Cambridge - Dac Magic - Digital to Analog Converter

General Information

Enjoy digital music like never before...
Adapted Time Filtering (ATF) asynchronous upsampling technology might sound complicated but the benefits are instantly audible. Essentially it converts 16-24 bit audio to 24 bit/192kHz so you hear so much more from compressed material. Meanwhile a 32 bit Digital Signal Processor (DSP) eradicates jitter which is especially effective with hard disk playback from PCs or Macintosh computers. Whether your digital music collection is stored on a PC or you use a network music client SqueezeboxTM, SoundBridgeTM, SonosTM etc - the difference in audible quality is incredible!

Games just explode into life
Gaming isnt just about the moving image. By connecting your games console - PlayStations(PS2 and PS3TM), XboxTM and Xbox 360sTM to your hi-fi via DacMagic, dramatically improved soundtracks and special effects are immediately apparent. DacMagic is an audiophile tour de force!
DacMagic sports a range of components youd never dream could be crammed into such a compact case. These include a 32-bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP), dual Differential Virtual Earth balanced filter topology and twin Wolfson WM8740 high quality DACs in dual differential mode for excellent stereo imaging. Other features include a choice of digital filters - linear phase/minimum phase/steep filter - and an incoming sampling rate indicator which shows the original source quality. You can experiment with different filters for each source connected but DacMagic always remembers the last one assigned to that source. Its flexible and easy to set-up
Up to two digital sources - network music devices, games consoles, CD/DVD players etc. can be connected concurrently using S/PDIF or Toslink inputs. Additionally, you can connect DacMagic directly to your PC using a USB connection (no drivers needed) and dramatically improve the quality of your digital music.

Latest reviews

Pros: Tonnes of inputs, selection of digital filters, accurate sound reproduction
Cons: USB implementation not up to par
I'll skip the Stereophile-style pre-review ramble and get straight into the thick of things. Review split into sections for clarity.
Build Quality: Solidly constructed, in a pleasing matte black finish; gold plating is used on inputs/outputs where applicable. There isn't really much to take umbrage at.
Features: A plethora of inputs and outputs - 2 sets of digital inputs, both accepting the signal via either coax or optical. There is also a USB input - this accepts 16/44 data or below, whilst the other inputs can manage 24/96. Balanced and unbalanced outputs are offered and to top it all the DACMagic offers a variety of different digital filters (3) and the ability to reverse the phase. For a product of this price, it is rather fully featured.
A word about the power supply: All newer models ship with a Cambridge Audio branded "wallwart", resolving the previous overheating/safety issues.
Sound: I'm not going to ramble here. The measured performance by Stereophile was exemplary, especially for the price. If you were forced to draw from me a comment on the sound, I would say that the output bears a startling resemblance to the material being played back. It delivers the audio with vanishingly low levels of anything conceivably objectionable and at a reasonable price.
So, to conclude, plenty of features and very accurate sound reproduction.
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Pros: Looks great, well constructed, fully featured, good value.
Cons: Nasty wall wart (some versions were recalled). Wish they had beefy toroidal power instead!
Not an in-depth review by any means...
The Dacmagic has been raved about by all and sundry (Stereophile, Computer Audiophile, What Hi-Fi...oh wait, that doesn't count).
Still, the DAC has been popular these last few years with good reason.
Clean dynamic sound. A wealth of features (dual sets of optical/spdif inputs, USB, balanced and RCA output). WOW! In a tiny package too. Lots of funky features (different 'phasing' to alter sound and it also takes sample rates up to 96khz. Nice!
Only downside is the wimpy wall wart PSU. Ugh. My version had the PSU that needed to be replaced. Good service from Cambridge in replacement though.
I only wish the next iteration has a good beefy toroidal PSU built inside the case. I can live with a larger size! Or Cambridge should offer a better PSU.
Otherwise, bang for buck!


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