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  1. #1
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Pro-Ject Phono Box...noob?

    Hey noob or anyone else, is this phono box a good model? How much should I pay used? Been looking for one...

    http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...id=p2759.l1259

  2. #2
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    What are you planning to outperform with it? Surely not the Bellari?

  3. #3
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    no my Shure, just want an alternative for my listening room. The M65 has been getting on my nerves...I might move the Bellari to my room and phono box to main room, I am super eager and curious to own one. Actually, some of your comments have fueled my interest. Whats your opinion of price and the unit itself?

  4. #4
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    I figure on price, I'd keep it well under a hundred US bucks...maybe $75 max? Its natural competition would seem to be the NAD, so you could comparison shop against that. Anyway...I haven't heard the original Phono Box.


    I have read the Phono Box errs on the warm side, which I would probably like. I read a review of the II that called its sound "hard" and "mechanical". I don't know that I heard anything like that...so certainly the usefulness of reviews has it limits, as do my opinions. The Phono Box's noise spec is certainly far better than the Shure. I guess it's better than the Bellari, for that matter. I do like that. Noise ain't everything, though...The Phono Box II is a little quieter than the Tube Box and on soundstaging and depth there's no comparison.


    I guess that's probably where the II falls short...soundstaging, musicality...right where most think the Bellari excels. I would bet with the Phono Box you could expect very decent performance for the price point, leaning a smidge toward muddy under critical listening...and wiping the floor with the Shure. What are you thinking on it? Formed any opinions?

  5. #5
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    I figure on price, I'd keep it well under a hundred US bucks...maybe $75 max? Its natural competition would seem to be the NAD, so you could comparison shop against that. Anyway...I haven't heard the original Phono Box.


    I have read the Phono Box errs on the warm side, which I would probably like. I read a review of the II that called its sound "hard" and "mechanical". I don't know that I heard anything like that...so certainly the usefulness of reviews has it limits, as do my opinions. The Phono Box's noise spec is certainly far better than the Shure. I guess it's better than the Bellari, for that matter. I do like that. Noise ain't everything, though...The Phono Box II is a little quieter than the Tube Box and on soundstaging and depth there's no comparison.


    I guess that's probably where the II falls short...soundstaging, musicality...right where most think the Bellari excels. I would bet with the Phono Box you could expect very decent performance for the price point, leaning a smidge toward muddy under critical listening...and wiping the floor with the Shure. What are you thinking on it? Formed any opinions?
    Well quite honestly, the tube model is what I wanted. That was the real reason I took in the Shure, tubes. I don't know anybody with a Pro-Ject pre believe it or not and from my reading the Phono Box doesn't appear to be any more than a mid-ranged, average performer. My problem with the Shure is definitely noise, however, when those tubes are warmed up it can deliver some pretty impressive tone. I think I'll bid more in the 50 range and see what happens. I guess what I'm wondering from you is more about whether you think this is a good intro to Pro-Ject or not. I totally hear ya about reviews and opinions, I take them with a grain of salt. But you know, I'm starting to get to know your tastes so your opinion is more important than just some guy who lives in his mom's basement, is 42 years old and rarely goes out.

    I think the Phono Box will be a nice intro to Pro-Ject and I can go from there. BTW, I just sealed the deal on a Technics SL D2, brand new in the box, missing cart for 30 bucks. One of the local hi-fi shops took it in to be serviced and fitted with a cart but buddy never came back.

    I have a good relationship with these guys so they basically gave it to me. I have my Copland amp on consignment there right now. They had put a Grado Red in it. I auditioned it with the Red and I have to say it sounded pretty sweet. It just seems a little much for a low/mid table. I put a Grado DJ100 in my HK and it sounds good for half the price. What are your thoughts on the TT, cart or any of it? Please don't go off on me about the 1200 series...

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    The Cambridge Audio 540P and 640P's are nice preamps for the money. The 640P will enable you to use low output moving coil cartridges. I am listening to my Benz Gold through the 640P.
    JohnMichael
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  7. #7
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Well, first, I'll answer the question on an introduction to Pro-Ject: I just don't know. Maybe. My approach on some of this stuff, as you may have noticed, is to buy it as an extended audtion and sell it when I'm done. I think I've generally suggested the Phono Box II as a good solution for someone whose receiver doesn't have a phono stage or doesn't have a good one. Of course, that's a common situation.

    Ultimately...I can't see a guy with a Bellari VP130 being satisfied with a Phono Box. It seems like you'd hear "clinical" by comparison. You might miss the swell tone of the Shure. But maybe you'll like having a quiet alternative...not that the Bellari doesn't hold its own in that department. I was initially surprised at how quiet my VP129 is, considering it has that tube in it and it's working with only 30 dB gain. I did replace the tube with a Sovtek 12AX7LPS and noticed a very worthwhile improvement. I put the same tubes in my Tube Box and was impressed even more.

