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Cambridge DACMagic

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by trailer, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. crimpshrine

    crimpshrine Active Member

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    Its always worth trying. I would have one too but I do think they a far too over priced for how much they cost to produce and still stick by my point that you are better off with a pro audio dac if your going to fork out for one.

    I recently did a comparison with my Macbook Pro VS my AVI Labs Series CDP with my Xcan V3 and HD650 (I use these for all reference as you can not argue with the quality!) and the difference was negligible. Considering I paid £1600 for my CDP a few years back believe me I wanted to hear a difference. All I noticed was the output on the CDP was higher which did give the initial impression of more punch, better clarity, tighter bass but when I adjusted levels the difference went and I could not tell which was which.

    For me if my Macbook sounds as good as my CDP then I find no reason to try and make it better. I might take a loan of my friends pro audio dac and see what happens out of interest.

    At the end of it though there is no right or wrong. It is about what YOU are happy with. If you can hear a difference (and by that I mean an improvement rather than difference!) and you can do so blind then go for it :smashin:
     
  2. bishopsfinger

    bishopsfinger Member

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    Hi crimpshrine

    So how much do the components in your 'thousands of pounds in audio gear' add up to?

    I think you have conveniently missed out a number of other costs in addition to the actual components.

    If you don't like the DacMagic fine, but why the anger?

    I agree with D-FENS. Listen is the only way to make your own mind up.
     
  3. trailer

    trailer Well-known Member

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    If it only costs that much why don't you just go and build one yourself then.


    So you haven't actually heard one yet then?
     
  4. lbstyling

    lbstyling Active Member

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    a stratavarius violin cost £30 in parts too
     
  5. evans

    evans Active Member

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    A while back i was on here saying what a big difference mods make to the dacmagic. Specifically i put in burson discrete op amps with 1 uf bypass mundorf mkp caps on the bursons. Sound was vastly improved. However this year i got the upgraditis again and made a further and very big improvement. I changed the power regulator +5 volts for the DAC section to a Belleson super regulator which cost me about 53 euro shipped from parts connexxion in canada. When i heard it first time with the new regulator i couldnt believe how good the sound was. Instruments more defined, voices also, better soundstage and also the bass. Much more enjoyable. Of course the tv repair guy i had do the work had to bend the belleson sideways to fit into the case. There are 4 other regulators; 2 pc -/+ 12 volts for analogue stage but you can't fit the belleson on those as they have to be attached to heat sink. Obviously the power supply plays a huge difference in the sound!:clap:
     
  6. pfc

    pfc Standard Member

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    Evans,

    I posted this question elswhere in the forums and didn't really get a response, It sounds like you might be better placed to answer.....

    I have a DACmagic and want more from it....I could replace it, or upgrade and I'm currently pondering the upgrade route via audioupgrades (L4) - but need something to help tip me over the edge and decide that £400 upgrading my (£200) dac magic makes more sense than replacing the DAC or upgrading my Cyrus 8vs2 to add onboard DAC.

    I like the Dacmagic, but I can't help but think it's the weak link in my system....Does it sound better than a CD on the 650BD straight to AMP....I don't think so, probably not as good....but I'm no expert.

    My system is....

    Sonos Streaming FLAC > DACmagic vai optical
    Cambridge Audio 650BD playing occiasional CD's > DACMAgic via optical
    DACmagic > Cyrus 8vs2 via Chord Cobra
    Cyrus 8vs2 to Monitor Audio RS6 via Chord Carnival Silverscreen.

    Would you upgrade the DACmagic in my situ - sounds like you have had a positive experience. Do you think the L4 £400+ Audioupgrades route good value?

    TIA.

    Paul.
     
  7. evans

    evans Active Member

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    Hi Paul

    Its a good question you put and i think you should upgrade. Before i got the dacmagic i was considering the benchmark dac but didnt need the headphone amp or usb connection. The USB part of the dacmagic is inferior to the benchmark and i dont know if the upgrades address that. However in stock form the dacmagic as a dac only is only about 5% less the benchmark in sound according to various user reports i read. So if you just need it via optical or coaxial then why blow 800-900 euro on the benchmark or any other machine. Even if you spend on the upgrades its still cheaper! All I can tell you is get the bursons on and change regulators. Its a vast difference in sound quality. I was using a cyrus transport via coaxial feeding the dacmagic but now i am using a popcorn hour A-110 media player via glass optical and cant tell the difference. I did buy the bursons from Audio upgrades uk (Brent) and the MKP caps from DIY uk, the Belleson which i recommend i got from parts conexxion in canada.

