Pro-Ject CD Box RS2 T / Pre Box RS2 Digital CD Player/DAC Page 2

Slender aluminium-clad remote handsets are provided for both the units, along with offboard power supplies. Inevitably the Box Design range also includes uprated power supplies, should you wish to try them later.

sqnote Seductive Swing
The rubric of this review was to test the two boxes together as a CD-playing solution, though I was curious to find out what the Pre Box RS2 Digital could do when fed from either a computer or a Melco music library with higher-resolution content. But most of my listening was carried out with the two boxes in HDMI/I2S harness, the digital filter set to its flattest position, upsampling on (as this gave a little more sparkle to the sound) and using the solid-state option for the output stage.

I did experiment with all the various options on offer – and there are so many that the harmless fun will stretch out for days, not hours, I suspect – without reaching any solid conclusions as to which configuration would be the best all-round choice. However, I eventually came back to the settings above for most of my listening. In fact, if you're hoping to read the old saw about switching in the valve stage transforming the sound into something richer, more mellifluous and organic, you're going to be disappointed. To these ears it just seemed a bit softer, and I was happy to go back to the crisp, clean detail of solid-state.


That's really what this new Pro-Ject RS2 duo is all about – well, that and the almost jewel-like appeal of miniature hi-fi separates with a reassuring feel of solidity and quality. You could even add on one of the company's similarly compact power amplifiers, such as the 2x110W-rated Amp Box RS (£799), complete with a tube buffer stage, or the similarly-equipped Amp Box RS Mono, a 125W monoblock selling for £699. The latter is quite a monster by Box Design standards, with the usual 22x20cm footprint but standing a lofty 7.2cm tall!

So, at the better part of £4k, the Pro-Ject two-box digital front-end is quite a chunk of change if you view it just as a CD player – which of course you shouldn't – but the performance conforms to that old Hollywood idea of all the money being up there on the screen. This isn't just a very good CD player: it's an exceptional CD player, with benefits. That's clear whatever music you choose to play from old favourites to recent releases. For example, spinning the latest Rickie Lee Jones album, Kicks [OSOD OSOD02], the

Pro-Ject duo gives fabulous insight into the slightly laconic Southern-tinged covers, and a seductive swing to the backing musicians while still maintaining that clarity. And with the oh-so-tight harmonies of 'Nagasaki' its detail rendition is overshadowed only by the fun you'll be having.

Born To Boogie
Slip back in time to the multilayered synths of Tomita's Snowflakes Are Dancing [RCA Red Seal RD 84587] where the sonic depths of the recording, and the soundstaging, come up afresh in both the bass weight on offer here and the sense of swirling midband and treble.

This is most notable in 'The Engulfed Cathedral', where the effect is almost three dimensional, not only in its solidity, but also in its ability to wrap the listener in sound. Not bad for a recording that won't see 35 again!


Talking of old recordings, ZZ Top are marking their half-century with Goin' 50 – a 3CD package containing remasters of 50 songs. Played on the Pro-Ject RS2 duo, the taster 18-track single disc version [Rhino 0604497851621], released in advance, has all the swagger you could want from these remasters, from the unstoppable charge of 'Sharp Dressed Man' to that gloriously textured guitar solo on 'Cheap Sunglasses'. The two-box CD player certainly digs deep, and these recordings provide the paydirt.

Without a doubt this RS2 transport and DAC can boogie when required, but – as hinted at with the Tomita recording – the combo can also sound ravishing with layered, ethereal recordings, and you don't get more so than Cambridge's St John's College Choir, recorded in their own chapel, on the Locus Iste set [Signum SIGCD567].

Real Impact
The sheer precision of the performances is jaw-dropping, as is the way the engineers have captured them in the reverberant chapel acoustic, in which voices just hang with wonderful focus.

Even familiar works, such as John Tavener's 'The Lamb' and the Bruckner piece that gives the album its title, have a freshness and real impact here, and in that the ability of the Pro-Ject RS2 duet plays a very significant part. Without a doubt, the CD Box RS2 T/Pre Box RS2 Digital combo is Pro-Ject's most impressive 'digital' offering to date.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
If Pro-Ject is attempting to lead a CD revival, as it did with LPs in the company's earliest days, then it has a pretty serious dog in the fight in the form of this two-box combination. Not only does all the engineering effort pay dividends in a sound combining solidity with vibrant detail, but the DAC/pre/headphone amp also has the ability to inject new life into everything up to and including top-rate DSD files.

Pro-Ject Audio Systems
Supplied by: Henley Audio Ltd, UK
01235 511166