Headphoneus Supremus
A Real Fantasy
Pros: Grand packaging
Build quality
Bass quality
Treble quality and extension
Excellent design
Cons: Excessively huge packaging
No balanced cable
The Fantasy are the most recent In Ear Monitors (IEM) produced by Cayin. I believe the earlier model was the YB04, a 4 Balanced Amature (BA) set of IEMs.

Cayin kindly included me in the European leg of their review tour of the Fantasy, for which I am grateful.

The unit is therefore a loan unit provided free of charge by Cayin for the loan period. Following the loan period I passed the unit on to the next reviewer in the tour group.

I provide my honest opinion of the Cayin Fantasy without limitation, nothing I say is given to anyone for approval. All views I express are my views. I am not influenced by anyone, and I am not paid to express any views positive or otherwise.

Form, Fit and Function

The package:
The package is a huge but beautifully constructed cardboard drawer unit with magnetic clasps which exude quality. The Fantasy come with the following in the package:

The IEMs;
A 3.5mm single ended cable;
A thin faux leather pouch;
A selection of tips,
A cleaning brush;
A cleaning cloth; and
A shirt clip.


This well thought out design of the packaging is let down by the fact that it is excessively and unnecessarily large, unfortunately all of this is constructed out of cardboard, so even if well kept, it has a very short lifespan compared to, for example, wood or metal construction.

The Fantasy have a dual cavity two-way single beryllium-plated dynamic driver (DD) per ear piece.


The shells are made of metal, described as surgical stainless steel, which have a mirror finish. I think the design is simple but gorgeous. Some of the best things in life are simply designed, the Fantasy is to my eyes just that, well executed, simple, but effective design.

There are excellent design touches, starting with the In Ear Monitors (IEMs) which have a simple triangular ridge on the faceplate, which gives the earpieces an elegant look regardless of the angle from which you look at them.

You then have a subtle touch just behind the two-pin cable connection slot, which is a tiny bore the inside of which is coloured black for left and red for right. On the other side of the cable connection is another tiny bore, which may or may not be a vent, but the essence here is that the designers bothered to make it all symmetrical. Bravo!

I think the greatest disappointment was the portable case, or correctly expressed, the faux leather pouch. Although it feels very nice, it is flimsy and cannot protect an eartip from damage, let alone a $700 set of earphones, a let down for a set at this price range. However, that can be remedied for $10 or so, hence it should not be a deal breaker.

The standard cable is a 6N OCC Copper and silver plated cable with a 3.5mm single ended plug. The content of the package is a further disappointment. No balanced cable, although we were provided, as part of the tour, with a beautiful balanced Cayin CS-4.4B cable, which as the name suggests, is a 4.4mm cable. The CS-4. is an 8 strand, crystalised OFC x silver alloy cable. Fortunately, these short-comings are not a deal breaker in my view but a disappointment nonetheless.


My setup for this review
I paired them with Samsung galaxy note 10 plus and Fiio M11, as my source, and for amplification variably, SMSL AD18, a Samsung dongle, Fiio BTR5, the HA FEE HA11 and the Littlebear B4X tube dac/amp, mostly balanced 2.5mm and on high gain.

The sound in short
I generally avoid reading the reviews of other reviewers prior to posting my review. This means, readers can be sure my review is not influenced by anyone else’s review. However, on this occasion, although I have not read the reviews for the Fantasy, I did read comments on the Cayin Fantasy thread.

A lot of the commentary I read on the thread differed from my findings, which are along the lines of a lack of bass. Do not misunderstand me, I see their point of view but I put their experience of lack of low end down to burn-in. I believe I had the benefit of being in the last two reviewers in the European tour group.

These are technically brilliant earphones, with wonderful highs, which are just on the cusp of being peaky but not quite peaky, to my ears. Mids are well rendered, with nothing shouty and enough weight to give you milky but not syrupy sound. The much criticised bass (for being anaemic) is not my experience. I would say the Fantasy are not basshead earphones, and not bass biased, but that does not mean they lack bass. I love the bass on the Fantasy, which gives you great quality sub-bass and mid-bass where the recording permits. However, in terms of quantity, the mid-bass is less prominent, but does not make these earphones anaemic, while the sub-bass is just right to my ears.

The sound in detail
Like most single (or multiple) dynamic sets, the Fantasy are sensitive to ear tips. I found the red stem silicone tips gave me a very pleasant sound. Take the time to get the right tips and you will be rewarded.

The Fantasy are relatively easy earphones to drive. I used the HAA FE HA11, which I thought that with 1mW of power (as it is advertised) was quite pleasant, so was the synergy between the Fiio BTR5 and Fiio M11 was also good . However, the Fantasy was best paired to the Littlebear Tube Amp and I would hazard a guess that Cayin’s own tube Amp might pair quite well with the Fantasy.

Instrument separation, Imaging, Stage, and Timbre
The Fantasy’s clarity and detail retrieval is incredibly good. Separation of instruments is good and imaging is very good. I found the sound stage adequate but not unusually expansive.

Timbral accuracy is very good, the sound of the instruments are incredibly realistic.

Sound check
You may want to put on your monitors of choice and check out the music using the links.

The mid-bass is not pronounced, it is as recorded, hence you have moments where there appears to be less mid-bass than some would like or expect. In my view there is plenty mid-bass if called for by the track. The quality of that mid-bass is good and well defined, that for me is what matters.

The sub-bass feels so good. Again, there is no sub-bass bias but where the track calls for it you feel that sub-bass. The sub-bass is incredibly visceral and potent, showing excellent tuning, to my ears.

Jonny Guitar Watson - Ain’t that a bitch -

Yemi Alade - Bum Bum -


The Fantasy renders the mid frequencies very well. The mids have are well measured and delivered with aplomb by this beautifully tuned dynamic driver.

Teddy Swims - I can’t make you love me -

Santana - While my guitar gently weeps -

The Cayin Fantasy do not disappoint, you hear it all, while reproducing the very detailed highs beautifully. Clearly these earphones have been tuned with treble emphasis and the comments do not disagree with me on that. The issue for some is whether it was overdone. I appreciate the subjective nature of our anatomy, our sensitivities and our tastes, but I would also add that burn-in, and our sources and equipment may have a part to play. However, for me, the highs on the Fantasy were incredibly good. The detail retrieval across the frequencies is superb, and that is reflected beautifully in the treble.


Albinoni - Aagio for strings -

Schindler’s List OST -

Scott Hamilton - The shadow of your smile - [for Cymbals] -

: Remember, YouTube recordings are not always the highest quality recordings.

In conclusion, the Cayin Fantasy give you high resolution across the frequency spectrum thus makes these a very revealing set. However, the downside of this is that on certain tracks the treble can appear intense. Exceptional detail and clarity in the highs, well measured mids and great quality mid-bass and sub-bass, with sub-bass bias, Love them!

Enjoy your music!
I put these on the Questyle 12 desktop and they just came alive!
Love the Fantasy. My all time Favorite IEMs.


100+ Head-Fier
pleasant listening experience
Pros: Nice package with accessories and selections of eartips
Impressive clarity and bass
Treble with texture
Balanced tune
Build quality
Cons: Heavy
Treble with texture
First, I want to thank Cayin for organizing this product review tour, which provides me this great opportunity to try out this IEM. I used to have the Gadget Acquisition Syndrome (GAS), constantly chasing the latest gadget. As I aged and budget burns, the syndrome is cured in recent years. Now I settled down with FIIO M11 + AudioSense T800 as my daily gear with the philosophy that, instead of the endless chase of the better gadgets, I just need a set good enough. What is good enough? The answer is different for different people. The combination of FIIO M11 + AudioSense T800 works well for me; after I found this duo, I stopped buying new hardware. If it was not for this product tour, I would have not been able to experience this fantastic IEM.

Since the previous reviewers already uploaded many very nice product pictures, I will skip that. Now, let me get straight to my experience with Cayin Fantasy.
The tour package included a retail package of Cayin Fantasy and an upgraded 4.5mm balanced cable. For my ears, the stock cable is annoying because it tends to drag the IEM out of my ear; in addition, the metal body of the IEM makes it heavier than my resin-based T800, which also contributes to the out falling from my ears. The upgraded cable partially solved the problem; when I stay straight up, the IEM stays comfortably in my ears; but I lie down, it falls out often. The AudioSense T800 never has this problem.

I changed the stock eartips to the same SpinFit for both IEMs for a fair comparison. The sound of Cayin Fantasy is pleasing. I found the bass is just right to me, with deep reach and adequate quantity. The sound of cello and double bass is reproduced with authority and stride. Honestly speaking, I think T800 and Fantasy both sound excellent in the bass department; those who enjoy bass will enjoy Cayin Fantasy.

The mid is full-bodied, neutral with a slightly warm colorization, which, IMHO, is a perfect fit for chamber music. I found string quartets and string concerti are rendered with fully expressed emotion.

The treble is where Cayin Fantasy sets itself apart from peers. Many previous reviewers pointed out that the treble is bright, sibilant or grainy. I understand these assessments, but I would not go that far. When rosin is applied on violin bow, it enhances bowing grip on the string and brings out the texture of string vibration; but if excessive rosin is applied, the sound can become coarse and grainy. IMHO, Cayin Fantasy renders string music with more textures or grains than all earphones I tried so far, make the sound more edgy as if more rosin is applied than usual. It is a little bit more than my preference, but not to the degree to be called coarse; the sound is still enjoyable. Actually, the edgy sound brings the side effect of perceived high resolution, which some users may prefer. This is why I listed it as both Pros and Cons above.

In the first few days when I tried it, this sound effect was quite clear to my ears; toward the end of my 10-day allowance to keep the IEM, probably due to my ear burn-in, the sound become not as edgy.

