Cambridge Audio Dacmagic Plus only £249 instore at Richer Sounds (was £349)
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Cambridge Audio Dacmagic Plus only £249 instore at Richer Sounds (was £349)

35
Found 1st Sep 2017
The CA Dacmagic Plus is currently £249 instore at Richer Sounds, meaning a saving of £100 against the RRP of £349.

Richer Sounds say: ''The purpose behind the DacMagic Plus is simple: to make your music sound better, whatever the digital source. Plug in your Blu-ray, DVD or CD player via optical or coaxial connections (there are two of each) and enjoy up-sampled music quality that's better than CD. The USB connection for your computer supports 24-bit transfer for 'better than CD quality'. So music files stored on your PC or laptop in top 24/192 quality can be streamed, uncompressed, through the DacMagic Plus and enhanced by its DAC.''
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35 Comments
Original Poster
Click here to see the Dacmagic Plus @ Cambridge Audio
Original Poster
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Original Poster
I'm having difficulty adding an image to the Deal headline; hopefully a mod can sort it for me
I am suspicious of this type of product so anybody here tried one?
Wtf is this?
Original Poster
JSmooth4 h, 15 m ago

Wtf is this?


It's a Digital to Analogue Converter. I use mine to convert digital audio from my Synology NAS (via USB) to analogue, which is then output to my amplifier. Some DACs in CD, DVD and blu ray players aren't that great and this is simply a device to make the end sound sound a bit better. For more information, please click on the link to the Cambridge Audio website above or call in to a Richer Sounds store and I'm sure the staff there will be happy to say more about it
Good piece of kit. Voted hot.
Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd quality. If I rip a cdhow exactly does this make it better. Sounds like snake oil to me.
Original Poster
mcrobbj3 m ago

Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd …Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd quality. If I rip a cdhow exactly does this make it better. Sounds like snake oil to me.


I'm sure someone from Richer Sounds will give you a good answer if you ask them
mcrobbj4 m ago

Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd …Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd quality. If I rip a cdhow exactly does this make it better. Sounds like snake oil to me.




A CD rip won't be better than the source.
If you have access to lossless sources that didn't come from CD's, SACD for example.
Edited by: "rev6" 1st Sep 2017
Original Poster
Fwiw, I bought one earlier today and use it with my Synology DS416PLAY NAS; connected directly via USB. My NAS's media player, DS Audio Station, can process hi-res audio such as that found on blu ray audio discs, and so can the Cambridge Audio Dacmagic. I've ripped all my CD, DVD-A, SACD and blu ray audio discs so I can stream audio from my NAS to a DAC (with DSD converted to PCM on the fly) rather than having to play the discs themselves, and in my setup at least, it sounds great.

The headphone output is pretty decent, although I wouldn't suggest buying Dacmagic purely for the purpose of playback via headphones as there are better alternatives for the same kind of money, I'm sure. Like I say, it works great in my system and I'm delighted with the little black box of tricks
You're paying more for the snake oil than for the quality here. The upsampling stuff is moot, since it can't add anything to the standard data stream (and hey, audiophiles, even if it did, would you really want a cheap consumer device adding stuff to your audio stream? What if you don't like what it adds?), it's not really going to do anything bar provide you with a DAC aimed squarely at suckers. You'll get better specs and better software support for less money by finding something in the £150-range of the Audio Interface market. You'll get something far purer there too, which won't mess with your data stream just for marketing's sake.
Original Poster
I have no plans to upsample anything; like you, I'm not convinced it adds anything of value to the end sound. What I can say, however, is that it does sound better than the Creative Audio DAC I was using before, which was limited to 24/48 and therefore, downsampled all my 24/88, 24/96, 24/192 and DSD audio files to 24/48. Although the Dacmagic Plus doesn't support DSD, it does support 24/192 audio, however, and therefore will process these files as they are.

What DAC would you recommend, then, for £150 that's fully compatible with my Synology DS416PLAY NAS via USB (the raison d'être of my purchase) instead of the Dacmagic Plus?
Edited by: "windhoek" 1st Sep 2017
This product is a dac that supposed to add features to a quality stereo amp that lacks digital decoding. Upsampling I'm not sure about as it could be upsampling or over sampling. Increasing the sample rate and bit depth should allow for better processing, less distortion and less filtering so I guess a better sound.
In the end it's about getting a more natural analogue sound and op amps+filters do vary greatly.

I just use my home cinema with a hdmi link for this or my sony bd 590s for sacd playback. Kodi, foobar can also do this.

In a nutshell you're paying for a premium dac pre amp and filters. A good dac should support 44.1 88.2 176.4KHz and not convert it into video audio formats.
Edited by: "kester76" 1st Sep 2017
The key to not needing a DAC is to buy an amp with a suitable sound signature (for your ears) based on what you listen to.

That's exactly why I went for Rega kit when I auditioned it, analogue and warm sounding, not clinical and sharp like ArCam etc.

If you're buying a DAC make sure whatever you buy it from will allow you to return it. Then run A-B blind tests with someone swapping wires and see if you can tell the difference... For most people it's a placebo.

