FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII review – Is This A New Budget King?

FX Audio DAC X6 MKII

FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII

Tested at $79
9.5

Sound quality (line-out)

8.0/10

Sound quality (headphone-out)

9.5/10

Features

10.0/10

Build

10.0/10

Value

10.0/10

Pros

  • Punchy and dynamic
  • Clear and crisp
  • Firm grip on bass notes
  • Rich connectivity

Cons

  • Background hiss with sensitive in-ears

FX-Audio established its name by making products with great performance to price ratio. Original DAC-X6 was such a product. It bundled capable Cirrus Logic DAC with a powerful headphone amp that helped X6 get great scores in most reviews, including my own iiWi review. Great build and low price just added to it and made it one of the easiest recommendations in a sub $100 category. But now, FX-Audio released its successor. MKII version comes with quite a few changes.

Features and Connectivity

The first of them is a move to a Sabre ESS9018 DAC chip. The next one is the added Bluetooth connectivity that the original X6 didn’t possess. All the usual digital inputs are present too. To cut things short, here’s the full list of fetures:

  • High-Quality DAC from Sabre Technologies, ESS9018.
  • Chipset Configuration: STM 8, OPA275, OPA2134, TPA6120, CM6642.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 using QCC3008 Chip.
  • Multiple Audio Input Ports: Coaxial, Optical, USB, Bluetooth.
  • Dual Output Ports: RCA, 6.35 mm Headphone Out.
  • Output Power 6.35mm Headphone Port: 940 mW @ 16 Ohms, 900 mW @ 32 Ohms, 700 mW @ 64 Ohms, 450 mW @ 120 Ohms, 200 mW @ 300 Ohms.

Build and Controls

FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII follows the suite of its predecessor by using a sturdy aluminum case with a brushed finish. It grew in size, however, probably to accommodate the new BT feature. Given the asking price, I’m still as impressed with the build as I was with the original one.

Controls function as you’d expect them to. There’s one button on the front that doubles as a power button and input selector. A volume knob has a click too and that’s reserved for the mute function. Worth noticing is the fact that volume is being simultaneously controlled at both headphone and RCA output.

Sound

I fired the DAC-X6 MKII up, hooked my Hifimans to it, and started listening. New, Sabre-based circuitry treated me with a clean and crisp sound. Bass is going deep but is firmly controlled and has a good kick, just the way I like it. Instruments have crisp leading edges and transients strike with vigor, which makes for the exciting listen. Vocals are prominent and present, filled with texture and details. The highest region is rendered in a similar fashion, with plenty of energy and clarity.

Layering is good and the sound-stage is respectably wide, but the upfront presentation doesn’t convey much depth. That’s perfectly fine in my book as no device near this price can’t really do much stage depth either.

If there’s anything to complain about, it’s a slight midrange dryness, meaning that both instruments and vocals could’ve done with a bit more body and tone decay. But this gets obvious only if you compare it to more expensive gear. On its own, and for its price, DAX X6 MKII is a stunningly capable performer.

In-Ear Compatibility

To put it simply, it’s just not suited for it. There’s noticeable background hiss when sensitive in-ears like Kinera Freya are hooked up. Sound quality remains great, and you can sure use it for it if needed, but the hiss will be clearly noticeable in silent passages.

Bluetooth

Switching to a BT connection proved it is a well-implemented option. My phone connected quickly and streamed music without interruptions. Sound fidelity took a step back which is to be expected with any Bluetooth connection really. The overall dynamics, level of details, and control still remained at a satisfactorily high level for me to casually enjoy a few tracks. That said, Bluetooth is a convenience over fidelity affair, and given a chance I’d always choose a wired connection for its higher sound quality.

Comparison

There’s really not much competition around 80 bucks. Aiyima T5 comes to mind but it’s more expensive and not as good sounding (sorry T5 but your grades have just been revised to reflect this).

Dongles such as Dragonfly Black and Lusya Fever can’t compete in terms of bass control and kick, as well as overall dynamics of the sound. DAC X6 handles the kind of power that’s simply not available with these portable options. That said, Lusya Fever is still an insanely capable little DAC for its price and its intended purpose.

Compare X6’s line outs to something like Topping E30 and the latter shows a bit more tone richness and subtlety. DAC X6 is a bit rough around the edges but not that far behind really.

