Pro-Ject CD Box E CD Player Review

Posted on 2nd April, 2024
Pro-Ject CD Box E CD Player Review

John Pickford is surprised by the quality of this extremely inexpensive little Compact Disc player…

Pro-Ject Audio Systems

CD Box E CD Player

USD $299

Pro-Ject CD Box E Review

The times are changing. In 2023, sales of vinyl LP albums outsold Compact Discs for the first time since 1987, prompting some to herald the death knell for the silver spinning disc. But let's not be too hasty here. CD sales are still reasonably healthy, and the format remains in plentiful supply—especially on the used market, where discs can be picked up for pennies.

Pro-Ject CD Box E Review

What's more, although streaming services account for the vast majority of modern-day music consumption, many geeks like me have dozens of silver discs containing material that is unavailable on Spotify and other such platforms. This is where Pro-Ject's diminutive new CD Box E comes in, offering an easy and affordable solution for those of us with an extensive collection of exclusive Compact Discs.

UP CLOSE

Measuring 206x55x160 mm [WxHxD], this neat little half-width unit is not aimed at the high-end audiophile brigade, yet its sound and flexibility are astonishing for the money. This is in no small part due to the Relmon MS8413 DAC chip onboard, which is a low-jitter, 24-bit, 192kHz multi-bit delta-sigma design offering bit-accurate CD playback, the company says. However, the Box E features an S/PDIF coaxial output should you wish to partner the CD drive with an external DAC.

Pro-Ject CD Box E Review

Build quality is superb, considering the low cost of the unit. It features an aluminium front panel and metal chassis. My review example looks classy in matte black, though the unit also comes in silver/grey. Features-wise, the player is relatively basic. You can select a track to play on repeat or replay the whole CD ad infinitum. However, you cannot program the tracklist into a different running order or choose to delete the 'Ringo track' from the album. The supplied remote control is needed here, as the front panel controls are limited to play/pause, stop/eject and skip backwards or forward. CDs are inserted into a slot on the front panel, so there is no drawer like you might find on regular-sized players.

While many potential customers will use the CD Box E with similarly priced amplification and loudspeakers, or even powered (active) speakers, I plugged it into my Naim NAIT XS 3 driving LS3/5a BBC monitors. Sure, this might seem like overkill; however, the little silver disc spinner proved to be fine in such exalted company, performing way beyond what its price point would suggest.

Pro-Ject CD Box E Review

Although the unit is designed specifically to play standard Red Book CDs, it seems happy enough spinning the few hybrid CD/SACD discs I have in my collection. CD-Rs are also seemingly no problem for the Box E, reading discs of exclusive material my own player no longer recognises. And, as previously mentioned, although streaming sites have fairly comprehensive catalogues of albums, not everything released on CD is available at the moment.

THE LISTENING

This may be a cheap CD player, but it's a cheerful one. Music sounds more fun than you might expect, considering its beer-budget price. For example, Pink Floyd's 1967 debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is only available to stream in its inferior stereo mix. I have both the 1997 and 2007 mono remasters on CD, and the Box E easily reveals the differences. The 1997 edition suffers from hideous amounts of dynamic compression, whereas the 2007 release is punchy and direct. The CD Box E's natural smoothness proves able to tame the more aggressive characteristics of the bright and toppy nineteen-sixties recording.

Another slice of classic rock that sounds splendid on CD is The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers. I have the 1994 CD; however, the version available on Qobuz is derived from a 2009 remaster that, to my ears, is mastered too loud. As a result, despite the 24-bit high resolution, the 16-bit Red Book CD is a far more enjoyable listen, sounding vital and dynamic through the CD Box E.

Pro-Ject CD Box E Review

Using the coaxial output to feed my Chord Electronics Qutest DAC, there is – as you would expect from a DAC costing over six times the price of this CD spinner – an improvement in sound quality. Familiar discs come across as more open, and with higher resolution. That said, you certainly don't get six times the improvement. I could easily live with the player in stock form, but it's good to know that if you already have a decent DAC, then this can perform well as a disc transport.

THE VERDICT

Pro-Ject's CD Box E puts more expensive CD players to shame. It's far from being a perfect-sounding player, but it's way better than it has a right to be at the price. Buy it for a compact and/or budget system, and it will surely be the star of the show.

Visit Pro-Ject for more information

John Pickford's avatar

John Pickford

A professional recording engineer since 1985, John strives for the ultimate in sound quality both in the studio and at home. With a passion for vintage equipment, as well as cutting edge technology, he has written for various British hi-fi and pro-audio magazines over the years.

Posted in:Sources CD / SACD Players Hi-Fi
Tags: pro-ject  mcintosh group  sumiko 

JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION

Want to share your opinion or get advice from other enthusiasts? Then head into the Message Forums where thousands of other enthusiasts are communicating on a daily basis.
CLICK HERE FOR FREE MEMBERSHIP

applause awards

Each time StereoNET reviews a product, it is considered for an Applause Award. Winning one marks it out as a design of great quality and distinction – a special product in its class, on the grounds of either performance, value for money, or usually both.

Applause Awards are personally issued by StereoNET’s global Editor-in-Chief, David Price – who has over three decades of experience reviewing hi-fi products at the highest level – after consulting with our senior editorial team. They are not automatically given with all reviews, nor can manufacturers purchase them.

The StereoNET editorial team includes some of the world’s most experienced and respected hi-fi journalists with a vast wealth of knowledge. Some have edited popular English language hi-fi magazines, and others have been senior contributors to famous audio journals stretching back to the late 1970s. And we also employ professional IT and home theatre specialists who work at the cutting edge of today’s technology.

We believe that no other online hi-fi and home cinema resource offers such expert knowledge, so when StereoNET gives an Applause Award, it is a trustworthy hallmark of quality. Receiving such an award is the prerequisite to becoming eligible for our annual Product of the Year awards, awarded only to the finest designs in their respective categories. Buyers of hi-fi, home cinema, and headphones can be sure that a StereoNET Applause Award winner is worthy of your most serious attention.