If you are a vinyl person, whether a DJ or a casual listener, or even an audiophile, then you know one thing - vinyl hates vibrations! Those pesky movements that make their way up into the turntable and through the tonearm compromise your sound, or in extreme situations, can cause your needle to jump. Maybe we don't DJ with vinyl as much these days unless you are a passionate fan or an old schooler, but we definitely are listening to more vinyl. So how can we make it sound better at home?
If you have a decent turntable, say like a Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 or 500 or even something more consumer-grade like a Uturn Audio Orbit turntable, there is a solution, and that's the zaZen Isolation Platforms. If you don't have the cash for one of those extreme 'no vibration' audiophile turntables, these are the next best thing and help improve your sound output.
Let's start with which one is right for you, and that's entirely dependant on the weight of your turntable. The zAZen I is suitable for lighter, more consumer-grade decks, and the II is built for more massive, more professional-grade units.
zaZen I - 11.3kg / 25 lbs capacity $199 (we reviewed this one)
zaZen II - 18.1kg / 40 lbs capacity $229
IsoAcoustics specialize in this type of gear, and they also make pucks and stands for your speakers. Check out one of our speaker puck reviews HERE.
So do you need this device? This is an important question because not everyone is going to care or even hear the difference. If you are just a casual listener and don't listen all that often, then this sort of thing is not worth your time as it's not going to make much of a difference for you, aside from some cool aesthetics.
However, if you listen to a lot of vinyl and have a dedicated setup, either for DJing or just casual listening, you should strongly consider them. For DJing, you are, of course, going to need two, and while they are a bit spendy at $229 apiece, you are going to notice the difference, especially in your DJ mixes. If you are listening for pleasure and paying attention, you will also hear some clarity and tone improvements.
We got a hold of the zaZen I and used it in our vinyl room, which also serves as a home office. We have a nice leather chair for reading, sipping bourbon, and listening to vinyl. As Borat would say, "it's niiiiiiiiiiiaaace!" The turntable is an Orbit by Uturn Audio, a decent consumer-grade deck that suits our needs just fine and sounds great, or so we thought. The deck itself was placed on a bookshelf, and next to it are two self-powered Teufel Stereo M speakers that bump. We were not thinking about the speakers' vibration comes back up through the bookshelf and zings the turntable - ooops.
Once we placed the zaZen I underneath the Orbit, we noticed an immediate difference, especially when we listened at louder volumes - which we tend to do, especially while drinking bourbon.
So what is the zaZen made of? It's not too complicated; it is more or less a solid fiberboard with a nice black finish with a slight gloss. It looks nice aesthetically and is super dense, allowing it to absorb those nasty vibes.
It has four feet that are the essential isolators on the device and are made from what seems to be a hard rubber; they do most of the work, which is the IsoAcoustics specialty. There is some patented tech here, but not quite sure what it is - maybe the feet' rubber compound or shape? Whatever it is, it works.
Summary - If you are looking for something to make your vinyl sound better and don't want to spend the dough for an audiophile setup, the zaZens are a fantastic buy. If you are DJing or have speakers on the same surface as your turntable, it will make a difference in noise reduction, clarity, and overall quality. Isolation devices can get expensive, and the zaZen's are the more reasonably priced units on the market. If you love vinyl, spend a lot of time listening, then take the plunge - you will be happy you did.
Further information: IsoAcoustics