Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital - Black
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- The new Pre Box S2 Digital compact preamplifier/DAC with MQA and DSD512 support marks a new era for Pro-Ject's renowned S-series components.
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From the manufacturer
A performance revolution in a small package!
Pre Box S2 Digital, our flagship of the S2-series. For the very first time we are using a dual mono configuration with the highest class D/A converters of ESS Sabre. Their flagship DAC-chip ensures highest class audio in a small and affordable package. This DAC is capable of high resolution audio up to 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512! Pre Box S2 Digital is also the very first of our devices to support hardware MQA unfolding. It’s also the premiere of our proprietary Optimum transient digital filter and our proprietary clock circuitry design. Digital audio is the art of time, with our designed proprietary clock we have managed jitter rates of unrivalled 100 Femtoseconds, this easily outperforms many renowned and respected audiophile clock generators!
With organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors we were able to create a tiny device that will blow away even much bigger components for a much higher budget. With a total of eight digital filters the sound can be shaped precisely to the listeners liking. Pre Box S2 Digital is fully remoteable, it can also control the playback software of a computer. You can use Play, Pause, Forward and Rewind straight with your Pre Box S2 Digital!
- Dual mono construction
- High end ESS Sabre ESS9038 dual DAC
- Proprietary clock circuity design
- Organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors
- Up to 24bit/192kHz for optical & coax inputs
- Synchronization of all internal oscillators
- Jitter as low as 100 Femtoseconds!
- Gold plated four layer PCB
- Full alu/metal sandwich casing in silver or black
Headphone output on the front (6.3mm)
DSD64, DSD128, DSD256 und DSD512
full MQA hardware decoding
Digital inputs: 1x USB (B), 1x Co-axial (RCA), 1x Optical (TOSLink)
D/A-converter: 2x ESS9038Q2M 32-bit
USB: up to DSD512 (DSD1024), PCM up to 32b/768kHz
OpticalPCM: up to 24b/192kHz
CoaxialPCM: up to 24b/192kHz
Filter settings: 7 different selectable on front
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Analogue outputs: 6.3mm Headphone (front), 1x Variable Out (RCAOutput voltage 2.05 Veff
Minimal recommended headphone impedance: 8 Ohm
Headphone output power: 6.6 mW / 600 Ohm; 68 mW / 32 Ohm
THD: 0.0003% @ 0 dB, 2V RMS, 1 kHz
Dynamic range: 124 dBA
Outboard Power supply: 5V/1A DC (included)
Dimensions W x H x D: 103 x 37 x 122 mm (including knob and connectors)
Weight: 366 g (without power supply)
A Performance Revolution in a Small Package! The Pre Box S2 Digital marks a new era for Pro-Ject's S-series components; for the very first time they are using a dual mono configuration with the highest class D/A converters of ESS Sabre whose flagship DAC chip ensures highest class audio in a small and affordable pack-age. This DAC is capable of high resolution audio up to 32bit 768kHz PCM and DSD512. The Pre Box S2 Digital is also the very first of Pro-Ject's devices to support hardware MQA unfolding via USB. Its also the premiere of the manufacturer's proprietary Optimum transient digital filter and the proprietary clock circuitry design. With organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors Pro-Ject was able to create a tiny device that will blow away even much bigger components for a much higher price. With a total of seven digital filters the sound can be shaped precisely to the listeners liking. The Pre Box S2 Digital is fully remoteable it can also control the playback software of a computer. You can use Play Pause Forward and Rewind straight with your Pre Box S2 Digital! Features Dual mono construction High end ESS Sabre ESS9038 dual DAC Proprietary clock circuitry design Organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors MQA hardware decoding (USB only) DSD64 DSD128 DSD256 DSD512 (DSD over PCM) Up to 24bit/192kHz for optical coax inputs 7 selectable digital filter characteristics 1 proprietary optimum transient digital filter Headphone output on the front (6.3mm) Synchronization of all internal oscillators Jitter as low as 100 Femtoseconds! Gold plated four layer PCB What's in the Box: Pre Box S2 Digital Preamplifier Power supply Specifications 3 digital inputs1x coax (S/PDIF) 1x optical (TOSlink) USB B D/A-converter2x ESS9038Q2M 32-bit PCM 768kHz/DSD512 Headphone amplifier chip: ESS9602 Sampling rates: 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.2/182/352.8/384/768kHz DSD support: DSD64 DSD128 DSD256 and D
Top reviews from the United States
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Before this S2, I was playing Tidal MQA via desktop app on my MacBook, connected via optical cable to a Denon 4310CI. I bought this DAC specifically, for the MQA, which to my ears is audibly superior than the regular HiRES streaming from TIDAL. Denon is driving a pair of Paradigm Studio 60v5 speakers.
