It’s not going to set the world alight, but the DAC Box DS is a solid performer
Smooth and balanced sound
All the connections you’re likely to need
Not the most dynamic or punchy listen
The latest addition to Pro-Ject’s Box Design range of compact components is the rather charming DAC Box DS. Available in black and silver, it does largely what you’d expect – accepts digital signals via optical, coaxial or USB inputs (up to 24-bit/96kHz for the first, and 24-bit/192kHz for the other two) and sends them out to your hi-fi via analogue RCA.
Pro-ject DAC Box DS: design
Displays are still relatively unusual in the world of DACs, especially around this price, so it’s a bit of a bonus that the DAC Box DS has one.
The bright green lettering and old-school italic font lend a pleasingly retro feel to the whole thing, but we can’t help but think that giving around half of the display over to the letters ‘D-A-C’ is rather a waste – everything else is crammed into the other half, and only the currently selected input is readable from any sort of distance.
Pro-ject DAC Box DS: performance
Pro-ject DAC Box DS
Of course, we’re more concerned with what we hear than what we see, and what we hear from the DAC Box DS is very nice. It’s a smooth, flowing presentation with a very even tonal balance – from deep, weighty bass to clean and clear treble.
It’s a delivery in which nothing sticks out, and one that can never be coaxed into harshness – which means it can lend itself to all styles and bit-rates, although you’ll obviously hear the benefit if you go for higher-resolution audio.
Pro-ject DAC Box DS: verdict
The only problem for the Pro-Ject is that it doesn’t particularly excel in any area, either. It’s not far behind, but the best in class are punchier, more dynamic and more detailed, and as a result the DAC Box DS isn’t as exciting a listen as you’ll find elsewhere.
It is flexible and easy-going, though, and if that’s your sort of thing the Pro-Ject DAC Box DS will do a fine job.