Zanden 120 or 1200 MkII: Looking for opinions

allvinyl

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I'm considering these 2 phonostages and am wondering if there are experienced listeners of both and what your thoughts are on each. I've read all the reviews I can find and have recently heard both, though only the 120 in my own system. Thanks in advance.
 
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bazelio

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Different animals. 1200 is warm, soft, romantic. 120 is lively and clean. I had both in house for a demo. I didn't end up buying either one.
 

kodomo

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Different animals. 1200 is warm, soft, romantic. 120 is lively and clean. I had both in house for a demo. I didn't end up buying either one.

Bazelio, you have also tried the Van den Hul Grail. How would you rate it against the Zanden 120 and 1200.
 

bazelio

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OK, I didn't have them in at the same time, but as I recall, the VdH was the most dynamic and hard hitting of the bunch, and the 120 is sort of a compromise between the 1200 and The Grail. The 1200 also requires an active preamp as it is an OTL with high output Z which wasn't able to do a good job of essentially driving my amp directly (through an AVC).
 

howiebrou

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I'm considering these 2 phonostages and am wondering if there are experienced listeners of both and what your thoughts are on each. I've read all the reviews I can find and have recently heard both, though only the 120 in my own system. Thanks in advance.

I would like to know what you thought of them. I am demoing the 1200 this coming week, though not the 120.
 

allvinyl

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I would like to know what you thought of them. I am demoing the 1200 this coming week, though not the 120.
I spent 3 days with both at Axpona this year. As a recent purchaser of the GT Audio Works speakers, I helped out in their room. They were demoing with Zanden and we used both of the preamps, phono sections, and amps in both of their Classic and Modern lines over the course of the show. Because of the size of the room the speakers' performance was limited so I didn't really get to experience what has been written in reviews about the staging capabilities of the 1200. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting bazelio's description, but I didn't find the 1200 "soft". Warmer side of neutral but not soft. Also, we were running the 845 based amp with the 1200 and though it's a strong performer for only 60 watts, it certainly didn't control or drive the speakers the way the 200 watt/channel Modern line amp did. At the show, the bigger difference in sound was due to the different amps, not the phono sections.

What I like about both is the selectable EQ curves. To my ears, it's a feature I don't want to be without. I'm leaning towards the 120 as I think it's a better match in my system.
 
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bazelio

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Perhaps I'm misinterpreting bazelio's description, but I didn't find the 1200 "soft". Warmer side of neutral but not soft.

Soft - meaning the 1200 had blunted transients. It was also dark. This was my evaluation in my home system compared to other phono preamps (including the 120) with whatever tubes Zanden ships in the unit.

I found the 1200 to be overpriced for what it is. I do think it had a nice soundstage, but not "airy" so to speak. In fact, you could come close to reproducing the 1200 sound with a 120 plus warm cables like Audience Front Row or some of the Kubala Sosna and then come out ahead.
 
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howiebrou

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I spent 3 days with both at Axpona this year. As a recent purchaser of the GT Audio Works speakers, I helped out in their room. They were demoing with Zanden and we used both of the preamps, phono sections, and amps in both of their Classic and Modern lines over the course of the show. Because of the size of the room the speakers' performance was limited so I didn't really get to experience what has been written in reviews about the staging capabilities of the 1200. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting bazelio's description, but I didn't find the 1200 "soft". Warmer side of neutral but not soft. Also, we were running the 845 based amp with the 1200 and though it's a strong performer for only 60 watts, it certainly didn't control or drive the speakers the way the 200 watt/channel Modern line amp did. At the show, the bigger difference in sound was due to the different amps, not the phono sections.

What I like about both is the selectable EQ curves. To my ears, it's a feature I don't want to be without. I'm leaning towards the 120 as I think it's a better match in my system.

Interesting. I will report back on my demo on this week.
 
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allvinyl

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Soft - meaning the 1200 had blunted transients. It was also dark. This was my evaluation in my home system compared to other phono preamps (including the 120) with whatever tubes Zanden ships in the unit.

I found the 1200 to be overpriced for what it is. I do think it had a nice soundstage, but not "airy" so to speak. In fact, you could come close to reproducing the 1200 sound with a 120 plus warm cables like Audience Front Row or some of the Kubala Sosna and then come out ahead.
Thanks for clarifying your "soft" comment. After the 120 audition in my system I do feel it's a better match for my preferences and accompanying components. Also, my intent would not be to replicate the 1200 sound. The "lively" and "clean" sound is more my preference. I would add that in my experience 6DJ8/6922/7308 based phonos lean towards the warmer, darker overall signature.

Which other phono preamps did you audition and prefer and why?
 

bazelio

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Thanks for clarifying your "soft" comment. After the 120 audition in my system I do feel it's a better match for my preferences and accompanying components. Also, my intent would not be to replicate the 1200 sound. The "lively" and "clean" sound is more my preference. I would add that in my experience 6DJ8/6922/7308 based phonos lean towards the warmer, darker overall signature.

Which other phono preamps did you audition and prefer and why?

