NEWS: Cambridge Audio launches DacMagic 200M headphone amplifier

fordster

Member
Lots of marketing spiel but little in terms of real info, e.g. “As a headphone amplifier, the 200M uses traditional class A/B amplification combined with a reduced output impedance on the 6.3mm headphone socket which leads to more power, less distortion, less noise and tighter audio control when listening via headphones.” How about just telling us what the output impedance is Cambridge?

I would potentially be interested in this but would want to see real reviews and measurements first. Not to mention it would have to come down in price, that’s just too expensive given the huge number of alternatives these days.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Is this potentially a pre-amp too?

If it has a volume control, and is a pre-amp, if they added a remote control, it would double the potential number of customers for this product.

With the increasing popularity of active speakers, more people are looking at a reasonably priced pre-amp with DAC. But likely not if it doesn’t have a remote.

So if the DAC magic doesn’t act as a pre-amp, then in the Cambridge line up, you have to spend a few hundred more on their streamer/pre-amp. Which takes us back to the Yamaha WXC-50.

I’m surprised the Yamaha doesn’t have more competitors.
 

Ftorek

Active Member
I'd be very interested in it myself - as a step-up from Schiit Fulla 2 which i currently use (PC->via usb -> Active speakers or headphones) - will wait for some reviews... :D

I would potentially be interested in this but would want to see real reviews and measurements first. Not to mention it would have to come down in price, that’s just too expensive given the huge number of alternatives these days.


What do you think would be good (or even better) alternative to this in similar price range?

Cheers
f.
 

jonasbaadsgaard

Standard Member
Is this potentially a pre-amp too?

If it has a volume control, and is a pre-amp, if they added a remote control, it would double the potential number of customers for this product.

With the increasing popularity of active speakers, more people are looking at a reasonably priced pre-amp with DAC. But likely not if it doesn’t have a remote.

So if the DAC magic doesn’t act as a pre-amp, then in the Cambridge line up, you have to spend a few hundred more on their streamer/pre-amp. Which takes us back to the Yamaha WXC-50.

I’m surprised the Yamaha doesn’t have more competitors.

I guess they are skipping on the remote so as to not canibalize to their own product line. To bad.
 

astage

Member
There's a basic spec sheet here:
 

mindforge

Active Member
I'd be very interested in it myself - as a step-up from Schiit Fulla 2 which i currently use (PC->via usb -> Active speakers or headphones) - will wait for some reviews... :D




What do you think would be good (or even better) alternative to this in similar price range?

Cheers
f.
To my mind, this seems significantly cheaper than the alternatives - the Topping equivalent with XLR outputs is £699 and the new Ifi equivalent is about the same. I'll wait for measurements but this seems like a good bet for me as I want a physical volume knob and XLR ouputs as well as USB input, for use as a desktop DAC, so don't need the remote control.
 

fordster

Member
I missed that it was balanced, too busy ranting about the marketing hyperbole! That makes the price more acceptable. However this doesn’t:

OUTPUT IMPEDANCE
<50 Ohms (unbal), <100 Ohm (bal)

Still vague but lets assume that means somewhere nearer 50 Ohms as otherwise they‘d give a lower figure. Whilst that is fine with high impedance headphones (e.g. top of the range Sennheisers) that’s too high for many headphones these days (especially in ears). Most good headphone amps these days are less than 1 Ohm so that they can be used with a wide range of headphones.

The SINAD of 115db is just average and I notice they don’t quote power output for 300 Ohms and even 150 Ohms is pretty weak. Their recommended headphone impedance of 10 to 600 Ohms is just laughable.

Hard pass for me. I’m not in a position to personally recommend any alternatives as I don’t currently use a headphone amp (it may sound like heresy but the headphone out on my integrated amp does a great job with my Sennheisers). I‘m considering something for a desktop system but this is not the one for me.

Audio Science Review have tested lots of DACs and headphone amps but they concentrate pretty much just on the measurements. If it doesn’t measure well they often don’t do a listening test and even if they do there is a clear bias against it.

Whilst I think measurements are important, particularly to know if it will work well with different headphone (e.g. impedance and power) I do also think that you need to listen with an open mind. You may well prefer a coloured or “inferior” sound!
 

astage

Member
Richer Sounds (Weybridge) tell me they are expecting stock mid to late March, but subject to change.
Too late for me though.
 

