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  1. #1
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Question Cambridge Audio DAC Magic hook-up

    Hi Everyone,
    Recently I bought a new computer (HP desk top) and a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic. My desk top has a digtial coax output, which I have been using. With the Cambridge DAC they also supplied a USB cable, type A to type B male. I haven't used the USB cable, because I'm a newbie at this, and don't know how to get it to work, other than hooking up the cable, and making sure the CA is switched to the USB port. I looked thru both mauals, even went to HP's website, but if was there I didn't see it. I'm new at downloading music too, I use primarily Itunes, software, if that makes a difference. I know to use the digital output, after switching to the analog output and back again, I have to play something thru Windtows (Vista) first), like creating a path, for the Itunes to work. So my questions are:

    a) how do I get the USB port to work?

    b) will the USB port bring better sound, or is just a conveince feature, (if you don't have a digital output).

    c) Anyone have any suggestions for music websites? So far all I've used is Itunes and Amazon, I do prefer the "pay as you go" websites.

    Thanks in advance for your comments, and I aplogize for any spelling errors. I'm lost without "spellcheck". If it's here, I haven't fought that yet either.

  2. #2
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    You probably have to inform your computer to output audio through the USB. I don't know the setting for this on windows.

    There will likely be no big sound advantage. USB is fine for CD resolution audio, but will generally not support higher resolution (although this is rare enough not to be a concern)

    no preference for sites. I still buy CDs.

    good luck!

  3. #3
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noddin0ff
    You probably have to inform your computer to output audio through the USB. I don't know the setting for this on windows.

    There will likely be no big sound advantage. USB is fine for CD resolution audio, but will generally not support higher resolution (although this is rare enough not to be a concern)

    no preference for sites. I still buy CDs.

    good luck!
    Thanks for the comments. I least I know I'm on the right track, with the computer. HP's website to me, is not the most user friendly. Sometimes too much information.

    I was hoping there was no big difference. My PC is about 15 ft away, and the digital coax cable seems to be more robust vs. the USB cable. I did buy a USB cable extention, one buffered, one not, but no luck with either.

    I still buy CD's too, and to me they still sound better, but the DAC does make it closer when both are played thru it. It really improved both (I'm using a Sony DVD player.) The nice thing about downloading is, it's more economical, it's rare you find a CD that you really like all the songs, at least for me anyway.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Have a look in the audio control panels, set the audio output to 'USB speakers' if that is an option.
    Also, depending on the software you're using to play the music, browse in the options and look for 'devices' (this is what you look for in windows media player).
    Shouldn't be too hard to figure out

  5. #5
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Have a look in the audio control panels, set the audio output to 'USB speakers' if that is an option.
    Also, depending on the software you're using to play the music, browse in the options and look for 'devices' (this is what you look for in windows media player).
    Shouldn't be too hard to figure out
    Probably not, but I was looking in the wrong direction. I found it and it's working! Thank you , thank you.! I'm listening to it now.
    Which answers my second question as well, the USB cable supplied is a convenience feature, for PCs without a coax or optical output. The DAC only cares if it's a digital signal, and does it's own thing with it. Thanks again, this was driving me crazy.

    I also found the spellcheck. WooHoo!! Life is good!
    Last edited by luvtolisten; 03-05-2009 at 04:29 PM.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Anyone have any favorite music download websites?

    If so, why is it your favorite?

  7. #7
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvtolisten
    Hi Everyone,
    Recently I bought a new computer (HP desk top) and a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic. My desk top has a digtial coax output, which I have been using. With the Cambridge DAC they also supplied a USB cable, type A to type B male. I haven't used the USB cable, because I'm a newbie at this, and don't know how to get it to work, other than hooking up the cable, and making sure the CA is switched to the USB port. I looked thru both mauals, even went to HP's website, but if was there I didn't see it. I'm new at downloading music too, I use primarily Itunes, software, if that makes a difference. I know to use the digital output, after switching to the analog output and back again, I have to play something thru Windtows (Vista) first), like creating a path, for the Itunes to work. So my questions are:

    a) how do I get the USB port to work?

    b) will the USB port bring better sound, or is just a conveince feature, (if you don't have a digital output).

    c) Anyone have any suggestions for music websites? So far all I've used is Itunes and Amazon, I do prefer the "pay as you go" websites.

