Recording of December At the time, there were almost no high-end CD players. But yes, before you ask, it can also make the most of a dance track. Happily, it seems to go some distance beyond that and it gives some well-respected DACs at considerably higher prices a pretty good run for their money. But there’s no free lunch; Steep adds a small amount of passband ripple.

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There was even a DAC called the Dacula. I tried switching between Linear Phase and Steep, playing one movement of a symphony straight through using each.

What Hi-Fi?

An interesting alternative is the Steep filter, which is like Linear Phase but with a steeper rolloff above 20kHz. I love to razz JA about this upsampling business. There is also pre-ringing on transients, though this has never been shown to be a real problem.

Cary Audio SLI integrated amplifier. Ergonomically, this little bugger is brilliant: IKEA carries some nice, small power strips, and there are other accessories for dealing with awkward wall warts. There’s little between the optical and coaxial connections in terms of sound quality. Apart from anything else, we just loved the clean but always extended and tuneful bass this setting gave, with an utterly convincing sense of timing that made the most of the rhythmic qualities of any musical style.

Cambridge Audio has had a DacMagic in its range before, but the last one disappeared a while ago when DACs appeared to be in terminal decline. In fairness, this is because the manual is in three languages but why not Russian?

All this wizardry is achieved by a Texas Instruments digital signal processing chip, aided vacmagic abetted by DAC chips from Wolfson and some decent op-amps and passive components. Create new account Request new password. The Cambridge Dacmagoc DacMagic is practical and good-looking too and we would rate it all-round as one of the best audio bargains we’ve come across in a while.


So pick your poison: To the extent that each can be succinctly summarised, the linear phase is clean and tidy with a particularly well-controlled bass, but can sometimes seem a little clinical by comparison with minimum phase, which seems slightly warmer but perhaps a shade less precise.

Cambridge Audio Edge A integrated amplifier. But there’s no free lunch; Steep adds a small amount of passband ripple.

It’s filled with things you don’t need to know and that probably interest only John Atkinson. Minimum phase filters do without the pre-ringing, but cambridve have some phase shift in the audio band. Happily, it seems to go some distance beyond that and it gives some well-respected DACs at considerably higher prices a pretty good run for their money.

It’s probably worth getting a word or three in at this point about the filters, because they do indeed have an important effect on the sound — nothing gross, but the way the sound registers on the ear over the course of a prolonged track varies between them.

ATF is built around a bit Texas Instruments digital signal processor that “upsamples” the signal fed to it. Today, Cambridge Audio is based in London, and their stuff is made in China at factories owned or controlled by Cambridge Audio, which in turn is part of Facmagic Audio Partnership, controlled by Julian Richer, who got richer than Croesus with Richer Sounds, said to be the UK’s single most successful audio retailer in terms of revenue per square foot.


Operation of cambrifge DacMagic is as intuitive and straightforward as can be. The differences between these filters are in some ways subtle, but may be significant in determining the DAC’s sound. The ‘steep’ option, meanwhile, is another linear phase filter, but with faster roll-off above 20kHz so that, effectively, no aliasing occurs. So, while other manufacturers force you to choose whether you want standard digital coaxial or optical or USB connections, Cambridge offers all of them.

Enjoy what you have. Kicking off with USB, the Cambridge proves to be an across-the-board upgrade on cambrdige sound provided by a direct laptop-to-amp connection.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic review | What Hi-Fi?

Squeeze it in next to your Slim Devices Squeezebox. Whatever the theory says, it’s good to be able to choose. Especially in Linear Phase, I heard well-defined bass, exquisitely extended highs, and a natural midrange. This needs a little more processing power than the other filter types, but it should theoretically be the best of the lot — except that this one adds a small, but not vanishing amount of passband ripple, something of cambridfe understood subjective significance.

It takes and multiplies the punch and attack of some close peers, creating a more dramatic and thrillingly bouncy rendition of Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach.

We did listen to the DacMagic, though, with interest and increasing admiration as time went on.