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Fosi Audio SK02 DAC & HP Amp Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp: (votes are based on data in review and not necessarily personal ownership)

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 2.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 31 14.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 121 57.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 53 25.1%

  • Total voters
    211

JakeK

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I'm wondering if this would have any audible difference from the headphone out of my PC. I chose a PC motherboard with hi-fi sound built in and the specs looked well beyond audible noise or distortion. Have any motherboard headphone outputs or line outs been tested here with an Audio Precision analyser?

Aside from thinking headphone out on my PC is fine, I would actually need something that could power a pair of speakers as well for my use case so why am I even reading this thread? LOL! :facepalm:
 

Bicep

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I'm wondering if this would have any audible difference from the headphone out of my PC. I chose a PC motherboard with hi-fi sound built in and the specs looked well beyond audible noise or distortion. Have any motherboard headphone outputs or line outs been tested here with an Audio Precision analyser?

Aside from thinking headphone out on my PC is fine, I would actually need something that could power a pair of speakers as well for my use case so why am I even reading this thread? LOL! :facepalm:
I'm not sure if this is a relevant answer for you, but motherboard audiocards can sometimes(!) be affected by for example gpu power draw. The one I use sounds fine most of the time, but during heavy gpu load frequent pops and clicks would occur. Very very annoying.
 

mc.god

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JakeK

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I'm not sure if this is a relevant answer for you, but motherboard audiocards can sometimes(!) be affected by for example gpu power draw. The one I use sounds fine most of the time, but during heavy gpu load frequent pops and clicks would occur. Very very annoying.
I've not had any pops or clicks from mine or anything audibly bad. I'm somewhat satisfied that what I have on my PC motherboard is good enough for me not to hear the difference from the best DACs. That is without having seen any measurements to prove that. I wonder what the cheapest equipment is I could buy and use to measure if the sinad etc is better than 70db?


Thanks. My motherboard should on paper be at least as good as the better one of the two tests. The line out should be fine and saves spending $200 on an external DAC. The headphones I currently use are 120 ohm so should be within the power capability and they do sound excellent to me. The high impedance of such headphone outputs could explain why when I tried some IEMs that should sound great, they didn't sound so good. If I venture into higher end headphones I will need an external headphone amp to get the best from them. The SK02 would be a good candidate in that case. :)
 

Jimster480

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A dongle is not competition for this desktop device. The volume control and form factor blow them out of the water as far as usability. Have you tried to adjust the volume on those dongles? Also, I have yet to test a dongle with clean response. They all have jitter issues, etc.
Test the FiiO KA13. According to FiiO's own measurements (which they supply); it would do better than this device. KA13 is $79. Claims 108 SINAD

KA17 is more expensive but they don't have the same measurements available. The specs show more power with the ability to have secondary power added to the dongle; but the SINAD performance in the specs isn't amazing.
 

Jimster480

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I've not had any pops or clicks from mine or anything audibly bad. I'm somewhat satisfied that what I have on my PC motherboard is good enough for me not to hear the difference from the best DACs. That is without having seen any measurements to prove that. I wonder what the cheapest equipment is I could buy and use to measure if the sinad etc is better than 70db?



Thanks. My motherboard should on paper be at least as good as the better one of the two tests. The line out should be fine and saves spending $200 on an external DAC. The headphones I currently use are 120 ohm so should be within the power capability and they do sound excellent to me. The high impedance of such headphone outputs could explain why when I tried some IEMs that should sound great, they didn't sound so good. If I venture into higher end headphones I will need an external headphone amp to get the best from them. The SK02 would be a good candidate in that case. :)
Motherboard audio is trash. I have yet to see a motherboard with actually great performance.
My ancient FiiO K1 still beats every motherboard output I have tried; even on high end laptops that have "dedicated headphone amplifiers".
 

JakeK

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Test the FiiO KA13. According to FiiO's own measurements (which they supply); it would do better than this device. KA13 is $79. Claims 108 SINAD

KA17 is more expensive but they don't have the same measurements available. The specs show more power with the ability to have secondary power added to the dongle; but the SINAD performance in the specs isn't amazing.
Where is the nice volume control and indicator lights on that? Those dongles are not comparable in physical functionality so it stands to reason they would be cheaper. I wouldn't want one of those for my desktop use whatever the SINAD is.