Overall, Cayin Fantasy is an excellent IEM with its characteristics. I like it very much.
  • Like
Reactions: Cat Music


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Cayin Fantasy
Pros: Outstanding build quality
Superbly fast
Looks stunning
Brilliant packaging and accessories included in the box
Cons: Bright
Gets harsh

Cayin Fantasy​

Cayin Fantasy is a flagship IEM using a Beryllium plated dynamic driver. After launching the great YB04, Cayin has a lot to prove here with their new release. The price is set at $799.

$799Beryllium-Plated DD37Ω108dB


Cayin has been around for quite some time now, being one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to headphone amplifiers, DACs, and DAPs. It’s as recent as 2019 when they started producing IEMs, and their first launch, the YB04 (review here) has been a marvelous entry into the IEM world.
Utilizing 4 Balanced Armature drivers, they offered a beautifully nuanced, coherent, and neutral sound signature sealed in high-quality and ergonomic shells. Now, Cayin has decided to step up their game by launching their new flagship, a single DD driver IEM called Fantasy. It uses a Beryllium-plated dynamic driver. The $799 asking price positions them into a very competitive price bracket, filled with many great IEMs, hence the Fantasy has a lot to prove to be a valid option to buy.


When it comes to the packaging and unboxing experience, Cayin has always been good, and with the Fantasy, they really made something great.
The IEMs come in a big box that has two compartments. After opening it up, you’re greeted with the IEMs displayed on top, and it really looks great.
Except for the IEMs themselves, you’re getting a soft pouch, that even though being of good quality, isn’t really protective when on the go. I’d much prefer the leather case that has been included with the YB04, as it’s of great quality, nice looking, and very protective. The soft pouch included with the Fantasy acts more like a scratch protector, but I would never throw it into a bag.
Next up you’ve got the cable, which is a 1.3m OCC-Copper with the silver-plated core. It uses extruded 2-pin connectors, and it is a good quality cable as for the stock choice. It’s comfortable to wear and the microphonics are minimal. It would have been nice to get a 4.4mm balanced cable in the box additionally, or at least as the stock cable with an adapter to 3.5mm included, but that’s more of nitpicking.

Other than that you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to the eartips. Cayin included 12 different pairs of tips for you to choose from. Last but not least, you’re getting a cable clip, cleaning brush, and a cleaning cloth, which is actually not too good and I wouldn’t use it to clean the delicate surface of these beautiful shells.
Overall, all that makes for a premium unboxing experience which is always nice to see, especially in this price range. Sure, it would have been nice to get a hard carrying case, even the same as the one that comes with the YB04, and a balanced cable, but it doesn’t change the fact that the packaging of the Fantasy is really good.

Build quality and comfort​

Here things get really interesting. Cayin Fantasy is made of Grade 316 surgical stainless steel which has been mirror polished. This style of IEMs is looking really spectacular…if they are clean and new. Take the Campfire Audio Andromeda S and Final A8000 as an example. You really want to keep them clean and you need to baby them to make sure you won’t scratch them.
Nonetheless, no matter how much you’d take care of them, some signs will show rather quickly. This is the price you have to pay for these absolutely marvelous-looking shells. Don’t worry too much though, as I’ve seen some scratched A8000 for example and they still looked fantastic.
Apart from the materials used, the design of the Fantasy IEM is inspired by stringed musical instruments. Its round edges and overall shape make them a very comfortable pair of earphones. Even though the shells have some weight, you won’t be having too many problems with using them for an extended period of time. Sure thing, because of the weight they are not the most comfortable pair of IEMs on the market, but the shape really helps.
Additionally, they utilize the protruding 2-pin connectors, which are both commonly used and really durable. It helps to reduce the stress of the connectors while using the IEMs.



The included cable is a 4-core unit using OCC copper wires with silver-plated cores. It’s well-made and very comfortable, as it’s flexible and rather lightweight, except for the splitter. It’s also really visually appealing, sporting that silver color together with the splitter and the jack connector both using the same material that you’ll find on the IEMs themselves.
Nonetheless, I actually recommend getting a nice aftermarket cable that’ll suit the Fantasy better. I’d go with something warm and thick-sounding.


The Fantasy IEM uses a Beryllium-plated bio-cellulose diaphragm. It is said to deliver an improved stiffness of the membrane. Also, the Beryllium plating reduces resonance, and minimizes deformance of the membrane.
If you’re familiar wit the sound of the Beryllium, then you definitely won’t be surprised. It delivers a very fast and accurate driver response, with very low distortions. Also, its detail reproduction is among the best of any technology, and it surely is apparent in the Fantasy.
These IEMs also use a Dual Cavity with Two-way magnetic technology. Here’s the explanation from Cayin:
  1. Additional rear cavity controls the sound wave to flow smoothly and reduces resonance. This will enhance the clarity and soundstage will be more holographic.
  2. Increased magnetic flux offers excellent control to diaphragm and reproduces low level details accurately and seamlessly.


The Cayin Fantasy is an absolutely gorgeous-looking and built IEM utilizing great driver technology. It is both comfortable and well-thought when it comes to its design. As far as the sound is concerned, it is definitely not a neutral or natural sounding pair of IEMs, but there are some people that will definitely like their tuning.

Let’s start with the bass. It is detailed, crisp, fast, and insightful. The Fantasy is a bass-light IEM, don’t expect a great kick or physicality in it, as it lacks weight, especially in the sub-bass region. While it’s mostly good with acoustic recordings some jazz recordings, the amount of bass isn’t ideal for rock/metal/rap/electronics.
While it will definitely satisfy those who like that fast, nuanced bass response, it’s definitely not going to be enough for bassheads or natural tonality fans. It is actually the same story regarding the rest of the frequency response.
It’s simply a bass-light Japanese tuning all around, focusing on fast transient response, textured mids and boosted lower-treble region. The amount of details and the crispiness of the low frequencies are both great, but its tuning will not suit a lot of people nowadays I’m afraid.
An album called “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk is really great to test the bass response with, so let’s dig into it.
The thing that I stated above is fairly easy to spot here, as the overall sound lacks weight and punchiness a bit. You are getting a very fast and nuanced response, but this somewhat light tone makes this album sound not as it’s really supposed to. You’re not going to be missing any detail or texture, but I wouldn’t expect your head to start bobbing to the rhythm.

The midrange does share some similarities to the bass response. It’s definitely tuned towards the upper-mid section, which allows female vocals to really shine. If you’re a fan of those, you’re most probably will love the midrange of the Fantasy.
Other than that, the lower-mid is yet again a bit lacking in weight, resulting in male vocals sounding a little bit on the light and unnatural side. While there’s a big market for thick and heavy-sounding midrange nowadays, it’s really good to see a different approach, especially with it being so consistent.
The Fantasy’s mid-forward presentation is especially great for wind instruments, allowing them to sound extremely textured, fast and engaging. When it comes to female vocals, they are very forward and airy sounding on the Fantasy. I know many people that actually love upper-mid forwardness, and they would definitely love this IEM.
While the sound signature here is definitely not for everybody, it does wonders with the soundstage, thanks to sounding so airy and open.
Let’s get to our classic here at Ear Fidelity, the Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks just happens to have such an amazing voice, and it’s recreated just beautifully by the Fantasy. She sounds forward, bright and beautifully textured. The same story goes with the likes of Melody Gardot, or Holly Martin from the legendary trip-hop band Archive. All of them simply sound so sweet, addictive and very nuanced on the Fantasy, that I believe every female vocal enthusiast should definitely give them a try.
The treble will most likely be a hit-or-miss for many. It’s definitely bright sounding, greatly layered and extremely fast, but the Fantasy is surely capable of sounding tiring. While the extension on the top-end is brilliant and very impressive, the lower-treble region is boosted by quite a lot.
Because of that, they could simply sound harsh and overly bright if you’ll simply plug them into anything you’ve got on your hand at the moment. They seriously require a very careful matching in terms of the source and the tips. If you’ll plug them into a bright sounding device, and you’re not a treblehead, then you definitely will be blasted by those high frequencies.
Nonetheless, if you’ll plug them into a thick and dark sounding device, they do tend to sound absolutely spectacular when it comes to detail retrieval and airiness. The Cayin N3Pro is actually a brilliant match with the Fantasy if you’ll use its triode mode.
After you’ll find the right companion for them, you’re gonna be rewarded with one of the most detailed and sparkly sounding treble you can get for the price. It sounds exciting, razor-sharp, and detailed at the same time.

The soundstage is both deep and wide. Not to the extremes, as its stage is definitely not as big as the one found in UM MEST, or Final A8000 for example.
It’s very enjoyable and natural sounding though, with really good imaging. It just feels right, not being overly intimate, nor too big, just spot-on for most of the records I’ve tried with it.
Thanks to using a single driver, the overall soundstage feels natural and very coherent, providing a good room between the instruments. It is not as informative or superbly-crisp as some hybrids or tribrids, but as for a single DD IEM, the Fantasy stages really good.
What’s worth noting is that every instrument sounds physical and well exposed, giving us a sharp and accurate show around the head.


