Top critical review
Best for Digitizing Vinyl Records ...
Reviewed in the United States on April 19, 2020
I chose this phono-preamp for two reasons:
1- Parasound Zphono provides the user with a switch between either MC (moving coil) or MM (moving magnet) cartridges.
2- My old Parasound Amplifier (Halo 21) has made me appreciate any Parasound products. And in this regard, I cannot complain about the quality of this device either.
However it is as if this phono preamp has been mainly designed with the aim of digitizing the vinyl records, which might sound ironic for those who prefer analog (vinyl records) over digital music. The instruction for recording via your PC/laptop is explained in detail in the manual (available online). Setup is quite easy (in short: click on the speaker/volume symbol -> “Sounds”-> “Recording” tab-> “Microphone-USB Audio Codec”-> “Properties” -> “Advanced” -> Set to “2 channel, 16 bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality). Thus in your recording software (say, Audacity) you should also choose "Microphone (USB audio CODEC)" .
On the other hand, if one is gong to use this phono-preamp just for listening to records, s/he will soon discover the necessity of a volume control which is missing.
Of course, my Halo-21 amplifier has a volume control, but it is at its rear side and it is not easily accessible. You might wonder why not set the amplifier on certain volume level and then use it as a default volume? The point is that as soon as you switch to your digital music (through the DAC-> Amplifier) the sound level would clearly fall and you have to turn the volume up again. Fortunately my DAC has its own volume control, so I can adjust and compensate (to some extent) the volume of digital music without a need to resort to the Halo Amplifier. But be aware of this shortcoming (lack of volume control), if your audio system is different.
All in all, the price and quality of this equipment is worth 5 stars, and perhaps I am too harsh to drop two stars from my evaluation just for its lack of volume control which I think is a MUST for any phono-preamp.
Nonetheless, this device is quite efficient in every other aspect and such features of Parasound Zphono, that might come handy, has been already discussed by other reviewers and no need to be repeated here.