Product of the Day, Day 10: Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier


Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier

Tell A Friend!

The Parasound Zphono phono preamplifier is the right product at the right time for a lot of people.  It’s a top-performing component at an affordable price at a time when vinyl is enjoying a renaissance.

A question many with have is, “Why is a phono preamplifier necessary?”  There are two reasons- amplifying the signal from the cartridge, and applying the RIAA equalization curve.


An ordinary line-level component such as a DVD player or Blu-ray player puts out an electrical signal of around 2.5 volts.  This is easy for a receiver to amplify.  A phono cartridge puts out a signal from as low as .2 millivolts (thousands of a volt) to 6 or 7 millivolts.  This is far too low for a receiver to amplify unless it has a dedicated phono input.  (Most surround receivers do not have this input.)  So, job one is to take the infitesimal electrical signal from the phono cartridge and amplify it so the receiver can reproduce it.

The second job of the phono preamplifier is to apply the RIAA equalization curve.  When a record is mastered it has an equalization curve applied.  If you were to press the frequencies onto the record exactly as they are, the needle would not be able to track the grooves.  So an “equalization curve” is applied at the pressing, and when the needle tracks the groove and the electrical signal is sent from the cartridge the phono preamplifier takes it and applies the curve again to restore the frequencies in proper proportion with each other.

Both of these tasks are very sensitive and a top-performing phono preamp will make a noticeable difference in your system.  Audiophiles who love vinyl consider the phono preamp as much of a component as the turntable or cartridge, and will exercise a lot of care in its selection, matching it carefully to the rest of their system.  Some phono preamps cost $10,000 or more!  You will be pleased to know that Parasound’s excellent Zphono is only $150.

The Zphono has truly great sound and matches well with most any cartridge.  What sets it apart from other phono preamplifiers is its all-discrete componentry, generous size and grounded outlet.

Most budget phono preamplifiers use IC (integrated circuit) chips which tend to be noiser and of less sonic fidelity than designs that use fully discrete componentry, i.e. transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc.  The Zphono is one of the lowest, if not THE lowest phono preamplifier that uses fully discrete componentry.


The Parasound Zphono is also generously sized and extremely well built.  It fits well on your equipment rack and you really feel like you are getting your money’s worth.  Most budget phono preamps use a “wall wart” transformer to furnish electrical power.  The Zphono has a three-prong grounded plug that goes directly into the wall.  Take it from me, this is a LOT better than using an annoying wall wart!

If you have a nice vinyl system now, adding a Zphono will give your system a nice bump up in sound quality.  Until you have experienced what a good phono preamplifier can do you won’t know what you are missing.  If you are adding a good turntable to your surround sound receiver and need a phono preamplifier, $150 for a Zphono will get you a great one and will grow with you as you upgrade your system.

The Parasound Zphono is available from hi-fi specialty shops and online from Acoustic Sounds.  Learn more at

See you tomorrow for the Product of the Day!

Tell A Friend!

Comments are closed.