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Cambridge Audio Adds USB Headphone DAC

LONDON – High-end audio supplier Cambridge Audio continued to diversify into new audio segments with the launch of its first dedicated USB headphone DAC.

The $189 matchbox-size DacMagic XS, which bypasses a computer’s built-in sound card, incorporates 192kHz/24- bit DAC and 150mW headphone amplifier, said to deliver 10 times more power than most laptop soundcards. A 3.5mm headphone output on one side connects to a headphone jack, and the other side features a MicroUSB port for connection to a laptop’s USB port.

Earlier this year, the company diversified into networked music-streaming devices, including a streamer with built-in amplifier, two networked streamers without amplification, and two single-chassis networked speakers.

The brushed-aluminum DacMagic XS, which measures 1.2 inches by 0.4 inch by 2.1 inches, features asynchronous USB audio clocking and support for USB Class 1 and USB Class 2. When running in Class 2 mode, the DacMagic XS can be paired with Cambridge’s dedicated Windows USB Class 2 USB driver to bypass the computer’s audio path to prevent unwanted interference and re-sampling, the company said. The driver isn’t needed for Apple computers.

The device can be used between a laptop and home hi-fi system, the company added.

For home audio use, however, the company also offers other DACs, all with USB audio inputs for connection to a PC.

Cambridge products are marketed in the U.S. by Champlain, N.Y.-based Audio Plus Services.