Good sound, bad upnp implementation, even worse mobile app.
I have been using the Stream Magic 6 from launching day onwards. At first the sound quality made me an enthousiast but later on i got frustrated by the functionality, support and very euphemistic information given. Let me explain:
- go over to the Android (play) store and look at the reviews. You ill read it crashes, before it crashes again. On every Android device i have the app crashes after four or five actions. I even bothered to make a trace of where the program was crashing. Ed Sulley then hastingly thanked me, apologized for not knowing this stuff and closing the ticket. After three such tickets i am still waiting for a good software version.Like very many.
- go and search for BubbleuPnp and Stream Magic. You will find many using the BubbleuPnp app instead. I myself as well because the app from Cambridge Audio is just not working and working with a remote and a big media collection is not doable. Now BubbleuPnp is running right away and very, very usefull. I am very happy with it. The only thing is, the volume is not working. The same is true for other uPNP apps and it's because of CA SM6 uPNP implementation. From here on i am guessing but since volume controle is sent by the SM6 to the neigbouring device via the C bus, it has to be a special command that only the CA app knows and CA secretly keeps to itself. There is however no excuse for CA. A proper implementation would have advertised (after a upnp call for it) its capabilities such as volume control and managed the specifics within their own domain (i.e. the equipment itself). Another approach could have been to open up their specific implementations to the open source world who are all to eager to jump in.
- now for the euphemistic part. The solutions mentioned in the faq's mostly stay away from real facts. And i had to find out myself; probably like many others.
a) CA has built this machine with DLNA uPNP servers in mind. Forget about storage servers, NAS, usb sticks and so on. You need a proper media server.
b) The app is not working properly and CA cannot manage to get this right. CA even writes that you will miss the volume control when using another app, but most people rather want stable apps.
I can understand that marketing would not want to have any sharp edges mentioned. But not mentioning the very obvious makes an untrustfull seller.
Now my verdict is that the sound quality is just plain good. No discussion. With a proper network you wouldn't notice the difference between streaming and...wel CD is actually also streaming. But for the app and the remote volume controle in particular my cry is: make it open source and 100% upnp compatible!!
I have had one for two weeks now. I am yet to come across any issues at all. Everything worked first time for me. The sound is still improving and I really love it.
Sounds brilliant and is a pleasant user experience would be my assessment. Sounds way better than the Pioneer N50 or the rDac etc. Better in some ways (more incisive) than the £2k Naim streamer. Just as a DAC it's probably worth the price tag. Bit picky about establishing internet connection but once in, works fine.
Hello Andy & everyone @What-Hi Fi
Must admit I have only just discovered the CA Magic 6
and I was all excited at the prospect of buying one as the centrepiece of my music files system? but after reading all the above comments i am sort of confused as to weather or not the Magic 6 is great or not??
and I am sure many of us would love some suggestions as to partnering equipment?
All The Best Steve
In our opinion the Cambridge is still one of the best streamers around. However, this is still a developing technology, so we're not surprised that Cambridge (along with every other manufacturer of streaming products) has products that have the occasional issue. This kind of thing is accepted in computers but less readily in hi-fi. But things are improving all the time.
As for partnering equipment, we've got fine results with Rega's Brio-R and Arcam's A19 amplifier. Speaker choices include Q Acoustics Concept 20s, Acoustic Energy 301s or , if you want floorstanders, Q Acoistics 2050is.
Why does this player only play songs in alphabetical order from a network drive? CA said it was not the player at fault, yet my laptop, network walkman, samsung galaxy tab ALL play them in the correct order. The Stream Magic 6 it seems only plays in alphabetical order.
So what's the fault then?
Hope this is not too off topic, but I see here that this product has a 5* review but users are having problems. Same thing happens on the Consumer Association website.
I have a Cyrus Stream X2 for a couple of years now. You can now get it for £999 from Sevenoaks, (£400 less than I paid for it I think!) I used it initially via WiFi & then Homeplug because the area it sits in my house seems to be a WiFi hole.
