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Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Vacuum tube phono preamplifier for moving magnet and moving coil cartridges

22 Reviews | 2 questions - 3 answers

Item # 252TBBXDSB

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Pro-Ject Tube Box DS




Our take on the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

If you're like me, the warm, relaxed sound of vacuum tubes and vinyl is hard to resist. Also, if you're like me, you probably spend a good deal of time tweaking and tuning your rig to get the sound just right. Pro-Ject gets it. They designed the Tube Box DS just for people like us. This versatile vacuum tube phono preamp provides highly flexible options and settings for a wide range of phono cartridges — from moving magnet, to high- or low-output moving coil — to ensure top-notch performance that's tuned perfectly for your system. So go ahead, tweak it to your heart's content. 

The ideal phono preamp for audio perfectionists

If you're like me, the warm, relaxed sound of vacuum tubes and vinyl is hard to resist. Also, if you're like me, you probably spend a good deal of time tweaking and tuning your rig to get the sound just right. Pro-Ject gets it. They designed the Tube Box DS just for people like us. This versatile vacuum tube phono preamp provides highly flexible options and settings for a wide range of phono cartridges — from moving magnet, to high- or low-output moving coil — to ensure top-notch performance that's tuned perfectly for your system. So go ahead, tweak it to your heart's content. 

High-quality sound you can custom-tune to match your gear

The secret to the Tube Box DS's dramatic sound starts with its audiophile-grade circuitry. Your music will jump out at you from a dead-quiet background thanks to this preamp's ultra low-noise design. Its vacuum tube output stage delivers the kind of silky smooth texture and spaciousness that tubes are famous for, keeping you glued to your chair late into the night. A continuously variable input impedance loading control on the front panel allows convenient adjustment for your low output MC cartridges to ensure a flat frequency response. You can even make adjustments on the fly while your records are playing, to fine-tune the sound.

Other features include adjustable input capacitance settings for moving magnet and high-output moving coil cartridges, plus gain-setting options to better match your cartridge to your system. A switchable subsonic filter protects your amplifier and speakers from power-wasting low-frequency rumble below 20Hz.

Need a cable?

This phono preamp does not come with an RCA cable to connect to your receiver or amp.

Product Highlights:

  • dual-mono design using two dual-triode ECC83 (12AX7A) vacuum tubes for optimal channel separation
  • compatible with moving magnet and moving coil phono cartridges
  • pre-mounted Cool Dampers reduce vacuum tube vibration for lower distortion and provide better heat dissipation for longer tube life
  • front-panel input impedance control for low output moving coil cartridges (continuously variable from 10-1000 ohms)
  • adjustable input capacitance and gain settings for more accurate cartridge matching
  • audiophile-grade polypropylene capacitors
  • switchable subsonic filter to reduce low-frequency rumble and wasted amplifier power (-18dB/octave at 20 Hz)
  • all-metal chassis for improved shielding from vibration and electromagnetic interference
  • external power supply for reduced noise and interference
  • gold-plated RCA connectors for corrosion-free signal transfer
  • capacitance settings: 47pF, 147pF, 267pF, and 367pF (for MM and high-output MC cartridges)
  • gain settings: 40dB, 50dB, and 60dB
  • RIAA response accuracy: 0.5dB (20-20,000 Hz)
  • THD: less than 0.1%
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 93dB
  • 4-1/16"W x 2-15/16"H x 6-1/16"D
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Turntable (MM/MC) tube pre-amplifier
  • AC power adapter (w/ attached 5' DC cord)
  • 3 AC plug inserts (US/EU/UK)
  • 2 Metal plates
  • 10 Jumper caps
  • (2 pre-installed)
  • Instructions For Use

Scratch & Dent items may be missing non-essential accessories. In some cases the manufacturer's accessories have been replaced with generic equivalents.

The beauty of tube warmth and matched perfectly to the Pro-Ject 1Xpression Carbon Classic! This little preamp is SWEET out of the box with wonderful separation and depth producing a dreamed about soundstage! It will only get better with break in hours.....and I plan to do just that!!

Michael, Savannah, GA


Pro-Ject Tube Box DS Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(22 Reviews)

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from San Antonio, TX on 9/30/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Really have nothing to compare with but seemingly works great with my marantz receiver and turntable and KEF LS50 speakers. When the albums are top notch the whole system shines but is unforgiving on bad recordings. Great way to introduce some warmth from the tubes when you have a solid state amps.



Tubes Rock!!

