Reviews by HiFiHawaii808


Headphoneus Supremus
Hardcore Head-Fi'er
Watercooler Travel Team
Cayin Fantasy: A single DD IEM that sounds good with string instruments
Pros: Good clarity and transients from mid bass through lower mids
Good for bass and acoustic guitar, violins, saxophones
Best for bossa nova, small combo jazz, Eagles music, classical guitar
Cons: Grainy timbre, poor bass and treble extension
Bright and at times sibilant
Slightly compressed sound, intimate sound stage
Not good for classic rock, large ensemble or vocals

I reviewed this IEM as part of the Cayin Fantasy Tour. I want to thank Andy Kong for the opportunity to review this new product. I enjoyed my participation in the program and my listening time with the Cayin Fantasy.

I became very interested in the Cayin Fantasy after having such a good experience with the Cayin C9 AMP giving me confidence in Cayin as a product company and my experience with the Unique Melody 3DT all Dynamic Driver IEM. For the price, the 3DT really blew me away. I really enjoyed its coherency and timbre which made up for some of its other technical weaknesses. So, I wanted to know what a good company could do with a single DD IEM.


I reviewed the Cayin Fantasy as I would any IEM that I am reviewing for purchase. I looked at its specs and as a starting point tried to determine what use case and music genre it would fit best for my portfolio of listening experiences and let my curiosity lead me to try various combinations until I found the sweet spot for that IEM. I listened over the course of 5 days and about 10 hours total.

Unboxing Experience and Overall Build Quality.

I will leave out pictures since this is part of the Tour and there are many pictures of the exact same box of goodies. I can say that the unboxing experience was very pleasant. The Cayin Fantasy has a drawer mechanism for holding the monitors and accessories much like the Sony IER-Z1R. In fact, the stainless steel look and feel of the monitors and the first impression of mid bass focus with bright and somewhat v-shaped tuning reminded me a lot of the IER-Z1R. I did not use the stock cable, nor any of the tips as I used my own AZLA SednaEarfitLight tips and the 4.4mm balanced cable since all of my other IEMs and sources are optimized to balanced 4.4mm listening. The monitors are actually on the small side and given my big ears, fit was a minor issue but easily solved with the right tips.


The Cayin Fantasy has a very unusual tuning. It is rather neutral in the bass, recessed in the mids and bright in the treble. It’s a kind of modified v-shape sound signature with treble emphasis. My very first impression was good solid mid bass, clear presentation with crisp transients and coherence through lower mids without much sub bass and very hot in the treble. This signature limited it to pairings with my warmer sources and genre that are more treble focused such as Jazz and Classical music. I found that the Fantasy sounded best with acoustic and bass guitar and violins. Saxophones also sounded very good. But, given the recessed mids and somewhat small sound stage, vocals and classic rock, big band Jazz and orchestral music are not its forte. Imaging was fine except for drums which were inconsistently placed on the stage. Cymbals were sibilant at times and did not sound natural which contributed to its weaker presentation of classic rock music. Midbass timber was on point, but upper mids through treble sounded very grainy impacting negatively my perception of resolution. If I were going to add the Fantasy to my IEM collection, I would use it for listening to Bossa Nova, small combo Jazz, classical guitar, Ukulele and Eagles music. It would be a flavor oriented IEM rather than an all arounder.


The Fantasy is mid bass rather than sub bass focused. When adding the Cayin C9, it added a nice sub bass sound to the presentation of music. I enjoyed the mid bass of the Fantasy as it sounded natural and punchy to my ear.


I prefer forward mids, so recessed mids come across as veiled to me for vocals. Interestingly, Eagles music sounded very good with the exception of the grainy treble timbre. I think that is because Eagles music has a lot of strumming guitars and the Fantasy sounds very good with all types of acoustic guitar. The guitar accompaniment did a great job of filling out the sound of the vocals with background instruments providing a full sound for this type of music.


Treble is very hot on the Fantasy. I had to stop my listening session with the Luxury and Precision W2, iBasso DX160 and Chord Hugo TT2 because the sound had too much glare when listening for more than 15 minutes at a time. So, I limited my listening sessions to my Hiby R6 2020 and iBasso DX300 with AMP12 which does a good job of taming bright treble. This may be solvable with EQ, but I did not have the ability to EQ the Fantasy in my review environment. I would have liked to hear it with my Chord Mojo as I think that pairing would be good as well since it is a warm DAC/AMP.

Sound Stage and Imaging

The Fantasy sound stage is intimate with average imaging and resolution, interestingly when coupled with its nice clarity and mid bass emphasis, Bossa Nova music sounds really good. It maximizes the strengths of the Fantasy while minimizing its weaknesses. Any Joao Gilberto playlist sounds really good on the Fantasy. If you can imagine yourself in a Club in Rio listening to Bossa Nova music, the Fantasy is your IEM for that genre. Classical guitar is also very good.

Transients and Dynamics

Transients are very good with the Fantasy. When coupled with the clarity of its presentation, I really like the sound of songs with midbass emphasis. So, modern pop does sound good, just not great. Macrodynamics and microdynamics were a bit below average to my ear. Symphony orchestra music and Big Band Jazz music did not sound very good with the fantasy because it could not handle the dynamic swings well. The music lost balance and coherence.


As a mid priced, single dynamic driver IEM, the Cayin Fantasy has a sound signature best suited to someone who can handle its hot treble. It sounds great with acoustic and bass guitar, violins and saxophones. Bossa Nova music was my favorite along with Eagles and small combo Jazz, classical guitar and violin concertos. If you are looking for a bright IEM with an intimate presentation and you listen to a lot of string music, the Cayin Fantasy could be for you.
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