Reviews by NJoyzAudio


100+ Head-Fier
The N7 - A great Voyage into The Unexplored Frontier!
Pros: Detailed, Wide and holographic Soundstage with all source files regardless of cable/headphone combo
Great clarity and detail regardless of source material (MP3, FLAC, DSD) and source -Streaming, internal or SD Card
Stronger differentiation between Class A/AB amp sound vs N8ii
Power to drive almost any IEM or headphone
Build quality and Fit and Finish
Cons: Battery Life in Class A Amp settings
Gets warm in Class A Amp setting on par with N8ii
Not much smaller or lighter than N8ii, Much Larger than Lotoo Paw 6000 and Paw Gold Touch
Clicking sound on poorer quality MP3 recordings on all apps used
My sincerest “Thank You’s” to Andy Kong for setting up a 3rd NA Tour, and to Andrew at MusicTeck for also offering an additional retail device for purchase for additional review purposes. These 2 gentlemen are two of the most genuine, upstanding and honest people in this industry! Thank you both!

One N7 was provided to me as a free loan unit from Cayin Audio directly, and being part of a “tour” I was not allowed to keep it and being the last of this tour leg was asked to return the unit to Cayin Audio at the end of my review period
My early but short experience with a borrowed from another Head-fier N7 made me interested in being part of the N7 tour, which then prompted me to purchase my own N7 via Andrew at MusicTeck. I have NOT been compensated by Cayin or MusicTeck for my honest opinion on this device.

This write up is a compilation of both the device from the tour and my own purchased unit.
While there are stories of “ringer” product sent out on tours, I can gladly/confidently say that this is NOT the case with the N7 on the tour, it is 100% the same device and sound for both the tour and purchase units.

Background / My Testing Environment
The N7 is a 1bit all to DSD DAP, with a unique 1-bit resistor DAC, true balanced end to end configuration with a switchable Class A/AB amp section.
Much has been written in previous discussions from previous reviewers from respected sources such as Twister6, Marcus @ Headfonics and others respected here on the pages of Head-Fi, so will skip repeating the actual technical build except to say Cayin continues to push the envelope of sound and the industry in a positive way both technically and sound wise.

Having been a previous Lotoo house sound fan, it was the NuTube equipped C9 standalone amp that sparked my interest with Cayin, and mating the PAW 6000 and the Paw Gold Touch with its “true” Variable Line Out/Pre out modes into the C9 (with its Pre-In Mode, removing the preamp/volume control of the C9 from the signal path), and its Class A/Tubes timbre lead to a whole new way for me to enjoy both these DAPS, but also lead to my missing that warm/tube/analog sound with Digital accuracy while on long cross country or trans Pacific flights, that led me to the N8ii (a much more portable way to enjoy the sound I was enjoying while at home).
The N8ii allowed me to enjoy Cayin’s implementation of sound, via Class A/AB and Tubes/SS switching and my experience was similar whether via the C9 amp or the N8ii DAP.
Looking for something to permanently leave connected to the C9 or use as a quick travel companion to the N8ii, I was waiting for the N7, having read the teasers from Andy Kong as well as some of the early reviews. At first the price was a barrier to commit already owning a N8ii/C9/PAW6K (the LPGT was sold shortly after the N8ii was acquired)
Another head-Fier I know was quick to purchase a N7 and allowed me to try it out, that barrier changed, and helped me to jump onto N7 tour and glad I did.
The N7 was put through its paces standalone, and in Variable Line Out mode with the C9 amp
While the N7 is great standalone, Running N7 into the C9 is a much easier experience with its dedicated 3.5mm/4.4mm Balanced Phone out and Line Out ports. The N8ii requires a quick setting change for the 4.4mm usage, which always has me worrying I will one day mistakenly plug in headphones while its in L/O mode. (note: a reason I always “zero” the volume on DAPs and the C9 to prevent damaging headphones or my own hearing when plugging into and out of the C9, just in case)

the IEM’s and headphone used were:

