New Head-Fier
Is Cayin's 1-bit experiments magic or a gimmick?
Pros: ∘ Significantly better sound quality than offered by dongles
∘ Myriad of inputs and outputs
∘ Discrete 1-bit DAC design
∘ Powerful & clean amplifier to drive most headphones
∘ Included leather case
Cons: ∘ Expensive
∘ Large size & heavy weight
∘ Knob could be a bit nicer
∘ Gets quite hot
∘ USB DAC mode has high latency
Cayin N7 Digital Audio Player Review


Cayin is back with their unique take on the DAP world with the N7! Previous iterations of Cayin DAPs have been equipped with uncommon hardware implementations such as R2R DACs and tube amps. This time around, the N7 features a fully balanced in-house discrete 1-bit digital-to-analog circuit, it’s the start of the 1-bit line-up, followed by the RU7 dongle (for which I first heard the technology). But at just under $2000, is the digital audio player really worth your money, or just a gimmick?

Link to buy Cayin N7

Disclaimer: This unit was purchased from MusicTeck at a discount in exchange for my honest review.



OS: Android 12
CPU: Snapdragon 665
Storage: 64GB internal + MicroSD slot
DAC: 1-bit Resistor DSD DAC
Power Output: 250mW/500mW @ 32 Ω
DSD Upsampling Modes: 64/128/256/512
THD+N: 0.004%
DNR: 110dB/112dB
SNR: 115dB/116dB
Channel Separation: 78dB/110dB
Battery: 3.8V 9000mAh
Display: 5” 1080p TFT touch screen
Headphone Outputs: 3.5mm/4.4mm
Line Out: 3.5mm/4.4mm
Digital Inputs/Outputs: USB, I²S
Weight: 385g/432g with case


  • USB-C charging cable
  • 2.5mm adapters
  • Pale-yellow Leather case
  • Screen protectors
  • Manual

Build Quality & Design:

The build quality of the Cayin N7 is overall quite good. The main construction is a one solid piece aluminum chassis. Media buttons feel sturdy and don’t wobble. The N7 is a very large device, don’t expect to fit this into any jeans pockets comfortably. The included pale-yellow leather case is nicely made with a gold heatsink design on the back. A royal blue color option can be purchased separately. Buttons become hard to feel in the thick case and due to the weight, I find myself pressing the buttons unintentionally just by picking up the device. My nitpicks with the N7’s build come down to the knob. The knob has very little resistance and soft segmented clicks that don’t have a premium feel at this price point.

User Experience:

The Cayin N7 is a pretty standard Android 12 experience. Upon powering on, you’re greeted with Cayin’s signature “Never Be The Same Again” (yes, in Comic Sans) and a nice wallpaper of the Cayin A-805. The Google Play Store is preinstalled, along with Cayin Music and Hiby Music. The UI is very smooth by DAP standards (no 120Hz phone screens we’ve gotten used to) and scanning music from the MicroSD or internal storage is quick. 17.6GB of music took 33 seconds to scan when I tested its speed. The dropdown menu has been customized to add some audio related device control such as gain settings, amplifier type, output switch, digital outputs, and quick access to the other audio settings (such as DSD modes and channel balance). After some use the DAP does get quite warm, especially while using it in Class A mode. When using the DAP as a DAC/Amp for a Windows PC, there’s quite a noticeable latency, making it unsuitable for gaming.


Sound Quality:

Now for the main reason we all buy expensive audio products: The Sound. Cayin’s 1-bit products seem to excel in a few areas; mainly in creating a wide soundstage and a natural tonality. I bought the N7 after really enjoying the RU7 dongle, however the two are a bit different in some areas. The N7 is a noticeably more technical sounding device and overall cleaner in its soundstage and separation. N7 steps it up a notch in terms of a realistic and immersive sounding playback. Vocals are sweeter on the N7, where they come off a bit flat on the RU7.

Another feature that the N7 shares with the RU7 is the ability to change which DSD mode your music is upsampled to. But unlike RU7’s quite noticeable sonic differences between DSD64 & DSD256, DSD modes on the N7 are significantly closer to each other in overall performance.

The overall tonality in my experience is mostly neutral. Not super bright like you’d hear from something like a FiiO BTR5 or super thick and lush like you’d hear from Cayin’s own RU6. I typically prefer to listen in Class A mode, which gives the sound a hint of more richness in the lower end frequencies and overall slightly thicker sound (at the cost of battery life). The N7 is just natural & laid back sounding with the exceptional technical ability you’d expect from such a high end mobile device.

Comparing the 3.5mm line-out to other DACs I had on hand, the N7 falls in between the RU7/other high end dongles and a medium-high end desktop DAC like Toppings D70 Pro Saber in terms of stage width and separation.

