Introducing the Z-ACT Active Cartidge System
Pronounced 'ZACT', this is an active cartridge system that represents a whole new level of phono performance. Active cartridges are not completely new. Active cartridges have become progressively more popular with professional archivists and curators who demand very accurate and noiseless needle-drops. These are now making their way into HiFi.
How Does it Work?
The Z-ACT system comprises two parts - a small buffer-amplifier attached to the headshell (weighing less than 1 gram) and a ‘phantom’ power supply between the turntable and phono-stage. Phantom power has been used to power condenser mics in recording studios for many years as it eliminates the unwanted effects of the cable. The same principle applies with Z-ACT in that we eliminate the effect of cable capacitance and with it, all of the unwanted vagaries of an MM cart. This includes frequency-response humps, phase-shift, cross-talk and noise. The Z-ACT system typically reduces cross-talk by 5dB; this is the kind of performance only previously associated with a moving-coil system.
|Z-ACT Phantomiser Power Supply and Amplifier-headshell
Pricing and Options
The standard Z-ACT package includes a detachable headshell with the Z-ACT buffer-amplifier installed inside it and the Phantomiser power supply. This does not include a cartridge. You simply install your existing or preferred MM cart into the headshell.
The standard Z-ACT system above is currently priced at £449
Additional Headshell with Buffer-amp fitted: £89
Non-detatchable headshell? Not a problem: The Z-ACT buffer-amplifier can be fitted to most headshells or cartridges - email firstname.lastname@example.org to check your make & model. >
ZinAmp Phono-stage with Z-ACT Feature: Z-ACT is a £299 upgrade on our entire range of phono-stages. No additional phantom power-supply is required as this is built into the phono-stage. This includes the Z-ACT headshell.
Z-ACT - FAQ
Q. How does an MM cartridge with Z-ACT compare with an MC cartridge?
Very favourably. Z-ACT eliminates all of the unwanted effects of an MM cartridge that MC tries to solve - like noise, cross-talk, phase shift and response humps. Short of claiming it sounds better than an MC cart, we'd rather you be the judge.
Q. Does Z-ACT need any turntable modification or rewiring?
No. Your turntable does not require modification. The only change is a small buffer-amplifier fitted inside the headshell - weighing less than 1 gram. Z-ACT comes with this headshell into which you fit your preferred MM cartridge.
Q. Does Z-ACT affect the tracking of my MM cart
No, it doesn't. MM Carts tend to track better than MC carts due to their lower mass. Given this, an MM cart with Z-ACT will tend to track better than an MC cart
Q. Surely, if this is any good, it would've been invented years ago. Why now?
There have been very few new innovations in phono reproduction since the 1970s - the last big one being the Shibata stylus. Since then, the industry has preferred to promote MC cartridges as a higher value proposition than MM. Whilst these are good, the price of MC equipment inhibits many listeners. Z-ACT bridges this gap, offering MM listeners a huge upgrade to the realms of MC performance, but with a less prohibitive investment.
Q. Does the phantom-power literally pass up the tonearm-wires to the headshell?
Yes. The voltage and current are both very low, so there is no risk of shock or damage to the tonearm or wiring. Even if your tonearm cabling becomes faulty or shorted, the Z-ACT power supply is not harmed, nor is your turntable and nor is your cartridge.
Q. Do I still need to worry about cartridge loading on my Phono-stage?
Fortunately not. Trying to set the correct capacitance loading of an MM cart has always been guesswork, as it's impossible to know exactly how much capacitance your cables are adding. Z-ACT eliminates the effects of cable capacitance, so if your phono-stage has a variable capacitance load setting, set this to the minimum value or to zero/off.
Q. What if my turntable doesn't have a detachable headshell
You can still use Z-ACT, but with a slightly modified headshell-amp that has connecting pins for your tonearm cables. Email us at email@example.com and we'll advise you of the best option for your setup.
Q. Does Z-ACT colour or change the sound?
No. It removes unwanted artefacts like noise, cross-talk, phase-shift and HF humps, so it's doing the opposite i.e. it's decolouring the sound and opening up the true stereo image with a full and even frequency response - just like an MC cart.
Q. Does Z-ACT add distortion like other amplifiers do?
No, it doesn't. The harmonic distortion level of the Z-ACT system is less than 0.0002%. The phantom power supply is extremely linear. Noise is lower because Z-ACT removes more noise than it adds. Once we lower the impedance of the cables and remove the effect of capacitance, they no longer act like aerials! This means less hiss and less hum.
Q. The Z-ACT headshell doesn't really suit my turntable. Can I have something else?
Yes. The Z-ACT system works with any headshell. We can even modify an existing headshell if you prefer. Email us a picture of your preferred headshell and cartridge and we'll go from there! firstname.lastname@example.org