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Cambridge Audio DacMagic

Stereo digital-to-analog converter (Black)

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  • Cambridge Audio DacMagic

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  • Cambridge Audio DacMagic

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Item #: 779DACMB
 

Review Summary

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Original price $429.99
We recommend this similar item, or shop all Digital-to-Analog Converters
  • Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus
    • Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus
    • Headphone amp with built-in DAC
      • twin Wolfson 24-bit digital-to-analog converters plus Adapted Time Filter 2 for reduced jitter
      • digital audio inputs — optical, coaxial, and asynchronous USB (Type B)
      • built-in headphone amplifier and volume control
    • $499.99
    • After $100.00 Price Break
    • Compare discontinued and similar item
 
 
 
 
 

Our take on the Cambridge Audio DacMagic

by Dave Bar
Cambridge Audio

A little DAC will do wonders for your digital music

DAC is short for digital-to-analog converter, a device that translates digital music files or streams into analog signals that go to your headphones or your amp and speakers. You'll hear a huge difference between the sound you get from a separate hi-fi DAC and the sound of the low-quality DAC (and noisy audio circuitry) built into your computer, video game console, network music player, or other gadget.

angled_front_view

Spin digital straw into gold

Breathe new life into the sound of any CD/DVD player, computer, game console, or music server. Just connect Cambridge Audio's DacMagic between your digital music sources and your receiver or amp, and this versatile little outboard DAC (digital-to-analog converter) will take the place of the DAC inside your player — magically transforming those cold hard 0's and 1's into warm, organic sound. You'll immediately experience greater dynamic impact and transparency, with instruments and vocals each occupying their own distinct space. And you'll be immersed in a wide, deep soundstage that totally inhabits the room around you.


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The DacMagic offers multiple digital inputs plus RCA and pro-quality XLR outputs.

Plenty of connections for your digital gear

DacMagic lets you connect multiple digital source components to your home audio system:

  • two coaxial digital inputs are ideal for connecting a CD or DVD player, Logitech Squeezebox™ Touch, Sonos® ZonePlayer™ 90, or any other digital audio component with coax out, and taking advantage of the DacMagic's high-performance processor for better sound.
  • two optical digital inputs are ready to take on a set-top box, HDTV, game console, or other digital sources with optical digital output, and feed a high-quality audio signal into your stereo system.
  • Type B USB jack feeds the output of your computer into the DacMagic's onboard digital-to-analog converter, bypassing your computer's sound card to yield much higher quality sound with stored music files and Internet radio.

A pair of gold-plated RCA outputs lets you connect the DacMagic to your home audio system's amp or receiver. Or feed a set of amplified speakers for a high-end, compact desktop stereo. Cambridge Audio also included a pair of balanced XLR outputs for an even higher-quality hookup with compatible audio components. Optical and coaxial digital outputs let you bypass the DacMagic when you're playing surround sound from a Blu-ray or DVD player, so you don't have to change cable connections when you switch from music to movies.


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DacMagic is chock full of high-performance circuitry guaranteed to make your music come alive.

The magic's on the inside

The DacMagic comes packed with advanced circuitry to extract the best possible sound from all your digital sources. Twin Wolfson DACs are used in a dual differential configuration to cancel out noise and distortion while providing excellent stereo imaging. Then there's the Adapted Time Filter (ATF). This sophisticated technology upsamples all incoming digital audio to a 192kHz/24-bit signal in order to resolve extremely fine detail, even from compressed music sources. At the same time, ATF incorporates a 32 bit digital signal processor that re-clocks the digital data to eliminate jitter — the enemy of digital audio that causes harshness and loss of detail. The end result is dramatically improved sound from every digital source in your system.

Cambridge Audio also included some neat features guaranteed to appeal to audiophiles. A choice of three digital filters lets you tweak and fine tune the sound to match your system and room. The DacMagic lets you experiment with different filter settings for each source, always remembering the last setting assigned to each one. A phase inversion switch lets you correct for out-of-phase recordings or amplifiers that invert phase. Cambridge even included an incoming sample rate indicator which shows the original source quality.

ID100 dock

Get your iPhone® into the act. The DacMagic pairs beautifully with Cambridge's ID100 digital dock, sold separately.

A match made in heaven

Want to get better sound from your iPod®, iPhone®, or iPad®? Pair the DacMagic with Cambridge Audio's excellent ID100 digital dock (sold separately). This dock relays unprocessed digital audio signals from your Apple device to the DacMagic, which does a much better job than your device's internal DAC and audio circuitry. You'll experience a huge boost in sound quality with your portable music collection. This combo works great as a desktop system when you pair it with your favorite set of powered speakers, or you can hook it up to your A/V receiver.


