The new Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono preamplifier is the result of a fusion between the Tube Box DS and Phono Box RS preamp. In real terms, this means it has taken the housing and part of the circuit of the latter and combined it with tube technology.
This phono preamp showcases the research undertaken and circuits developed by Dr Sykora. Pro-Ject has assembled a rigorously selected group of high-end components, which are all of the highest audiophile quality, including the tube output, and all of the capacitors are made of polypropylene. Particular care has been taken over the RIAA curve to ensure a precision margin of 0.2dB between 20Hz and 20kHz. The circuits for the left and right channels are completely independent from one another; this is what’s known as a dual mono design. Each channel uses its own individual 12AX7 tube for gain staging and impedance adjustment. They are also fitted with EAT Cool Dampers to reduce microphonics. The housing is made from an aluminium and metal sandwich, which protects the device from electromagnetic interference and reduces mechanical vibration.
The Tube Box DS2 is of course compatible with MM cartridges, as well as with both high output and low output MC cartridges. On the front panel are small buttons for selecting the gain (40/45/50/60/65 dB), capacitance (100/220/320 pF) and fixed/variable load. If variable load is selected, the resistance can be adjusted between 10 and 1000 Ohms using the large potentiometer on the left-hand side. The Tube Box DS2 can be connected to and select between two vinyl turntables, and also has two selectable line outputs, which is even more of a rare find. It also has a selectable subsonic filter that clips very low frequencies below 20Hz, reducing noise and rumble. Franck
We tested it out with some MC phono cartridges costing between €300 and €2000. We honestly don't see any point in using a phono preamplifier like this with an MM cartridge, so we didn't do any tests with them.
Within seconds of listening, the huge potential of this phono stage was obvious. It has all the neutrality and precision of the Box RS, albeit with a little less transparency. However, the sound stage and its openness are remarkable. The timbre is also excellent – it’s precise, with plenty of substance and presence at the same time. It reproduces the atmosphere of the recording studio perfectly, to the extent that you can hear where the mics are positioned on solo vocals. The mids are beautifully present and precise, and the bass has a deep and articulated analogue sound. The treble is smooth, without a hint of aggressiveness, bringing out all the qualities of the MC cartridges. The option to adjust the load on the front panel means that you can really optimise the load and fine-tune the tonal balance with absolute precision. This little preamp is compatible with very high-end audio equipment.
As we have come to expect from Pro-Ject, the production quality is second to none and absolutely beyond reproach. Thanks to its innovative technology, ergonomic design, user-friendliness and extensive cartridge compatibility, the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono preamp blows the majority of the competition out of the water. And what’s left of it certainly can’t offer the same value for money! A maPlatine.com top pick!
Compatible: High and low output MM and MC
Tubes: 2 x ECC83 (12AX7)
Loads: variable 10-1000 Ohms, fixed 47 kOhms
Capacitance: 100/220/320 pF
Gain: 40/45/50/60/65 dB
Output voltage: 500 mV / 1kHz at 5mV / 1kHz (at 40dB)
Signal-to-noise ratio: 88dBA
Distortion: THD <0.04%
RIAA curve accuracy: +/- 0.2dB/20Hz -20kHz
Subsonic filter: 20Hz @ 18dB / octave
Input: 2 phono inputs, RCA
Output: 2 RCA outputs
Power supply: 18V / 1000mA DC
Max. consumption: 490mA DC/<0.5 watts in standby mode
Aluminium dimensions: 206 x 91 x 227 mm
Wood dimensions: 240 x 93 x 227 mm
Aluminium weight: 1650 g (without power supply)
Wood weight: 1930 g (without power supply)