Motherboard audio is trash. I have yet to see a motherboard with actually great performance.
My ancient FiiO K1 still beats every motherboard output I have tried; even on high end laptops that have "dedicated headphone amplifiers".

The test linked above proves that a high end desktop motherboard can have acceptable performance and not be trash. You're right about laptop outputs though and SFF PCs, they can sound awful, as bad as the pi tested recently and only just good enough for a teams call which is probably all they are expected to be used for.
 

SmackDaddies

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I've seen much better performing DACs receiving the headless panther because of the price. Can't understand why the price makes this one a great DAC. A cheap DAC I agree, but then I've seen cheaper dongle dacs performing better here.
It is also an amplifier and not just a DAC
 

Jimster480

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Where is the nice volume control and indicator lights on that? Those dongles are not comparable in physical functionality so it stands to reason they would be cheaper. I wouldn't want one of those for my desktop use whatever the SINAD is.



The test linked above proves that a high end desktop motherboard can have acceptable performance and not be trash. You're right about laptop outputs though and SFF PCs, they can sound awful, as bad as the pi tested recently and only just good enough for a teams call which is probably all they are expected to be used for.
The FiiO KA13 has volume control on the side of the dongle. It has up and down buttons. There is no indicator sadly. But it does remember the volume it was left at.
Also the second link PROVES that a high end motherboard is TRASH. The performance is TRASH, it has ultrasonic problems... linearity isn't perfect.... headphone output literally puts out 7mw... Like how can this be "acceptable performance"? It is worse than just about everything else.

I am also not saying that someone should buy a KA13 for desktop use. I am just saying that for the price; the performance isn't incredible. IT is more than acceptable though.

It is also an amplifier and not just a DAC
Exactly; the value here is high for something that can be used on a desk.
 

JakeK

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Also the second link PROVES that a high end motherboard is TRASH. The performance is TRASH, it has ultrasonic problems... linearity isn't perfect.... headphone output literally puts out 7mw... Like how can this be "acceptable performance"? It is worse than just about everything else.
There's quite a range of opinions on this forum!

I wouldn't use the headphone out of a motherboard to drive high end low impedance headphones at high volume. However, I'm not trying to do that. I don't mind the low power output that much as I don't want to have my headphones very loud. I want to preserve my hearing.

The line out isn't as good as a top ranked DAC but I wouldn't say it's trash. A SINAD of 91 is definitely good enough that I won't be able to hear any problems, bearing in mind my speakers will produce way more distortion than that and there is no way I'll be able to hear that level of noise. 'Ultrasonic problems' are by definition inaudible and the main peak is above 50khz and below -80db so there is no way I can hear that. As Amir said that's more of a measurement problem and inaudible. The 'stunningly accurate linearity' according to Amir while not perfect is still stunning! I don't know why you mention that the linearity isn't perfect seeing as it's actually excellent in the review.

On the other hand we have the headphone out of a raspberry pi. The quality of that I say is not fine but we have someone saying this:

using rpi4 audio output with some basic equipments should make no difference compared to perfect dacs.
Will someone want make ABX?

Which has me thinking WTF? as well!
 

Jimster480

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There's quite a range of opinions on this forum!

I wouldn't use the headphone out of a motherboard to drive high end low impedance headphones at high volume. However, I'm not trying to do that. I don't mind the low power output that much as I don't want to have my headphones very loud. I want to preserve my hearing.

The line out isn't as good as a top ranked DAC but I wouldn't say it's trash. A SINAD of 91 is definitely good enough that I won't be able to hear any problems, bearing in mind my speakers will produce way more distortion than that and there is no way I'll be able to hear that level of noise. 'Ultrasonic problems' are by definition inaudible and the main peak is above 50khz and below -80db so there is no way I can hear that. As Amir said that's more of a measurement problem and inaudible. The 'stunningly accurate linearity' according to Amir while not perfect is still stunning! I don't know why you mention that the linearity isn't perfect seeing as it's actually excellent in the review.