I setup this DAC as a pre-in to Denon. The computer was connected to S2 via a USB cable. Right off the bat, I was able to tell the sound is different. The greatest difference is in the clarity of the top end, imaging, and separation of the instruments - this was tested with Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong MQA recordings on Tidal.
Next I tested it with some rock music, and the first was Hotel California (remastered) in MQA by Eagles. The mids are clear, and the bottom end is so nicely rendered that there is no muddying in lower mids. The bass is rendered beautifully.
I also tried running it with my tube pre-amp (Little Dot MKIII), connected to Denon via Pre-in. The sound with MQA or plain HIRES is jawdroppingly beautiful. So it pairs nicely in this setup.
Not so good:
- You can't power it off - there's no power switch. This is lame, and I am not sure what use case Pro-ject had in mind.
- The display is small and cannot be read from across the room. In S2's defense, the display is gorgeous! It's just that this device is quite small, so I guess it's asking too much.
- As a headphone amp, it sucks. I tried it my AudioTechnica ATH-M50x which are one of the easiest cans to drive, and also with my Sennheiser HD 700s - the result was disappointing.The sound is thin, and if you are looking for a DAC that can double as a headphone amp, I can decisively recommend that you look elsewhere.
This DAC represents a good value for with and without MQA - fantastic SQ if you are streaming MQA via Tidal. ProJect S2 excels at being a DAC as a source to a pre-amp, or acting as a pre-amp to a power amplifier. It's not meant for serious headphone listening. Recommended, if you are looking for a great MQA DAC at this price point.
Although, it has weaknesses in certain areas such as no power-off switch, and a weak headphone amp, but for my use case as a dedicated DAC, it fulfills all my requirements wonderfully. So I am giving it a 5 out 5.
After less than 2 weeks of use, the power socket (usb input looking 5v port) broke. Luckily, it was still covered under Amazon's return policy, so no harm done there. Also, this is not a testament to Pro-ject's support, but a comment on the quality. Priced at $399, this thing ought to be more sturdy. Disappointed in build quality, so I am revising my original review from 5 to 4 stars. I have thought about giving it 3 stars, but I think the sound quality, and the features are pretty good e.g. this is the only DAC in this price range that has a volume remote. Although perhaps it's purpose is not to be used as a dedicated pre-amplifier, but the remote control feature does come in pretty handy.
I would not be ordering it again, and will be going for something that's built slightly more sturdy. Unfortunately, that will mean paying a lot more.
Pre Box S2 Digital (PBS2 the rest of the way) is in use strictly as a DAC so I can't comment on headphone amp capability. As a DAC, it shines. Rich and detailed, with a wide and deep sound stage, without the slightest hint of brassiness, harshness, glare, etc. Compared to a 5 year-old ARCAM rLink DAC, the PBS2 is equally smooth, far more detailed, and has a bigger soundstage. Compared to an AudioQuest Dragonfly Red with latest MQA firmware, the PBS2 is more refined, a bit smoother, and has a more 3 dimensional soundstage.
It's being fed TIDAL HiFi/MQA from a Lenovo laptop via JSAUX USB A to B cable. Output is via KabelDirekt Stereo RCA to ARCAM AVR360. Speakers are Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v5 in main listening area (additional channels all Paradigm in ceiling with Guided Soundfield feature), and 4 Paradigm Stylus 370 in the backyard, being driven by Zone 2 in the ARCAM. I mention the backyard because the improvement with this DAC is audible there as well. A couple of friends noted the difference without prompting. PBS2 also being fed (for Zone 2) from Sony BlueRay via coax, and from TV Box via optical (football games at the BBQ!) Harmony hub-based remote works perfectly with PBS2, so I no longer need a wireless keyboard to control every move on laptop while listening to music - I can use the Harmony remote and let the PBS2 control the laptop for pause/play/skip forward/skip back, and switch inputs as well. Pretty handy!
