Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus DAC/Headphone Amp (Playback 55)

Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus
Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus DAC/Headphone Amp (Playback 55)

Cambridge Audio’s original $349 DacMagic was a huge success. It was so dominant that it earned a place as the DAC to beat if you were making, selling, or buying a sub-$400 Digital Audio Converter. But as with all good things, its time has finally come to an end and it has been discontinued. Fear not, however, as Cambridge Audio has a replacement in the wings: the DacMagic Plus. With added features and a higher price tag of $649, does the Plus live up to its name? Yes, it certainly does.

What’s been added to make the DacMagic Plus? Most obvious is the addition of variable output via a front panel volume knob. The front panel also sports a headphone jack as well as additional buttons for digital filter selection and absolute phase. On the inside of its diminutive case the Plus upconverts to 384 kHz and can now stream from a Bluetooth device via a BT 100 adapter.

While the original DacMagic was a general purpose DAC that could be used either in a desktop or room-based system, the DacMagic Plus’ feature-set places it firmly on a desktop. Why? Because although the DacMagic does have a variable level control so it can be used in lieu of a preamp in a room-based system, it lacks a remote control. Operating at farther than arm’s length away will prove difficult. The inclusion of a headphone amp, multiple digital input and output options, as well as balanced and unbalanced analog outputs gives the DacMagic Plus near-perfect ergonomics for use on a desktop. Combine the DacMagic Plus with powered speakers such as the Audioengine 5+ and you can have a complete high-quality desktop system for around $1000.


•Twin Wolfson 8740 24-bit digital-to-analog converters in dual differential mode for precise stereo imaging.
•Asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound on USB input.
•Anagram Technologies Adapted Time Filtering 2 (ATF2) 24-bit/384kHz audio upsampling with jitter reduction for better sound with compressed audio sources.

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