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Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 digital DAC

Discussion in 'audio' started by miero, May 9, 2017.

  1. lonek

    lonek Member

    So - create a "fake", appropriate "C:\Program Files\Pro-Ject Audio Systems\WX_Driver\W10_x64" folder, with necessary files... ;)
  2. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    I did think of that, but preferred getting some sleep to working overtime as their free testing lab. However when I did try it this morning, it did not help. I suppose that would have been too easy.

    In my public Dropbox folder, with the firmware update I'm including only the first page of their instruction sheet PDF. It explains how to do this with the control panel only.
  3. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    @lonek I figured it out: the driver and control panel must be updated as well. The support manager only e-mailed the firmware update to me, and said "the process of upgrading is the same". Well, with the old control panel it is the same. But the firmware updater utility (which he did not send to me) requires that the control panel be updated. That's where those DLLs come from. Once I downloaded and installed the new driver/panel, the firmware updater ran successfully.

    To make matters more confusing, instructions that come with the updater show the old control panel on the first page, with no version number. That is how I updated my unit. But on the next two pages it explains how to use the updater utility without saying you must first upgrade the driver and control panel. A section heading does says the utility is for version 4.38.0, but that is the driver version number. The control panel previously displayed what I believe is a separate series of version numbers (1.61.4 in my case) and the driver version was not obvious, so I thought I had the right version.

    I do recommend upgrading to the new control panel, as you seem to have already done. It includes at least one important feature: automatically adjusting the ASIO buffer size. I have had no problem playing DSD256 files without going in to manually adjust the buffer the first time, as was previously necessary. I've watched as it automatically adjusts up and down when I switch between 16/44.1, 24/192, 24/88.2, and DSD256 tracks and back on down again. It also includes the software volume control that was in the beta. Overall it is simpler and will be less confusing to those who simply want to listen to music, especially since they probably will not have to open the control panel at all.

    I am now updating my Dropbox folder to make all this clear and simple.
  4. lonek

    lonek Member

    Just exactly as I told at the beginning, do you remember: "I have installed "Pro-Ject UNI Driver v4.38.0 for Windows" and after that firmware update".
    I'm glad that works :)
  5. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Thanks @lonek. Problem was I thought I already had the latest driver and CP. They put the new one on the website with no announcement.
  6. TreborF

    TreborF Member

    Hi Left Channel,

    I've got one of these boxes on order and read you've got a drop box folder with all the appropriate files to perform the update.

    Would you be kind enough to share that link with me?

    It's shame they've not implemented a firmware updater for the Mac!

    Many thanks in advance,

  7. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Glad to help. I'll send you a PM. The Pro-Ject support manager told me this week they will look into creating a firmware updater for Mac, but you'll probably want to install the update long before they'll have started on that.

    The firmware and installation files are now on the Pro-Ject website, but I think you'll find the way I have the files and instructions divided and labeled useful. Also my folder includes corrections to the user manual (on external power for all users, and DSD/MQA local file playback for Windows), as that still awaits updating by Pro-Ject.
  8. TreborF

    TreborF Member

    Hi Left Channel

    Many thanks for your reply - dropbox link duly noted and everything downloaded :)

    I tried to do a firmware update on Windows 10 but it failed but a look at the version number revealed it was up to date - perhaps they're shipping with the latest version :)

    I was wondering if someone could shed any light on the optical input and hdmi splitters - The latest PS4 doesn't have optical out so a HDMI splitter is required. This is what I was using with my old Denon DAC and it worked perfectly. Unfortunately the S2 won't play ball with it - it keeps losing the connection (fibre icon no display flashes from red to white to red ,etc, etc). The optical in on the box is working fine and I've also tested it with the xbox one and the splitter with unfortunately the same results. Is there something I'm overlooking here?

    As for Filters - the instructions just tell you what the listed filters are. Is it possible to fiddle with these and are there specific scenarios for using these? - Currently I'm using the optimal setting and it seems to fit my musical tastes.

    Is there a way to power off the box when it's connection to the mains power supply other than unplugging it?

    As for sound quality - WOW! Really is a huge upgrade over my Denon DAC-300USB (I still love it though!) It's difficult to put a finger on it but the sound is extremely clean, bass is punchy, mids very clear. It also drives my Sennheiser HD660S headphones effortlessly. The box works very well with Tidal and Audirvanna+

    Overall I'm extremely happy with my purchase.


  9. David W Brown

    David W Brown pfm Member

    I had this issue with the standalone FW update programme.
    Installing the latest "UNI_Project_v4.38.0_Windows-Driver.exe" and a reboot seemed to make the standalone programme start working.
    Which sort of defeats the object as that driver also contains a FW update facility in its control panel !! ;-)
  10. TreborF

    TreborF Member

    Sounds like a bit of a headache! I'm glad the Mac just recognises it and off it goes.

    Hopefully a mac updater will be on the cards very soon.
  11. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Yes this was very confusing to me at first, because the new driver wasn't even announced. The old control panel included a firmware update utility. The new one does not, necessitating a separate firmware update utility. And that new utility won't work unless it finds dlls that are only installed with the new driver.