Highlights:

  • twin Wolfson Microelectronics 8740 24-bit digital-to-analog converters in dual differential mode for precise stereo imaging
  • 32-bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for reduced timing jitter
  • Adapted Time Filtering (ATF) asynchronous upsampling technology converts 16-24 bit audio to 192kHz/24 bit for better sound with compressed audio sources
  • incoming sampling rate indicator 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz
  • choice of three filter settings for fine-tuning sound to suit your listening preferences
  • phase-inversion switch to compensate for out-of-phase recordings or phase-inverting amplifiers
  • two digital inputs with both optical (Toslink) and RCA coaxial (S/PDIF) jacks
  • USB (Type B) input for connection to a PC
  • optical and coaxial digital outputs (pass-through)
  • RCA and balanced XLR audio outputs (both active simultaneously)
  • supported sample rates:
    • USB: 44.1kHz, and 48kHz
    • optical: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz
    • coaxial: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz
  • bit depth: 16-bit to 24-bit (16-bit only for USB)
  • built-in driver for USB connection
  • frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.1 dB with Steep filter disabled)
  • THD: <0.002%
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 112 dB
  • external power supply included
  • non-slip silicone stand included
  • weight: 2.6 lbs. (without power supply)
  • 8-5/8"W x 2"H x 7-5/8"D
  • warranty: 3 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
 

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Frequency Response
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20-20,000 Hz
THD
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0.002%
Signal-to-Noise Ratio
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112
Remote Control
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No
USB DAC Number of Bits
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24
USB DAC Maximum Sampling Frequency
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48 kHz
Inputs and Outputs
Total Number of Inputs
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---
USB
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Type B
Coaxial Digital Input
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2
Optical Digital Inputs
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2
3.5mm Digital Inputs
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None
Other Inputs
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---
Stereo RCA Outputs
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1
Coaxial Digital Outputs
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1
Optical Digital Outputs
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1
Headphone Size
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None
Other Outputs
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Balanced XLR
Dimensions
Width (inches)
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8-1/2
Height (inches)
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2-1/16
Depth (inches)
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8-13/16
Warranty
Parts Warranty
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2 Years
Labor Warranty
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2 Years
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • External digital-to-analog converter
  • AC power adapter (with attached 5.5' DC cord)
  • 28" USB (type-B) to USB (type-A) cable
  • 4 Self-adhesive rubber-feet (for horizontal orientation)
  • Rubber base (for vertical orientation)
  • User's Manual (Eng/Fre/Spa/Ita)

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Overview: The Cambridge Audio Azur DacMagic is a high-quality up-sampling digital-to-analog converter. The DacMagic features a range of components to enhance your music listening experience - 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. The Cambridge Audio DacMagic can effectively upgrade the audio from your computer, your network music devices, game consoles, or standard CD/DVD player to truly high-end, audiophile-quality sound.

Features
Connections
Specifications
Dimensions

Features

Dual Wolfson DACs: The Cambridge Audio DacMagic employs two very high-quality Wolfson WM8740 24-bit DAC ICs in dual-differential mode for excellent stereo imaging. Since each channel has its own DAC to process information, completely separate and symmetrical analog filter circuitry can be implemented. This implementation allows both the left- and right-channel circuitry to operate identically, ensuring the DacMagic delivers fantastic sound-staging and stereo-imaging properties.

Dual Differential Virtual Earth Balanced Filter Topology: The DacMagic uses Cambridge Audio's proprietary Dual Differential Virtual Earth Balanced filter topology, configured as a low-order two-pole liner-phase Bessel filter, in order to take advantage of the achieved high-sampling rate. As a result your music will have extreme linearity with greater dynamic range.

ATF (Adaptive Time Filtering): The Cambridge Audio DacMagic utilizes an asynchronous up-sampling process called "Adaptive Time Filtering" that intelligently interpolates (converts) incoming audio data from 16-24 bits (at any standard sampling frequency between 32-96kHz) to 24-bit (192kHz) for dramatically improved musical reproduction. ATF will enhance the audio clarity, richness, and dynamic range of your compressed music.

32-bit DSP (Digital Signal Processor): A 32-bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP) eradicates jitter, a problem which blurs the timing information of reproduced audio signals resulting in degraded audio quality. The  DacMagic intrinsically re-clocks all the audio data - removing jitter, noise, and distortion in the process, so your music sounds full and realistic. This is especially effective when listening to music stored on your computer or media player.

