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Pro-Ject Phono Box S

Phono preamplifier (Silver)

23 Reviews | 2 questions - 7 answers

Overview

Our take on the Pro-Ject Phono Box S

Top-notch performance and flexibility

Pro-Ject's Phono Box S phono preamp serves up the warm, relaxed sound that vinyl is famous for while offering unique performance enhancements rarely seen at this price. Its carefully selected amplifier modules and audiophile-grade components make your treasured record collection shine. And no matter what kind of phono cartridge you mount on your turntable, this versatile preamp gives you a wide range of input settings to optimize its performance. A switchable subsonic filter protects your amplifier and speakers from power-wasting low-frequency rumble below 20Hz.

The Phono Box S phono preamp is compatible with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, so you can count on proper matching with virtually any turntable and cartridge combination.

It does exactly what I hoped it would. Offers clear, balanced sound from my turntable.

David, Carol Stream, IL

What's in the Box:

  • Phono (MM/MC) pre-amplifier
  • AC power adapter (with attached 58" DC cord)
  • Instructions

Product Highlights:

  • compatible with moving magnet and moving coil phono cartridges
  • audiophile-grade polypropylene WIMA capacitors in the signal path
  • switchable input impedance and capacitance settings for proper cartridge loading
  • four adjustable gain levels to match phono cartridge output levels
  • front-panel power on/off switch
  • external power supply for reduced noise and interference
  • switchable subsonic filter (-12dB @ 20Hz)
  • dual-mono circuitry for optimal channel separation
  • small size allows placement near turntable
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 86dB (MM), 68dB (MC)
  • THD: less than 0.01% (MM); less than 0.05% (MC)
  • RIAA response accuracy: less than 0.4dB (20-20,000 Hz)
  • one pair of RCA inputs and outputs
  • 4-1/16"W x 1-7/16"H x 5-1/4""D
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Reviews

Pro-Ject Phono Box S Reviews

Average Customer Review:

23 Reviews

The little box that sings

Written by: John from St Louis, MO on April 21, 2016

We needed 2 pre-amps to support a live vinyl show on a very popular Internet radio station. We already had a Pro-Ject turntable for vinyl transfer to digital broadcast files, so we took a shot. The sound quality of this amp blew us all away. Fine detail in 40+ year-old LPs just jumped out of the studio monitors. Even with the Shure M44G DJ cartridge with it's Spherical stylus. The BOX S provides adjustable output level controls that were easily adjusted to match our broadcast board that was looking +4 input levels. Being a flexible serious amp, you will need to setup input impedance/capacitance. But in the end it is well worth the work. The difference between this pre-amp and any pre built into your turntable will just blow you away. Worth every penny. Just like almost every product from Pro-Ject.

Pros: See above. Everything is a pro on this unit.

Cons: No cons at all.

Superb Phono

Written by: darius from Norman, OK on April 19, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I am a bit surprised at the performance at this price. I have owned plenty of budget phono stages in the past including the basic Project phono box, Nad PP2, Cambridge 650, monolithic sound, Nad C162 and a few more. I can say this one beats them all. Very full, rich, smooth sound, I am sure PSU upgrade will take it further. I listen to a lot of classical, smooth string tone is critical for me and it does a great job here. I can't imagine the tube box being a whole lot better, you might get better a little better soundstage depth with tubes but that's it.

Pros: Very sweet sounding, cartridge loading options

Cons: Plain Jane switching AC adapter.

Well Satisfied

Written by: FredinBoise from Boise, ID on April 10, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Needed this to power my Technics 1600 MKII turntable that is wired to Marantz receiver. Stupidly easy setup (for which I am thankful). Controls may be small, but they are extremely precise and firm in their setting. Auto turn-off Size is is small, but the weight lets you know this is no toy. Couldn't be happier.

Pros: Easy to use. All the adjustments one could ask for. Quality build. Small size.

