FX-Audio D2160 featured2

FX-Audio D2160 Digital Amplifier with Bluetooth – Review

Tested at $279

Hey there PA fam. Today we’re looking at something a little different, the FX-Audio D2160 Full digital amplifier and DAC. This is a really versatile unit that is absolutely loaded with features. It has multiple input options including Bluetooth with aptX, aptX-LL and AAC support.

FX-Audio website: http://www.szfxaudio.com/

Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Energetic and powerful presentation
  • Solid bass and expressive midrange
  • Multiple input options including Bluetooth
Cons
  • With 99 volume steps it can take a long time to adjust using the dial

Buy on:

Buy from Amazon
Specifications

INPUT: Bluetooth 4.2/PC-USB/OPTICAL/COAXIAL/ANALOG AUDIO LR
OUTPUT: Banana plug/6.35mm output
USB: USB2.0
USB sampling rate: 16Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz/24Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz
OPTICAL sampling rate: 16Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz/24Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz
COAXIAL sampling rate: 16Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz/24Bit 44.1 kHz-192 kHz
Bluetooth performance: aptX,aptX Low Latency,SBC and AAC
AUX ANALOG AUDIO: 24Bit 48kHz sampling rate
VOLUME RANGE: 0-99
MACHINE GAIN: L–Low gain 36dB H–High gain 48dB
EQ MODEL: 6
DC POWER: 36V, support two power supply together
POWER OUTPUT: 4Ω 150W+150W
SNR: 105dB
DISTORTION RATE: 0.04%
Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz
Headphone amp power output: 32Ω 60mW
Headphone amp SNR:93dB
Headphone amp distortion rate:0.02%
Headphone amp frequency response:20Hz-20kHz
Power waste:1-150 W
Headphone amp power waste:3.5W
Size:23.817.34.2 cm
Net weight:1.8kg
Gross weight:2.7kg

This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

Package and Accessories

Just like all of the FX-Audio products, the D2160 comes in an unbleached brown cardboard box with black text on the top. The text contains a product description but not the model number and the FX-Audio slogan: “Your Music Dream!”

Inside the box we find everything secured in a white protective foam inlay. Let’s take a look at what’s inside.

  • D2160 power amplifier
  • Power brick
  • Bluetooth antenna
  • USB Data cable
  • Remote control
  • User manual and warranty

Build Quality and Design

FX-Audio D2160 front panel

The FX-Audio D2160 has a very robust brushed aluminium alloy chassis with a smooth glossy finish. Running down each side is a series of metal fins that act as a passive heat-sink to dissipate heat.

On the underside are 4 rubber feet that protect the surface the device is placed on and raise the unit allowing for increased airflow. I should mention that even after prolonged use the chassis stayed very cool.

On the front panel (from left to right) are: Power Button with LED indicator, Mute LED indicator, Input Select/Mute button with LED indicator, 6.35mm headphone jack, LCD display and the Digital Volume pot.

The rear panel contains (from left to right): Bluetooth antenna, USB input, Optical input, Coaxial input, RCA input, Speaker outputs and dual Power jacks (24V-36V).

FX-Audio D2160 d3s and speaker

Internals and Features

The FX-Audio D2160 is based on a TAS5614 amplification chip, allowing the unit to provide 2x65W at 8Ω or 2x125W at 4Ω with an SNR of -105dB and THD of 0.04%

A Maxim MAX9722 amplification chip is in charge of headphone amplification and can deliver 60mW at 32Ω. The headphone SNR is -93dB with a THD of 0.02%. For the USB input, there is a Cmedia CM6642 chip while the TOSLINK and coaxial utilize an AKM AK4118.

The FX-Audio D2160 offers bass and treble tone controls, as well as several EQ presets, loudness setting, plus low and high gain modes.

Another interesting feature is the dual DC inputs. You can use two power supply’s simultaneously, allowing for a more stable current and improved performance.

Bluetooth – Sit back and relax

One thing that makes the D2160 really exciting is its Bluetooth functionality. The  Qualcomm CSR 64215 provides Bluetooth 4.2 support so you can easily pair with a smartphone, tablet or DAP. I found this a great way to stream Spotify using aptX from my Android smartphone.

Remote Control

It would be kinda silly to have Bluetooth if you had to get up to change the volume or adjust the tone settings. Fortunately, the D2160 comes with a fully functional remote that covers all volume, tone, input and EQ controls.

Sound

Don’t let the modest price of the D2160 fool you. Once you start listening you’ll quickly realize that FX-Audio has some talented engineers on their payroll.

The D2160 is perfectly at home driving the ELAC Debut B6 bookshelf speakers. It takes full advantage of their powerful low end, bringing out their best while maintaining steady control. At the same time, it brings my old Sony SS-W280 speakers to life with a liveliness that I didn’t know they were capable of.

This FX-Audio FDA has an engaging and natural tonality. It provides a clear midrange and an open and airy treble that doesn’t show any signs of aggression. 

First of all, I’d recommend selecting the Source Direct option which will bypass the tone controls and give you the most natural, cleaner and transparent sound. While we’re at it, check to make sure that the EQ is set to Normal. Now you can get a proper idea of what the amplifier sounds like and you can choose to utilize the tone and/or EQ options later if desired.

Playing through Porcupine Tree’s ‘ “Trains”, the D2160 surprises with it’s dynamic and balanced presentation. It has a great sense of rhythm and drive and faithfully conveys the songs’ energy.

