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I have a Cambridge DacMagic


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I have around 500 hours on the Cambridge DacMagic. It needed a good 300 hours to burn in.

 

It's a very good DAC but I'm afraid it's too easy to say that when there's nothing to A/B. I can certainly understand why so many professional UK reviews favor it. Very clear, no grain, no fatigue from long hours of listening. I've fed it everything from DI.fm 256kb MP3 streams to Blue Coast Records 96/24 sessions via Wavelab. The Blue Coast sessions material has absolutely stunning quality that can easily show your system's strengths and weaknesses.

 

I began feeding it by USB and the C-Media driver specifically for the DacMagic's CM108 receiver. First via a Locus Cryoparts USB cable and then a Ridge Street Poiema USB cable. I ran these cables past the burn in period and the audio quality was good but ultimately disappointing. The Poiema ($300) does sound better than the Cryoparts ($70), but I'm inclined to accept that a boutique USB cable versus a proper good quality USB cable isn't going to sound much better when they're both passing the same focus stifling jitter. I decided to try getting off USB.

 

I dropped an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 card into my music server (with a coax SPDIF out) and connected it to the DacMagic via a good quality Blue Jeans digital interconnect. Everything in the audio quality improved - focus, depth, clarity, air - Wow, big difference. Then I placed an older model Monarchy DIP in line between a couple of Blue Jeans cables and the qualities improved again. I imagine the Monarchy DIPs aren't very good reclockers compared to the Empirical Audio reclockers but for the cost/value at about $300 USD I'd say they're worth it. It made a clear difference in my system.

 

To sum it, the DacMagic is very good DAC value for $400 USD but its USB jitter rejection is apparently lacking. I'm definitely pleased with it when fed by reduced jitter SPDIF. USB needs a proper reclocking solution.

 

- Rand

 

 

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