Cons: none

Pro-Ject "S" Box Phono Preamp Eq

Written by: Larry from franklin, WI on March 29, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This little jewel (the size of 2 packs of cigarettes) exceeded all of my expectations. The set up was a relative breeze and the outboard sound was incredible I replaced my Rotel RQ-970BX phono preamp due to its age with this unit and because my new Para-Sound's Halo Integrated Amp's phono section's output was a rather thin, puny, and weak 35 db output. Even though my Rega P2 turntable is equipped with a rather high output Elys 2 (MM) cartridge (7.0 mv), I needed to crank the amp to 1/2 or 2/3 volume setting to get a faint whisper of the sound I was used to. This was of course unacceptable for 200 watts per channel through my 6 ohm Bryston A-3 speakers. Rega does not disclose the recommended load capacitance for their cartridges, unlike Ortofon and others. But with a little digging, I discovered that their $1500 phono preamplifiers/eqs were loaded @110pf capacitance. So, I settled for 100pf on the pin switches for both channels, 40 db output, and 47 K ohms for the standard (MM) cartridge resistance. I discovered that I had a new vinyl collection. The sound was pristine with plenty of punch at 1/4 or 1/3 volume setting. I could experiment further with the settings, but I am content with the night and day difference at present.

Pros: Small size, clean sound, separate low voltage power supply, and multiple settings available to accommodate different setups/cartridges.

Cons: Pin switches are small and require a jeweler's screwdriver but are quite doable with a little study and patience. Since this unit comes from Austria, it has different AC connectors (not explained in the literature). In America use the big 2 prong ones that fit our outlets.

Awesome

Written by: David from Carol Stream, IL on March 9, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

It does exactly what I hoped it would. Offers clear, balanced sound from my turntable.

Pros: Great sound, reasonable price, small footprint.

Cons: None.

Perfect complement to my new turntable...

Written by: David from New Jersey on February 26, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Recently got a pro-ject debut carbon esprit SB and wanted to upgrade my preamp. I was riding the excitement of a new toy and jumped into the deep end with a tube box s. Unfortunately it arrived defective. So I had calmed down during the process of sending it back and noticed the phono box s also had great reviews for less than half the price. I'm no expert so I can't tell you fancy terminology to back anything up, but this preamp packed everything I needed and more! I listen to mostly guitar based punk and rock and everything sounds better than I could have imagined. The smallest amount of research into turntables and amplifiers will reveal that you can spend endless amounts of money for more "warmth" or "better highs." But for someone like me who just loves music and wants my music to sound great without breaking the bank, I couldn't recommend this enough.

Pros: Sounds great, very sturdy construction. Has settings to allow me to upgrade turntable parts in the future.

Cons: None that I can think of.

Great product is a small package

Written by: Lee-Man from portland, OR on February 6, 2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I have a turntable I hadn't used for years and albums getting dusty. I could not connect my turntable to my Amp because amplifiers no longer have a "Phono" input. I found the Phono Box S on Crutchfield and it seemed like a perfect fit though a bit expensive. But I have found it is well worth it! The Phono Box S has many adjustments, but I didn't need to touch a thing: it worked right out of the box. The construction is solid and high quality. And now I am listening to my Albums!

Pros: Small but heavy enough to be solid. High Quality! Sounds like it's not there, i.e it does not add anything to the music (which is good).

Cons: Black only? And just a touch expensive.

Glad it was available

Written by: Bill G. from Bloomington, Minnesota on November 17, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Thanks to Crutchfield Support, I would have never figured out how to set up the unit to work .

Pros: Does what it was supposed to do

Cons: Difficult learning curve for those who are not audiophile savy

Pro Ject Phono Box S - Brought my records alive.

Written by: m2 from California on October 29, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Clean clear crisp... New life to my records. Pops and hisses are covered by music, they are still there but the music is the highlite. Adds clean volume with full body. Crutchfield helped with the setup... and every record sounds great.

Pros: Clean, clear full body to music...

Cons: None.

Excellent Phono Preamplifier

Written by: Rick from Illinois on August 19, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Pro-Ject Phono Box S is an excellent, high value and great sounding phono preamp. Solid construction, a hefty metal case, grounding screw and quiet electronics contribute to the unit's silence. No humming, buzzing or other annoying backgroud sounds in my system - just music. The Phono Box S offers easy to use MM/MC cartridge gain, capacitance and impedence setting flexibility. This all translates into a wide, deep and very detailed soundstage. It's quite a sonic improvement, IMO, over a comparable NAD PP2 I've enjoyed for the last few years.

Pros: Solid construction, quiet electronics, setting flexibility, outstanding sonics right out of the box. Sound will continue to improve with time.

Cons: None so far.

Very good product

Written by: Don from Texas on June 8, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

It works as expected. Very satisfied with the product and the service received.

