The Unique Selling Proposition of the Pro-Ject Head Box SE is obvious at once: two outputs, each with their own volume control.
In effect, this is two separate headphone amps sharing an input (with the usual daisychain phono output of course).
There are other headphone amps on the market with twin output, but for one thing they have only a single volume control and for another two pairs of low-impedance headphones can be a very taxing load.
In this case, you can have two completely unmatched pairs at each listener's preferred level – his'n'hers at home, or indeed engineer and producer in a recording studio.
To achieve this, Pro-Ject has used a pair of dedicated headphone driver integrated circuits, each preceded by a high grade op amp – not a bad component count for the money.
Output levels are generous, with a full-level output equivalent to 1W into low-impedance headphones: enough to rattle your teeth if the headphones don't melt first. Use with care!
At first seeming a little undemonstrative, this amp proved a real grower as we listened with various headphones. Like a lot of good audio kit, it has that happy knack of presenting lots of information without making a fuss or forcing dissected detail on the listener.
We ended up with considerable respect for its abilities and, yes, affection too. Treble, for instance, is excellently extended and very open, but without any degree of emphasis, so in a quick audition one may not notice just how good it is.
Bass is also extended, strong and very well controlled, while detail is effortless, but comprehensive. An excellent all-rounder from Pro-Ject.