Focos one

Novice Member
I asked Cambridge audio if the 200m will fully decode MQA over all inputs! And the answer was yes! Looking forward to reviews of it being used with the node2i as an external MQA DAC.
 

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Oogster

Active Member
I called my local Richer Sounds on Sunday and they told me their warehouse had the M200 in stock. I had just signed for a Tidal trial so took the plunge and to my astonishment it was delivered next day, although i’d asked for standard delivery. Great service from Richer Sounds,.

It’s replacing an original Cambridge Audio dacmagic that is around 10 years old and it’s hooked up to my PC by USB. I have a Roksan Platinum pre and power amp going into Roksan FR5 speakers. There’s a limited number of ‘master’ recordings on Tidal. I started out with Ritual Spirit by Massive Attack. The sound quality absolutely blew me away. I’m not going to try and use all of the prose that some hifi mags serve up to describe the sound, but what I will say is that I was engaged with the music in a way that I hadn’t been before. This really does feel like a real boost to my system for digital music playback. I have only had time for a very brief play, but I personally really like what i’m hearing. Can’t wait to have more of a play.
 

Focos one

Novice Member
Thanks for the heads up👍 I'm interested to hear any sq differences when used as a external dac to the node2i. I'm going to have to put my order in tomorrow now!!
 

intomusic

Novice Member
I've had this for 5 days now whilst waiting for Cambridge Audio to confirm how to adjust variable volume, which isn't in their manual, which wasn't even online at time of arrival.

To anyone thinking about purchasing this here are a few points that may be a deal breaker and why I'm returning mine.

Volume - Using this as a preamp which I am in front of a custom Purifi poweramp, is in my opinion useless. There is no indication of volume level apart from 3 flashing lights at the minimum level. There is also NO REMOTE, i mean cmon for this money and they cannot afford a 5quid remote?

MQA - There is no indication to what level authentication the MQA is being played at, blue/green/purple etc

The DAC does sound pretty great in all honesty, but as something that is being aimed to sit also in a rack/unit as well as on desk for headphones I cannot understand the decision to give the user no volume control.
 

intomusic

Novice Member
Perhaps I'm being dim but what does the large knob on the front control then?
That isn't the point here, by default it is fixed and no indication anywhere in the box or online about this, plenty of blown speakers incoming I think!

After you've done some process to change it to variable, there is then no indication of what the volume is actually set at, and with there being no remote either it's a bit of a joke for 500quid if you ask me.

I have an SMSL M400 also, which sounds nice, I think the Cambridge unit sounded nicer so now I'm pretty annoyed as need a replacement ASAP for it. I find it odd also that they say this has the 2channel ES9028Q2M chip, but this is limited at 352khz PCM but the front panel says 768? That would be the ES9038Q2M chip.

Seems someone either has no idea what is in the unit or they've got it seriously wrong!!
 

mindforge

Active Member
That isn't the point here, by default it is fixed and no indication anywhere in the box or online about this, plenty of blown speakers incoming I think!

After you've done some process to change it to variable, there is then no indication of what the volume is actually set at, and with there being no remote either it's a bit of a joke for 500quid if you ask me.

I have an SMSL M400 also, which sounds nice, I think the Cambridge unit sounded nicer so now I'm pretty annoyed as need a replacement ASAP for it. I find it odd also that they say this has the 2channel ES9028Q2M chip, but this is limited at 352khz PCM but the front panel says 768? That would be the ES9038Q2M chip.

Seems someone either has no idea what is in the unit or they've got it seriously wrong!!

So there is no indicator mark or groove on the volume knob? Seems like a pretty major design flaw...

Apparently the default is supposed to be variable,

 
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intomusic

Novice Member
So there is no indicator mark or groove on the volume knob? Seems like a pretty major design flaw...

Apparently the default is supposed to be variable,

Nope, nothing at all, bit of an oversight isn't it.

The default is NOT variable, as confirmed by a rep, at least on my unit.

EDIT: Yet again everyone is looking at the WRONG manual, this is the 200M just released, not DacMagic plus
 

Oogster

Active Member
I agree the absence of a notch on volume knob is a bit strange but you can use it to adjust sound levels. I set this up once at start up to fine tune and now use the volume control on Roksan preamp as a master which does have remote control.

