I was listening yesterday to the Cambridge DacMagic connected to my HP2133 via USB. The sound quality was really unpleasant: especially in the treble where it was very splashy and relentless. I then connected the DacMagic via an optical isolating USB hub. Not a practical solution, as the hub which is designed more for medical applications, is more expensive than the Cambridge. I won’t say the music was transformed into something truly audiophile but it was significantly better.
It’s around £200 if one shops around so I decided to risk it. I also purchased a cheap PC Express to IE1394 card to fit my HP2133 netbook. Lots of fiddling around and finally all the drivers matched up and were running. My best DAC, or at least the best that will do anything above 48kHz, at the moment is the Cambridge DacMagic so I tried it it with the output from the TC.
Very interesting, the combination delivers the best computer audio sound quality I’ve achieved so far. It has a rightness and a feeling of grip that is so much better then the shiny chromium plated sound that it’s so easy to get.
Over the past day I’ve had a chance to listen to the comparison in two systems, both this time, using the coax S/PDIF input. Overall I prefer the Cambridge DacMagic. The DM is a little more even handed: on first listen it sounds a little flatter than the V-DAC but after a while it’s obvious that vocals are a littel more intellidgble even though they are further back in the mix.
The MF is initially very enticing, it has a very direct quality as if a veil has been removed from in front of the speakers but at the same time it wasn’t quite as cohesive. The DacMagic – set to my preferred Minimum phase setting – was a little more relaxed, laid back in presentation but the bass was together with the rest of the band.
I’m told the MF will be here tomorrow so assuming I give it a day or so to run in I’ll be doing some comparisons on Thursday and Friday – More then
Decided to use Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but slightly more unusually the DVD-A rip so the source is 24/96. Unlike quite a few DVD-A’s this one appears to have some content above 22k. Amazing though that given the total available dynamic range they still needed to ‘clip’ the recording. Still sounds rather good though.
To start I compared the standard power supply with the MaplinL54BR. Pleasant surprise, the Maplin delivers a subtlety of delivery that doesn’t emphasise any particular instruments. The original in comparison seems to make the bass line and the hi-hat a little more obvious in the mix of Dreams and decreases the importance of Stevie Nick’s voice.
I’ve been reading good reports on various fora of using a 240 to 12V AC transformer from Maplin as a relacement power supply for the Dacmagic. It’s a 36VA tranny in a plastic case with a captive 2 core mains cable and a selection of pluggable DC plugs. It’s Maplin part number L54BR. It costs £15.
I’ve picked up one locally so reports of some listening results very soon.
The 225VA transformer has been terminated with a suitable mains lead and power in plug for the Cambridge. It”s been plugged in and blown a one and a two amp fuse with its switch on surge so it’s running with a 3amp fuse. This by the way is not the way to do something for long-term use. This is just…
A 225VA 12V toroid has arrived today for the “does a larger transformer improve the Cambridge DacMagic trial”.
Hope to add the necessary connections to do the first listening tests tomorrow – more then.
I’ve had a Cambridge Dacmagic for maybe a couple of months now and it’s not disappointed. For two hundred pounds it’s fabulous value.