Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M Review
Cambridge Audio’s DacMagic USB DACs series has always been very popular among users. There will be new ones released after a while. This time the latest DacMagic 200M has added MQA decoding technology, supporting PCM 32bit/768kHz. In addition to USB connection to the computer, optical fiber and coaxial connection to CD players and other audio systems, and Bluetooth connection is added to facilitate mobile phone usage.
DacMagic 200M is specially designed for digital audio, ensuring that your digital music can be played perfectly regardless of the source. The design of the DacMagic 200M this time is similar to the previous DacMagic Plus. The relatively small and compact metal body of 52 × 215 × 191mm is quite suitable for desktop use. This time, only one color is available for the lunar gray, and the matte shell has a pretty good texture.
The front panel is the volume knob, the button for setting the signal source and filter, and the indicator light showing the decoding audio working state. Blue MQA decoding lights have been added to this machine. Since it is equipped with two sets of ESS ES9028Q2M DAC chips, the decoding capacity has also been upgraded to 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512, supporting the current highest decoding Hi-Res music files.
On the front panel’s left side are the switch and source selection buttons, which provide USB DAC, optical and coaxial, and Bluetooth inputs.
The volume knob is a little tighter, and it adopts a step-less rotation design. Next to it is a digital filter (Filter) switch button, which provides three Fast, Slow, and Short Delay choices.
The same as the previous model dacmagic plus, the light indicator is used to display the decoding mode, and the maximum support is 768kHz and DSD512. The blue light of MQA has been added.
DacMagic 200M also supports automatic sleep, fixed/variable volume selection. The connection is also quite versatile. In addition to using the USB Type-B to connect to the computer as a USB DAC, it can also be connected to CD players, streaming players, and other equipment through the optical fiber and coaxial digital inputs as a digital decoder.
DacMagic 200M has built-in headphone amplifier and preamp functions. The front panel is equipped with a 6.3mm headphone jack, which can drive headphones of up to 600Ω, allowing you to get a better listening experience. Using traditional Class A/B amplification technology, DacMagic 200M reduces the output impedance of the 6.3mm headphone jack. That will provide greater power, lower distortion, and less noise when you listen through headphones.
The back of Cambridge Audio DACmagic 200M provides both RCA Audio unbalanced and XLR balanced output, convenient for connecting to the amplifier or active speakers. 200M is equipped with a Bluetooth antenna, which supports high-quality aptX encoding, convenient for mobile phones to play songs wirelessly.
In addition to USB Type-B for connecting to a computer, DacMagic 200M also provides two sets of digital inputs, corresponding to optical fiber and coaxial. USB DAC also provides a Ground/Lift switch. The default is Ground, but if there is a noise, you can try the Lift mode.
Then remove the case and see what’s inside. First of all, I see the XMOS chip. Because XMOS can be self-programmed, the device supports PCM 32bit/768kHz DSD512 and supports MQA AK4118AEQ. This is the interface of the digital part. Therefore, optical fiber and coaxial signals are processed by this part. Two decoding chips are ESS ES9028Q2M. The whole decoding circuit is considered symmetrical and quite neat. I can see that the circuit board is printed with the Cambridge Audio logo because it is developed by them and has their signature.
DacMagic 200M MQA
DacMagic 200M is Cambridge Audio’s first product to support MQA. MQA is an award-winning British technology that can capture every detail of the recording and be easily streamed and played online. For example, the online music streaming service platform TIDAL uses MQA technology to provide music beyond CD sound quality for streaming. Since DacMagic 200M is MQA-certified hardware, you only need to use the TIDAL app or media players such as Roon for the functions. It can completely restore the encoding of MQA levels 1, 2, and 3. Completely decode and convert these extremely hi-res files.
First of all, of course, I tried the MQA decoding performance. Since it is played with a MacBook, there is no need to install special driver software. You can connect it with a USB and turn on TIDAL to play songs.
Since digital streaming music has become popular, it has changed audiophiles’ listening habits. If you want to find music, first take your tablet and search for the music you want to listen to on the iPad. The interface of the remote control App is the same, but the essential functions are not much different. The sound of the media is no longer inferior to traditional CDs, and there are even high-resolution music files. The sound quality is better than CDs. As long as there is a good enough digital streaming media player, it can play the effect of high-resolution music masters.