Michael from Savannah, GA on 9/15/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The beauty of tube warmth and matched perfectly to the Pro-Ject 1Xpression Carbon Classic! This little preamp is SWEET out of the box with wonderful separation and depth producing a dreamed about soundstage! It will only get better with break in hours.....and I plan to do just that!!

Pros: Warmth abounding producing a soundstage that disappears before your eyes!

Cons: Ain't none!!

Quality Preamp

Adam from Somerville, MA on 6/5/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

So far I am very happy with this preamp. Paired with a proper amplifier it sounds great. There are a lot of options for different types of cartridges.

Pros: Very versatile with great sound.

Cons: Instructions are a little confusing.

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from Chicago, IL on 5/20/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

A very good upgrade for the money. Improved soundstage and clarity, quiet background with no noticeable noise. Extremely happy to have this in my system.



Great phono preamp for the money

Alan from CO on 3/28/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Very good phono preamp for the money (Mine was an open box for a lower price). Nice lively and dynamic sound. Nearly silent background. With no record playing there is essentially no noise coming from the speakers except a very faint hiss if I put my ear right up to the speaker. Sometimes tubes can be a problem in this area, but not in this preamp. So far I've used it only with an Audio Technica AT-150MLX mm cartridge so I don't know how well it works with low output mc cartridges, but now that I have a preamp that can be customized to work with just about any cartridge I'll probably experiment with some other cartridges just to see. Just because I'm neurotic I have to monkey with just about every audio product. I tried swapping out the tubes with some vintage RCAs. I think that resulted in a slightly quieter background and better tone, but the difference could be due to confirmation bias. The stock tubes are just fine.

Pros: very reasonably priced; sounds very good; customizable to just about any cartridge

Cons: tubes are kind of difficult to replace

Great little piece of gear

John M. from New Port Richey, FL on 2/14/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is a pretty good piece of gear once ya get it all figured out. I paired it to a Jolida JD302CRC integrated tube amp and a Technics SL-Q2 that I've had for years then mounted a Denon DL-110 MC cartridge to the tonearm. Speakers are Klipsh RB-81 and a Definitive Technology Pro Sub 1000. After a little tube rolling and and tweaking the Tube Box I found alot of vinyl was nearly holographic. I'm not sure if it was the 15yr Glenlivet single malt or the sweet spot he sat in, but I saw he was very focused and drooling over Led Zeppelin live soundtrack The Song Remains The Same album. My old Shure V15-III with an aftermarket stylus even sounded great. Worth the purchase, as others have stated instructions not real user friendly, don't be afraid of tinkering with jumpers to get the sound you want. Tube rolling is a pain, very hard to get tubes out be patient and gentle with tubes. Got big fat fingers? Get a friend with smaller fingers to help, if not for instructions and difficulty pulling tubes I would have gave a 5. Have fun and remember some people are impressed with loud distorted music, music lovers are amazed with clean sounding vinyl.

Pros: Can fine tune MC cartidges built heavy. Tubes can be swapped out.

Cons: Owners manual kinda vague. Tubes are difficult to get out for tube rolling.

Get yourself one, you wont be disappointed!

Gregg from Homer Glen, IL on 1/23/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Tube Box DS sounds fantastic! A noticeable difference can be heard immediately from the first time you turn it on and gets even better as you log some hours listening to your music. I would highly recommend this product to anyone who wants to get high quality sound from their turntable. Priced at $300 off original price is a bonus also! Check it out on youtube for setup directions as what comes with it may be confusing. Jumpers are small and hard to handle but nothing a pair of tweezers can't fix.

Pros: Outstanding sound quality, looks, and build.

Cons: Directions and jumpers

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from Caguas, PR on 1/15/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Excellent pure, and Clean Great price and Comunication Thank, Crutchfield



Semi-tube amp; great sound for the price.

Crutchfield customer from Irvine, CA on 1/10/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This sounds great. I was worried about warm-up time for the tubes but I can say that even cold it sounds superior to the built-in phono preamp in my Yamaha receiver. I have not used it enough to say if it sounds even better warming up but it does sound acceptable when cold. Better sound than the NAD PP4 (this is not too surprising given the price points). Be aware that this is not an all-tube amp, if that matters for you.

Pros: Great sound.

Cons: The jumper settings are a little bit of a pain; DIP switches would have been preferred. The RCA terminals are a little far apart: the Audioquest cables can just about make it; with separate cables this would not be an issue.

Overall very good, just a few quirks.

