Pro-Ject treads new ground with a fresh phono stage and its first step-up transformers

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS3 B
(Image credit: Henley Audio)

Pro-Ject has announced three new products, including the Tube Box DS3 B phono stage alongside the company’s first-ever step-up transformer products.

The Tube Box DS3 B is a dual-mono phono pre-amplifier with a valve output stage, which is said to present audio with a unique sound signature. This phono stage offers plenty of adjustability as far as electrical loading goes, which makes it easy to optimise results with any particular cartridge.

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS3 B

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS3 B (Image credit: Henley Audio)

Along with the usual unbalanced RCA connections, the Tube Box DS3 B also features balanced XLR input and output options – a first for a Pro-Ject phono stage. The company says the result of using these outputs should be a cleaner, clearer performance thanks to the reduced noise and higher gain typically associated with balanced connections. On the topic of noise, an external power adapter should also assist in lowering any electrical inference.

What is also nice to know is that the input settings for Loading, Gain, Capacitance, and the Subsonic Filter (which are all accessed via the front panel) are stored in memory. This means if you switch between unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs, you won’t be required to dial everything back in every time.  

Moving on to Pro-Ject’s first step-up transformers – the MC Step Up Box DS3 B and the MC Step Up Box S3.

Both devices are passive units and are designed to increase the output of moving-coil cartridges to a level that is comparable to a moving-magnet cartridge. The use of a transformer gives a simpler signal path than a conventional active design and is claimed to deliver a purer sound.

Pro-Ject MC Step Up Box DS3 B

Pro-Ject MC Step Up Box DS3 B (Image credit: Henley Audio)

The MC Step Up Box DS3 B is said to be particularly suited to balanced turntable connections and contains Lundahl LL1678 transformers. It offers both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs and outputs, and also includes selectable transformer ratio options depending on the level of gain required.

Pro-Ject MC Step Up Box S3

Pro-Ject MC Step Up Box S3 (Image credit: Henley Audio)

The MC Step Up Box S3 is designed to be an upgrade solution for users wanting to add moving-coil compatibility to an integrated amplifier’s built-in moving-magnet phono stage. It features a 1:16 transformer ratio – which should suit a range of pick-ups – and offers unbalanced RCA inputs and outputs.

Pro-Ject’s new phono-stage and step-up boxes will be available later this month and will be priced as follows:

Tube Box DS3 B phono stage: £949 / $1299 / €1049
MC Step Up Box DS3 B: £799 / $1099 / €899
MC Step Up Box S3: £399 / $549 / €449


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Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts, this naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.