    Thanks in advance for your comments, and I aplogize for any spelling errors. I'm lost without "spellcheck". If it's here, I haven't fought that yet either.
    1) Stick with Coaxial... USB is likely to be inferior....

    2) iTunes is pretty decent especially now that they are moving to DRM free 320K AAC files... CDs are still better, but 320K AAC is really good and a credible alternative to Lossless (If you are ripping from CDs, use lossless though)..

    3) Enjoy!

  8. #8
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    1) Stick with Coaxial... USB is likely to be inferior....

    2) iTunes is pretty decent especially now that they are moving to DRM free 320K AAC files... CDs are still better, but 320K AAC is really good and a credible alternative to Lossless (If you are ripping from CDs, use lossless though)..

    3) Enjoy!

    Thanks Ajani,

    1) I was leaning that way, just the coax cable itself seems more durable.

    2) I've used Itunes and like it as well. First time I've heard of Lossless (I'm a newbie) but I've downloaded the software and will give it a try.

    3) See photo above from previous post. Thanks!

  9. #9
    nightflier
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    Try both the USB and the optical digital. USB can sound better. There's a lot of variables, but digital outputs, especially on laptops, aren't all created equal either.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Try both the USB and the optical digital. USB can sound better. There's a lot of variables, but digital outputs, especially on laptops, aren't all created equal either.
    Good point, Nightflier, thanks. I'm using a desktop, but I'm sure it holds true for either. I plan on doing some A/B comparisons, USB/Digital (although they call the digital output 'high def" in the Vista control panel/sound/devices menu) the next couple of days.
    I'll let my ears be the judge. So far it's hard to tell, but I'll give it time, in the meantime, I'm enjoying it.
    Last edited by luvtolisten; 03-05-2009 at 07:02 PM.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    You're welcome.

  12. #12
    nightflier
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    Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by luvtolisten
    ...although they call the digital output 'high def" in the Vista control panel/sound/devices menu...
    I wouldn't expect the geeks up in Redmond to know what "high def" is, LOL.

    Some thoughts that could help in your evaluation:

    - use a spectrum analyser. There's a lot of software based ones you can download. You might not be able to hear a difference, but seeing it visually will tell you if there is a difference.

    - Use longer cables, if you have more to choose from. Differences in cables are more pronounced on longer cable runs.

    - Use good headphones as part of your evaluation. It might help you hear things you can't hear through speakers.

    - Do a few comparisons at very loud volumes and at very low volumes.

    - Most computer speakers are very limited. You'll fare much better piping the output to a stereo system.

    - Take notes.


    I'm curious to hear what you find out. We here spend a lot of time debating the merits of comparisons and also of the relative value in different components and/or cables, so please do share your findings.

  13. #13
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    Neither USB nor SPDIF will make much difference considering the audio is coming from iTunes and Amazon, then passing through Windows Mixer. It will be significantly bit-corrupted no matter what you do.

    Use an ASIO-capable player like Media Player Classic or Winamp with the ASIO plug-in, an ASIO-capable sound card/device, and proper media if you care about sound. Otherwise, it has more to do with whether you happen to like the "tone" of this dac you just bought.

  14. #14
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Agree

    Quote Originally Posted by Reticuli
    Neither USB nor SPDIF will make much difference considering the audio is coming from iTunes and Amazon, then passing through Windows Mixer. It will be significantly bit-corrupted no matter what you do.

    Use an ASIO-capable player like Media Player Classic or Winamp with the ASIO plug-in, an ASIO-capable sound card/device, and proper media if you care about sound. Otherwise, it has more to do with whether you happen to like the "tone" of this dac you just bought.
    I agree with this advice. It is a fact that using the standard USP audio drivers with WinXP you will NOT get bit-perfect transmission to your DAC, regardless of USB or S/PDIF. The suspect is the notorious Win component, 'kmixer'.

    In my case I use Foobar2000 0.9.5.6 as my player on my WinXP SP3 and Vista machines. Foobar provides three options that enable bit-perfect transmission:
    1. ASIO: in my case I can use the ASIO driver for my M-Audio Audiophile 7.1 sound card. An option for standard USB devices, including DacMagic I think, is ASIO4ALL.
    2. Kernel Streaming: you can install the KS plugin for Foobar which bypasses kmixer.
    3. WASAPI, Vista only: exploits the new Vista sound architecture that replaces kmixer, etc., with different components, including WASAPI.
    I have an HDCD DAC; when the HDCD indicator lights (playing an HDCD CD) you have a good indication that you're getting bit perfect transmission since HDCD decoding relies on the "least significant bit" in the PCM signal.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    I wouldn't expect the geeks up in Redmond to know what "high def" is, LOL.

