It’s the musical coherence the Model 120 brings to record replay that should guarantee it a place on your list if you are shopping in this price range. While other phono‑stages might deliver more resolution or a greater sense of substance, few if any, at or near this price match the Zanden’s overall sense of musical shape and phrasing. Nor do they offer its switchable EQ. By now, you’ll either know which side of this particular fence you sit, or the Zanden will allow you to discover, but with the right record the musical impact is far from subtle – and the other thing you might discover is just how many records that is.
By combining features and topology normally associated with far more costly products with a carefully executed solid‑state circuit and beautiful case work, the Zanden Model 120 succeeds in injecting a serious slice of genuine high‑end performance into the sort of systems more of us can actually afford. It preserves the timing, flow and phrasing, emotional and expressive qualities, the colour and weight that explain top‑end vinyl replay’s benchmark status, reminding you just how musically addictive records can be. Facilities and voicing are spot on, making it as versatile in use as it is in terms of partnering products, a genuinely high‑end unit that doesn’t look down its nose at less exotic or eclectic brands, instead elevating them to its own level. I got excellent results with Arcam and (take a deep breath) Naim amps, showing just how musically amenable the 120 really is. But the best bit is that it looks like a Zanden, it sounds like a Zanden and now, maybe a few more of us can actually afford to own a Zanden.
Type: Solid‑state LCR phono‑stage
Inputs: Two, balanced (XLR) or single‑ended (RCA)
Gain: 63 or 75dB
Input Impedance: 36 or 470 Ohms
Eq Curves: RIAA, Columbia, Decca, Teldec, EMI
Output Impedance: 50 Ohms
Dimensions (HxWxD): 7x36x37cm (PSU 5.8x7.8x16.8cm)
Weight: 5.4kg, 1kg (PSU)
Manufactured by: Zanden Audio Systems
UK Distributor: Audiofreaks
Tel: +44 (0)20 8948 4153