Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS user review

  • Does what it says on the tin

    • Review of Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS
    • Digital Audio Convertor
    • Author dlorde
    • Post date
    This tiny USB DAC/amp comes with a 5" USB cable and a little drawstring cloth pouch. It looks like a solid lump of machined aluminium with a satin black finish and silver edge trim, two round volume buttons (+) and (-) on top, with 'DacMagic' in silver next to them. The back is engraved (barely visible black on black) with 'Cambridge Audio', 'DacMagic XS', the FCC ID number, and a bunch of standards logos.

    You connect one end to the USB port and headphones into the 3.5mm jack at the other end, and off you go. For devices with USB 2 support, download and install the USB 2 drivers, set it as the default audio device, and listen to even better quality sound.

    Next to the headphone jack is a tiny dot LED that changes colour according to the sample rate, and flashes as you increase or decrease the volume using the buttons. Press and hold both buttons together to change to and from USB 2 mode, and the LED will flash an appropriate colour so you know which is which (you'll need to download the manual for details).

    On initial listening, the sound is a big improvement on what normally comes out of my Microsoft Surface Pro and my old Sony Vaio laptop, so it does the job for me in that respect. Whether using USB 2 is that much better than the default USB will take a bit more listening with higher rate samples, but I wouldn't go back to to listening without the DacMagic XS.
    This item was purchased for £99.95 from Cambridge Audio in 2013 . The reviewer still owns this product.


    • Small size
    • Elegant, understated appearance
    • High quality sound
    • Reasonable pricing


    • User manual could be better




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Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS

Review score
8 / 10
Average score
8.0 / 10
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