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DACMagic Plus Impressions - Page 3

post #31 of 338

The power supply it ships with comes with a few snap on socket fitings which means it can be used almost anywhere.So you could in theory order from the UK if it was faster/cheaper.

post #32 of 338
Thread Starter 

Reading the latest update on the What Hi-Fi site, CA have clearly got their sights set on the DAC market:

 

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Given the level of interest here, we've had a chat with Cambridge Audio and gleaned a little more information. First, the DacMagic Plus will go on sale in Richer Sounds stores on or before December 1st.

 

Second, CA has confirmed that "a new entry-level DacMagic will go on sale in spring 2012". There's no exact confirmation on pricing yet, but it's likely to be "close to the 2008-2011 DacMagic". That's to say around the £230 mark.

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For those who prefer their own headphone amp to the DM Plus, I guess it makes sense to offer the DM Plus minus the 'Plus' at a lower price  ;)

 

I would add that getting a solid 3 year lifespan out of the original DM is an achievement, especially when you look at the speed with which some of the Chinese audio companies on HF churn out new product.

 

 

post #33 of 338

is it still using a SMPS wallwart?

post #34 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post

is it still using a SMPS wallwart?



Sounds like it. I read something somewhere recently saying that people don't complain when that wall wart stuff (pardon my vocabulary) is built into the hifi gear. It's just when they see it separated that people complain.

I'm genuinely interested, does a better power supply really make a decent difference to the sound quality?

 

On another note, I'm looking at amplifiers for speakers, tossing up between marantz pm6003 and cambridge audio 650a.

is it better to get matching brands for synergy reasons? Like better to get the 650a because getting the dacmagic?

 

Cheers.

post #35 of 338

It isn't a switch mode power supply. The wall-wart is not a DC wallwart, it's an AC wallwart - just a transformer in a box. The AC then goes through the rectifiers/filtering caps/regulators in the DACMagic itself and we get nice, clean power.

Seriously, if the transformer was inside the box (which is arguably worse, due to EMI and the like) nobody would bat an eyelid.

 

I won't be upgrading from my old DACMagic anytime soon, but then again I'm one of these dreadful measurements-fixated people, making the only selling points of the DACMagic Plus the headphone amp and 24/192 playback, neither of which I require or even want (already have a headphone amp that is at least as good, if not better/ 24/192 offers no advantage over 24/96)


Edited by Willakan - 12/5/11 at 2:53am
post #36 of 338

can't wait to hear comparisons between this and the bifrost. in need of a new dac after i sold my dacport!

post #37 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

It isn't a switch mode power supply. The wall-wart is not a DC wallwart, it's an AC wallwart - just a transformer in a box. The AC then goes through the rectifiers/filtering caps/regulators in the DACMagic itself and we get nice, clean power.

Seriously, if the transformer was inside the box (which is arguably worse, due to EMI and the like) nobody would bat an eyelid.

 

I won't be upgrading from my old DACMagic anytime soon, but then again I'm one of these dreadful measurements-fixated people, making the only selling points of the DACMagic Plus the headphone amp and 24/192 playback, neither of which I require or even want (already have a headphone amp that is at least as good, if not better/ 24/192 offers no advantage over 24/96)


1. It is a switch mode power supply on the Dacmagic Plus, Of course the Words printed on the back of the power supply "Switch Mode Power Supply" could simply be a spelling mistake.

 

2. Its is 12V DC, not AC.

 

3. The rectifiers, heat, sinks and caps have gone AWOL in this new DC powered Dac. (replaced by a bunch of bridge rectifiers???  no doubt more will come to light about the design of the new dac over the coming months),

 

:)

 


Edited by muz640 - 12/5/11 at 5:13am
post #38 of 338
Quote:

Anyone wondering about the volume control, you can bypass it completely though I didnt find any qualitative difference in doing so. Will report back after a good few hours burn in.

 

I envisage using the preamp mode and the volume control in order to directly connect powered speakers to the DAC (without preamp or power amp in between).

 

However I am wondering about the implementation of the digital colume control: is it as good as an analogue volume control, especially at low volumes where digital attenuators typically tend to degrade the signal quality? Or should I better use an external analogue volume knob like the TC Electronic Level Pilot?

