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FX Audio FX03 - Is a $50 Mini USB-C DAC Good Enough?


External DAC's in the sub $100 range are hard to come by but a $50 DAC is rare. My experiences with these budget friendly DAC have been very disappointing to say the least. I didn't have high expectations for the FX03 going into the review process; did the FX Audio FX03 meet or exceed expectations?


A BIG thank you to HifiCollege for providing the FX Audio FX03 USB-C DAC for review, much appreciated.


More Information:


Specifications:

DAC Chipset:ESS9028Q2M / SA9137L

Sampling rate:PCM: 32Bit / 44.1kHz-384kHz DSD: 64 128 256

Input: USB type-c

Output: :RCA

Level out: 2.5Vrms

THD+N: 0.005%

SNR: 110dB@A-wt

Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz



The FX Audio FX03 is a DAC only, you will need to connect an amplifier to hear your music. There is only one choice for input, USB-C. There is only one choice for output, RCA. The FX03 is a very simple DAC that is plug-n-play.


The build of the FX03 is nice and small. You can purchase it in black or white.



The outer shell is aluminum alloy measuring 60mm x 75mm x 23mm and weighing 132g.

On the top there is a little bit of branding.



Ohhh Ohhh we have a Hi-Res sticker, it's got to sound good.



There are small rubber feet on the bottom that grip and hold the FX03 in place well.



Red LED lights on the front tell you that it is receiving power and if the bit rate is PCM or DSD.



The back has RCA outputs and USB-C input.


The FX03 uses the Sabre ESS9028Q2M DAC chip and is capable of decoding (maximum) PCM 32/384 and DSD256. The RCA output is 2.5Vrms with very low THD+N 0.005% and SNR of 110db. The frequency response range is the standard 20Hz-20KHz.


So how does the FX-Audio FX03 sound?


My Review Process:


My Terms & Definitions:


Amplifiers used to test: DROP THX AAA One Linear

Mytek Liberty THX AAA HPA

Aune S17 Pro

Audeze Deckard

DROP SMSLA HO150X



The FX-Audio FX03 really surprised me when I hooked it up to various amplifiers with it's clean, analytical leaning presentation. The FX03 is all about clarity and cleanliness but it isn't cold sounding, there is a slight kiss of warmth to take the edge off. The presentation stays pretty close to the original recording as it doesn't add any coloring. FX03 reproduces tone and timbre fairly natural for the price point. The uppers come across at times as a little bright and forthright. The details retrieved won't wow you with how many but they won't disappoint either. The resolution of the retrieved details is adequate for the price of the FX03 but it won't win any competitions against pricier DAC. I find that the FX03 pairs better with an amplifier that has a touch of warmth as that smooths out the bright, forthright uppers.


I don't have any similar priced DAC only in house to compare. The majority of my DAC are integrated with an amplifier and are significantly pricier. The only stand-alone DAC that I have currently is the JDS Labs Atom+ which is twice the price. The Atom+ uses the Sabre ES9018K2M along with a lot of extras that the FX03 doesn't include. The Atom+ has a little warmer sound that is slightly better detailed and resolving. The Atom+ isn't as bright and forthright but is more on the pleasurable side. The Atom+ has slightly better tone and timbre. Overall, the JDS Lbs Atom+ is a better DAC but it costs twice as much as the FX03 and is about three times the size.


So in conclusion, the FX Audio FX03 is a simple device in a small package with big intentions. The FX03 exceeded my expectations for a $50 DAC. I am so impressed with this little DAC and highly recommend it. If you are looking for a DAC that will give you the basics of reproduction in a clean, analytical presentation on the cheap then look no further than the FX Audio FX03.


I am Dave the Honest Audiophile. Thanks for reading, and I will catch you in the next one. Don't forget to enjoy the music and that honesty is the BEST policy!


I am not a professional sound engineer, producer, musician, or vocalist, etc. I have not done any scientific research, measurements, or in-depth testing of any kind; just my own listening, comparing and internet reading/research.  I have limited, real-life experience with recording, mixing and mastering gear.  I have been involved since my teenage years with various churches as an amateur sound booth technician.


Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkDbs @TalkDbs


Recommended Gear:

Rosson Audio Design RAD-0: http://www.rossonaudiodesign.com/

Audeze LCD 2 Closed: LCD-2 Closed Back (audeze.com)

Massdrop THX AAA 789: 


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