Power wise, N7’s 500mW balanced output is enough for nearly every headphone you throw at it. I’ve tested it with the 600Ω TGXEar Alpha and the rather insensitive Heddphone 2. While some benefits can be heard going to a full sized desktop setup, it’s hard to complain.

Battery Life:

Battery Life on the N7 can vary quite a bit. Expect an average of 7 to 10 hours depending on which modes you use. Class A mode uses much more power than Class AB. I’ve found Class AB to last around 25% longer. DSD512 mode doesn’t seem to drain any more battery than DSD64 mode. Charging the 9000mAh battery takes about 5 hours from 0 to 100%.

Who is this for?

There’s no denying DAPs are a niche within a niche, and an expensive one at that. Maybe you want to keep your music listening separate from your phone, without the distractions of social media. Perhaps you want to start a high quality local music collection. It’s possible you do most of your listening away from a desktop setup, but want as close of an audio experience as that on the go. Although you do pay a premium, if these conditions sound like they relate to you, a DAP may be a good option for you to consider. Cayin’s N7 strikes a fair balance of audio performance, features, build, and discrete hardware for the price and should 100% be considered if you find yourself in the market for such a device!

This was my first DAP review, any comments or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for reading! :o2smile:


100+ Head-Fier
A DAP for All Seasons
Pros: Sound presentation, uniquely Cayin
Dedicated line-out/pre-out (shared) and headphones out
The latest and greatest hardware and software
Cons: Weak amp section at 500mW@32ohm, enough for IEMs but not full-size headphones
Short battery life, especially in Class A/High Gain/DSD512
Heat dissipation
Lack of accessories: 3.5mm-to-3.5mm, 4.4mm-to-4.4mm, 3.5mm-to-RCA, 4.4mm-to-XLR interconnects, instead of 2.5mm-to-3.5mm and 2.5mm-to-4.4mm adapters
Limited internal storage at 64GB
Disclaimer: I am not a professional reviewer, but rather an audio enthusiast sharing his passion with the world through sound put to words. I have a keen affinity for an organic, full-bodied sound with a hint of warmth. At times, I am equally longing for a clean, neutral, and somewhat analytical sound with bass boost and extended treble. I enjoy listening to Halie Loren and Fausto Mesolella out of the xDuoo TA26 x Sennheiser HD800S as much as Alan Walker and Tae Yeon on the Burson Audio Conductor 3x GT x Hifiman Susvara. My music genres span between Country and Trance; everything but the kitchen sink (Metal and Classical).

Special thank you and shout out to Andrew and Leo from Musicteck for recommending the Cayin N7 Digital Audio Player (DAP). One month in, I could not be much happier with this unit, and I am now looking to add the Cayin C9 into the mix for a complete setup. The whole process was a breeze right down to less than a week delivery to Auckland, New Zealand. In purchasing this unit, I have received a fractional discount in exchange for an honest review; all thoughts and opinions are of my own. Your mileage may vary.

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Hardware Specifications:
  • 1-bit Resistor Network DSD Decoding
  • Snapdragon 665 with 4GB RAM
  • 64 GB Internal Memory (expandable up to 1TB)
  • Android 12.0 with Google Play and Direct Transport Audio (DTA)
  • 2.4GHz/5GHz Dual Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 (LDAC, UAT, AAC, SBC)
  • Analog: 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL (Line Out / Pre-Out), 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL (Phone Out)
  • Digital: USB-C (Audio In & Out, S/PDIF Output) and I2S (Mini-HDMI, Output)
  • 250mW@32ohm for 3.5mm SE and 500mW@32ohm for 4.4mm BAL
  • 3.8V, 9000 mAH Lithium battery for continuous playback of up to 10 hours (3.5mm SE) and 8.5 hours (4.4mm Balanced); using Class A and DSD512 will shorten these hours; fast charging from 20% to 80% in 2 hours.
  • Screen Resolution: 5” FHD (1080 x 1920) TFT
Audio Settings:
  • Amplifier Operation: Class A / AB
  • Output Specifications: DSD64/128/256/512
  • Gain Settings: Low, Medium, and High
What is in the Box:
  • Cayin N7 Digital Audio Player (DAP)
  • Cayin N7 Leather Case (Genuine and handmade with faux painted stitching)
  • 2.5mm (F)-to-3.5mm (M) adapter
  • 2.5mm (F)-to-4.4mm (M) adapter
  • USB C-to-USB C cable
  • Tempered Glass Screen Protector (Front and back)
  • User Manual
  • Hi-Res stickers
Photo 30-09-23, 15 27 56.jpg


Cayin N7 is a pure 1-bit Android-based Digital Audio Player (DAP), fully discrete and fully balanced design, which converts digital signal into analog signal by means of a resistor ladder network: 128 pieces of high precision, thin film resistors. Cayin N7 converts PCM files to DSD files (DSD64/128/256/512) in real time using a resistor ladder network instead of a chip-based topology for a smooth, natural sound presentation. Higher sampling rate, which extracts more audio information for a truer sound reproduction, requires increased storage usage and power consumption. Cayin N7 supports PCM (up to 32Bit/768kHz), DSD64/128/256/512, 16x MQA decoding, and Bluetooth 5.0 audio codec, including LDAC (up to 96kHz), UAT (up to 192kHz), AAC (up to 48kHz), and SBC (up to 48kHz). Cayin N7 offers Class A and Class AB amplification modes, as well as Low, Medium, and High Gain mode.