Better spending £250 on better speakers/amp or interconnects IMO.
The_Hoff1 m ago

The key to not needing a DAC is to buy an amp with a suitable sound …The key to not needing a DAC is to buy an amp with a suitable sound signature (for your ears) based on what you listen to.That's exactly why I went for Rega kit when I auditioned it, analogue and warm sounding, not clinical and sharp like ArCam etc.If you're buying a DAC make sure whatever you buy it from will allow you to return it. Then run A-B blind tests with someone swapping wires and see if you can tell the difference... For most people it's a placebo.Better spending £250 on better speakers/amp or interconnects IMO.


A good DAC shouldn't colour at all.
rev616 m ago

A good DAC shouldn't colour at all.


So, all amps and all DAC's sound identical to one another?
The_Hoff5 m ago

So, all amps and all DAC's sound identical to one another?


A good DAC should be as transparent as possible. It's the amp and speaker/driver that gives the characteristics. Unless it's purposely colouring it which I'd stay away from. This is a DAC foremost so I assumed you were talking about that.
Edited by: "rev6" 1st Sep 2017
rev612 m ago

A good DAC should be as transparent as possible. It's the amp and …A good DAC should be as transparent as possible. It's the amp and speaker/driver that gives the characteristics. Unless it's purposely colouring it which I'd stay away from. This is a DAC foremost so I assumed you were talking about that.



Every one of my DAC (currently have Dragonfly/DacMagicXS/Fiio) sound different from the same source. AQ DF is much softer than the CA conversion, less tiring.

For a while I had an Arcam rDAC on my Sonos Connect (which is wired to my Rega Brio-R then to my PMC DB1+) but decided there was too little benefit over the incumbent Sonos DAC.

If like the OP you have no means of playing out digital sources you have a choice to make and I can recommend CA stuff as VFM.

DAC's have always been contentious and the subject of many a debate, but I'd suggest that unless you specifically need one to get play out, that money is better spent elsewhere.
Original Poster
I can't speak for anyone else, but I bought this because it's one of the few 'unverified' DACs that can handle hi-res audio via USB straight from my Synology NAS. Just to put things in perspective, the list of verified (by Synology) DACs is not one, not two, not three, but just four DACs long! Sure, most USB DACs would work up to 16/48, or 24/48 at most with my NAS, but that's not what I want as I've got a lot of hi-res audio files on my NAS.

I use the DAC in standard mode as it were with no upsampling whatsoever, and I've set the output to operate as a fixed line-level output, and therefore, audio is bypassing the digital preamp.

Fwiw, I tried using a Chord Hugo I borrowed from a friend, but the HD USB Input was buggy, presumably because it's not one of the verified DACs. I could have bought a Hugo and used the SD USB Input I suppose, but that would have meant everything beyond 16/44 being downsampled to 16/48, or possibly 24/48 at most.

Having had some time to listen to music with the Dacmagic in place - both through my HD650s and hi-fi system - I like what I've been hearing. As I say, it's certainly better than the Creative Audio Soundblaster I'd been using. Fwiw, I bought an ex-demo one for £200 so that I could return it if I didn't like it (returning a new one would have incurred a 15% re-stocking fee), but I think I'll be keeping it and going back to buy the 6 year warranty for £20. It might not be the right DAC is some systems, but it's right for mine considering there are few alternatives that will work with my NAS via USB straight off the bat.
I voted hot as this is a good price for what it it is.

However, if you have an AV receiver especially, or any other device that does DAC for multiple inputs, e.g. a modern stereo amplifier, or even if you have mobile devices with really good a audio built in like LG G6, or almost any Apple products,, then this just another box that is surplus in my opinion.
All your DACs will sound different as they convert and process audio slightly different. Whether a DAC is good or bad is up to debate. A good amp should not alter the audio signal but humans on average perfer a warmer sound. This is mostly due to the odd and even harmonic distortion the pre amp aim towards. From what I remember even harmonics sound more natural and softer to humans so they tend to prefer the warmer sound from tube amps. Alot of this depends also on what type of music you prefer but in general your looking for and amp that either sounds the way you like or adds distortion to sound the way you like.
Also remember human hearing is pretty unique so adjusting the eq to compensate for hearing damage isn't a bad thing as it's just calibrating the amp to your hearing. I believe it should be an option on all high end products to enter a hearing profile that you can get from a hearing test.
The thing people should understand with DACs if that they're essentially a chip, and the technology has got that good, that even a £12 DAC can sound amazing now. I own a high end DAC a Chord Qute EX and a £12 PhatDac from PiMoroni easily competes with it.

