I am looking for a unit that has a DAC, headphone amp, Roon and MQA capable. I would like to find a product that cost no more than $1000.
The alternative I have come up with to date is the Pro-Ject Pre Box 2s. Some of the reviews I read reflects it is a good sounding (many capabilities) but appears there might have quality issues with the unit.
Would appreciate thoughts from forum regarding members experience with the Pro-Ject Pre Box 2s. I would also appreciate any thoughts on possible alternatives to this Pro-Ject Unit.
I just replied on your other thread, but I’m using the Pre Box S2 along with the Stream Box S2 Ultra and I couldn’t be happier - it just works and sounds great.
I do seem to have become a bit of a Pro-Ject S2 fan boy though.
It is worth pointing out however that there seems to be some supply issues (especially with the silver units) here in the UK (not sure about elsewhere) due to the UK importer’s stocking policy. My first Pre Box turned up looking as though it had been run over by a fork-lift truck, and whilst Pro-Ject and the importer agreed to refund or replace it at their cost - I had to wait for nearly two months to get it resolved because they simply couldn’t get hold of one. Fortunately the damaged unit did work and I was able to hold on to it and use it at least whilst I waited, but it might be worth taking that into consideration if you choose to order silver rather than black!
Despite all of that, I’m glad I persevered as its all history now and I’m very happy with it.
It’s worth holding in mind what headphones you’ll be using too - the Pre Box S2 doesn’t cope well with high impedance headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD650.
I’d have a look at Audio Science Review if you haven’t already - there’s some pretty exciting headphone amps out at the moment which, together with a well performing Topping DAC and an RPi streamer could be had within your budget.
Thanks for your input. Some additional thoughts. Had also been considering going with the Topping d-70 dac with either Sonore Rendu (ethernet to USB). More expensive but assume the sound would be better than the Pro-Ject alternative.
My research reflects that using an I2S connection is better than USB input to DAC. Have you had experience between using a I2S vs USB?
Hi @Greg_Edwards - going back to your first post I see you were after an MQA capable DAC - whilst Roon will do the first MQA unfold, if you want full ‘unfolding’/compatibility that narrows your choice as I don’t think the D70 offers this.
As for USB vs I2S, I’m not the best person to comment as avoid both, either through integrated DAC/Streamers or by using Coax/Optical. From my reading, I2S is often favoured but is non-standardised so would need to ensure compatibility.
If I was buying in this budget, and on the basis of the ASR data, I’d be tempted by an RPi4 straight into a D70 via USB and then balanced into a THX based headphone amp. Upgrade path if really needed would be to try to improve the streamer-side. Another option would be the ApplePi DAC/streamer balanced out, which would be simpler and cheaper. However, neither will get you full MQA unfolding so you’ll need to weigh that up for yourself.
Do note that with all USB DACs you’ll need to check what functionality is supported under Linux if driving from an RPi, ROCK or other Linux-based streamer.
Usen the Project S2 DAC for some 18 months…directly after a NUC…running ROON ROCK
Have library off almost 1000 tracks in DSD256 witch i play natively…others from TIDAL is upscaled to DSD 512 via ROON DSP… except the MQA tracks…i and my music fellows is agreed in one thing…for the price…this DAC is AWESOME,… Doesn’t have to say more
Morten thanks for you thoughts. Very helpful. Glad you have had good success with the Pro-Ject S2 DAC. That is very encouraging. Sorry do not know what you mean by “directly after a NUC”. What feed do you use to connect input to DAC? Do you use USB input? Thanks again ro your kind help.
Ahh, sorry bout that…Here my setup
ROON ROCK>IFI USB Cabel>IFI Purifier 3>Project Pre S2 DAC
As im aware…System can’t play DSD files nativly without conversation to PCM…Idont want that…spend lot of money to buy these DSD files…it has to use usb connection…SPDif or optical or coax is no good for that
No - if I was pursuing this I’d be ensuring that I was purchasing from somewhere that allowed returns. I’m a bit put off the S2 now from some reports on the forum of occasional glitches, knowing that firmware updates have stopped,
though others’ experiences seem very good. The D70 offers a dual AKM AK4497EQ configuration and balanced output which, along with the measured performance, would be a draw for me to try it. At the end of the day your best bet is always to listen to the different options in your configuration and see what you prefer.
Henry- I did see the SMSL M500. It appears to be relatively new and I have not yet seen any reviews on the M500. Have you compare the M500 to the S2 or know anyone who has experience with he M500? Thanks for the suggestion. Greg
I asked for and my kids got me the Pro-ject Pre Box S2 Digital for Christmas. I must say that this little DAC ROCKS!! My system has never sounded better. Get it from Amazon, try it out and if you don’t like it, send it back.
Kevin just saw your message. When reviewing Pre Box it seemed to have mixed reviews. I was able to obtain a “Open Box” unit through Crutchfield for $320. It had a 60 return policy and full warranty. Could not believe the size of the unit and the number of functions available. I agree with your assessment. Thanks for your thoughts.