Lieewho (Less Store) provided this LessFox DA1 at a discounted price. I am going to be as objective as possible in this evaluation, and as a typical audio enthusiast, I will use basic language.
The review will still be honest, 100% genuine, and unaffected by the discount.
The Dacs, in my opinion, sound extremely similar to each other, or they shouldn’t take away or add anything to the sound.
The sound currently varies depending on the chip and company implementations.
LessFox DA1 Packaging:
The Less DA1 is packaged in a simple box that is pretty basic and clean (similar to the box in some cheap jewelry).
Inside we found the DAC and the accessories are:
- Type C to Type C Cable
- Lightning to Type C Cable
- Warranty Card
For the amount it is sold for, finding two well-made cables is very rare!
The cables are both very short, but sturdy to the touch! The Type C terminations that are open (see photos below) are very strange.
- ESS AK4493EQ
- MAX97220 Op amp
- PCM 768kHz/32bit and DSD512
- 3.5mm SE – 110 MW at 32 Ohms
- Price around 60 USD
The product is perfectly finished; the case has a metallic blue color and a shiny border, and the whole shell is closed by screws on the sides. Its compact size in comparison to other DACs is what surprised me the most. Although it sounds very potent, I believe this SE to be one of my strongest ones.
And the amazing thing is that it sounds equally loud on both smartphones and PCs. On my smartphone, some DACs are less powerful; this happens often.
Unfortunately, we don’t have an independent volume, even if, from my point of view, that’s not a bad thing.
LessFox DA1 Power:
The LessFox DA1 got under the hood a nice AK4493EQ paired with MAX97220 Op amp.
Despite an extensive web search, I could not find any information about it. I think the brand is most famous for its BX-2 plus balanced headphone amplifier. There is no other information, but the background noise is minimal, even on very sensitive headphones.
Quite an unusual setup, but judging from what I’ve heard, a great alternative!
Its power is fine for almost all headphones and IEMs; however, compared to other SE DACs in my possession, it definitely has more juice (comparison above).
It is probably very similar in power to the Creative SXFi.
The volume is dependent on the source; keep that in mind.
I tested it with:
- KZ PR2 needs something like 60% to shine
- Blon Z300 just less than 40% volume
- Moondrop Chu II like 30% volume
- Whizzer He10 and HE01 need less than 35% volume
- Letshuoer DZ4 needs 35% volume
- Epz Q5 needs less than 30% volume
- Tanchjim One, 30% volume
- Philips X2HR needs like 40% volume to shine
P.S. The test was done on my iMac.
I think it is one of the most powerful in my possession, but later in the review there are comparisons. For the miniformat he owns, he’s a beast!
LessFox DA1 Sound Signature:
In comparison to a CS43131 or ESS ES9038Q2M, the LessFox DA1 with AK4493EQ provides a more analytical and neutral tone. The output is really strong. Even when using extremely sensitive IEMs, there is just a low hiss in the background.
The soundstage appears wider, the layering is really nice, and the treble is slightly improved but still neutral enough, so you can match it with any IEMs you want.
I tried it with both warm and brighter headphones, and it went well with both. Listening is a pleasure, especially with the newest EPZ Q5 I’m testing right now. Such a winning combination that it’s hard to believe they cost around 100 USD together. I could say that nothing more would be needed to enjoy a decidedly above-average audio quality.
Vs EPZ TP20
Surely the EPZ TP20 is also a decidedly interesting DAC in the price range in which it is found. Very versatile (presence of buttons), not really analytical, and with emphasis on low frequencies. Obviously, if you need a low-cost, balanced output, this remains one of the best options. If instead you need something more analytical, SE, and powerful, then the Less DA1 could be a great alternative.
Vs EPZ TP30
We start with two different prices (not by much), both of excellent quality, but the ESS has a brighter timbre. Pairs best with warm headphones.
The ability to drive anything and a balanced output are important factors to consider.
Vs HIDIZS XO
These two sound a lot alike. They are both fairly neutral, but HIDIZS XO on SE output needs 70% volume with the EPZ Q5. Actually, the DA1 seems to sound much better to me. It gives a feeling of more space and air; maybe it’s slightly brighter.
Vs F.Audio KS01
The F.Audio KS01 is one of my favorites for value. It is less than 35 USD and has respectable quality and power. It has a less bright sound than the DA1, but still remains on the bright side. If your budget is very tight, keep that in mind.
vs Creative SFXi
In terms of power, we are very close, but the Less DA1 comes out on top in the bench test. The Creative SXFi has a warm/neutral timbre for an AK chip, one of the best still today, even if a bit outdated. It too can be found on the official website for 49 USD, which is crazy. However, the audio formats are limited, but I personally don’t find that a limitation.
Who do I recommend this DAC to?
Let me remind you that opinions about sound are very personal. If what interests you is a DAC with a neutral and analytical timbre, this is definitely a good option. Its size and lightness are its strong points; not many DACs are so compact and powerful! The EpZ Q5 literally shines paired with this LessFox DA1! The price is absolutely excellent, the build quality is excellent, and we have both the Type C and Lightning cables included (which obviously go well with all DACs). Usually, only the Lightning cable costs a lot. I can’t give it 5 stars for the lack of physical keys, but if that’s not a problem for you, then it deserves all of them.
- Build Quality
- Ultra small and ultra light
- LED shows audio quality
- Premium AK4493EQ + MAX97220 Op amp
- Slightly neutral/ bright sound
- Removable cable
- Type C and Lightning cables
- Strong power (seems to be more than 110 mW)
- Sturdy Zinc alloy case
- Great Color
- No manual ( not really needed)
- No play/pause, change song and volume buttons
- Dependent volume
- No balanced output
- No Type C to USB adaptor
Where to buy: