Pro-ject phono box MM

the thin end of the wedge
Vinylfreak86
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Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 16 Feb 2019 22:35

In the last time I became little unsatisfied with built in phono stage in my Pioneer amp made in Vietnam, where you can read at the back in cyrillic "Zdelano v Vietname". :) I am looking for cheaper separate phono preamp, something under 100 EUR and then I saw this pro-ject. Untill now I just knew about other pro-ject phono boxes, which are more expensive.
Did anyone tested this guy? Because by the look of exterior it just looks the same like some other cheaper preamps all made in china.
Then I have on my list also ART DeejaypreeII. This one is only 50 EUR.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Feb 2019 09:21

Don't be afraid of products "Made in Vietnam" or "Made in China". I'm a Pentax guy and has optical lenses "Made in Vietnam" (Pentax has an optics factory there). No problem with them. And I'm writing this on a Macbook computer "Made in China".
There are lots of good home electronics and hifi coming from China. Sure some is junk, but not everything. Cayin for example makes great and sensible valve amplifiers. And so on...

I believe that if you want to better the phono stage in your amp, then you need to raise the bar above cheap phono pre-amps. At least above 100 euro. But if you want a cheap phono pre, then the Art DJ is a good choice. ProJect also makes sensible products.

Vinylfreak86
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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 17 Feb 2019 10:16

This ART DJ II has really good reviews, but it is hard to find many reviews about the cheapest Pro-ject phono box. I realised that built-in phono stage in my amp has too weak output and I see that also other people with new amps have similar problems. So many records don`t come to the real expression of sound and that is bad.

The best days of vinyl has gone and for many years amps even didn`t had a phono stage. Now I see that it is more market strategy to put a phono stage in it, but you get something that is not useful for serious vinyl listening.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by AudioFeline » 17 Feb 2019 10:59

Vinylfreak86 wrote:
17 Feb 2019 10:16
This ART DJ II has really good reviews, but it is hard to find many reviews about the cheapest Pro-ject phono box. I realised that built-in phono stage in my amp has too weak output and I see that also other people with new amps have similar problems. So many records don`t come to the real expression of sound and that is bad.

The best days of vinyl has gone and for many years amps even didn`t had a phono stage. Now I see that it is more market strategy to put a phono stage in it, but you get something that is not useful for serious vinyl listening.
... and so in the not too distant future the manufacturers will wonder why people lost interest in playing records. If they do it properly they will build the market.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Feb 2019 12:35

Vinylfreak86 wrote:
17 Feb 2019 10:16
I realised that built-in phono stage in my amp has too weak output and I see that also other people with new amps have similar problems. So many records don`t come to the real expression of sound and that is bad.
Most MM inputs in amplifiers has a gain of 40 dB, which is the same as many external units - like ProJect entry level units. It works well with many MM cartridges, just turn up the volume control. Ortofon 2M's has an output of 5.5 mV. But if you are using a high output MC with 1.5 - 2 mV, then 40 dB may feel as a little on the low side and 45 - 50 dB is preferable.

Note that ProJect entry level units does not have adjustable gain, you need to go up in price for that.
The ART DJ Pro has adjustable gain, it tops out at 45 dB so when set at maximum output it is stronger.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by andybeau » 17 Feb 2019 12:45

I have both the Pro-Ject MM and the ART DJ Pro. Go for the ART DJ Pro. Sonically not much difference, but the gain is a plus on the ART DJ Pro. Nothing wrong with the Pro-Ject though.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 17 Feb 2019 14:18

raphaelmabo wrote:
17 Feb 2019 12:35


Most MM inputs in amplifiers has a gain of 40 dB, which is the same as many external units - like ProJect entry level units. It works well with many MM cartridges, just turn up the volume control.
I am using MM cart and have turned the volume control practically at three quarters and even more. But on the majority of records sound is still too silent and weak. Maybe the whole amp is just a good looking plastic crap with Pioneer brand on it. It would be a better idea to buy Technics, Akai or Hitachi from 80`s when I was deciding for a new amp. But a more powerful separate phono preamp can solve this problem.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 17 Feb 2019 14:24

andybeau wrote:
17 Feb 2019 12:45
I have both the Pro-Ject MM and the ART DJ Pro. Go for the ART DJ Pro. Sonically not much difference, but the gain is a plus on the ART DJ Pro. Nothing wrong with the Pro-Ject though.
Thanks for this information. Now I have also found Pro-ject phono box E for little less than 50 EUR on web and shipping is free. I have heard that Pro-ject phono preamps uses 70`s czechoslovak technology, which had good reviews back in the days. Pro-ject inherited it when they bought Tesla factory and only put it into a more modern housing.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by drywhitetoast » 17 Feb 2019 16:03

raphaelmabo wrote:
17 Feb 2019 09:21
I'm a Pentax guy and has optical lenses "Made in Vietnam" (Pentax has an optics factory there).
Us Pentax guys are a rare breed.
Cheers brother!

