Thanks for your answer Matthias.I don't think so. SINAD without distortion (here...) is Signal to Noise. If you change the Parasound's circuit to have 7 dB less gain the noise floor will be 7 dB lower - but the signal too, so SNR (here SINAD) will not change at all. So the Cambridge still deserves the first place for being the most noiseless preamp tested so far.
I don't "collect" either CDs or LPs but I have thousands to listen to.Collecting CD's doesn't make sense to me. However, neither does collecting new vinyl. Most of it is mastered from digital files now. You'd be better off with the hi-res digital files and a good DAC. Would be nice if we could still get most hi-res in a physical format to collect. I miss the artwork and liner notes.
I don't "collect" either CDs or LPs but I have thousands to listen to.
I don't find streaming convenient, mainly for finding what I want to listen to.
CDs are already higher res than my ears so no problem there. LPs have audible shortcomings but there are still plenty of nice enough sounding recordings. IME the recording quality makes a bigger difference to the sound than the format it is distributed on.
I don't think many, if any, CDs are recorded or mastered at 16/44.1, probably 24/48 or 24/96 then changed for distribution.Well, I don't collect money but I like to have thousands to spend!
I often hear hi-res albums that sound better than any CD version I've heard. Not sure exactly why but it would seem to me that mastering at the CD sample rate has issues that don't exist at higher sample rates and bit depths. Thus making mastering for CD more difficult to do correctly. And not many do.
I can demonstrate many albums that sound better on hi-res formats for whatever reason.
That is marketing... If you look into how phono cartridges work, they introduce loads of distortion at high frequencies. Whatever you have above 18kHz is mostly harmonic distortion...The prime reason why analog record will forever remain superior to CD is frequency response.
The frequency response of analog records is flat to approx 25-27kHz ( depending on the cutterhead used ) when analog master disc is cut in real time...
agreed, valid point, as long as it's a different mastering.I imagine that the mastering of the CD and LP of the same title may differ greatly, and different releases of the same CD title may have different mastering. This could be a valid reason to prefer a particular LP (or LP rip) over a CD of the same title.
It's reasonable and understandable to assume that a recording with a preferred mastering might be more pleasurable to listen to, even if the SINAD suffered.
do you mean there is no cutoff of all sound above 20k? sure, it can be true if the recording is fully analog. or digital with no cutoff was applied.It is NOT brickwall filtered above that frequency as most PCM is
No. It hides potential differences. See #17 and #18. For MM inputs these low Rs measurements are meaningless.
(1) AD797 with a source resistance of 20 ohms. SNR (unweighted, 20Hz … 20kHz) is excellent at 88dB.
(2) AD797 with a typical MM as source impedance (500 ohms, 0.5H): SNR is low at 53.3dB.
(3) NE5534 with a source resistance of 20 ohms. SNR is very good at 74.7dB.
(4) NE5534 with a typical MM as source impedance: SNR is good at 62.1dB. That's more than 4dB worse than without the 47k resistor!
Again the MM source impedance reverses the result obtained with the 20 ohms source.
I believe in some cases high frequencies are completely artificial. example - high resolution release of Black Album by Metallica (DVD-A?) - the album was recorded on 44.1k equipment, but in this high resolution version there was lots of stuff over 22k.That is marketing... If you look into how phono cartridges work, they introduce loads of distortion at high frequencies. Whatever you have above 18kHz is mostly harmonic distortion...
sadly, some are lossy-masteredI don't think many, if any, CDs are recorded or mastered at 16/44.1, probably 24/48 or 24/96 then changed for distribution.
agreed, valid point, as long as it's a different mastering.
do you mean there is no cutoff of all sound above 20k? sure, it can be true if the recording is fully analog. or digital with no cutoff was applied.
I know some engineers believe all high frequencies >20k should be cut off because they can't be heard and can't be mastered properly. or just harmful to the sound. personally I would leave them as is - if the instruments make those sounds, they should be kept in the recording.
thought of another benefit - there is no "brickwall" in terms of compression - digital allows you to make quiet sounds loud, see "loudness war" if you don't know what I mean. this can't be done on vinyl. however if it's done at early stages, the vinyl sound will still suffer - by the time of transfer to vinyl the dynamic range will be small in source material.
They must have used tube amps for a warmer sound ;PI believe in some cases high frequencies are completely artificial. example - high resolution release of Black Album by Metallica (DVD-A?) - the album was recorded on 44.1k equipment, but in this high resolution version there was lots of stuff over 22k.
Of course they do not sound the same, the difference is in the mastering, they do it on purpose to differentiate the two products, to appeal to a wider range of consumers.If your open minded enough record some vinyl at 44.1/16 and blind compare the two. Can you tell the difference? Now get a CD put on vinyl and compare. My half deaf grandma could pick out the vinyl.
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Parasound Zphono phono stage. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $200. There are also versions with USB and ADC (for ripping Vinyl) and higher-end version with more control.
The look is unmistakably Parasound which is to say somewhat industrial and plain:
View attachment 81925
The back panel shows the included, voltage selectable AC mains which I appreciate:
View attachment 81926
As you see the input gain can be changed from moving magnet (MM) to moving coil (MC).
Interesting to see an AC mains polarity switch. Not sure of the safety of that but I guess if you have a hum, it is worth having a switch like this to at least troubleshoot the problem.
Overall, the Zphono is a business-line phono amplifier with solid construction.
Phono Stage Audio Measurements
Let's start with our usual 1 kHz dashboard view with moving magnet setting:
View attachment 81927
As with all good phono stages, there is no visible distortion. So what sets SINAD is simply noise which in this case rises enough to set it to 75 dB. This puts the Zphono in the middle of the pack:
View attachment 81928
Moving Coil setting with input changed to 0.8 millivolts naturally degrades performance due to increased noise that goes with increased gain:
View attachment 81930
Since LP grove noise is likely to be higher than the preamp, the next test becomes more important which is the RIAA equalization:
View attachment 81931
We see nearly flat response which is what we want to have (i.e. no tonality imparted on behalf of the phono stage). A rumble filter would be nice but that is reserved for their higher end unit.
Let's sweep the input voltage and see where hard clipping occurs as this will impact how bad LP pops and clicks will sound:
View attachment 81932
This is better than a lot of budget phono preamps. But let's see if that is frequency dependend:
View attachment 81933
So no concern there.
We can see the same when we sweep the frequency fully:
View attachment 81934
The Parasound Zphono is not sexy but solidly delivers on basic functionality of a budget phono stage. Not much fault can be found in the measurements other than perhaps level of noise.
Overall I am happy to recommend the Parasound Zphono.
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.
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