There are led lights on the front panel. In the presence of an incoming digital stream, the relevant LED will light up to indicate the incoming digital sampling frequency. MQA has the following variants: Green means MQA, Blue means MQA studio. Magenta indicates that the unit is rendering an MQA stream or file. DSD will light up when native DSD or DoP streams are detected.
I’m streaming from Tidal, and when playing back a ’master’ the indicator has gone green for MQA and blue for tracks that are in MQA studio. I haven’t found any source material that triggers the magenta fully unpacked magenta or DSD Indicators. Does anyone know of any?

What I will say is the DAC has got me searching out old tracks in master format on tidal to ’rediscover’ what they sound like in MQA. I feel like a kid in a sweetshop again. The only frustration is the randomness of what is available at master quality on Tidal. There are some reasonably obscure albums from artists such as Polyphonic Spree, and I am kloot that are rendered in the format which was a real positive surprise but others that you would expect to be available such as Pink Floyd or Bobby Womack are not. Hopefully the catalogue on Tidal will continue to grow. I’m loving the sound quality and really pleased with the DAC.. I only get the MQA quality when playing Tidal tracks on my PC and feeding the DAC with the USB input, not when steaming from the phone via Bluetooth. The only thing I’m really missing with this setup is a phone app to remotely control Tidal desktop playback Obviously that’s a deficiency of Tidal service, not the DAC and Tidal have said that such an app is coming soon - although no dates have been published.
 

intomusic

Novice Member
There are led lights on the front panel. In the presence of an incoming digital stream, the relevant LED will light up to indicate the incoming digital sampling frequency. MQA has the following variants: Green means MQA, Blue means MQA studio. Magenta indicates that the unit is rendering an MQA stream or file. DSD will light up when native DSD or DoP streams are detected.
I’m streaming from Tidal, and when playing back a ’master’ the indicator has gone green for MQA and blue for tracks that are in MQA studio. I haven’t found any source material that triggers the magenta fully unpacked magenta or DSD Indicators. Does anyone know of any?

I highlighted that this didn't work and was very odd for an MQA DAC, your post made me check again and realised that because it was a new device ROON by default sets them as "renderer only", changing this to "decoder and renderer" has not passed all unfolding to the DAC and i see blue/green.

I have seen some purple tracks on my M400 DAC, no idea what they were though! I saw the colour and had to google to find what it was!

I really rate MQA personally, and cannot wait for some better sources now. It seems that Tidal are just folding up everything into MQA and in fact they may not be masters, virtually everything is 44/48. Many artists though are now finding out the importance of their masters but finding out they don't actually own them which is part of the issue with the lack of sources i think.
 

andycc72

Active Member
Thanks for the heads up👍 I'm interested to hear any sq differences when used as a external dac to the node2i. I'm going to have to put my order in tomorrow now!!
Did you get one in the end and if so how does it compare to the DAC in the Node2i?
 
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mattyt

Novice Member
I am looking at maybe getting one of these to have in my main system, I would want to connect it to my Rega Elex-R and also use the headphone output. CD transport, chromecast audio and Mac would be connected on the digital inputs.

Does anyone know if it would be possible to use this as a "dac only" i.e. not using it as a preamp so the preamp in my Rega was being used, but also be able to use the volume knob to control volume when I am using it with headphones? And do that with pushing a load of buttons between using it as a dac and then headphone amp?
 

andycc72

Active Member
Hi I nearly did but then decided to wait and hear a few more reviews to see if it improves on the all ready good node2i
I’ve read on forums that some people who have spent £500+ on DACS and heard no difference to the one in the Node2i. If I spend that sort of money I want to hear a noticeable improvement otherwise it’s not money well spent to me.
 
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Nick C

Standard Member
Hi, Just a couple of queries. My 200M was delivered today and I'm very happy with the much improved sound after the HRT DAC it replaced. I'm on a free month of Tidal just to try out the MQA Master quality. Tidal tells me I'm playing Master tracks but the MQA light on the 200M is not lit. Is this because the USB (Audioquest 'Forest') is passing from my Mac Book Pro through a hub? Or perhaps the USB cable itself is not up to specs? I have connected the 200M to my Roksan Caspian Amp going to Proac 140's. I use either Spotify or stream from my NAS at CD quality (AIFF). Any ideas why the MQA light is not lit?
 

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