The DacMagic Plus includes one more adjustable sonic parameter: absolute phase. If a user holds down the digital filter button for more than a second it becomes the phase switch so you can go from positive phase to inverted phase. For those who haven’t heard of a phase switch before, it’s not the same as the phase button found on early stereo gear, which switched one set of speaker leads on only one channel to compensate for improperly wired speaker cables. The phase switch on the DacMagic Plus changes the positive and negative leads on channels so the absolute phase is reversed. A signal that would have caused a speaker cone to move outward now will make it move inward.
For audiophiles who want to know exactly what the sampling rate is for every piece of music they play through their computer’s playback chain, the DacMagic Plus includes a set of blue LEDs that inform you of the current rate. Since some players and computers will automatically downsample higher resolution digital streams if not configured properly, these notification LEDs can be especially useful to make sure that your new 192/24 music file is actually being played back at 192/24.
As I mentioned earlier, the DacMagic Plus lacks a remote control. Adding a remote is not even an extra-cost option. If you must have a remote control you are out of luck unless you couple the DacMagic Plus with an amplifier or powered speaker system that includes its own remote.
Some cynics will tell you that the only difference between a $5000 DAC and a $649 DAC is the size and weight of the cabinet and thickness of the faceplate. The Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus is one of the DACs they will probably champion as a prime illustration of their point. It is a very good DAC, with the kind of performance that will keep many audiophiles content for a good long time.
And which of the three filter settings will guarantee lasting sonic nirvana? After over a month of listening I still have no idea which setting is best. For 320 BPS MP3 files I used the steep filter settings, but with full res and higher res music files I vacillated between the linear and minimum phase settings. While I did hear differences between the two, neither proved to be a consistent preference. On some recordings linear phase seemed to have better depth recreation, but on others the minimum phase presented the most cohesive and well-defined soundstage. On my own recordings I could definitely hear the reduction of high-frequency air with the steep filter, but as to which of the other two was a better match, it was a toss-up. Let your ears be your guides.