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Audio Setup: Cayin N7 streaming Apple Music Hi-Res Lossless to Sennheiser IE900 via Marco Custom Cables Pink (copper and silver alloy).


At the mid-Fi level, the Cayin N7 presents the quintessence of the Cayin sound signature, striking a fine balance between detailed and organic sounding with a hint of warmth; natural and musical in its presentation while retaining excellent instrument separation, dynamic and engaging, airy and spacious. The cleanliness in the sound presentation is further accentuated by the Vantablack background, devoid of hissing and interference noises even with the most sensitive in-ear monitors (IEMs) in my collection, the Fiio FD7.

In theory, Class A amplification mode presents a smooth, full-bodied, and organic sound whereas Class AB presents a clean, neutral, and more detailed sound presentation. Scaling up to DSD512 further improves the sound quality by bringing a truer sound reproduction with the trade-off of increased storage usage and processing power (read: higher power consumption).

In reality, I have yet to realize any significant difference between Class A/AB and DSD64/128/256/512. The difference is so subtle, at least in my setup, that only keener ears than mine would have noticed. One month into its ownership, my unit is now configured to run Class A/High Gain/DSD512 on a short listening session, which quickly turns the unit into a handheld heater, and Class AB/High Gain/DSD64 on a longer listening session (i.e., a full day at the office).

In terms of technicalities, the Cayin N7 is able to effortlessly dissect a highly complex track and introduce its own flavour, not found on any other DAPs, for a more musical yet engaging sound presentation. Listening to complex K-Pop track, INVU by Tae Yeon, on the Cayin N7 is just as satisfying as a more laidback, all-time classic, Hotel California by The Eagles. It is truly a DAP for all genres at the mid-Fi level.

Photo 3-10-23, 00 12 35.jpg

A versatile DAP, the Cayin N7 offers incredible synergy when paired with neutral, clean sounding IEMs: Sennheiser IE900 and 64 Audio Tia Fourte. My unit, which consistently stays in High Gain, hovers between 25dB and 35dB to drive the Sennheiser IE900 and 64 Audio Tia Fourte, and up to 50dB on the Fatfreq Maestro Mini. Cayin N7 is also able to drive full-size headphones, such as the Focal Clear MG and Hifiman Arya SE, to listening volume, although at 500mW@32ohm, it does not sound as dynamic.

The following listening impressions are based on Hotel California by The Eagles, Sonatina improvvisata d’inizio estate by Fausto Mesolella feat. Ferdinando Ghidelli, and Main Titles (You’ve Been Called Back, Top Gun OST) by Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer.

Photo 3-10-23, 00 13 20.jpg

Cayin N7 x Sennheiser IE900

At the mid-Fi level, this pairing is a match made in heaven. I would not have it any other way. Paired with copper-silver alloy cables, Cayin N7 further amplifies the Sennheiser IE900’s sound signature: Bass impact and treble become more prominent and take the centre stage whereas the midrange and vocals take a step back, soundstage remains airy and spacious, details retrievals are retained.

This is my ideal combination for all music genres, including Trance, K-Pop, and Oldies, or when I simply want to have a quick listen without spending half an hour selecting my source and gears. In a Mad Max x Zombie Apocalypse situation, the Cayin N7 x Sennheiser IE900 would definitely be in my survival kit, along with a solar charging power bank and a hatchet.

Cayin N7 x 64 Audio Tia Fourte

Paired with 8-core, 5N OCC copper cables, Cayin N7 accentuates the 64 Audio Tia Fourte’s sound signature: Bass impact supersedes Sennheiser IE900 (as far as I can tell at the same listening volume), midrange, and vocals sound fuller and organic, treble remains sharp as ever devoid of any sibilance, soundstage is more spacious and the overall sound presentation is more detailed, revealing as compared to the Sennheiser IE900.

Cayin N7 x Fatfreq Maestro Mini

Fatfreq Maestro Mini is a coloured, midbass-oriented IEMs and possibly the second hard hitting bass cannon on the planet after the newer Scarlet Mini. Paired with copper-silver alloy cables, the Cayin N7 accentuates the bass impact while everything else, the midrange, vocals, treble are present but slightly recessed. The soundstage is narrow and intimate, and the details retrievals are not as top notch as the previous IEMs.