    As i say again , if you go to the more expensive DAC like benchmark they still have the cheap parts and op amps inside. So i can only advise to upgrade.
     
  8. pfc

    pfc Standard Member

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    Thanks for your response evans. V Helpful. I'm tempted to try just the upgrades you have rather than the full upgrade from Brent. I'll chew it over the weekend.

    Thanks.
     
  9. evans

    evans Active Member

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    I think with the mods i have done i am more than happy and sound amazing compared to before. The audio upgrades uk also change the caps and that is very costly, i decided against it. A friend of mine who recently bought a dacmagic said my sound now is like you listening to the music live.:hiya:
     
  10. pfc

    pfc Standard Member

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    OK, so what do I need to do this upgrade you have?

    2 x Burson opamps - check

    How many MKP caps & Belleson? Don't suppose you have part # for MKP & Belleson....

    Where can I get a layout to tell someone what to change?

    Thanks again.:thumbsup:
     
  11. evans

    evans Active Member

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    the mkp caps you can buy at diy uk get the 1uf ones for better sound you need one for each dual burson op amp. you can get them here:

    Mundorf MCap MKP Polypropylene Film Audio Capacitors


    the bursons i purchased from audio upgrades , you need a pair of dual so 90 pounds a pair :Burson audio discrete opamps

    burson page shows how to replace the op amp with the bursons :HD Audio Opamp

    its a staight swap with the two op275 on the board.

    here is a diagram of how to install the mkp caps on the op amps which your technician has to do, dual op amps is mentioned:

    Burson Audio Blog: Burson HD Opamp 101 Part 1 (MKP cap tweak)

    some info on the belleson:

    Belleson Superpower Voltage Regulator

    you can buy it here: BELLESON "Superpower" Regulator:

    youll need to order the +5 volts belleson its a straight swap with the 3 pin 7805 regulator that sits in front of the dac chips on the board and is marked 7805 you cant miss it. The tech will need to take the pcb out of the case to replace it as it needs desoldering from underneath.


    On the dacmagic the 7805 is easy to find and is labelled on the part 7805cv and the OP275 is two small ic's also labelled. really you cant miss them.


    As you see from here: http://www.audioupgrades.co.uk/dacmagicazur.shtml

    you can also replace the 4 input op amps which sit behind the op275 on the board with 4 x LM4562MA (LME49720MA) sold here: http://www.audioupgrades.co.uk/na_ma_ha_opamps.shtml

    I didnt do that mod so i cant comment on that


    hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
  12. chrisus

    chrisus Standard Member

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    I have owned both the Dacmagic and the Benchmark dac 1, used with a computer system. I cannot agree with the statement that the difference is only 5%.
    Yesterday I sold my Dacmagic .
    Chrisus
     
  13. evans

    evans Active Member

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    do you mean usb, which i said was inferior to the benchmark? as a dac i didnt make the statement it is 5% better i said it was i read from peoples opinions just to make that clear m8:nono:
     
  14. chrisus

    chrisus Standard Member

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    No sorry I used them both with optical connection.I also understood that you were quoting other people with the 5% diff.
    With those statements I do not agree,and thought it should be said.
    chrisus
     
  15. gballan@mac.com

    gballan@mac.com Active Member

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    My initial thoughts on the Dacmagic are rather underwhelming.

    I'm using Lossless files fed to a macbook
    The Dacmagic is connected via USB
    High quality Chord interconnects to Arcam AV8 and P7
    Vienna Acoustic speakers

    I think all of that lot is of a sufficient quality to be able to show any difference that the Dacmagic brings to the system.

    I said to my girlfriend who was deeply sceptical that if I couldn't tell the difference in a blind test that I would take it back. We haven't done that yet but frankly I don't rate my chances of spotting the 'improved' sound than from a cheap headphone cable going straight to the AV8. I also can't tell any difference from the various filters.

    Having said that I've been amazed at how good the set up sounds. The difference over my old Squeezebox set up is unbeliveable. Just thought that the Dacmagic would take it to another level - more open soundstage, more resonance etc. Perhaps I should be grateful that I can save myself £200.

    I'll let you know how I get on in the test when it happens but I wonder if anyone has got any suggestions for anything I'm doing wrong.
     