  • CIEM JH Audio Jolene’s (a 12 driver hybrid 4 DD (Bass/low mids)/8BA (mid highs/highs) configuration) on a Plussound X8 Platinum Plated Hybrid (PPH) (an 8 wire Palladium plated copper and Palladium plated silver wire cable with JH Audio’s 4pin connection),
  • Noble Audio Kublai Khan (a 7 driver Tri-brid 1DD, 1 Bone Conduction Driver, 4 BA drivers, 1 Piezo Super Tweeter) on Eletech’s Ode To Laura 22AWG tri-copper 4 wire cable
  • Plussound Allegro (a 12 Driver Tri-brid with 2 DD drivers, 6 BA drivers and 4 EST drivers) also on Plussound’s X8 PPH cable
  • Meze Audio’s closed back Lyric dual motor planar magnetic headphones, with Eletech’s Inferno (a 21AWG pure copper cable with copper shielding)
Source material was a combination of 16 and 24bit FLAC files of varying Bit depths, Variable Bit Rate MP3 files and streaming FLAC and DSD files.
Jazz (Classic to Modern/Smooth), 60’s to 80’s classic rock, 3 and 4 part harmony vocals only tracks and some classical music (string quartets to full orchestral) tracks were used in my evaluations.

N7 with monitors used.jpg

And I know “burn-in” has launched many a religious war here on Head-Fi, but I was able to listen back to back a N7 that had well over 200 hours of runtime vs a pristine new out of the box N7 and can state there is a difference.
There was noticeable changes in sound and timbre at +/-30 hours and 75 hours of burn in time, with the bass becoming smoother, and highs less jarring.
At around 100-110 hours of burn in the 2 devices sounded about the same. As I continue to use the N7 it continues to improve, so yes IMO burn in is required for the N7.

The Sound
People have written that the N7 sounds as good as and some have said is better than the N8ii which costs $1500 more MSRP than the N7.
IMO, I can’t say this is the case. The ability to “tune” the sound on the N8ii with tube or solid-state amp as well as the higher power output of +P, to me gives the N8ii an edge, and allows it to be a smoother and in some cases more expansive sound overall. But the N7 is close, and with its all to DSD implementation has the same level of detail and clarity as the N8ii at a much lower price point.
To me, and again maybe this is wishful thinking but I’d like to see Cayin produce either a follow on N8ii gen 2 or even new product as the “N9” that combines the 1-bit DAC section of the N7 with the NuTubes and Solid State switchable amp section with the +P power settings along with the Low/Med/High Gain of the N8ii, as I think that could be my End Game DAP. But again this is IMO.

The N7’s sound is detailed, clear. Highs are exteneded but never sibilant. It offers good bass/sub bass presence and engaging slightly forward mids. It offers a very wide and deep soundstage, with excellent instrument placement on the stage. While not “onstage” with the performers like the N8ii can offer, I find the N7, you are definitely front row. Lots of air between instruments. On tracks that have both electric and acoustic guitars you can feel the pluck of the strings and the air around it, and they are distinctly electric or acoustic, not a merging of the two. Vocals whether male or female have depth and punch. You can locate the vocalist on stage and hear if they are in front of, beside or just near specific instruments. Drums have authority from the kick drum, to the shimmer of high hats.

Pushing the N7’s output into the C9 only enhances the experience, and with many tracks actually equaling or surpassing the N8ii’s sound standalone. The N7 now has a similar experience of sound being around you/being on stage. The already wide sound stage now gets even wider, with added height that the N8ii offers.
playing with different IC cables helped to tune the experience even more, offering a great canvas to start experimenting on. Straight Copper, SPC, Hybrid material cables offer a slight change in sound and allows one yet another avenue to tune the sound to the sound signature they want. Something that was not as apparent on the now much older Lotoo models (while great DAPs on their release and still good DAPs, they now show their age against the N7)
While the N7 is no slouch for output and as others have noted, the N7/C9 combo drives more demanding IEMs and Headphones easily, the sound and almost every IEM I used benefited from the extra power.
For anyone who owns a C9 (or similar external amp that can take advantage of the N7’s variable LO, allowing the N7 to be a preamp controlling the volume, and the external amp to be just that an amp) it is well worth connecting in this manner and having a listen.
Would I suggest an N7 buyer go out and get a C9 also? Maybe not as it’s a refinement of the sound and not a wholesale change, but for many here who do chase that small incremental change in sound, it could be worth it, but again this is IMO and YMMV, as it is a serious commitment of funds that for some is not an easy thing to do. But for those who can, I feel you will be rewarded with a change that might be worth it for you.