In comparison to the other DAP and DAC/AMP, the Cayin N7 does not sound as cold and analytical as the Fiio Q5s Tc and Fiio M11 Plus ESS, as smooth as the Astell&Kern SP2000T, and as warm and full-bodied as the iFi xDSD Gryphon.


Cayin N7 is standing at the crossroad of all the good things that I would like to hear in a DAP, striking a fine balance through its natural and musical sound presentation, uniquely Cayin. One year into my audiophile journey, I have come to place higher emphasis on synergies above all else, from the source to the cable and the gears, right down to the song genres. A DAP for all seasons. Cayin N7’s versatility makes for a good pairing with any IEMs playing any music genres, perfect for a quick and easy listening session. Personally, I am keeping the Cayin N7 at least for another year and am currently looking into possibly adding the Cayin C9 into the equation to obtain the most value-for-performance in this setup.


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Last edited:
Hi guys, this is my first-ever review here on Head-Fi. A novice audiophile, I am learning the sound terminology as I go along and have tried to describe my impression as accurately as possible. Please read it with a grain of salt. Thank you.
I'm stuck in between the Cayin N7 and the Kann Ultra. Which one do you think is the superior player in terms of sound. They are around the same price right now.


100+ Head-Fier
More than just a DAP
Pros: Build, performance, class A sound...
Cons: Size, weight, not exactly cheap...
The Cayin N7 has been sent to me on loan as part of a tour organized on Head-Fi. The only requests were that each participant ship on to the following participant after 14 days and that each participant posts their impressions on the device on Head-Fi no more than 14 days after shipping the device on to the next participant (or in my case, back to Cayin, as I am the last person on the EU tour).


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Cayin N7

The official page for the Cayin N7 can be found here:

The thread on the device can be found here:

As always, this is a non-affiliate link, meaning that I do not receive anything in exchange for clicks or purchases made.



I don’t think Cayin need any introduction if you are someone who is contemplating a DAP that costs over 2000€. Cayin have been around for a while and are known for making high end Digital Audio Players, along with some very interesting desktop tube amplifiers and many other products.

If you don’t know anything about them and you landed on this review because you are looking for a DAP, then you might be asking why a portable music player costs so much? I know I would be!

The N7 offers a lot of technology in the DAP format, with things like 1-Bit Resistor Network DSD Decoding, dual A and AB amplifier modes, I2S connectivity, separate line and preamp outputs (both balanced and unbalanced), along with a lot of other things. Rather than me just list off a list of specifications, if you want to see all of them, just visit the page I linked above.

Why is all of this special? Well, a lot of them are not things commonly found in desktop solutions, never mind in a portable solution, so it definitely puts them in a league above many of the other contenders in the DAP game.

Does this make it a great DAP and worth the price tag it comes with? That is what I am going to address in this review, at least in my own opinion.


Build and Aesthetics…

You may have noticed that I skipped the presentation completely. That is because this review unit was shipped in a simple box to save on shipping costs, so I cannot comment on the way it is packaged or what the unboxing experience is like.

As far as build, the first and most obvious is size and weight. This is a large device. By large I mean that is is around the same dimensions as my smartphone but 3 times as thick. It is also a very heavy device, coming in at around 380 grams. It is not the heaviest (or largest) of Cayin DAPs but it is not something that I find comfortable in my pocket (I hate things in my pocket anyway) and it appeals to me more as a transportable, all-in-one, music player, than an actual portable (as in, carry on my person) device.

As far as aesthetics go, the device arrived in a beautiful leather case, with a gold/brass coloured backplate in a grille style. The case closes magnetically and has a cut out for the dial at the top, along with a cutout for its (multiple) connectors at the bottom. The right side of the case has the buttons marked on the leather along with their logos, meaning you can clearly see what each button does.

I think the device looks great in the case, much nicer that it looks out of the case, although it is not a bad looking device without the protection. The front sports the 5” screen which takes up the majority of the real estate, with around 2cm at the bottom that has the multifunction touch screen button in the center. This touch button has a coloured ring that changes colours depending on the state of the device, which is a nice touch.

The sides are rounded black metal, making it comfortable to hold on to, even if it is a little slippy without the case. The left side has the micro SD card slot, while the right is home to the power, up, down and play buttons.

At the top of the N7 there is a nice gold coloured volume wheel that is well protected when wearing its leather jacket. Finally, the bottom is where we find the connection points. We get balanced pre/line out, unbalanced pre/line out, balanced headphone out, unbalanced headphone out, I2S, Coaxial and USB. This is quite a bit of connectivity as I said before.

While I am not really a fan of the size and weight of this device, holding it in your hand does portray the impression of having a quality device, with the leather case adding to that impression.



