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Project Phono Box S2 Ultra vs Phone Box Ultra 500 vs Tube Box S2

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by IRG, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    Rothwell mm preamps have pretty high capacitance (150 pF) ... add cable capacitance and you're close to 300 pF.
    A disaster for some cartridges like Audio Technica (I own vm540ml)

    I bought a Studio Phono and it was faulty (lots of noise and "bzzzzzz") ... :realmad: ... returned in 1 week.

    Now i'm between the S2 ultra and the Graham Slee gram amp 2 ... maybe the hagermann bugle 3 ...

    Audio ... Or why I didn't dedicate myself to collect coins? :laugh:
     
  2. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY

    Well a faulty piece of gear can happen. Seems more like the exception than the rule with Mofi.
     
  3. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    Oh yes, it can happen. Making some "extrapolation" over the noise i think the preamp sounds well and it's a real upgrade to entry level preamps. But, obviously, now i have some reticence to buy a new one (also the dealer offers to replace the unit but I prefered the refund).

    The Graham Slee will be better than the new discrete project S2 ultra? Decisions, decisions ...
     
  4. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY

    The S2 Ultra will do both MM and MC, does the Graham Slee do both? I know they have several models, it seems like at $400 or maybe it's a bit less/more, they will only do one or the other. I think I'd go with the S2 Tube over the S2 Ultra, but I guess I would like to try both and see first hand.
     
  5. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    Remember (from the previous commented experience) that the tube box only sounds "better" than the S2 ultra after replacing the original tubes ... and that means more cost ... some kind of cheating :)

    We need to compare apples to apples.
     
  6. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Do we? Tube swap isn't that much of a cheat, really. I might even have extras laying around from my guitar tube amp days.
     
  7. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    A tube swap means a great internal change (good or bad) in circuitry ... like changing transistors (mod) in the S2 ultra. Also it's costly, no free launch here.

    So i stay with the original opinion ... the tube box only get better over the S2 ultra with tube rolling ... and that means we're now comparing the tube box with a much cheaper preamp. Or in other way, we have a superior budget to compare the tube box.

    You don't need to agree, obviously.
     
  8. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    You may not like my thoughts on the gram amp 2 (the original) but I found it terrible, lacking in the midrange. Even compared with a built in phono it didn't sound good to me. Sold it on. No experience with his other designs though.
     
  9. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    Good to know.

    I like a particular aspect on GS preamps: they don't mix MM with MC capability ... i think it's very, very difficult to build a preamp good on 40 dB AND 60dB of amplification. You can find that on preamps over 600-700 USD.
    Talking about "cheaper" preamps, i prefer a good MM preamp and later add a MC stepup.

    So, i don't like to pay for MC amplification inside a MM phono preamp, or at least i don't care about the quality of the MC amplification on it.
    Also the loading parameters for MC in that preamps are generally fixed or not good ... the s2 ultra have 10 ohms (for generally really expensive MC cartridges), 100 ohms (the "standard"), 1k ohms (many, many good mid priced cartridges better like 200-500 ohms). Sso the MC loading options are not good, i think.

    It's another point of view on this thread, i really don't care about MC options on the budget we're talking about.
     
  10. Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro Forum Resident

    Vista Audio Phono-1 is under $300.
     
  11. SNDVSN

    SNDVSN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    No op amps, polystyrene capacitors...what does this mean exactly, good or bad?
     
  12. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    I think good. Or it's at least good marketing. But if it does mean better components (or a lack of inferior components) then it seems like a step in the right direction. At least for this price point.
     
  13. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    I have a dealer (4 hours away) that I bought my Dynaudio's from, great little store in PA. I asked him about "affordable" phono preamps, to see what he suggested. These three between $400 - $450:

    Project S2 Tube Box Phono
    Lehmann Black Cube Statement
    Simaudio Moon 110LP v2

    Project doesn't get much love here, but owners (and overseas reviews) have given the S2 Tube Box high reviews; the Statement gets good reviews too, but usually I see comments to the effect that; buy the next model up from the Statement...; The Moon, I hadn't considered this one before, I guess I thought it was a lot more expensive.

    Dealer likes all three, for different reasons. I'm going to try and visit in the next two weeks while on a business trip...
     