VS Final A8000

The influence of the A8000 in the latest Cayin’s release is very prominent in almost every term. The build quality and included accessories are going head to head, with the Fantasy winning in terms of comfort. The sharp edges of the A8000 may result in some fatigue after an hour of the listening session, and you won’t be having this kind of problems with the Fantasy.
When it comes to tuning, the A8000 offers a more mature and more natural frequency response. Its bass is definitely more prominent than in the Fantasy, and the upper-mid to lower-treble transition, even though being quite elevated, isn’t as sharp and accentuated. When it comes to the raw technical performance, the Fantasy keeps up surprisingly well, considering the 2x price difference. The A8000 still has an edge in detail retrieval and overall resolution, but it’s not as big as I expected it to be.
I’d like to call the Fantasy as the “mini A8000”, but because of its very distinct tuning, I don’t believe it to be true. While both offer a very fast transient response and really crisp sonic reproduction, the A8000 is just a way more natural and cohesive sounding IEM.
VS Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

While I saw some similarities between the Fantasy and the A8000, the Dorado 2020 by Campfire Audio is as different as It possible could be.
First of all – while the Fantasy is a really comfortable IEM, its shells are quite a bit larger than the Dorado, resulting in a better overall comfort in the latter.
Secondly, they share absolutely no similarities when it comes to the tuning. The CFA’s bass response simply sweeps the Fantasy up, being way bigger, bolder and more physical. These two just simply cannot compare, as the Dorado 2020 is a bassheads dream, and the Fantasy is simply a bass-light IEM.
The transition between the midrange and the treble in both is quite boosted, but it’s definitely not as dramatic in the Dorado. It’s vivid enough to sound crisp and open, while the Fantasy takes it to the extreme, giving us a brighter and harsher presentation overall.
VS Fir Audio VxV

These two are also very differently tuned. While the Fantasy is a very extreme sounding IEM, super-fast, bright and insightful, the VxV is all about chill and safe frequency response.
The overall presentation of the VxV is warmer, more delicate, and calm, with a very pleasant, smooth tone. The Fantasy on the other hand is colder and brighter sounding, and its elevated lower-treble response results in a sharper and more textured sound.
While the VxV is a perfect example of “Everyday Carry”, the Fantasy is a specialistic tool, for the person who is really into this kind of tuning.


Cayin Fantasy is a specific IEM that’s tuned for the Asian markets. It offers a very fast and crisp sound, but its frequency response is not neutral. If you’re a big fan of bass-light, crispy, and bright-sounding IEMs, then this could be the best buy for you. If you are more into a natural, smooth, and easy-to-listen-to experience, you should look somewhere else.
Apart from that, you’re getting a superb build quality, quality accessories included, and an overall premium product from top to bottom. Definitely give them a listen before pulling the trigger, as they are surely not for everyone.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Ara, Solaris 2020, Final A8000, Fir Audio VxV, Hifiman HE1000se, HEDDphone, Hifiman Ananda
  • Sources– Cayin N3Pro, iBasso DX220, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, LittleDot MK III SE,, JDSLabs ATOM+,
  • Cables – Erua Tawa, Erua Miro


100+ Head-Fier
A Bright Fantasy
Pros: Clean bass
Airy, spacious
Respond well to EQ
Good technicalities
Great build, high quality
Cons: Piercing mid and treble, niche tuning
Expensive, accessories
A bit heavy

I received the Fantasy as part of the review tour. I'm not sponsored by Cayin or received any compensation for my review, or under any influence.
Thank you Andy Kong and Cayin for arranging the tour.
The review is purely based on my own bias music taste.

About me:
I'm an Asian guy living in Europe. I'm not a specialist in audio or anything related.
Music is my hobby. 95% of my library contains Japanese music. The rest are some western pop/rock.
For the testing purpose, here is the music I listen to:
  • Yorushika
  • amazarashi
  • Aimer
  • Anime OST (mainly Ghibli)
  • ReoNa
  • Nightwish
  • Passenger
About the product:
The Cayin Fantasy featured a single dynamic driver with beryllium-coated diaphragm.
The included cable is constructed by a mix of OCC copper and silver-plated copper. It features 2-pin 0.78mm gold-plated connectors and 3.5mm single-ended plug.
Price: 799$

The whole unboxing experience is very satisfying. It reminds me of some expensive jewelry boxes. The box is very well designed, easy to open with cut-out holes and magnetic closure.

After sliding out the external sleeve, the box construction is revealed:

From top to bottom:
  1. The IEMs
  2. Tips and leather storage pouch
  3. Cable and Accessories (cleaning brush, cloth, tweezers, cable clip and user manual.

Fit and Finish:
The shell is made from 316 stainless steel - the same material as watches. It is very well made, there is no sharp edges or gaps.
Cayin chose to finish the steel in polished instead of brushed. It provide some high-end "bling", however, it makes the shell prone to fingerprints and scratches. But you can always polish it with some Cape Cod (or any metal polishing compound).

The biggest downside to me is the weight. The Fantasy is on the heavy side, but the tips help to keep the IEMs in place. From time to time they tend to slip out and lose the seal, thus I need to readjust it. Anyhow, being a vented system, they are not very good at sound isolation compared to a full BA system.

As I mentioned earlier, the Fantasy uses 2-pin connectors and 3.5mm TRS plug. All of them are solidly built. I especially love the extruded 2-pin connectors. Combining with the cable, it makes swapping cables feel a lot more secure and premium.


Unexpectedly, I could unscrew the metal mesh filter at the nozzle. This might be for cleaning (another clever trick), but would be great if there was a tuning system via filters.

The included cable is very supple. It has no microphonic when I walk around.

General tuning:
Emphasize on upper midrange and treble region. On a neutral source, it might sound very piercing. But, the upside is that it delivers a very airy signature with expansive soundstage. Imaging is pinpoint accurate.

The Fantasy is not super hard to drive. With Sensitivity at 108 dB at 1kHz and Impedance at 37 Ohms, you can plug it directly to your phone. However, it only truly shines when pairing with a good source.
Why do I want to put it first? I must say, it's a very niche tuning - with big emphasis on upper midrange and treble. Out of the box, they sounds very painful with sibilance.
They definitely needs a warm source to tame the signature sound.

QLS QA361: I consider it to be a neutral source. It has ok bass energy, but the mid and treble are very shouty as if they are screaming at you. Cymbal hit is splashy, the s, ts, ss is very pronounced. The vocal is on the thin side. Instruments have a metallic timbre to them, especially piano. Due to the high energy of the upper mid and treble, I couldn’t turn up the volume to hear the lower end of the sound spectrum. On the plus side, the soundstage is wide and airy. Instrument separation is very good. I love how string instruments sound is portrayed here: there is a raw sense that makes them sound quite engaging, even though sometimes it feels artificial.

Hifiman Supermini: The female vocal sounds more balance here but the treble is still fatiguing. There is still a slight sense of metallic timbre.

Sony A50 + MrWalkman A50Z mod (Plus mode): Oh. My. God. This is what is supposed to sound like! No more metallic timbre, the treble is well controlled, the bass is elevated in a tasteful way. Vocal, both male and female, has more lower-end energy. Soundstage is a touch smaller, but separation is still very good. Detailing is slightly reduced, but thanks to that, the Fantasy sounds a lot more musical. Which makes me question whether this is Cayin’s intention to pair the Fantasy with their Tube amp DAPs? I imagine they would be a great match, but I couldn't verify this. The rest of my review of the Fantasy is based on this combination, even though this might not be the true nature of the IEMs.

Sound (through Sony A50Z + Mr.Walkman mod):
Bass: the bass of the Fantasy can be described as neutral. Sub-bass is a bit lacking, it does not provide enough rumble when needed. On the other hand, mid-bass is absolutely clean and can be EQ-ed without bleeding into the lower mid. The bass section has a very good texture and detail though. I wish there is a touch more sub-bass, but the best thing about the Fantasy is that it responds very well to EQ, so you can tune it however you want!

Mid-range: the mid-range is literally the star of the show (to the point where it is too bright). As mentioned previously, the mid is pushed to the front, so you can hear a lot of details in this section, at the cost of shouty due to hot upper mid. With the A50Z mod, it tames down the shoutiness, and here is when I start loving the Fantasy. The instruments are crystal clear. Piano sounds absolutely natural, there’s no more sense of metallic. With the added warmth, vocal sounds fuller, while still retains their vividness. It's a bit dry though, you won't find a lush and sweet performance here. Everything is at 150% detail enhanced.

Treble: String instruments shine the best here, the grunge, the power,…it is phenomenal. I can hear every detail from the highest notes of a violin. Separation and resolution is top-notch, maybe a bit over the top from time to time.

Technical performance: With an emphasis on upper midrange and treble region, it's no surprise that the Fantasy is super airy and spacious. Soundstage is wide, with enough depth and height. It's not a concert hall though, more like a medium hall. Imaging is excellent, I can pick up small nuances here and there. I love listening to soundtracks with the Fantasy - it feels like the symphony is laid out in front of me.

Cayin Fantasy is the IEM with very good technical performance. Sadly, its niche tuning won't please the majority of listeners. Its definitely shines the brightest with a warm source and certain music genres. The 799$ price tag is a tough sell, considering the competition under 1000$ price bracket. If you're a basshead or looking for a jack-of-all-trade IEMs, this is not for you. But if you need a (very) bright IEM with good technical performance, this might be one of the best under 1000$
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Cat Music


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.
Last edited:


1000+ Head-Fier
An unfortunate turn from Cayin's house sound
Pros: Amazing construction, build and unboxing experience. Detachable, non-proprietary cables. Very clear sound.
Cons: From the price, only having a pouch to carry the iem in is kinda disappointing. Fairly cold sounding which isn't what many expect when they hear the Cayin brand.
From an extended period of hiatus to two reviews within a month, I’ve been quite busy. This time around I’ve an iem from a company that has a history of providing some of my personal favorite products for, subjectively speaking, their warm and enveloping house sound just sings to my soul. But that’s the past, this is now, and this is the Fantasy that’s attempting to become reality. So without further adieu, allow me to share my thoughts on whether or not Cayin’s newest offering really had made my fantasy a reality.

A little about me
I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.
I'm a firefighter for both the civilian and military sector and the cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
I enjoy fishing and relaxing to audio products and then reviewing them to help others decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top so as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
Equipment used at least some point during the review
-LG G8 Thin Q/HP Pavilion
-Playing YouTube and various format personal music
I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

The Opening Experience

thumbnail (8).jpg
thumbnail (7).jpg
thumbnail (6).jpg
thumbnail (2).jpg
thumbnail (9).jpg

Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience
Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short, implies to the other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this product introduced itself shall we?

