Jump to content
franz159

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

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Thanks for the links Rica. That's a smart web site that iFi have nowadays. I am afraid I have not experimented with any devices like those. Partly because I trust John Westlake to have done an optimal job for the money, and partly because of my inadequate ears - I cannot hear any difference between:

  • power over the signal USB
  • power from the supplied wall wart
  • power from a linear battery supply (NiMH)

when using LCD3 headphones.

 

I had a quick look at your links, and at this iFi page also: https://c4w4s3k2.stackpathcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/iFi-audio-Tech-Note-Why-does-my-system-hum.pdf   And to answer your question, yes, I would tend to agree - that is what I think. But - I have not studied and decoded the iFi marketing speak, and I have not listened to those products in my system.

 

Do let us know the result of your further investigations.             Thanks,       Mark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Question for someone who owns the Pre Box S2D: will it do MQA through the coax input? I know it will do MQA hardware decoding via the USB (computer) input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Taz777 said:

Question for someone who owns the Pre Box S2D: will it do MQA through the coax input? I know it will do MQA hardware decoding via the USB (computer) input.

 

No it will not, sorry. John says that would have required increasing the size and price, so he decided to decode MQA only via USB. 


Everyone wants to date my avatar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, left channel said:

 

No it will not, sorry. John says that would have required increasing the size and price, so he decided to decode MQA only via USB. 

 

Okay, thanks. I was toying with the idea of buying one to try out with my Bluesound Node 2i streamer which only has coax digital out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Taz777 said:

Okay, thanks. I was toying with the idea of buying one to try out with my Bluesound Node 2i streamer which only has coax digital out.

 

But Node2 can do decoding instead?

 

S/PDIF on the S2D is not so great though, so better used through USB only.

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Miska said:

 

But Node2 can do decoding instead?

 

S/PDIF on the S2D is not so great though, so better used through USB only.

 

 

Yes it can but I don't like the analogue audio it produces. I did try again to listen to it a few days ago but connected my Topping D50 back in, as there's a significant improvement in the audio. Hence, I'm currently using the coax digital out on the Node 2i as the input to the D50.

 

The S2D would work with my desktop system via USB with no issues, but I really wanted to try it with my bedside headphones system that uses the Node 2i as a Tidal transport due to the higher quality sound (mainly due to the Amiron Home headphones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Taz777 said:

Yes it can but I don't like the analogue audio it produces. I did try again to listen to it a few days ago but connected my Topping D50 back in, as there's a significant improvement in the audio. Hence, I'm currently using the coax digital out on the Node 2i as the input to the D50.

 

Doesn't it output the decoded data also through S/PDIF? Or does the S/PDIF go muted when playing MQA?


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Miska said:

 

Doesn't it output the decoded data also through S/PDIF? Or does the S/PDIF go muted when playing MQA?

My D50 external DAC shows 96kHz when I play an MQA track via the Node 2i - suggesting that the Tidal app within the Node 2i is doing the first unfold (as is normal) and sending the resulting bitstream to to my D50 via the coax output.

 

There is a setting for the Node 2i to specify an external MQA DAC. I would imagine if I set that then the Node 2i shouldn't decode anything and send everything out of its output ports (USB, coax and optical). I'd love to try this out but the price point of the S2D is a bit above my 'disposable' budget where I'd be happy to take a hit if it doesn't work out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Taz777 said:

My D50 external DAC shows 96kHz when I play an MQA track via the Node 2i - suggesting that the Tidal app within the Node 2i is doing the first unfold (as is normal) and sending the resulting bitstream to to my D50 via the coax output.

 

OK, then it does all that is needed. There's nothing more to unfold...

 

2 hours ago, Taz777 said:

There is a setting for the Node 2i to specify an external MQA DAC. I would imagine if I set that then the Node 2i shouldn't decode anything and send everything out of its output ports (USB, coax and optical). I'd love to try this out but the price point of the S2D is a bit above my 'disposable' budget where I'd be happy to take a hit if it doesn't work out.

 

I don't think you win anything by doing this. Just let it decode all there is to decode and let DAC do oversampling using better digital filters than MQA's ones (what they call "rendering").

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used my S2D exclusively to stream Tidal & Qobuz so far. Streaming hi-res and MQA all work fine. But today I tried playing some hi-res files through Foobar.

 

But S2D's display shows 44.1kHz.

 

Foobar shows the files correctly as 96kHz or 192kHz as appropriate. I have selected the S2D in Foobar's "output" tab in "Preferences". There don't seem to be any effects selected. The equaliser is not enabled. Windows 10 with the Windows App version of Foobar2000.

 

Why on earth would such a simple task not work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mark Dirac said:

I have used my S2D exclusively to stream Tidal & Qobuz so far. Streaming hi-res and MQA all work fine. But today I tried playing some hi-res files through Foobar.

 

But S2D's display shows 44.1kHz.

 

Foobar shows the files correctly as 96kHz or 192kHz as appropriate. I have selected the S2D in Foobar's "output" tab in "Preferences". There don't seem to be any effects selected. The equaliser is not enabled. Windows 10 with the Windows App version of Foobar2000.

 

Why on earth would such a simple task not work?

 

Have you installed foo_out_asio and then under Playback > Output > ASIO selected the Pro-Ject driver?  The Pro-Ject website used to offer a PDF with foobar setup instructions for DSD playback, and those were relevant to PCM playback as well, but it was quite out of date and I see that on the new website that document is gone. Those instructions are still included in the docs for other products like the DAC Box DS2 Ultra manual however.


Everyone wants to date my avatar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The S2D has received a nice review in this month's Stereophile. Ken Micallef's write-up is positive, though a bit limited. It also did very well in John Atkinson's measurements, and has earned a Class A spot in Stereophile's Recommended Components.


Everyone wants to date my avatar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats to John Westlake.

 

And thanks to @Miska for telling us much of the same (and sharing measurements) some months ago.

 

Another snippet (the last one I'll share).

 

1550084325_ScreenShot2019-03-16at10_10_56am.png.6fced3c392818f9b9edb0a208fd9b93f.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, left channel said:

It's sad that the article doesn't mention John Westlake at all, but as Pro-Ject no longer longer has a relationship with him they probably very studiously avoided any such discussion, focusing instead on their company founder and history, and on the product.

 

Do you remember John saying he was working on a version of the S2 DAC with network input?

 

Everything else much the same plus an OEM RPi board (not the usual RPi3 board we can buy)

 

Did that happen or fizzle or still happening, somewhere outside of ProJect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Em2016 said:

 

Do you remember John saying he was working on a version of the S2 DAC with network input?

 

Everything else much the same plus an OEM RPi board (not the usual RPi3 board we can buy)

  

Did that happen or fizzle or still happening, somewhere outside of ProJect?

 

His independent MDAC2 project is alive and well, with tons of discussion on pinkfishmedia. For Pro-Ject I think he was involved with more of the S2 line, including the Stream Box and Accu Box/Power Box products, but all that is over and done.


Everyone wants to date my avatar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, left channel said:

His independent MDAC2 project is alive and well, with tons of discussion on pinkfishmedia.

 

I will head there for all nitty gritty details... but can you give a short summary of what this is? Key features?

 

Is that essentially a Pro-Ject S2 DAC with network input? Or something different?
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Em2016 said:

 

I will head there for all nitty gritty details... but can you give a short summary of what this is? Key features?

 

Is that essentially a Pro-Ject S2 DAC with network input? Or something different?
 

 

It's much more of a DIY thing for everyone involved. There's been a lot of interest and much activity over there. I can no longer remember the details though, sorry.


Everyone wants to date my avatar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You must use the USB connection to get MQA. Are you using something else like S/PDIF RCA or Toslink Optical connections?

 

And you have to have Masters box checked in the Tidal account settings (and of course pay for "hifi" services).

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 2.54.01 PM.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, creativepart said:

You must use the USB connection to get MQA. Are you using something else like S/PDIF RCA or Toslink Optical connections?

 

You can always let the player decode MQA for you. That way you get a better result by configuring S2D properly and letting prior stages do MQA decoding.

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Windows 10

 

Tidal Hifi Subscription: Yes, Active: Yes

USB: Yes

16/44.1: Transmitted, no MQA light

24/192:Transmitted, no MQA light

32/384: Transmitted, no MQA lght

Tidal Desktop: Yes

Windows volume: Full

MQA/Master song selected: Yes

Latest firmware: 2.12

 

"You can always let the player decode MQA for you. That way you get a better result by configuring S2D properly and letting prior stages do MQA decoding." 

-Have not seen any setting for this option in Windows.

 

No luck o far.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...