FX-Audio established its name by making products with a 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 features:
- 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.
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. The 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 an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23 thoughts on “FX-Audio DAC-X6 MKII review – Is This A New Budget King?”
Con muchas expectativas espero , el lanzamiento y tus apreciaciones para este producto . La lucha por el nicho menor a 100 dólares está excelente y me gusta porque mis medios económicos solo llegan hasta ahí .
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$.
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.
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….
Specs are way, way too good to be true at that price.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
Would be enough amp for the Hifiman 4xx, especially compared with the K5 Pro?
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.
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.
Would this be better than the Fiio K5 Pro or the Magni 3 in terms of power and clarity?
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.
i bought one but had to send it back because of 2 flaws: (design mistakes for me)
* about 1 s in the begining of each piece of music is muted (inacceptable)
* you have to do 10 turn of volume knob each time you start the DAC
Thanks for the review, seems like a great option for its cost.
My Lusya Fever started showing some issues, but I felt how good it is and I want something better, so just a quick question: is the MKII still the best option for its price nowadays?
I haven’t heard anything sounding better close to this price yet. It should be a very decent upgrade coming from Lusya. With X6 MKII you should experience what the drive of a powerful dedicated headphone-amp can do, especially if you have somewhat demanding headphones. Cheers!
Please, I need help. I have to quickly decide which DAC to buy. As I read your review of the FX-audio DAC x-6 mkII, it is my first pick for now. I want to ask you if you still recommend it in that price range, ie. in the class up to 100 usd. Or is there something better for the money? To note that the primary purpose would be to use it as a DAC, I don’t intend to get headphones for now, but I’m not ruling it out as a possibility. I would connect the TV through it to the receiver, I would use bluetooth to stream TIDAL for the first time, until I decide which streamer to get.
Greeting! I am writing in English in order to reach a wide web audience… I am interested in your opinion if this DAC would be the best solution for the following purpose. It would be connected to a stereo amplifier/receiver, and a TV attached to it, and in the future also some external streamer (like wiim mini or something like that in the budget class) for Tydal/Qobuz. For starters, Tydal could also go via bluetooth. If you think that this would not be a good recommendation in the price class for this purpose, I am asking for an alternative.
I tried this and though good for the price , it’s a bit dry . What’s your take on new Kguss dac-k3 pro version . Its exactly the same as dac x6 mkii, but no Bluetooth. It has the ESS9018K2M vs ESS9018. But it’s a tad bit richer , fuller, smaller in size and also cheaper. I thought of ordering the topping ds10 , but will soon be ordering Hidiz DH80s based on your 10/10 suggestion. You need to arrange your reviews based on points for easy reference. Thanks !