Like all prior Cayin unboxing’s I’ve experienced thus far, the Fantasy is as beautiful, simplistic, and professional as one would ever desire. The large box itself entices me to experience the possibilities of what lies inside but never deters from a very sophisticated appeal. Opening the top I was greeted by the aluminum name plate which has, lately, been a staple with Cayin’s products (and on I personally hope they keep) and the two, stunning Fantasy iems. I usually try to open up the entire product before focusing on the main attraction but I couldn’t help myself in this case. The silver stainless steel casings were just too beautiful to not feel and admire. While writing this review, I checked out Cayin’s official page on the Fantasy and they state how their inspiration for the structure was from musical instruments and I can completely see it.
Actually getting on with the rest of the box, as you fold down the front flap (no the foam piece holding the iem’s don’t come up [without tearing it]) you’re greeted with two pull out drawers. The first one is where you’re provided with one of the most impressive assortment of tips that I can personally recall, like seriously, 12 pairs. These are actually impressively influential on the sound but I’ll touch more on that later in the review. Next to the tips, you’re provided a storage box for the faux leather storage pouch. In the bottom drawer, you’re provided with a storage box for the beautiful silver cable and also a box containing all the accessories (tweezers, brush, cloth, warranty and cleaning cloth).
My thoughts on my “handshake” that Cayin provided was definitely one that was firm and full of mutual respect. This is definitely not a product that was carelessly put in a box. Cayin put time and effort into their product's representation and it definitely shows.


thumbnail (1).jpg

So my “handshake” was definitely memorable but how is the product's actual construction? Well, if you recall from just a few paragraphs ago, very strong. Cayin forged their Fantasy iem from stainless steel and drew their inspiration of its form from musical instruments. As you’ve probably been thinking, ‘wouldn’t they be fairly weighty being stainless steel?’ And to that regard, you’d be thinking correctly. They do have a nice heft to them and really cements how sturdy the Fantasy feels in your hands and I’ve full confidence that, if treated properly, these will last you for many years to come. Moving down from the initial frame, the horns are on the larger side but not overly so, just enough to where your standard sized tips will be just too small to fit. Continuing downwards, the iem connects to its provided 3.5mm silver and OCC hybrid cable via a 2 pin port. Which is quite nice for if you’ve a cable you really enjoy, or prefer a balanced cabling, you can freely switch them.
My overall thoughts on the Fantasy’s build quality is that of a solid foundation. These things are hefty, elegant and very demanding of attention.


thumbnail (3).jpg

Given the feel of these, I did admittedly have concerns about how they’d feel in my ears. Thankfully my concerns were quickly waived aside because similar to their younger siblings, the YB-04, the way they’ve softly curved the inside makes them fit so snug and comfortably in my ear I was easily able to wear these for multiple hours at a time. Additionally, the sound isolation, that does vary depending on your tips of choice, is really impressive. With the Fantasy in my ears, I pretty much heard nothing but the music/show I was listening to/watching.


thumbnail (1).jpg
thumbnail (4).jpg

Before I start this section. It should go without saying but though I link YouTube videos when I’m giving examples, this is for convenience only. If applicable, I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to the music I’m referencing on as high a quality as possible to experience the fullest sound possible.

My overall impression of the Cayin Fantasy sound is definitely one of surprise, to put it one way. Perhaps I’ve just been so sold on the Cayin house sound that I’ve judged this one a little harder but, subjectively speaking, it didn’t have that same magic that all the other Cayin products had when I experienced them. The sound, to me and my ears, of the Fantasy was definitely more cold leaning. I feel they really prioritized detail retrieval and reproduction over musicality and musical enjoyment that their other products have. Not saying it’s a bad thing or that these are bad, most certainly not, just something I wasn’t expecting. Apart from its general sound characteristic, the soundstage on the Fantasy isn’t very large but it is very detailed and pinpoint. Take the piece, He’s a Pirate by Klaus Badelt & Hans Zimmer. While listening to this piece you’re able to, quite easily, both hear and position each section of instruments and where they are placed in the orchestra. Or even Pentatonix’s Daft Punk; I was able to discern each vocalist from the other even when they’re singing together.
Now, as for my impressions on the individual characteristics of the Fantasy’s sound.


The highs, to me, could definitely be a bit too aggressive at times. A great example is that from Tobias Rauscher’s piece “Still Awake” or “BriansThing” saxophone performance of “Skyfall '' by Adele. There's a point in each piece that makes listening to the Fantasy very uncomfortable and unpleasant. Now, in general terms, the Fantasy’s treble presentation is stunning. The extension, as you’d assume, is very high and the ability to relay a piece’s energy is very well reproduced. Listening to violins and piano’s on this is a wonderful treat. Instead of just siting a single song/piece, just listen to the entire album from Your Lie In April (wonderful anime to watch as well).


The mids, though are beautifully clean and amazingly crystal clean, I do feel that their tones are edged slightly higher than they usually would/should be. Throughout my many hours and songs of listening over the past week and a half, I noticed this consistently but one of my favorites that fell to this was The Last of the Mohicans performed by Luca Stricagnoli. This is a very soft and calming piece only using acoustic guitars and is a piece I reference for many of reviews for how often I listen to it. But through the Fantasy, the guitar's pitch and tone sounded higher than I knew they should and though the music was still very beautiful, I just, personally, couldn’t fully enjoy it.
Switching gears to vocals. Vocals, though still share the same noticeable increase in pitch, are overshadowed by the amazing clarity that the Fantasy provides. A fantastic example is Skin by Rag’n’Bone man. This man’s vocals are, in my opinion, accented by the beautiful representation of the Fantasy. Additionally, remember how I talked about the tips earlier in this review? If you put on the memory foam (either the ones provided or of Comply’s [or similar]) you can soften the edge the highs add.


The bass was another surprise for me. After experiencing the mentioned coldness that the Fantasy’s have I thought the bass would be fairly light as well. However, the Fantasy can absolutely provide the impact and depth and that would satisfy, I’ll confidently say, the vast majority of people. From Eminem’s “‘Till I collapse” or “Godzilla” to Falling in Reverse’s “Popular Monster” or even INSAMIME (Crazy Train my Ozzy Ozbourne Remix). Each was very satisfactory for me to get pumped to before a workout (especially with the bass boost tips [also I did NOT work out with these and would recommend you not as well]). Also, and I’ll sum up the bass with this thought, the speed of the Fantasy’s bass hit without much decay was amazing.



My final thoughts on the Cayin Fantasy is that, though I personally didn’t care for the sound, I can completely see that these will very much make an audiophile's audio “fantasy” come true. These are beautiful, stylish, rugged and sound the part.

Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
  • Like
Reactions: Cat Music


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: packaging and accessory selection is appropriate for the price point
Cons: nothing else about the IEM is



The Cayin Fantasy is an in-ear monitor (IEM) advertised as using a “10.3mm dynamic driver unit with a dual-cavity design.” The Fantasy has a suggested retail price of $800. I had the Fantasy for 10 days as part of a review tour. I was financially responsible for shipping the Fantasy to the next reviewer on the tour and am not being otherwise compensated for writing this review.


I used the Cayin Fantasy with the Hidizs S9’s single-ended 3.5mm output.

I tested these headphones with Spotify Premium. Visit my page to get an idea of what I listen to.


The Cayin Fantasy comes in a large black cardboard box which makes inventive use of cutouts throughout the unboxing process. In addition to the IEMs and the included 2-pin cable, the Fantasy includes a wide variety of silicone eartips in “Balanced” (S, M, L), “Vocal” (S, M, L), “Bass” (S, M, L), and bi-flange (M) varieties. The Fantasy also includes two pairs of foam eartips (M, L) and an additional pair of generic silicone eartips (M). Also in the package is a manual in English and Chinese, a set of tweezers, a cable shirt clip, a nozzle cleaning brush, and a cleaning fabric. I am puzzled by the inclusion of the tweezers as no additional nozzle filters are included with the Fantasy. The Fantasy comes with a faux-leather soft pouch with two discreet interior mesh pockets to protect the earpieces in addition to the body cavity. Though this separation is a nice touch, the lack of a semi-rigid or hard carry case is not excusable at this price point.


The Cayin Fantasy has highly polished metal housings with a pseudo-custom fit. The left and right faceplates are marked with “Fantasy” and “Cayin” respectively. The housings are otherwise unmarked. The nozzles have metal mesh covers and thin O-rings which I believe are intended to help secure eartips, but they are so low profile and so close to the top of the nozzle that it is difficult to tell exactly how far down the nozzle one is supposed to mount the eartips. The seam between the shell body and faceplate is visible but barely tangible. The Fantasy uses TFZ/Blon style 2-pin connectors, which extrude from the shell slightly and have a rectangular cross-section which is incompatible with the more common QDC-style extruded connectors. This is a strange choice that limits the Fantasy’s ability to use a large chunk of the aftermarket cable field. There are two small circular vents on either side of the 2-pin connector and an even smaller one at the base of the nozzle.

The included four-strand 2-pin cable is wrapped in a spiral pattern below the Y-split, whereas the left and right sides of the cable above the Y-split are wrapped in double-helixes. I dislike the spiral pattern on cables and would prefer a quad-braid. The cable has weighty metal hardware for the jack and Y-split marked with the Cayin logo. The straight 3.5mm jack housing has an octagonal cross-section and has a small screw set into the face where the logo is printed. There is strain relief above the jack housing and below the Y-split. The cable has clear preformed earguides without memory wire. There is a chin adjustment slider. The cable also comes with a small white velcro tie for storage marked with the Cayin logo in black.

The review tour package also included a more attractive two-tone 4.4mm balanced cable that uses a quad-braid below the Y-split. My balanced sources are exclusively 2.5mm at this time, so I did not get a chance to use the Fantasy with this cable.


The Cayin Fantasy is intended to be worn cable-up. The earpieces have a shallow insertion depth. The substantial width of the Fantasy’s nozzles is noticeable while in use and may impact long-term comfort. I did not experience driver flex with the Fantasy. Isolation is poor.


