or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Amp/DACs › Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus

Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #40 in Amp/DACs


Pros: Versatile, many user adjustable settings

Cons: None so far

I purchased the DMPlus to work alongside my MacMini. The MacMini has been stripped to just Mac OSX and Amarra Mini ver 2.4 using iTunes as the librarian. The Mini's USB output to the DMPlus is via an Audioquest Forest USB cable. I have 2 ways to listen to the DMPlus. First, I plug my Sennheiser HD650's directly into the headphone jack. In this mode the DMPlus acts as a headphone amplifier. iTunes and Amarra feed directly to the HD650's. The sound is wonderful and open. Great soundstage. You can see in your mind where each instrument is placed. The imaging is spot on...after you adjust the balance that is. 


One of the pluses of the DMPlus is the user adjustability. There are 3 different slope settings to set to user preference. Also, you can choose between synchronous usb 1.1 or Asynchronous usb 2.0. The default is 1.1. You have to read the manual to see how to adjust this setting. Until you do the device will not be recognized as a usb 2.0 device by the computer.


Balance is another adjustment that is not labeled. You must hold down the Filter/Phase button and then the volume knob becomes the balance adjust. Release the button and the knob returns to a volume control.


Once the unit is dialed into your setting preferences it is ready for action. I have it's unbalanced RCA outputs connected to my Denon AVR-4311ci receiver so I can enjoy the DAC through my M&K S-150's. There are Balanced outputs as well if you have the equipment for it. The difference of the Mac Mini via Toslink to the receiver and the DMPlus via RCA is interesting and fun to A/B. The TosLink utilizes the Denon's AKM DAC's so this set up allows me to have my choice of DAC output.


Most of the time I find myself using the HD650's directly plugged into the DMPlus. It is a simple setup. Mac Mini as source, DMPlus as DAC/Preamp/Amp and HD650's as cans of choice.


Life is good! (and simple!)




Here is another review from Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity:




Pros: Detailed But Still Musical At $490.00 Retail

Cons: Whatever They Are I Can Live With Them

A Review (Or better yet, how can we spend a small amount of money on a box to make our music and movies sound better?)

The Cambridge Audio DAC Magic Plus By Member Redcarmoose October 2015

Great specifications and testing provided by Ken Rockwell, note link at bottom of page.

Ken has simply spent more time and money reviewing the DAC and currently offers the most complete and comprehensive review out there.

Ken Rockwell's review is where you can read all the good things he has to say about the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic Plus. Much of his research and measurements were crucial in swaying me over to make the purchase. His review will not wander off into long ridiculousness like mine here. He offers a no nonsense fact based review with cold hard facts which support my lost and convoluted ramblings here.

My review is just hot-air about basic consumer thoughts and choices pertaining to todays DAC market and personal use.

The choices today:

Knowing your best choice is knowing what your applications are going to be before hand. The one thing you don't want to do is buy a DAC and find you get equipment down the road that does not interface with it or becomes redundant. We have all found out buying two or three cheap products could be the same cost as getting one nice expensive product and keeping it for a longer time.

Today there is bombardment of DACs and we are always wondering if a simple entry level DAC will do the trick and be something we are satisfied with in the end. If you look at the market the last six years, things have changed for the best. Today everything has a DAC in it.

This technology has given big manufactures plenty of ideas as how to reintroduce the chips into the market. Today we can just get a USB stick and plug it into our laptop and then plug our headphones in and have vastly improved computer audio. There are simple China made DACs on eBay starting at $25.00 and $75.00 to $199.00 USB sticks which offer surprising driving force for full size audiophile headphones. So in the end we have to ask ourselves why we would want to add complexity to the purchase. Many here argued for years that DACs don't ever sound different and that we are deluded and stupid with our spending money to even try to get improvements.

I have thought DACs have all sounded different. Some were warm and some were thin and analytical sounding. Some were cold and some were really cold sounding. My biggest issue was I did not own a CD player until 1998. I have listened to vinyl from the early 1970s on and had no need for those little disks. I also have very ingrained ideas about digital sound. I have heard it sound really good, but then at times I could also hear it sound thin and non-musical. Still I was slowly drawn to the disks as after the mid 1990s so much music I wanted was not even out on vinyl.

I ended up with a digital CD playback system that I felt replicated the sound of vinyl as close as I could get with my simple middleweight spending allowance. Some have studied the Rega Company house sound and thought they maybe have even added a slight reverb response to the signal processing to get warmth. I don't know, it's a trade secret like the formula for Coke. Still I liked it and the tone seemed a little closer to vinyl than the Sony consumer player I owned? I slowly started a close relationship with the enemy known today as digital with the Rega Planet CD player.

