I like the design and UI a lot. It is Android 4.4 based so not the latest but will do. It also has ability to download 3rd party apps (as opposed to some other Android players like Opus #2).
I use 3rd party apps to sync my desktop PC (iTunes) with the players I own. It copies not only song but bi-directionally syncs metadata like ratings, play count, skip count, last play time etc.
It helps to create a dynamic playlists like "often played but not rated yet" or "highly rated but played long time ago".
I was happy to see it working with the Cayin.
The interesting part of UI is that the special music-centric launcher is used. There is no desktop. You can swipe to the left to open a menu where you can find some settings and 3rd party apps.
Google Play works just fine when you enable the WiFi. I have not noticed any interference from WiFi so it is well shielded.
The UI is very well designed but sometimes hangs. I had to restart the player from time to time. I am sure this can be improved by future firmware upgrades.
It feels solid and handy. Has physical buttons which is a plus.
The leather case I received with the Cayin protects most of it but makes the use of side buttons a bit more difficult.
I would rate it above Samsung S6 phone but below Sony ZX2, Onkyo DP-X1 and iBasso DX100. Those 3 are more expensive though.
Cayin is smooth and warmish so may pair well with headphones you find a bit too harsh or too bright.
Its soundstage is intimate, narrow and sometimes a bit at the back of you head. I must admit I prefer more "in front" presentation when the sound is positioned more in front of me.
The soundstage has nice layering in terms of depth. If you carefully listen you can distinguish the layers of presentation well.
I liked the Cayin's tonality: the instruments sound natural and you can distinguish their tone well. I would even say that in the tonality aspects it beats the ZX2.
ZX2 wins in terms of clarity. Cayin sounds a bit muddy when put next to it.
What kills the music aspect to me is the decompression artifacts. From time to time you can hear loud squeaks like the audio file was broken.
I use alacs (Apple lossless format) that work well on S6, ZX2, DP-X1 and DX100.
Cayin i5 vs Sony ZX2 with Denon AH-D5000
- i5: natural sound, soft
- ZX2 clearer and deeper bass
- Diana Krall / Peel Me a Grape: more echo / room feel on i5, more bass and clarity on ZX2 - ZX2 wins
- Hurvitz / Overture :i5 more naturally sounding, ZX2 drier - i5 wins
- Bonnie Tyler / Total Eclipse: i5 sweeter vocals, more natural instruments, ZX2 - crispier - i5 wins
- Pink Floyd / High Hopes: i5 more natural, warmer and smoother, ZX2 - less natural, colder, harsher but also crispier /cleaner.
If you prefer relax and smoothness over detail and clarity i5 is your pick.
Cayin i5 vs Sony ZX2 with 64 Ears A12 CIEM
- The Handsome Family - Far from any road: i5 a bit dull and foggy, good resolution, narrow soundstage, ZX2: much cleaner, wider soundstage, more 3D, more details, ZX2 wins
- The Cranberries - Zombie, i5: more natural, less clean, more intimate
- Florence + The Machine - What the water gave me: ZX2 nicer bass texture and instruments separation in intro, cleaner, a bit of sibilance, i5 no sibilance, a bit deeper but narrower soundstage
Cayin i5 vs ZX2 with Audeze Sine
- Zaz - Les Passants - ZX2 crisp, good instruments separation, i5: less 3D, more in the face, a bit foggy, ZX2 wins
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Please Baby - i5: narrower but deeper, more natural but less crisp - ZX2 wins
Cayin i5 vs Samsung S6 with Denon AH-D5000
- Adele - Someone like you - S6 a bit harsh with modded D5000s. i5: deeper low tones, piano is clearer and more present, voice even more in front, more 3D, i5 is a clear winner
- Birdy - Skinny love - S6 is more dull and foggy, plays from distance, a bit sibilant, i5 is clearer and more present, has more 3D soundstage, and better positioning of instruments, less sibilant - i5 is a clear winner
- Christina Aguilera - Express - S6 has flatter presentation, but is a bit clearer and has blacker background, i5 is foggy with Low Gain, switching to High Gain improves a lot, but still the background is greyish, soundstage is better, instruments are more natural - no clear winner - depends what your sound preferences and priorities are
- Morcheeba - Lighten up - again S6 is a bit harsher, flatter and clearer, i5 is more relaxed, smoother, natural sounding, more 3D but a bit foggy
- Leonard Cohen - Waiting for the Miracle - i5 is natural sounding, not sibilant, warmish, more 3D but with greyish background, s6 has a bit too much of low tones which dominate the mids - i5 is clear winner
- Jacques Loussier - Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - i5 has nice punch, natural sound, relaxing sound, misses on ultimate clarity, s6 seems faster, shows nicer texture of low tones, has crispier high tones - it comes the cost of limited soundstage and less natural sound
- more power than Sony ZX2 - especially with Audeze Sine outdoors
- occasionally hangs - restart needed (hold power off for a few secs) firmware 2.0
- music settings -> digital filter options: short delay slow roll off - makes sound sharper and cleaner IMO + adds some “echo” effect / room feel
- good battery life, but charges slowly
- takes up to 2 seconds to start playing
- alac playing problems
- tested with 3rd party Apps: Rocket Player and iSyncr to auto-sync PC/iTunes and the player
If you're looking for a nice DAP which is a clear upgrade from a phone and has warm sound you should definitelly give i5 a listen.
If you prefer natural tone of instruments over the clarity you should shoot for the Cayin i5.