Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100 D / A Converter Review

The British company Cambridge Audio has been striving to develop audio devices that meet the needs of hi-fi enthusiasts since 1968. They set out to produce reliable, high-quality but simple and affordable products. Their most important “mission” was to get the great British quality sound to everyone. We will find out how successful this mission turned out after running our tests.

The British elite

Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100 converter

The Cambridge converter is made to improve output quality primarily of computers, media and Blu-ray players, as well as digital resources. The Dacmagic 100 Wolfson WM8742 24 bit DAC guarantees the excellent hi-fi sound quality. It also has 24 bit / 96 kHz USB audio, 1 digital Toslink and 2 digital coaxial and Phono inputs and RCA analog outputs. The front of the metal housing is made of brushed aluminium. The front panel contains the on and off switch, source selector and filter control buttons. The device supports operating systems that do not require separate software installation (Win / Mac / Linux) and is also capable of 16/24-bit, 44.1-192 kHz program support.

Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100 inside

It is powered by a large external adapter. The frequency response is 20 Hz-20 kHz, the Dacmagic weighs 0.5 kg. The USB connection is asynchronous. It can also be placed vertically, with a rubber rim provided by the manufacturer.

Some features are missing

Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100 back panel

There is no headphone amplifier, no Bluetooth connection, moreover, the user wont be able to select from any digital filters. There is no balanced analog audio output on the back of the device, the number of digital inputs has been halved compared to the Dacmagic 100 Plus model. The decrease in the number of features was compensated by the much more favourable price.

What are DAC converters good for?

The DAC converts digital signals to analog signals. Conventional amplifiers cannot handle digital sources. If you want to listen to music in digital format, a DAC circuit is essential to have. Older DACs were not always capable of transmitting the original audio properly in audio devices. Using a lower quality DAC converter the audio playback will be noisy. Another negative consequence of improperly designed DAC circuits is the digital timing issue. Of course, the quality of the source does matter as well. If you feel / hear that you are not getting the sound you expect, you may want to purchase a separate DAC converter.

Audio test
Rossini-William Tell

We first listened to the Overture to Rossini’s four-act opera Tell William. The converter produced clear, vibrant and natural sound with vivid, extended trebles. Perhaps the sounds could have been a little airier and thicker. The fierce gallop was followed by Gerschwin’s Summertime from Porgy and Bess’s three-act opera. The vocals sounded wonderful, clear, but the instruments were somewhat faded. However, the dynamics and accuracy were impressive. In our previous tests, we have already witnessed better, closer, more lifelike sound for other audio devices, but the Cambridge converter has also approached perfection. A French musical CD Romeo and Juliet, written by Gerard Presgurvic, was our next test subject. We could hear excellent stereo sound. We experienced a real, original chain of notes in the musical version of the two young people’s tragic love story. The overall sound we heard was extremely complex, perhaps overly concentrated at times. Moreover, the instruments were somewhat suppressed by the vocals in this piece too.

Pros and Cons

Benefits of the Cambridge Dacmagic 100

-reasonable price

-Wolfson WM8742 DAC operating system support

-stunning dynamics and accuracy

-clear sound


-no Bluetooth

-no headphone amplifier

-too complex, dense sound

-less detailed, airy sound

Is the DAC performance really magical?

We found the performance of the device convincing. Ideal for improving the sound of media and Blu-ray players, and it can be an optimal accessory for PCs and Mac devices. There are only a few competitors in the DAC converters market in this price range.


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