Years have gone by and the new thing is the stand alone DACs with the ability to take a USB signal or optical signal and RCA digital feed and make music come out the other end. We now moved from CDs to digital downloads and streaming from online sources. In some ways the CD has become outdated and gone the way of vinyl in the major market place.

So why not just get a good USB DAC and call it a day? I can rip all my CDs to a stand alone hard drive. I can get a DAC with single ended or balanced outputs and go directly from my computer to the amp and put that old CD player in the garage with my record player?

Around 2012 a storm of sorts started at Head-Fi. Many folks were getting their feet wet in computer audio and learning stuff and the market was changing almost daily. People were buying stuff and using their very own ears to test different methodologies, not seeing truth in simple facts used to sell goods and services. Folks started to post their beliefs and ideas started to change. We had whole pages of member rants on their self-made soapbox who indecently are now eating yummy crow. Remember too that as of 2015, that was only 3 years in the past. I will not go into it all as if you have read this review this far you may have read all the confusion. To summarize it all, you had the Wolfson chip camps and the Cirrus Logic camps. You had the USB synchronize from the DAC or synchronize from the computer. You finally had the leave the sample rate alone camps and the 24-bit/384kHz upsampling camps. Only a few knew or thought they knew what they were doing and history was in the works. The market was going to change forever and DACs were to be in every audiophile house just like a refrigerator.

Ok so why not still just get a good USB DAC and call it a day? Well it really depends on how clamped down to your computer you want your audio world to be. Another choice now is to get a high-end blue-ray player with a USB input and call it a day. In many ways that has worked great for my friends. I have seen really nice systems resulting from a MacBook Pro with Amerra playing on top of iTunes being USB connected to a DVD player as the DAC then single ended or balanced lines out to a preamp.

Still remember when the DAC Magic Plus came out it was only $600. The price has now been super-glued tight at around $490. You have twin Wolfson WM8740 chips running in dual differential configuration and if you have a collection of computers it works with all of them, plus your streaming devices and DVD players. You have a basic headphone amp which drives easy to drive headphones or IEMs directly for a simple desktop system, plus line out balanced or single ended outs for powered speakers with a digital volume knob to make the DAC a complete preamp unit.

If your like me you have a bunch of CDs and like to play them. The Rega still works and can be just a transport. You can get a DVD player and with HDMI hooked to your TV you run an optical cable to the DAC Magic Plus and have it decode a 48 kHz sample rate incoming then run it out to your headphone amp of choice. In some ways the unit is able to stay with current technologies but only does PCM 2 channel and will not recognize DTS or any fancy digital CDs like SACD, remember those?

The weakest link here may be the wall plug? Still they offer after-market wall plugs to go with it. Audiophiles have a funny problem with consumer land lines. They want to get new ones made out of copper or just some way upgrade the power cords to reach the level of all other equipment they have in use. Still remember we are describing an entry level DAC which gives us a little safety from the incoming obscure sonic format improvements. And believe me they are coming. There are marketing buzz word creators and scientists hovering over their work spaces continually creating new more pure formats like DSD as we speak. The question here though is what can we find for just $490 that is reliable and goes with the rest of our gear?

Maybe on the slightly thin side of life, maybe not so much? I would say it's musical without a ton of soggy warmth or darkness. The question here is if you can listen to CDs directly out of a solid state headphone amp at high volume levels and go from one CD to the next for 4 or 5 hours straight without a break? Is the thing musical enough to hold you? Is it clear enough that you think your hearing the whole picture on the disk. Can you enjoy the sound straight our the DAC and is it high-end enough to place it in line out mode only to your best amps and leave you not wanting more or a slightly different sound. Can you listen to 320 Kbps MP3s and enjoy the tone? If something does all the above and contains a level of speed and clarity along with some musicality day in and day out as it does here, then the DAC Magic may be something to consider?

Most of your personal results are going to come from two distinct areas in your audio life. Starting with what soundquality you have been exposed to, your choices in music make a huge difference. So much so that some music requires different gear to really put it to the audio test.

Your also going to get giant differences depending on the equipment you interface whatever DAC you buy with. It's all about synergistic relationships in the end. Much of the ideas about equipment and the conflicting information on Head-Fi result from the exact same equipment used along with different equipment, resulting in different results due to specific synergy. A dark amp is going to maybe equal out the sound quality of bright headphones and a darker DAC may sound better with a bright amp. Finding the synergy is the key to maximizing your sonic dollar and getting a rig you can live with and enjoy long term. There is no end to this sonic quest, still being able to utilize the gear you still have and trust to it's maximum potential for the longest use period lets you allocate other funds into other areas increasing your performance-to-dollar ratio in the end.

