Zavfino and 1877Phono are no strangers to Mono & Stereo readers, having already been featured in our reviews. The latest review focuses on the very interesting Zavfino ZV8-X turntable, which has a few aces of its own up its sleeve.
Zavfino has extensive experience in contract design and manufacturing of turntables and components for many prestigious brands in the high-end audio industry since 2004. Over the past 9 years, they have supplied products under their own brand names – 1877Phono and Zavfino – to distributors, dealers, and manufacturers worldwide.
The company’s Pure Silver and OCC copper tonearm cable sets are used by some of the leading tonearm manufacturers. They are also the first choice for rewiring vintage Japanese tonearms.
In 2015, Zavfino proudly introduced its first turntable line – the ZV5 series. The ZV5 (as ZV8-X) was combined with the Knife-edge aluminum and carbon Ashena series tonearms.
The ZV8 Edge Series turntable has been designed using various techniques to eliminate resonance, vibrations, and standing waves.
The unique cut-away shape of the plinth, the sharp curves, and the unusual angles are all created in the name of vibration elimination.
Combined with other materials such as POM, brass, Teflon, and an acrylic platter, the plinth is effectively damped so that it does not transmit or amplify unwanted vibrational pulses to the cartridge.
The ZV8-X plinth is CNC machined from a solid plate of aircraft-grade aluminum and finished with a diamond-tipped milling wheel. The result is a super-fine, grid-free surface that does not pick up resonances.
The bottom of the platter is contoured with a slope to disperse vibration and the platter and bearing are isolated from the plinth using a 15mm thick acrylic disc mounted on the plinth.
The stainless steel bearing is then fitted into the disk so that the bearing is not in direct contact with the plinth.
The ZV8-X comes standard with Aeshna series aluminum and carbon tonearms. An adapter for a second Aeshna tonearm is optionally available. Upon request, Zavfino can also mount other premium tonearms and vintage tonearms from 9.5-12 inches.
The ZV8-X comes standard with a fully independent motor supply in a 2 kg aluminum housing, regulated by an AC regeneration circuit that allows a perfect AC that can be easily adjusted at 33.3 and 45 rpm.
With this option, you can get the absolute maximum out of your listening experience without having to replace pulleys or belts.
Even for analog novices, setting up a ZV8-X and an Aeshna Satin black tonearm, which comes standard as a part of the package, is simple enough. It’s a straightforward, easy-to-follow process that starts with a well-protected, precision-fitting package and easy-to-follow instructions.
Aeshna tonearms are standard parts on all Zavfino turntables and are 100% manufactured, wired, assembled, and tested in-house by Zavfino technicians.
The Aeshna tonearms are a joint venture with a UK-based tonearm designer/engineer/legend who has over 25 years of experience in designing and manufacturing top-of-the-line tonearms.
The result is a refined tonearm that Zavfino is proud to combine with their components.
The ZV8-X turntable stands firmly on three special custom-designed feet that provide balance and absorb unwanted feedback from the shelf or surface on which it is placed.
The ZV8X uses an AC low-torque motor to reduce noise and vibration. If the platter is stopped while rotating by hand, you must either restart the controller or push the platter by hand to reset the rotation.
As always, this is the part that matters most when it comes to finding the special and stand-out features that make the product under the review unique, and the Zavfino ZV8-X turntable comes with quite a few positive differentiae.
Dave Brubeck needs no introduction for audiophiles and music lovers alike. His “Take Five” became not only a jazz standard but also one of the most iconic 5/4 themes that propelled a lot of the follow-up.
The Lost Recordings Dave Brubeck Quartet – Europe, here we come! 180g vinyl album with lacquer cut by Kevin Gray quickly proved the Zavfino ZV8-X turntable value in terms of music reproduction.
Some turntables can alter the narrative of music because there are so many things that go wrong and cancel out the energy of the music.
On opposite. The ZV8-X’s equidistance across the frequency spectrum allows for an endless flow of Europe, here we come!
The gentle piano playing of Dave Brubeck, accompanied by Paul Desmond’s saxophone and the rhythm section of Eugene Wright (bass) and Joe Morello (drums) fetched the atmosphere of the 1958 winter evening at the Concertgebouw with ease and, above all, with a potent, captivating factor.
ZV8-X allowed the instruments to merge seamlessly in the sonic sphere, breathe freely, and form a melodic wholeness that I certainly would not have expected at ZV8-X price.
The way ZV8-X decoded what was captured in the black grooves was distinctive and spot on capturing the spirit of a unique concert by Philip Catherine & Nicolas Fiszman Live At The Berlin Jazzbühne Festival 1982. Another record from The Lost Recordings where Kevin Gray made 33 rpm lacquer cuts.
This album was recorded at Volksbühne, Berlin Jazzbuehne Festival, German Democratic Republic, 13th VI.1982, and captures the surreal concert night where the guitarists were taken from one side of Berlin to the other in pouring rain to play to an unlikely audience.
As a longtime fan of the outstanding Philip Catherine, I can attest this concert is a treat for music lovers, as nothing was set in stone for these performances except for the basic theme and harmonic bridges, the rest was improvised on the fly.
With the rendition of polyphonic guitars with a low crest factor, much can be lost in translation. But not with the Zavfino ZV8-X turntable.
The ZV8-X has proven once again that it is not just a turntable that temporarily occupies the sound space with a peculiar sonic spike that usually morphs into fatigue after settling, but that with any material musical shape, it is ready to deliver the music fully developed and is able to captivate the listener by remaining objective and consistent in both the quiet and loud passages.