 

Many thanks in advance for your feedback.

post #39 of 338

Hmm, my mistake. It seems they have completely changed the power supply - they did not use a switch-mode one on the original DACMagic (they do what I described), now they do.

post #40 of 338

 

 

*Mini review of the Cambridge DacMagic Plus+ vs Nuforce Icon HDP*

 


Just some quick impressions over 2 hours or so of a brand new un-boxed Cambridge DacMagic Plus, I decided to

pitch it against a close competitor - the Nuforce Icon HDP which carries a street price of $669AUD RRP versus the

DacMagic Plus' pricetag of $699AUD RRP.

 

 

Unboxing and general pictures

 

 

IMG_0672 (1320x990).jpg

 

IMG_0677 (1320x990).jpg

 

IMG_0681 (990x1320).jpg

 

IMG_0685 (990x1320).jpg

 

 

Testing Notes

 

I decided to use 3 headphones across this comparo' to see how the Cambridge would fare across

a range of very different higher end headphones.

 

Audio Technica A2000X

Sennheiser HD650

Sennheiser HD800

 

The first dilemma was deciding upon an input method, the Cambridge DacMagic comes with it's own

USB cable but I was aware of the USB input's limitations (capped at 16 44/48). Hence I decided

to use the Audiophilleo 1 USB to SPDIF converter, just in case ~ after much deliberation early

on in the test, I reverted back to using USB to USB for both the DacMagic Plus and Nuforce Icon HDP.

This was primarily because the Cambridge is a native upsampler and once connected via Coax

will lock you into upsampling any material to 192Khz ~ this proved to be detrimental on most test

tracks to my ears.

 

General Listening Impressions

 

The first thing that strikes you is the 'spin through' volume dial on the DacMagic Plus, there is no

marker and no reference for where the volume lies, it is strongly advisable for anyone considering

this unit to always play the headphones away from your head, there is simply no way of telling

where the volume sits. The following tracks were used for comparison :-

 

Kevin Eubanks ~ Angel with the blues (funk guitar instrumental)

Daft Punk ~ Verdis Quo (electronic no vocals)

Rage Against the Machine ~ Bullet in the head (funk heavy metal)

Unknown high quality track from HDtracks.com ~ Over the rainbow (cover, acoustic female vocal)

 

Filter settings :- Linear, Min, and Steep are very difficult to pick between on the fly, I ended up

selecting the default 'Linear' mode, no doubt extended listening would reveal a personal preference.

 

IMG_0693 (1320x990).jpg

 

The Nuforce set a surprising, cracking pace with all three headphones,

I was most surprised with the HD800 performance which by no means

extracted the true possibilities of this headphone but most importantly

gave a taste of the separation and floating sound stage that these cans

are renowned for ~ the same could not be said for the DacMagic Plus.

 

While the HDP from Nuforce added 'weight' and impact to the bass

lines and filled in the mids with detail, especially background content

~ the DacMagic persisted with a thin, 2D landscape of sound, lacking

a tonne of detail. Bass was the most disappointing across the electronic

track from Daft Punk ~ it was merely a dull thud on the DacMagic, towards

the end of that particular track there is opportunity for the HD800's sound

stage to shine ~ it did on the Nuforce, but it just blended into the background

with the DacMagic.

 

Lack of extension summed up the DacMagic's general presentation, while

the general tone from the headphone out suited my preference for a neutral

to bright sound versus the slightly warm, meaty presentation from the Nuforce

~ the HDP consistently in back to back auditioning showed that it was superior

in extracting the most with the track at hand. The only time that the race grew

close was with the 'Over the rainbow' (cover) where this female vocal was

conveyed somewhat clearly and authentically with the DacMagic, however

small breaths, pauses and lip smacks went to the Nuforce while this sort

of detail flew over the DacMagic's DAC radar.

 

The head amp section of the DacMagic started to intrigue me for all the

wrong reasons, was it the amp or the DAC responsible for this lack lustre

performance?

