Whats up all?
I took home a Brand new Cambridge Audio Dac magic Plus. This is the latest model and now supports 192k input where the Magic only did up to 96k.
I'm running USB out of both my Macbook Pro and HP Laptop. On the Mac Channel D is running with iTunes. On the PC I got J River Installed. Out of the Dac is going into my Rotel Intergraded.
Quick notes J River software for the PC is Excellent in every single way. it's really laid out nice ,looks to got some tips from Itunes and Improved on a few of them. One thing I think is really cool is the fact it has links to You tube and Amazon. What they do is you pick a song to play , then click on one of the links and it will give you all the Albums or videos of that band. How cool is that? Another thing I like is ripping in Cd's , it asks you if you want to rip and then you go. Super clean and very easy.
Channel D runs behind or with Itunes on your Mac. It fixes the Issues with Itunes locking out in out output form. Channel D will switch depending on the files you play. It also now allows you to play Flac files in Itunes. Itunes thinks they are Apple Lossless files. But they will not play unless Channel D is open. I don't think this combo is as seamless as J River. I believe that is a better way to go if you have both PC and Mac. On the other hand if you live in the I world like I do , you might consider using Channel D and keeping all your music in one place. I have found when syncing Auto iPods , Apple Tv's , Iphones etc they try to get those Flac files and then they tell you they can't play those files. Slightly annoying as you would have to have 2 copies of them , convert one to a true down rez into Apple Losses or something and then you could use that same music on your devices. I haven't spent any time fooling around with converting files for multiple uses. I don't think I'm gonna. I'll just pick up the CD and rip it in for those Albums I purchase in High rez and want them portable. Or learn how to copy them so I have 2 versions and convert one for portable use.
Thats the only thing so far I'm not fully liking about my new computer adventure. It's a bit of work to configure everything to make sure everything is working with the best possible settings. Then the whole HD Tracks thing where some of the music purchased there sounds no different then a ripped Cd. I only have 1 so far but I have a lot more to test.I'm also getting my read on in Absolute Sound which I have been Informed by one of our members here with the reviews. It's funny 2 as I have seen them and rarely ever read them. I do now.
The Dac Magic Plus out of the Box came in USB 1.0. I didn't read the manual as I was excited to give it a run and noticed everything was being down rez'd to 96k in. Most of my High Rez Files are at 24/192 from HD Tracks. I did glance the manual before connected and learned about Mac outputs 192 and PC only does 96 and then you have to download a new USB driver to get to 192. Strange right? Whatever it's windows and thats how it's done.
With the Dac magic you have to reconfigure it to 2.0 to except the 192k input . You have to turn it off , hold down the Filter/Phase button , and turn the volume knob to get it to 2.0. Thats so when someone takes it out of the box , has an older style USB output , it will just work. I have 2.0 and 3.0 USB outputs which worked fine in 1.0 but I want to hear my files in 192k. So I reconfigured the Dac and downloaded the new Driver for PC.
I just did all this last night and listened for a few hours on both rigs. Both rigs basically sound Identical and wouldn't give a audio advantage. I would however give an advantage to PC using J River simply because it runs by itself and doesn't require 2 software programs to play music. Not to mention is runs very smoothy , easy to use and super cool with it's Skin ability. I'd suggest anyone with a PC to at least test drive it , it's pretty awesome. Foobar is the other popular software for PC and it's pretty damn cool 2. I don't have it as I don't want to dig to deep there but my co worker has it and loves it. I have seen it go and it's pretty nice.
The Dac Magic so far is very smooth and very natural. I'm thinking it's the best sounding DAC I've tested so far. I actually liked all 4 DAC's I've tested with very slight edges over each other. Some claim huge sound differences between Dac's , I don't think it's that radical. Not like different Speakers or amps and pre's. It's more subtle like IC's or Speaker wire. So far it might even be closer then that. I'm gonna say because it can do the full 192k that my files are in and all the other DAC's where 96k. Maybe thats why they where so damn close and this one seems to stand out just a bit. I might bring them all home for a 4 way shootout but I got a Audioquest Dragon Fly coming and want to play around with that was well. It's only a 96k DAC I believe. I think all external DAC's should be 192 as most of what you can buy on HD Tracks is 192. I don't want to limit myself or have to convert files down rez due to a DAC. I think that sucks.
Another thing I'm not completely cool with is the fact the Cambridge decided to lock out Up Sampling rate to 24/384khz which sounds impressive but I'm thinking not everything devices into 384 evenly. So now it has to figure out the right up sampling to assure max sound quality and least amount of jitter. From everything I have learned , this isn't the best way to replay your files. Cambridge feels it is and so far it sounds amazing but it leaves me wondering if I found a DAC that plays exactly what it gets IF that would be the ultimate choice? Anyone did deep into DAC's and figure all that out? If so please comment.
I plan on using the Hell out of the Magic Plus to one break it in and 2 really get a good idea how it sounds. Right out of the box in 1.0 running 96k it sounded amazing , It's even better at 192k running 2.0. Pic's to come this weekend.