The qualities of the Zavfino ZV8-X were further solidified and assured with another fantastic album, As You Like it by Friedrich Gulda.
Gulda’s unique blend of classically trained piano playing and jazz made him a pioneer of his time, crossing bridges between the two genres with a seamless fusion.
Many turntables, especially in this price range, can make As You Like some getting used to fully comprehend the experience. and still, end up sounding vernacular.
The Zavfino ZV8-X turntable immediately sounded expansive, and controlled, and never lost tempo even when Gulda’s mastery became particularly intense.
The ZV8-X turntable avoided sounding bloated in the lower frequencies and showed much-needed focus to follow the tempo and control the ever-varying momentum of the music without divagation.
I never felt that the ZV8-X lacked sonic depth or tantalizing musical definition, and here Michel Jonasz La fabuleuse histoire de Mister Swing (Live à la Cigale, 1988) is always very helpful in establishing the clear ground for critical objectivity.
For many (good) reasons, this record could be heard at many audio presentations, as Jonasz’s voice is both captivating and demanding in reproduction.
The ZV8-X turntable’s rendition of Jonasz’s voice that extends over four octaves and splendid associated musicians bestowed once again a seducing but authoritative Francophonie that is a sort of Zavfino turntable stand-out glowing leitmotif.
The ethereal aura of La fabuleuse histoire de Mister Swing was easy to follow with the ZV8-X, creating the Technicolor aura for which this album is known.
The subtlety of Zavfino ZV8-X was revealed and firmly established with Leontyne Price – Arias From Il Trovatore – Madama Butterfly – La Rondine – Tosca – Turandot.
At all times ZV8-X did not act coercively, but with elementary factuality determined by the accurately set musical foundations.
The voice of the Price was presented with delicate balance and with the orchestra in action it could minutely transform into a rapturous event without losing the focus, dimensionality, and presence.
The ZV8-X analog reproduction is replete with an abundance of acoustic points that fill the sonic sphere with a higher level density that is too often taken for granted and many turntables, even higher priced ones can stultify the emotional connection.
A high-end audio turntable must evoke both passion and pathos. With Leontyne Price, the ZV8-X has verified its sublime character and loftier nature, providing direct access to the wondrous analog realm.
The Zavfino ZV8-X turntable was designed to serve the music, not the other way around. A distinctive plinth shape removes excess mass and takes care of resonances in crucial places. Less is more, a simple but not simpler approach clearly and profoundly applies to the shape of the ZV8-X.
An Aeshna tonearm with a low-friction, razor-sharp magnetic damping system, and “on-the-fly” anti-skating mechanism provides undisturbed tracking and ensures that music is presented powerfully and thrillingly from track to track and record to record.
ZV8-X was obviously created by music lovers for music lovers.
In a sense, the reviewer has to reorient himself in each evaluation to find the sweet spot of the product and to be able to distinguish the merits. This also means finding the necessary synergy. High-end audio is not a plug-and-play affair. Far from it. It requires effort, mileage and various tools of the trade to find synergy.
Analog front ends require even more dedication to find a coherent, synergistic system combination that works, and for turntables this is undoubtedly an interaction with the tonearm as well as the cartridge and phono stage.
It was certainly a delibarate design choice that the Zavfino ZV8-X turntable comes with Aeshna tonearms, which are an integral part of the package and the analog solution.
And this combination has proven to handle the analog data from the black grooves without adding a bon mot character that is very often associated with turntable packages in this price range.
On the contrary, the Zavfino ZV8-X comes with a distinctive sound quality, an unobtrusive sound of its own that wont go off-piste.
By a different means Zavfino ZV8-X comes to similar end as some higher priced options and exceeds expectations, especially at this price.
Many turntables, regardless of price, fail to engage the listener and evoke a sense of je ne sais quoi that an analog front end can, but the Zavfino ZV8-X is advertent by design from the ground up.
There are no needed bells and whistless or flashy shenanigans, but rather a well-researched and refined design direction that allows the Zavfino ZV8-X to sound direct, engaging, and never confunding when it comes to decoding the music from records with some sort of optimal sound blend.
It is obvious that the Zavfino ZV8-X is not just another turntable or a product to “hold the fort” to drum up publicity. The Zavfino ZV8-X offers a different kind of scope, by ardently tracking the grooves while highlighting the qualities that keep the analog front end relevant in the 21st century.
Many turntables at this price have laklustre sound quality. The Zavfino ZV8-X, on the other hand, transports the listener to the plane of immediate musical satisfaction with a much-needed level of analog rejoyce that is essential to analog magic and is the key ingredient in what makes it special and unique, including great horizontal and vertical expanse, three-dimensionality, and depth of focus
For all the aforementioned qualities and the ability to seamlessly tune into the music, I am happy that the Zavfino ZV8-X turntable has been awarded the 2023 Mono & Stereo Highly Recommended Product Award. •
Material: CNC machined 6061 solid aluminum
Measurements are based on longest points of table.
Finish: Fine sandblast / anodized satin black
Resonance control 1: Acrylic disc sandwich (5.0mm)
Resonance control 2: POM arm socket
Foot: Solid 6061 aluminum with copper spike
Weight without platter: 14.0kgs
Material: Engineered thermoplastic (POM) Black
Thickness: 60mm machined/contoured
Bearing cap: Stainless steel, JIS standard bronze insert
Teflon thrust plate and silicone suspension
Bearing shaft: Stainless steel with oil reservoir cup