I ended trying a range of computers in USB mode. Each playback system had a different sound to my ears. Much of this could definitely be placebo as I'm basically using five different digital devices when listening using the DAC at hand here.

1) Samsung Laptop PC running WASAPI based Foobar 2000 with HD Audio 24 bit/192 kHz audio files.
2) DVD player with CDs HDMI linked to optical linked to DAC.
3) An old white MacBook playing Wave files and MP3s using ITunes.
4) A new MacBook Pro Running Amarra 3.0 with an array of files.

But I Still Like Those Things They Used To Call CD Players:
Being a CD lover I found myself very surprised by the reference material I personally ripped into 16/44.1 FLAC files and played back in Foobar with the Samsung PC. There are times like this when you realize the potential of computer based audio systems and especially with playback of songs you have been intimately close to over the years on CD. An experience like the described can lay the positive ground work for the realization that asynchronous computer audio is not only easy and simple, but sonically equal or superior to a transport with a CD spinning? We have already started to see CD transports and included DAC systems start to fall in cost from their up to six figure realm. If this is directly due to computer audio and the recent sonic and ease of use advances in the last six years, only the elite consumers can offer verbal disclosure.

In Conclusion:
The fact that the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic Plus can allow an enthusiast like myself to hear into the recordings and extract such detail as to make the above revelations is no small thing at the prices asked today. We are now on a great sonic edge where devopment in digital audio could start to improve to another level. At the next levels we are sure to experience better sound at a reduced price and much of our audio quality concerns will most likely fall to the waysides to be met with the ultimate confedence, we are obtaining all we can extract from our digital files, loosing nothing along the electronic processes at hand.
Here are the findings along with great test results by Ken Rockwell.



Pros: Usable as a preamp and headphone amp.

Cons: Loss of sharp filter, No Remote.

I was surprised to say the least at the sound of this new model from Cambridge Audio. The new dac sounds a few steps better than the dac it replaces.My only complaint is the volume control.It has a cheap feel to it.and the adjust ability is not very good.you have little volume then move it just a small way and the volume increases far too much.Other than that it is worth a listen.

Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus

Improving on a legend is never easy, but Cambridge Audio has gone back to the drawing board to create the DacMagic Plus with exciting new features, wireless device connectivity, and best of all, significantly enhanced audio performance. We live in a world of immense musical opportunity. Computers, TVs and Blu-ray players can all deliver audio to your hi-fi system, but because they're primarily designed to perform other functions, their audio outputs lack quality. But by simply connecting them to DacMagic Plus, you can bypass their inbuilt digital to analogue converters transforming their humdrum performance into something altogether more spectacular! DacMagic Plus works by taking a digital audio signal from your PC, digital iPod dock or TV which it analyses and upgrades using our clever ATF2 algorithm. It's totally flexible and supports digital music of all formats. DacMagic Plus even supports 24-bit data over USB so you can enjoy better than CD quality from uncompressed music stored on your PC. And by linking our plug-and-play BT100 wireless audio receiver to DacMagic Plus, you can also stream music wirelessly from your iPhone, Android smartphone, iPad, tablet, laptop or any device that supports Bluetooth*. Best of all, if your smartphone, tablet or Apple Mac supports the high-end audio aptX CODEC, you can stream audiophile quality music from your device to DacMagic Plus. Of course the range of music available from today's mobile devices is almost endless and as well as controlling and playing stored music, online music services like Spotify and Last FM can be shared with your hi-fi in stunning quality. *Optional BT100 audio receiver required Such impressive technology can be hard to explain, so why not enjoy a personal audition the new DacMagic Plus? With Cambridge Audio specialists located across the globe, there's never been a better time to experience the future of digital music.

BrandCambridge Audio
FeatureExternal input for optional BT100 Bluetooth receiver - allows audio to be streamed and up-sampled from any paired Bluetooth device. Supports high quality apt-X Bluetooth CODEC as well as standard SBC Bluetooth CODEC.
Height2 inches
Length8.6 inches
Width7.6 inches
LabelCambridge Audio
List Price$679.00
ManufacturerCambridge Audio
ModelDacMagic Plus
MPNDacMagic Plus-B
Package Quantity1
Product GroupReceiver or Amplifier
Product Type NameAUDIO_OR_VIDEO
PublisherCambridge Audio
StudioCambridge Audio
TitleCambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus Digital to Analogue Convert, Black
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Amp/DACs › Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic Plus