The N7 runs Android 12 on a Snapdragon 665 with 4GB of RAM. As this is an android device, coming with the Play Store installed, it will let you install most of the apps you could want/need. The 64GB internal space is not a huge amount but should be more than enough if you are wanting to use this for its intended purpose (as a music player) and are storing the local files on an external MicroSD card (accepts up to 1TB).

The system itself is pretty snappy (although I haven’t installed any apps other than those included and Tidal) and responds well to touches and navigation in general. Using the Cayin music app, it was also pretty quick to read my test SD card, reading almost 7.000 tracks in less than 5 minutes (which is better than on my phone for the same test).

I am not a huge fan of Android based DAPs as I prefer my music players to just be music players, but at least it responds well and is a rather recent version of Android (many players still use older versions), meaning it should be ok with app updates for quite some time.

As this is an Android based device, there isn’t much need to go into the details of how to use it. If you can use a modern Android phone, you can use the UI of the N7. Gesture navigation is activated by default but this can be turned to the classic three button set up if you prefer.

The included music playing apps are Hiby Music and Cayin’s own app, which is basically the Hiby app with their own skin on it. You can of course install any music player of your choice (and you can also download the Hiby app from the Play Store to your phone if you have never used it and want to try it out).

From the drop down menu at the top, you can quickly access the gain settings, the amplifier type, switch the output from line to pre, change the DSD output specification, choose the digital output and access the audio settings. You can edit what quick accesses you want in the drop down menu, as you would with any normal Android device.

The audio settings basically give you the same options as I just listed, along with the possibility of changing channel balance, setting a max volume, inverting the volume control direction and activating/deactivating MQA decoding.

A nice feature of the N7 is that Hiby Cast is also installed, meaning that you can use your phone to control the DAP remotely. This is something that comes in very handy when using the N7 connected to desk systems hooked up to speakers etc.

Volume is obviously controlled by the volume wheel but once you touch the wheel,the current level is displayed in numbers on the screen, with a + and - button to make single increments from the touch screen. While the numbers are displayed, you can also swipe the screen to increase or lower volume a lot quicker.

I could go on for a very long time about the functionality, after all, it is Android, but I think we should get on to the interesting part…



One of the things I like about reviewing sources is that I get to choose what IEMs and headphones I want to use, meaning that I get to spend more time than usual with my favourite sets instead of the IEMs or headphones I am reviewing.

Over the time I have had the N7 on my desk, I have mainly been using the Svanar, the IE600, the Quintet, the Talos, the Arya v2 & Stealth, the HE1000se (which I have been listening to a lot lately) and the HD6XX (as that is always a must for source reviews).

One of the things I have noticed with the N7 is that, while it is not the most powerful of devices (500mW @32 Ohms balanced), I didn’t find that it struggled with planars. With IEMs, I had absolutely no issues and a lot of the time found myself on low gain around the 50 mark or less (my listening levels are usually pretty low, so that is something to consider for context).

In general I found the sound to seem more spacious than on many other alternatives, making things have more openness to them and improving the presentation with IEMs, which I usually find quite lacking in the soundstage department.

My first hours with the N7 were using the Svanar in the AB amplifier mode. While they sounded good and had a nice presentation to them, I did not feel that they were anything amazing. Yes, better than many of the portable options I have tried but I didn’t find myself blown away by the result. I then switched to the class A mode and… wow! Things became much more alive and, well, just a lot better in general.

That additional space is present with the AB mode but when switched to A, that extra space seems to be fuller. Things have more life and I found myself thinking that this is probably one of the best pairing I have heard with the Svanar. Bass is nicely textured but in no way unnatural and the upper ranges just have that little bit of smoothness to them that reminds me of why I love these IEMs.

With the Quintet, I found that the difference between AB and A was not as apparent. Yes, there was a slight change but not to the point I experienced with the Svanar. In general I find the Quintet to sound good with the N7 but I don’t feel the experience changes much between some of my dongles and the DAP.

With the Hifiman planars, I again found that the pairing is very good, although I have to say that I personally preferred the HE1000se to the Arya for some reason. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like the Arya with the N7 but I just found the pairing with the HE1000se to be much more exciting, maybe due to them being easier to drive than the Arya. Again, that class A mode gave the HEKse something extra that makes them sound glorious to my ears.

The HD6XX is a set of headphones that I can love or hate, depending on the source, the music, my mood and the time of day. On the day that I spent the time pairing them with the N7, I was mostly listening to female vocals and Jazz, and I have to say that, with the class A mode, this is the best portable setup I have heard with them. We have all heard about the “infinite scaling” of the HD6 series but I don’t think it is scaling per se, just that it seems to click with certain sources and the N7 in A mode is one of them. Again, to my ears, on that day, with that music. I wouldn’t say they sounded amazing in AB mode (good yes, but not amazing) and I would still prefer a tube amp for them, but for a portable device, I have to say that the pairing is very good.

