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Audio Reviews
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Cambridge Audio DacMagic review

£199 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Cambridge Audio

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Cambridge Audio’s DacMagic is back – and this time it wants your USB

Computer audio is far from perfect, despite its reliance on the ‘perfect' and indisputable ones and zeroes used to represent the music. The first stage to getting better quality sound from your PC and Mac is by taking the digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) outside the box.

Cambridge Audio's new upsampling DacMagic audio converter does just that, and a lot more, in the pursuit of great sound. It has one USB input for direct connection to your computer, plus two more switchable inputs, each with a coaxial and optical (Toslink) digital connector. These inputs can be used to improve the sound of a CD player, DVD player, set-top TV box or games console. The DacMagic's stereo output is simply connected to your existing stereo hi-fi system by a pair of phono cables.

The Cambridge Audio DacMagic is a small unit, only about 21cm wide, and is designed to be sited flat like a normal hi-fi component; or on its side, like a tower PC, with the help of a separate rubber platform foot. On its front panel are two control buttons: one to switch between three inputs, plus an interesting option to select between three digital filters.

These filters each give a subtly different final sound, and you can choose whichever suits your ear and taste in music. The second filter (‘Min Ø'), for example, is a minimum phase type which often brings out a more natural feel, especially to fast transient sounds. This kind of choice in filters is normally only the preserve of vastly expensive high-end audio converters.

NEXT PAGE: Why the DacMagic compares to studio and audiophile converters costing thousands of pounds...

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Cambridge Audio DacMagic Expert Verdict »

Two-channel digital-to-analogue convertor
Adaptive Time Filtering interpolating upsampler
32-bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
three switchable digital interpolation filters (Linear Phase, Minimum Phase, Steep)
2 x Wolfson WM8740 24/192 stereo DAC chips
1 x USB digital audio input
2 x S/PDIF inputs (each with 1 x coaxial RCA and 1 x Toslink optical)
stereo unbalanced output RCA
stereo balanced output XLR
2 x digital outputs (RCA and Toslink)
input sample frequency LED indicators: 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96kHz
external 12V AC mains adaptor
aluminium case available in silver or black finish
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Cambridge Audio has introduced an affordable high-end-quality DAC for use with computers and home entertainment devices alike. The DacMagic seems to revel in bringing out the best in digital stereo sound, whether MP3 or lossless music on a computer, or digital sound from TV and DVD. As remarkable as the performance is the DacMagic’s price. Less than £200 buys you an superb investment for studio quality audio reproduction

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