 

Source: Cambridge Audio website

 

 

Headphone output  
THD: at 1kHz 0dBFS 24 bit signal with 22kHz low pass filter = 0.001%

at 20khz 0dBFS 24 bit signal with 80kHz low pass filter = 0.003%
S/N: -111dBrA
Frequency Response: 10Hz - 100kHz

 
Recommend headphones with impedance between 32 Ohm to 600 Ohm.

 

Are these specifications acceptable on a $699AUD Dac/Amp? Not really.

 

IMG_0700 (990x1320).jpg

 

 

General early conclusions

 

I am more than aware that this impression will raise the ire and tyranny of many a Cambridge die hard

fan, I am left with only two possibilities :-

 

a) This unit was faulty, I have only heard this unit. 

 

b) Burn in exists and if you believe in it, start praying now.

 

If it is any consolation, out of the 4 people (myself included) who heard this fresh unit today

~ 1 of the 4 thought that the DacMagic Plus sounded more authentic and communicative to his

ears than the Nuforce HDP.

 

I really wish to re-visit it some time soon as I feel that I have nothing really positive to say

about the Cambridge DacMagic Plus ~ it was dynamically outgunned by the HDP, and that's

even before we've considered the Audio GD NFB-5 at $450AUD landed ~ $250 less ~ which

from memory would have this DacMagic Plus for breakfast.

 

I also wonder whether this is a signature note from the Wolfson WM8740's ~ first time I'd

heard a dual setup from that series, I'm more familiar with the WM8741 and WM8742.

 

Given a lack of improvement in future this unit to my ears should be compared with a Fiio E9 and E10 DAC,

it cannot play in the $400+ bracket.

 

Ok, I'm ready for the rotten vegetables now... happy_face1.gif

 

 

As always, none of this would of been possible (the impressions, if generally negative) without the generous help

and resources from George and his expansive audition room at 'Addicted to Audio' in Kew, Melbourne

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Gwarmi - 12/6/11 at 12:11am
post #41 of 338

Hmm interesting. I'm interested in the dac for speakers also. Keep us posted if you try it out with them. 

Has anyone heard if the other models being announced will be the same minus the headphone out...?

post #42 of 338

Up until the Audiolab M-DAC entered the fray, the DacMagic Plus was on top of my list. Really appreciate the effort here Gwarmi, but amp/dac combos do require some burn in time in my experience. Was the Nuforce straight out of the box as well? I wonder if your findings hold true if you revisit this comparison in future.

 

How did the HD650 sound from the DacMagic's hp out?

post #43 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesnz View Post

Hmm interesting. I'm interested in the dac for speakers also. Keep us posted if you try it out with them. 

Has anyone heard if the other models being announced will be the same minus the headphone out...?



Might be able to rustle up something there ~ I've got access to some Sugden Floorstanders and a pair of Beethoven Vienna Acoustics

plus a Luxman integrated amp ~ could see what happens.

post #44 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by olor1n View Post

Up until the Audiolab M-DAC entered the fray, the DacMagic Plus was on top of my list. Really appreciate the effort here Gwarmi, but amp/dac combos do require some burn in time in my experience. Was the Nuforce straight out of the box as well? I wonder if your findings hold true if you revisit this comparison in future.

 

How did the HD650 sound from the DacMagic's hp out?



 I'm really hanging on 'burn-in' ~ if anything changes in future then I will be a gold card carrying 'Burn in believer' because this is one big mountain

 to climb back from :-)

 

 It's got to get better though olor1n ~ one customer laughed at one point when he heard me mutter

 

'Man, this is terrible' at one point

 

HD650 did the best as expected, not overly detailed compared to the HD800 and their smooth signature tended to keep things somewhat musical

but upon reverting 2 or even 3 times back to the HDP ~ it was clear who had the 'best on day'.

 

Nuforce HDP is somewhat new but it would easily have about 40hrs or more.

post #45 of 338

Hmm, I feel I've dodged a bullet. I was so close to pulling the trigger on impulse. I'm tired of the buy/sell cycle so I want to make sure this dac purchase is one I can live with for a while. I'd appreciate you sharing any nuggets you glean from A2A about the M-DAC. beerchug.gif

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