  14. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    NYC
    Thing is, almost all of the inexpensive Preamps only use the tubes to warm up the output stage.....it isnt "really" a tube preamp. Not to say they cant sound good, but, as Abbot and Costello say, "It Aint the Same".
     
  15. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Yes, I've heard that mentioned before. In doing some research on the Moon, I'm actually maybe leaning that way now. Reviews are stellar, and I like the flexibility of it too. Strong contender.
     
  16. Jim Beaver

    Jim Beaver New Member

    Location:
    Usa
    do we know this for sure? It seems he changed the tubes but also waited a few months...
    how can we know it wouldn’t sound just as good with the original tubes after they had some time to burn in?
     
  17. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uruguay
    Ok, but he talks about "only" 100 hours on the new tubes ... that means he knows about the "burn in" effect and the old tubes had at least more than 100 hours?
     
  18. Jim Beaver

    Jim Beaver New Member

    Location:
    Usa
    He says at first it didn’t sound as good so he switched out the tubes. That sounds to me like he didn’t give the original tubes much time so all.

    I’m not seeing where you are getting 100 hours from forThe replacement tubes? He says “after 2 months” that could be way more than 100 hours.

     
  19. Jim Beaver

    Jim Beaver New Member

    Location:
    Usa
    I don't think it is logical to conclude that the ultra sounds better than the tube box stock based upon a single posting that is vague and open to much interpretation.
    Lets break done that post and see what it is really telling us (not much IMO)

    First he says, "Heard both next to each other with the same TT."
    This sounds like he briefly compared both. How long was the audition? half a song? an album? several days? We don't know from what he's saying but they way he phrased it, it sounds like it was a brief comparison. Also, are we to assume both were setup with the same gain, capacitance and impedance? Same cables? Again, he doesn't say. He also doesn't say how long he allowed the tubes to warm up. not at all? 10 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour? we don't know, but if he was listening cold that could certainly explain the experience.

    Next he states, "At first, I could not make out much of a difference, the S2 Ultra being a bit more present in the upper mid section."
    Again, how long is "At First", was this a brief comparison before switching out the tubes? What he claims to hear here is also very subjective. "A bit more present in the upper mid section", that could be a result of many factors. Lastly. these two preamps are the same design, the same circuit with one adding tubes to the signal path. It stands to reason that they should sound very similar new out of the box. It's also possible the tubes could be coloring the sound in a way the op didn't favor before they have had a chance to break-in.

    He goes on to say, "I replaced the stock JJ tubes of the Tube Box S2 with Genalex Gold Lions and just enjoyed listening to music for 2 months."
    So how long did he listen with the original tubes? We do not know. There is also no indication that he thought the gold lions sounded better after the switch, he gives no comparison of the sound with the newly installed tubes to the ultra at that time. It's only after 2 months of break-in that he goes on to say that they sound better, which we see in his next sentence...

    "Last week I had a friend over and we did some comparison tests with both pres. The Tube Box S2 clearly beating the S2 Ultra: More dynamics, better and fuller bass response and more air in the treble section."
    So after two months of the tubes breaking-in he know thinks it sounds much better.

    He does state, "I was quite surprised to hear such a difference after ca. 100h of breaking in the tubes (was not sure at all if tubes need break in ....)"
    so he is estimating that the new tubes have had approximately 100 hours of use, but this gives us no indication of how long the original tubes were used. He also states he wasn't sure tubes needed to break-in, which would seem to reinforce the assumption that he didn't try breaking in the original tubes.

    IMO, there's not enough info here to conclude that the ultra sounds better. In fact, what we see is the tube box can sound better after some break-in time. From other posts, we know that tube rolling does indeed change the sound signature in this pre, so it provides an upgrade path non-existent in the ultra. Matched pairs of JJ, tung sol, mullards, etc... can be had for under $50 or you can go all out with an expensive pair of NOS tubes if you'd like. I don't consider this a cheat in the comparison, it's no different than upgrading a cartridges stylus and can be much cheaper than upgrading the entire preamp down the road.
     
  20. chargrove

    chargrove Single again.

    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    in my experience Pro-Ject phono preamps are all pretty solid for lower-priced units.

    don't overlook the little phono box e. you might be surprised at how good it sounds.
     

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