Cambridge Audio DacMagic D/A Converter Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2

CambridgeAudio_DACMagic.gif

Cambridge Audio is a British company well known in audio circles for providing high-quality products at reasonable prices. While I was at CES 2009, I had a chance to peruse their products and their diminutive DacMagic caught my eye. This upsampling DAC is value priced at $450 and packs a lot of functionality in its roughly eight-and-one-half-inch wide by two-inch high by seven-and-one-half-inch deep chassis. (It also comes with a base, so that it can be positioned vertically.) The DacMagic has two sets of Toslink and SPDIF inputs and one set of Toslink and SPDIF pass through outputs, a USB input and both single-ended and balanced analog audio outputs. The front panel has three buttons - power, phase and filter selection - along with status LEDs that depict phase, filter and sampling rates. Needless to say, the front and rear panel real estate on the DacMagic is used well.

Additional Resources
• Read about other DACs and digital sources from audiophilereview.com - an audiophile blog by Steven Stone.
• Read more Cambridge Audio Reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com including the Azur 650BD Blu-ray player and the Azur 840 power amp.

The DacMagic is no slouch on the performance side of things. Functionality is great to have, but it becomes worthless when performance is poor. The DacMagic features Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF) asynchronous upsampling which converts 16-24-bit audio with sampling rates between 32kHz and 96kHZ to a 24-bit word length at 96kHz. The ATF process is accomplished with a 32-bit Texas Instruments DSP. The DACs are dual Wolfson WM8740s running in dual differential mode. These are the same DACs that Cambridge Audio has used with great success in their CD players. The DacMagic can also invert phase, as well as implement any one of three phase filters: linear phase, minimum phase and steep phase. I did my listening in the linear phase mode and found the sound quality to be coherent from top to bottom. Soundstages were reasonably sized, with the individual instruments and vocals easily discernible from each other in place and texture. The DacMagic couldn't match the performance of my reference Classe CDP-202 but, at one-thirteenth the price, I don't expect it to do so. The differences were never the addition of objectionable artifacts by the DacMagic, but came about because the Classe was able to resolve that extra little bit of texture or place the image with a bit more precision. The omissions were the kinds of things you would not miss if you had not already experienced them. One could live quite happily with the DacMagic and never know they were missing that last bit of performance.

Read about the high points and the low points of the DacMagic on Page 2.

  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for Cambridge Audio DacMagic D/A Converter

Criteria Rating

Performance

3.5

Value

5

Overall

4.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


Latest Digital to Analog Converter Reviews

Sep 12
Mytek Liberty DAC Reviewed Steven Stone says the Mytek Liberty is a professional-quality DAC that stands toe-to-toe with competitors that sold for twice as much just a couple years ago.
Mytek Liberty DAC Reviewed

Sep 05
Lab 12 DAC1 Special Edition Reviewed Terry London says the Lab 12 DAC1 SE crushes the price-versus-performance ratio in a totally absurd fashion, with beautiful timbres and tonality, powerful macro-dynamics, and an overall analog liquidity you have to hear to believe.
Lab 12 DAC1 Special Edition Reviewed

Jul 23
Micromega M-150 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed How on earth Micromega managed to cram 2x 150 watts of Class AB amplification and dual power supplies into this slim little integrated amp is beyond us, but it sounds as delicious as it looks.
Micromega M-150 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed

Mar 28
Mark Levinson № 526 Preamplifier/DAC Reviewed Mark Levinson. The brand represents the pinnacle of automotive and home audio luxury. The company's products are meticulously engineered, and...
Mark Levinson № 526 Preamplifier/DAC Reviewed

Feb 07
Bricasti Design M1SE Dual Mono DAC Reviewed Ben Shyman explores the M1SE dual mono DAC/preamplifier from Bricasti Design--a high-end DAC that is built like a tank and offers a full suite of digital inputs.
Bricasti Design M1SE Dual Mono DAC Reviewed