|Pro-Ject Pre Box Preamplifier and Head Box II Headphone Amplifier Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Monday, 23 May 2011|
Page 2 of 2Set Up & Listening:
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.
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.
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.
Pro-Ject Audio Systems
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