I did find that I would find myself choosing a higher gain with headphones and dropping the volume level a bit to compensate. This could be totally psychological but I just felt that it seemed clearer and more open with headphones.



The Cayin N7 is a DAP that offers a lot of performance in a “trans”portable package. It is not something that I would choose to carry in my pocket, nor take with me everywhere, but I do think it is something that gives you a great system that rivals a lot of desktop options in a format that you could easily take to the office or on vacation.

I find that the class A mode is fantastic, making most things sound alive and vibrant, offering a very enjoyable listening session no matter where you are. It has plenty of connectivity for it to be used in any number of systems, not just headphones. I could see this easily being the “brain” of someone's system, where they take it to the office and enjoy it all day, and then take it home in the evening or at weekends and hook it up to their main speaker systems etc.

Yes, the price is not exactly cheap, but if you compare it to many other things that you can pick up for the same price, it is on a level to compete, even with some desktop options as I said. If you were to build a desktop system with this level of connectivity and performance, you would be looking at a minimum of 500€ for the media player (if you were to use a phone that rivals this DAP), another 500€ to 1000€ (at least) for a DAC with this implementation and then another 1000€ or more for an amplifier, which may be more powerful but would not have the two AB and A modes you get here. So, with the N7, you get all of that in a “trans”portable package and for less money.

I can’t say that the AB mode is anything that I have fallen in love with. Yes, it sounds good, but not enough for me to think about running out and buying one. However, the class A mode is a different story. I find the A mode to be spectacular when you find the correct pairing.

The negative is that using it in class A does make the device run rather warm and the battery drop rather quickly but I guess everything has its price 😉

As with all of my reviews, this is also available in Spanish both on my blog ( and on YouTube (
One of the most honest and informative reviews on N7 that I have read - great job!


Headphoneus Supremus
Six months later, what do I think?
Pros: > 1-bit DAC delivers smooth but detailed, clear analogue/warm-ish and highly engaging profile - similar to R2R
> Large, holographic stage with incredibly visceral presentation (vocals often seem like you can reach out and touch them)
> Generally fast and easy to navigate UI (a familiar setup for anyone used to using an Android DAP)
> Excellent build quality
> Dedicated line-out (which I must admit I've not yet used...)
> Nice accessories to include a case (not always the eh, case...)
> A dream pairing for any dynamic driver IEM, or indeed any IEM that at least includes a dynamic driver as part of a multi-driver setup
Cons: > Big and heavy, not suitable for true portable use - unless you've massive pockets
> Gets quite warm during use, mostly using Class A and this also impacts battery performance
> Lacks a bit of power versus DAPs sitting in a segment above, only an issue for more hungry headphones
> UI can be a big sluggish compared to other DAPs (I note this browsing locally stored albums)
> Limited internal storage at only 64GB (especially considering the price of memory these days)

Cayin N7 Master Quality 1-Bit Digital Audio Player - $1,999​


Introductions & Caveats

I chose the above picture as I took it not long after the Cayin N7 arrived back in March. I was on a work trip to Seattle, and woke early due to jet lag, I took this picture with the Seattle skyline as the backdrop from my hotel room - what better thing to do when you can't sleep but listen to music? - It was at this point that I really started to fall for the charm of the N7's 1-bit DAC, and especially with any IEM that involves a dynamic driver in some shape or form: single DD, hybrid with a DD etc. In the case of the above, the IEM in question is the Victor / JVC FW1500, a personal favourite of mine and wonderful with the N7 in particular.

As I've noted in previous reviews, I have a serious love for consumer electronics going back as far as I can remember as a child, and ultimately forming a large part of my career up to a few years ago. One of my very first jobs as a teenager was working in an electronic store, and my career ultimately took me around the globe on the hunt for electronics to distribute in my local market - this included the wonderful heyday of the early 2000's as DAPs (or MP3 players as they were known then) were really hitting the market. I've moved to another career path in the last few years, and now get to appreciate electronics as a hobby - it was nice though once upon a time to get paid for it too...

I am not a professional reviewer, I enjoy sharing my explorations with the community and hope that they prove useful for even a select few people. The goal of this review is to give a sense of the features and benefits of the Cayin N7, and to assist those who might be considering buying one. I've owned and still own quite a few DAPs over the last number of years, these include: LPGT / LPGT Ti / LP6K / Shanling M9 + M6U / iBasso DX320X / Sony NW-WM1A + ZX300. The N7 has been in my collection now for over six months, so I've certainly had time to get to know and love it, and determine best synergy with IEMs in my collection.

I received a small discount from @MusicTeck in exchange for my review, and as always all words are my own, with no input from either MusicTeck or Cayin.