Measurements of the Cayin Fantasy can be found on my expanding database:

Cayin Fantasy — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews

My measurements are conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. There is a resonant peak at 8k. Measurements above 10 kHz are not reliable.


The Cayin Fantasy has an unpleasantly upper-mids heavy tuning.

The bass tuning is nearly neutral, with very a mild elevation in the mid-bass. There is some impact but little rumble. Bass articulation is speedy but texture is lacking.

There are no lower mids to speak of. There is a whopping 16 dB of separation between the lower mids at their lowest point and the pinna gain elevation at 3 kHz. The result is a hollow, scooped delivery without body or warmth. . The presence peak is even worse, standing nearly 20 dB above the lower mids. While vocal intelligibility is good, male vocals are dry and distant, and female vocals are shrill and sibilant. On some songs, even male vocals can sound sibilant. Distorted electric guitars sound like buzzsaws and percussion sounds paper-thin. I am stunned that an IEM with a presence region peak of this magnitude made it into production, much less an IEM with a retail price of $800.

The treble is harsh and uneven, with moderately emphasized lower treble, virtually no mid-treble, and an overly emphasized upper treble region which creates an artificial sheen over the entire presentation. Perceived detail retrieval is very good across the board, but this is largely a result of the upper mids and upper treble peaks. Equalizing the Fantasy towards a more conventional target curve drastically cuts perceived resolution. Furthermore, these efforts to move the Fantasy closer to tolerability were futile because while I could improve its tonality with equalization, doing so made its metallic timbre and splashy transient delivery even starker.

The tuning here, or lack thereof, is reminiscent of a budget KZ model from several years ago in its peakiness. This is inexcusable at this price and makes the Fantasy an automatic non-recommendation.


I did not notice hiss using the Cayin Fantasy with the Hidizs S9.


While I did not enjoy any of the time I spent listening to the Cayin Fantasy, there were several points during my review process where I forgot I had EQ on, turned it off, and was stunned at how much worse the Fantasy sounded. Do not buy this IEM.
Stu Paddasso
Stu Paddasso
I really disliked the cayin fantasy

Stu Paddasso

1000+ Head-Fier
Cayin Fantasy
Pros: Good Looks
Cons: Bass, Treble, Sound Stage

Hi, I'm not a professional writer or reviewer just a regular guy who likes his tunes and I can't do that with the Fantasy! When I first saw the Fantasy and read about its Dynamic Driver my inner bass head jumped up and down with glee! After listening to the Fantasy my inner bass head curled up in a ball and started crying like a little girl! There is no sub-bass there is no bass there is mid-bass, that from a dynamic driver how sad. The mids on Fantasy are its strong point vocals can be very clear with excellent detail. Treble is too predominate, harsh and fatiguing it can also bleed into the mids and change the singers' tone. The sound stage is truly weird. The width is very wide and up there with the TOTL iems. Vertical goes up high but there is no bottom to it because there is no bass it's like having half a sound stage. Once you notice this you can't get it out of your head! Depth is average on the top half of sound stage. I think they're asking too much from 1 dynamic driver, they should just tune it for bass a put it into a hybrid iem. That is what would like to hear.​

  • Like
Reactions: Cat Music


Reviewer at hxosplus
Pros: - Reference bass tuning and performance
- Ultimate clarity
- Resolving and detailed
- Dynamic
- Wide and holographic soundstage
- Comfortable and isolating
- Build quality
- Beautiful and attractive
- Quality cable
- Carrying case
- Large selection of ear tips
Cons: - Bright signature may not suit everyone
- Upper mids prominence may not suit everyone
- Timbre lacks coherency
- Cable is only single ended and the balanced is sold separately

The Cayin Fantasy iem was loaned to me in the course of the European brunch of the Headfi tour.
I was the first one to receive it and I kept it for fifteen days while I was instructed to burn it for 100 hours which I did prior to critical listening.
I would like to thank Cayin and Mr. Andy Kong for giving me the opportunity.
The selling price is $799.

Technical specifications

The Fantasy features a 10.3mm dual cavity with two-way magnetic driver structure with 9.5mm beryllium-plated diaphragm.
The additional rear cavity controls the sound wave to flow smoothly
and reduces resonance.
This will enhance the clarity and
the soundstage will be more holographic.


Increased magnetic flux offers excellent control to diaphragm and
reproduces low level details accurately and seamlessly.
The Beryllium-plated Bio-cellulose diaphragm improves stiffness, reduces resonance and minimises deformation.
Delivers a fast, accurate and low distortion diaphragm response.
Clean and non-fatigue playback with enhanced details.


Build quality and fit

The Fantasy is crafted from grade 316 surgical stainless steel with a shiny mirror finishing that is visually attractive although it is a fingerprint magnet.
Build quality and finish are top notch and the Fantasy has a premium look worthy of the status of a flagship.
It has an elegant design inspired by stringed musical instruments which is beautiful and at the same time anatomically fits the ear.


The fit is comfortable and stress free , suitable for longer listening sessions but due to the increased weight it has the tendency to occasionally slip out.
We should also note that although this is a comfortable iem it is still on the bulky side so it is better suited for medium to larger ears.
With carefully selected ear tips the Fantasy isolates pretty well and provides a good seal for a deeper bass response.
Choosing the right ear tips is not a problem since there are 12 pairs provided.


The detachable cable features 2-pin 0.78mm gold plated connectors with non recessed extruded design.
There is only one cable provided which is custom made and consists of four 38 strands conductors with carefully mixed OCC copper and silver plated core.
It is flexible and noise free with a custom made high quality gold plated 3.5mm plug.


Unfortunately the plug is not swappable and since this is the only cable to be found in the package the user must buy an extra one if he wishes to go balanced.

At $799 this is a serious omission especially if we consider that swappable plug cables are now available with much more inexpensive earphones like the FiiO FD5 , FH5s or the Dunu EST 112.


For the tour duties we were provided with an extra balanced cable of high quality and it would be great if it was included as part of the retail package.



The Fantasy comes packed in a premium cardboard box with two separate drawers that contain the accessories.
Except for the cable we get a nice selection of ear tips , a total of 12 pairs plus the one that is already fitted in the earphones , a high quality carrying pouch with internal pockets , a cleaning brush and cloth plus a cable clip.



Listening set up

We have used various DACs and players starting from the ddHiFi TC44B , moving up the ladder to the THX Onyx and EarMen Sparrow closing with the FiiO M11 Plus and the iBasso DX300.

The Fantasy is open sounding , lighting fast , crystal clear and resolves great amounts of detail without being overly analytical.
The overall tuning is bright and there is a contrast between the full bodied and slightly warm bass against the lean and aggressive treble with the sound signature being slightly reminiscent of the Sennheiser HD800S.


The bass is truly amazing with excellent timbre and top quality technical performance.
It is balanced and neutral without any unnecessary emphasis and although there is a little warmth to it , everything sounds clean without a mid-bass bloat.
There is no masking effect and all low register instruments with their upper harmonics are clearly distinguishable no matter how loaded the bass line gets.

Sub - bass extension is more than enough but the Fantasy is focused on quality rather than quantity so although it can reach as low as it is needed it doesn't have that extra low bass boost and rumble to name it bass-head friendly.

The beryllium drivers are famous for their agility and as such the bass is exemplary tight and well controlled with the perfect timing and a steady pace not afraid of dense passage work.
Full bodied but not very thick it is always defined , precise and impactful with great dynamic contrast while rise and fall time is spot on , so everything sounds natural with great levels of realism.

Mids are of high quality and sound finely articulated with crystalline clarity , good layering and nice texture.
Tuning is somewhat uneven with a neutral lower part followed by a sudden , steep upper-mid emphasis.
Such kind of forwardness will favor certain instruments and voices to become more present while lower pitched ones will be pushed farther behind.

This is not the classic mid centric tuning and while the sound profile may suit some kinds of music and tastes the truth is that as a whole the Fantasy can easily become unbalanced and shouty at this particular frequencies.

Rising higher it is not difficult to perceive the peak at the presence area that helps to add tons of clarity and definition but unfortunately results in a bright and partially out of tune sound signature.

The treble is rather aggressive and dynamic but not particularly harsh or piercing so it will not make your ears bleed.
There is also a nice contrast between the slightly warm bass so the effect is not as severe and the Fantasy can be pretty enjoyable with modern electronic music that needs that extra bite and crispiness to the sound.

Tuning aside there is a loss of textural quality and timbral density and combined with the rushed decay results in an instrumental tone that is too thin and without harmonic complexity.

While moving from the bottom to the upper octaves there is a varying difference in tone quality and the Fantasy is lacking in coherency, something that becomes pretty apparent with classical music.

The soundstage is worthy of a flagship , not only wide and expanded but also proportionally and naturally arranged without sounding artificial or forced.
Depth layering is great and all instrumentalists are projected in well organized groups with pinpoint positioning and extra space around them.
What is also remarkable is the ability of the Fantasy to successfully communicate the inner reverb and echo of the recording location.


At the end

There is a strong personality behind the Fantasy that can be very polarizing if it falls into the wrong hands.
This is an iem clearly addressed to people who know exactly what they want from their earphones.
If you like your sound crystal clear and highly resolving with thunderous dynamics , reference bass tuning , extended soundstage and you are not afraid of some brightness then the Fantasy might be what you are looking for.

Test playlist

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021
Last edited:


Headphoneus Supremus
a DD marvel but not this time
Pros: Extremely resolving DD
Bass texturing and impact
Natural timbre
Very good soundstage
Cons: Very bright
Unbalance signature
Only a 3.5mm Cable provided at a steep price
a DD marvel but not this time


Disclaimer: This demo unit is a loaner unit from Cayin; AndyKong and I personally add a Tanchjim Filter on the grill as I find it too bright for my preference.

