| USB DAC | Headphone Amp | Bluetooth | DSD512 |
🎧 We are reviewing the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1, the newest headphone amp/DAC from the brand.
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 is a solid state amp/DAC with impressive specs and their latest addition to the catalog, belonging to a brand new series: the “2.0 ERA UPGRADE” line.
FX-AUDIO is a brand that manufactures, exclusively, audio-related products; most specifically, DAC and amplifiers.
In the past we have reviewed their flagship tube amp which resulted in a phenomenal bang for buck option with very good performance overall.
The DAC-M1 is packed with advanced features and specs that are hard to reach by mainstream competitors at such a low asking price – we will test the unit and list in detail it’s features through out this FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 review.
You can buy the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 in 3 colors:
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FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Review
Tests & Scores
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 include advanced features such as:
- USB DAC
- Bluetooth 5.0
- PCM 768kHz / 32bit
- DSD512 decoding
- USB-C connection
- Infrared remote control
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Accessories & Packaging
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 comes inside a square packaging with good built and inner cutouts to protect the unit through shipping and handling.
The packaging has a mainly white design but the brand decided to include an odd “GOOD TIME” big writing on the top of the box instead of writing the brand name or the product’s model name.
The unit comes bundled with: an AC adapter, 1x AC cable, 1x USB-C cable, 1x IR remote control and 1x Bluetooth antenna.
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 has a different form fact than the typical rectangular, thin and wide design of most DAC and amps on the market.
Instead, the brand opted for design that distributes it’s volume in a way less wide but taller ratio; while offering a remarkably tiny foot print.
In addition to this, FX-AUDIO has also decided to offer the unit in 2 rare colors that are never seen on desktop DAC/amps, a blue and a pink variant.
Overall, the DAC-M1 looks aesthetically pleasing with rounded edges and a clean design with a simple and non-cluttered front panel.
With a sort of metallic pearled finish the DAC has a popping but classy look that gets sculptured by light sources that reach it’s surface.
We usually do not concentrate on the power supply on our DAC/amps reviews, but the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 has a remarkably tiny PSU and a crazy low power consumption of just 3.5W.
Operation & Control
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 not only looks clean, design-wise, it is also extremely simple to use with 1 button and 1 single knob that fully control device – the knob is also a button by simply pressing it.
The knob offers infinite rotation (either clock and counterclockwise) with clicky steps that dial up/down the volume by 1 mark and result in a precise level of volume control with 100 steps (from 0 to 100)This knob is also a multi-function button for:
- Press and hold: Access menu
- Single press: Confirm option
FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Infrared operation:
In addition to the physical knob/button, the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 has an infrared sensor and comes with a bundled IR remote control that allows it to be fully operated wirelessly.
How to power the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1:
The DAC/Amp is powered by a PSU that provides 12V and 1A.
The device can be turned on and off either by pressing and holding the rounded button on the lower left angle of the front panel or through the remote control.
Despite not being labeled on the front panel, a single press of the aforementioned button will act as Mute On/Off.
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Construction & Build
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 is very nicely build thanks to a full-aluminum-alloy anodized construction that ensures ruggedness and durability.
In spite of being a metal-built device, the unit is surprisingly light weighted.
In addition to this, the bottom of the unit is equipped with rubberized (almost silicone feeling alike) feet that do a fantastic job keeping the amp/DAC slippery-free.
On the other hand, both the button and knob present a bit of wobbling – mostly the On/Off button.
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The USB connection of the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 enables the unit to be compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux while the COAX, optical, 1/4″ jack, RCA and Bluetooth connections make it a fully universal compatible device with smartphones, active speakers, headphones, amps, TV and media centers.
The screen of the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 might be the only Aquiles Talon of the whole offering by the brand.
The size of the screen is quite well for the unit’s dimension but the issue resides in the less-fancy font choice made by the brand and the non-optimized placement of the information provided on the display.
The top left corner of the screen informs the input mode, the center will show the sampling rate and format, the bottom left corner shows the output mode, the top right displays the volume and the bottom right informs the filter option used.
The screen brightness can be manually set in 4 different levels: 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%.
The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 is equipped with 4 inputs and 2 outputs.
The front panel of the has a single 6.35mm headphone output connector while the back panel holds all the other I/O connections, such as:
- USB-C input
- Optical input
- Coaxial input
- RCA output
- Wireless Bluetooth input
Connections Technical Specifications:
- USB: up to 768kHz / 32bit
- Optical/COAX: up to 192kHz / 32bit
- Bluetooth 5.0: up to 96kHz / 24bit, LDAC /AAC /SBC /APTX /APTX-LL /APTX-HD
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The FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 hides beneath the tiny appearance some high-performance audiophile components to provide low noise, low distortion and excellent quality.
Some of the inner guts of the DAC-M1 include:
- ESS9038Q2M DAC
- XMOS XU208 USB
- TPA6120A2 amp
- OP1612 + 49720 op amp
- CSR8675 Bluetooth chip
Moreover, the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 offers a whopping maximum output power of 500mW @32ohm and worthwhile driving capability at 300 ohm (340mW @64ohm, 180mW @150 ohm, 96mW @ 300 ohm), vastly surpassing the power output of the TOPPING MX-3, FX-AUDIO TUBE-P1 or the FiiO K3.
Despite being a remarkably powerful amp/DAC for it’s price, the max output will not reach the insane power of other premium devices that we have reviewed such as the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge nor as the dedicated xDuoo TA-20 amp; yet, the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 can easily drive any commercial in-ear or full-sized over-headphone without even breaking a sweat.
Through out our tests, the DAC-M1 had no difficulty driving headphones such as the beyerdynamic DT-990 PRO 250 ohm, beyerdynamic DT-7700 PRO 250 ohm, Sennheiser HD650, Sennheiser HD600, Sennheiser HD599. Testing all 5 models, showed sufficient output and volume margin to fulfill any listening sessions.
Furthermore, we proceeded to test the unit in search of nuances. The results showed no coloration nor distortion issues. Through out our measurements, the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 presented a noticeably flat frequency response without any rolling-off, spikes, dips, abnormal peaks nor decay – in every single I/O modes (see our measurement curves latter ahead)
On top of that that, there were no perceivable channel imbalance issues.
Advanced audiophiles will be happy to know that FX-AUDIO included 7 filter options with the DAC-M1 (mode displayed as FIR#):
- FIR1: brick wall
- FIR2: corrected minimum phase fast roll-off
- FIR3: apodizing fast roll-off
- FIR4: minimum phase low roll-off
- FIR5: minimum phase fast roll-off
- FIR6: linear phase low roll-off
- FIR7: linear phase fast roll-off
Sound Technical Specifications
Some of main sound-related tech specs of the FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 are:
- SNR: 118dB
- THD+N: 0.00025%
- Output: 500mW @32 Ω, 340mW @64 Ω, 180mW @150 Ω, 96mW @ 300 Ω
Tech-spec seekers might not get their thirst for curiosity quenched as the brand does not give a deep insight of the unit’s specification – besides THD+N, SNR and output-impedance.
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FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Firmware & Driver
The unit is automatically recognized and setup by Windows; which will download, install and configure the DAC as it corresponds.
Nonetheless, FX-AUDIO offers and recommends to install their custom-tailored Thesycon drivers which can be found on their website.
At this time, the unit does not have any firmware updates available.
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FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Scores
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FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Frequency Response Curve
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FX-AUDIO DAC-M1 Technical Specifications
|Max output||500 mW|
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