• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Pro-ject Phono Box MM Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 32 24.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 81 60.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 16 12.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 3.0%

  • Total voters
    133

restorer-john

Grand Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
12,493
Likes
37,977
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
If you take the surface noise/crackles/pops out of the LP playback equation, there are many, many recordings where the original vinyl LP sounds better than the CD. Yes, the CD released first, at the time. Not some remastered, f#cked with fiasco subsequently released decades later or some random remixing clown's idea of what should have been released.

I listened to 5 random LPs yesterday on the very first semi-decent turntable I owned as a teenager in 1982. An Akai Japanese DD Quartz locked TT built 42 years ago. If you want pictures, just ask. Original cartridge as well. I compared them to the same first release CDs and there's no doubt the vinyl sounded way better, more engaging, more enjoyable and more fun. The bass was better. The vocals more real. Sure, surface noise was the killer. But the actual sound quality was better on LP.

The MM stage I was using was built in 1977, even older than the TT, yet has a measured MM overload of nearly 220mV@1kHz and a nearly perfect RIAA deviation.

This pro-ject thing is a basic MM stage in a cheap can. Hardly worth the time of day, letlone a review.
 

cgallery

Active Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
123
Likes
90
If you take the surface noise/crackles/pops out of the LP playback equation, there are many, many recordings where the original vinyl LP sounds better than the CD. Yes, the CD released first, at the time. Not some remastered, f#cked with fiasco subsequently released decades later or some random remixing clown's idea of what should have been released.

I listened to 5 random LPs yesterday on the very first semi-decent turntable I owned as a teenager in 1982. An Akai Japanese DD Quartz locked TT built 42 years ago. If you want pictures, just ask. Original cartridge as well. I compared them to the same first release CDs and there's no doubt the vinyl sounded way better, more engaging, more enjoyable and more fun. The bass was better. The vocals more real. Sure, surface noise was the killer. But the actual sound quality was better on LP.

The MM stage I was using was built in 1977, even older than the TT, yet has a measured MM overload of nearly 220mV@1kHz and a nearly perfect RIAA deviation.

This pro-ject thing is a basic MM stage in a cheap can. Hardly worth the time of day, letlone a review.

What phono stage overloads at 220mv?
 

computer-audiophile

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
2,565
Likes
2,863
Location
Germany
If you want pictures, just ask.
Yes, please! Pictures, or it did not happen. ;):)

I can relate to the story quite well. However, I have experienced that with very old pickups the needle suspension hardens, which has a detrimental effect on compliance and trackability.

I think the issue with the crackling I would not overestimate. I have many good LPs that practically do not crackle at all.
 
Last edited:

Sernyl

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
3
Location
Limousin
Even Pro-Ject has several more elaborately made phono preamps. I would reach a little higher into the shelf if I had to buy something like that.
Hi,
Just to compare, can someone tell me where to find test(s) of the pre-RIAA stage now integrated in "modern" turntables ?
( only the analog output to be connected to a "line in."..).
Thanks by advance,
 

computer-audiophile

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
2,565
Likes
2,863
Location
Germany
Hi,
Just to compare, can someone tell me where to find test(s) of the pre-RIAA stage now integrated in "modern" turntables ?
( only the analog output to be connected to a "line in."..).
Thanks by advance,
I'm not sure I understand the question correctly, but there are many built-in phono preamps that vary widely in terms of technology and performance. The term "modern turntable" is too non-specific.
 

Nippithon

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2022
Messages
3
Likes
5
Location
Detroit
If you take the surface noise/crackles/pops out of the LP playback equation, there are many, many recordings where the original vinyl LP sounds better than the CD. Yes, the CD released first, at the time. Not some remastered, f#cked with fiasco subsequently released decades later or some random remixing clown's idea of what should have been released.

I listened to 5 random LPs yesterday on the very first semi-decent turntable I owned as a teenager in 1982. An Akai Japanese DD Quartz locked TT built 42 years ago. If you want pictures, just ask. Original cartridge as well. I compared them to the same first release CDs and there's no doubt the vinyl sounded way better, more engaging, more enjoyable and more fun. The bass was better. The vocals more real. Sure, surface noise was the killer. But the actual sound quality was better on LP.

The MM stage I was using was built in 1977, even older than the TT, yet has a measured MM overload of nearly 220mV@1kHz and a nearly perfect RIAA deviation.

This pro-ject thing is a basic MM stage in a cheap can. Hardly worth the time of day, letlone a review.

Of course it's worth a review, restorer-john. Had Amir not reviewed it, would you have known of its worthlessness? ;)

I enjoy learning about good gear, as well as about the bad and the mediocre, too.

I've taken "the noise/crackles/pops out of my LP playback equation" mostly by caring for my records and controlling static. (Noisy records aren't worth my time of day but to each his own.) So overload isn't a factor for me. My vintage setup isn't the best but I've owned it for 35 years without wanting better: Thorens TD160 Super, Signet xk35 tonearm, Ortofon OM40 cartridge.

Since I don't ask the Project Phono Box MM to correct short-comings in my system (my LPs don't pop, my turntable doesn't rumble), it gets the job done. Silent to my ears and I dig its barebones simplicity.
 