Class A vs AB on the N7 there is much more of a difference than on the N8ii. On the N7 Class is A little warmer, laid back with richer deeper bass/sub-bass, and has more of “analog” sound. Class AB is a little pacier, more “digital” in its sound. Both amp settings have a lot of depth, but Class A seems to be a little easier to listen to for me, and has more of an Analog richness and texture while keeping the accuracy and clarity of digital.
Plugging into the C9 the differences remain the same, but the sound moves up a notch in technicality and more micro details are revealed. Very enjoyable.

Compared to the Lotoo PAW 6000 the sound is a smoother, deeper in detail and wider in soundstage. From memory as I no longer have the LPGT again a little wider soundstage, with similar detail and clarity

IEM and Headphone Paring

The N7 can drive Dynamic Driver IEM’s easily. Similarly, the experience with my Meze Lyric’s was also enjoyable never leaving me for want from a volume standpoint even in Low Gain (but I did have to crank up the volume a little more).

Each of the IEM’s I own have a unique sound signature, and the N7 preserved each IEM’s sound signature, and I keep the ones that are no longer my daily drivers as my test devices for specific reasons
The JH Audio IEM’s tend to be a little bass heavy, strong and clear sub bass through mid bass, with clear and strong mids The N7 catered to the sound signature here
The Noble Kublai Khan’s have some of the clearest cleanest highs and forward mids and again the N7 didn’t change the sound here
The Plussound Allegro’s have become my daily drivers with a great, even, and balanced sound signature, and offer a blank canvas from which tuning and tweaking the source signal or device settings allows broadstroke to very fine tuning of the sound.
The Allergo’s really responded to the clarity of the N7 and the combo was extremely enjoyable.
The Meze Lyric’s are my just put then on a relax headphones and the N7 delivered here also, providing warmth, details and relaxing sound.

Audio Player Applications and Respective Sound

The Cayin and Hiby apps were extremely similar in their sound. Good detail and clarity and the Hiby app offered some advantage of being able to do remote control of the N7 from a phone.

However IMO with the N8ii and true also with the N7, adding the Neutron Player took the N7 to another level. Added additional clarity and stagging, but unlike the N8ii where playing with the oversampling and frequency settings yielded some nice gains, the N7 preferred closer to factory settings. An example of this is the oversampling setting if set too high caused some clicking and pops that were similar to an amp clipping, but was really the upsampling to DSD having some problems with MP3 files as the source. Change at your own risk here and be advised it is VERY file source sensitive.
The latest release of the Neutron App for Android (2.22.2) seems to resolve on most tracks and for the worst tracks lessen the “click/pops” for MP3 to DSD conversion mentioned above.
But with Neutron Player the soundstage was consistently wider regardless of source file, and there was additional depth and clarity. With the Neutron amp over the Cayin or Hiby apps, driving higher volumes or higher gain did not affect the sound negatively, and for some of the monitors netted some nice changes in the sound and timbre.

Closing Thoughts
If your looking for an DAP that has clarity and staging, can drive just about any monitor you pair it with easily, responds favorably to any and all source file you throw at it, this player will be a great addition to your collection.
I’d place the N7 slightly below the N8ii from Cayin by itself, and on par with N8ii when combined with the C9 or similar amp
Would I but the N7? Yup, already have.

And its worth repeating but as mentioned above, I’d like to see Cayin produce either a follow on N8ii gen 2 or even new product as the “N9” that combines the 1-bit DAC section of the N7 with the NuTubes and Solid State switchable amp section with the +P power settings along with the Low/Med/High Gain of the N8ii, as I think that could be my End Game DAP. But as mentioned this is IMO.

IF you’ve made it this far in my impressions write up, Thank You
I’m not a professional reviewer just someone who enjoys music and likes to tinker. I have a sound signature I am chasing (as we all are who come to Head-fi) but please remember what I wrote above is IMO and YMMV as everyone hears things a little differently