21 September, 2010

Review: Pro-Ject Headbox II

Review: Pro-Ject Headbox II

And now for something much easier to write than the last post!

Pursuant to my last post on the Sennheiser HD-600, I decided to get a cheap headphone amplifier to go with it. That is because I have decided to take my HD-600 to SZ, where I'm materializing a small headphone setup.

Pro-Ject is an interesting company that I have always watched. Although they have grown more ambitious, I firmly believe their heart are in the right places when it comes to budget gears.

Long before they have branched into other electronics, I heard the original version of the cheap RPM 4 through a much more expensive setup consisting of Verdier Control B preamp, Unison Research Smart 845 and Spendor SP-100. icefox's setup not withstanding, it's still one of the best analogue playback I have heard. On the internet, you read a lot of negatives about Pro-ject's, about their arms or whatever. But since that experience nothing can shake me from an admiration for Pro-ject.

The Headbox II can be had for around HK$ 800. In view of my positive experience with this company, its diminutive size as well as look made that a no-brainer for me.

After I got it home, I hooked it up to the tape loop of the Nagra PLP. No, it was not as mellifluous as the Nagra, but it was close. What surprised me the most was that it drove the inefficient HD-600 easily. With most music I seldom had to venture beyond 11-12 o'clock for satisfactory sound level. With earphones off, the mix was tonally closely related to what came through the main speakers. Later, back in the PRC, the Pro-ject delivered highly satisfactory result with the humble Sony DVP-PR50P. Music had a natural breath, even tonal balance and never a shrill moment. One also felt enough power on hand, enabling one to hear deep into the mix with full bass.

The combination of the Senneheiser 600 and Pro-Ject Headbox II is a clear winner.

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