Half-width components, like the MXN10 and DacMagic 200M, offer a compact and space-saving solution for audio enthusiasts. What's the reason behind this form factor, and how does it benefit users with limited space?
“How we listen to music is always changing and listeners care, now more than ever, how their electronics look.
We need to make sure that our products fit your living environment and sound amazing without compromise. We’ve been doing this with phono pre-amps and DACs for years. Splitting the functions of our electronics (like making a standalone DAC or removing the screen from MXN10) makes them smaller, as we can simply fit the electronics into smaller boxes
This means that users can add these units to an existing system, adding extra functionality without them taking up too much space.”
The half-width design is often associated with desktop or smaller setups. How were these products optimised, both in terms of their physical dimensions and performance characteristics?
“We made the MXN10 the same size as the DacMagic 200M because we knew that they’d make perfect partners in a desktop, or smaller setup, where space is at a premium. They still sound great, because we know that you won’t compromise on audio quality just because you’re sat at your desk!”
How does the half-width design impact internal layouts and component choices? Are there any design challenges that needed to be overcome?
“Fortunately, our Senior Electronics Engineer, Francesco Bettucci has good experience at laying out the signal paths. He’s a dab hand at making these small form-factor units (think DacMagic / Alva phono stages) and has perfected the art of optimising the performance while ensuring the signal paths are as short as possible, and isolated from components that may cause interference.
Both the MXN10 & DacMagic 200m use surface mount technology which allows us to reduce the physical size of the circuitry. Where sound quality is critical, we use newer, more efficient linear stage power supplies.
And as mentioned, not having a screen helps to reduce circuit complexity and really helps keep the size down.”
Some audiophiles might be concerned that a smaller form factor could compromise audio quality. How were these these concerns addressed?
“Just because it’s in a smaller box, doesn’t mean that our standards or audio quality are compromised.
Modern technologies allow us to achieve the performance our listeners are used to, despite that smaller form factor. The Gen4 streaming module inside MXN10 for example is highly integrated, allowing for space saving inside the unit. The ESS Sabre DACs also guarantee very high audio performance, which is why we like them.”
Half-width components are often prized for their versatility. Can you give us some example setups?
"MXN10 can be used to breathe new life into an older or vintage system that doesn’t have streaming, offering access to content from a multitude of streaming platforms and internet radio stations. It’s also compatible with Google Home, Apple Airplay and Roon multiroom systems, so it can form part of a whole-home system.
DacMagic 200M can make an old CD player sound better, revealing once-hidden details and life from your favourite CDs.
They can also work together for a desktop setup. My favourite use-case was actually shared via social media, where MXN10 & DacMagic 200M were used as a cute little listening nook with a set of posh headphones for private listening sessions (DacMagic 200M is a rather good headphone amp).”
Pete Dixon, Technical Marketing Manager
Pete has been with Cambridge since 2018. He is the guy that spends his time learning about how our equipment works.
He is involved in new product development and helps Marketing to understand which features and benefits that our listeners will find exciting.
Pete supports our retail and distribution partners by teaching their sales teams all about our products. That might be in a retail store, at their offices or in the demo room at our London HQ. As well as spending a vast amount of time in demo rooms listening, you can also find Pete at various hi-fi shows around the world. There’s nothing he loves more than meeting our listeners and playing music with them.
So if you see Pete about, either in a retail store or at a hi-fi show, say “hi” and share your favourite track!