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  1. #1

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    Default Dac Magic Plus , J River Software on PC , Channel D on a Mac

    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.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  2. #2

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    I won't pretend to completely understand digital playback but I have learned some things over the last year building my single than dual mono DAC. First thing you have to accept is digital playback is complicated if you choose (or attempt) to understand it completely and different paths can be taken and implemented. And some do it better than others.

    Discrete amplitude D/A converters produce ultrasonic images whether they use upsampling or oversampling or not. Very basically, in the digital process you end up with differential non-linearity which is a form of non-linear distortion. Two ways to address that are averaging the outputs of two or more DAC's, or upsample. Upsampling also addresses differential non-linearity by averaging it away. Two ways to accomplish the same result.

    Oversampling moves the ultrasonic image higher to reduce the demands placed upon the analog output filter. Amplifier intermodulation distortion determines whether or not any of that can be heard.

    Therefore if you hear a good example of upsampling you would be of the opinion that it is greater than sliced bread and everyone should use/have it. A poor example or bad experience could lead one to speak in absolutes that it is the most evil, useless implementation ever. I believe the latter happens in audio a great deal.
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  3. #3

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    I had been using a Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus up until about a month ago when it developed a high pitch squeal. It's been shipped off for warranty work.

    I'm missing it big time. I've got another little dac for use in the mean time but not as nice sounding as the DM plus.

    I also use JRiver and it's fantastic. I'm connecting my pc to the dac via coaxial out on my video card (Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 2G). Extremely good sound with the DM plus. Superb imaging and sound stage. Detailed but not etched. Very good 3 dimensionality as well but the SDA 1C's are helping with that a lot.

    Great dac and great program. Thanks for the great post and enjoy!!
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    I won't pretend to completely understand digital playback but I have learned some things over the last year building my single than dual mono DAC. First thing you have to accept is digital playback is complicated if you choose (or attempt) to understand it completely and different paths can be taken and implemented. And some do it better than others.

    Discrete amplitude D/A converters produce ultrasonic images whether they use upsampling or oversampling or not. Very basically, in the digital process you end up with differential non-linearity which is a form of non-linear distortion. Two ways to address that are averaging the outputs of two or more DAC's, or upsample. Upsampling also addresses differential non-linearity by averaging it away. Two ways to accomplish the same result.

    Oversampling moves the ultrasonic image higher to reduce the demands placed upon the analog output filter. Amplifier intermodulation distortion determines whether or not any of that can be heard.

    Therefore if you hear a good example of upsampling you would be of the opinion that it is greater than sliced bread and everyone should use/have it. A poor example or bad experience could lead one to speak in absolutes that it is the most evil, useless implementation ever. I believe the latter happens in audio a great deal.
    I believe in getting what you get and passing it along. Converting it once and being done with it. Less is more IMO. Cambridge thinks otherwise. So far I'm digging this DAC and it goes against my purest belief. It uses 2 DAC's once for each channel and it really sounds fantastic. I have no problems other then I wish I could turn off Up Sampling so I could decide if it sounded better with it on or off.
    Honestly It's becoming less of an issue. This DAC is really fantastic and I don't really care now how.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fongolio View Post
    I had been using a Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus up until about a month ago when it developed a high pitch squeal. It's been shipped off for warranty work.

    I'm missing it big time. I've got another little dac for use in the mean time but not as nice sounding as the DM plus.

    I also use JRiver and it's fantastic. I'm connecting my pc to the dac via coaxial out on my video card (Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 2G). Extremely good sound with the DM plus. Superb imaging and sound stage. Detailed but not etched. Very good 3 dimensionality as well but the SDA 1C's are helping with that a lot.

    Great dac and great program. Thanks for the great post and enjoy!!
    I'm connected USB 2.0 mode. It's a great DAC , glad your digging it to. Sorry you had an issue , Cambridge is a very good company and they really care about their products.
    J River is really nice dude , I'm so into it. The only issue I have is leaving the Apple Ego System. Slighty nervous about that. Hey I can do both .
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  6. #6

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    In my post above I meant to say "sound card" not "video card". My unit is the only return so far from the store I purchased it from here in BC so I'm sure it's not a common problem.

  7. #7

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    Does J River work in conjunction with iTunes on a windows based machine or is it an either/or solution? I have all my CD's in apple lossless and use iTunes but would like to do whatever will give the best sound quality. I am trying to learn what I can but this is becoming very complicated to me.

  8. #8

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    J Rivers player is stand alone. It does not work with Itunes. However , you might be able to drag and drop all your music files in it. I have not tried that yet.
    I don't think it's a matter of sound quality between these players , it's a matter of ease of use and the interface you prefer. When using Itunes , you have to run another software with it like Channel D or Bit perfect. it's not that bad but it does make use a bit clunky.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  9. #9

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    You can move your ITunes files to JRiver and easily convert them to anything you want after you do so.
    I just do everything in FLAC.If i download an MP3 i just convert it.It takes about 20 seconds.
    I doubt it helps the sound of the file but it keeps them all the same.

  10. #10

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    I find it best to download or burn a file in the format thats mostly played off the bat. Converting for portable devices after that is fine since SQ isn't going to be the priority there.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    When using Itunes , you have to run another software with it like Channel D or Bit perfect. it's not that bad but it does make use a bit clunky.
    On a Mac using Amarra under iTunes is totally transparent. Not tried Channel D or Bit Perfect. I did compare Pure Music and Amarra and preferred Amarra mainly for its sound which I thought was far superior.

    If all this is about PC and Itunes, my apologies for butting in.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by thsmith View Post
    On a Mac using Amarra under iTunes is totally transparent. Not tried Channel D or Bit Perfect. I did compare Pure Music and Amarra and preferred Amarra mainly for its sound which I thought was far superior.

    If all this is about PC and Itunes, my apologies for butting in.
    No worries , I'm experimenting with all different kinds of players on both PC and Mac. So far I like them both not for sound quality but for ease of use. J River seems to be easier to use. Channel D isn't hard to use , you just have to use it with Itunes. I have not tried Amarra yet but I plan on tring it this weekend if they offer a trail version. I only purchased Bit Perfect but I think I'm not going to use that anymore.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  13. #13

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    Your flooring me bro, your like a kid in a candy store.....all jacked up. Thats cool man, rock it all, see what floats your boat the best.

  14. #14

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    Amarra can be trialed, be sure to turn on memory play. Cache on the Amarra panel. Reads the song into memory before playing it.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

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