    On the bright side, the new driver automatically adjusts buffer settings which previously required manual adjustment before DSD256 and higher would play. I've Pro-Ject asked for a change log.
  12. microtone

    microtone New Member

    With the new Windows driver and new FW, I can play up to DSD512 native and DSD256 DoP in the 44.1 kHz base sample rates, well done Pro-Ject!
    But in upsampling PCM from 48 kHz base sample rates, can go up only to DSD128 (48k - DoP); DSD256 (48k - DoP) - gives infinite clicking sound! (with the old Windows driver, with RELAXED buffer settings, DSD256 (48k - DoP) worked all right)
    And with 48 kHz base sample rates, native DSD don´t work at all.
    So with 48 kHz base PCM, upsampling only to DSD128! Pro-Ject please do something about it, if the Windows driver buffer settings go back to RELAXED, DSD256 (48k - DoP) might work again.
    All playing and testing done in Foobar plus SACD plugin.
  13. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    That would be very good news indeed!

    New owners: check your current firmware version by pressing the Menu button on the unit or the remote, then pressing the down arrow button twice. If 2.12, you have the latest version (though there may be updates in the future).

    This is no surprise to me at all, as I've gone through endless efforts to get HDMI splitters working in other situations. Most recently I had a long struggle with an HDMI-over-Ethernet splitter which was working fine until I replaced the computer. I don't doubt that the Pro-Ject is somehow more sensitive to weakness and/or jitter in your optical signal, but it takes two to tango, and I'm not surprised to learn the PS4 and the Pro-Ject just won't dance with a splitter between them.

    You may be able to fix this by upgrading your optical cables, especially if you're using "plastic pipes" instead of the more expensive all-glass and fabric fiber optic cables. If that doesn't work, and if the problem is jitter, unlike USB that can't be fixed with a reclocker. Coax works better than both; as far as I know coaxial signals are immune to jitter.

    As long as we're on the optical/coaxial topic, I should mention that this product will only decode MQA via the USB input. As of today only a much larger product that sells for 5 times the price will decode MQA over S/PDIF inputs.

    The Audio Quality menu has two options, "Best" and "Test". "Best" is the way it sounds best to John: Distortion Compensation is disabled and the filter is Optimal Transient. "Test" is the way John's test instruments like it: Distortion Compensation is enabled and the filter is Brickwall. You can also go into the menus to individually adjust those however you'd like including several other filter options, after which Audio Quality will display "User".

    I have split the difference: Distortion Compensation enabled and filter set to Optimal Transient. In MQA mode, the filters are disabled (because MQA has its own built-in filters), but Distortion Compensation can still be adjusted and I think enabling it improves MQA.

    The developer of HQ Player and his measurements support enabling the Distortion Compensation feature in this DAC at all times. (We discussed this on ComputerAudiophile.) And the Optimal Transient filter seems particularly popular with users of John's other products. There has been some discussion of these filters on the MDAC thread.

    I use a surge protector, and switch off that power strip when done with the DAC. This saves power because the wall-wart will not be left running, and protects the DAC. I know of no other way to turn this thing off other than unplugging the adapter every day which probably shortens its life.

    When connected to a PC via USB (not your situation, just mentioning), the PC must first be put into sleep mode or shut down. Otherwise the box will start drawing power from USB after the wall-wart power is cut.

    When using USB power only (not recommended for best sound quality), most of the display remains lit when the PC goes to sleep.

    Thanks for the report! I have one other Pro-Ject product, the Amp Box S2. I don't know if John had anything to do with that one, but it seems there is a "Pro-Ject sound": neutral, clean, and clear.
    TreborF likes this.
  14. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Thanks, I will include that in my next email exchange with the Pro-Ject support manager. Apparently the devs have managed to chase this ESS bug all the way up to the heights of DSD, but it remains in hiding up there.

    At least one owner has been able to upsample to DSD256 and 512 using Roon. But the developers of this product use only foobar2000, so if you're encountering problems using that software this will be easier for them to test.

    I've also seen one or two reports of a hissing noise when switching from PCM 44.1 to native DSD. Please let us know if you hear that problem as well.
  15. MagnusH

    MagnusH pfm Member

    I use the ASIO drivers and play DSD512 native without issue on my Windows 10, have used it for several days and no problems.
  16. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Thanks for the report. @gahabana and possibly one other over on CA have reported random pops/clicks in native DSD, and a short hissing noise when switching from PCM 44.1 to native DSD. I'm hoping to hear from others who can confirm this or have found a way around it with other configurations.
  17. TreborF

    TreborF Member

    Thanks again for the very detailed reply!

    Could you tell me how to adjust the filter 'strength' ? - As you probably already know this functionality isn't detailed in the pdf instructions.

    I'm going to pick up another splitter with a Coaxial out to see if this makes a difference - thanks for the tip!

  18. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    Glad that helped. As far as I know there is no way to adjust filter strength, only filter type.

    Good luck with the coaxial route. I'll be interested to find out if that works for you.
  19. BertilR

    BertilR Member

    I live in Sweden but I bought my dac from Austria otherwise I would have returned it immediately
  20. left channel

    left channel Prominent Member

    I will ask Pro-Ject about that production change. I don't know what good it will do in your case, but I will ask.

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