New Zanden Model 120 Solid-State Phono Stage

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,221
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#21
I just started ripping my Sheffield vinyl collection, using the DIN EQ that Myles was able to get from Doug Sax, who did the mastering for all the D2D albums that Sheffield did. I was looking at the album notes and found an interesting corroboration for at least part of the DIN EQ. As some of you may know, the DIN EQ differs from RIAA in that the high frequency roll over occurs later than with RIAA (50 microseconds vs 75 microseconds) so if a DIN EQ recording is played back on RIAA it will sound duller. In Sheffield S10 The Missing Linc, the liner notes say on side one that the listener should adjust the treble tone control of his preamp to brighten the sound by 2 to 4 dbs. That would be about the same as playing back with DIN EQ. However, to make things confusing, it says not to change anything for side two.

On the other hand, in Myles' first post on the subject, someone (not Doug) had told him Sheffield used the EMI EQ, which according to Zanden has a 100 microsecond roll treble over. This means that if a record had been recorded with the EMI EQ, it would sound brighter if played back with the normal RIAA.

At this point I am ripping my Sheffield D2D recordings according to Doug Sax's comments, since he should know.

Here is a shot of the EQ controls of the Bottlehead phono pre that I have. You can see the three knobs. The one on the left is the treble rollover, set currently to 50 microseconds (for the Sheffield rips). Two positions to the right is 75 microseconds (the RIAA setting) and furthest right is 100 microseconds (the EMI, Columbia and Decca settings). The middle know is the bass turnover frequency which is 500 Hz, the same for all stereo EQ's. The furthest right is the bass shelf. The most left position is 50Hz which is the setting for RIAA, DIN and EMI. The furthest right is 125 Hz, the setting for Decca. After hearing a prototype phono pre that Dan Schmalle of Bottlehead had made and comparing it to several others with adjustable EQ, I asked Dan to build me a custom phono pre, the result you see. In addition to the adjustable EQ, it also had a balanced output (as well as an unbalanced). I wanted a balanced output so I could directly feed my Pacific Microsonics Model Two which I use for ripping, which only has balanced inputs.
Thanks for the update Lsrry. Saw that prototype a while back and thought it was going to replace the BH Repro. Take it Dan never officially top released it?
 
May 25, 2010
779
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SF Bay Area
#22
I think Dan decided to produce a version with only RIAA. I know my consultant has one and he lent it to Alon W. while he was waiting for his TT to be set up. Jonathan V, when he visited Alon to hear the Magico Q7's IIRC, heard it and wrote a few nice comments about it (not mentioning the brand). As far as I know, you can order the phono pre from Bottlehead, but my version would be a custom job. Larry
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,221
0
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#23
I think Dan decided to produce a version with only RIAA. I know my consultant has one and he lent it to Alon W. while he was waiting for his TT to be set up. Jonathan V, when he visited Alon to hear the Magico Q7's IIRC, heard it and wrote a few nice comments about it (not mentioning the brand). As far as I know, you can order the phono pre from Bottlehead, but my version would be a custom job. Larry
I was thinking more more along the lines of a tape pre. :)
 

barretter

New Member
Mar 6, 2015
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#24
Larry reread my latest post above! It was the DIN not EMI curve. They are different as Zanden has both curves.

For some info but alas no EMI:


http://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_database_record_equalization.php

Obviously EMI saw some use but I can't find a lot of info.

EMI saw no use as they published their equalization curves in the April 1956 issue of The Gramophone magazine and they correspond exactly to the RIAA curves. I have a pdf of the page but it doesn't seem possible to attach it. The so-called Teldec curve was proposed by the DIN but never implemented. There's a whole lot of nonsense spouted about equalization curves and the Vinyl Engine page is just one of them. It's pure assertion with no evidence adduced, as is the case, actually, with most of the statments made by the manufacturers of heavily overpriced phono preamps.
 
Apr 26, 2017
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#25
Anyone have experience with this pre? I am looking for one to use with my Kuzma Stabi M, Kuzma 4 point and Kuzma Car40 cartridge. I may change the cartridge in the future. My outputs from tt are balanced so this is good. I connect to my pre with rca and that works too.

I have a Transrotor 8.2sym phono pre. The two unit reference one. It is incredibly linear in measurements and sound good actually. Still, I think I can get more out of my setup. I do not have the chance to try the Zanden pre before buying so I am really looking forward for experiences of people here...
 

Marcus

Member Sponsor
Oct 5, 2012
212
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#26
A friend of mine bought one a few years ago. We have not made a direct comparison with mine 1200 Mk3 but knowing his system well, I can say it’s really excellent phono stage. Dynamic, sweet, natural and no obvious faults. He’s also using Kuzma turntable - Stabi Reference & 4Point tonearm with Benz LPS. You can not go wrong with Zanden.
 
Apr 26, 2017
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#27
Thanks Marcus for sharing! Good to know Kuzma and Zanden has a synergy of some sort. You have Kuzma and Zanden combo like your friend. I also saw Zanden phono preamps at Kuzma's own analog academy photos, and he uses 1200mk3 too.
 

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