Phase Filter Select: The DacMagic's 32-bit DSP employs Cambridge Audio's own proprietary digital filter algorithms with three different filter options available - Linear Phase, Minimum Phase, and Steep. Controlled from one switch on the front-panel, they are extremely clever audiophile topologies specifically developed for audio playback and all offer excellent sound quality, but differ slightly to appeal to a wide range of listening tastes.

  • Linear Phase Filter: The Linear Phase Filter is the same as used in Cambridge Audio's flagship Azur 840C upsampling CD player. It uniquely features 'constant group delay' which delays all audio signals at all frequencies by the same amount - meaning all audio is fully time-coherent at the output.
  • Minimum Phase Filter: The Minimum Phase Filter does not feature constant group delay, but rather has been optimized without feed-forward so that the impulse response exhibits no pre-ringing in the time domain. Many audiophiles have argued that the pre-ringing, as seen in nearly all digital filter designs, may affect the transient attack of percussive instruments. Minimum phase implementation eliminates this and is a technology only seen previously in some extremely high-end CD playback systems
  • Steep Filter: The steep filter removes undistinguishable artifacts via re-calibration for a very slight roll-off at 20kHz, but an ultra-steep drop to the stop-band just after 20kHz.

Note: These three filters are all of the highest quality, but offer subtle differences for the user to enjoy. The type of filter chosen is remembered for each input individually, so that it is possible to use one for PC playback (via USB) and another for CD playback (via SPDIF).

Aluminum Front-Panel: The DacMagic employs a substantial aluminum front-panel, plus an ultra-rigid, acoustically dampened chassis to prevent audio distortion caused by vibration.

Horizontal or Vertical Placement: The DacMagic can be placed in two different positions (horizontal or vertical). It can be placed horizontally by fitting the four small self-adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of the unit, or vertically by using the large rubber base.

Power Requirements: The Cambridge Audio DacMagic operates off of standard household AC current (120V / 60Hz), using the supplied AC power adapter (12V / 1500mA). The external power adapter is separate from the digital-analog-converter to further improve sound quality.

Connections

USB Port: A rear-panel USB (type-B) port enables the DacMagic to be connected to your Windows PC or Mac computer. The DacMagic will act as a very high-quality DAC/sound-card for your computer, offering genuine Hi-Fi-quality playback from your stored music and internet radio.

Digital Inputs: The DacMagic is fitted with two rear-panel digital inputs. Each digital input consists of an optical and coaxial digital connection. The optical and coaxial digital input allow a wide range of digital source (CD, DVD, Game Console, etc.) to be connected to the DacMagic.

Note: Only one of the two types (optical/coaxial) of each digital input should be connected at any one time. If both the optical and coaxial inputs have connections made to them, neither will work. This unit only decodes two-channel LPCM digital audio (Dolby Digital 2.0). If you connect a DVD or similar device, please ensure that the audio output of the player is set to two-channel PCM.

Digital Output: A rear-panel digital output (optical/coaxial) allows pass-through of the selected digital source for recording purposes (no up-sampling performed). These outputs loop or pass-through unprocessed digital audio from the selected digital input.

Note: Both the optical and coaxial digital outputs are always active and can be used to connect and run equipment at the same time. A 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS signal can be passed through the unit's digital outputs. The 5.1ch signal is not decoded or processed (only pass-through).

Balanced & Unbalanced Outputs: The Cambridge Audio DacMagic features both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) audio outputs to connect to a wide variety of home stereo receivers and amplifiers.

  • Unbalanced: The DacMagic features an unbalanced stereo analog RCA audio output for connecting your stereo receiver or amplifier.
  • Balanced: The DacMagic features true balanced XLR analog audio outputs to connect high-end home receivers and amplifiers. XLR is a higher-quality output that can reject noise and interference with equipment with balanced inputs.

Note: It is possible to use the unbalanced stereo RCA output and the balanced XLR outputs at the same time for connecting two different amplifiers or multi-room operation. The analog audio outputs are muted, if the DacMagic receives a 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS signal.