I'd generally agree on the 6922 family as well. The Zanden offered different EQ curve correction, but otherwise something like an EAR 912 would be almost its equal at half its price.

I've tried quite a few. I ended up with an Emia LR phono stage that I use with an Emia silver SUT and a silver Slagleformer volume control. This combo seemed to hit the spot, delivering tone, detail, soundstage, PRaT, clarity. The Emia was the first unit that just "clicked" for me, as in everything just sounded right. So eventually, I forked over the dough and it stayed with me. I think Jeffrey Jackson has a new batch of these almost done, if you're interested in a demo.

Another unit I'd recommend for audition is the Merrill Jens. It had a hum issue with my 4 point arm which we couldn't ever figure out. But it seemed like a really nice unit that did a lot very well. Though my audition was hampered by the hum, I think it has potential to be a great unit in many systems. And it's an easy unit to demo as well. Just give him a call.
 

kantx

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What about the Burmester 100 ?
 
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CKKeung

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Interesting. I will report back on my demo on this week.
Have you listened to the new Zanden 1200 Signature model, just launched last month?

Its exterior looks the same of Mk3 and the functions such as diff curves & phase reverse are still there.
However the interior is a total revamp/re-design.
I had a glimpse of the interior, a surprise!

IMG-20200307-WA0101~2.jpg
IMG-20200307-WA0113~2.jpg
 

howiebrou

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Have you listened to the new Zanden 1200 Signature model, just launched last month?

Its exterior looks the same of Mk3 and the functions such as diff curves & phase reverse are still there.
However the interior is a total revamp/re-design.
I had a glimpse of the interior, a surprise!

View attachment 63926
View attachment 63927
No CK. It's very dangerous to go and look at new gear. So what's changed?
 

CKKeung

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No CK. It's very dangerous to go and look at new gear. So what's changed?
Total revamp, 6 tubes instead of 5, circuit boards layout, balance inputs/outpits ... etc
 
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kodomo

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I am interested in it, I wonder if the noise level went down because 1200mk3 was not silent enough for people whose systems are very efficient (105db+ 1m/1w). I do not know maybe it was a noisy tube but tube phonos are hard to get really silent. A lot of the equipment which are thought not to be noisy are revealed in systems like mine. Maybe I am a part of minority but who knows.
 

CKKeung

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I am interested in it, I wonder if the noise level went down because 1200mk3 was not silent enough for people whose systems are very efficient (105db+ 1m/1w). I do not know maybe it was a noisy tube but tube phonos are hard to get really silent. A lot of the equipment which are thought not to be noisy are revealed in systems like mine. Maybe I am a part of minority but who knows.
I didn't but a good LP audiophile friend of mine went for the audition.
He said that it was a surprise, as the 1200 Signature was NOT inferior to the Limited Edition phono of Yamada San.

I guess its noise floor must be lower than the Mk3 becuase the circuit is now a true balanced circuit with rca & balance inputs/outputs.
The previous R-core transformer in the separate PSU of Mk3 is replaced by a FINEMAT transformer that has much lower noise floor.

Anyway please contact your local dealers and ask for a demo.
And don't forget to share your audition with us on WBF!
Thanks.
;)
 
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Marcus

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I am interested in it, I wonder if the noise level went down because 1200mk3 was not silent enough for people whose systems are very efficient (105db+ 1m/1w). I do not know maybe it was a noisy tube but tube phonos are hard to get really silent. A lot of the equipment which are thought not to be noisy are revealed in systems like mine. Maybe I am a part of minority but who knows.
Read my answer here - https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/zanden-1200-signature.30449/
 
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allvinyl

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Apr 10, 2013
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Burnsville, MN
Have you listened to the new Zanden 1200 Signature model, just launched last month?

Its exterior looks the same of Mk3 and the functions such as diff curves & phase reverse are still there.
However the interior is a total revamp/re-design.
I had a glimpse of the interior, a surprise!

View attachment 63926
View attachment 63927
CK - no, but I am aware of it. Eric is friend and he gave me a heads-up as its original premier was suppose to happen at Axpona in April but, as with everything else, the virus got in the way. I hope to get to Chicago in Aug to listen to it but that will likely be my first chance unless Eric and I can meet here or he goes to his dealer in WI. If he goes to WI before Aug, I may be able to drive over from MN. I appreciate your comments, though, and hopefully I'll be able to listen soon...
 

CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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CK - no, but I am aware of it. Eric is friend and he gave me a heads-up as its original premier was suppose to happen at Axpona in April but, as with everything else, the virus got in the way. I hope to get to Chicago in Aug to listen to it but that will likely be my first chance unless Eric and I can meet here or he goes to his dealer in WI. If he goes to WI before Aug, I may be able to drive over from MN. I appreciate your comments, though, and hopefully I'll be able to listen soon...
The Show in Aug is likely to materialize as your President seems can't wait to resume economic activities.

It's even better if you and friend can have an audition in private earlier, but please be vigilant and have all the preacautions you can get against the virus.
 
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Nobody has one ?
 

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