Pro-Ject hasn’t been in the game for so long but has proved itself worthy. The company started in 1991, a time when the world of vinyl records was almost dead.
Heinz Lichtenegger, the company’s founder, kept his belief in the analog experience. He created his company to manufacture products that serve vinyl world fans at reasonable prices.
Today, we’ll compare two of the company’s most famous preamps: Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 vs DS2. Let’s begin!
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 and DS2 are both outstanding phono preamps. DS2 provides plenty of features that allow you to tailor the sound experience to your liking.
On the other hand, the S2 is more favorable in terms of tube-rolling and having a discrete circuit.
Tube Box S2 is an innovative phono-amplifier manufactured by Pro-Ject. It comes in a minimalistic, miniature design.
The casing is made of metal, so it’s a bit heavy. However, it’s still pretty compact.
S2 is designed to be compatible with a wide variety of turntable setups. It also comes with replaceable tubes that are of a common type. This allows you to swap the tubes for tube-rolling and sound-shaping.
This is one of the very first products of the brand to feature a fully discrete circuit design without any operational amplifiers (Op-amps).
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Tube Box DS2 is more of a premium preamplifier manufactured by the same brand, Pro-Ject. This preamp uses all high-end components with outstanding circuit technology.
The product has the same minimalistic, signature design of the brand. The unique thing about DS2 is that it offers connection for two turntables or two tonearms on the same turntable.
Being a premium preamplifier, all of its components are audiophile-grade for a breathtaking sound experience. This includes the tube output and polypropylene capacitors.
The best thing about Pro-Ject is that it doesn’t like to jam its product line with unnecessary versions of the same product. You’ll always find major differences between its products tailored to its customer’s liking.
This applies to the brand’s phono preamplifiers line. You’ll find that the S2 and DS2 have major differences.
Here’s how both products are different:
Tube Box S2 uses a discrete circuit that doesn’t use operational amplifiers. This may rock up the cost a little, but you get a better sound quality.
On the contrary, Tube Box DS2 uses operational amplifiers for the output buffers. Some people might think of that as a downside since op-amps tend to reduce the sound quality, especially if there’s an electricity problem.
However, op-amps aren’t always bad. It really depends on the circuit build and the components used.
Tube Box DS2 has cartridge loading settings that allow you to adjust the load capacitance and impedance according to your cartridge type. This isn’t available in S2.
There’s a continuously variable selection starting from 50 to 1000 Ohm on the front of the device. You can use these settings to tweak the load impedance of your preamp.
MC cartridges usually have lower output voltage, which doesn’t allow for forward-sounding as higher output voltages. Adjusting the loading impedance allows you to achieve the right balance for your liking.
In addition, you can adjust the input capacitance for MM cartridges. You can find the recommended loading pF for your cartridge in the user manual.
Tube Box DS2 provides two sets of gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs. This offers connections to two turntables simultaneously or two selectable line outputs.
So, if you have one of those fancy turntables that have dual tonearms, you can use the DS2 preamp for it.
Only the Tube Box DS2 has trigger input and output. The trigger input connection allows the preamp to be switched on or off from other Pro-Ject products equipped with trigger connections.
The trigger output socket does the exact opposite. It allows the preamp to switch on and off any connected devices equipped with trigger connections.
The DS2 is way heavier and larger than the miniature S2 models. Both models look like metal boxes.
They’re available in two colors: white and black. In addition, you can order separate magnetic real wood side panels for your Tube Box DS2.
These side panels are available in walnut, rosenut, and eucalyptus.
With the wooden side panels on, the DS2 looks even bigger than the S2. The panels also add to its weight.
Lastly, the housing that protects the tubes is a bit taller on the S2.
Now that you know the differences between the two preamps. Let’sunderstandw the similarities:
Both come with two vacuum tubes of a common type ECC83 (12AX7). Those tubes are protected with housing in both preamps. The housing is pretty much similar on both preamps.
People find it easier to swap tubes in S2 than in DS2 since it’s hard to wiggle the tubes out of their place in DS2.
Both preamps are similar in the basic connections they have. You can find the standard ground wire connection on the back of both products.
Also, both S2 and DS2 feature gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs. You’ll find that both of them use an 18V power connection.
Among the advantages of purchasing Pro-Ject phono preamplifiers is that they come with three different adapters. So, you don’t have to buy a separate one to suit your country’s plug type.
Both Tube Box S2 and DS2 support moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges. This adds to their compatibility with different turntable setups.
Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 and S2 allow you to adjust the gain settings for your preamp to match your cartridge.
The highest gain dB on the DS2 model is 65, while it’s 63 on the S2 model.
Sometimes the turntable, speakers, or amplifier produce low-frequency vibrations, which are also known by the name rumble.
Although this rumble isn’t audible, it can result in audible distortion, which no one wants. Pro-Ject put that on their mind when they manufactured both the Tube Box DS2 and the S2.
Both models are equipped with a sonic filter that removes this rumble. You can easily turn it on or off with a press of a button.
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Let’s be honest here; Tube Box S2 has fewer features. However, it has its advantages.
The biggest advantage of owning the S2 model is how easy it is to switch tubes. All you need to do is to unscrew the protective housing and just wiggle out the tubes, and that’s it.
This is usually not the case with DS2, which takes quite an effort to swap the tubes.
Another thing that a lot of people might favor is that the S2 has a discrete circuit. It doesn’t use any operational amplifiers at all.
However, I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage over the DS2. Yes, the DS2 uses operational amps, but the sound quality difference is hardly noticeable with the high-quality components.
What users really favor about Tube Box DS2 over the S2 is that it has load capacitance and impedance settings. It’s pretty useful for trying a wide range of cartridge types in the future.
Besides that, the DS2 model provides several features that you can’t find in the S2. While some people can live without those features, others prefer having them to get the best sound experience.
If we have to compare the sound quality produced by both, DS2 has the upper hand here. Both models deliver outstanding sound experiences.
However, with all the features available in DS2, you can tailor the sound precisely to your liking.
Tube Box S2 is an outstanding phono preamp for its price. We recommend this model for those just getting into the world of vinyl records.
You’ll get fantastic sound quality without having to deal with too many features and settings. On top of all that, it’s an option that doesn’t break the bank.
We also recommend this preamp for those into tube rolling and sound shaping. The reason for that is that it’s easy to swap the tubes. So, you can use a wide range of tubes without a hassle.
This preamp is for those who want to upgrade their turntable setup. Although the DS2 is pricier than the S2, it makes a lot of sense with all the features it provides.
To be honest, its price isn’t even that high compared to other high-end preamps on the market.
With that being said, we think you should buy this only if you know how to take advantage of its features. Because if you’re going to ignore the premium features on it, just get the S2.