The FX Audio DAC X6 has everything beginner audiophiles would ever need. It isn’t a perfect product, but it is better than competing products in its price range.
FX Audio DAC X6 Review
High-quality sources such as DACs and Amps are essential in a good audiophile setup. However, their high price makes them hard to obtain for beginners. This can be a big problem, especially for those who wish to purchase entry-level high impedance headphones such as the Drop x Sennheiser HD6XX or HD58X.
Luckily, there are products that aim to fill the void in the budget price segment. One of these products is the FX Audio DAC X6. It offers plenty of features as well as a fairly powerful headphone amplifier which, in theory, can drive high impedance headphones.
However, we all know that the specs are only half the story. The product has to be able to perform well in a real-world scenario. And, unfortunately, most budget products fail to live up to their specs.
So is the FX Audio DAC X6 any different? Or should you just save up to buy a better product? Keep on reading for our full thoughts.
The FX Audio DAC X6 was purchased at its retail price. We are not affiliated with the brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Packaging and Accessories
The FX Audio DAC X6 doesn’t have the fanciest packaging. It just comes in a plain brown box with some generic text. We do not mind this given its low price and would rather have a better product than a pretty box.
In terms of its accessories, the DAC X6 comes with everything you need. It comes with a 12V power adapter, a USB Type B cable, and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.
There isn’t anything special to note here since all the free accessories are quite basic. But again, for the price, we cannot really complain.
- USB Type B Cable
- 12V Power Adapter
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm Adapter
Design, Build Quality, and Features
The FX Audio DAC X6 isn’t the best-built device. However, the build quality is acceptable, and you should not run into any issues. The real star of the show here is the input and output options that this device has. Let us first start by talking about the design and build quality in more detail.
The FX Audio DAC X6 has a very minimalistic design. Its shell is made of aluminum alloy and feels pretty sturdy. However, it feels pretty light and hollow. It doesn’t slide around my desk too much, but I would have preferred it if this device was a bit hefty,
The overall quality isn’t on par with the more premium DAC/Amps such as the iFi Nano iDSD BL. But for the price, this is as good as it gets.
The FX Audio DAC X6 comes in two colors; silver and black. Both look good, but we think the black version of the device looks sleeker.
In terms of the controls, the layout is pretty simple. You have a large volume knob on the front, the 6.35mm headphone output, a power switch, and an input switch.
All the components on the front side of the device feel very solid. The volume knob is easy to reach. It also has clicks that help with fine volume adjustment.
One thing that you have to take note of is that the volume wheel tends to get scratchy after some time. This is quite normal with potentiometer-based knobs. It can be cleaned, but it requires taking apart the device, which isn’t too hard to do.
The switches also feel very good and reliable. They produce an audible click whenever you use them. I do not feel as if these will fail me anytime soon.
On the back, you get your 12V power input, USB Type-B input, optical input, coaxial input, and left and right RCA outputs. Unlike other budget DAC/Amps, the FX Audio DAC X6 has plenty of inputs. This makes it an extremely versatile device that can be paired with external amplifiers, speakers, and other devices that you might get in the future.
Tested With: Sennheiser HD660S, Harmonicdyne Zeus, Moondrop SSP, KBear Diamond, Ikko OH10
The FX Audio DAC X6 does a lot of things right. It has a neutral sound signature and prevents any form of sound coloration. All IEMs and headphones that we tested sounded correct and were consistent with our other sources.
We also found the DAC X6 to be free from hiss and any kind of noise. This DAC/Amp pretty much checks all of the basics. And if we compare it to the internal sound card of my gaming laptop, the FX Audio DAC X6 is clearly more engaging.
But with that said, I did not find the DAC X6 to have that wow factor that my other sources have. The listening experience here is simply not as satisfying.
After trying out the DAC X6 with different equipment, we have concluded that the main issue here is its limited technical capabilities, narrow soundstage, and subpar performance in the high frequencies.
This was most noticeable when using more expensive headphones that were harder to drive, such as the Sennheiser HD660S. We immediately noticed that the soundstage was narrower than usual.
The HD660S is an intimate-sounding headphone, but it typically sounds wider than what we hear here. We have also tested other headphones, such as the Harmoncdyne Zeus, and have confirmed that the soundstage is indeed tight on this DAC/Amp.
Additionally, elements in the treble frequencies, such as crash cymbals, were not fully sounding. The bass was also not as tight as we liked, and the mids were missing some texture.
The HD660S still sounds like the HD660S. It still maintains most of its key sound elements, such as its mid-forward sound. However, the clarity and dynamics were simply not there.
Even without comparing it against my other sources, I could instantly tell that there is something missing with the X6’s sound.
The FX Audio DAC X6 performed better when paired with more budget-friendly IEMs such as the Moondrop SSP and the KBear Diamond. And while the limitations were still there, we felt that we were maximizing the capabilities of these IEMs.