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Worth every penny

Written by: Jared from Texas on March 21, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I was looking to upgrade the phono side of my "blue collar" hi-fi (HK3490, Polk RTI a7, Debut III w/audio technica AT120) and the Phono Box S really hit the spot. Could be a bit much for what I'm running, but it gives room for cartridge growth (MC) and is adjustable which gives you the "tweak" option if you're in to that. My initial impression was that it definitely cleaned up the signal and the volume "sweet spot" was at the same level on my receiver as when listening to CDs, prior to that I had to turn the receiver up quite a bit. Now this is where the audiophiles would start spewing a bunch of over the top nonsense that us mere music loving mortals could never comprehend. I will keep it simple, the phono box really opened up my vinyl, enhanced the clarity and increased the bass a lot more than I expected. Worth every penny.

Pros: More options at this price point MM and MC compatible Adjustable Smaller AC plug than all the other Pro ject "wall warts" that I own

Cons: None so far

Great sound!

Written by: Ryan from Boise, ID on November 8, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Was the perfect match for my old BIC record player. Has brought life to my vinyl collection. Great open and warm sound. Using with a Pioneer receiver that did not have a phono input. Combine this with a new turntable for even better sound. Packaging and build quality rival that of hi-end grade pre amps.

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Pro-Ject Phono Box S

Written by: klee from LA, CA on October 24, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Good for the money, small phono step-up amp. Built solidly. Works fine.

Pros: Price

Cons: small switches to change MM, MC mode is rather inconvenient for older guy like me with clumsy fingers.

Very Nice

Written by: JamesC from Lawrence, KS on October 2, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Used between a Pro-Ject 6.1 and an Adcom GFP-815, the phono box gave terrific results.

Pros: Ease of use/installation. Its small footprint allows placement near the turntable. Features are first rate.

Cons: None

Great Peramp

Written by: Dave from West Virginia on August 28, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This preamp turned out to be another situation that proved to me that "Burn in" is real. When I first got this preamp I felt it was very dull sounding, compared to another one I own. I would run it for a couple days, then compare the two again and go back to my old pre amp because of the Pro-Jects "dull" sound. I had all but given up on this amp, when I again hooked it up last week and found it the same. I decided to give it one last chance to impress me, so after the listening session that day I decided to leave the unit powered up. I ended up leaving it on for 3 days without playing any music. I really didn't expect it to change. But on the 4th day when I decided to give it one last try, I was surprised at what I heard. I thought the preamp sounded much much better. But to make sure I switched back to my old preamp. WOW' they sounded nearly identical. I swapped them back and forth for several days to make sure of what I was hearing, and in this time the Pro-Ject actually started to sound much better than my old preamp. The biggest change was in the high frequencies. Gone was the dull lifeless sound. Replaced by crisp highs, a very musical mid range, along with thundering bass. Yep, I can now recommend this preamp, but give it awhile to burn in.

Pros: Very musical sounding. Crisp highs, and lots of Bass.

Cons: Took mine well over 100 hours to burn in, but my patience is being rewarded.

Great outcome

Written by: SRE from LaPorte, IN on March 1, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Wasn't happy thinking of having to purchase a phono preamp to operate my turntable. After buying it and seeing the resulting performance of my vintage Pioneer turntable, it was a blessing. This preamp in conjunction with the NAD C 725BEE receiver I bought at the same time, makes this vintage turntable rock. This may seem hard to believe, but it probably sounds better now than it even did originally. This purchase choice was a recommendation from an adviser at Crutchfield. He was dead right about the good results I've experienced with this unit. This is a new purchase, but the results so far are exceptional. Maybe small, but mighty......

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A big step uo

Written by: RichinCA from Saratoga, CA on January 24, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

My phono volume has been lagging since I upgraded the cartridge....clearly time for a new step-up preamp. The Phono Box solves the issue--and then some. With adjustable gain settings, I was able to match the output of my pickup to the other sources on my AV receiver. Moreover, the subsonic filter takes away the rumble from warped discs and helps clean up the overall sound stage. Setup was easy and performance is first-rate--a much fuller and wider sound stage than before, with details I am hearing for the first time.

Pros: Compact size, adjustable output/gain and excellent performance--superior to my previous preamp.

Cons: Tiny pins for adjusting the gain, capacitance and impendence settings--but only needed once...manual instructions a bit stilted in English, but diagrams helped.

