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Cayin iDAC-1 USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Oz, at Let There Be Sound Just got in a few of these new USB DACs from Cayin. It has a USB in on the front of the unit as well as a mini headphone jack. It also has controls on the front of the unit, including volume control. It also comes with a remote. There are two DAC chips. Analog out 1 uses a TDA1543 and Analog out 2 uses a PCM2706 which is also volume controlled. The iDAC can be used as a preamp through the second analog out. I finally got into my music room to try it out. I am using it as a pre at the moment through a Berendsen STA 150 power amp and my System-Audio Ranger speakers. The only headphones I have at the moment are ER-6is. I haven't tried them yet. As you can see from the pics, it is similar in shape to the HA-1A headphone amp and preamp which I've owned. The iDAC has rounded edges and is much more attractive than the HA-1A, imo. It also has a coax and optical out on the back. So far it sound nice. At some point I will compare to my Wavelength Cosecant. I thought I would share this new option for those of us using computers as a source.

It uses 2 6N1 tubes.




post #2 of 11
Thanks Tyrion, it looks like a great all in one desktop amp and dac system. I'll keep an eye out for your impressions, thanks in advance
post #3 of 11
nice...any idea how much they would cost?
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
I believe the retail is $795.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmind View Post
Thanks Tyrion, it looks like a great all in one desktop amp and dac system. I'll keep an eye out for your impressions, thanks in advance
I think it may fit in as part of someone's main rig. As a source it is very good. It is not burnt in at all as it was fresh out of the box last night. I listened to Patricia Barber Modern Cool and Kind of Blue. The bass was excellent. Great seperation and air. Soundstage was wide and deep. I hope to have one to bring to the Mayberry on Acid Meet in the beginning of February.

The remote controls the volume in iTunes. It is a nice preamp as well. I have 2 other preamps that I am in the middle of evaluating so I will be busy the next couple of days.
post #5 of 11
That is a nice looking system. Two odd things though: why would they put a mini-HP jack on it instead of 1/4? and why would they only allow the digital input on the front? Both of those things as options are fine, but a 1/4 jack is more flexible and some people would not want to have the digital input cable plugged into the front. Still, it looks like a great unit and if capable as a preamp for home use that is an amazing price.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
...
The remote controls the volume in iTunes. ...
Mike - I'm a bit confused by this. You're not saying that the Cayin remote controls iTunes volume at the computer, are you? I'm guessing you mean there's attenuation in the iDac, and that the USB input from computer to it is best left at 100% volume like a line in. Can you shed any light?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
That is a nice looking system. Two odd things though: why would they put a mini-HP jack on it instead of 1/4? and why would they only allow the digital input on the front? Both of those things as options are fine, but a 1/4 jack is more flexible and some people would not want to have the digital input cable plugged into the front. Still, it looks like a great unit and if capable as a preamp for home use that is an amazing price.
Al - I "get" the front USB jack - makes it easy to walk up with a laptop and jack in. Would be nice if there were another USB in on back (perhaps switchable) for use from a stationary home computer. I do agree, though, that a 1/4" headphone jack would be better and more professional/higher end leaning.

Mike - will be anxious for the iDac - Cosecant comparo. If this is anywhere close, it is a screaming bargain.
post #7 of 11
The mini jack and front USB is an odd choice, it's not as though this is a portable unit. It would also be nice to have an analog style volume control. Looks pretty interesting though.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
The mini jack is an odd choice. USB on the front is not a problem from me. I did a comparison of the Cosecant and the iDAC. Keep in mind there is a $2700 difference in price. From what I can tell there are really no similarities in terms of the dac used and perhaps more importantly the implementation. Plus for $800 with the iDAC you get a preamp, multiple outputs, usb input. With the Cosecant you get a usb input. My point being that if the Cayin was only a usb dac, the price it would sell for would be less than $800 so the price differential even greater. As much as I was really hoping the iDAC would be as good as the Cosecant, it's not. Don't get me wrong, it's a bargain and a fine source. Much like the Apollo is a fine source but my DV-50 was better. They each had different output levels and I tried to volume match. Even when the Cosecant was at a lower volume level, it was the better source. The shimmer of the cymbals was crisp, and nice decay. Everything presents itself with a more razor sharp focus with the Cosecant. There is clearly a greater sense of air with the Cosecant. The iDAC does not short change you as far as detail is concerned but again, it isn't the equal of the Cosecant. This was not a difficult choice. I really was hoping this wasn't the case as I would have an extra $1700 to put into my system but the Cosecant stays. For anyone looking for an under $1500 source, I think the iDAC can compete. Add the preamp, remote, coax and optical outs, headphone amp, it's a bargain (even if the amp is just okay). In fairness, I should add that the iDAC only had a few hours on it while the Cosecant has had more than 100 hours.

Gene, the rca outs marked 1 have no volume control, just a line level out. On my mac, when either dac is selected the volume goes to full. When you use the rcas marked 2, you can control the volume. When you do, it is changing the volume on the mac. I hope that makes some sense.

I think when I am done with my home rig, one of these may end up in my office. If I didn't have neither had the Cosecant nor the money to buy one, I think I would own an iDAC.
post #9 of 11
As a Cayin dealer, I can tell you that Cayin pieces need at least 100 hours of break in before they sound good at all. The difference is like night and day. I wouldn't be so quick to judge it after only a few hours of break in.
post #10 of 11
This just got picked up by Audio Junkies. Seems they're cruising our forums too.
post #11 of 11
How does it compare to the Apogee Duet or Mini-DAC?
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