Pro-ject DAC Box DS review

It’s not going to set the world alight, but the DAC Box DS is a solid performer Tested at £299

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

It’s not going to set the world alight, but the DAC Box DS is a solid performer


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    Smooth and balanced sound

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    All the connections you’re likely to need

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    Retro display


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    Not the most dynamic or punchy listen

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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

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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test