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Pro-Ject Pre Box Preamplifier and Head Box II Headphone Amplifier Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps
Written by Andre Marc   
Monday, 23 May 2011
Article Index
Pro-Ject Pre Box Preamplifier and Head Box II Headphone Amplifier Review 
Set Up, Listening, and Conclusion
Set Up & Listening:

Pro-Ject Pre Box

I used the Pre Box in a few different settings.  I mostly used it to the to directly drive my vintage Bang & Olufsen Beolab active speakers. The B&O’s are great sounding, beautifully made columns with RCA line inputs and onboard 30 wpc amplifiers for each speaker. I ran a set of 3 meter Audioquest interconnects between the Pre Box and each speaker. My first reaction was one of sheer delight as I cued up music using an Oppo DVD player along with various HD cable music channels. The Pre Box offered clean, clear, and grain free sound without a hint of the harshness one might expect from inexpensive solid state gear. As a matter of fact, the Pre Box sounded better than it had any right to, and was even quieter than some preamps I have heard costing five times as much. Maybe less is more.

The Pre Box was a total pleasure to operate, with the volume knob as smooth as butter, instant switching between the two available inputs, and zero mechanical noise.  The red, green and blue LED lights tell you the selected input if the power is on. The remote control unit had all you need -- power on or off, volume up or down, and input selection.  The small size of the unit made it easy to use in just about any setting; the Pre Box is literally the size of two packs of cigarettes.

Pro-Ject Head Box II

I then put the Head Box II through its paces with my Grado SR60 headphones, connected via the Tape Out from my Audio Research preamp connected with Kimber Silver Streak half meter interconnects.  While I don’t listen to headphones nearly as much as I used to in my high school and college days, I still enjoy cans during early morning or late night listening sessions. The Head Box II proved to be a superb match with the venerable Grado phones. I heard excellent bass definition, crystal clear mids and highs, and a superb imaging. I must confess I really don’t know why you would spend huge money on a headphone amp, but at around $150 the Head Box II is a damn bargain. The volume knob is smooth, with a nice sweep which allows you find the exact setting you are comfortable with. The Head Box II was also utterly quiet, a must for a headphone amp. A nice plus, as with the Pre Box, is the nice compact footprint. 

Conclusion

Pro-Ject Head Box II

Many high-end audio companies claim to operate under certain philosophies and credos, but not all live up to them. Pro-Ject, in my opinion, does exactly what they say. They offer beautifully built, great sounding, ergonomic, and to my estimation, absurdly low priced gear. How many companies offer a product line that allows you to assemble a complete and wonderful sounding system, including analog and digital sources, cables, amplifiers, speakers, and racks, for under $2000? You can count them on one hand. Pro-Ject is one such company and all their gear is made in Europe, with obsessive attention to quality control.

I loved the Head Box II and Pre Box. So much so I am purchasing both for my own use. I may down the road also pick up an AMP-Box. I have heard through the grapevine that they have also designed and built a network streamer, and when it is available I will be hoping for a review sample. My hat goes off to Pro-Ject on twenty years of great products. Cool company and cool products. Incidentally, Pro-Ject has a large US dealer network and several major online retailers.
 

Specifications


Pre Box
  • $349
  • 2 Stereo Line-in  
  • Motorised volume control  
  • Premium components and assembly  
  • SMD for short signal paths  
  • Gold-plated connections  
  • Remote control for on/off, input select, and volume  
  • 12V trigger function  
  • Available in black and silver
Head Box II
  • $159
  • Socket for 1 headphone with volume control  
  • Low noise semiconductors  
  • Available in black and silver

Company Information


Pro-Ject Audio Systems
Margaretenstrasse 98
A-1050 Wien 
AUSTRIA 
E- Mail: info@project-audio.com
 

Reviewer System 1


  • CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X
  • Network Player: Marantz NA7004
  • Preamp: Audio Research SP16
  • Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
  • Headphones: Grado R60
  • Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
  • Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
  • Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack

Reviewer System 2


  • CD Player: Marantz 5003
  • Music Server: Squeezebox 3
  • DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply, Arcam rDAC
  • Tape Deck: Revox A77
  • Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
  • Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5, Revox A722
  • Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, Bang & Olufsen Beolab 6000
  • Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio, RS Cables, Element Cable, Belkin Gold






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