DAC-X7 is the best and most expensive DAC FX-Audio is producing currently. It retails for $189 at the moment of writing this review. In the heart of it there is an AK4490 DAC chip. Build quality looks great. DAC-X7 is made of thick brushed aluminum and it’s a quite heavy device at 1.5 kg.
CONNECTIVITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
The list of inputs and outputs is very rich. On the back we find two USB inputs. B type is used for connecting to your PC, while USB-micro is for your phone. The user manual says you should never connect them at the same time or you may damage your device. Next, we have a coaxial, optical and analog auxiliary input. Regarding outputs, there is a standard RCA output which is variable. You can control the volume level in fine steps from 0 to 99. This setting is saved when you turn it off and on so you can safely use it as a preamp if needed.
On the front, we can see 2 different headphone outputs. A bigger one is 6.25mm and has low output impedance which is suitable for most big cans. The smaller one is 3.5mm and with high output impedance. It is suitable for very sensitive IEMs that might produce slight hiss if used with the other one.
Worth mentioning is that headphones out and RCA out are sharing the volume level. If you’re often switching between your speakers and headphones it might be a slight annoyance. You would need to adjust the level for speakers or headphones every time you make a switch. Other than that it’s a peach to use. The knob is responsive and has a fine control step. When you click it, it acts as a mute button.
First of all let’s talk about its qualities as a pure DAC, hooked up to your amp and speakers or amp and headphones via RCA connectors. First of all, there’s a nice deep bass which is fast and precisely controlled. Going up you still get good clarity and precision all over the range, nothing is emphasized, too bright or too dark. If anything, X7’s sonic character is more fluid than it is resolute. Listening to some acoustic recordings I found out that this DAC is capable of creating a wide soundstage. Instruments are nicely separated and have room to breathe.
Next, I hooked several different models of headphones and in-ears to it. The same story continues and I get spacious and fluid sound across the frequency range. Output power is not huge and it would be unrealistic to expect this integrated amp to drive extremely heavy loads to very loud levels. Pair it with reasonably demanding headphones and you shouldn’t miss power and drive.
I compared it to some DAC/AMP combos I had at hand during this review. DragonFly Black can match its headphone output with drive and details, offering slightly rougher and more upfront presentation. Regarding line-out when used as a DAC only, Black simply can’t match X7’s spaciousness and refinement. Another desktop DAC/AMP combo would be Loxjie D10. While not as fluid sounding as X7, It offers even more textured and detailed sound. That goes for both line-out and headphone out. That said, I could imagine different people preferring one or the other.
My first encounter with an FX-Audio product was over their very budget-friendly DAC-X6 model. That impression was very positive and I got interested in the brand. DAC-X7 is clearly a more capable device with a price to match. There are better DACs for the price, but as far as a DAC/AMP combo goes X7 is one of the most balanced performers under the $200 mark.
|FX-AUDIO DAC-X7 – CHARACTERISTICS|
|Chipset : XMOS+AK4118+AK4490 + TPA6120.
Power Output: 120mW.
Sample Rate: USB – 24bit / 384 kHz.
Coaxial / Optical – 24bit (32bit) / 192kHz.
DSD 64 / 128 / 256.
Interface Input: Optical, PC-USB, Coaxial, Micro USB, AUX.
Interface Output: RCA line out, 6.35 mm and 3.5 mm Headphone out.
Impedance: 16-300 ohms