One of the most resolving DD in the market with a caveat of its tonality. Too bright for my taste and didn’t work well with most genres. However, foam/filter could help a little bit even though it isn't enough to cover up some random peaks. The Fantasy DD is very competent on delivering bass texturing and impact. Imaging and layering are also impressive to say the least. Rating is low due to tonality alone but the DD is great.

Cayin Fantasy is another set that I have heard from Cayin. The first one was YB04 with its N6ii combo which offered a smooth reference sounding. This time the Cayin approach is unfortunately too bright for my taste. Here’s my take on this set.

Medium sized IEM with a bigger than average nozzle but smaller than the Blessing 2 from memory. The nozzle has a screw mechanism which lets you access and be able to mod (if you are into modding). It comes with a big box Z1R style and has extruded 2 pin cable.

Sound signature:
Neutral bright (very bright)

1. Tanchjim Stargate - one of the best one as it tames the highs a little bit
2. Apple Dongle - almost the same as stargate but smidge mushy in the lower mids
3. Ifi XCan - things are shouty here

Sonic presentation
Bass= S-

Bass is tight and has an excellent impact. The texturing is solid and I can state that this is one of the best DD for the bass region. Though, I need to warn you that with the tuning, the treble does bother you, so it is a bit hard to appreciate the lows from Fantasy’s DD. However, if you are fine with bass boost etc, the bass can shine. The bass can dig low as I was a bit goosebump on Yerin Baek-Hate You track where the bass sounds very impactful with perfect timbre. As for the bass spectrum, there is a hint of more mid bass than the sub, however the overall region is tight and hence there is zero bloat for this region. If you compare against the subbass and its midbass, there is a noticeable less pronounced subbass when you start listening to subbass focus tracks. Though, the attack and decay for the bass region I would classify as perfect.

Mids= B
I have a mixed feeling about giving a rank for its mids. The mids are very resolving with a good timbre considering it is just a single DD. However, the presentation is somewhat questionable. At least to my preference. Overall spectrum of its mids is a bit unbalanced to my liking. The uppermids is too emphasized. Though, it has no issue with the lower mids. The layering of its mids is excellent nevertheless and it also carries micro details effortlessly.

Vocals= B
Both male and female vocals are fine timbre wise. The noteweight of the vocals do sound natural to me, it is not thin and not thick. However, it suffers the same issue as I explained in the mids section. I found that I need to listen with a low volume with this set and at the same time I can hear a lot of details.

Highs= C
To my ears, the DD from Fantasy carries air but is overshadowed by its uppermids peak. Micro detail and nuance is scarily detailed considering a single DD. I’m impressed with its sheer resolution combined with separation. It is rare to see a very resolving DD in the market and Fantasy is one of them. However, the treble is too bright and unbalanced which lead to a lower rank.

Soundstage and Imaging= A+
The staging is spacious and has depth to it. Imaging is accurate and everything is easy to pick up. Center imaging, especially vocals does sound accurate. I think Cayin did a great job at this part and nothing to be complained about.

I don’t mind the stock tips here. Go for foam is you need to reduce the harshness.

Song and Genre
IU, Heize, Taeyeon, AKMU, Yerin Baek, Alesso, Martin Garrix, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion and more.


Tanchjim Oxygen 1DD:
Going back to back with Oxygen really bothers me. One thing that Fantasy stood out is the resolution. Meanwhile, Oxygen has the edge for more easy going tonality but other than that Fantasy blew Oxygen away. The bass has a significant impact on Fantasy which makes the Oxygen sounds sluggish and impactless. Vocals on Oxygen does seem neutral too (here it perceives like having a slightly thicker than the Fantasy) but the mid bass is much more pronounced than Fantasy.

Etymotic EVO 3BA:
Since I have the EVO with me during the review session, let's take that as a consideration. So, EVO is a neutral dark. This is the opposite of Fantasy. EVO is not bright at all even in comparison with their ER series. Comparing EVO and Fantasy is absolutely pointless other than you are finding a different signature. If you want a mellow sounding, detailed, and don’t bother BA timbre, EVO will do better than Fantasy in that regard. Fantasy is not for everyone but for someone who seeks for a bright set and is also fine with eq or mod (mesh/foam/filter) for its DD sheer technicalities.

Cayin Fantasy has one of the best DD in the market, even beating EX1000 in my memory. (in terms of sheer resolution and bass impact except the sub bass rumble). Unfortunately, the tuning is not for me. It is too bright to be accepted to the mass, this means Fantasy is not a set to be used for all genres. Some very well mastered tracks will be a huge success for Fantasy but the bad one will not make it. My suggestion is to be okay with modding (adding foam/filters), and enjoy the rest. However, the price is a bit too steep for someone to buy an IEM just to mod it in order to enjoy it. Judging from the overall market, if you are in a market for a single DD at $800 price mark, there are some more single DD iems that you can compare to, especially Dunu Zen and Oriolus Isabellae, which I haven’t had an opportunity to listen to yet. In conclusion, did I enjoy Fantasy? Hmm.. probably for its sheer technicalities but not solely on its tonality.






Great review bro. Thank you for sharing!


Headphoneus Supremus
Cayin Fantasy: Silver is the color of this fantasy
Pros: Gorgeous looks
Superb detail
Superb clarity and air between notes
Not antiseptic
Fantastic packaging
Very good fit
Cons: Upper mids a bit bright
Sometimes too hot treble for me
Not enough bass for me
Not mine
Cayin Fantasy ($799): Silver is the color of this fantasy



I rated the unit at 4.5/5 stars even though the sound signature does not match my tastes and even with a treble, which is a bit too bright. The goods far outweigh the bads, and as an affordable flagship, should be judged on the goods/bads; not my tastes.


Cayin has been on a roll of late regarding their developments. I have always appreciated their products and consider the N6ii to be the benchmark at that price to me. So much so, that when I purchased the excellent E01 motherboard I did and do not miss the balanced option. Would I love the E02? You bet. But I have other DAP’s for that. When Andy contacted some of us for the tour, I graciously accepted and waited my time. Some early reviews espoused the vibrant clarity-driven sound, but with a bit of lacking down low. Well, I would agree but to be honest when hooked with the included (for the tour, purchase is separate) 4.4bal cable of copper and silver I do not miss what may be lacking. Designed around an ergonomic futuristic shape, the Fantasy rides along easily. I did most of my testing with foam Comply’s for the fit, isolation and to see if I could get out every last microgram of bass the Fantasy could provide.

It is good, and I hope you enjoy the read. I thank Andy and Cayin for the continued faith in sending tour products this way to the heart of America. I truly appreciate it and have not been led astray. All that is asked is an honest review, with critique sending to Cayin through a channel and to go from there. My time draws close to ending but I have had the pleasure of about 75hrs listening.

As per manufacturers request, the unit was burned in for the recommended minimum of 75hrs. I went for 100hrs as I had others in the queue.


  • 0.3mm dual cavity with two-way magnetic driver structure with 9.5mm beryllium-plated diaphragm
  • Elegant design inspired by stringed musical instruments
  • Grade 316 stainless steel enclosure
  • Maximum compatibility 0.78mm 2-pin connectors
  • 4 conductors, each composed of 8x0.08mm 6N OCC and 30x0.05 silver-plated core, 200D break-proof wire
  • Gold-plated 3.5mm TRS Male Audio Connector

In The Box:

Fantasy earphone
12 sets of tips including two Comply’s of medium (as per Cayin, this is the most used hence they offered two sets. A nice justification)
1.3m OFC copper/silver core cable in 3.5se
User manual
Cable clip
Cleaning brush
Tweezers (for removing tips, a nice thought)
Earphone pouch, with internal separators for each IEM
Cleaning cloth (it’s a stainless-steel IEM and fingerprint prone)


Gear Used/Compared:

Dunu SA6 ($549)
Moondrop S8 ($699)
UM 3DT ($399)
EE Hero ($1349)

Cayin N6ii mk2 E01
Shanling M6 Pro
XDuoo XA-10



Alex Fox
Pink Floyd
Buena Vista Social Club
Elton John
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Shane Hennessy
Jeff Beck
Dave Matthews


My immediate reaction, even after seeing a review, which outlined the unboxing was all ooohs and aaahs, much like the Empire Ears experience. Both mimic a jewelry box type of opening, complete with drawers. The box is large, but for good reason. There is a lot of kit included, and one protects their flagship as one see fit, which is very well. Sliding the sleeve off, which even has an opening for the user to hold onto, you are presented with the main box, which has two unevenly spaced clamshell type openings. The sleeve itself is coated for longevity and ease of grip. This is a premium experience. The specs on the back are in easily readable raised gold and even includes a list of the accessories inside.

The slate gray box is thick and with an excellent tactile feel. Often times the unboxing, even with flagships is an afterthought and that is all right; but one should expect a decent presentation if one spends the Ben’s. I have another flagship, in which I did not care about the unboxing experience. It did not matter to me. This would be different and that TOTL feel exudes from each side of the box.

Sliding open the larger clamshell flap exposes the IEM’s dead center like a diamond on display at a museum. A plastic flap allows you to remove the foam insert once you have opened the lower flap. Festooned to the opening between the clamshells is an attached “Fantasy” plate, so when opened you get the IEM’s and the plate. Simple elegance. But wait...this is where it gets good.

Opening (and lowering) the smaller shell you are privy to the two drawers, which hold the cable, storage box and accessories. I know this for it says so on each box. There is also a holder for the 12 sets of tips, which include two sets of medium Comply’s (the most common size). Included in the accessories is a plastic set of tweezers, which is used to carefully remove the tips from their respective holder. A nice touch.

I will openly admit that this is among the best unboxing experiences this side of the MMR Thummim and EE Legend X or Hero. Cayin has ramped up their attempt to capture the ears and eyes of those looking for a flagship. But as we know looks are one thing, you gotta have the goods to back it up.



