Skip Navigation

Cambridge Audio DAC Magic XS

USB DAC/headphone amplifier

5 Reviews | 2 questions - 5 answers

Item # 779DACMGXH

This item is no longer available.

Shop all DACs


Our take on the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic XS

Whether you're into MP3s, Internet radio, online streaming services, or even high-res music files, here's a fantastic way to improve the sound quality coming from your computer. Just plug Cambridge Audio's DacMagic XS digital-to-analog converter into an open USB port on your PC or Mac®, then connect it to your headphones, powered speakers, or home audio system. This tiny, pocket-sized DAC bypasses the sound card inside your computer, and magically transforms those cold hard zeroes and ones into warm, organic sound. You'll instantly hear your music with greater detail and clarity, plus a real sense of scale and presence.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS connected to a laptop computer

A pocketful of magic for your music

Whether you're into MP3s, Internet radio, online streaming services, or even high-res music files, here's a fantastic way to improve the sound quality coming from your computer. Just plug Cambridge Audio's DacMagic XS digital-to-analog converter into an open USB port on your PC or Mac®, then connect it to your headphones, powered speakers, or home audio system. This tiny, pocket-sized DAC bypasses the sound card inside your computer, and magically transforms those cold hard zeroes and ones into warm, organic sound. You'll instantly hear your music with greater detail and clarity, plus a real sense of scale and presence.

There's technical wizardry on the inside

The DacMagic XS comes packed with high-tech engineering designed to extract better sound from your digital music sources. Its audiophile-grade ESS Sabre™ DAC provides superb resolution that really brings out the best in your tunes, for a truly engaging listening experience. This DAC also reduces "jitter" — timing errors in the digital data stream that can make your music sound harsh and edgy — by using its own separate, or "asynchronous," clock to precisely control the timing of the data rate from your computer. You'll hear a stunning improvement in low-level ambience, along with a wider, deeper soundstage.

High-res audio

Explore high-resolution audio

Along with all the sonic benefits the DacMagic XS provides for your compressed and CD-quality music files, it also has another trick up its sleeve — it decodes high-resolution data streams with up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality (Free USB driver download required for Windows® PCs.). If you download high-res music files from HDtracks and other audiophile sources, this DAC will ensure that you hear them in all their glory.

Product Highlights:

  • ESS Sabre™ ES9023 digital-to-analog converter supports sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz for listening to high-resolution digital music sources
  • asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound with computer audio sources
  • micro USB input for connection to a computer (USB adapter cable included)
  • powered by USB connection — no need for external power supply
  • built-in 53-step analog volume control
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack provides variable-level headphone and line-level output
  • minimum recommended headphone impedance: 12 ohms
  • LED sample rate indicator helps verify source sample rate
  • brushed aluminum case for added durability
  • supported incoming sample rates: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192kHz
  • input bit depth: 16 bit, 24 bit
  • compatible with Mac® and PC
  • dedicated Cambridge Audio USB Audio 2.0 Windows driver required for 24-bit/176.4kHz and 24-bit/192kHz playback on a PC (free USB driver download available from Cambridge Audio website)
  • soft carrying pouch and micro USB (type-B) to USB (type-A) cable included
  • 1-1/4"W x 7/16"H x 2-13/16"D
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • USB DAC/Headphone Amp
  • 6" microUSB-to-USB cable
  • Cloth pouch
  • "Thank You" note

Cambridge Audio DAC Magic XS Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(5 Reviews)


david from Wisconsin on 3/5/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is my first DAC. Finally decided I should try one after many late night digital listening sessions. MP3s sound harsh even with good mastering and dynamic range. Half decent headphones will amplify the harshness. I have Grado 80 headphones and ripped all my CDs to Apple Lossless. Still harsh, partly due to the Grado tending toward higher frequencies. The main problem was the the cheap sound coming out of my Mac Mini (2012). Bought the DacMagic. Night and day sound. If you have never used a DAC before, this is a great start for the money. Worth every penny. The included USB cord is too short for my use at the desk (fine for laptop/tablet use). I just used a longer one I had for my Samsung Galaxy phone. This thing changed my perception of digital music. Very happy with the quality of sound of the DAC and the Amp. The sparse instructions that come in the box point you to the web for more. But you won't find that you can bypass the built in DacMagic amp, to your preferred amp, using only the DacMagic as a DAC. Just push the volume up on the DacMagic until it flashes red and switch out amps as you want. For a starter/portable dac/amp this is amazing. The only cons are.. I would rather have a volume knob. Not a big fan of the push buttons without any indication of volume. An LED volume indicator would be nice. Incomplete instructions. Maybe a bass boost or spatial switch would be a bonus. Yes, almost $200 seems like a lot of money, but if you love music, it's not. Very nice.

