DR Hi-Fi's Review
5 STAR - Hi-Fi Choice
the advent of computer-based music systems, Cambridge
Audio’s DacMagic™ upsampling digital to analogue converter
is the most affordable and effective way to upgrade any PC
or Macintosh computer, network music device, games console
or standard CD/DVD player to truly high end sound quality.
Reasons why you need Dac Magic!
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 – Squeezebox™, SoundBridge™, Sonos™ etc
- the difference in audible quality is incredible!
Games just explode into life
Gaming isn’t just about the moving image. By connecting your
games console - PlayStations(PS2 and PS3™), Xbox™ and Xbox
360s™ to your hi-fi via DacMagic, dramatically improved
soundtracks and special effects are immediately apparent.
Breathe new life into your DVD player
DVD players can sound great with movies, but normally lack
polish when playing back CDs. DacMagic is the simplest way
to significantly eradicate jitter and markedly improve your
DVD player’s sonic performance.
Resurrect your CD player
Maybe your CD player is ageing gracefully and is in need of
a boost. DacMagic adds a new lease of life into any CD
player fitted with an S/PDIF or Toslink (optical) output.
DacMagic is an audiophile tour de force!
DacMagic sports a range of components you’d 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. For
more information on these advanced filters, just download
It’s 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. Once upsampled, DacMagic offers both
balanced XLR outputs and unbalanced RCA outputs for superior
quality analogue transfer.
DacMagic's got serious pedigree!
Cambridge Audio introduced the original DacMagic in 1994
with the specific intention of upgrading CD players. It was
received to great acclaim and spawned several incarnations.
The digital music revolution means the CD is just one format
as people listen to their collection in a totally different
way. Therefore, the time is right for a renaissance. The
spiritual successor to the original DacMagic allows a range
of applications such as PCs, Media Center PCs, network music
devices and sound bridges to benefit from a DAC’s ability to
bring downloaded and compressed content to life. Once
upsampled, the DacMagic offers both unbalanced RCA and
balanced XLR outputs for the best quality analogue transfer.
Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF™) asynchronous upsampling technology
converts 16-24 bit audio (at any standard sampling frequency between
32-96kHz) to 24 bit/192kHz
32 bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
Dual Differential Virtual Earth balanced filter topology – low order two
pole linear-phased Bessel filter takes advantage of high sampling rate
Twin WM8740 high quality DACs in dual differential mode for excellent
Incoming sampling rate indicator 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz
Choice of filters – linear phase, minimum phase and steep filter can all
be selected to suit an individual’s listening preferences
Phase select to invert or reinvert input, correcting possible recording
Two inputs with both SPDIF & Toslink sockets allow wide range of digital
sources to be connected
USB input connects direct to PC without drivers to act as very high
quality DAC/soundcard providing genuine hi-fi quality playback from
desktop or media PC
Singled ended phono and XLR balanced audio outputs
Digital output (SPDIF and Toslink concurrently) passes through selected
source for recording purposes
Substantial aluminium front panel plus an entirely new ultra rigid,
acoustically dampened chassis
Can be used horizontally (using four rubber feet) or vertically (rubber
Dual Wolfson WM8740 24bit DACs
Texas Instruments TMS
320VC5501 DSP upsampling to 24bit 192kHz
2-Pole Dual Differential
Bessel Double Virtual Earth Balanced
20Hz to 20kHz (±0.1dB) - steep
THD @ 1Khz 0dBFs:
THD @ 1kHz -10dBFs:
THD @ 20kHz 0dBFs:
Signal to Noise Ratio:
Total correlated jitter:
Crosstalk @ 1kHz:
Crosstalk @ 20kHz:
Output level (unbalanced):
Output level (balanced):
4.2V rms (2.1V per phase)
Digital input word widths
16-24bit (16 bit for USB)
Digital input sampling
32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz,
Audio output up-sampling:
Fixed 24bit 192kHz
Dimensions (H x W x D):
52 x 215 x 191mm
(2.0 x 8.6 x 7.6”)
DacMagic’s 32 bit DSP runs 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.
phase is the same as used in the 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.
phase meanwhile does not feature constant group delay but rather the co-efficients
have been optimized without feed-forward so that the impulse response
exhibits no pre-ringing in the time domain. Some commentators 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 highend CD playback systems.
the steep filter removes close in aliasing artefacts by re-calibrating
the co-efficients for a very slight roll off at 20kHz but an ultra steep
drop to the stop-band just after 20kHz.
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.