CE Pro August 2022 - 60

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Compact Pro-Ject
CD Box S3 Delivers
Big Sonic Impact
By Arlen Schweiger
PHYSICAL MEDIA has
experienced quite the renaissance
over the past decade,
mostly around the LP format
but lately numerous articles
have also chronicled the
comeback of CD, whose sales
increased in 2021 for the first
time in 17 years.
I had contacted European
brand Pro-Ject Audio
Systems about reviewing
one of its turntables, in fact,
but when the company
introduced a pair of new
CD players earlier this year I
jumped at the opportunity
to check one out.
Pro-Ject, based in Austria
and distributed here by Sumiko/Pro-Ject
USA, added the
CD Box DS3 ($899) and CD
Box S3 ($549) models, and
I spent time spinning discs
with the latter product.
Features & Setup
I was surprised by the size
of the CD player when I
unboxed it. At roughly 8.1 x
2.2 x 6 inches (W x H x D), it
is only slightly larger than my
Spectrum cable box - perhaps
meant to sit alongside
a modern streaming component
or DAC on an audio
rack shelf.
60 | CE Pro August 2022
The " ultra-compact " CD
Box S3 is not a super showy
audiophile type of product,
but offers subtle industrial
design in black or silver finish
for the aluminum chassis. It
feels very sturdy weighing
just under 3 pounds without
the power supply.
Having the unit reside next
to a DAC might make sense,
too, as the CD Box S3 can be
integrated into an audio system
either via the pair of RCA
line-level analog outputs or
the digital S/PDIF coaxial
output if you connect it as a
transport device paired with
an external digital-to-analog
converter product. Internally,
the player uses a PCM5102
DAC that delivers bit depth
and sampling rate up to
32-bit/384kHz.
Besides those outputs, the
only other connection on the
rear panel is for the power.
The front panel has a 1.54inch
display for track number,
status and time; but is mainly
understated with buttons for
power, play/pause, forward/
back and stop/eject, plus the
slot-load CD mechanism.
Pro-Ject ships the CD Box
S3 with a wall-wart style
power plug and three adaptAvailable
in black or silver, the CD Box S3 has a minimalist
design with a 1.54-inch front-panel display.
ers to cover international
outlets. I snapped in the U.S.
version and plugged it into
a Clarus Concerto power
conditioner.
My setup also features
an Anthem Statement D2v
preamp/processor, Anthem
Statement P5 amplifier and
Paradigm Studio v5 loudspeakers,
all connected via
Clarus Crimson cabling. I did
some listening to CD player
hooked up first with Crimson
analog cables and later a
Crimson digital audio cable
utilizing the D2v's DAC.
The only tricky part of
the setup was removing
the battery tray from the
credit card-size remote so I
could insert its penny-size
battery. I was a little worried
about snapping and breaking
the tray but with a slight
squeeze I managed to pop it
from the remote.
Performance &
Conclusions
A couple of years ago when
I reconnected my Anthem
components and the Clarus
cabling, I had also revived an
old Sony 5-disc CD changer
that I hadn't used in 20+
years; I figured why not, it
might be fun hearing how it
sounded in a high-end rig.
But there was just something
lacking in what I heard from
the old CD player.
It's part of why I wanted
to test out what a modern,
purpose-built CD player
could sound like in a revealing
reference system. After
relying on multi-format disc
players like my Integra DBS50.2
Blu-ray player and even
a Toshiba HD-DVD player
before that, how would the
CD Box S3 sound?
As it turns out, it was
exceptional and really joyous
to hear as I dove into my
vast collection of standard
Red Book CDs old and
new, as well as CD-Rs I had
burned 15 to 20 years ago.
Going back to some discs
that long ago were in heavy
rotation for me, it was such
a riveting experience to hear
them anew. I always wanted
to hear if there was more
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CE Pro August 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CE Pro August 2022

CE Pro August 2022 - Intro
CE Pro August 2022 - Bellyband 1
CE Pro August 2022 - Bellyband 2
CE Pro August 2022 - Cover1
CE Pro August 2022 - Cover2
CE Pro August 2022 - 1
CE Pro August 2022 - 2
CE Pro August 2022 - 3
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CE Pro August 2022 - Cover3
CE Pro August 2022 - Cover4
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