Computer Users Embrace DacMagic

Adam Shaw Cotterill

I’d talked my way into yet another lunch “meeting”, this time with Paul Quilter from Hamilton’s PQ Imports and his exceedingly well dressed and erudite Pommy visitor, Adam Shaw-Cotterill.

Adam’s the International Sales Manager for Cambridge Audio (interviewed here about the 650BD Bluray player) and between bites of lunch, I actually managed to ask a few questions. Adam raised some interesting points, not least of which was the fact that computer users have been all over the Cambridge Audio DacMagic digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) like…well like audio writers at a free lunch.

The exact breakdown, courtesy of Adam’s overclocked brain is:

PC users – 50%

Mac users – 10%

Game consoles (PS3, X-Box etc.) – 18%

Set top boxes (Freeview, Sky etc.) – 12%

Other (CD/DVD) – 10%

Why is this interesting to anyone besides a geek like myself? Well the number of DacMagic units sitting behind a computer came as something of a shock to Cambridge Audio. The company thought that the vast majority of DacMagic buyers would be traditional DAC users i.e. people who want to improve the sound on a CD or DVD player. (when did CD and DVD become “other” BTW?).

All those inputs and the USB socket gets all the love

After all, the DacMagic (reviewed here by Gary Pearce) is loaded with inputs and outputs more attuned to the needs of a hi-fi lover; there just happens to be a single USB input on the rear panel but that lonely little socket is as popular as a Lotto winner on Sunday morning.

We all know how widespread computer audio has become but here we have untold thousands of computer audio listeners who have taken a serious step towards improving the quality of their computer sources. Then we have the gamers? That’s a fairly significant chunk of users who are blowing up aliens, cutting down terrorists and blasting round the Nürburgring with decent sound. Warms the old heart it does, maybe the days of the tinny 128kbps MP3 are behind us now?

Suffice to say that Cambridge Audio is working on a more upmarket version for release next year. I have zero firm information on this but my idle mind is speculating that the USB audio aspect of the new DacMagic (whatever it’s to be called) will be in for some serious attention from the engineers. Sounds like just the kind of thing I could use to liven up this smoking hot Macbook Pro as I type away late at night.

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