Pro-Ject MaiA Amplifier - DAC

Pro-Ject could have made its name with great value turntables - but lately its Carton range of electronics has been garnering enthusiastic recommendations through the hifi community.

Also it is easy to find out why. They eschew frippery, pack everything into a small form factor (thus saving price) and sound quite good. You will gain on the sonics although you might lose out on the factor that is bling.

And while the variety has contained amplifiers, phonostages, streamers and DACs, the new Endeavor MaiA is possibly its most challenging offering yet. The name, in the event you're wondering, stands for My Audiophile Integrated Amplifier as well as the MaiA was created to play music from almost any source it is possible to imagine - and all for merely GBP400.

And that means you get a total of nine inputs with an RIAA equalised MILLIMETER phonostage, 24bit/l92kHz-competent DAC, wireless aptX Bluetooth (A2DP profile) alongside coaxial and optical S/PDIF inputs and an asynchronous USB connection.

When it's a turntable, CD player, computer or device that is mobile, the MaiA will play your music.

The full complement of input signals consists of a one Phono and two Line input signals through RCA sockets, a 3.5mm stereo jack; one digital coaxial (electric) and two optical inputs and a USB Type-B. Outputs contain a 3.5mm mini jack, a 6.3mm headphone outlet and 4mm speaker connectors.

Clearly, then, the small MaiA isn't a power station. However, it needs to have enough grunt to electricity similarly- priced loudspeakers and it is given fantastic flexibility by its own range of input choices.

Overall building is comparatively strong without any indication that any obvious corners have been cut to save on costs.


Despite is modest measurements the MaiA has a dynamic and surprisingly large soundstage.

Fed CD via a Cyrus transport and driving the complex and smooth Usher N-6361 floorstanders the Pro-Ject had no trouble filling our large listening room.

The Ushers appeared to suit the MaiA well and are a relatively simple load.

In absolute terms there's just a little extension missing at both ends of the frequency spectrum so the leading end lacks a little sparkle while earthshaking bass is from the equation. Nevertheless, the overall sound is comparatively neutral with nice time and a good sense of pace to up-rate numbers.

Moving on via the electric input signal to some high-resolution stuff and the MaiA appeared to lack the outright resolution to take advantage of the advice that is enhanced.

Kraftwerk's 'Minimum Maximum' (24/96) had a marginally shut in feel with a masking of the air and setting that makes this set such a compelling listen.

Some other standalone DACs - such as Audiolab's exceptional Q-DAC - will offer you a more refined presentation. But then again the Audiolab does not have amplification built in and nor does it boast Bluetooth capacity.

Pairing with notebook or a mobile is easy as well as the connection remained rock-solid throughout testing. With everything seeming cleaner and clearer the aptX codec also brings a substantial boost - with an appropriate device. The ease of having the capability to walk into a room and play with music from your own mobile 'phone can be welcome.

Given Endeavor's background in phonostages and turntables it is maybe no surprise that the vinyl of the MaiA -playing capabilities are really fairly notable. Pro Ject says the moving magnet phonostage is derived from its well-seen Phono Box range and there are certainly some sonic similarities.

Robbie Robertson's eponymous debut album came across open and as comprehensive with great instrumental separation and also a fine awareness of atmosphere. Sinead O'Connor's vocals on 'Sean Nos Nua' were also well projected - reaching out above the 'loudspeakers and nicely into the room.

In fact, this may function as the perfect introduction for anyone planning to add vinyl replay for their assortment of digital files.


Despite a few of my criticisms above, the Job is obviously a fine product for the price.

The Pro-Ject boasts nine distinct input signals including digital, line level, phono and Bluetooth via the connected aerial.

Combining Bluetooth and a DAC, phonostage, adequate Class D amplifier in a single small unit for only under GBP400 offers superb value for money and is no mean feat.

You can utilize it to extend a current set-up, as the heart of it or a second system would make an excellent intro for anybody trying to enter the sphere of hi-fi.

Pro-Ject MaiA Amplifier - DAC photo