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My further to be improved set up...

Ricku

Prominent Member
Hi guys.

A few months ago I bought myself a graham slee solo amp and a pair of HD650s. I've loved it, but I felt I needed something a bit more. I decided to buy myself a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic and the upgraded PSU-1 for my Graham Slee. The Dacmagic will be arriving in a few days, and the PSU-1 possibly in a few weeks. I'll post my impressions to hopefully aid some people in whether to buy these things or not!

Incrediboy:thumbsup:
 

Drubbing

Established Member
Not sure what your previous source was/is, but if it's your Mac or the Xbox, then a good source is what would be missing for that combo.

I've got the DACmagic, and it's been the single biggest impovement for my headphones.

I did have a Corda 3Move portable DAC/AMP which was a decent step up from my iMac onboard, but I thought the DACm was noticeably better. Clarity and seperation of sound were the significant things.

I was lucky to score a loan of a DACmagic for a couple ofweeks before I bought, and I'm glad I did, as it took a couple of hours or for my ears to adjust to what it can do.
 

Ricku

Prominent Member
Hey Drubbing,

At the moment I've just got the audio running straight from my mac to my amp. So I'm hoping the DAC should make a big improvement. I can use optical and USB from my mac to the DAC. From your experience, which sounds the best?
 

Drubbing

Established Member
Hey Drubbing,

At the moment I've just got the audio running straight from my mac to my amp. So I'm hoping the DAC should make a big improvement. I can use optical and USB from my mac to the DAC. From your experience, which sounds the best?

Neither - one for the theorists, I think. I tried both when on loan and couldn't hear a difference. But try it, it's nice to have a choice, and if you prefer it, it frees up a USB port.

Amping the Mac should sound awful, mine did just plugging the MS1 straight in, the DT250 were more forgiving. I couldn't imagine amping it. THe DACm should be a massive improvement.
 
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swayne

Established Member
I might be wrong here, but:

USB is limited to 16 bit, stereo, i.e. 44.1 kHz music files.

Optical ( and this is where I'm unsure ) should be good for higher bit rates i.e. 96khz/24bit.

Steven.
 

Drubbing

Established Member
I might be wrong here, but:
USB is limited to 16 bit, stereo, i.e. 44.1 kHz music files.
Optical ( and this is where I'm unsure ) should be good for higher bit rates i.e. 96khz/24bit.Steven.

I don't think so, given what my DACmagic does via USB, but those 16/44.1 files are the default standard for CD audio, and therefore also many of the mp3s which are ripped from them.

If optical is good for transfer of the other two, then you're getting your bit/sample rates mixed up a bit. Bit rate is the amount of audio data transmitted per second, and when compressed, allows files to be smaller and therefore be transferred quicker/more easily stored, but data (quality) is lost.

THe sample rate defines the number of samples per sec that combine to make up the signal frequency that the data (in bit rate) uses.

Unless you have access to 24/196 files (and high audio production speciality sites do sell them) then it's a moot point.

My DACmagic allows upsampling, so it can play 16/44.1 and upsample to 24/192 (whether this 'improves' the original data is one for the purists. For me, it's just the best sounding source I've bought so far) and will this via USB or optical.
 

Ricku

Prominent Member
Well it arrived not long ago. I've got it plugged in and working. I initially plugged it in via Optical, but it had a loud hissing/distortion noise so I threw it on USB. It really does sound fantastic. I think it will take some time for me to adjust to it. Straight off the bat when I listened to a few songs it sounded so much clearer. The 'dark veil' of the HD650s is really gone now.
vh58k0.jpg

2zr2wit.jpg
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Interesting set-up - we could be twins :D Dacmagic, nod. I had the Solo on loan a while back which I posted about but I would now be minded to look beyond

If you want 192kbps files to a/b you could look at NiN - I'm not a fan, but they typically release their free (read rubbish) online songs in several configs
 

Ricku

Prominent Member
Interesting set-up

I hope that is a good thing. :rolleyes: I've got lots of CDs and Flac files as it is. Besides I'm not a massive fan of NiN, but cheers anyway. Can you recommend anything which I should listen to that will sound cracking?
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Good music is good music. I always like playing random selections to see if I am *wowed* by an addition

James Brown Live at the Apollo is one of the best live recordings in history. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life sounds good on anything. Miles Davis Kind of Blue is a classic and would be a good tester as it harks back to the days before hot mixing.

You probably want to see if you can hear the drum sticks :p

At the moment my benchmark is female vocals. Not too harsh, forward, subdued. Perfect. That's the test
 

Ricku

Prominent Member
I've been listening to Sigur Rós and Explosions in the sky for the majority of the night, and I'm in heaven. It's amazing what a DAC can do! At the moment I've got some led zep and pink floyd playing (Lossless) and it sounds just phenomenal. When listening to music now, it is like it is layered and I can pick out each different layer of music and instrument. It's hard to describe, but it sounds more complete from what it did before I had the DAC.

A few years ago I remember a friend of mine said that to really and thoroughly enjoy old music you didn't need expensive audio equipment (whilst he held some cheap ipod like headphones up) :suicide: as the technology didn't exist back then. I almost laughed in his face then. I really wish I was still close friends with him so I could sit him down and make him listen to this to prove him oh so wrong.

I think some Genesis is next, I better go hunting round the cabinet for the old cds :smashin:
 

Drubbing

Established Member
I don't know what you like, and you should always listen to that, rather than stuff you wouldn't otherwise, just because it may sound superb, but...

Equinoxe by JM Jarre is what spun me out with the DACm, the sustained synths and blip/burbles just felt like they came alive in 3D, and showed me the separation and space the DAC gave to the music.

Any Radiohead is terrific. Lots more of the production is revealed.
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. It's the cliched headphone album, it's practically mandatory...:)

Basically anything well recorded and mastered, will shine. It should also reveal what in your collection isn't well produced.
 

swayne

Established Member
I can recommend Bill Evans Trio - Waltz For Debby; amazing.

If you want to try high def audio files then Linn Records - specialists in Classical, Jazz and Celtic music have some sample files you can download.

Plug the optical back in and get the 24 bit files from here
Download our testfiles

Could you let me know if the "24bit 192kHz Free Lossless Audio Codec" file works. If it does then I'm going to have to find a way to get optical out of my really old PC to feed my V-DAC.

Steven.
 

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