    From what I've read and heard, JM's suggestions on the Cambridge Audio are on target. The 640P is supposed to be good. If you're just looking for something cleaner and quieter, it seems like the 640P would get you there. If you're really interested in Pro-Ject, I'm torn between saying hold out for the Tube Box and saying dip a toe in the water. And in the end, I'd vote for a toe in.

    On the Technics front...I've got nothing aagainst the SL-D2 and I'm not a big 1200 fan. I certainly respect the 1200 for what it is...I just don't bow down before it like the guys at AK. I have a linear Technics and I really like it. I respect Grado for what they are, but I had a Red for a while and wasn't able to keep it. It hums on my MMF-5. I suppose I liked it alright, but the Goldring cartridges I've used since then are more to my taste. I think I like the Shure M97XE better than the Red, too. Although I'd never recommend wasting a good cartridge on a mediocre turntable, but I wouldn't avoid that one. In the interest of economy, though, I'd probably lean toward the M97XE or AT95E, depending on tastes.

    On another topic...I just picked up two old mono Kay Starr albums at Half-Price Books, tonight. I weighed one of them...172 grams. Kay is the new musical love in my life. I'm hoping Julie London doesn't get jealous.

  8. #8
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Kay Starr? Never heard of her (him?). 172 grams means good score noob, bet it sounds great. What style of music? I take it you tend towards the singer/songwriter types..."vocalists"?

    Thanks again for some awesome input man, I am reaching the point where I actually think, "better run this past noob". Are you scared? Hahahaha....as long as I don't show up at your bedroom window, 3 am with an amp under my arm, "hey noob, you gotta sec?"....you'll be ok.

    I'm feeling the same way about the Phono Box so I've put in $50 but haven't met the reserve. We'll see.

    You're totally right about the cart, I don't think you'll ever see much more than a Shure on the arm of one of these SL's. I think I'll email the Needle Doc and see what they think. I would like to get an Ortofon OM 10, as you know, versatile with a well rounded sound. I think you actually mentioned this cart to me at some point. Anyhow, I think I should have it in my arsenal.

    The funkin belt went on my PIO last night. I don't have any left...another reason I want the Technics, direct drive....at the very least I need a table that I know will always be ready for play. I think I'll switch it with the 516 and see what results I get. Will it beat out my HK? Stay tuned...

  9. #9
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    The Cambridge Audio 540P and 640P's are nice preamps for the money. The 640P will enable you to use low output moving coil cartridges. I am listening to my Benz Gold through the 640P.
    Thanks for the input John, clearly you are more than a rank and file enthusiast and I appreciate your insight. As you can see from the list in my sig, I lean on the "vintage" side and ultimately, I would like to build a super tough, tube friendly system.

    Money is a factor right now as I have a young family. I actually unloaded a couple of higher end pieces recently just for the fact that I wouldn't be able to purchase anything complimentary for them. Namely, a Copland CTA 401, it's just not the right time for me.

    Anyhow, enough sad, loathing sentiment. My point is this, if I was budgeted for a Cambridge piece, I would probably go for the Pro-Ject Phono Tube. Any comparitive thoughts on this? Any experience with Pro-Ject John? Would love to hear your feedback. What about you noob, any Cambridge experience? There are 2 hi-fi dealers in the city I live in. I generally deal with one, however the other is a Cambridge dealer, so I can audition these preamp models which I think I will do. BTW, I am the high bidder with a max of $50 on the Phono Box, but I haven't met reserve.

    Thanks again...my Copland appears in this list, click the link. You can also view Target, great little shop with some colourful, experienced audiophiles running it.

    http://www.targethifi.com/used.html

  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Kay Starr? Never heard of her (him?). 172 grams means good score noob, bet it sounds great. What style of music? I take it you tend towards the singer/songwriter types..."vocalists"?
    Kay Starr is one of the top female jazz vocalists from the 1950's. I'm just now getting to know her music. I do a little exploring in the Female Vocal section every time I go to Half-Price Books. They're certainly my favorites. Even though I'm there for the one-dollar records, I check for the ladies to see if anything new of note has arrived. I'll pay the asking price for them, without waiting and hoping for them to show up in the clearance shelves.

    I had been toying with the idea of a handful of Kay Starr records that showed up in July. Two of them were bad condition, so they were out. But two were marginal and one was pretty questionable. I went back and got the two marginal ones and gave them the vacuum treatment last night. One is pretty worn on the inner tracks, but I'm going to give it a spin on the Technics linear tonight and we'll see how that goes. It has a linear contact AT stylus and it can sometimes play bad-condition records better than the MMF-5.

    I sometimes kind of wish I had either a removable headshell or a cartridge like the OM where I could change out stylii on the MMF-5. But I do have a nice Ortofon cartridge for the linear, so I might try getting some different stylii for it.