I found it easy to set up, it sounds great, I'm really happy with it.
PS I have no financial ties to Sevenoaks or Cyrus & wish you all the best with your hifi purchases.
Streammagic performs great. Had intially major problems with the app. The app was non responsive and the system rebooted frequently.
Both issues were solved. My own network was not set up correctly and a firmware upgrade from cambridge resolved the issue regarding the reboots of the appliance.
I can now queue music for hours and the system does not reboot and sounds awesome,
What I do still find annoying is that when you change apps on the iphone, and then revert back to the stream magic app that it has to do a reconnect which takes somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds. I opened up a ticket for this and supposedly this is as designed.
I really struggled to get the Stream Magic and its iPad / iPhone apps working over WiFi.
When it did work it sounded good. Sadly the unit often rebooted itself and the Apps failed to connect. My perception was that this occured when use of the the WiFi was shared with other devices e.g. the Apps !. I was UPnP streaming from a Synolgy NAS via a Belkin wireless router. Streaming wifi to a laptop was fine. SM6 reported 70% WiFi strength in a spot where tablets and laptops worked just fine.
After many hours struggling to get it working, I took the unit back to Richer Sounds and swapped it for a Sonos Connect, Sonos Bridge and CA DacMagic plus. All this just worked first time out of the box. The Sonos Apps are much better than the CA ones - especially with album cover art. The only downside of Sonos over CA is lack of BBC IPlayer radio and the inability to stream FLAC > CD quality (but USB to the DacMagic can do that) .
My local Richer Sounds claim their DM6 works just fine over wired LAN - I did not try that.
My Magic 6 works fine using Playback UPnP software on a MacBook Pro. However it won't recognise a MacBook Air or an iMac, all set up identically. Is this likely to be a Magic 6 problem or a Playback problem?
We are continuing to evaluate the feedback from users on the Stream Magic ap and hope to make further improvements. As with my last response, many of the reported issues relate to the stabilty of the network that the equipment is connected to and this will have a greater effect than the software but we are still looking into this.
In the UK, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that goods must be (1) as described; (2) of satisfactory quality; and (3) fit for purpose (viz. their everyday purpose and any specific purpose agreed with the seller). I too have been experiencing problems of the unit resetting, e.g. when using the iPad app. In my view, it's completely unacceptable for these issues to be occurring on a HiFi unit costing in the region of £700. Cambridge Audio: please address and rectify these issues (either by software updates on Android and iOS devices or by a software update on the Stream Magic unit itself) reported by Stream Magic 6 users; otherwise there will likely be a steady “stream” of dissatisfied customers returning their units to the vendor.
We are sorry to hear of the problems that Digital Explorer and leothelast have experienced with their units.
The Android version of the Stream Magic ap is more limited than the iPad version and certain features are not present. The sheer variety of Android Tablets and their different resolutions mean that certain features are not implemented because there is too great a variation to how they will appear on different tablets from different manufacturers.
With large libraries (of which we feel that 45,000 tracks is an example of this), this will take some time for any UPnP client to render and the speed will largely depend on how the files are arranged and tagged and how the storage presents this information to a UPnP client. Network stabilty is largely dependent on the partnering equipment but we welcome feedback on user experiences on our online support system.
Cambridge Audio Customer care.