Specifications

D/A Converters: Dual Wolfson WM8740 24-bit DACs

Digital Filter: Texas Instruments TMS 320VC5501 DSP (up-sampling to 24-bit/192kHz)

Analog Filter: 2-Pole Dual Differential Bessel Double Virtual Earth Balanced

Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (+/- 0.1 dB)

Total Harmonic Distortion:

  • @ 1 kHz (0 dbBFs): < 0.001%
  • @ 1 kHz (-10 dBFs): < 0.001%
  • @ 20 kHz (0 dBFs): < 0.002%

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: -112 dBr

Total Correlated Jitter: < 130 pS

Crosstalk:

  • @ 1 kHz: < -100 dB
  • @ 20 kHz: < -90 dB

Output Impedance: < 50 ohms

Output Level:

  • Unbalanced: 2.1V rms
  • Balanced: 4.2V rms (2.1V per phase)

Digital Input Bit-Rates: 16 to 24 bit (16-bit only for USB)

Digital Input Sampling Frequencies: 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz (44.1, 48 kHz for USB)

Audio Output Up-Sampling: Fixed 24-bit/192kHz

Power Consumption: 18 watt

Dimensions

Horizontal Orientation:

  • Width = 8.5"
  • Height = 2.0625" (2.1875" with feet)
  • Depth = 8.8125

Vertical Orientation: (with stand)

  • Width = 3.0625"
  • Height = 8.625"
  • Depth = 9.3125"
 
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Cambridge Audio DacMagic Reviews

Average Customer Review:

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4 out of 5

Very Happy

Written By RDubya, San Diego on Monday, January 30, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I've only had it for about a week, but I'm already kicking myself for waiting as long as I did for incorporating a DAC to my home audio system, especially since I've been almost exclusively using my Mac/itunes as my go to source of music at home for about 5 years. What a disservice I've been doing to myself and my stereo system all this time. Drastic improvements to clarity, detail, and imaging. Even my wife, who is usually indifferent to my geeky audiophile wannabe aspirations instantly noticed a difference and said "wow, its sounds so much cleaner". It does, indeed. Obviously there are many newer (and much more expensive) DAC options out there right now for the consumer, but at this price point I'm quite happy with the Cambridge Audio product. I'm hearing nuances in fav songs I've not heard before, and that makes the listening experience all the more enjoyable/realistic.

Like putting an old beat up car under those bright showroom lights, its also worth noting that the Dacmagic will painfully showcase/reveal the flaws and undesirable attributes of those poor quality digital audio files, making some of my lower bit rate tracks un-listenable. The Dacmagic will even show you how poor of a quality the incoming signal is, like its saying to you "you feed me garbage, and that's what you'll hear, garbage". For those of you seeking to transition to higher quality sound at home, this is a great place to start. Its a must.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Straw into gold-no lie

Written By Pops, Winthrop, ME on Monday, October 24, 2011
 
I bought the DacMagic as a source for my desktop PC stereo, but it's so good I'm going to hook it up with an iPod dock and my CD player and put it in my listening room. WOW! The dynamics and sound stage I am getting with my PC and iTunes is like night and day. Worth every nickel--if you don't have a DAC, you're missing out! Thanks, also, to the product advisor who helped me.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Better than Expected

Written By DaleK, San Luis Obispo, CA on Wednesday, August 24, 2011
 
I bought this DAC so that I could put my entire CD collection on the computer in a lossless format (and eliminate my CD player) with no subsequent loss in playback quality. What resulted was far better sound than I ever imagined! Much to my amazement and joy, the soundstage I experienced back in the days of vinyl was back. The music came alive with vastly improved imaging--even from my less-than-optimally placed speakers. I never realized how muddy the sound was from my pre-DAC system. Now everything is crystal clear and the bass has new depth and control. Each instrument is precisely placed on the stage. Now I can appreciate the really fine recordings and also (sadly) discover that some of my favorites are mixed badly. I subscribe to the view that money is best directed towards really good speakers for the most improvement in sound quality. This amazing little box is an exception to my theory. Buy it!
9 out of 9 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Amazing Sound Improvement

Written By Joseph B, Rochester, NY on Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
As a professional piano tuner for 40 years, distortion-free, authentic-sounding instruments have always been my top priority when buying stereo gear. This little DAC cleans up everything I put through it. CDs, DVDs, mp3 files from the computer and even Netflix streaming movies all have new-found clarity, sharper stereo imaging, tighter bass better instrument placement and stability. Instruments sound round and spacious not flat and tinney. Articulation of speech, music and sound effects, even when subtle, are revealed like never before. Wouldn't sell this unit back for twice the price.
17 out of 17 people found this helpful
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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Cambridge Audio DacMagic, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_779DACMB/Cambridge-Audio-DacMagic-Black.html ).