We were, up to a point, charmed by Pro-Ject’s teeny Stereo Box integrated stereo amplifier on its three-star First Test back in March 2010.
It’s since been replaced by this ‘S’ update which, under the skin, is a new design – and it’s had a useful £160 chiselled off the price.
In some ways, though, the ‘S’ is as compromised as the original amplifier it replaces.
Short on features but big on sound
Features-wise, there’s not much going on: two line-level inputs, a pair of speaker-cable binding posts positioned too close together and a remote control for which the description ‘rudimentary’ is scarcely adequate.
Sound-wise, the Stereo Box S is a combination of ‘startlingly efficient’ and ‘quite aggravating’.
The sheer low-frequency extension and punch it’s capable of seems unlikely from such a tiny box (it measures just 4 x 10 x 10cm), and there’s a good amount of tonal variation on the menu too.
A classic mixed bag
The soundstage it presents is wide, with good stereo focus and separation. But the opposite end of the frequency range can get glassy at higher volume levels, and vocal sibilance is the rule rather than the exception.
Add a slight shortage of outright detail and an approach to timing that can get lumpy, and the Stereo Box S is revealed as the classic mixed bag.
But for a shade under £200, and with dimensions similar to those of a deck of playing cards, the Pro-Ject is a useful option for anyone with a hankering for a compact desk-top set-up.
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