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DACMagic Plus Impressions - Page 6

post #76 of 338
Thread Starter 

Er, no - say what you will about the reviews, but they get the gear faster than any other site I know, with the possible exception of Mike at Headfonia. The quid pro quo on that would seem to be that almost every review reads like an advertorial.

post #77 of 338

 

 *Final Mini-Impressions on the Cambridge DacMagic Plus*

 

 

 Managed to squeeze in just over 2 hours with the DacMagic Plus today, the contender in

 the other corner was the Luxman DA-200 Dac/amp.

 

 IMG_0764 (1320x990).jpg

 

 

Now before you brand me a mad man for comparing a $699 unit

to a $2500+ unit, there was method in the madness smile.gif

 

The Luxman DA-200 is renowned for being more of a deluxe

DAC than headphone amp, not that it is poor by any means,

simply that it has not always been the first choice for anyone

wishing to use a flagship or demanding 300/600ohm headphone.

 

The match hopefully was going to be very close in some respects

.....Hmm, it wasn't.

 

The DacMagic unit now had over 30hrs+ of burn in, ASIO was

installed for use in Foobar and J River Media Centre, USB 2.0

mode was active however in the end I just opted to test both

units using the Audiophilleo 1 USB to SPDIF converter.

 

Notes:

 

DacMagicPlus was set to Digital #1 input

 

Headphones used: Ultrasone Ed 10, Audeze LCD-2, Sennheiser HD600

 

Material: Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' Experience CD*

 

*Yes, this mastering is known for it's excessive modern LOUD compression.

 


In all fairness the Cambridge DacMagic Plus had moved up a notch from in it's

initial USB 1.0 baptism of fire in my first review, the overall tone was still quite

bright but detail was clearly on par with previous auditions of this album on

other equipment - mids in particular seemed fairly present, only the Edition

10 seemed to sound somewhat distant in the mids for some reason, still

the CA held it's bright character in check. The letdowns were in the treble

that distinctively lacked detail and extension, the bass too on the LCD-2

was distilled to a monotone thud - a clear sign once again that this head

amp is not up to the task.

 

A staff member at 'Addicted to Audio' kindly reminded me at one point

on the CA/LCD-2 combination that I appeared to be listening at a very

loud volume, harshness was not totally apparent and yet I realised that

without a severe turn of the volume knob ~ this amp had very little to

give in terms of dynamics. The HD600 did not fare much better.

 

IMG_0767 (1320x990).jpg

 

The Luxman DA-200 was a refreshing change in comparison

showing a much clearer and coherent ability to power the

HD600/LCD-2 ~ bass was full on the LCD-2 and this prickly

record never sounded strident ~ a stark comparison to the

CA that for the very first time managed to illicit a sharp spike

in the ear from the LCD-2 ~ that has never happened to me

before, the big Audeze tends to just muddle up like the

HD650 if it is under-powered.

 

Anyone familiar with 'Great Gig in the Sky' will know how

the songstress likes to roll her 'Rrrrrr's at one point during

her wail ~ this was sadly absent from the CA reproduction.

 

The strongest suit from the CA came in the form of imaging

~ it appeared to locate and place each distant drum snare

correctly, it certainly fared no worse than the Luxman in

that sense.

 

Further malaise was also reported with the running temperature

of the DacMagicPlus ~ it runs quite hot, certainly nowhere near

as hot as let's say a Class-A head amp but it seemed strangely

warm to the touch after barely 2 hours of use.

 

Verdict

 

Ok, so it's not the total catastrophe that I originally reported and yet

it was always going to be a hard slog to climb back to a position of

being a competent $699AUD Dac/Amp.

 

It still finds itself outclassed by other pieces of kit such as the

Nuforce Icon, without the fiddly custom CA driver and USB1/2

mode settings. This test also reflected that to achieve the same

underwhelming performance - you will need a very decent USB to

SPDIF converter, that may not come into play for most who wish to purchase

the Cambridge DacMagic Plus.