I've owned a Stream Magic 6 and 651A for a little over 4 months now and wanted to complain about the incredibly frustrating experience I have had as a result.To begin with, the difficulty in getting silver components through Richer Sounds. Then the delivery of a damaged amp and the weeks required to get a new one.Since then the user experience has been nothing but frustrating and stressfull. For 3 months I wasn't able to use the Android app on my Nexus 7 tablet and the version for my Android phone was buggy, slow and frequently refused to work altogether.When an app versions supporting Android 4.x finally arrived, I found it lacked the complete functionality of the Ipad version, including 3 key features, that being 'browse by cover art', the ability to create & edit playlists and the abilty to navigate through a song by scroll bar. Starting up the app still fails 3 out of 4 times.When I do get the app to work, I have to deal with a player that frequently and randomly resets itself loosing queue lists that I have to contunally regenerate as I can't save them as playlists.In addition the idle mode causes no end of problems with loss of connection to network drives being an all too frequent occurance, requiring a full power down and restart of the player in order to solve the problem. This happens with different model NAS drives configured in different ways. There doen't appear to be any stable connection network connection, only directly plugged in USB drives function with any consistency.Other frequent bugs, include the loss of Azur mode control of the amplifier and random queue list errors in playback and the inabailty to do an alphanumeric using the android app.I spend more time trying to get the system to work than I do listening to music. I find I'd rather listen to my ipod than attempt to listen to my HiFi system knowing that it will just leave me feeling frustrated, angry and thoroughly duped by Cambridge Audio into believing they'd brought a stable product to market.
I bought a Stream Magic 6 3 weeks ago after reading this review and brought it back yeaterday.
While it delivers first class audio, it is almost useless as a a front end to a sizeable music library.
I have a 45,000 tracks music library. My plan was to use the streamer with the iPad app. Each time I start the app it takes 13 minutes to load the UPnP tables. Worse, the same thing happens when I change view e.g. from Album to Artist. This makes the device totally useless. Who would want to wait such a long time to listen to a piece of music.
I raised the issue with the Cambridge Audio help line who proved totally useless.
I am now the very happy owner of a Sonos system with an Arcam DAC. It cost me £70 less...
P.S. Kudos to Richer Sounds who proved very reponsive to my predicament.
I also currently use a Squeezebox Touch which has been brilliant.
I use a NAS. You should always use a NAS connection over Ethernet as it’s superior to a USB connection in terms of sound quality. I use powerline Devolos and the sound never drops out and sounds superb.
Again don’t think of using wireless to stream hi-def stuff, as you will get drop-outs. I always use FLAC 16/44.1 through to 24/96.
You state that the CA can’t play 24/192 files from USB. Can you confirm (please) that this is also the case for my type of connection.
Have you any views as to how the CA stacks up audio-wise against the SBT? There have been reviews which have stated that the SBT/Ethernet hook-up is equivalent to £1500 CD players. I concur with this, so I want better!
Yes, as Ben from Audio Partnership says below: it won't play 24/192 from USB or the kind of UPnP set-up you're using, but will do so when used as a 'soundcard' for a computer using the dedicated USB Type B connection provided on the rear panel.
Currently using a squeezebox touch ; since it can only keep track of 10000 songs on an external HD (I don't want to fiddle with NAS etc..) I wonder of this device would allow me to fill the 1 TB HD up and connect it directly to the cambrdige. What kind of software do I need to navigate around with my smartphone ?
Is the sound any different from what I get from logitech ?
Please leave your informed opinion, what alternatives are there for biggish music collections that don't have a NAS or continous network access ?
doest it sound as good as a similarly priced CD player??
The Stream Magic 6 is compatible with FLAC/WAV files up to and including 24-bit/96kHz resolution via UPnP and local USB media. When I say local USB media, I am referring to the front and rear type A USB connections, intended for use with USB hard drives, memory sticks, etc. Here, the Steam Magic 6 is performing the decoding and playback of highresolution CODECs.
With this in mind, as you have seen, I can confirm that the Stream Magic 6 will not play back 24-bit/192kHz files via UPnP or local USB media (USB hard drives, memory sticks, etc). This is stated in the specifications of the Stream Magic 6 which are available in the user manual or on our website.
The USB Audio input is a different connection entirely. This is the type B USB connection on the rear of the unit. The USB Audio input is simply a digital audio input (like the S/PDIF input) which will allow you to use the Stream Magic 6 as a high quality DAC and input up to 24-bit/192kHz files from an external source - i.e. your computer. Here the computer is doing the decoding and playback of the high resolution CODEC and the Stream Magic 6 is simply performing the high quality digital to analogue conversion.