Pros: Small Simple to use Well built Quality Able to use USB 2.0 for higher quality, whether or not you use high res recordings. A Hell of a lot better than your computer DAC. Awesome return policy at Crutchfield.

Cons: Volume control indication. Incomplete instructions. Silly name...

Easy Hi-Fi

Sean from Colorado Springs, CO on 2/15/2015

4 stars compared to component ($$$) DACs I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile, but can appreciate subtleties in sound quality and the added experience that comes with a good listening experience. After reviewing portable DACs, I selected the Cambridge Audio model for its unique ability to decode 24/196 files. The model has not been updated in a couple of years, so in order to utilize USB 2.0 and the higher resolution decoding through my PC a driver download was necessary (not in the case of Macs). No big deal. Let me say this unit packs A LOT of performance into a little package and small price tag. It will amplify and dramatically improve sound quality of any source - mp3, CD, iTunes, Spotify/Pandora, Netflix, video games - anything played from your computer. It will decode high resolution audio files downloaded from HDTracks and other retailers. It has a Sabre DAC which I've read are extremely high quality and reputable. Brushed aluminum case for durability. The volume buttons have 53 steps for . Output is 3.5mm jack for connecting headphones/computer speakers, or pick up a simple accessory cable to connect to a home system. Important to note: this unit requires USB input, therefore it cannot be connected directly to a phone or mp3 player. Although it is compact and very durable, it must be driven by a PC or Apple computer. Also, the first reviewer on this board "Very Nice DAC" is incorrect. A longer USB "A" to USB "B" cable can be purchased separately.

Pros: Compact, travel-ready. Amazing improvement of compressed music/movies. Price.

Cons: Requires simple driver download for USB 2.0 and 24/196 material.

Outstanding Sonic Qualities

Audioholic from New York on 1/24/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I am a big fan of Cambridge Audio and it started when I replaced my very expensive separates with the Azur 751. The sonic's for both music and movies was so vastly superior. So my trust for the brand is tremendous. Needed a DAC for my late night headphone listening and and after exhaustive research it became evident that C. A. hit another home run. Download the software to achieve 192/24 was easy for my Windows based computer and not necessary for my Mac. Well, I put on some hi resolution music and once again, thanks to C. A., I had a new collection of music. It did not matter what resolution the music was playing at, it simply wrap my head in fantastic sonic bliss. Traveling was a cinch and with the remote I could control the volume easily. Worth the price of admission and once again dealing with Crutchfield was simple and easy. Put this on your short list.

Pros: Easy to use to achieve spectacular results

Cons: None, Zero, Zip.

A MUST for PC/Laptops

john-pa from Pennsylvania on 11/19/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I have used high-quality DAC built into audiophile equipment on my home systems and I have used external DAC on laptops and PC's, mostly for recording, but when I decided to buy a good pair of headphones for office use (Grado SR-80e) I also decided to get this Cambridge DAC too. It is easy to compare the Cambridge XS to the built-in computer DAC in real-time by just moving the headphones. Wow!! I expected a difference, but this is night-and-day. You know the difference between great headphones and free ear-buds? Well, that's the same difference between this XS and the built-in DAC of any laptop/PC - even with the same source stream and even if is just standard 44.1kHz sampled. The unit is very small and it uses standard digital cable connectors - USB-A to micro-USB-B. I also bought a 3m USB cable from a 3rd party so that I could place the XS and its volume control within easy reach on my desk. I have read some complain that the XS gets hot. Well, after an hour or two it may get a little warm and you might notice it in your shirt pocket, but it certainly isn't "hot". If you have "good" headphones or speakers and you are still using the DAC in your laptop, PC, iphone or other portable player - you are really missing something. Get this little beauty and find out what.

Pros: Fantastic sound

Cons: (none)

Very Nice DAC

Anonymous from Washington DC on 2/9/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

When it comes to computer audio DACs you have several choices. Some are rather large is size with lots of features. Then there are the smaller ones like Cambridge's DacMagic. I like the size at it takes up absolutely no room on my desk. I have it going into Creative T10 speakers which are a low end model but that is OK. The sound is very good. If you are looking for simple computer audio improvement, then I urge you to add this DAC to your setup. I also upgraded the cable going from the DacMagic to the speakers which also contributes to an improvement in the sound.

Pros: Size and sound

Cons: Unable to upgrade the cable going from PC to the DacMagic.


Hands-on research

Product Research


USB DAC/Headphone Amp: The DacMagic XS USB DAC/Headphone Amp instantly upgrades your computer's sound output. It connects quickly and easily to a free USB (type-A) port on your laptop or desktop computer and allows you to hear your favorite music and movies with clarity and detail, as the artist intended. This portable USB DAC/Headphone Amp is easy to use and small enough to be carried around the home, to the office, or on vacation; anywhere you take your laptop.