This Cayin Fantasy uses a Beryllium plated diaphragm with a 10.3mm dynamic driver, which has two-way magnets. Due to this lightweight material, and its rigidity, the speed of sound response is enhanced with excellent fast decay characteristics. The result of using this material lends itself to not only quick response, but with the fast decay there is no “leftover” sound once each note has been played. This gives the sound a quick response, without sounding “drippy” as something with slower decay might.

Milled out of solid stainless steel, the Fantasy’s build quality is as good as you would expect, following Cayin’s high standards. The solid steel exterior feels dense and with a bit of heft, but with a premium feel about it. Dense and with good heft, but in-ear the feeling is not noticed. So, it is not too heavy like some such as the MMR flagships. The 2-pin ports fit snuggly and easier than some of late.



Often times when a manufacturer makes an IEM that is shiny, it turns into a bling-thing. And while the Fantasy is indeed shiny, the sculptured shape of the shell helps hide or rather make mysterious the color scheme. Mixing that triangular shape in the outer shell with curves gives a futuristic sensuous shape leading to the curvaceous shape of the inner shell. With a vent hole on top, next to the 2-pin insertion point, the unit fits the two shells and inserted (and perfectly formed) nozzle without fuss. The feel in hand is enhanced with dips and “hollows” around the edges giving a good tactile feel, without being slippery. The screen actually unscrews for cleaning and it would be an easy leap to include interchangeable filters in an updated model. The overall appeal and look as well as build are top notch and to be expected at this price.

The included 3.5se cable is of 4-wire, 38 strands each with a mix of OCC copper in the core wrapped by silver-plated copper on the outside; so, the look is one of purse silver on the outside. Sound as you would expect is on the slightly warmer side and mixes well with the cleanliness of sound emanating from the Fantasy. Microphonics are non-existent and I appreciate that. With quite long flexible plastic sleeves as ear guides, fit is excellent as well. The longish jack attaching the 2-pin gives a good sturdiness to the cable as well as strain relief. Each of the Y-splitter and jack are hexagonal, which also gives a good feel. Adding in the 4.4bal cable and the cable is a mix of silver and copper strands. To me the sound as a result of the balanced option is more vibrant yet, and slightly warmer as well.

You get the whole package here, including fit. If you need a larger tip, like I did I would opt for a softer foam if that is your preference. The silicon tips were no problem, but as stated above I utilized foam tips to try and squeeze the last bit of bass out that I could. The Fantasy is hitting all of the right aspects of what a flagship should be: fit, feel, looks, and presentation. Top notch all so far.




The Fantasy come across as one of the cleanest sounds of late with enough air between notes to make Air Supply jealous. That distinctness of air lends itself to a clarity few have at this level. But often that clarity promotes an analytical sound, which can seem antiseptic; lacking a feel. That would not be the case. While it may be lacking enough bass for my tastes, amps such as the excellent iFi Zen DAC/CAN combo have the Bass Boost switch, which can properly add that low end, which is missing. Notes from guitar work or jazz are sublime in presentation, and female vocals sing with a distinct flavor. While the treble may be a bit hot for my tastes, that does not dissuade from a perfectly formed signature, which should appeal to those wishing for a clarity-driven sound playing across many genres.



As mentioned, the bass is a bit lacking in weight, which may be due to speed at which it is delivered through the Beryllium coated driver. For a single DD this seems to be on the lighter side weight-wise for bass. Using the aforementioned iFi combo though brings out a good push, which does not intrude upon the overall signature like some can when boosted. I also find that the speed does not hinder the enjoyment nor make for a sterile low end, adding the right amounts when necessary. Mind you this would never be mistaken for the Hero’s low end, even if the signatures share a somewhat common amount of clarity (that’s about it). But enough to keep you involved, without overshadowing the other aspects is all one could ask for. Consider this playing nicely, but not in a boring manner. The bass is good and proportional to the sound signature, but just not enough for my tastes.

The mids to me are the star though, as is often the case in my experience with flagships (save the EE LX of course). Forward and up a bit this is an engaging mid-section. Do not think of an intimate experience but think of an experiential experience. Female vocals and that jazz sound of which I speak is superb in presentation, even with a bit too much bite for me in the upper mids. That said, those upper mids present what is to me (and a couple others) the best aspect of the Fantasy: the vibrancy defining part of the signature. That vibrancy adds to the fun nature of the signature, but I would not call it an immature nature. This is well defined and knows where it stands with regard to presenting cymbal clashes, jazz instruments, guitar work and female vocals. Male vocals while good fall a bit behind. And by bit, I mean not quite as vibrant. To me this could be the combination of the upper mid push and lack of deep end grunt. Dave Matthews voice typically sounds sublime and rich in tonality. But here that is second to the vibrant presentation, which provides the fun factor. That fun factor is vibrant and rich, though. Just don’t expect it to be on the warmer side.

I like well-presented treble notes, and by that, I mean notes, which provide good clarity and air without being harsh, biting or sibilant. The Fantasy provides all of the above but can come across a bit sibilant. I would not really call it sibilant, but rather that vibrant touch to the upper end. The treble notes are so good that they can convey a sense of sibilance but instead it should be thought of as thoroughly representing the sound at that end. That said, when playing jazz such as Winton Marsalis, the presentation is of a smooth character, which is what his melodic trumpet needs. This could have easily gone off the deep end with brightness, but there is just enough to convey a full signature, but still have that smooth character to it. Call it sparkly-smooth and that would be apt.



Combining that smooth nature and slightly rich tonality with the vibrancy mentioned above coalesces into a soundstage, which is deeper than tall and wide. That depth is very, very good and conveys the sound in a somewhat elongated fashion, but without distorting the field. Think of looking across a valley to the next mountain with the ability to see right in front of you all the way across with excellent detail, but a bit lacking in width. Still an excellent view, but a bit average in width and height. That is not a bad thing though as not everything needs a soundstage like the Grand Canyon.

As a result of that depth, instruments are clearly laid out in front of you, and this enhances the airiness and clarity from those sounds. Placement is accurate and adds to the overall tonality presented. As a result, separation is good as well. That airiness plays into the separation and jazz of the instrument variety plays ever so sweetly here. EDM does as well. This is a signature that when taken as a whole plays smoothly but with enough vibrancy to keep you engaged and busy. With the excellent isolation, one can easily lose yourself in louder circumstances without a care in the world.



Cayin Fantasy ($799) v Dunu SA6 ($549):

When the Dunu arrived, it immediately became one of my favorites at this price. With the changeable switch and gorgeous looks, the SA6 presented a new look and sound for Dunu. One, which has been followed successfully followed by the Luna, Zen and others. Presenting another mid-forward sound, but with better bass reach the SA6 can hold its own here. Plus, it comes automatically with three interconnects for 2.5bal, 3.5se & 4.4bal connections. I would say that the Dunu presents a bit MORE forward sound than the Fantasy, and with a bit more vibrancy. The Fantasy is smoother in response, with better clarity between notes, and this could be that coated driver again. It really is amazing how close some can be when looked at superficially. These are quite similar to me (bad ears and all), but the Fantasy comes out with a more open and airier note, which is magnificent. The SA6 still drives me wild with its signature, though. In a good way. We are indeed lucky to have both options at hand. I think if you want a more engaging vibrant sound, then the Dunu wins. Smoothness and vibrancy your character? The Fantasy.

Cayin Fantasy ($799) v Moondrop S8 ($699):

From memory, I really liked the S8 and this could be the closest competitor to the Fantasy. With a better reach down low as well you get an involvement, which is hard to pass up. I do find the Fantasy a bit more immersive in its signature. Your involvement is needed a bit more with the Fantasy, even with that smooth signature. I like the Blessing2, but the S8 is deserving of its place at the top, and along with the Fantasy could help consumers (yay, us!!!) to help determine at what level that satiated feeling occurs. We can all admit that prices for true flagships are approaching hyper-TOTL levels. And I for one find it quite refreshing to have the two options available as their keynote presentations.

The S8 comes across as a bit less mid-forward than the Fantasy, but this certainly does not mean it is lacking, for it isn’t. Think of the kid who knows a lot, but hangs to the back of the room, not wanting to flaunt his or her knowledge. This would be the S8. Mind you the Fantasy isn’t the boisterous one either, just not as subdued as the S8. Both are technically very good. This may come down to fit (S8), a smooth character (both, but Fantasy) or a bit more bass (S8). I did not find anything lacking on either and the tribute version of Wish You Were Here, with Joe Satriani’s transcendent guitar work is awesome through both.

Cayin Fantasy ($799) v UM 3DT ($399):

As a longtime fan of UM, once I saw the 3DT, I bit and bit hard. Finding the signature to follow UM’s trait of an engaging, rich and vibrant texture of a signature with enough bass to keep you involved, I found the 3DT to be true to that UM character. Mids are withdrawn compared to the Fantasy, and hence male vocals come across a bit behind the song, almost not wanting to impose themselves too much. Bass is more prominent and reaches deeper as well. Harder to drive as well, the 3DT is not for everyone, but neither is the Fantasy. Driven to provide a gorgeous look with a signature to match, the UM succeeds at a price point that has been lacking since the Maverick (look it up, it was good). UM to me has been one of the forefront runners when it comes to innovation and flagships. Thankfully this has not come at the expense of their “lesser models.” The 3DT is out of its element here and should be considered singularly to the Fantasy. If one could afford one at each price point though, they would be an excellent complement as the UM sound has a smoothness, which draws me in and has from my first listen so many years ago. The Fantasy does as well, but with that mid-forward push to let you know that vibrancy counts as well.

