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    Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M review | What Hi-Fi?

    cambridge audio’s flagship dacmagic 200m is the dac equivalent of an all-inclusive vacation that not only offers flights, meals and accommodation, but also includes room upgrades, free excursions and unlimited ice cream for the kids. And while we may have forgotten what the holidays feel like right now, the fact that this digital-to-analog converter is a generous soul should please anyone in the market for a well-equipped dac for their desktop or gaming system. high fidelity.

    features

    the dacmagic 200m wants to accommodate all the music sources and files you already own, or could think of owning. There are pairs of coaxial and optical inputs to cover CD players, game consoles, and Blu-ray players, as well as a USB Type B connector (with a ground/lift switch) that welcomes laptops and PCs with open arms. For those who value easy and convenient wireless playback from a phone or tablet, Bluetooth AptX is also built in.

    Reading: 220m series 200m feb. plus

    • cambridge audio dacmagic 200m on amazon for £549 (opens in a new tab)

    Rear-panel balanced RCA and XLR outputs allow the dacmagic 200m to be an intermediary in a hi-fi system, while a front-panel 6.3mm output allows listening through headphones. which is driven by class a/b amplification which, thanks to a reduction in output impedance, promises more power and less distortion than was found in the previous dacmagic design.

    hi-res file support goes beyond what most people need: usb-type b goes up to 32bit/768khz and dsd512, above the bitrate of most commercially available music files, while optical and coaxial max out at 24bit/96khz and 24bit/192khz respectively. As dac chips available on the market become more sophisticated, hi-fi dacs offer more and more support for intellectual files.

    but what makes cambridge stand out is its native support for mqa technology, which means it can decode and play downloaded hard mqa files, plus hi-res tidal masters (which are mqa encoded). That’s great news particularly for tidal hifi subscribers who have access to the growing number of “master” streams (many of which are 24bit/96khz) that populate the catalogue.

    build

    the entire right hand side of the cambridge facade is dedicated to displaying the sample rate of the audio signal being fed. several LEDs, each labeled with a sample rate (‘44.1khz’, ’48khz’, ’96khz’ and ‘192khz’, for example), light up to indicate this. therefore, if you are playing a cd quality file, the ‘44.1khz’ led will light up. also, the mqa and dsd leds turn on when those types of files or streams are detected.

    makes for a busy aesthetic, not least because they’re also joined by leds, buttons, and text labels for dac filters and source selection, as well as the usual power button, volume dial, headphone jack, and company logos. still, it’s smartly presented and gives the dac a pretty tactile element – great if you plan on having it close to you on a desk and making adjustments manually, though not as relevant if it’s placed far away (those text labels are small) or hidden away in a system rack, as it lends itself to the compact aluminum chassis. there is also no remote control.

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    The dac architecture itself uses dual ess saber dacs in a mono configuration. that means one dac chip handles the right audio channel while the other handles the left, which theoretically results in better channel separation.

    sound

    The performance of the dacmagic 200m continues the momentum of the company’s recent hi-fi components, including the cx and edge ranges. it’s recognizably “cambridge”, characterized by a full, smooth tonality that is complemented by an open, expressive, and authoritative manner.

    We connected the cambridge to a macbook pro via usb type b, fed it arab strap’s urban fox fable (16bit/44.1khz), and were instantly impressed by the articulation of the trademark poetic storytelling. aidan moffat through the 200m. communicates not only his unmistakable Scottish accent but also the masterful cadence of his pronunciation.

    The insightful midrange, also exemplified by the textured acoustic melody, is backed by a rich, punchy low end, the introductory bass punch is full and lush, and pleasingly present highs round out a well-proportioned frequency range and equally talented. . as the instrumentation fills the soundstage, the cambridge has enough width and control to maintain consistency.

    That smoothness adheres to Ólafur arnalds’ spiral-driving violins (sunrise session) (24-bit/96khz) in a way that makes it pleasing without clouding the textural delicacy or dynamic undulation of the strings that communicate the beautiful fragility of the piece. The Cambridge handles dynamic ebbs and flows very well, showing her grace in quieter moments and his authority in louder ones.

    Dynamic cleverness is supported by rhythmic coordination and hitting, which is equivalent to a musical presentation. There’s a lot to appreciate in a hi-fi component that lets you sit back and enjoy your music no matter the genre, whether it’s the beethoven piano concerto 5 op73 “emperor” adagio (mqa, 24-bit/96khz) or whatever. follows from drake (24-bit/88.2khz) – and the dacmagic 200m is one of them.

    There’s enough transparency to take full advantage of the high-res tracks it’s also supported on. a dsd64 of stevie wonder’s too high flashes with the amount of detail revealed.

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    At the other end of the scale, streaming music via bluetooth often equates to noticeably muddier and more limited results compared to a wired source. but while there is some downgrade here in terms of clarity and subtlety, bluetooth playback is exemplary when paired with a samsung galaxy s21 during testing. the presentation is clean, open and ultimately well maintained, which is all you can ask of a product of this nature.

    Cambridge’s three digital filters (fast, slow, and short delay) offer quite subtle differences, albeit some level of sonic customization. we found ourselves settling for a short delay, it seems the most punctual of the three relative to time, but it’s worth experimenting with.

    The similarly priced Chord Mojo sets a fairly high benchmark at this price, despite lacking many of the features of the Cambridge due to its portable (and battery-powered) nature. the chord is brought forward in performance, providing even greater subtlety and rhythmic precision, but it can’t match the dacmagic 200m’s impressive versatility of features.

    verdict

    Cambridge Audio’s latest high-end DacMagic continues the legacy of the old DacMagic model, the original of which earned Cambridge its first What Hi-Fi? award in 1996. the 200m is 25 years and several evolutionary steps along the dacmagic line in terms of features and performance, but has not lost sight of its vision to be among the best in its level. the dacmagic 200m is a talented all-rounder – a sure buy.

    scores

    • sound 5
    • features 5
    • design 5

    more:

    read our guide to the best dacs

    read our chord mojo review

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