Pro-ject Tubebox S

When I bought my Rega RP3, the dealer set me up with a Pro-ject Tubebox S (with two nice glowing 12AX7 tubes), have since added a TT PSU and these are all running into my Nait XS2 + FCXS, then Proac Studio 125 speakers.

I didn't discuss the phono stage choice at the time of purchase as it was a good price - part of the TT deal. So a couple of years on I am wondering if anyone has any experience of this Pro-ject phono stage in comparison to the Stageline N powered by a FCXS. Worth an upgrade or is it a sideways move?

The records sound nice but not as nice as the CD5XS/nDAC which is the digital side of the system

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Post

I have the Project Tube Box SE, and have owned it a long time, for a Nottingham Horizon SE turntable. I have a Nait XS instead of an XS2.  I have never heard a Stageline, unfortunately, but from what others have said about it I am sure the stageline would sound better than your tube box in your system, since you are also using other Naim gear. That being said, I have made significant improvements to my Tube Box SE simply by switching out the tubes, a less expensive upgrade with a major benefit. I would say that before you fork out significant money for a new phonostage, you consider switching the tubes in your Project.  With your Tube Box you are getting some of that tube magic which pairs well with Naim in my experience. Also, instead of paying more for a phonostage you can perhaps save up for a TT upgrade. 

In my Tubebox SE I started with the stock tubes, but they were not very good. If you have the stock tubes that came with the Tube Box, then I would definitely consider switching the tubes before buying a new phonostage. I listened to a lot of my Uncle's 12ax7 tubes he saved up (he is a major tube roller and uses all old-school low watt tube amp and preamp separates) and even compared to NOS tubes he had I found that the best sounding ones in my particular system were the Tong Sol tubes they started making more recently. It is like I had a brand new system (better clarity, detail, musicality, timbre, etc.).  Then, later on, I got a pair of Electdol Chinese tubes, and I got even more of everything, particularly bass response. With the Elecdols I got yet another major upgrade in sound and I am very happy with them.  I believe the company that now sells the same tubes that Elecdol made is called Northern Electric, and you can get a matched and balanced pair of those from the tube store for under $100.   Totally worth the money to me.  Below I link the Northern Electrics and the less expensive Tung-Sols. 

Moderated Post:  Links removed.  Please don't post unauthorised commercial links in the Hifi Corner, thanks.

 

First post here, and happy to have found a topic I hope I can contribute to. I have the Tube box SE now, going into my 272 with XPS DR - and have been very happy with it since I put it in. I have a RP3 with PSU, with Dynavector 17D3 cartridge. Prior to this, I had a Stageline S powered by HiCap DR. This sounded mighty fine, with the usual Naim and Rega synergy, but decided to reduce box count and save some space. I have to say the sound quality is very similar, a slightly warmer sound with the tubebox, but I now realise just how capable this little beauty is (although my tubes don't glow sadly). Mine was factory modded (tube upgrade, although not quite sure to what). So in conclusion, my tubebox will stay and it did save some cash in the end. Your proposed idea, in my opinion would be a sideways move. I agree that some nicer tubes may be the cheaper answer you are looking for. Good luck and if you want more detail of my little journey, just ask.

This is an interesting thread as I have always been tempted by a valve Phono stage having owned valve amps in the past.  Apologies if it is taking the thread in a slightly different direction but I would love to hear from other forum members mixing valve/tube components of any type and make with Naim electronics but especially phono stages.

jpr posted:

When I bought my Rega RP3, the dealer set me up with a Pro-ject Tubebox S (with two nice glowing 12AX7 tubes), have since added a TT PSU and these are all running into my Nait XS2 + FCXS, then Proac Studio 125 speakers.

The records sound nice but not as nice as the CD5XS/nDAC which is the digital side of the system 

jpr - you don't mention your cartridge. It might be more worthwhile to audition alternative carts, especially if you're currently using the Elys2. Might find better bang for the buck there than the cost of switching to a Stageline. Your LPs ought to sound at least as good as your digital side, potentially better.

Bob the Builder posted:

This is an interesting thread as I have always been tempted by a valve Phono stage having owned valve amps in the past.  Apologies if it is taking the thread in a slightly different direction but I would love to hear from other forum members mixing valve/tube components of any type and make with Naim electronics but especially phono stages.