Ron from Cumming, GA on 12/27/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I really enjoy this little Tube Phono Pre amp. Based on the sound quality I would give it a 5 Star rating. I have to go with 4 though simply because the owner's manual is terrible. Why would the quality of the manual be an issue? I have a Sumiko Bluepoint #2 High output Moving coil cartridge. There are a number of Jumpers on the rear of the unit that have to be configured properly to match your cartridge (MC, MM High output MC etc). The manual only displays a few options and says to refer to the manufacturer's specs for your cartridge. So I had to spend a considerable amount if time deciphering info from different sources to determine the correct jumper settings. I'm still not 100% sure if it is correct, since it seems to work well with a number of different combinations. Still it has made a definite improvement in my TT listening experience. The jumpers themselves are fairly difficult to work with. So since it is working very well with the current config I'll leave it as is unless and until I get some better info on specifics for my cart. It would be extremely helpful if the manufacturer provided a list of carts and related jumper settings online. I'll continue to monitor TT forums in hopes that someone will post optimal settings.

Pros: Sounds great!

Cons: Jumper settings are unclear based on the manual and difficult to use.

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from Princeton, NJ on 12/13/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

What started as revving up the old Kenwood turntable quickly became a new TT with a Denon 301mkII cartridge and, of course, the need for a phono preamp. The Tube Box DS's ability to match the cartridge's output impedence of 33 ohms was a game changer. If you are fortunate enough, like me, to have a pristine record collection pre-1974 you can truly enjoy all the music locked in those grooves. The soundstage is like hearing music for the first time. Whether the highs off the cymbals, the "breathiness" of N Simone's vocals or the clean lines from the bass, the DS really locks it all in. I tried two earlier preamps and although the last one made you smile when listening, the Tube DS really took it to the next level. My objective was to make this just short of an obsession and The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS got me the sound I was looking for and the ability to bring out the best in the 301mkII at a reasonable price.



Nice improvement for the price

Raymond from Alexandria, VA on 12/10/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I bought this preamp as an upgrade to the built-in preamp on my Klipsch r-15pm powered speakers. The difference was immediately noticible; not breathtaking, but a big difference. Clearer all-around, more detail, better stereo separation, larger soundstage, and much better imaging. Very noticible on my new Fleet Foxes albums where the bands characteristic reverb was really emphasized, and detail like fingering on guitar strings/frets really stood out. All of this was heard on some gerryrigged patch cable. I have some high quality rca cable on its way and can't wait to see what happens. One of the best parts about purchasing this preamp was the price. After reading other positive reviews on Crutchfield's Outlet,I figured id give it a shot. My cost was a bargain from the Crutchfield outlet and I have yet to figure out why the preamp was sold as scratch-and-dent. The power source doesn't seem to be original, and the jumpers seemed like they were tossed into the box last minute, so that may be why. I'd definitely recommend trying the scratch-and-dent bin before buying anything full price.

Pros: -Price -Lots of options and room to upgrade cartridges in the future. -Great sound

Cons: - I have a feeling I'll be losing the spare jumpers - Blue LED the front is REALLY bright. It's minor, and can probably be covered up.

Love to hate, hate to love

Sean from Flemington, NJ on 10/28/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Not what I was looking for but my ears don't lie, it sounds great. I'm tempted to return this and find something that isn't a hybrid.

Pros: -Fantastic sound stage -Clear tight bass without being punchy -Detailed and accurate sound with little to no coloration -Solid chassis and construction -Tubes are well protected from EMI, microphonics and physical damage

Cons: -This is not a true tube preamp, it's a hybrid. I did not know this when I bought it and I'm disappointed. The silcon op-amps in this probably have enough gain for my set-up which makes the tubes more for show than function. -It's powered by a cheapo power supply. -Overpriced for what it is. I would think one of Pro-ject's non-tube preamps probably sounds just as good for less money.

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from New York, NY on 10/11/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Amazing phono stage. Brings your turntable to the next level.



Outstanding Budget Phono Preamp!

Devin from Houston, TX on 10/3/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I owned a very well reviewed BUDGET phono preamp, and was experiencing some issues. I ordered the Tube Box DS and it fixed the issues. Somehow, it also eliminated some distortion I was hearing. My bass was noticeably more present and controlled, and I finally started to feel like I was edging into Hi-Fi territory. Jazz went from mediocre to AWESOME and ALIVE. To say you could hear the difference would be a bit of an understatement. I am way pleased with this purchase, my 2nd from crutchfield. These guys are great and they haven't seen the last of my wallet. Don't tell my wife.

Pros: Cleaner sound, better,punchier bass, awesome imaging, super quiet

Cons: None that I can see!

Good product

Keith from Manassas, VA on 9/20/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I like it, works well. The jumper settings are cumbersome, but not really a big deal... probably better electrically than knobs and switches anyway. My second Pro-ject box and I think that for the price, this is worthwhile with much less snake oil. 4 stars just cuz nuthin's perfect. Funny though, it came with this extra donut-shaped part that for the life of me, I cannot figure out what it's for. I imagine it's supposed to be one of two alternative tube protection discs, with a larger center hole. I only got one donut, so not sure about that. The manual says nothing about this part.

Pros: great construction, quiet, accurate signal, warm, easy install

Cons: jumper settings, the manual seems incomplete

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Lynn from Fort Wayne, IN on 9/4/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS was a definite improvement over the phono stage I was using before.

Pros: Warm sound Great channel separation Nice punchy bass

Cons: I keep forgetting to turn it off at night. >:(

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Larry from North Las Vegas, NV on 8/6/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Easy to setup and delivers excellent sound.



Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Mick from Newton, IA on 5/10/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Sounds great right out of the box, Quality/Value. This Tube Box DS seems to be a perfect match for the Project RM5 that I've had Since 08. I have Listened to vinyl since 1974 and still have some of those same albums today, It is really like hearing them for the first time again. Only thing else I can say is I consider this a real bargain at the price ,Thank You.

Pros: Price/quality. Plug and play right out of the box.

Cons: Users Manual not very user friendly. Says you can make tweaks but so far none of the changes sound as good as the original settings

The Tube Box DS is LEGIT!!!

Dana from Memphis, TN on 2/18/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I recently upgraded my 2 channel system. I bought another main amp and have them both bridged to essentially have mono blocks now. I bought a new TT also. The amps tightened the bass and increased overall output and dynamic. The TT made everything more detailed and tightened the bass somewhat. I had an NAD PP2 and thought why not try an upgrade there as well. I was Very skeptical of the phono preamp being so critical. A Tube Box DS was in open box so I snatched it up! The improvement was immediate and evident on every single album I have played. I have only had this installed for 2.5 days and have already listened to about 20 records. For the first 10 I kept the NAD out and would go back and forth. 100% success each time....obvious improvement. What did I get from the DS, everything! There was another step up in detail and clarity for the mids, highs and soundstage. The bass really tightened up and is just so nice! I had a great sounding system and have now spent a lot of money over the last few weeks and that makes me cringe a little, but it just sounds sooooo sweet now! Obviously you have to have the full package with the right amplification and speakers to get the full benefit, but if you are considering an expensive phono preamp, I suspect you do. Good luck and happy listening!

Pros: Soundstage Detail Bass Everything

Cons: Price

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS

Crutchfield customer from Kirkland, WA on 8/14/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This little phone amp made a big difference in the natural sound quality of my sound system. A little spendy, but well worth the investment.



A Dramatic Difference!

Gregory Martin Wodark from Coto De Caza, CA on 3/31/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I ordered this phono stage to go with my new Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (DC)Turntable. I actually had ordered the somewhat less costly model with tubes, just below this one in price. I noticed just now it is still, out of stock! I waited months for my order to come in. It never did! Finally, I called Crutchfield, and got them to order this model (which they did not carry at the time). I wanted to stay with a tube design after reading about the warmer sound quality. I cannot tell you how it compares with other phono preamps. However, it made a dramatic, almost night and day difference in the sound from the turntable.

Pros: -Dynamic range and punch! - Rich, warm, sound quality . - Makes music from the turntable truly come alive!

Cons: -Cost


Hands-on research

Product Research


Tube Phono Preamp: The Pro-Ject Audio Systems Tube Box DS is a very high-quality phono cartridge preamplifier. This precision tube phono preamplifier benefits from outstanding circuit technology from Dr. Sykora and uses high-quality components. All components including tube output (ECC83) and polypropylene capacitors are audiophile-grade and guarantee a breathtaking sound experience.

MM/MC Compatible: The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS phono preamplifier offers amplifications and RIAA equalization for MM and MC cartridges.

Variable Controls: A variable selection of input impedance for MC cartridges can be done while playing a record. Other features include input capacitance for MM cartridges and switchable subsonic, that prevents your amplifier and speakers of ultra low rumble below 20Hz.

  • Input Gain (for MM/MC): The phono preamp's input gain can be adjusted to 40dB, 50dB, or 60dB for MM & MC.
  • Input Impedance Adjustment (for MC): There is a variable input impedance adjustment for low output MC on the front-panel. Choose from 10 ohms to 1000 ohms.
  • Input Capacitance Adjustment (for MM): Input capacitance can be adjusted in 4-steps for MM. Choose from 47pF, 147pF, 267pF, or 367pF.
  • Subsonic Filter: The Subsonic filter helps to reduce low-frequency rumble and wasted amplifier power.

