Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital MQA Drop-Outs

Hi all,

Bought a Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital last week. I’m experiencing MQA drop-outs. What appears to be happening when playing an MQA file is, MQA text and light turn off intermittently and after a couple seconds comes back on. While it’s off, the sound is noticeably different and I’m assuming the MQA filter is turning off and on so I’m not getting a consistent MQA stream using latest Audirvana update on Windows 10 (up to date)

This drop out is well documented and appeared first around 2017 with subsequent firmware patches since for the S2D that was supposed to fix the issue but hasn’t. Folks are still dealing with this today, unfortunately. I was completely unaware of this issue before purchasing but I love this DAC so I’m looking for some help if it’s possible with my setup. Using a linear power supply, Audioquest Forest data USB cable to connect everything. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Edit: I’m using MQA decoder in settings via Pro-Ject ASIO drivers. When using solely as a decoder, no issue present but this unit is touted as a full, hardware MQA decoder and would like to use it as such.

Thanks in advance, y’all!

Mark

Disable auto MQA detect and set as decoder manually. There’s an issue with the auto detect functionality currently.

Nice DAC indeed.

Thanks! Will give it a go.

Unfortunately, this did not fix the issue. It did however, take some time before the drop-outs started occuring as opposed to before. They seem to be totally random. I’m open to any other suggestions anybody might have though. I appreciate the tip, @bitracer

Did you ever get this to work with Audirvana ?

I was just about to order this DAC. I’m on MacOS Is this problem only on ASIO and Windows or on the Mac also ?

I would love to hear about anyone’s experiences good or bad with this DAC and Audirvana.

Hi there,

It works great with Audrivana. The issue I’m having is MQA drop outs. Do you by chance stream MQA via Tidal through Audirvana? If so, I’d be hesitant in recommending this DAC for such use. I’m currently waiting for a replacement Pre Box from the dealer to see if a new unit will help but as for right now, there seems to be a LOT of people experiencing this issue even with Roon etc.

Forgot to respond to another one of your questions -

I have been using ASIO exclusively. I have not experimented with WASAPI as streaming MQA requires ASIO for this particular DAC. I am running Windows 10 so I can’t speak to the compatibility of Mac, unfortunately. Hope this helps.

This is not true. For MQA you just need bit perfect output. You can achieve that using WASAPI as well as ASIO, and it works on the MacOS too.

Oh, ok. I was told via support to use the provided Pre Box ASIO drivers to achieve full MQA decoding. I wish I had known that it would work in WASAPI mode now, I would have given that a try as there was literally nothing left to try before I was asked to send my unit in for a replacement. Thanks for chiming in and letting us know!

So was the Pre Box S2 Defective?

So the Pre Box needs a firmware update to fix the MQA issue however, the original designer was removed from the project after the current firmware was released thus, many bugs remain and won’t ever be fixed because of this. Support has unofficially been dropped for this unit. Pretty sad, really because it sounds great.

P. S. The info cited here was the result of weeks, upon weeks of researching my issue on various forums.

Support has unofficially been dropped for the Pre Box? I just bought the unit and can return it through the 26th. I really like it, that’s very unfortunate, I have no idea what to get to replace it. What other dac at that price pony sounds as good and supports MQA?

If MQA functionality is not absolutely crucial to you, I see no reason why you would want to return it. It‘s still great device.

For comparable MQA capable DACs in this price range look at iFi or Topping.

Well, that’s the thing. The reason I chose this DAC was specifically for it’s MQA functionality. DAC’s that provide native hardware MQA decoding are notoriously expensive and the price of this particular unit was something I could afford. As far as iFi or Topping having comparable offerings, I used to have the iFi Zen DAC and was not a fan of the Burr-Brown silicone that they use in most of their products and the only device Topping has available that performs full MQA unfolding is the D90 and that would require going way up in price. I certainly appreciate the suggestions, though.

I understand, check also the SMSL M500 or M400. Both are full blown MQA decoders.

Thanks for the suggestion. I’m currently waiting for a replacement unit of the Pre Box. Will update whether or not I experience the same issue if anybody is interested.

Are you by chance experiencing any MQA drop-outs? I would hang on to it if not. It is a great unit indeed if that feature works. Yes, the original developer of the unit John Westlake will no longer make firmware updates for it as he’s been pushed away from the project (no pun intended)

It’s the firmware that’s defective. It’s the latest version which every unit now sold contains. It sucks because a future firmware update would be all that’s needed for a fix however, there will be no more going forward so there are quite a few people out there with this issue and there are several that don’t experience it. If you get a unit that has that particular issue, I would trade it in until you get one without. That’s what I’m currently doing. Through the process of trying to figure out how to fix the MQA issue, I read several forums including Pink Fish Media where the creator and developer of this DAC hangs out so I was able to learn a lot about the unit and the politics behind him leaving it.

I returned mine. I’ve decided to go with Qobuz instead of Tidal, so MQA for the time being is not an issue. I don’t feel comfortable keeping a unit that has issues straight out of the box.

I got a Topping D50s with a Topping P50 linear power supply for less. I’m not 100% sure I will keep the combo, I need to spend some more time with it.

I’m beginning to the production and mastering of a recording is far more important than the file format.

Fresh device, same issues with MQA as others have experienced. I’ve tried with Tidal directly, with Audirvana and with Roon, all with same results. MQA drops off and then comes back, but that makes the experience unusable. When set to “Render only”, MQB works reliably.

You can test with “Cielo (Feat. Nile Rodgers)” by Manuel Medrano on Tidal, I get the first drop within the first 15 seconds and always at the same place.