  16. evans

    evans Active Member

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    The dacmagic via usb is not that good and if you bought it for just usb then you didnt read various reviews that state that. I have also got a mac and i tried it via usb to dacmagic and it wasnt that good. My dacmagic is also modified a great deal so i am using the popcorn hour via a glass optical as a transport instead and its wonderfull. On the mac i was using foobar 2000 with WASAPI plug in to get bit perfect sound. Unfortunately sound wasnt good. I also tried with foobar the Kernal streaming plug in and that was pretty good compared to the WASAPI or the Asioforall plug in. I went to a friends house recently and he has a usb to RCA/optical converter and it sounds better than directly hooking up to dacmagic via usb. He wants to buy the Hiface hiface m2tech converter which is ideal for pc usb to dacmagic use.
     
  17. gballan@mac.com

    gballan@mac.com Active Member

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    I didn't ignore the reports from people about using the USB it's just that they seemed to be perfectly balanced by the reviews and reports from people saying they couldn't tell the difference between the outputs. Deeply confusing this computer audiophile stuff :)

    If I've understood other reports correctly I can try a Toslink via a mini Toslink adaptor from the headphone adaptor. I'll try that before the blind test gets insisted upon.
     
  18. evans

    evans Active Member

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    If i was to use the pc as transport to dacmagic i would use the hiface m2tech converter , it greatly reduces jitter and gets rave reviews from users and experts alike and its about 100 euros i think. Also the dacmagic usb in socket only accepts only 16 bit audio and upscales to 24 bit due to audio chip they have used. At the price they had to cut down on somthing:rotfl:
     
  19. gballan@mac.com

    gballan@mac.com Active Member

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    Oh, thanks for this information.

    Are you suggesting to just use the M2Tech straight into the pre-amp or would you recommend using the Dacmagic still?

    Thanks for helping.
     
  20. trailer

    trailer Well-known Member

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    The M2Tech only has a digital out so you would still need a DAC. There's an Evo version of it coming out in July I believe.
     
  21. gballan@mac.com

    gballan@mac.com Active Member

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    Thanks so much for the suggestion. It looks as if it may be the difference (fingers crossed). I've put an order in and hopefully will have it next week (out of stock at the moment).
     
  22. evans

    evans Active Member

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    Okay yes i mean from pc to M2Tech (usb) then digital out to digital in of Dacmagic. Before you buy though i would try hooking up optical cable straight to dacmagic from your macbook. My macbook pro has optical out but i never tried it since i was so happy with the media player. In any case the M2 tech was compared favourably to i think the off ramp of emperical audio which does a similar job but its more than a thousand dollars!!
     
  23. evans

    evans Active Member

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    evo version? is it new M2 tech version or dacmagic version?
     
  24. alexs2

    alexs2 Well-known Member

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    I think the answer to your problem is the USB interface.

    I have a DacMagic,which in my current system compares very well with my last DAC/upsampler which was well into the £1k plus region.

    USB is a variable feast at best,and my own finding with the DM is that it copes very well as part of the CD source to a headphone system costing a few thousand pounds.
     
  25. trailer

    trailer Well-known Member

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    M2 Tech
     
  26. trailer

    trailer Well-known Member

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  27. ralphmalph

    ralphmalph Active Member

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    The op275 is only used for the RCA output (unbalanced).

    There are no opamps on the XLR output (balanced).

    So if to want to save 90quid and get the best quality output use the XLR outputs. Even if your amp does not have balanced (xlr) inputs to recieve the signal you can build your own XLR -> RCA cable easily enough but remember to not wire up the ground pin on the 3 pin XLR as if you do it will introduce distortion into the signal (hence why you need to make your own cables).

    The simple rule with the dacmagic is that if you want the best sound that it can produce you have to use the XLR outputs.
     
  28. scorpion88

    scorpion88 Active Member

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    Totally agree. I have the HK 980 and would have got the 990 had I been on the ball.

    However, the 980 is also great and worth a listen @ £200.

    I also have the Oppo 980H which IMO beats the CA DAC Magic. Unfortunately this is now obsolete so you will have to go the second hand route.

    see the following link:

    Oppo DV-980H Universal DVD player Audio Performance Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity

    Also why do I need another unit in my rack for no audio improvement IMO.

    Cheers
     
  29. scorpion88

    scorpion88 Active Member

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    lol
     
  30. timtaylor10

    timtaylor10 Standard Member

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    Is anybody out there running a SKY+ HD box through a DAC Magic and if so, what are the results like ?
     

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