The Cayin N7 is available from MusicTeck with an RRP of $1,999 at time of publication - HERE

About Cayin (from their website)

Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd. was founded in 1993. The company is devoted to developing best-sounding audio equipment and marketing the Hi-Fi products under the name of Cayin. Cayin's audio products carry distinctive cultural connotation and span over a very wide price range because we believe in making music accessible to all sectors. Our tube amplifiers have been particularly well-received while we have a comprehensive product collection ranging from CD players to speakers as well, all of which presenting the same high quality benchmark and attractive in price performance.

Cayin ventured into personal audio on 2013 and launched a series of Digital Audio Players (DAP) and desktop audio products. The N-series DAP products provide high-quality audio experience for the users while they are on the go, the company also released the i-series desktop audio system for liftstyle customers. Cayin also developed a series portable audio products including portable amplifers and in-ear monitors for users to explore in a wide range of choices.


Specifications (overview, full spec HERE)




Unboxing & Accessories


The N7 arrives in an understated but premium looking box. I'm a fan of simplicity, and Cayin definitely delivers in that regard from a packaging perspective.



All of the contents laid out, except for the instruction manual and additional screen protectors which are in the sleeve pictured below.

In summary, you get a USB cable, a leather case (yellow which I'm not a fan of...), screen protectors, and a two balanced adapters (2.5mm and 4.4mm). A tiny nitpick, but I would have liked a branded cloth too, I always appreciated when there is one included, I'm a bit OCD about cleaning screens on my DAPs anyway...


N7 Layout

The headphone jacks and line outs are on the bottom of the device. When using a more portable / pocketable DAP, I prefer the headphone jack up top but in this case I actually prefer on the bottom as I typically have the DAP sitting on the table in front of me and as such the cable is connected facing me - easier to manage the cable and navigate the DAP when required. Note that the first picture below shows the 'royal blue' case which is available separately, and my personal preference - ideally though I'd still prefer black or grey... I'm not a very colourful person I guess!



Volume Wheel and Button Array

The controls are straightforward and easy to use. On the right side of the N7 you have the usual power on/off, play/pause, and skip forward or back. The buttons have a nice tactile feel to them and are secure and robust. The hallmark 'golden knob' on the top is again excellent quality and operates with a tactile 'click' sensation when adjusting volume up or down - it's positioned very well in that you won't easily inadvertantely adjust the volume, and again feels secure - I've had some DAPs where both the position and feeling of the volume wheel had me a tad anxious as to their longevity, looking at you Shanling M9 and iBasso DX320X.


Build Quality

The DAP is made from a sandblasted aluminium and is relatively heavy at 380g - it is also quite big, so not ideal if you plan to take it out and about but I guess that really depends on the individual... big pockets, or maybe a bag that the IEM cable can stretch to etc. Personally speaking, this is a DAP that stays at home or travels with me with the intention of using where I am staying, not one for the local work commute - with that in mind, big and heavy is good as it looks and feels premium. I actually much prefer using the DAP without a case, as it really does feel nice in the hand, something quite pleasing about the feel of sandblasted aluminium, or maybe that's just me... I often get funny looks from family members when I make statements like this!

From an ergonomic perspective, it quite easy to operate in spite of the large size but I do still need to hold in one hand, and control with the other - it's not that easy to hold and operate in one hand from my experience, unlike a smaller unit such as the Shanling M6U for example. Although my children go get a good laugh out of the fact that I can only type with one hand using my phone - unlike how a younger generation seem to have evolved to tap away frantically with the thumbs of both hands - they missed the Nokia 6110 etc era though... oh how Snakes used to pass the time.

Pictured below with what is still my favourite dynamic driver, the wonderful Turii Ti from Softears. As previously noted, the synergy with dynamic drivers is absolutely spectacular.


As mentioned, the audio connectors are all on the bottom of the unit - I've since purchased dust caps directly from Cayin on AliExpress for the mostly unused ports so as to protect my investment, and indeed they look the part, so there is that too. I've a rubber dust cover (which as you can see, attracts dust...) on the 3.5mm earphone port, I must pick up some more of the much nicer and more secure caps from Cayin.


The rear of the device is exactly what you might expect it to be, the rear of the device... Nothing really to see here, and certainly no functionality but I've included a picture none-the-less. The back panel is made of glass, and thankfully you get a screen protector pre-installed and a spare in the box. Annoyingly, mine actually had a scratch on the pre-installed screen protector so I've since used up my spare.


Probably overdue another look at that Cayin hallmark golden volume wheel... as noted and to reiterate, I love how solid it feels and the tactile sensation when you engage the volume wheel up or down - fantastic quality, and a confidence that you won't accidentally adjust due to the clever positioning - not impossible of course, but less prone to some other DAPs.


Finally, a look at the microSD slot on the left side of the N7. This is the usual push in / push out affair, which I must say typically annoys the heck out of me as I often find they don't click in to position that easily - again, this could be a me-thing, so feel free to tell me in the comments if this is actually an easy process that I'm making difficult for myself somehow! I've ended up keeping one of those tools you get with smartphones for ejecting the sim card and that makes it very easy to insert and eject - not that I do it that often anyway.