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by lini » 17 Feb 2019 16:35

Vf86: What I can see in the lower ranking Pro-Ject Phono Boxes rather doesn't look like 70s Czech tech - more like typical 80s opamp-based circuitry.

And careful, when people suggest the Art DJPreII for its high gain: Problem is that the DJPreII runs its opamps only on 5 V asymmetrical, so available voltage swing (or respectively maximum output level) is rather limited - and hence its highest gain is in fact only usable with very quiet carts, if you'd like a decent level reserve for high signal peaks (especially pops & clicks).

Well, and which Pioneer amp exactly would be be talking about in your case? And which turntable and cartridge are you using with that amp?

And as a final remark for now: What currently makes me curious among the priceworthy phono stages below 100 Euro is the still comparatively new Dynavox TC-2000 - probably made by TEC/TCC (i.e. Technolink, Taiwan). That thingy looks quite promising, but unfortunatly there don't seem to be any pics of the innards available on the web yet...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 17 Feb 2019 17:27

lini wrote:
17 Feb 2019 16:35



Well, and which Pioneer amp exactly would be be talking about in your case? And which turntable and cartridge are you using with that amp?

And as a final remark for now: What currently makes me curious among the priceworthy phono stages below 100 Euro is the still comparatively new Dynavox TC-2000 - probably made by TEC/TCC (i.e. Technolink, Taiwan). That thingy looks quite promising, but unfortunatly there don't seem to be any pics of the innards available on the web yet...
I also have heard one of the similar Dynavox, they seem to do the job properly. But Pro-ject would be a little better according to the price or maybe even not.

Amp is Pioneer A10s, turntable is Siemens RW-555, cartridge at the moment is Audio-technika AT91 red.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Feb 2019 19:53

How about the Vincent PHO-200?

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by lini » 18 Feb 2019 21:58

Vf86: Ok, from the specs it would seem that your A10 already has a pretty decent phono stage gain of ca. 37 dB - and I've also checked the service manual/schematic. It's a typical, Lipshitz-like implementation around an NJM/JRC2068 - fed with +/- 15 V, so that this phono stage should have a pretty good level reserve (aka overload margin). Not quite as nice is the somewhat highish input capacitance, but that could easily be modded...

Anyway, given that your integrated phono stage should already be good for 37 dB, an external model with a gain of 40 dB will most probably only make roundabout "half an hour" less on the volume control of your A10 for the same output level. For more of a difference you'd need even more gain - but if you'd like the additional gain with an equally high overload margin (relative/in dB), you probably wouldn't find such a solution among the entry-level phono stages, 'cause for example +6 dB of gain from 37 dB (i.e. 43 dB) would then already require an operating voltage of +/- 30 V, which is more than what most of the usual opamps can handle.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 19 Feb 2019 10:16

lini wrote:
18 Feb 2019 21:58

Anyway, given that your integrated phono stage should already be good for 37 dB, an external model with a gain of 40 dB will most probably only make roundabout "half an hour" less on the volume control of your A10 for the same output level.
But that would be enough for my room. What I get now is not satisfying. It also depends on mastering/recording of a record, but it is normal that some versions are louder and better made than others. It is a task of the phono preamp to process it properly.

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Re: Pro-ject phono box MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 19 Feb 2019 10:30

Vinylfreak86 wrote:
19 Feb 2019 10:16
But that would be enough for my room. What I get now is not satisfying. It also depends on mastering/recording of a record, but it is normal that some versions are louder and better made than others. It is a task of the phono preamp to process it properly.
I believe that you need to be looking at more expensive phono preamps, with more adjustments so you can tailor the preamp to your personal needs. Entry level phono preamps are primarly made for amplifiers without an integrated phono stage, they are seldom able to be upgrades to built in phono stages. They are too inexpensive for that. Mofi Studiophono or something like that, is a better choice. But I would say it is an overkill for your AT-91 cartridge.

Now, your AT91 has an output of 3.5 mV. An Ortofon 2M Red has an output of 5.5 mV. So this would probably cure your problem and be a better match to the phono stage inside your Pioneer.

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