ESS 9023 24-Bit DAC: The DacMagic XS uses a high quality ESS9023 24-bit DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to provide far superior sound than your computer's soundcard would ever be capable of. The built-in DAC dramatically improves the sound quality of your computer's digital audio; including low-resolution and high resolution music files, plus online streaming services, movies, TV shows, and games.

Asynchronous USB Port (Class 1/Class 2): The DacMagic XS features a microUSB (type-B) port and includes a microUSB-to-USB cable to connect to a free USB (type-A) port on your computer or laptop. Featuring asynchronous USB audio clocking, and supporting both USB Class 1 and USB Class 2, the DacMagic XS can be used to play everything from MP3 to the highest quality 24-bit/192kHz studio master recordings from your computer, free from unwanted noise, jitter and distortion.

  • Class 1 Mode: You will be able to improve the sound from your computer by using the DacMagic XS in its default USB Class 1.0 mode. Instead of connecting your headphones or 3.5mm cable directly to your computer, you will instead be connecting them to the DacMagic XS. By doing this, you are bypassing the computer's own internal soundcard and allowing the DacMagic XS to perform the Digital to Analog conversion in far higher quality, resulting in a much better sound.
  • Class 2 Mode:  To improve the sound even further, it is possible to use the DacMagic XS in USB Class 2.0 mode. When running in Class 2 mode, the DacMagic XS can also use Cambridge Audio's dedicated Windows USB Class 2 USB driver (driver not required for Apple computers). This allows you to bypass the computer operating system's poor audio path, preventing unwanted interference and re-sampling, guaranteeing a professional quality audio output.
Note: The DacMagic XS USB DAC/Headphone Amp is powered by your computer's USB port; no need for AC outlet or extra connections.

Computer Compatibility: The DacMagic XS USB DAC/Headphone Amp is compatible with Windows PCs (XP/Vista/7/8) and Mac computers (Mac OS-X 10. Snow Leopard +). Windows USB Class 2 USB driver required for Windows PC when device is in Class 2.0 mode.

Supported Sampling Rates: The DacMagic XS supports a variety of low-resolution music files (like MP3 or WMA), and high resolution music files (like FLAC or WAV) with various sampling/bit rates. A single LED indicates the incoming sample rate by variable color.

  • USB 1.0 Mode: 16/24-bit, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz 
  • USB 2.0 Mode: 16/24-bit, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz

Headphone Amp: The DACMagic XS is fitted with a gold-plated 3.5mm headphone jack that has a 150mw maximum power output and 12-ohm minimum headphone impedance; that is 10x the power of most computer headphone outputs. The headphone jack lets you connect a set of headphones for private listening of your laptop's digital music files; or connect to your home audio system, so you can enjoy your computer's digital music library from your stereo speakers.

Analog Volume Control: The DacMagic XS features a finger-tip analog volume control (53-steps) that fully bypasses the soundcard and volume control of your computer. Not only does this improve sound quality, but also means no more combinations of button presses with two hands, or several mouse clicks to change volume.

Compact Aluminum Casing: The 1.25" (w) x 0.4375" (h) x 2.125" (d) brushed aluminum case weighs a mere 3.5 oz, protects the electronics from shock or damage, and minimizes undesirable interference.


  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000 Hz (+/-2dB)
  • THD: <0.004%
  • SNR: 103 dBr (unweighted)
  • Crosstalk: 66dB
  • Output Impedance: 0.5 ohms
  • Output Voltage: 2V RMS

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 verify what’s in the box, 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.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

2 questions already asked

You should have no problems with the Momentum 2.0 Wireless headphones. You will pair the device as an audio output device via Bluetooth, which is just casual bluetooth pairing. I have never had a problem with the audio streaming (via bluetooth) with iOS, but I have had nothing but problems with OS X with and version greater than 10.9.5, ALthough recently the new OS 'El Capitan' version (which is in beta at this time of posting) works reasonably well. The audio streaming now works (is no longer 'choppy'), but I did seem to lose playback controls. I like this headphones, but they have caused me a lot of frustration, which I put most the blame on Apple's operating system OS X. [ Michael  Sep 11, 2015 ]
You will need a USB adapter for it to work [ Roxine  Sep 11, 2015 ]
I do not believe that this product will work with an iPad because there is not USB port to attach it. [ Jeffrey  Sep 11, 2015 ]
I believe it is only a USB interface. [ ROBERT D  Sep 11, 2015 ]
We have not received any answers from other customers on your question. I would recommend reaching out to an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat. They should be able to help answer your question. [ Jeff  Jan 19, 2014 ]  Staff