrum capturing the low and max peaks of just the locked groove. The low peaks is the music and the space between the low and high peaks is essentially the recording of the loud “pop”. The pop is widely distributed across the spectrum with the highest peak around 700 HZ. Hopefully this will give you some idea of the range of frequencies generated with a major “pop”.

1656508748703.png
 

nothingman

Active Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2020
Messages
272
Likes
411
I have a Keith Jarret album w/ a 4th side that is blank but grooved. Recorded two minutes, imported into Audacity, and did a a frequency analysis, is that what you wanted?

Cartridge is an Ortofon Super OM30, phono preamp is a Realistic 42-2109.

I think that means you measured your stylus-in-groove noise floor for this particular record. It doesn’t tell us what a vinyl pop looks like.

I have 2 copies of Special EFX Double Feature because on track 3 side 2 of one of the copies there is a defect that resulted in a locked track that has a nice loud scratch sound once per rotation. The music playing at that point is at a reduce volume so it makes it a convenient place to get a spectrum recording of a loud “pop”. I recorded it with my spectrum app on my iPad at my usual seated position with the spectrum capturing the low and max peaks of just the locked groove. The low peaks is the music and the space between the low and high peaks is essentially the recording of the loud “pop”. The pop is widely distributed across the spectrum with the highest peak around 700 HZ. Hopefully this will give you some idea of the range of frequencies generated with a major “pop”.

Recorded at your seating position means we’re up against the performance of your whole audio chain and room. I think this is something that would really need to be done straight out of the tonearm leads or out of the phono preamp output (ideally one where we have measurements of the RIAA implementation).

I don’t mean to bash two people trying to help! Especially when I’m not knowledgeable enough in how to get the right measurement myself, but I don’t think these tell us what we’re hoping to figure out.
 

Bob from Florida

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
607
Likes
492
Recorded at your seating position means we’re up against the performance of your whole audio chain and room. I think this is something that would really need to be done straight out of the tonearm leads or out of the phono preamp output (ideally one where we have measurements of the RIAA implementation).

I don’t mean to bash two people trying to help! Especially when I’m not knowledgeable enough in how to get the right measurement myself, but I don’t think these tell us what we’re hoping to figure out.
At this time I do not have the electronics handy to do an electrical measurement. If I did it would be post phono preamp to allow for RIAA correction. While my technique is not perfect, it does show a relative difference between "pop" and no "pop". The "lighter" colored area is the "pop". The distribution shows impact at most frequencies.
 

cgallery

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
39
Likes
43

anmpr1

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
3,122
Likes
5,171
I think that means you measured your stylus-in-groove noise floor for this particular record. It doesn’t tell us what a vinyl pop looks like.
Whenever I've used Audacity for analog, a pop (or is it a click?) manifests as a brief vertical line much higher in amplitude than the music wave. I never checked out the frequency. By expanding the time function in Audacity it is easy to slice out pops, clicks, or ticks. Usually the redaction is not too noticeable in casual listening. Not like a pop which you always hear. It was a long time ago that I experimented, and I don't even remember why I did it.

I read somewhere, or someone told me, or I made it up, that in the days of analog, FM classical stations used open reel to tape records, for later broadcast. Then, if a pop or click was present, someone's job was to splice it out. I have no idea if that ever happened. With the quality of a lot of records, that might be very labor intensive. And unless the tape speed was at least 7ips, you'd think it would be pretty hard to splice out a short pop.
 

Thomas_A

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 20, 2019
Messages
1,974
Likes
1,373
Location
Sweden
Clicks and pops are rather broadband spectral contents and with falling energy with frequency. There is not one type though, depends on whether it is a "pop" or a "click".
 

bracko

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
18
Likes
13
Location
Sweden

bracko

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
18
Likes
13
Location
Sweden
Honestly, this is a great phono preamp. It measures better than PS Audio Stellar at 6% of its price.
 
Top Bottom