Fiio K5 pro offers a warmer baseline and softer presentation in general. Some might prefer that to a caffeinated DAC X6’s approach, but X6 does kick harder in terms of dynamics, bass control, and transients clarity.

Conclusion

The original was a budget jewel I recommended to many entry-level audiophiles with a limited budget. FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII version builds upon that to offer an even more resolving and exciting listen, and as if it wasn’t enough it threw Bluetooth into the mix too. All of this means my usual recommendation will not change much – just adding MKII at the end of it.

FX-AUDIO DAC-X6 – CHARACTERISTICS

D/A converter: Sabre Technologies ESS9018.
Chipset Configuration: STM 8, OPA275, OPA2134, TPA6120, CM6642.
Bluetooth 5.0 using QCC3008 Chip.
Frequency Response Range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
Signal to Noise Ratio: 112dB.
Multiple Audio Input Ports: Coaxial, Optical, USB, Bluetooth.
Dual Output Ports: RCA, 6.35 mm Headphone Out.
Output Power RCA: 2 Vrms.
Output Power 6.35mm Headphone Port: 940 mW @ 16 Ohms, 900 mW @ 32 Ohms, 700 mW @ 64 Ohms, 450 mW @ 120 Ohms, 200 mW @ 300 Ohms.
Power Input: DC 12V / 1A.

Official webpage

16 thoughts on “FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII review – Is This A New Budget King?

  1. Totally eager to listen to the music and movies through this mk2 version. Having x6 for a year and Lusya DAC for 2 months I am shure it will be another masterpiece under 100$.

    1. Production was a bit delayed due to everything these days, but it’s expected to come out early next month. I hope to test it as soon as that happens.

  2. I see it on Amazon today – May 28 – 8 left – no reviews – $79 –
    but the link to put it in my cart seemed to screw up my computer (could have been a coincidence) and the seller – Summer Audio – only has one seller rating. It is Prime shipping (not that that means much these days) but something doesn’t seem right….

    1. Well I just got my unit the other day, so it’s real. 🙂 Haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but review is coming soon.

      1. Eagerly awaiting the review. Amir’s measurements had a lot of issues with the DAC and the amp was not really great on higher loads. Hope improvements have been made.

  3. Hello friend I am loving your reviews I am thinking after seeing reviews of several sites specialized in audio to buy the Topping E30 would it be a good combination with this FX Audio x6 Mk2 ??
    Your L30 topping still
    did not arrive anxious for his review either. Congratulations great job.

    1. Hi Ricardo. E30 and X6 MKII are not a match. X6 MKII is all in one combo, it has only digital inputs and uses it’s internal Sabre DAC. There’s no way for it to accept analog out coming from Topping E30. So, either you go X6 MKII as a complete all in one solution that’s really really good for the money, or you go separates with E30/L30 combo.
      And yeah, I’m still waiting for my L30…

      1. He is referring the Sabre DAC chin in the FX-Audio DAC-X6 to the Topping E30 DAC chip. As you know, you can use FX DAC-X6 as a DAC only instead of a combo.

    1. In terms of power, there’s plenty. Bass control is great, dynamics too… There’s only a slight problem with character matching – both X6 MKII and HE4XX are on the bright side, so this is a sharper and analytical sounding combo. It’s still quite OK to my ears, but it’s something you should be aware of, especially if you like warmer and more relaxed presentation.

  4. Srboljub Stojanovic I thank you for your attention and your explanation of the differences between them, sorry for my lack of information because I am a novice in this area I really like music and as I had seen on YouTube from an oriental who had paired the e30 with Fx audio tube 01 that e pre amplifier connected to speakers. So I thought I could use the Topping E30 with it through the RCA headphone jack. First hand only you have reviewed the Fx Audio Dac x6 and I have seen many reviews on E30 all extolling its price and quality. I try not to spend too much, but to be able to hear quality sound.

    1. Hi Ricardo,
      It’s not more powerful than K5 pro or Magni 3 but it’s not far behind either. It definitely has better clarity than K5 pro in terms that it’s more analytical and forward sounding wheres K5 pro is warmer and laid back. Magni 3 is just an amp so its sound will depend a lot on DAC being used.

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