Metal Case: The phono preamplifier features a metal case that shields the electronics from vibration and electromagnetic interference.

Gold-Plated RCA Connections: The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS is equipped with a pair of gold-plated RCA connections for the output stage and input stage. The gold-plated RCA connectors offer corrosion-free signal transfer.

Power Requirements: The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS turntable preamplifier operates off of standard household current using the included external power supply. The outboard power supply helps reduce noise and interference.

  • Input: 100-240V~50/60Hz, 0.4A
  • Output: 18V AC, 1.0A.

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.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

It seemed a quality choice for the dollar, reviews are stellar. [ Robert  Sep 16, 2018 ]
Good reviews and a great price. [ DANIEL  May 29, 2018 ]
After reading a lot of reviews and watching a lot of videos, I decided on this amazing little gadget because it's the best in it's class! [ Carlos  Apr 27, 2018 ]
Was looking for a phono preamp to go with my new A/V receiver (which didn't have a phono input), and after reading many online reviews I decided on this one. [ KEVIN  Apr 01, 2018 ]
It was recommended to me by a friend who also has a high end stereo system. It works with many preamps that don't have a phono preamp. Ease of use [ James  Mar 30, 2018 ]
Good Price [ Kevin  Mar 03, 2018 ]
I want to improve the sound coming from my turntable. [ edgar  Mar 01, 2018 ]
I have a two turntables set up in the living room. One with a Shure V315 from the 70s, the other a Blue Point number 2. I can connect both. [ Robert W.  Feb 07, 2018 ]
REVIEW [ Rafael  Jan 01, 2018 ]
Ability to adjust for low output MC cart and that tube-aliciousness. [ Larry  Oct 13, 2017 ]
Online review [ MICHAEL W  Sep 26, 2017 ]
The price! I was looking to replace my current phono stage, which is the weakest link in my audio chain. The price was unbeatable. I can't wait to hear it. [ devin  Sep 20, 2017 ]
I've been looking at this for a while now and have read great reviews on this and other sites. With $300.00 off and some reward cash I couldn't resist! Can't wait to receive it and start spinning vinyl. I'll be adding it to my current system. Which is a Marantz SR6010 receiver, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon TT with Ortofon Red Cartridge, cork mat, and Elac Uni-Fi UB5 Bookshelf Speakers with Polk Audio PSW111 Subwoofer. [ TERENCE  Sep 01, 2017 ]
Can't pass up on $300 off regular price. [ U  Aug 21, 2017 ]
I wanted to get into tubes, and I felt that adding it to the phono soundstage was a good introduction. Also hoping to remove RFI that I am experiencing with my current soundstage. [ Lynn  Aug 09, 2017 ]
Stepping up to a nicer phono preamp. [ Arthur  Aug 04, 2017 ]
Tube phono pre-amp that is the same brand as my Project turntable [ Michael  Apr 01, 2017 ]
The weakest part of integrated amps and stand-alone preamps is generally the phono section. Yet that is where the most exacting refinement and adjustability is needed, in listening to less than technically perfect but nonetheless entrancing, involving old analog LPs and 78s. Because of its tubes and wide adjustability for both MM and MC cartridges, the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS may be a big improvement over the built-in phono preamp I'm currently using. (Will see!) [ Gerald  Feb 14, 2017 ]
improve sonic quality of my turntable. [ Norman  Jan 04, 2017 ]

2 questions already asked

Ds2 is a much better phono-stage. It sounds better, better controls. It gives you another phono input. Very nice device for the money. It you, however, have a low output cartridge , be aware, ds2 will be noisy past 60dbs gain. Still very hard to beat for the money. [ Alex  Jan 12, 2018 ]
It would appear that the (cumbersome) rear switching on the DS has been moved to the front on the DS2. However, without having each model, it is impossible to compare the specifications and sonic characteristics. But the greatly reduced price on the DS model (as well as its smaller size) make it highly worthy of consideration! [ Robert  Jan 12, 2018 ]
Tech Support is included with your purchase from Crutchfield, feel free to contact our Tech Support team. They can walk you through the settings on the product and see if there may be a fix. Our toll-free Tech Support number is printed on your invoice, and is also available under the "My Orders" tab in the "My Account" section of our website. [ Kenny  Apr 07, 2017 ]  Staff