I personally would NOT buy this DAC, you can do just as well and dare I say it better than this DAC for peanuts. All you need is a Rasp Pi, a casing and a PhatDAC, it's all on here, for less than £50 you can thrash the pants off this deal >


shop.pimoroni.com/pro…BwE

One caveat! It obviously doesn't have all the connections of the DAC in this deal.
Edited by: "fishmaster" 2nd Sep 2017
Original Poster
But would it sound better in every situation i.e. in everyone's system? There's simply no way of knowing this to be the case. Hi-fi enthusiasts need to employ a suck it and see approach as different components of a system work better as part of some systems but not in others, and in some rooms, but not in others. That's why you hear some say this product is amazing while someone else might say it sounds like excrement.
haha i bought one 2 years ago for 200 from them. first one failed after one month(lights started blinking, than headphone jack), second one failed with lights only, third one lights again, so i have now 4th one yes 4th they changed then without any troubles. now i noticed on front paint are going off where volume knob is. for 200 i give it a go but for 250 meh. i wouldnt recommend this so cold.
mcrobbj11 h, 54 m ago

Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd …Sorry don't get this what source do i use for the claimed better than cd quality. If I rip a cdhow exactly does this make it better. Sounds like snake oil to me.

if you dont know what DAC is dont waste your time posting
I've used stand alone DACs on and off for probably 25+ years. They aren't snake oil but the effects can vary. I'd always suggest that you listen to one first before buying. My honest opinion on the Dacmagic is that it's a bit long in the tooth. So I really don't think this is such a bargain anymore.
windhoek7 h, 36 m ago

But would it sound better in every situation i.e. in everyone's system? …But would it sound better in every situation i.e. in everyone's system? There's simply no way of knowing this to be the case. Hi-fi enthusiasts need to employ a suck it and see approach as different components of a system work better as part of some systems but not in others, and in some rooms, but not in others. That's why you hear some say this product is amazing while someone else might say it sounds like excrement.


This won't make a silk purse from a sows ear. You need to have decent equipment for it to work is best.
Just a word of warning from an owner of the original Dacmagic Azure which uses similar componentry.
While it claims to support hi-res audio through USB and does the resulting SQ is not great. I could tell the difference in 100% of the blind tests.
That also appeared true for other USB DACs I tried. So I gave up on USB eventually.
The convenience of being able to connect several digital inputs and making them all sound equally well is great. And that's what this product is all about. But the USB input is just a waste of space sadly.
So try before you buy.
Original Poster
USB sounding great here
Original Poster
justonemorepie5 h, 3 m ago

This won't make a silk purse from a sows ear. You need to have decent …This won't make a silk purse from a sows ear. You need to have decent equipment for it to work is best.


Presumably the same applies to every component in a given system. Fwiw, I've got a pretty system that boogies big time and since I've added the Dacmagic Plus, the boogie just got boogier
Tda1541A S1 for me though the digital filter SA7220 is not good with poor stopband attenuation. This is a 16bit setup. Unfortunately there aren't really many digital filters that will work with that chip.I ditched the separate DAC as although you have separate power supplies the system clock is recovered from the source. It really needs to be generated at the DAC and sent back to the source.

I would have to listen to this Cambridge Audio DAC. Modern DAC's have come a long way though and are cheap or you can go the other way to something like Chord with their FPGA where they build custom DAC's.
Edited by: "ashman33" 3rd Sep 2017
rev61st Sep

A good DAC shouldn't colour at all.

​In practice they all do though.

There really shouldn't be a need for expensive DAC units any more however. The chipsets cost only a few pounds, and unlike the earlier DAC chips do not need expensive buffering amplification or high end power supplies to run at their best.

That said this unit will almost certainly sound better than the DAC in a typical AV amplifier or Blu-ray/DVD unit, and massively better than the nasty DACs in a lot of phones. I still wouldn't pay more than 50 quid for a Chinese-built DAC with a good chip though.
fishmaster2nd Sep

The thing people should understand with DACs if that they're essentially a …The thing people should understand with DACs if that they're essentially a chip, and the technology has got that good, that even a £12 DAC can sound amazing now. I own a high end DAC a Chord Qute EX and a £12 PhatDac from PiMoroni easily competes with it. I personally would NOT buy this DAC, you can do just as well and dare I say it better than this DAC for peanuts. All you need is a Rasp Pi, a casing and a PhatDAC, it's all on here, for less than £50 you can thrash the pants off this deal >https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/phat-dac?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&variant=10458523655&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2o7Y2_qF1gIVyrftCh2utQMsEAQYASABEgLVg_D_BwEOne caveat! It obviously doesn't have all the connections of the DAC in this deal.

​A DAC that is directly connected to an I2S source (as is the case with a Raspberry Pi) should sound better than USB as the latter is a contended stream and this subject to jitter. And the raw DACs you get for Volumio etc are extremely cheap as they lack all the front end stuff that's unnecessary anyway.

As long as the power supply is of high quality you're good to go - and PiDACs with decent chips start at a fiver.
jasejames4 m ago

​A DAC that is directly connected to an I2S source (as is the case with a R …​A DAC that is directly connected to an I2S source (as is the case with a Raspberry Pi) should sound better than USB as the latter is a contended stream and this subject to jitter. And the raw DACs you get for Volumio etc are extremely cheap as they lack all the front end stuff that's unnecessary anyway. As long as the power supply is of high quality you're good to go - and PiDACs with decent chips start at a fiver.

​I should add as well that this is a very cheap way to get into tweaking, as you can buy boards with every chipsets under the sun from China for next to nothing, and swapping them doesn't even need driver configs.

Only problem comes when you want to add other digital sources. Then you need a proper DAC - but just buy a decent S/H one for that.
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