Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100Mini review of the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100
I just received my DacMagic 100 today in the mail and here are some pictures of the DAC in detail. Since there has not been any in-depth reviews anywhere on the internet on this DAC, I decided to write one up.Pictures of the DacMagic 100Packaging
Packaging was excellent, very detailed instructions included and the DAC was packed in a blue cloth bag for protection. A very nice touch.Build Quality
The DAC itself has weight and heft to it, no complaints there. The one thing that I was a little disappointed with was that the front face-plate was not evenly attached and when viewed from above, one can see that the thickness of the machined aluminium was not perfect. If viewed from above the unit, the front face-plate exhibited uneven thickness from left to right, resulting in the left side being thicker than the right and this creates a kind of "slope" which was a little disappointing. Other than that the top, bottom and rear of the unit was fine. Good gold plated RCA inputs too.
Overall the quality control of the unit was a little disappointing for a company that is supposed to be the epitome of British hifi.Sound Quality
This DAC was very difficult to evaluate. Where do I begin?
I would say that this DAC is a bright DAC. But that's fine, seeing what this was meant for. A lot of what I read was that it was designed with live "un-amplified" music (correct me if I am wrong here).
This DAC is bright, but not in a bad way, but there is a little bit of harshness coming through especially in the mids.
Treble is nothing spectacular, but not overly fatiguing.
Bass hits low but does not have a bass heavy sound signature.
Vocals is the area in which this DAC really excels. Vocals are rendered very naturally and sound "live" (as if on a stage) and have a sparkle and softness to them that is characteristic of Wolfson DAC chips, which I really enjoy (think Audinst HUD-MX1). This DAC would really excel in areas such as operatic or classical music or maybe even genres such as "Broadway" musicals.
Soundstage is a little difficult to describe. It is not as wide as what everyone seems to say it is on forums, perhaps maybe it is tailored more towards the use of speakers and speaker amplifiers and I find the soundstage to be wide but not as wide as say the Schiit Bifrost - which is a soundstage king in my opinion - but then again, the Bifrost is a DAC that was designed from the ground up to be used on headphone based audio systems.
The DAC has a kind of CD quality feel to it - as I know that Cambridge Audio does use similar DAC chips in their own line of CD players. Also, the characteristics and feel of the DAC is very "analogue" sounding and "does what it says on the box".Conclusion
This is a very nice DAC for it's price and I see no faults with it. It will suit vocal-centric genres of music such as opera, jazz, classical and live very well. It is not a bass heavy DAC and is not good for things like electronica or rap in my opinion.Pros
Very good with vocals and vocals are rendered very naturally and sound almost "live". It is also a very analogue sounding DAC and almost feel as if you are listening to a CD player (if that makes any sense at all?).
A little harsh at times, especially in the mids, and sometimes, things like guitar strings can sound a little harsh and overpowering (but that is just nitpicking).
Quality control issues prevents the DAC from being the best in its price range, as it is unacceptable, a DAC in this price range, and from a higly regarded (British) audio manufacturer, to have these kinds of quality control issues (uneven face-plate and not attached evenly to the case body).
Overall I would rate this DAC a 4 out of 5.
Overall I think this is a good DAC if they improve the quality control issues.
I hope this is useful for anyone interested in this DAC. Thanks.Edited by cyberridz - 6/11/16 at 11:39am