Pro-Ject DAC Box USB review

The Pro-ject DAC Box USB is a truly tiny box, just 10cm across, but there is still room for three inputs Tested at £140

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

There’s plenty to enjoy about the Pro-Ject, but we think you can do better


  • +

    Tidy dimensions, sturdy build

  • +

    choice of inputs

  • +

    neutral, reasonably open sound


  • -

    Not as loose-limbed as some

  • -

    the very finest details elude it

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The flurry of affordable digital-to-analogue convertors continues apace. Suddenly we're all spoiled for choice.

Here it's established turntable guru Pro-Ject's turn to attempt to turn our heads.Even by prevailing standards, the DAC Box USB is a tiddler at just 4x10x10cm.

At the back there's just about room for a single digital optical input, one digital coaxial input and a ‘mini-A' type USB input.

At the front is a button to select input and a blue power-light. Realistically, that's all the majority of users will need.

Attached to an Apple MacBook via HDMI and with a WAV file of The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues playing, the Pro-Ject gives a decent account of itself.

Good tonal variance

It's certainly not short of low-frequency presence, the acoustic bass-line granted weight and good tonal variance – it lacks a little of the out-and-out punch of some competitors, but it's well judged all the same.

The midrange is spacious enough to give a singer some room to breathe (though it doesn't extract sufficient fine detail to be absolutely explicit) and treble is bright without becoming splashy.

All of this information is integrated without the seams showing. It's a similar story when converting a CD.

This gives a clean and controlled listen, with a happy disinclination to overemphasise any part of the frequency range.

But it's not quite as fluent as we'd like when moving through testing rhythms and tempos, and music that should be sinuous can be rendered a little square-edged and lumpy.

There's currently plenty of choice in the budget-DAC market, and the DAC Box USB is a diverting alternative if not an obvious front-runner.

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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.

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