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franz159

Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital: MQA HW decoding at reasonable cost

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I have just read a positive review in July number of  Italian magazine AudioReview about this new little DAC from Project

http://www.box-designs.com/main.php?prod=preboxs2digital&cat=s2-line&lang=en

A very reasonable entry level price for experimenting with MQA, but apparently not at all entry level performance.

 

Main specs from Pro-Ject infosheet:

• Dual mono construction

• High end ESS Sabre ESS9038 dual DAC

• Proprietary clock circuity design

• Organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors

• MQA hardware decoding

• 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

• Full alu/metal sandwich casing in silver or black

 

SRP: € 349,00  

 

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It has won the EISA AWARDS 2017/2018 in the Hi -Fi Expert Group:

https://www.eisa.eu/awards/pro-ject-pre-box-s2-digital/

"This petite box shows that – in the world of digital audio – less can be more. Its long list of features includes full preamp functionality and the latest ESS Sabre DACs running in dual mono configuration. So it handles everything from DSD512 to 768kHz/32-bit PCM music media and will even recognise and decode MQA files. High quality passive components, an integrated headphone amplifier and a host of digital filter options complete the big picture. With an open and expressive nature, and supreme versatility, the Pre Box S2 Digital sounds bigger and bolder than it looks – making it great affordable hi-fi."

 

Dual mono ES9038Q2M mobile DACs, should be very good! 

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8 hours ago, filhodoassis said:

 

Dual mono ES9038Q2M mobile DACs, should be very good! 

This ... together with these features:

• Proprietary clock circuity design 
• Synchronization of all internal oscillators  
• Jitter as low as 100 Femtoseconds!  
• 7 selectable digital filter characteristics  
• 1 proprietary optimum transient digital filter 

... and the special filtering for a noise free USB input.

see page 3: pdf

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Did someone got a chance to listen to this device, eager to know more about it 

On 7/23/2017 at 0:32 PM, franz159 said:

I have just read a positive review in July number of  Italian magazine AudioReview about this new little DAC from Project

http://www.box-designs.com/main.php?prod=preboxs2digital&cat=s2-line&lang=en

A very reasonable entry level price for experimenting with MQA, but apparently not at all entry level performance.

 

Main specs from Pro-Ject infosheet:

• Dual mono construction

• High end ESS Sabre ESS9038 dual DAC

• Proprietary clock circuity design

• Organic polymer capacitors and thin film miniMELF resistors

• MQA hardware decoding

• 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

• Full alu/metal sandwich casing in silver or black

 

SRP: € 349,00  

 

@franz159 I would be appreciated if you can post this review here 

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On 8/18/2017 at 4:16 AM, sadekkhalifa said:

Did someone got a chance to listen to this device, eager to know more about it 

@franz159 I would be appreciated if you can post this review here 

 

@sadekkhalifa here's a detailed article on another site: http://www.stereolifemagazine.com/news/item/1306-pro-ject-pre-box-s2-digital 

It's hard to call any of these "reviews" just yet. I'm not certain any reviewers have units in-hand. I am told units will be arriving at UK distributors in a week or so, and I've asked my local Pro-Ject retailer here in the US to look into ordering one for me. I will report here on any updates from them.

 

This would be a good drop-in replacement for my Schiit Magni/Modi stack, so that I can finally compare MQA and DSD at full resolution. I'm also intrigued by the built-in reclocking and USB filtering, which may allow me to remove my USB REGEN from the chain. Also, the power options that make this a good option for traveling with a laptop as well as desktop systems. This is a very interesting little box.


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46 minutes ago, HeadStrong said:

Amazon carries their products but I don't see the S2.  What is the USA availability?

 

USA availability: possibly in one month (late September). One person on another forum got that estimate from his local dealer. I'm still waiting to hear back from mine. But this makes sense for a European product, since I'm told UK availability begins in one week. USA dealer lookup: http://www.pro-jectusa.com/en-us/dealer-locator


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  This really looks like a good prouct. Dual 9038 chips, and all the other features for this price point. 

  I assume it uses the 9038 chip for volume controller. This is a very good method.


 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Is it a complete MQA unfold. "Handling MQA files" is something any Dac can do to a certain extent. I am considering this as a preamp. 

 

Nevermind. Looks like it does fully unfold MQA. 

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1 hour ago, Norton said:

 

Thank you! Finally. A full review in English, with listening and lab results.

 

"This latest ‘digital box’ should not be confused with Pro-Ject’s earlier miniature DAC/network solutions – a new designer (John Westlake) and new chip technologies mark out the Pre Box S2 Digital as a vastly superior offering."


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Found this review on another forum:
http://www.hificlube.net/artigos/reviews-testes/pro-ject-prebox-s2-digital/

This is an in-depth review, worth pasting into Google Translate or one of its competitors if you don't read Portuguese. The author gets into setup, configuration, and listening, and even compares it to a Chord Hugo 2, Chord Mojo, and an iFi Micro DSD.

Press the blue "Continuar a ler" button to expand the entire article. Giving Translate the direct link didn't work well, but it was very much worth my time to paste this in by hand (section-by-section, to stay within Translate's text limit).


