Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC Review

Discussion in 'CD/DVD/Blu-ray & Misc Hardware' started by admin, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    External DACs come in all shapes and sizes but few are smaller than the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS. Cambridge Audio has a number of DacMagic offerings, currently three on their website, and this is by far the smallest and the least expensive. At $189, it undercuts the price of most external DACs on the market buy anything from a few dollars to many thousands. The Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS is focused on being portable and universal. It connects to your computer by a USB connection, has a 3.5mm output for you headphones or speakers, and volume control.
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  2. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    I have only played with this thing for a few minutes and I found that if 192/24 is selected (in Windows 7), the LED will turn purple regardless of the sample rate, i.e. 44.1 or 192, the light remains purpole. So I wonder if that means it upconverts anything below 192/24, I hope not. I hope the purple color just means 192/24 is enabled. My first impression is that it sounds good playing tracks from my netbook PC. I have not tried it with my iPod yet.
    PENG,
  3. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    Unfortunately it won't work with iPod but apparently the iPad will work using the camera kit. I am not going to bother trying the iPad because the iPod connected directly to the preamp actually sounds good enough playing my ripped CDs. The DacMagic XS is defintely a good low cost option for playing music from PC/Macs.
    PENG,
  4. furos93 Audiophyte

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    @PENG
    I have one of these, got it from work.
    It is displaying the high sample rate because you have that selected in windows or mac. Unless you bypass the drivers, it will display the default sample rate.
    If you are running windows follow these steps.
    1: get foobar/mediamonkey/jriver/winamp
    2: get asio/wasapi plugin for media player
    3: if you chose foobar, also download the SOX upsampler. It will accurately upsample redbook up to 176.4 (yes it does support it and does sound a tad smoother)
    4: play your flac files

    If you own a mac... google for solutions, I wont touch them after a couple of my customers destroyed their speakers using puremusic for mac or something.

    The DACMAGIC XS has improved my excessively late night internet binges to an experience in itself. Made my $200 koss cans sound amazing.
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  5. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    Thanks for the tips, but I did figure out its the software so after some Googling I downloaded Foobar. I suppose JRiver is better but it costs USD50, or CAD60 (after adding all the fees). Now I am getting the blue, green and pink. I can't say things sound any better after Foobar/ASIO, as it sounded great before also, so it is more just a visual thing to see the LED changing colors indicating the output bit rate/sampling frequency. I did not download SOX, probably won't bother.

    I am happy with the sound quality but do find it a little pricey for such a tiny headphone amp with a low end ES9023 DAC. Having said that I have no regret because it really sounds great, proving the point that the DAC chips are hardly the bottleneck any more.
    PENG,
  6. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    Well, after installing Foobar, Wasipi, ASIO etc., the LED looks good changing color base on the file I played, but it seems to sound not as good. I have to listen some more and investigate if I messed up any settings. I doubt setting is the problem (though I am hoping it is) because I thought it is now "bit perfect'. It could be that my room could use some form of distortion and the non bit perfect mode might have given the system some accidental EQ??
    PENG,

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