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Another DacMagic power supply trial

Decided to use Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but slightly more unusually, the DVD-A rip so the source is 24/96. Unlike quite a few DVD-As, this one appears to have some content above 22k. Amazing though, that given the total available dynamic range they still needed to ‘clip’ the recording.  Still sounds rather good though.
To start I compared the standard power supply with the Maplin L54BR.  Pleasant surprise, the Maplin delivers a subtlety of delivery that doesn’t emphasise any particular instruments. The original PS, in comparison, seems to make the bass line and the hi-hat a little more obvious in the mix of Dreams and decreases the importance of Stevie Nick’s voice.

Using track 7 , The Chain, showed the original as having a slightly ‘sharper’ delivery, more detail perhaps but certainly less music. The main difference was in the low end but this changed the overall presentation. The Maplin just delivered more music but in a controlled and balanced manner.

I then dug out the 500VA transformer I’d tried before – now in an aluminium box and with a ferrite on the output – in common with the original Dacmagic’s supply.  This PS delivered more power to the presentation, more extension apparently  but was slightly slower. It had better separation of instruments, but not really more music.

The more comparisons of power supplies I do with the Dacmagic the more impressed I am of the overall balance of the design.

I will carry on using the Maplin PS.  It is easier to hide away, as it isn’t a walwart, and more importantly it improves the performance making it just that little more balanced and even handed.

The music playback system was a HP2133 netbook running Foobar and ASIO drivers connected by USB2 to a M-Audio Transit sound card which was connected with a  Chord Optichord to the Cambridge.

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Cambridge Audio Dacmagic

I’ve had a the new Cambridge Audio Dacmagic for maybe a couple of months now and its not disappointed.  For two hundred pounds it’s fabulous value.

I started off running it in and using it connected via a Chord Prodac Prodigital coax cable from my Squeezebox 3.  It’s a great match for the SB3, delivering increased clarity and drive over the SB3’s line out. Sort of seems in the right price range for an upgrade to the SB3 as well.

Next was connecting it via USB to my HP Note 2133 to play internet radio.  Using Radio Paradise’s 128AAC stream as the primary source – a great souce of quality music with great sound – it sounded flat and boring.  What was surprising was just how easily it connected and Win XP recognised it straight away.  Really plug and play.

Adding a M-Audio Transit sound card connected via USB and then feeding the output from the Transit via a Chord Optichord optical cable into the Cambridge changed the sound quality completely: dynamics returned, life and energy returned and music was fun to listen to again. Internet radio can sound surprisingly good.

I do have an even better internet radio player but I’m not free to talk about that yet.

Two or more things to try with the Dacmagic yet: a larger power transformer and changing to ASIO drivers as these are supported by the Transit. Might even try the three filters sometime.  I reckon that there is loads more to get out of it if only I had enough time to experiment.

More on these another day.

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Is it Sad?

I was one of the couple of million who downloaded a beta of Windows 7 at the weekend.  Is it sad that I felt so compelled to try it out so long before it will be commercially available?
Suppose it shows I am more interested in computers than I thought I was.  I thought that computers had stopped being interesting and fun and had become boring.  I find all three major operating systems to be as bad as each other.  OS X Leopard somehow isn’t as good as Tiger. Windows XP is fine but it just looks and feels old.  Vista is great in parts but a dog in others.

So I’m hoping Windows 7 will be as stable and quick as XP but look good, feel good and not lock up as Vista does.

I have a HP 2133 Netbook on order on which to install Win 7.  More when DABS deliver.