'Hocus Pocus 2' Review Wi-Fi 6 Router With Built-In VPN Sleep Trackers Capital One Claim Deadline Watch Tesla AI Day Student Loan Forgiveness Best Meal Delivery Services Vitamins for Flu Season
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

A miniature speaker amplifier for your desktop

The Pro-Ject Stereo Box S is a tiny thing, but it's big enough to bring desktop speakers to life!

Pro-Ject Stereo Box S

I've long admired Pro-Ject turntables, but I was only vaguely aware of their electronics line so it was high time to check out one of their amplifiers. I requested their baby amp, the Stereo Box S ($299). It's the smallest power amp I've ever seen, a mere 4.1 by 1.4 by 4.8 inches, and the build quality of its all-metal chassis felt robust. The amp is available in silver or black finishes. A remote control adjusts volume and switches between two RCA inputs. The gold-plated speaker binding posts are really pretty small, and so closely spaced it's nearly impossible to connect bare wires to the amp. I finally managed it, but it took a few minutes to squeeze my fingers into the space. If you have banana plugs, use them instead of bare wires.

The Stereo Box S was designed in Vienna, Austria and built in the Czech Republic, with audiophiles in mind. That's a different mindset from what I see with most budget amps. The Stereo Box S actually sounds pretty good, like a mini-audiophile amp should. The Stereo Box line includes tuners, power amps, headphone amps, digital-to-analog converters, iPod docs, media players, and so on.

I did the bulk of my listening on my desktop, with the Pro-Ject Speaker Box 5 (speakers). The tonal balance is pretty flat, not bumped up or hyped in any way. That's another way of saying the amp and speakers sound crisp and clear with a wide range of music genres, but the bass was lightweight. If you crave a big, bassy sound, plan on adding a sub. The Stereo Box S amp is rated at 30 watts per channel, but it definitely doesn't sound that powerful. On the desktop, sitting 30 inches from the speakers, their power was adequate, but when I moved the amp out into the room with the same speakers, the sound didn't impress. Back on the desktop volume wasn't an issue. I think the amp is better than the Pro-Ject speakers, and if desktop space is really limited the Stereo Box S is a no-brainer.