Cayin Fantasy ($799) v EE Hero ($1349):

If I could boil the Hero down to one word it would be ROCK. This thing just rocks. Period. With the legendary bass of the LX, but updated, I am lost for words in describing the Hero (except for the review). Some (including me) do find the treble to be too forward and a bit bity, hence the classic V-shaped signature. But between that there is an airiness of note, which rivals the Fantasy (it should for 2x the price...). Smooth would not be a way to describe it. Think of the Mythbusters episode where they blew up the cement truck. It scared the heck out of Jamie and literally blew the truck to tiny bits. That would be the way the Hero hits. It is not for the faint of heart. I find it the perfect complement to the LX. If I need a smooth listening experience with massive bass, the LX hits. If I need that explosive vibrant richness wrought with a bass like very few around, then the Hero is the choice.

The Fantasy takes a more scalpel-like approach, and is precise in its presentation, where the Hero is the sledgehammer. If you want precision, then the Fantasy winds hands down. If you want that aggressive sound like Emilio Estevez’s rant in The Breakfast Club, then the Hero is it. Window shattering would not be far from the truth. Different approaches, but the end result is the same; one in which you very much like what is coming to your ears.



After all this verbosity what hath thee? As written above, many manufacturers take their flagships seriously in sound and price. Many bite for that product and I have been lucky to hear most of them. I do not fault any for that approach. Without that approach we would not have the Thummim or Aventador or any of the excellent Koenigsegg models. But to me this is pointless if it does not trickle down to their “lesser” more affordable models. And here is where Cayin is banking that you take note and take notice. For if the flagship of a company compares well to the higher priced flagships of others, then you should take note. And the Fantasy can hold its place with many that cost much more.

Think of the Fantasy as the coming out of that kid in the back. They have been quiet for so long you almost forgot they were there. Now that they have spoken, you can do nothing but pay attention; for if they speak it is a worthwhile endeavor to listen. And listen closely. The Fantasy is a wonderful addition to the flagship land of which we venture to peruse. And I for one applaud that it is an affordable one to boot.

I thank @Cayin and @Andykong for the loan through the tour. I wish I had more time, but that is the selfish part of me. Someone else now gets to give their views on the flagship from Cayin.



1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Excellent build and construction. Feels durable in the hand.
Vivid dynamic driver, fast paced with good detail and clarity for a DD.
Cons: Somewhat bright treble presentation ; (too) prominent forward mids
Bass not a strong point.
Should come with a balanced cable/termination option as standard at this price point.
Cayin Fantasy Review

Cayin Fantasy Tour

I thank Cayin for including me on the Asia-Pacific Tour as advertised for head-fi. This is my first headphone tour. I generally post impressions rather than a full review.

The only mandate was to write a review and participate in the Cayin impression thread. I have no other conflict of interest and the Fantasy will be posted to the next tour member this week.


Specifications (from Cayin)

Cayin Fantasy Single Dynamic Drive IEM
  • Driver: 10.3mm dual cavity with two-way magnetic structure
  • Diaphragm: beryllium-plated bio-cellulose diaphragm to deliver fast, accurate and low distortion sound.
  • Design: elegant design inspired by stringed musical instruments with dual venting tubes.
  • Shell: CNC Machined 316 surgical grade Stainless Steel
  • Sensitivity: 108 dB at 1kHz
  • Impedance: 37 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 40kHz
  • Connector: 0.78mm 2 pin
  • Isolation: 26 dB
Stock Headphone Cable for Cayin Fantasy
  • Cable Type: 4x 38 strand conductors, composed of 0.08mm 6N OCC and 0.05 silver-plated core
  • Termination: Gold plated 3.5mm TRS Male
  • Cable length: 130cm
Cayin also provided a 4.4mm headphone cable for the purpose of the tour which was the cable I mostly listened to. I did not perform a detailed cable comparison although I recall the brief time I had with the stock cable was that the sound quality was not worse. If anything, I thought the clarity and detail were better with the stock cable and it was slightly less dark.


I listened to a variety of my other headphones during my time with the Fantasy. However, subjectively I did note that the treble peak and harshness softened ; as did the forwardness of the mid(s) over the time I had the Fantasy. Burn-in occurred mostly by listening.

Other notable Reviews

Packaging and accessories

Others above have described a well packaged, compartmentalised cardboard experience. Please see Cayin’s link for included accessories.

Cayin supply 12 pair of eartips (S,M,L). There are balanced, vocal, bass and foam. I am not one to tip-roll once I settle on the best fit.

I much preferred the balanced ear tips (large) which were a comfortable fit with no seal issues. I have the fortune of having little difficulty with stock tips usually ML or L depending on brand.

Construction quality and build

This cannot be faulted. Made in China is no longer a moniker for anything other than TOTL Chi-Fi build at this level. Build quality and feel are top end. I love the heft of the Stainless steel although as the housing is smaller than my Andromeda, they fit well without being weighty. Appears well made and the 2 pin cable junction sturdy. The cable is well made as are the protruding connectors which friction fit without issue. There was no issue with microphonics.

In the ear, they are relatively comfortable. The low-profile sits well within the ear and I was able to side-sleep on my Tempur pillow with these on.

Source Pairings:

Fiio m11 Pro with 4.4mm balanced cable

Astell and Kern SP2000 with 4.4mm balanced cable and effect audio adapter

2Go / Hugo2 with PWA RCA to 4.4mm adapter and 4.4mm balanced cable +/- C9

Chord Hugo TT2 with stock 3.5mm TRS cable

Sound Impressions:

Initial impressions are mostly positive (from a m11 pro followed by the Hugo2/2go to bring out some warmth and apply the HF roll off filter). The Fantasy paired well with the m11 Pro which I did the most listening with and from which the below impressions are based upon.

Lovely air between notes. Does Piano reasonably well. I question whether silver is really necessary though as the IEM approaches bright. There is sibilance with “s” and lisps, snares, cymbals. This did improve over 20+ hours. But did not go away. However, I suspect the sound may approach fatiguing for some. Even after burn-in, the prominent forward mids and bright presentation were notable as the Fantasy sound.

Timbre is “fun”. Forward, dynamic mids in keeping with beryllium and a dynamic driver. Not muddy at all. There’s a subtle harsh highlight to mids and vocals that improved over time. I found myself often reaching for the Trialii. Which isn’t fair. However, the bird is the reference many of us are now comparing to as the pinnacle of IEM’s. The lush, organic rich fullness to the sound of the bird was noticeably missing in the Fantasy, especially when paired with the Cayin C9.

Bass, whilst present in dynamics are controlled but felt somewhat rolled back compared to the mid and low-treble emphasis.

Soundstage not particularly wide as Andromeda or Trailii which are my other two IEM'S that I own. More of a semi-circle than holographic.

Addition of the Cayin C9


The advantage of having a Hugo2 and Cayin C9 allows me to tune the sound signature depending on preference and the IEM presentation. I’m not a fan of EQ via DSP so adjust my sound based on equipment sources.

I’ve postulated the Fantasy was tuned with the C9 or the Cayin DAP with the Korg NuTubes in mind. Whilst the HF roll off filter on the Hugo2 didn’t quite modulate the bright presentation enough, switching back to incisive neutral and plugging in the C9 did.

Class A/Tube on the C9 synergises beautifully. Perhaps one of the best matches to the C9 I’ve heard. It brings out a more organic sound, warmth and tames treble. The C9 also opens up the soundstage which becomes more holographic as it generally does. Here, the Fantasy and C9 pairing really does shine and would take the rating up at least another half star.

Treble Extension isn’t Trailii Electrostatic level but that’s not fair for a single DD. I’d be interested in the graph, I suspect had they tuned the IEM with the Trailii treble scoop we may not be having this discussion.

Not many Fantasy owners will have a 2Go/Hugo2 plugged into a C9.

However, if you own the Cayin C9, it does and can transform the sound from your headphones/IEM. The C9 works very well with IEM’s with no perceptible hiss (except CFA) and the different modes allow you to modulate the sound signature to your liking.

I’ll agree with Twister that SP2K alone wasn’t the greatest pairing. I found it rather too cold and having come straight from the H2/C9, the SP2K pairing wasn’t really my thing. This audition did not really last long at all as I preferred the Fantasy out of the Fiio m11 Pro.


Chord TT2 with Fantasy

Roon (Tidal) -> SP2000 -> optical out into Chord TT2. Balanced tips on the Fantasy

No audible hiss with music playing. Chord TT2 tends to show me what an IEM is really capable of from a soundstage and detail retrieval perspective. Filter 2 (HF roll off) to tame the bright treble sparkle, especially with piano.

My impressions stand. “Let it go” Frozen soundtrack. Vocals are forward, with a mid emphasis. Borderline harsh and a counterpoint when compared to the smooth, laid back vocals from the Trailii. Still mild sibilance with “s”. Perhaps not the best source pairing

Soundstage, placement technically correct and rather wide out of a TT2. Not quite the detail, separation or air on the Andromeda 2020 or the Trailii.

Attack, dynamics are on par with a DD IEM at this price point, perhaps above average.

Bass doesn’t quite have the punch, slam of the best IEM's and is controlled but still dialled back. As if there’s the damper on the bass drum.

Still fun and enjoyable.

I prefer the Hugo2 -> C9 more though.


Overall conclusion

The Cayin Fantasy is fantastically fun. It's vivid, vibrant with a prominent presentation. Whether this is your thing however is up to subjective interpretation. It paired very well with a more affordable DAP (Fiio m11 Pro) and those with a warmer DAP or a Cayin C9 could very much enjoy the technical ability of the Fantasy. I preferred simple acoustic pieces (e.g. Caleb + Kelsey) with it.

Is it for me? Well ... I have a Trailii ...

However if it's a single DD IEM you're after, this should be on a shortlist to at least audition. I almost PM'ed AndyKong about buying the tour sample as it very much did grow on me during my tour audition.


  • IMG_3735.jpeg
    264.3 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:
Not a contest. Just a comparison with a reference. I don't have many IEM's so had to compare it to what I do have.
Any improvements in bass quantity after burn-in?
Sorry - I missed replying. I postulate burn-in may be mostly my own psychological and brain adjustment to the sound signature over time which may modulate how I perceive it. But to my recollection, No improvement to the bass quantity.