in ,

Cambridge Audio preps DACMagic 200M

  • Do you remember the first time? My very first external DAC was a Cambridge Audio DACMagic, purchased from Hifi Trader in Sydney’s Newtown in 2009. I’m a little hazy on how much I paid for it but I do recall being a complete newcomer to digital audio at the time. This first DAC purchase felt like a lot of money to spend on a hifi product without hearing it first. I was taking a shot in the dark: would its sound quality improve on the DAC circuit found inside my all-white 2008 MacBook? You bet it did! The DACMagic exposed more inner detail and delivered a more expansive soundstage. And although the comparison with the Logitech Squeezebox Touch’s internal DAC was a more closely fought battle, not once did I regret my purchase.

    A dozen years down the line and Cambridge Audio’s DACMagic line continues to evolve with the introduction of the DACMagic 200M. We still get a choice of balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs and a USB input + 2 x TOSLINK inputs + 2 coaxial inputs but the digital outputs found on the preceding DACMagic Plus have been removed. In their place sits a Bluetooth input with Qualcomm aptX support for anyone wanting to pull better (always lossy) Bluetooth sound from a ‘premium’ Android smartphone or Apple Macbook.

    However, the biggest changes relate to the new model’s USB input. A switch up to ESS Labs DAC chips – there’s two of ’em inside – means we now get PCM support up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD support up to DSD 512 (should you have access to such Unicorn formats). This is also the first Cambridge Audio D/A converter to offer MQA support; a decision that presumably forces out Cambridge Audio’s internal upsampling algorithm lest it break the bit-perfect digital audio chain demanded by the format.

    On the DACMagic 200M’s front panel, we note a series of LEDs that show the incoming digital audio signal’s sample rate and/or MQA authentication. Next to those, a 6.4mm headphone socket and corresponding volume control wheel with digital filter and source selector switches rounding out the feature set.

    Not bad for a street price of €499 — and a decent choice for anyone looking for their first (MQA) DAC. Shipping begins in February.

    Further information: Cambridge Audio

    Does the press release describe the DACMagic 200M’s sound as ‘musical‘? You bet it does.


    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    Podcast: Alessandro Cortini & John Tejada talk Rosson RAD-0

    DALI Oberon 3: a passive for the masses?