Exceeds expectations

Written by: James from Norfolk, VA on November 18, 2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Pro-Ject Phono Box S might be small in size, but it is very solid and well constructed. I have been extremely pleased with the audio quality of this phono stage. One of my favorite features is the adjustable impedance and capacitance. I could not find any other phono stages in this price range that offer this feature. I adjusted the impedance and capacitance to match the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge on my Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable (another excellent product). I bought 4 other phono stages in the same price range from competing manufacturers and tested them against each other over several weeks of listening. Ultimately I chose the Pro-Ject Phono Box S for its balanced and detailed sound and solid build quality.

Pros: excellent sound, good value, adjustable impedance and capacitance, solid build quality

Cons:

A great add-on to my Debut Carbon (black)

Written by: JohnA. from Richmond, VA on October 31, 2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The phono-preamp on my Adcom GFP-710 was at best serviceable. The Pro-Ject Phono Box S really open things up - it was a huge difference.

Pros: Like lifting a burlap bag off the speakers. Adjustable gain, impedance and capacitance for any cartridge.

Cons: None.

Outstanding Phono Preamp

Written by: Grigori from Granville, OH on July 5, 2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I purchased this preamp along with the Pro-Ject Xpression III turntable. Previously I had been using a Yamaha C80 control preamp from the 1980's, but one of the channels had started to get a little flaky. When listening analog, the Phono Box is driving an Onkyo TX-NR808 receiver and Boston Acoustics T-1000 towers. In digital mode its is feeding an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card, as I slowly digitize a large collection of classical, jazz and blues. In either case, my impression is that I am getting greater tonal clarity and hearing more detail in orchestral works. Highly recommended!

Pros: Adjustable gain, impedance and capacitance. Small box fits right next to turntable. Power supply separate from unit. Noise levels are ridiculously low.

Cons: None so far.

A Great Bargain

Written by: Alan from Austin, TX on January 9, 2013

I've tried the "S" with a Denon DL-103 and a Grado Red1 Prestige. The Denon works best for me with 60dB of gain and 100 ohms impedance. The Grado sounds best at 43dB of gain and 20 pF of capacitance. VERY quiet phono stage and able to throw a meaty and convincing soundstage. I am impressed. It's about as good as VSPS (similar to 47 Labs' stage) and Cinemag transformers (which I've had). Better than the good DB Systems MM and MC stages I've owned.

Pros: Quiet, detailed, highly configurable. Surprisingly heavy and seems to be well made.

Cons: I have no complaints.

Great phono per-amp

Written by: Gogman from Boston MA on January 7, 2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Great Phono Pre-Amp with multiple setting adjustments.

Pros: Easy hook up with multiple setting adjustments. Perfect sound

Cons: None

Details

Hands-on research

What's in the box?

Download the Pro-Ject Phono Box S manual

  • Phono (MM/MC) pre-amplifier
  • AC power adapter (with attached 58" DC cord)
  • Instructions

Product Research

Features

Phono (MM/MC) Preamp: The Pro-Ject Phono Box S allows you to connect a turntable with either a MM (moving magnet) or MC (moving coil) cartridge to today's home receiver's and amplifier which do not offer a dedicated phono input. There is a button on the back of the unit which allows you to switch between MM or MC mode.

Metal Case: The Phono Box S's metal case shields the electronics from vibration and electromagnetic interference.

Audiophile-Grade Capacitors: Carefully selected amplifier modules and audiophile-grade polypropylene capacitors make it possible to enjoy your valuable vinyl collection like never before.

Dual-Mono Circuitry: The Phono Box S provides optimal channel separation through dual-mono circuitry and low-noise ICs.

RIAA Equalization: The Pro-Ject Phono Box S provides amplification and RIAA equalization for both MM and MC cartridges.

Controls: The Phono Box S features various controls to make sure your turntable sounds it best.

  • Gain Levels: The phono preamp's gain level (40/43/60/63dB) can be adjusted to match the level of your MM/MC turntable.
  • Input Impedance/Capacitance: You can adjust the phono preamp's input impedance (10/100/1000 Ohms) and input capacitance (100/200/320/420pF) to the setting that best suits your turntable. The input impedance is locked at 47k Ohms for MM turntables.
  • Subsonic Filter: A switchable subsonic filter prevents your amplifier and speakers of ultra low rumble below 20Hz (-12dB).

Connections: The Phono Box S features a stereo RCA input and output, as well as a ground terminal.

  • RCA: The phono preamp features gold-plated stereo RCA connections. A stereo RCA input connects your turntable, and a stereo RCA output connects your home receiver or amplifier. RCA cables sold separately.
  • Ground Terminal: The phone preamp also has a turntable ground, in case your turntable has a separate ground lead. This provides shielding to the tone-arm and the sensitive circuitry in the turntable.

