Your computer is OK at playing audio, but that’s not really its job, and as a result, audiophiles at work and at home are constantly looking for new ways to improve their listening experience. The DacMagic might just be the solution.


First of all, obviously it’s a headphone amplifier, with 150 mW of power. That’s important for a few reasons, the most basic of which is simply that the more boost you have for a signal, generally the better that signal is. A quick lesson in audio gear for those unfamiliar; your computer translates music to an electrical signal, and transmits that signal to speakers. However, the signal isn’t strong in the first place and can lose power through electrical resistance. So the amplifier ensures that the signal has enough strength.

Normally we’d be explaining this by discussing your headphone jack, but that’s actually out of this discussion.


That’s because your computer’s headphone jack is probably absolutely awful and only should be used when you have no other option. Instead the DacMagic routes around it by connecting to one of your computer’s USB ports, which is where the “DAC” part of the equation comes in. DAC stands for digital to analog converter, and it uses USB Class 2 Audio. In other words, the DacMagic can support high-resolution files with a minimum of distortion; .004%, according to lab tests.

Did we mention it’s the size of a matchbook? Because it is.

Snobbery In A Tiny Package


Obviously, this isn’t for everybody; if you have no idea what the sample rate is on your MP3s, you’re probably not going to be buying this. But if you have to have the best possible music, and are sick of lugging around something the size of a paperback book, this will probably be the best $190 you’ve ever spent.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.