On the other hand we have the headphone out of a raspberry pi. The quality of that I say is not fine but we have someone saying this:



Which has me thinking WTF? as well!
When such great performance is available for sub $100; the motherboard performance is trash. 14-15 bits of distortion free performance? That will be OK for some music, not OK for others.
, The thing about distortion is that it multiplies into each product. So the best thing to do is to have the lowest distortion at the source because your amplifier and speakers add additional distortion. Speakers are not the greatest choice for fidelity anyways since headphones and then IEMs actually have the best performance in terms of clarity. But you can still hear something when it doesn't cover the CD quality range.
 

mc.god

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Looking at it's advertising on Amazon.it, don't know if it made me hungry or horny...

Schermata a 2024-03-24 18-54-37.png


https://www.wordreference.com/iten/patatine
 

Ericgeers

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The Fosi SK02 arrived at my door today. It is very petite, much smaller than i expected. I like the look and it feels really solid like a solid slab of aluminum. The big knob functions as a on/off and play/pauze button. It arrived within 2 weeks after ordering direct from Fosi. I used the 15% discount promo code for ASR members that was posted by Fosi. Thank you for that! I payed 97 Euro’s + free shipping (from Mainland China to The Netherlands) can you believe it?
The Fosi SK02 replaced the Topping EX5 doing desk duty. The EX5 got promoted to the living-room stereo where it is now streaming music from my computer. It does this very nicely! The SK02 now sits prettily on my desk next to my computer. After listening to my music over it, i find that it is indistinguishable from the EX5 to my ears. My main headphones are a Beyer DT880 600 Ohm and a Sennheiser HD560S. Honestly the Senns quickly became my favourites after they arrived about 2 years ago. Today out of curiousity i was tempted to put on the Beyers again and i quickly (re)understood why i once wanted them so badly. They do voices so very well.. But these Beyers are crazy high impedance, nuts! But i find that they sound as good as they can on the SK02. Using high gain it gives more than enough dB’s to my ears sitting behind my desk. It will not go crazy LOUD, if i want to go crazy i have to put the Senns back on. I must say that i quickly found that i love the big knob on the SK02, it has much better tactile feedback, the ’springy-clicky’ feel of the EX5 really cannot touch it.
To finish off this gushing rant .. I can say that i am very pleased and surprised (!) about how much quality just 100 euro’s can buy nowadays and all that in a very (petite-solid) nice package. It’s a keeper!
 
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Jimster480

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I'm wondering if this would have any audible difference from the headphone out of my PC. I chose a PC motherboard with hi-fi sound built in and the specs looked well beyond audible noise or distortion. Have any motherboard headphone outputs or line outs been tested here with an Audio Precision analyser?

Aside from thinking headphone out on my PC is fine, I would actually need something that could power a pair of speakers as well for my use case so why am I even reading this thread? LOL! :facepalm:
The headphone output of your PC is 9/10 times likely to be UTTER TRASH. This will likely sound worlds better. I just know from experience.
 

LongKick64

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The headphone output of your PC is 9/10 times likely to be UTTER TRASH. This will likely sound worlds better. I just know from experience.
I have a mini computer Intel NUC10i5FNH and its built-in sound card sounds more detailed, high frequencies are heard better than in my Topping DX3 Pro +. The DX3 Pro+ has better bass control, but it sounds muddier and not as detailed as my built-in sound card. So not every built-in sound card is garbage.
 

JakeK

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I have a mini computer Intel NUC10i5FNH and its built-in sound card sounds more detailed, high frequencies are heard better than in my Topping DX3 Pro +. The DX3 Pro+ has better bass control, but it sounds muddier and not as detailed as my built-in sound card. So not every built-in sound card is garbage.
Is that line out or headphone?
 

LongKick64

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This really surprises me. I've tried different gain levels, different filters, but the DX3 Pro+ still sounds less detailed. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 Ohm headphones.
 
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