Listen to Queen’s “A Night At The Opera House” album. This is a very classic recording in the analogy era. The opening harmony adds a strong sense of space, and the four-part harmony position is clear. When the bass plays the first note, the sound field becomes fuller, contrasting with the sense of space deliberately created by the previous harmony recording.
Playing “John Williams In Vienna,” the first impression is that the sound is quite detailed and elegant, and the resolution of the violin is relatively high. At the same time, it is soft and pleasant, not overly sharp. The tone is slightly warmer, and the sense of space is wide, the overall control is excellent, and the performance of the expansion part is worthy of praise.
Switching to classical music, the “Beethoven Violin Concerto” of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, the hiss in the recording background, shows that the recording has some history. It also represents the ability of DacMagic 200M to reproduce the recording details and can easily distinguish the age of the recording. However, although the recording is old, the theme is vivid. The sound of the piano is bright and beautiful, top-notch but not harsh. Then the orchestra played in unison. As soon as the orchestra joined, it opened up the sense of the scale of the sound field and heard the hierarchy between the soloist and the orchestra.
DacMagic 200M can be said to be a high-quality USB DAC. It supports MQA decoding, is compatible with 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 high-standard audio, and is compatible with USB, optical fiber, and coaxial cable. In addition to the input, there is also a Bluetooth wireless connection. The built-in headphone amplifier and preamp functions also perform well. It is very suitable for desktop use, convenient for audiophiles who love to listen to headphones and speakers.
After testing the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M, I feel that the overall sound has changed significantly. First, the low frequency is solid, and the high-frequency lines are also significantly smoother and more transparent. The analysis of the details has also improved the overall image, and the background is also more solid. It is much cleaner, so although the price of this equipment is not high, it has a good sound and is easy to please audiophiles.
Regardless of whether it is playing MQA or CD, there have been considerable changes. I think it is a significant improvement. As for MQA, there have been many debates about whether MQA is good or not. But after comparison, after MQA decoding with this device, I think the most apparent difference is The density of sound details and the three-dimensional sense has been significantly improved. Playing the same record, it sounds more comfortable when using MQA decoding, not so exciting.
Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M DAC is a cost-effective device on the market and can be easily integrated into your system.
Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M Specs
- DIGITAL TO ANALOGUE CONVERTERS: Dual ESS ES9028Q2M DACs
- DIGITAL FILTER: Selectable, Fast – Slow – Short delay
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz to 50kHz (±1dB)
- THD+N @ 1KHZ 0DBFS: <0.0005% (A-Weighted) SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO: >115dB (A-Weighted)
- CROSSTALK @ 10KHZ: < -110dB OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: <50 Ohms (unbal), <100 Ohm (bal) MAX. OUTPUT LEVEL (UNBALANCED): 2.1V rms (fixed or variable – user selectable) MAX. OUTPUT LEVEL (BALANCED): 4.2V rms (fixed or variable – user selectable) DIGITAL INPUT WORD WIDTHS SUPPORTED: 16bit (Bluetooth), 16-24bit (Optical, Coaxial), 16-32bit (USB) DIGITAL INPUT SAMPLING FREQUENCIES SUPPORTED: 44.1kHz to 96kHz PCM, DoP64 (Optical), 44.1kHz to 192kHz PCM, DoP64 (Coaxial), 44.1kHz to 768kHz PCM, Native DSD 64x to 512x, DoP 64x to 256x (USB) MQA COMPATIBILITY: Full decoding (Core + Renderer) BLUETOOTH: v4.2, A2DP profile, SBC and AptX codecs HEADPHONE OUTPUT THD+N: < 0.001% at 1kHz 0dBFS @ 100mW into 32ohm HEADPHONE OUTPUT S/N: > 115dB (A-Weighted)
- MAX OUTPUT POWER: >300mW @ 32ohm, >65mW @ 150ohm
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz – 50kHz (±1dB)
- RECOMMEND HEADPHONE IMPEDANCE: 10 Ohm to 600 Ohm
- MAX POWER CONSUMPTION: 12W
- COLOUR: Lunar Grey
- DIMENSIONS (HXWXD): 52 x 215 x 191mm; (2.0 x 8.6 x 7.6”)
- WEIGHT: 1.2kg/2.6lbs