    Some thoughts that could help in your evaluation:

    - use a spectrum analyser. There's a lot of software based ones you can download. You might not be able to hear a difference, but seeing it visually will tell you if there is a difference.

    I haven't used a spectrum analyzer in over 15 years, I'd be lost! But it is a good idea, seeing the actual graphs is pretty convincing.

    - Use longer cables, if you have more to choose from. Differences in cables are more pronounced on longer cable runs.

    The cables I'm running are:
    1) a 24 ft coax,
    and 2) a 20 ft USB extension (with a built in buffer) connected to the cable CA provided (Type A TO Type B) for the CA DAC


    - Use good headphones as part of your evaluation. It might help you hear things you can't hear through speakers.

    I don't own a pair of headphones, I'm happily divorced!Name:  nelson.jpg
Views: 132
Size:  2.1 KB Sorry I couldn't resist! But, really I don't own a pair, slows me down going to the fridge.

    Do a few comparisons at very loud volumes and at very low volumes.

    Okay, I will

    - Most computer speakers are very limited. You'll fare much better piping the output to a stereo system.

    Yes, I have, that's why the need for 24ft cables. I don't have room in my living room for my PC, so it's in another room.-

    I'm curious to hear what you find out. We here spend a lot of time debating the merits of comparisons and also of the relative value in different components and/or cables, so please do share your findings.
    I'll let you know what I find, thanks for the input.
    Last edited by luvtolisten; 03-07-2009 at 09:56 AM.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    I agree with this advice. It is a fact that using the standard USP audio drivers with WinXP you will NOT get bit-perfect transmission to your DAC, regardless of USB or S/PDIF. The suspect is the notorious Win component, 'kmixer'.

    In my case I use Foobar2000 0.9.5.6 as my player on my WinXP SP3 and Vista machines. Foobar provides three options that enable bit-perfect transmission:
    1. ASIO: in my case I can use the ASIO driver for my M-Audio Audiophile 7.1 sound card. An option for standard USB devices, including DacMagic I think, is ASIO4ALL.
    2. Kernel Streaming: you can install the KS plugin for Foobar which bypasses kmixer.
    3. WASAPI, Vista only: exploits the new Vista sound architecture that replaces kmixer, etc., with different components, including WASAPI.
    I have an HDCD DAC; when the HDCD indicator lights (playing an HDCD CD) you have a good indication that you're getting bit perfect transmission since HDCD decoding relies on the "least significant bit" in the PCM signal.
    Thanks for all the info, I've downloaded ASIO4ALL. I'm looking forward to playing around with it.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Update on cables

    Just an update on the A/B testing of the SPDIF cable to Cambridge DAC and the USB extension cable (with buffer) to USB type a to type B cable to Cambridge DacMagic.
    After over I month, listening to various volumes, material, and formats, I heard no difference in sound between the two cables. When a certain format or material sounded good on one cable, it was exactly the same on the other. Same was true on bad recordings etc. There wasn't one thing I could find between the two, that was different sound wise
    There are variables:
    1) It could be my ears.(last time they were checked they we fine)
    It could be my system (NAD T754, Wharfedale EVO 10's, HSU STF-2).

    The truth is, I couldn't hear any difference what so ever, for those that were wondering if there would be. Thanks.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jahid420
    Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 2 Channel Audio. ... They were pretty hot sellers, but
    they have started popping up on agon, and that has me wondering .... Basic
    Hookup/Wiring Questions, Subwoofer Hookup & Bass Management, Forum Testing Area
    Well, I'm happy with mine, it's just it was my first DAC, and I wasn't exactly sure how to hook it up correctly. More of not being familiar with my PC since I just bought that a couple weeks before the DAC. It's was my fault, not the unit's fault. Once I got past the learning curve (with my PC) all is well. I wouldn't say it's a "night and day" difference as the sales man at AA claimed, from hooking it up to a receiver with a decent built in DAC and SPDIF input,(that's if your PC has a SPDIF output), but if you don't have one or the other, this unit does make a large difference. Also works well with older CD/DVD players.
    It's a fairly versatile unit. I think prices may be coming down, because it's been on the market a couple years now.

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