The FX Audio DAC X6 has decent power for a budget device. However, it isn’t quite as advertised. FX Audio claims that it can easily power hard-to-drive headphones that have an impedance of 300-ohms.
But when we tried pairing the DAC X6 with the Sennheiser HD660S, this wasn’t the case. We did get enough volume, but it was fairly noticeable that the headphones were not being properly driven. The HD660S was lacking in bass, which was a common sign that it was not getting enough power.
Of course, this should not be a big issue. We do not see anyone with a high-end pair using this DAC/Amp. This is made to cater to more budget audiophiles who are using more basic headphones and IEMs.
FX Audio D01
The FX Audio DAC X6’s bigger brother, the D01, is hands down better in every way. This DAC/Amp is rocking a more advanced chip, the ESS Sabre ES9038Q2M. And its more advanced DAC chip translates pretty well into real-world performance.
It fixes a lot of the problems that the DAC X6 has. The Sennheiser HD660S that we use for testing sounded much livelier. The soundstage was significantly larger, the bass had more impact, and the mids had that detail and texture that we were looking for.
Additionally, you get built-in Bluetooth connectivity which makes this device even more versatile. You get better features and better sound quality while maintaining the excellent versatility that the FX Audio DAC X6 already had.
The only thing that I did not like about the D01 is that it literally has the same build quality as the DAC X6. This is not good because you are not getting a better-built device despite paying almost double the price.
But aside from that, if you have the budget, we advise getting the FX Audio D01 instead of the DAC X6.
iFi Nano iDSD Black Label
The iFi Nano iDSD Black Label is a completely different product from the FX Audio DAC X6. It is a portable DAC/Amp that is pretty much made for an entirely different use case.
It is also significantly more expensive. However, we believe that this product represents the sound quality upgrade that you get from purchasing a more expensive DAC/Amp.
Just like the FX Audio D01, the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label has better detail retrieval across the board as well as a better soundstage. But what truly catches my attention about this device is the sweetness that it adds to the sound of whatever headphone or IEM that I pair it with.
This effect is fairly subtle and does not mess up the accuracy of the sound. But there is just something that it does that makes the highs very enjoyable to listen to. It renders these upper frequencies effortlessly and makes them sound smooth.
Additionally, the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label can match the power output of the DAC X6 even with its smaller size. Based on our tests, we believe that the iFi Nano BL can drive the Sennheiser HD660S better than the DAC X6.
And if you are using IEMs, the iFi Nano BL has a dedicated IEMatch output for IEMs. This not only removes hiss from sensitive IEMs but also protects IEMs from being fed with too much power.
Of course, the iFi Nano BL isn’t as versatile as the FX Audio DAC X6. It only has a single USB digital input and a single 3.5mm line out. But if we are strictly talking about sound quality, there are very few devices that can match the power and performance of the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label.
As expected with its price, the DAC X6 isn’t the best sounding DAC/Amp. It is also certainly not the best built. However, what it lacks in sound and built quality, it more than makes up for it with versatility.
The DAC X6 has a decent headphone amplifier output that is capable of powering headphones that have an impedance under 150 ohms. It isn’t quite enough for more demanding headphones, but it should be adequate for most entry-level cans. And overall, the DAC X6 has pretty much anything any beginner would ask for.
If you can further extend your budget, there are better options. But if you are strictly looking for a DAC/Amp under $100, then we highly recommend this one.
- DAC: CS4398 + CS8416
- Opamp: OPA2134
- Headphone Amp: TPA6120 + OP275
- 16 bit: Support 44.1 – 192 kHz
- 24 bit: Support 44.1 – 96 kHz
- Standard Input Interface: PC USB/coaxial, fiber optic (with toggle switch)
- Standard Output Interface: 6.35 mm headphone output baseline, standard RCA connectors
- Line Level Output: RMS 2V
- Recommended Headphone Impedance: 32 – 600 ohm
- Output Power: 90 mW / 600 ohm, 180 mW / 300 ohm, 450 mW / 100 ohm, 610 mW / 62 ohm, 910 mW / 32 ohm, 1,000 mW / 16 ohm
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: ≥ 105 dB
- Adapter Voltage: 100 – 240 ACV
- Machine Power / Adapter Output Voltage: DC 12 V 1A above
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 5.7 x 1.4 in (9.8 x 14.6 x 3.5 cm)
Albums Used For Testing
- Camila Cabello – Romance
- Ariana Grande – Positions
- Maluma – Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy
- MAMAMOO – BLUE;S
Aubrey has been a longtime fan of music. She plays arcade music games such as Pump It Up and Dance Dance Revolution. She also loves different genres such as KPOP. Ever since she discovered IEMs and Headphones, her love and appreciation for music have been taken to the next level. And as a writer, she wishes to share her audiophile journey with you.