Sernyl

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
3
Location
Limousin
I'm not sure I understand the question correctly, but there are many built-in phono preamps that vary widely in terms of technology and performance. The term "modern turntable" is too non-specific.
So, where to find measurements of built-in phono preamps in mid-price turntables ?
 

MaxwellsEq

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
1,536
Likes
2,279
So, where to find measurements of built-in phono preamps in mid-price turntables ?
Because they are built in, it's not straightforward to measure them. The simplest approach is a test record, but the limitations of the cartridge and record will dominate the result. Otherwise, to test it, you would need to isolate it from the turntable.

The device tested here is standalone, so can be tested using normal measuring gear.
 

computer-audiophile

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
2,565
Likes
2,863
Location
Germany
Manufacturers like Technics seem to assume that buyers of their turntables with built-in phono preamps are not interested in such trivialities. They are probably seen more as household appliances for the plug-and-play user. Therefore, technical data for the built in preamp like distortion, RIAA precision or SNR is not published. At least they give details about the gain (37dB)
 
Last edited:

Martinvb

Active Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
116
Likes
123
Location
Maastricht, The Netherlands
The Phono Box X2, which produces a remarkable attractive sound at very low noise levels. I can not measure the sound characteristics myself, but I expect it comes with some colouration. I was a bit sceptical at first, but after listening for a few hours it made me again curious about how LPs sounded in the old days (I still have a small stash of vinyl, mainly jazz). Again I was able to appreciate the vinyl sound, despite the inevitable pops and clicks that I started to hate after the CD was introduced. The Fosi unit was only €70 and even contains 2 tubes… which is 1/5 the price of the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 (note the name resemblance). It is almost the same form factor as the Fosi: I would be interested to compare the internal components of both units.

This are the inner parts of the Fosi Audio Box X2. Anyone interested to open up their Pro-Ject Tube Box S2? :p

IMG_5647.jpeg
 

Sernyl

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
3
Location
Limousin
Manufacturers like Technics seem to assume that buyers of their turntables with built-in phono preamps are not interested in such trivialities. They are probably seen more as household appliances for the plug-and-play user. Therefore, technical data for the built in preamp like distortion, RIAA precision or SNR is not published. At least they give details about the gain (37dB)
Just to confirm : when I got my Audio-technica LP5X, I was sceptical but curious about the "line" output.
My very old phono pre-RIAA kit was ways better :
1689257975093.png



1689258006714.png


BTW, needless (no pun intended) to say that the elliptical stylus of the VM95E was replaced by a ML : huge difference.
 

pma

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
4,524
Likes
10,563
Location
Prague
I listened to 5 random LPs yesterday on the very first semi-decent turntable I owned as a teenager in 1982. An Akai Japanese DD Quartz locked TT built 42 years ago. If you want pictures, just ask. Original cartridge as well. I compared them to the same first release CDs and there's no doubt the vinyl sounded way better, more engaging, more enjoyable and more fun. The bass was better. The vocals more real. Sure, surface noise was the killer. But the actual sound quality was better on LP.

Here you can try vinyl rip x digital version:

 
Last edited:

computer-audiophile

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
2,565
Likes
2,863
Location
Germany
Just to confirm : when I got my Audio-technica LP5X, I was sceptical but curious about the "line" output.
My very old phono pre-RIAA kit was ways better :
View attachment 298762


View attachment 298763

BTW, needless (no pun intended) to say that the elliptical stylus of the VM95E was replaced by a ML : huge difference.
I can understand. Especially the S/N of 90dB is very good for a phono preamp, if it is actually achieved.

BTW: Is it possible to completely bypass the built-in interface with the switch on the Audio-technica LP5X? I have not yet investigated this.

With the AT-LP120-USB e.g. this is not the case, there is always (!) a capacitor filter in the signal path. If you want the unfiltered sound quality, you have to remove the interface or create a DIY bypass. I had the same problem with a Hanpin turntable.
 

Sernyl

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
3
Location
Limousin
I can understand. Especially the S/N of 90dB is very good for a phono preamp, if it is actually achieved.

BTW: Is it possible to completely bypass the built-in interface with the switch on the Audio-technica LP5X? I have not yet investigated this.

With the AT-LP120-USB e.g. this is not the case, there is always (!) a capacitor filter in the signal path. If you want the unfiltered sound quality, you have to remove the interface or create a DIY bypass. I had the same problem with a Hanpin turntable.
For you ;-) I've just checked my LP5X with an Ohmmeter between the tonearm shell connector pins and the RCA : the hot wires beep : at least there is no serial capacitor when the switch is on phono output (i.e. for use with an external phono preamp).
Can you do it on your LP-120-USB ?
 

computer-audiophile

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
2,565
Likes
2,863
Location
Germany
at least there is no serial capacitor
The capacitor is not in series, of course. :)

1689269299015.png



There is a old video where the problem is explained. Other users also have reported about this later. I am not sure if they have fixed it with the LP5X.
I also had the problem with a Hanpin DJ-Turntable and had detected it by my own already. It made a big difference in high frequency response.

 
Top Bottom