I used the puresound P10 into my naim system for quite some time with huge enjoyment of its sound

This really is a great tube phono stage and a significant improvement on the stageline ... which I was disappointed with

Now I have another tube phono ...the jolida jd9 but there is virtually nothing left of the original amp ...it has ALL been pimped / upgraded to within an inch of its life ...and sounds spectacular for it!!

Thanks all for the feedback, my cartridge is whatever came with the RP3 I guess is the Elys 2 - effectively I have thought about upgrading it. The tube swap sounds like a good idea. i have a couple of tube amps, a fender 59 LTD bassman and a smaller Bbackstab, both with stock tubes. I wonder how the quality of each compares?

 

Hi. I have had the Stageline with hicap, wit the Linn adikt. But I think the Lejonklou Gaio is better. Perhaps one of the best most praiseworthy MM- amps.

Fred

Moderated post:  Links removed.  Fred, please don't post unauthorised links in the Hifi Corner.  Thank you.

jpr posted:

my cartridge is whatever came with the RP3 I guess is the Elys 2

I may be taking your response in the wrong vein, but you seem to have rather flippant regard for the role of the cartridge in your vinyl-side performance. Depending on use, you could have a worn stylus. Maybe see if your dealer can evaluate the stylus condition of your Elys2 and go from there. Hopefully it's good, but if you don't have a quality cartridge in place chasing tubes or other phono stages might simply be applying additional bandages to the bleeding.

Just to add here that I heard the Tubebox demoed on a very high end Project turntable into some expensive monoblocks and the results were outstanding. I bought based on what I heard. I get the feeling my RP3 (and excellent Dynavector 17D3) do not do it justice at all, and may end up with a higher end Rega sometime soon, probably keeping the 17D3. I think as a minimum you would need to add a PSU to the RP3 if you haven't done so - this is a massive improvement. I have the mk2 version, and this was a big jump over the previous version. I would check the front end and be satisfied you can get the most out of it before investing in phone stages.

jpr posted:

Thanks all for the feedback, my cartridge is whatever came with the RP3 I guess is the Elys 2 - effectively I have thought about upgrading it. The tube swap sounds like a good idea. i have a couple of tube amps, a fender 59 LTD bassman and a smaller Bbackstab, both with stock tubes. I wonder how the quality of each compares?

 

I presume you do know to be sure the tubes are compatible e.g. filament and HT voltage), not just try if they fit the same sockets? (I say this unaware of what might be used in the amps you cite.) 

joerand posted:
jpr posted:

my cartridge is whatever came with the RP3 I guess is the Elys 2

I may be taking your response in the wrong vein, but you seem to have rather flippant regard for the role of the cartridge in your vinyl-side performance. Depending on use, you could have a worn stylus. Maybe see if your dealer can evaluate the stylus condition of your Elys2 and go from there. Hopefully it's good, but if you don't have a quality cartridge in place chasing tubes or other phono stages might simply be applying additional bandages to the bleeding.

I was buying a sandwich at the airport actually, so I couldn't check, but it is the Elys 2.

 

 

JWC posted:

Just to add here that I heard the Tubebox demoed on a very high end Project turntable into some expensive monoblocks and the results were outstanding. I bought based on what I heard. I get the feeling my RP3 (and excellent Dynavector 17D3) do not do it justice at all, and may end up with a higher end Rega sometime soon, probably keeping the 17D3. I think as a minimum you would need to add a PSU to the RP3 if you haven't done so - this is a massive improvement. I have the mk2 version, and this was a big jump over the previous version. I would check the front end and be satisfied you can get the most out of it before investing in phone stages.

I do have the TT PSU, I bought it about a year after the Rega, I do agree it is a step up in performance. Also looks nice

Innocent Bystander posted:
jpr posted:

Thanks all for the feedback, my cartridge is whatever came with the RP3 I guess is the Elys 2 - effectively I have thought about upgrading it. The tube swap sounds like a good idea. i have a couple of tube amps, a fender 59 LTD bassman and a smaller Bbackstab, both with stock tubes. I wonder how the quality of each compares?

 

I presume you do know to be sure the tubes are compatible e.g. filament and HT voltage), not just try if they fit the same sockets? (I say this unaware of what might be used in the amps you cite.) 

Thanks for the heads up, I will be sure to check the types before swapping. I think the ECC83 12AX7A used on the Tube Box is there on the pre amp side of the Bassman.

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