Outboard Power Supply: The Pro-Ject Phono Box S operates off of standard household AC current, using the supplied AC power adapter. The external power adapter is separate from the phono preamp to further improve sound quality.

  • Input: 100-240V~50/60Hz, 0.6A
  • Output: 15V - 500mA (18V)

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Accessories
Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

Ratings and needed a pre amp. [ Tim  Apr 28, 2016 ]
It is difficult to find high quality phono pre-amps at a reasonable price. Since I own fine Pro-Ject turntables, I knew their pre-amps would not disappoint. [ John M Stephens  Apr 20, 2016 ]
My Pro-Ject Turntable is lonely. :) [ Emil  Mar 26, 2016 ]
Most versatile product of this type for the price. [ LAWRENCE F.  Mar 23, 2016 ]
met requirements [ Charles  Feb 16, 2016 ]

2 questions already asked

I'm afraid it's not so easy to go from "stereo" to true "mono" nowadays. For true mono, you'll need to start with a mono cartridge on your tonearm. One way: Use a separate tonearm with a mono cartridge on your existing turntable to play mono records. Another way: Use a separate turntable with a mono cartridge installed to play your mono vinyl. Make your decision based on practicality, cost, and convenience. Then, downstream of your turntable, you'll want a true mono preamp (or "phono stage") before you get to the amplifier/receiver. Note: In early stereo days, on department-store hi-fis we had tonearms that could be fitted with two cartridges, mono and stereo; you could rotate the cartridges in the tonearm via a switch. That would, of course, be impossible today. True audiophiles even back then would either install two tonearms on their existing turntable or use separate turntables, just as you would today. That hasn't changed. Preamps and receivers back in the 60s and 70s had "phono 1" and "phono 2" inputs, plus a "mono" vs. "stereo" choice for the output. Frankly, I'm not aware of any preamps/receivers that offer two phono inputs nowadays. even at stratospheric prices, but by using a separate mono phono preamp, you could use any line-level input you needed to, so that's not an issue. There are a number of decent $200 - $400 turntables (e.g., Pro-Ject brand) you could adapt to mono use. (Mono doesn't necessarily require a fancy or complicated tonearm, at least as compared to stereo.) [ Samuel  May 05, 2016 ]
It has some minor adjustments at the bottom part of this unit. But as it is on default, it would make your mono experience much enhanced compared to directly using your built in phono stage. [ PAUL CO  May 24, 2015 ]
No, it does not have a mono setting. The only mono component that I'm aware of, that can be added to a phono system, is a mono Turntable Cartridge. But it would have to be swapped into and out of the system, for Mono or Stereo. While there may be an advantage to having a dedicated Mono Cartridge for your system, I find the sound of the Phono Box S very satisfactory, when playing my Mono records. Some even seem to sound better than the Stereo version, even though their being played back on my Stereo equipment. [ DAVID L  May 23, 2015 ]
No it doesn't! [ MARK  May 22, 2015 ]
No, there is no separate mono setting. Instead, there are R&L In and R&L Out, plus on/off for the subsonic filter. If your turntable has separate channel connections you should be OK, but if there's just one connector, then this probably wouldn't work for you without some kind of adapter. I have the manual in front of me, and these are the only connections described and illustrated. Now I have a few mono discs or tracks that play just fine through the stereo setup, so this is not an issue for me. [ RinchinCA  May 22, 2015 ]
Setup is very easy. I have not problems at all. This unit have 4 gain settings: 40 db, 43db, 60db and 63db in the bottom. It have 8 little switches. You set the gain with the first 3 of them(on/off). The diagrams are easy to follow. [ JORGE  Jan 09, 2014 ]
Setup is fairly simple. There are two banks of DIP switches on the bottom of the unit, one for each channel. Switches 1-3 control the gain, 4-6 the impedance, and 7-8 the capacitance. They all operate independently, and the settings are clearly given in the manual. For gain you can set 40 and 43db for moving magnet cartridges and 60 and 63 db for moving coil cartridges. On the back of the unit you have RCA inputs and outputs, a grounding lug, power connector, and push button to activate a subsonic filter. The unit uses 12v DC power, so there is an AC adaptor that keeps potential line noise away from the unit. I have been very pleased with my purchase. Sound quality is excellent. [ GREGORY  Jan 06, 2014 ]
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