For those of you that are new to DACs, or Digital Audio Converters, these are essentially devices that turn digital information into analog wave forms so your speakers/ears can hear it.
There has been a recent resurgence of after market DACs in the last couple years due to the flood of high quality headphones hitting the market and poor quality output from computers and mobile devices. What’s the point of having great headphones if you have a mediocre audio source?
The Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS DAC really makes this technology more accessible than ever before with its lower price point and fantastic quality.
The DacMagic XS is made for your computer’s USB port and is about the size of a pack of wooden matches, so it’s incredibly portable. On one side is a micro USB port and at the other is a 3.5mm headphone port, along with a small indicator light.
Once you plug this in you must change the sound output settings on your computer and the volume is then controlled from the DAC with a simple two button + and - design.
The DacMagic XS has two modes, a Class 1 mode with output up to 24 bits and sample frequencies up to 96Hz and a Class 2 mode that you must download a driver for on Windows (not needed on Macs) that gets you to 24-bit/192KHz.
The DAC essentially is bypassing your computers DAC (which is not great) and reroutes it to superior DAC and into your headphones. The DacMagic XS’s amp is boosting your power by almost 10x that of most computers sound cards.
No matter what genre you are listening to every song will just have more pop, detail and depth. Sometimes revealing weak spots in tracks that you might not have noticed before. It’s like putting better gas in your car, your engine just immediately notices the difference and everything just runs smoother.
At around $189, the DacMagic XS is a really affordable way to take a giant leap in sound quality. If you are at your desk a lot with headphones or writing in coffee shops or places with a lot of background noise this DAC is damn near essential. Once you hear the difference you will never be able to go back.
If you don’t like headphones that much you can also route a 3.5mm cable to your powered speakers and get a nice quality boost as well.
A highly recommended piece of technology for anyone that is listening to a lot of music on their computer. For its output, size and price it truly is one of the best buys in the after market DAC marketplace.