As you know, I love Audio Note UK gear. I've been lucky enough to play with a lot of it. I realize that most of it is super expensive, but not all. During the past few years, I have been fortunate to audition a variety of phono stages from Audio Note UK and compare them to other phono stages that various manufacturers have loaned to me. I have heard AN’s higher-end preamps with built-in phono, such as the M6-Phono and M9-Phono (in current use in my all AN system), as well as AN's stand-alone phono stages, such as the M2-RIAA and M6-RIAA. Now Warren Jarrett (my local Los Angeles area's AN dealer and good buddy) supplied me with a very short term loan of AN’s least expensive phono stage, the R-Zero/II. In fact, it is also AN’s least expensive component of any kind, not including cables and cartridges. I suspect it a kind of statement product for them, to demonstrate that they don’t compromise sound just because something they make is “cheap” by their standards. It's a moving magnet phono stage, uses cute little mini-tubes and is small (compared to most Audio Note pieces), but doesn't SOUND small. In fact it sounds mighty. What I found, when comparing the various AN phono stages, is that the less expensive models actually don’t sound “cheaper” than the more expensive ones. What they do is sound different. The R-Zero clarifies this conclusion (that I started to believe listening to the fine M2-RIAA) because it is very dynamic, liquid sounding, silent when music is not playing; it has a full, rich tone, plenty of volume and even at this low price point, it has a recognizable Audio Note UK sound. This is plenty to qualify it as a full-fledged audiophile product, despite its price. Back to sounding “different” from the more expensive AN phono stages, the R-Zero/II doesn’t sound less dynamic, less liquid, less silent, or less rich in tone. What is does provide is a more universal sound, as though it is designed to work with a wide variety of associated equipment. It sounds more linear and less warm than the M6 and M9, as though these preamps are optimized for use within a full AN system. It is very close in sound to the M2-RIAA I have listened to for many months now. The M2-RIAA resolves very subtle nuances (such as minute details and ambience cues from an acoustic space) with more sophistication, but this difference is only evident in a direct comparison. So the R-Zero/II is a remarkable unit, in the line-up of Audio Note’s phono stages. For someone who wants to join the Audio Note UK world, this is a good starting point, compatible in any audio system, but also completely representative of Audio Note’s distinctive sound. It features a pair of 6112WA miniature dual triodes, a nicely built tube MM phono stage that will hold its own! This organic sounding phono stage for MM carts is $1,345.00 USD. An amazingly low price for something built by AN. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- After enjoying Audio Note's least expensive phono preamp, the R-Zero, now I am curious to explore more of their "M#-RIAA" offerings. I just returned the R-Zero to Warren, who loaned it to me for a review; I have a M2-RIAA, that I have been using for an extended period of time (well, actually Warren is now borrowing that from me); and I have an M6-RIAA, that I also have been using as a backup. What @Warren Jarrett and I have decided, and confirmed by the Audio Note UK factory, is that Warren can sell this M6-RIAA, as a like-new demo, for 1/2 price, and ask Audio Note to use that sale towards less expensive products for me to hear and review. If anyone would like to buy the amazing M6-RIAA stand alone phono stage, for 1/2 price, please contact Warren directly. I believe it will be under $9,000, but not by much. This model is just below AN's top-of-the-line M8-RIAA, which retails for over $40,000. There is no M7-RIAA nor any RIAA above M8. And as soon as this M6-RIAA finds a new home (as much as I will miss it), I will get more toys to play with, and share with all of you what I hear.