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Lots of talk about this DAC/Pre around forums at the moment. On paper it certainly looks incredibly promising and worthy of an audition. 

 

I like how this has a separate 5Vdc input to the USB port, for those that want to try that instead of powering the entire unit by USB.

 

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On 9/6/2017 at 8:43 PM, chauphuong said:

Not any comparison to read. Conclusion of the article is that the stuff is best for MQA

 

He compares it to the Chord Hugo 2, Chord Mojo, and iFi Micro DSD. But you're right, in the end most of these reviews unavoidably spend a lot of time on MQA because it's so new. In fact that's the only reason I am interested in this Box, though once I have it I might try DSD as well. For normal use however, I suspect I'll prefer my Modi/Magni 2U.


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I would only be interested if it betters my Bluesound node2 MQA capabilities. I says it will probably we a lateral move. The bluesond analog outs sound slightly better than my older Nova Pre dac on non mqa hi rez sources

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4 hours ago, arcman said:

Here's another one that, at least, looks like it may be cheaper than the Mytek http://lnx.m2tech.biz/products/rockstars/young-mkiii/

Probably in the $1200-$1400 range if pricing matches previous products

 

Interesting. None of their products include a headphone amplifier.


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2 hours ago, gahabana said:
my experience with "Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 digital DAC" ...all great except one major issue in my setup:

Am using odroidxu4 (running Armbian builds of Ubuntu) as endpoint for Roon as well as LMS/squeezelite.
Worked immediately with no issues.
I also have a benchmark dac2 hgc (which i used both as preamp for pro-ject s2 and to compare).
Love - all resolutions worked out of the box. PCM all the way to 768khz and DSD via DOP all the way to DSD256 with Roon.
Sounds very good. Haven’t done a lot of critical listening - but i hear nothing worse compared to Benchmark DAC2. Remote (one that comes with it) is cheapo plastic bit bigger then credit card but works great for volume control and switching filters or on the fly or sources etc.
sounds GREAT to me.
things i love compared to Benchmark:

switching between various sampling rate sources is practically instant. i.e. from 44.1khz CD to 192khz hires source or dsd is instant. on benchmark there was 0.4sec delay or you missed bit from start of the song. if all upsampled obviously none of the dac’s have issue with changing sampling rates but it makes me happy. i still use LMS from time to time so that comes in handy
over 24+ hours no issues, clicks, losing sync etc … i think digital piece/USB is well implemented and has no obvious bugs …in spite of changing, reseting, roon and squeezelite - not once i had to reboot due to sw bug. that is great!!!. e.g. SMSL M9 DAC i also have works fine sounds good but when you reboot the pc or endpoint it starts with hiss until music app (roon or squeezelite) actually starts sending sometjhing (or even silence) … no big deal but bit annoying. as i am planning to replace benchmark dac2 with it and going directly to poweramp can not do that with SMSL m9 but think i ll have no issues with Pro-Ject S2
it remembers volume setting upon power off … which is good if going to power amp directly
MQA support - seems to work very well. 48 all the way to 192khz abd blue light works (tested with Roon/Tidal).
downsides compared to benchmark:

does not have balanced out’s that my amp has (Bryston) … can use RCAs but would be nice if it was balanced
don’t care about headphones so did not compare at all
it can not be powered off (if powered or connected via USB only and source is powered its always powered). not a big . deal … just would be nice if you could power it off
has mute on remote just like benchmark … what benchmark also did is ‘Dim’ which takes volume 20 or 30db down so if you get a phone call can still hear the music but at much lower volume instantly … just cool
i miss ability to power up amp via preamp/dac. it requires 12V output and i guess it did fit in benchmark and pro-ject bing 2-4 smaller box it kinda didn’t fit. if i switch to pro-ject and eliminate benchmark as a preamp ill have to turn on/off amplifier manually and cant do it via remote no more :frowning:
i wish pro-ject would display sample rate and depth. behcmark does it with LEDs … and smsl has info screen. not that it matters cause it DOES work whatever you send to it (16/24/32 bit and any sample rate) …
but benchmark is 2000EUR and Pro-ject 350. makes you wonder if its worth it.

However, last step was to try S2 directly powering poweramp (Bryston SST2). All of the above still holds true however, there might be a problem for me to use it in that way unless you guys have some idea:
Issue: when sample rate changes between the tracks very often i hear a farily loud click/pop between the tracks. I rebooted, powered off … changed settings in the DAC (filters and ‘distortion settings’ on or off) but that did not make any difference. i even inserted Intona isolater between by USB source computer and S2 just to be sure it’s not due to some ‘ground’ connection issues.

My guess is that it could be fixed in the firmware of the S2 (whenever input sample rate changes drive output to 0 in few ms and that i think could do it) … it happens when going from 44.1 to 192 and any other mix … some combo’s almost every time some not so often. Of course if I upsample all the content from Roon to 352 or 384 kHZ it is a non issue but then MQA support is gone etc.

I have no clue why i did not hear those clicks/pops when S2 was connected to Benchmark DAC2 which acted as pre-amplifier.

Any thoughts/ideas ?

Thanks !!!

 

It seems that you are the first one in this community to receive this DAC.

 

Looking forward to seeing other audiophiles opinion.

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