The Stream Magic 6 cannot play 24/192 FLAC files neither from a USB memory stick nor from an external HDD. Linn’s and other 24/192 test files stuttered badly, being unplayable. This may be not exceptional because the same was reported here: http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk/index.php/internet-audio/470-cambridge-audio-stream-magic-6.html?start=2
(The newest firmware installed, USB 2 was selected)
Just waiting for clarification from Cambridge, but the company's website says:
"USB audio input allowing streaming of up to 24-bit/192kHz audio from computer"
which would suggest it can't do so from a USB memory stick.
how does it compare to marantz 7004 and pioneer n50??? sound wise... or how about the denon 2012 BD player??
how does it fair as a preamp, is it worth its price just as a preamp... please state similar class preamp or make some comparisons
thanks for a good reveiw ;)
How is Magic 6 able to reproduce subltle sounds in acoustic music - reverbations, harmonic in sound and colors of wood, strings, air, breath, low level details, ambient sounds ... ? After my experience with (as well high regarded) Arcam rDAC, which totally failed in this way during my tests at home, I'm afraid a bit.
Can this handle spotify and MOG?
Also can it be directly connected to a power amplifier ?
The lack of gapless playback (from the FAQ at the Cambridge site) seems to me an absolutely fatal flaw. How come it is not mentioned in the review? Do you guys really only ever listen to single tracks?
Cambridge Audio contacted us to say they're working on an update for gapless playback, which should be released in the next month. We're going to give a beta version a go and will let you know.
Maybe they will - my guess it will take a great deal longer than that to get it right.
But the key point is this... Surely What Hi-Fi should test for such a feature. So many CDs have one or more gapless tracks that it really is fundamental to the correct playback of albums, whether classical or contemporary. At the last count I recon that about 12 to 15% of my CD collection (totalling 800+ CDs) would not be correctly played by media streaming devices that you have awarded 5 stars to but would be played correctly by some that you have awarded fewer stars.
DM+ was rated 4*, Magic 6 i rated 5* despite some (in review not mentioned !) problems (lack of gapless, in track seeking functionality).
So is the sound of Magic 6 different than DM+ ??
Yes, we think it's better. We criticised the DacMagic Plus for a slight edge to the treble, and voices veered towards the bright side, despite plenty of running in. The Stream Magic 6 doesn't have those traits.
It's suprising but pleasant info Thank you
(little OT - Can you recommend some nice (integrated) amplifier to pair with Magic 6 ? Some with low fatiguing, airy, open sound, good for acoustic music, jazz, classic/ancient music, opera, human voice ... )
The Tech Specs need amending as the unit does have an Optical Digital Output.
I was finding it somewhat difficult to absorb the specs as listed, as they appear (on the iPad display) to be randomly intermixed.
Wouldn't it make it more convenient for users if the specs were grouped into common elements, such as inputs, outputs, audio formats, video formats, etc - then it would be easier to see in one place the specific similar items and identify the issues important to us (either the presence or absence of specific things).
While on this topic, why on the reviews and the buyer guides is the apple lossless format not one of the standard fields, where an indication of whether it is supported or not, form part of the review info?
In lossless formats the major contenders are surely FLAC and ALAC - given the wide use of Apple products and iTunes, the use of ALAC is surely more common than the third main contender, WMA - which does seem to have a standard mention.
"Wouldn't it make it more convenient for users if the specs were grouped into common elements?"
Yes, indeed it would, and it's something I've requested. But unfortunately budget constraints mean it's unlikely to be something we can address in the short term. Take your point about Apple Lossless.
This seems to do everything the M1 CLiC does but for just over half the price??
Does the Cambridge only sound half as good perhaps...?
I'll find out from the reviewers tomorrow which one they used.
can you please provide some details around the power amp used in this test?
Kubs, we used our reference power amp, the Bryston 4BSST.
Isn't the BP26 a pre-amp?
Possibly the power amp was the 4BSST2?
Correct, the power amp is the 4BSST, which we use in our hi-fi test room with the Bryston BP26 preamp.
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