  11. #11
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    Just got the Cambridge 540p and was shocked by how good it is.The Grahm Slee mm I got was shockingly bad(maybe it is for classical music, very smooth). All my other preamps were on receivers. The Nads I have had on a receiver and a tuner, were functional,just ok,but this Cambridge is my first step up to audiophilia.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Poppachubby I have not heard a Pro-ject phono pre-amp in a familiar system. One of our members, JRA, owned one that had noise issues. The Cambridge models I suggested are discounted and the 540P is around $100 and the 640P for around $170. My only advice for the 640P is not to engage the subsonic filter. When the filter is switched in you will notice decreased bass warmth and exaggerated high frequencies. The 640P without the subsonic filter is a musical detailed phonostage.
    JohnMichael
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  13. #13
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Poppachubby I have not heard a Pro-ject phono pre-amp in a familiar system. One of our members, JRA, owned one that had noise issues. The Cambridge models I suggested are discounted and the 540P is around $100 and the 640P for around $170. My only advice for the 640P is not to engage the subsonic filter. When the filter is switched in you will notice decreased bass warmth and exaggerated high frequencies. The 640P without the subsonic filter is a musical detailed phonostage.

    Thanks JM! If you check the original Ebay link, I am now the high bidder and have met the reserve at 50.00.

  14. #14
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Tube Box was a great unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Poppachubby I have not heard a Pro-ject phono pre-amp in a familiar system. One of our members, JRA, owned one that had noise issues.
    Yes, I did used to own the original Tube Box. I thought it was one of the greatest great I had owned at the time. I would love to hear it again in my current system.
    It was a great and silent unit for MM carts, but it was too noisy for low output MC carts.
    A Step-up-Transformers can always be used to eliminate added noise. I'm becoming a huge fan of a SUT device, and it will offer an incredible fidelity with a proper match.

    My impression of the Tube Box is that it has a typical/misrepresented "Tube" sound.
    But of course the "Tube" sound is neither good or bad. It certainly made me appreciate the analog much more than the Bellari I had briefly tried. I'm not sure of the difference in their circuit designs between VP-29 and VP-129, but VP-29 was THE worst gear I had every tried. As usual, it all depends on what you seek. I should grab a used VP-129 to find what all the fuss is about.

    Phono Box II is a good unit, but am not sure if it's a worthwhile upgrade.
    It will certainly offer a different sound, but I imagine it will temp you to upgrade within a month. If your TT spins at a proper speed and your arm is matched with a proper cart, then take your current budget, AND save for addiitional 6 month.

    Have Fun,
    JRA writing from Toyota City, Japan.

  15. #15
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Yes, I did used to own the original Tube Box. I thought it was one of the greatest great I had owned at the time. I would love to hear it again in my current system.
    It was a great and silent unit for MM carts, but it was too noisy for low output MC carts.
    A Step-up-Transformers can always be used to eliminate added noise. I'm becoming a huge fan of a SUT device, and it will offer an incredible fidelity with a proper match.

    My impression of the Tube Box is that it has a typical/misrepresented "Tube" sound.
    But of course the "Tube" sound is neither good or bad. It certainly made me appreciate the analog much more than the Bellari I had briefly tried. I'm not sure of the difference in their circuit designs between VP-29 and VP-129, but VP-29 was THE worst gear I had every tried. As usual, it all depends on what you seek. I should grab a used VP-129 to find what all the fuss is about.

    Phono Box II is a good unit, but am not sure if it's a worthwhile upgrade.
    It will certainly offer a different sound, but I imagine it will temp you to upgrade within a month. If your TT spins at a proper speed and your arm is matched with a proper cart, then take your current budget, AND save for addiitional 6 month.

    Have Fun,
    JRA writing from Toyota City, Japan.
    Well, you've given me much to consider. I do think that if the bidding goes up any further on the Phono Box, I will pass. I am now afraid that it just won't have any teeth. I originally just wanted to sample some Pro-Ject pre at a reasonable cost.

    If you read my other thread on here, you can get my feelings about the Tube Box. I just auditioned a new one. I found it to be too much for my mid level table, it revealed too many blemishes. However my Bellari is working quite well and rounding out the sound quite nicely. I have the VP-130 and I can tell you that the value/performance is great on these. You might be hard pressed to find one used, if you do, snatch it up quick. It has a distinct, warm tone. I find it's hard to get any attacking highs or mids out of it. So again, it's a preference issue.

    I have an old Shure mic/phono pre that I was hoping to replace with the Pro-Ject. The Shure is tube and not a bad little unit, I certainly love it and won't get rid of it. However it just doesn't have the all around tone that I require. I think you could be right on this one, probably better to save and continue searching. We'll see where the auction goes...

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