Top positive review
Great little preamp - not sure it's worth the money - but it's staying!
Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2019
I have to start with...I'm certainly no audiophile. This is my very first turntable since I was a kid (U-Turn Orbit Plus) - and definitely my first tube preamp. I'm running U-Turn Orbit Plus ->Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 -> AudioEngine A5+ speakers.
Now, I was/am very happy with the built-in Pluto preamp. The system sounded great to begin with. But I just had to try a tube preamp. (I'm a guitar player...I like tubes...sue me). I only compared the Pluto to the Pro-Ject once - very early on. And frankly, it didn't sound much, if any, better than the Pluto to me. For that very reason...it's simply not worth $400 to me. However, all that being said, the Pro-Ject, now, sounds just fantastic to me. Perhaps it was tube burn-in. Perhaps it's all psychological. But it sounds great!
I did change the tubes to new production Mullards immediately. Didn't even try it with the supplied tubes.
Regarding sound: You'll see this in many reviews - the bass is fantastic. Deep, rich, room-filling. But not overdone. I can't say, "I'm hearing things I never heard before!" That's not the case at all. But it just sounds good.
I'm running it at 40db (was originally at 43db, but backed it down). Also have the Subsonic filter on. With my Ortofon OM20 stylus, I've got it at 220 pf and that seems to sound best to my ears. (You'll have to read up on the pF settings based on your particular set-up/slylus, etc. Very cool that you can customize to your preferences). I have very short cable runs. (Mogami cables - one 2549 and one 2534 - I think).
Bottom line, I really don't know that it's worth $400 to me. But I have to give it a great review. The system sounds great! If you've got an extra $400 burning a hole in your pocket - and you're not 100% sold on your current preamp - I'd say go for it.