Like the original, the new D‑Box+ is a joy to use. The facilities and functions are well thought-out and easy to control, and the sound quality is sublime, even from the digital sources. If I were to be particularly picky, I'd have liked the volume control to have a little more weight to it, but that really would be being exceedingly fussy about what is, in every other way, an extremely impressive product. It's also interesting to note that all three 'cons' in my review of the original D‑Box are addressed by this new version.
As a monitor controller, the D‑Box+ ticks almost all of my boxes. The ability to program a reference listening level is very welcome (and easy to do), as is the ability to fine–tune the relative levels of all three speaker outputs from the front panel. As I've found with almost all other US-designed monitor controllers, though, there's no provision to listen to the 'stereo difference' (left-minus-right) signal, and that's something I find it hard to work without — but this seems to be a very British expectation, presumably thanks to the BBC's training regimen. You could still achieve this using your DAW, of course.
The Bluetooth connection is very handy for replaying reference tracks from a phone, and the USB playback is great for direct feeds from a computer. It all seems to work perfectly, too; I experienced no issues with sound quality or reliability. The headphone amps are extremely meaty, with masses of headroom and plenty of drive to cope with any headphone impedances and almost any reasonable number of parallel-connected headphones.
When it comes to summing, Dangerous Music are rightly proud of their new analogue summing-bus technology. If you need or choose to sum outside the box, this is definitely a high-quality and convenient way to go about it. It sounds beautifully clean and there's bags of headroom; it can accommodate a whopping +27dBU before clipping. There's nothing to control here, although the output level trim is handy if things get a bit hot for an external A-D stage.
I said of the original D‑Box that the audio quality was superb, both as a monitor controller and as a summing mixer, and the combination of the two functions made for a very attractive unit at the asking price. The same is true of the D‑Box+. Amazingly, if you account for inflation, even with all the extra facilities the new, enhanced D‑Box+ costs the same as the original did, making it even better value. So well done Dangerous Music — this deserves to be another award-winner!
The remote control app duplicates the D‑Box+'s controls and can access all of its configuration options directly. The graphical layout varies slightly for each OS, but it's all very obvious and usable. I had no trouble finding the D‑Box+ on Bluetooth and pairing it with my Android phone, on which the functions were spread over four swipeable pages. The speaker set and control–room source selection (plus the mono button) are on one page, the artist headphone source selection on a second, the main volume, dim, reference level, and talkback functions on a third, and the configuration/setup options on a fourth, along with buttons to control the line output source selection and the summing mixer mono function for channels 7–8.
For the Windows app, the operational controls are displayed on a narrow strip which, by default, docks on the right of the screen and stays on top, and the configuration menus are accessed from drop-down menus.
I was surprised, given that the D‑Box+ has a USB port, that the Windows app can only communicate over Bluetooth — my four-year old desktop doesn't have Blutooth. But if using a computer, you'll be within reach of the hardware controls anyway, and Bluetooth is easy and inexpensive to add to a desktop machine. USB ASIO connection uses the same XMOS driver as a lot of audio-over-USB interfaces. In this case the downloadable driver was v4, and it worked without any problems for music playback.
A universal switch-mode power supply (100-240 V AC) module delivers +12V DC to a DC-DC converter board that produces ±18V and +5V supplies for the audio and digital circuitry. All balanced analogue inputs and outputs are interfaced with THAT 1240/1246 line receivers and 1646 line drivers, while the vast majority of internal audio op-amps are high-quality Texas Instruments OPA 2134 types, with internal signal switching via sealed relays.
The main monitor volume is adjusted through a single MAS 6116 ultra-low-noise analogue stereo volume control chip, which is specified with a 121dB dynamic range in stereo mode. Although the manufacturer states the best quality is achieved by using two chips, each operating in a mono balanced mode, this balanced implementation only provides a 3dB advantage and in the standard stereo configuration the chip's dynamic range exceeds that of the D‑Box+'s D-A converters anyway (see below). The headphone outputs appear to be powered by National Semiconductor LM4950 power amp chips, which can deliver up to 3W into 4Ω.
- Impressively solid construction.
- Sensibly enhanced facilities and functionality compared with the original D Box.
- Superb Bluetooth remote control apps for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.
- Talkback possible via your phone's mic.
- Excellent analogue sound quality.
- Useful Bluetooth and USB audio connectivity.
- Two very powerful headphone outputs with separate source selection.
- Versatile configuration options.
- Attractive price.
- No stereo difference monitoring.
The D Box concept has been intelligently enhanced for the smartphone era, with a full redesign that has rasied the quality and made it more versatile. Whether you view it as a high-quality monitor controller with an integrated analogue summing bus, or as a summing bus with a built-in monitor controller, it represents excellent value for money given its impressive technical performance and ease of use. With USB and Bluetooth connectivity, separate artist phones and control–room source selection, and a plethora of user-configuration options, Dangerous Music have done a superb job of re-imagining this unique product.
€2299 (about £2055) including VAT.
Dangerous Music +49 2236 393 731.
Dangerous Music +1 845 202 5100.