Cambridge Audio DacMAGIC 200M
Continuing a hi-fi legacy
Digital audio sources are more common nowadays than ever. Switching from vinyl or tapes to a digital source may seem scary; after all, what if you were to miss out on the sound quality those sources provide? But, fret not — contemporary DACs are bringing 1s and 0s surprisingly close to analog in their sound.
Cambridge Audio has been making audio equipment for half a century. Each new release seems to raise the bar even higher for just how good things can sound. The DacMagic 200M continues the legacy of Cambridge's DacMagic line with some new high-performance goodies under the hood. Boasting twin ESS Sabre DAC chips, built-in Bluetooth with aptX, MQA support, and a high performance headphone amplifier, the folks at Cambridge have made sure the DacMagic 200M is a worthy heir.
No wires? No problem.
The DacMagic 200M has a built-in Bluetooth 4.2 receiver with aptX. The beauty of Bluetooth 4.2 and aptX is that they allow you to enjoy a CD-esque sound quality without needing to run a cable for input. Simply pair your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer to it and you're set.
Full MQA support
This is Cambridge Audio's first foray into the MQA world.
MQA allows larger high-resolution files (like FLAC or WAV) to be streamed by folding the track to make it small enough to be streamed efficiently without compromising on sound quality. MQA is TIDAL's preferred method of delivery for higher-than-CD-quality tracks. If you're an avid TIDAL user like me, your DAC needs to support MQA in order to take full advantage of what the service can deliver.
Thankfully, the DacMagic 200M supports MQA — both as a renderer and a decoder. The decoder section handles the first unfold of the MQA file and recovers all music-related information. The renderer section then completes unfolds two and three, thus giving you a full-resolution sound. What does all that mean? You'll get the most out of your MQA tracks without having to worry that you aren't getting the full picture.
The heart of the beast
Inside, you'll find a beefy Class A/B headphone amplifier with a very low noise floor that was built from the ground-up for audiophiles. Cambridge Audio also decreased the output impedance on the 1/4” headphone jack, ultimately leading to more power, less distortion, and less noise. Don't be afraid to run some serious cans on it. It'll handle higher impedance headphones with ease.
Twin ESS Sabre Reference ES9028Q2M DAC chips handle the tricky switchover from digital to analog. They run in a dual mono configuration, meaning one handles the left channel and one handles the right. This allows each chip to independently process the incoming audio streams. That, in turn, gives the sound improved left/right channel separation and accuracy.
Cambridge chose this chipset because of its ultra-low distortion and jitter-free operation. These high-performance DAC chips can handle 32-bit/768kHz PCM and 64x and ultra-high-resolution DSD audio, so don't be shy when it comes to sources.
Inputs and outputs aplenty
On the back of the DAC, you'll find a pair of optical digital inputs, a pair of coaxial digital inputs, and a USB Type-B input for your computer. That means it can fit right in with a stack of audio components in a dedicated two-channel system, or on your desktop dishing out high-res sound from your Mac® or PC. It also has a pair of balanced XLR outputs and RCA outputs for connecting it to your home amplifier or receiver.