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.
Shine a Light on Music
Digital audio files can be packed with incredible musical detail, but they need to be converted to analogue first for you to hear it. And how good it sounds will depend on how well the digital audio from your computer, network player or CD is converted. DacMagic 200M’s twin ESS DACs decrease crosstalk and improve separation because there’s a DAC dedicated to both left and right channels. These fully balanced, optimised, and efficient signal paths reveal previously hidden glittering musical prizes.
Why You Need Some DacMagic
Perhaps your vintage amp lacks the digital inputs for today’s listening choices. Maybe the DACs in your hi-fi setup just need a helping hand. Or you hate how your computer down-samples audio streams before they’ve hit your headphones. One thing’s for sure, DacMagic 200M is a dedicated hi-fi separate that beats integrated DACs for pure sound performance.
Desktop Dream Team
DacMagic 200M can be used with a variety of digital sources, maybe kit you already own. Alternatively, you can pair it with its sibling – our MXN10 compact network player. These half-width hi-fi heroes share the same family look and are now available in a choice of special edition black or lunar grey. Together they make a very credible desktop hi-fi system – or ‘head-fi’ if you prefer.
“I bought the DacMagic 200M to use with my recently purchased MXN10. This allows me to use headphones to listen without turning the rest of my system on. The sound quality, value for money and the inclusion of Bluetooth, also the ability to take the volume control out of circuit, are what attracted me.”
DacMagic 200M listener, Essex, England
Being compact, but not miniscule, means that DacMagic 200M has room for a plethora of digital inputs and analogue outputs. Two pairs of co-ax and optical inputs, a USB computer in and Bluetooth aptX for wireless connection keep the most demanding listener happy. A pair of balanced XLRs, unbalanced RCAs and a ¼” (6.3mm) headphone-out complete the picture.
Sounds Like Team Spirit
Looking for fast, accurate retrieval with no upsampling to keep your music intact? Then DacMagic 200M’s powerful XMOS processor can handle 1000 million instructions per second, to send digital information to the dual DACs, which work asynchronously at a clock speed of 100Mhz to convert digital to analogue in a ‘bit perfect’ way.
Choice and Status
DacMagic 200M’s aluminium fascia has a button to select one of 4 possible digital inputs, another to pick one of 3 digital filters to suit your listening taste, and a volume control if you’re using it as a headphone amp. There are LED lights to confirm your input and filter selection, with additional ones that indicate the incoming music resolution.
"Prepare for a huge audio upgrade..."
MQA: Studio Quality Audio
If you’re signed up to Tidal’s premium service, you can enjoy MQA music files. A green LED, on DacMagic 200M’s fascia, confirms it’s a genuine MQA music file. While a blue MQA LED indicates that you’re listening to a file approved by the artist/producer or verified by the copyright holder as accurate to the original recording. Put simply, blue is best.
Designed for Real Life
DacMagic 200M’s small enough to fit a desktop, but big to hold its own in a stack. Within its half-width hi-fi separates form, it delivers a sonic upgrade that’s way bigger than the steel and aluminium case it comes in – now in a choice of lunar grey or special edition black finish. Take our 60-day home trial to hear it for yourself.