 

Cambridge DacMagic Plus ~ it's not absolutely awful, just merely down trodden by

better options for less money without all the bizarre annoying shortcomings

 

-Volume control is naff

-It runs hot

-Must be manually set to USB 2.0 mode along with custom driver

-No off switch for upsampling (this one really sucks)

-Head amp section is bright and this is coming from a treble-head!

 

2.5 out of 5 audio stars smile.gif

 

 

 


Edited by Gwarmi - 12/12/11 at 10:59pm
post #78 of 338

Nice one Gwarmi, thanks for taking the time to look at it again. Glad I went down the M-Dac route now!

post #79 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpudHarris View Post

Nice one Gwarmi, thanks for taking the time to look at it again. Glad I went down the M-Dac route now!



 

 We have to wait for the AudioLab another few weeks, but

 from everything I've heard, especially concerning the

 head amp section ~ The Dac MagicPlus would be

 seriously out gunned in such company.

 

 First MDAC small shipment last week was all sold 'unheard' so

 the second shipment should arrive soon.

 

 Keen to hear it!


Edited by Gwarmi - 12/13/11 at 4:17am
post #80 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by SpudHarris View Post

Nice one Gwarmi, thanks for taking the time to look at it again. Glad I went down the M-Dac route now!



 

 We have to wait for the AudioLab another few weeks, but

 from everything I've heard, especially concerning the

 head amp section ~ The Dac MagicPlus would be

 seriously out gunned in such company.

 

 First MDAC small shipment last week was all sold 'unheard' so

 the second shipment should arrive soon.

 

 Keen to hear it!



Any idea on pricing?

post #81 of 338

Well, I really loved my original DacMagic and had I seen the DacMagic +? I would have probably jumped without batting an eyelid. I was in the market for an upgrade but got a great price deal on the M-Dac (£530 GBP). I didn't expect too much from the Headphone Amp section, never thought I'd use it really but it's just superb and all I'm using at present as it has great synergy with the LCD-2's which are my favourite phones.

post #82 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by olor1n View Post



Any idea on pricing?


 

Let me snoop around in the next week, soon as I know - I'll let you know but it's looking like

close to a grand.

post #83 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpudHarris View Post

Well, I really loved my original DacMagic and had I seen the DacMagic +? I would have probably jumped without batting an eyelid. I was in the market for an upgrade but got a great price deal on the M-Dac (£530 GBP). I didn't expect too much from the Headphone Amp section, never thought I'd use it really but it's just superb and all I'm using at present as it has great synergy with the LCD-2's which are my favourite phones.



 Same price - bang on with what we pay for a brand new Rega DAC - top price! 

post #84 of 338

Would the DM+ yield better performance with an upgraded power supply?

post #85 of 338

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

 

 *Final Mini-Impressions on the Cambridge DacMagic Plus*

 

2.5 out of 5 audio stars smile.gif

 

 

 


Gwarmi, do you have any impressions of the DM+ as a standalone dac?  I'm not concerned with the headphone amp as I have a WA6.

post #86 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by airs View Post


Gwarmi, do you have any impressions of the DM+ as a standalone dac?  I'm not concerned with the headphone amp as I have a WA6.



@DJamTrax ~ it appears so, it's just a small little power pack supply, thing is - unless you own it, why spend money on

 a 'so-so' WM8740 equipped DAC like the DacMagicPlus with an average output stage? When the MDAC and Rega

 can be had for a few extra dollars. PS Audio LDIII is another one to consider -

 

@airs

 

I will see if I can hook it up to the V200 today and compare it to the Violectric V200 USB module ~ this should clear

up any further debate on whether it is the DAC or amp that causes the DacMagic+ to under perform as a combo unit

post #87 of 338
Quote:
Originally Posted by airs View Post


Gwarmi, do you have any impressions of the DM+ as a standalone dac?  I'm not concerned with the headphone amp as I have a WA6.



