Entirely Connected – Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box E Receiver / DAC Review
Bluetooth Box E is a Bluetooth receiver like BTR5 from FiiO, but this one’s for desktop. It has a really good build quality, and a pocket-friendly price of about 80 USD, the only part that everyone’s hesitant about being the actual sonic performance. We’ll compare it to BTR5, BTR3K, and Triangle AIO Connect C, to see how it fares in today’s world.
Pro-Ject is a huge company from Austria, and if I didn’t know better, I would say that there’s no way you didn’t hear about it. Pro-Ject products are sold for both entry-levelers, and those who’ve been listening to music for years now, they work well for both new and small setups, as well as large high-end speakers. They offer no direct purchase options for their products though, and purchasing from your local seller is important, or you can always get them from Amazon, where you will get proper and adequate support.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Pro-Ject. I’d like to thank Pro-Ject for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box E find their next music companion.
You can get the Bluetooth Box E from Amazon Here: Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
The package of the B-Box E is pretty cool, we get a power supply, and the typical Pro-Ject awesome packaging, in green-yellow and white theme. A ton of technical info on the package too, and for 80 USD, I couldn’t say I would’ve wished for more.
Some default cables like Toslink / Optical one and an RCA one would’ve been cool. Given the low price, if they would’ve just included basic ones, I think we’re better off without default cables.
What to look in when purchasing a high-quality component for your system
Coolest part about the Bluetooth Box E is the build quality, it is a heavy, beautiful device, and it comes with a power supply that has a long enough cable to be practical for desktop usage. It has rubber feet, it won’t slide around, and the connectors at the back are very solid.
The bluetooth codec is very old, 2.1 + EDR. This means that the range is limited to 10 meters, and this is pretty much what I got. Having your source in the same room as the receiver will work well, even if the receiver is behind a TV or some furniture, but a wall in between may break the connection.
The line output is theoretically excellent at 2Vrms, and the Bluetooth Box E supports both SBC and aptX, so we’re not limited to low-quality codecs. Lack of AAC means that iPhones and iDevices may not work, but smartphones like Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S and Huawei P20 work just fine. The Optical output is the better output, as we’ll explore in the Sound Quality part of this review.
All in all, I experimented no issues with the Bluetooth Box E while using it, and I felt like it is a well thought and well built device.
I should start by saying that as far as the detail level is concerned, the Optical output is pretty much transparent. There’s very little signal degradation compared to a direct wired connection, even if it doesn’t even have LDAC. I’m not even sure how they managed it, but the detail and clarity is extremely good, despite all of the technical shortcomings. Especially for pop, commercial music, and simpler songs, it is darn close to perfect. You can hear most of the detail missing in the background information, if you have a large choir singing in the background, it feels truncated, and if you have a lot of instruments playing quieter in the background, their performance is often lifeless and they can miss altogether.
The convenience given by Bluetooth is quite nice though, and if you’re at a party, or if you have guests over and don’t want to start your entire system with a streamer like the A1X from Soundaware, it is perfect. If you want to just share some songs, or have someone share songs with you, you’ll find the Bluetooth Box E a hassle-free solution for that with an adequate sonic performance.
The Line Out output is noisy, sounds distorted, and lifeless. It is compressed, and for 80 USD, they really did not include a very good DAC inside, but that’s ok, as I suspect most people who’d invest 80 USD in a Bluetooth Receiver for desktop already have a high-quality DAC like the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, Aune S6PRO or even K5 PRO from FiiO.
When using the Optical output, it basically acts as a data transfer device. All decoding, all music is interpreted by your DAC, and Bluetooth Box E is merely a protocol for sending data. You don’t have to worry too much about the sonic performance, it sounds as good as your DAC would have sounded if it had an aptX bluetooth module embedded, or even better.
Based on your requests, I added the Triangle AIO Connect, FiiO BTR5 and FiiO BTR3K to the comparison list. No pairing could have been done for the Bluetooth Box E since it is a basic data transport and most of them sound very similar. Having LDAC and other high-quality codecs always help, and I’m working on reviewing BTA30 from FiiO too, so keep an eye out for more articles coming out just for you!
Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box E vs FiiO BTR5 (80 USD vs 110 USD) – BTR5 actually sounds better than B-BoxE even if using it via the 3.5mm vs the Optical output. BTR5 is more expensive, and it can’t be left plugged in at all times, or you’ll wear out the battery, but it is more practical, can drive headphones, and is even better built than the BBoxE. It is not a desktop device, and it is not practical at all for a larger system, but if you’re on a portable, or if you plan on getting BoxE for a headphone-based system, I’d recommend considering BTR5 instead, it is better suited for the job.
Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box E vs FiiO BTR3K (80 USD vs 80 USD) – BTR3K doesn’t really have a line out, but it has a much newer Bluetooth protocol, better support and is much smaller. It is not practical for a large system, and if you use the 3.5mm port, it sounds much warmer, smoother and colored compared to the B-BoxE’s Optical output. The RCA output of the B-Box E is dirty, has a good amount of noise and distortion, so I wouldn’t rely on it, but optical is perfect.
Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box E vs Triangle AIO C Connect (80 USD vs 150 USD) – AIO Connect is much better looking, fully metallic, and it simply has a better overall build quality. The antennae at the back also gives it much better signal strength, but that signal is Wireless. Basically, AIO C is not a Bluetooth receiver, it is a wireless internet receiver so you can enjoy FLAC, MP3, WAV, CDs, and everything through it. It comes with an APP, and through Optical, it is even clearer, has better definition, detail and quality than B-Box E. On Line Out, both sound terrible and I don’t recommend either, they are an awesome way to add wireless abilities to a setup, but neither can replace a high-quality DAC in your system.
Value and Conclusion
The value of the Bluetooth Box E is great, for 80 USD you could enable a pretty high-quality DAC to have bluetooth, with a very minor quality loss. You could always purchase something that’s already bluetooth enabled like the M2Tech Young MK III DAC, but if you don’t have BT and any wireless connections to your DAC, this is it.
The build quality is exceptional, the unit is well made, has a good connection strength if you’re in the same room, and it makes a nice desktop device. The rubber feet surely help with stability, and the power consumed is extremely low.
Just make sure to always use the Optical output, it is clean, crisp, detailed, and pretty transparent. The RCA Line Out is not worth the effort, there are much better DACs out there even in the entry-level price range.
At the end of this review, if you already have a high-quality system and you always wanted to add Bluetooth to it, the Bluetooth Box E is an awesome way to do that, with a nice build, nice price, and nice sound on optical.
You can get the Bluetooth Box E from Amazon Here: Pro-Ject Bluetooth Box
Full Playlist used for this review