When streaming TIDAL from laptop, you must go into TIDAL settings, go into "Streaming," and ensure "MQA/Highest Quality" is selected. There's another step after that, and I hope I describe it correctly - scroll down to "Sound," click on "more options,", and 3 more buttons will pop up - make sure all 3 are turned on, or your MQA won't feed out of your player into the DAC.
I don't have any DSD files, so I can't comment on that functionality either.
Only downside was that the PBS2 was delivered with old firmware that failed in MQA. Updating was harder than it should have been, but once handled, the PBS2 functions flawlessly. I did note a big improvement in sound after a few hours of playing. Not sure if that was burn-in, or if my ears/brain just learned how to use the increased information they were receiving. I believe it was burn-in as friends listening recognized the improvement immediately.
This thing is really amazing for $400. Highly Recommended.
I also like the ability to choose different filters - while I can't tell a difference between all of them, I'd say 3 of them do offer a rather distinct presentation. I settled on the Hybrid filter. I noticed that filter provided good performance in measurements conducted by Audio Science Review and Stereophile. My ears agree - it seems to offer the most balanced and clean sound.
Keep in mind that all these impressions were formed from using the toslink input off a network streamer. I have yet to use the USB input, nor have I tried the headphone amp.
Top reviews from other countries
Ich habe noch nicht viel Erfahrung bezüglich Hifi und habe bis jetzt selber noch nicht viel Testen können. Aber eines kann ich mit Sicherheit sagen, dass mich dieser DAC von den Socken gehauen hat, als ich das erste mal meinen DT1990 Pro angeschlossen habe.
Davor hatte ich noch eine Asus Xonar Essence One, jedoch übertrifft dieser DAC von Pro-ject den von Asus noch einmal um ein gutes Stück. Allein von der Klarheit, dem Detailreichtum, den super trockenen Bässen, die nicht zu aufdringlich sind, fehlt einem hier wirklich nichts.
Desweiteren sind alle Features die man im Desktop Bereich benötigt mit an Board, bis auf einen Output Switch, dieser wäre noch bequem gewesen (ein Ausstecken der KH genügt jedoch auch). Was mich am meisten Überrascht hat, war das Display, dieses ist wirklich sehr nützlich, denn es werden alle wichtigen Daten angezeigt wie die Lautstärke, Abtastrate, ob ein KH angeschlossen ist und der gewählte Input. Das Gehäuse aus Aluminium, sowie der wunderbar knackig gerasterte Lautstärkeregler machen einen sehr hochwertigen Eindruck. Mit den Tasten links neben dem Display lassen sich die Eingänge Coaxial, USB und Toslink wählen. An der rechten Seite lassen sich Filter einstellen, die ich jedoch nicht benötige und somit dazu nichts sagen kann. Und weiters lässt sich dort noch das Menü aufrufen. Das Gerät kann entweder über USB oder mit einem externen Netzteil mit Strom versorgt werden.
Nach langer Suche im Netz, habe ich endlich das Gerät für meine Bedürfnisse gefunden. Ich bin wirklich angetan von dem Gerät und kann es wirklich nur jedem empfehlen.
Habe viele Vergleiche über Cambridge, Audioquest oder Mytek gehabt und in der Preisregion sicher top. Allein der Mytek 192 schafft mehr Buehne aber bei der Praezision macht der Project allen etwas vor.
Super die Filter, auch wenn es klare Einstellungen des Entwicklers gibt.
Nach diesem Wurf müssen sich andere ersteinmal sehr sehr anstrengen, um dieses Gerät zu toppen.
In der Liga bis 1000€ sicher lange Zeit ganz weit oben.
Fast zu schade um als Desktop-Utensil zu enden.
Mit den richtigen Aktiven klingt es aber schon irre gut und zum Mischen kommt man gar nicht mehr, weil man viele Sachen einfach nochmal mit diesem Dac hören will.
6 Sterne wenn die FB etwas besser wäre, bzw eine App-Steuerung die Bedienung als Pre versüßen würde.
Aber das wäre Jammern auf hohem Niveau.
Come solitamente accade con i dac Sabre, la resa sonora non presenta particolare colore ed è tutt'altro che "calda". Personalmente è ciò che cercavo, un suono più analitico, pronto a restituire ciò che l'artista/sviluppatore aveva in mente.
L'uso in cuffia è gradevole e pilota bene anche modelli hi-fi di qualità.. Per un uso professionale e/o high end, consigliabile l'accoppiata ad un buon pre amp.