The D2160 can be subtle too. In songs like “J’ai Fait Une Promesse” from Anathema’s Falling Deeper album, the FX-Audio maintains self-assurance and control while faithfully reproducing all the small nuances in the track.

Conclusion

The D2160 is a super versatile device that can transport your existing speakers into the new digital landscape that we live in. Its multiple input options and solid Bluetooth connectivity ensure that it can easily fit into your current ecosystem or be the foundation of a brand new one. For its strong performance and low cost, the FX-Audio D2160 is easily worthy of our recommendation.

Founder of Prime Audio
  1. Thank you for one of the only reviews of this product.

    Unfortunately you fail to mention the distinguishing technological advance that this product brings – in contrast to normal class-d amplifiers, this ‘pure digital’ or ‘direct digital’ amplifier does not need to convert a low-level analog signal to digital via an ADC in order to generate sound. The digital PCM stream is converted to high-voltage pulses in the amplifier stage – without any low-voltage analog signal-stage anywhere in the path of the reproduced recording.

    With sufficiently fast switching, competent design and quality components – this can basically get rid of human-audible noise and distortion (within power limits).

    This begs the question, is the pure digital offered here better sounding than current popular class-d amps in its’ power class? The very popular SMSL-98E (with analog-only inputs) provides a higher-power alternative for under half the price and sounds very similar. If I were a reviewer I’d try to compare a new product to existing competitors in the same market segment .

    When testing the FX AUDIO D2160, didn’t the hiss from the analogue (aux) input at all volume levels bother you? I think i’d have mentioned it if I were writing a review – the signal-to-noise on the analog-in is, on my unit at least, the worst I’ve heard on an amplifier since Duran Duran was still touring.

    As usual the chinese have a different set of standards when it comes to truth in advertising – exemplified here by the claimed 125w/ch RMS into 4 Ohm loads. I put The D2160 toe-to-toe against 2 channels of the Adcom GFA7607, each also rated at 125w and max spl was miles above that achieved with the FX Audio amp – powered by two matched powersupplies from the manufacturer. Ok the Adcom is an absolute beast in the power-reserves department, but that’s why I took it as a reference.

    Paired with floorstanding speakers with 91db/w/m sensitivity, the booty-shakin bass is 50% below the level needed to get my friends off the sofa to dance. Biamping could be done if we had a ‘pre-out’ – hooking the woofers to a beefier amp and giving the user some dsp-based crossover. The headphone output might do in a pinch (low frequencies being a bit less critical) – though the volume currently does not track speaker/main volume afaik. Perhaps they can open-up their dsp devkit?

    Lets see – usability? On the small display i can only read the large two-digit volume display – but that’s all i really need. The remote is simple and direct – no deep menus or modal control buttons. I would have mentioned that turning on and off the eq will mute your audio for something like 3-4 seconds, which makes quick a/b comparisons impossible. It seems to me that engaging any eq is dropping the unit out of pure-digital mode to an analog eq stage, which also then handles the analog aux-in.

    What this amp does seem to do very well is – given a digital input – provide an exceedingly neutral, controlled presentation of the music at moderate listening levels. Keep things below 80% volume and things don’t get too choked/strained in dynamics.

    If you are new to the class-d sound, these amplifiers can be difficult to get used to. Yes, the deep ‘blackness’ is something one only used to get with very high end gear, but there’s also something… missing here. There’s just a bit of sheen and life to the sound of a good traditional c;ass-ab mosfet design that is missing.

    I will be keeping mine until something better rolls around. It is too fun to have something this neutral. I will be experimenting with digital filters to add some tube warmth. But i’m going to be hard pressed to hear the difference to a $110 SMSL-98E. So if you already have a good DAC and are happy just using that, the SMSL will give you a good deal more party-power.

    If, on the other hand, you are looking to improve your audio quality by upgrading to a midrange USB DAC, you might get better overall sound by selling your old amp, skipping the expensive DAC and just getting the FX-D2160.

    Thanks for writing some things about this amplifier. I hope some more people chime-in with their experiences.

    1. Thanks for your input, you make some great points.

      As you alluded to, I don’t think this device would be much use to someone who already owns a good DAC. It’s more of an all-in-one solution for someone who wants to play their digital music files through their existing speakers, with the added versatility of having a basic headphone amp available (not to mention Bluetooth).

      I would not have thought to compare it with something like the SMSL-98E, especially if you mention the price. The FX AUDIO D2160 has a host of extra inputs and a DAC section. They seem like entirely different beasts.

      Sure, I would have liked to compare the D2160 to “existing competitors” but I can only do that if I have something similar on hand. I’m not going to go out and buy another amp just for the sake of a comparison. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to but if I were to do that I would be broke within a month.

      In case you hadn’t noticed, the majority of my reviews are related to portable audio. I intend to do more amps and speakers in the future but being located in Thailand makes that MUCH harder to do because the local distributors do not respond well to a foreigner who can’t speak their language. Not to mention the whole concept of “review samples” is alien to most of them.

      In regards to the hissing from the analog input, I’m just not hearing it. Maybe my speakers (or ears) aren’t sensitive enough, although I did test it with headphones as well.

      I hope more people chime-in as well. I’d love to hear if others are experiencing excessive noise from the aux input.

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