The best budget DAC under $100 – FX Audio DAC-X6 Review

Overview

Featured

A newly released iteration of the DAC-X6, this DAC/amp from FX Audio shines in the sub-$100 category. It uses the highly regarded CS4398 and CS8416 in its DAC chipset, along with the OPA2134 opamp, and supports files up to 16 bit/192 kHz and 24 bit/96 kHz. Compact and adaptable, it’s ideal as a desktop unit for sending a signal out to PC speakers, or for use as a powerful headphone amp. On the back panel, you’ll find inputs for USB, optical, and coaxial, plus an RCA signal output. On the front, there’s a stepped attenuator for super-smooth control over your music’s volume.

Specs:

  • 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)

Included

  • Power cable
  • 5 ft (1.5 m) USB cable

Review

The DAC X-6 is an amazing little DAC at the $60-70 price point. It’s chassis is made from brushed aluminum and feels sturdy. The Volume knob has a click and feels solid.

DAC-X6_2

The power on and input toggle switches are also metal and a 1/4″ headphone out which is great as they are far more robust than 3.5mm ports.

DAC-X6_3

At the rear it features the 3 inputs Optical, USB and Coaxial which can be changed with the switch on the front.  It then has RCA out.

DAC-X6_5

There is a little feature only a few seem to know about and that is there are two jumper switches on the pcb, when these are set to the position closest to the headphone jack they enable a high gain mode which helps with high impedance headphones. I am not sure what the db level is but it certainly does make a difference, I could almost crank it to full when in low gain and in high gain I usually leave it at 1:00 o’clock with my Beyerdynamic DT 770’s Pro 80 Ohm’s any more and it is too loud.

It’s also worth mentioning the DAC-X6 is more powerful than many DAC’s which go for $200+ as it has a dedicated 12v adapter and not relying on USB to power it.

The sound is very nice, it’s a little dark but has warmth with plenty of bass on the low end especially when paired with Equalizer APO and PC Equalizer(GUI) both are free and on Sourceforge.net.

Is it the best DAC money can buy, no but it certainly is the best DAC under $100 and definitely the best starter DAC for those wanting to step into the realm of audio and also for those who just want better sound from their computer.

You can get the FX-Audio DAC-X6 on amazon in black here or silver here.

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