Yes I'd be keen on that too. Particularly I'm looking at either this CA DACMagic+ vs the Onkyo DAC-1000 as a mux for misc digital inputs, and balanced out to my Accuphase E-407 to my speakers. i.e. not just for headphones but driving home stereo.

post #88 of 338

 

*Final Mini-Impressions Cambridge DacMagic Plus (RCA line-out) to Violectric V200*

 

 One more for the road, up until now the focus has been on the DacMagic Plus as a combo

 Dac/amp ~ this little impression was conducted to see if there was any merit in the unit

 as a stand-a-lone DAC outputting to a quality solid state amplifier.

 

 It's match-up today would be against a Dac/amp of sorts ~ A Violectric V200 fitted

 with the optional Violectric 24/96 USB module.

 

 IMG_0772 (1320x990).jpg

 

IMG_0774.JPG

 

 This module retails for $188AUD out here so it would be interesting

 if it had any chance of stacking up against the revered legacy of

 the Cambridge DacMagic of old.

 

 As it turned out ~ there was very little in it to my ears, so in order

 to focus down on the little detailed differences,

 only two tracks and one headphone were selected for comparison purposes.

 

 Setup: ASIO, Foobar2000, USB 2.0 mode, CA 2.0 Windows7 driver

 

 Headphone: Sennheiser HD800

 

 Tracks: Eagles 'New York Minute',  Pink Floyd 'Money'

 

 IMG_0782 (990x1320).jpg

 

 Each track was auditioned back and forth a total of 4 times

 between the Violectric V200 (with it's own 24/96 DAC module installed out back)

 and the Cambridge DacMagic Plus which was RCA lined-out to the V200.

 

 For those that put great emphasis on RCA cable differences, here's a pic of

 the pair I used today which may or may not have played a part in the verdict.

 

 IMG_0788.JPG

 

 This match-up was closer than expected ~ each track was

 paused and backtracked countless times to pinpoint exact

 little details ~ a cymbal here in the background, a small chuckle

 from the band there. Truth be told, the CA and V200 w/ DAC

 were bang on in that sense, detail seekers will be relieved or

 distraught to know that there was nothing in it.

 

 Tone and organic delivery though did show a difference between

 the two, Don Henley's voice on the CA did have that occasional

 grate through the Cambridge DacMagic Plus, it did not seem

 natural through some vocal passages, the V200 little DAC

 module while darker than the CA showed a more natural

 sense of presentation.

 

 Bass while nothing special on either ~ (other DAC's can deliver

 a slightly more resounding thud with the HD800 I find on this Floyd' track)

 again, the V200 DAC module edged ever ahead with slightly more extension.

 

 This may mean nothing in the end for those wanting to buy the CA DacMagic

 Plus for speaker use ~ detail and imaging are there ~ where the question

 marks are raised is in the area of overall brightness, bass detail / impact

 and organic presentation. I did not feel that the latter criteria was really fully

 realised. I'd even go as far to say that it really should've bested the V200 DAC

 module quite considerably when you consider the price difference of $500AUD.

 

 If your speaker integrated amp / speaker setup or head amp / headphone is

 already bright enough ~ you may wish to think twice about the Cambridge

 DacMagic Plus, it might be enough to spill over into sibilance, on the other

 hand if you need a touch of brightness then perhaps it's still a contender

 for you.

 

 As for the natural presentation ~ that's so subjective ~ but it did not sound

 like natural music to me.

 

 At least we resolved the debate between the DAC and the amp section

 ~ the head amp section in the Cambridge DacMagic should be found at the bottom of a cereal box.


Edited by Gwarmi - 12/13/11 at 11:45pm
post #89 of 338
Thread Starter 

Thanks Gwarmi. - all pieces of the puzzle, and a refreshing change to many of the 'OMG ! This new toy rules !' impressions we usually see on HF.

post #90 of 338

Thanks Gwarmi. I am looking for an extra DAC for my Realiser setup and it looks like the DAC Magic plus will not be it. I have to reconsider the Antelope Zodiac Gold with Voltikus power supply. 

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