Pro-Ject Audio’s new series of micro electronics and speakers is set to rock the audio world. Pro-Ject are thinking big by building small, recognising a new consumer desire for a more refined audio aesthitic. Let the electronics sink into the background while allowing the star players – your turntable and speakers – to shine. Small components and big sound is the promise from Pro-Ject’s series II line and this new pack does just that. The all-new Speaker Box in walnut with the Stereo Box S2, Tube Box S2 and their stunning Debut Carbon with 2M Red in walnut is premium audio with a propper big sound. Not only does this combo look the part, it’ll play the part too. Make it an all audio affair thanks to Pro-Ject Audio and Vinyl Revival’s new statement pack, The Series II.
The Debut Carbon Walnut is not only the same high-quality Debut Carbon turntable the audio industry has come to know and love, it now comes standard with Ortofon’s stellar 2M Red plus a gorgeous walnut finish. That’s right, the industry standard for seroius high fidelity audio now looks as beautiful as it sounds.
Well over a decade on and Pro-Ject continue to fine-tune their Debut table with precision detail. Most notibly, the inclusion of a carbon fibre tonearm. Carbon tubes increase stiffness and decrease resonance, making them more responsive while at the same time less susceptible to resonant vibrations that cause distortion. Due to production costs, it’s normally the kind of material reserved for high-end tonearms on high-end tables. Not with Pro-Ject. In addition to this is the increased platter size and weight for improved rotation and overall sound quality. Plus, thanks to its low noise AC motor and effective decoupling, the precisions frequency DC-driven AC generator increases speed stability without increasing unwanted vibrations. And what this all means is that the motor, which is ultra quiet, is also suspended from the table’s platter, further isolating your playback from unwanted vibrations that cause distortion.
Pro-Ject Audio Systems are changing the way we think about traditional HiFi componentry. The recent rollout of its S2 line of amplifiers, phono stages and source components is a clear indication that Pro-Ject are thinking big by building small. The Stereo Box S2 BT, with dual line inputs, Bluetooth receiver and thumping 2 x 25W of power, is – in fact – the world’s smallest audiophile integrated amplifier. That’s right! The Stereo Box S2 BT weighs in at a measly 660g. And with a build size no bigger than a stack of beer coasters it’s hard to believe this tiny amplifier could power an electric train-set let alone some of the most demanding bookshelf speakers on the market. And yet it can! Doing so with a level of physical modesty that allows the true stars of home audio to step forward and shine.
There’s no question that when it comes to home HiFi your turntable is the star attraction. Pro-Ject’s wildly successful range of high gloss and timber veneer turntables are evidence enough. However, outside a set of attractive loudspeakers, it appears contemporary audio enthusiasts are keen to keep things minimal. The rise of the powered speaker is ever present in the world of contemporary HiFi. But sound quality is often left at the wayside when it comes to all-in-one’s. While an active pair of speakers look a treat, whittling down what would otherwise be a slew of individual components to just two speakers, they are subject to a wealth of signal interferences causing distortion, which, ultimately, compromise sound quality. Not so with the S2 line. Pro-Ject are aiming to maintain the highest degree of signal integrity, and therefore sound quality, by separating each component into individual housings. Only, they’re doing so in an incredibly subtle fashion, allowing the more aesthetically pleasing components of your system come to the fore.
The Pro-Ject Stereo Box S2 comes in two beautiful aluminium/metal case finishes, black or silver. It has two line inputs, a high quality Bluetooth receiver, 2 x 25W into 8 ohms of power, gold plated RCA connectors, isolated speaker outputs and an IR remote control for power, input selection, and volume control. It’s a stack of features in a very very tiny amplifier. Not only could you include Pro-ject’s supreme Pre Box S2 Digital – a headphone amp/DAC combo to significantly improve all your digital music sources – you could select one of their high quality phono stages for your turntable and play from any Bluetooth enabled smart device as well. That’s a rack worth of components in less than the size of your standard integrated amplifier.
Vinyl is a physical medium. From album artwork and coloured pressings to the style and beauty of it’s audio equipment, aesthetic means everything. HiFi needs to look as beautiful as it sounds. However, there’s no point reducing components in a system to achieve a certain aesthetic if it ultimately degrades audio quality. The point of vinyl is its quality. Therefore, the two must compliment one another. And now thanks to the Pro-Ject Stereo Box S2 BT and Pro-Ject’s broader S2 line of audio electronics it can. Separating components to maintain signal integrity while at the same time significantly reducing their physical presence is an intelligent yet challenging design philosophy, but it’s one that Pro-Ject appear to be executing with great success. In an industry that has long-championed the ideological predilection of bigger equals better, Pro-Ject Audio Systems and their S2 range are out to prove that in the world of high quality audio size doesn’t matter.
The Phono Pre
In addition to being the first fully discrete Pro-Ject product it’s also the first to offer replaceable tubes. This allows the listener to change tubes and shape the sound according to their personal preferences. It’s a great feature. The Tube Box S2 is capable of supporting both moving magnet and moving coil cartridge options and offers a number of front-panel gain settings to optimise the signal relationship between cartridge and phono stage, functions offered by its predecessor in the form of dip switches on the chassis’ undercarriage but not with the same finesse. This is a much better, much more intuitive design and a great improvement on the older model. Pro-Ject proudly claim that this is the very first product to feature a fully discrete circuit design without employing any operational amplifiers. Pretty impressive stuff…if you know what the hec they’re actually
talking about. Operational amplifiers, or op-amps, employ the use of chips to save space. In a phono stage the size of a dish sponge that sort of practice might come in handy; however, a fully discrete circuit design – among other things – uses a combination of transistors, caps, resistors and diodes to reduce signal interference and cut distortion. It is the superior audio choice by far but requires more space to work. That was until now.
The all-new Tube Box S2 comes with 2 ECC83 (replaceable) tubes, dual mono circuitry, gold plated RCA in and outputs, subsonic filter, gain control and comes wrapped in an alu/metal sandwich chassis that guards against vibration and electromagnetic interference – plus much much more. It’s a significant improvement on the Tube Box S, a smaller product size, and a great addition to any serious vinyl enthusiast. Once again, in an industry that has long-championed the ideological predilection of bigger equals better, Pro-Ject Audio Systems and their S2 range are proving that in the world of high quality audio size doesn’t matter.
The S2’s are fit with 25mm silk dome tweeters delivering crystal high frequencies, while the 150mm fibreglass woofer cones offer full-bodied mids and tight, punchy bass. Cabinet construction is an ultra stiff, non resonanting MDF beautifully finished in real walnut timber vaneer and held together by Pro-Ject’s unique use of Kleiberit adhesives. Kleiberit are a German adhesive company who’s social responsibility focuses on both sustainability and environmental management. So not only are the Speaker Box S2’s beautiful, high-quality bookshelf speakers, they’re also environmentally conscious as well. Quality means everything when deciding on audio components. Where a product is made and the kinds of materials used can be the determining factor for many people. That’s why Pro-Ject have chosen to build their reference bookshelf speakers entirely in Europe. The all-new Speaker Box 5 S2 extends beyond previous itterations of Pro-Ject’s Speaker Box range to deliver beautiful sound in a premium finish at an affordable price.
Fit with (single-wired) gold plated speaker terminals and accompanied by acoustically transparent magnet speaker covers, the S2 is an increadibly well finished bookshelf from top to bottom. The Pro-Ject Speaker Box S2, quite simply, as stunning to look at as they are to listen to.