Tricky to show the size, but I do have this picture I took a few months ago with my other DAPs - two of which are no longer with me... R.I.P. P6K and DX320X, both of which I do miss - I can't keep them all, even though I would love to... anyway, the N7 sitting on the right with the Shanling M6U above, and the iBasso DX320X below.


N7 Setup

Out of the box and getting the N7 up and running is simple. You've the usual country / language process and connect to Wi-Fi - this all takes only a couple of minutes and the device is good to go. I loaded a 75% full microSD card and it took a couple of minutes to fully scan the card. Note in the picture below, this was of course early in the scanning process!

The vast majority of my listening is to local FLAC files, but occassional streaming too with Tidal - as with any Android device, you download that or indeed any other streaming service via the Play Store, login as usual and you are good to go.


Functionality Video

I'm not going to win any prizes here for my video footage but I think useful to give you a quick view on operating the N7. You will note as per my listed cons how the album art when browsing the Hiby app can be a bit laggy - it's the same with UApp and the stock Cayin player but not the case with Tidal, presumably due to the album art resolution.

How Does it Sound?

The technology behind DACs and amps is beyond my reviewer capability and rather than cut and paste the blurb from the Cayin or MusicTeck website, I'm just going to link to it for those of you that might be interesting in reading more about how it all works. It's not that I'm not interested, I just don't have the knowledge to phrase it as if I'm describing it with any level of authority! Plenty of great detail HERE - interestingly, I note sixteen 5/5 reviews there too.


I chose this first pairing as it really does represent what I consider my current end-game setup. The Nostalgia Audio 'Camelot' pairs beautifully with the N7 - they are literally perfect together for my preferences. I mentioned in the opening of this review that I've had the N7 over six months now, and it's the same for Camelot - so I've got to know the combo very well, and indeed they have helped put the brakes on in terms of further exploration.

The Camelot is a rather neutral sounding IEM with a bit of bass boost to both sub and mid bass. It has a large soundstage and quite detailed, but not clinical or too analytical. It benefits incredibly well from the N7 analogue and somewhat meaty profile, as it injects a fantastic musicality, and further drives the already excellent bass - it adds more substance to the mids, and gives such a stunning visceral lifelike feeling to say strings, piano, or vocals - I was quite taken back when I first listened to London Grammar for example, I almost felt I could reach out and touch the vocals, as if they were literally in front of me. I find that a more neutral sounding set such as Camelot really does pair well with the relative smoothness that N7 offers, but not to the detriment of detail - it's quite unique really in how it sounds, adding extra life to already detailed and musical sounding sets, giving that sense of vibrancy and huge engagement factor.


Turii Ti
Single dynamic drivers such as the Turii Ti again sound incredible with the N7. The Turii Ti has been a favourite of mine for over a year now and I've adored the pairing with the N7 for the last six months or so. Turii Ti isn't known for it's quantity of bass, but certainly does have a wonderful quality bass - N7 again supercharges this and while of course doesn't turn the IEM into a bass-head offering, it certainly does add quite a lot of emphasis below. Again, the smooth but detailed N7 makes for a perfect source to power the Turii Ti, really ensuring you get every bit of space and detail available, played through that wonderfully addictive analogue sounding 1-Bit DAC.

I'm listening to this combination as I type, and I've actually realised again that the Turii Ti stretches beyond the shelves of my library that I typically designate it to while hooked up to the N7, i.e. modern classical, ambient, vocals etc - I can comfortably listen to and very much enjoy genres that demand more low-end too... IDM for example is a genre I don't typically associate lately with Turii Ti, yet having tested again for this review, I've actually surprised myself. The G.O.A.T. DD is fully revealing her charms to me all over again! Flip to acoustic focus music and shivers are sent right through me, again the magic formula of the 1-Bit DAC and the Turii Ti provide this stunning visceral delivery, it really is quite spectacular.


For those of you who peruse the Classifieds section, you will likely have seen my listing for the UM MEST MK3 - they've been for sale now for a few weeks and not budging, which I must say has been a surprise as the 3rd of edition of MEST has been very well received, albeit maybe with a smaller audience versus the 2nd edition due to most likely to the price uplift, and lasting legacy of the 2nd. I note in my listing the fact it's a reluctant sale, and indeed it is - and even when I get the odd message asking can I ship outside the EU, or take less money etc, I'm always happy inside when the sale doesn't go ahead, and quickly go back to enjoying them with... no prizes for guessing what DAP. So why do I have them listed I hear you say? - well, I am trying very hard to have more discipline and focus more on a smaller collection of IEMs, while diverting my attention to headphones. The MEST MK3 is somewhat similar to Camelot, but not as detailed, hence the decision to move it along. However, it is actually a smoother listen and again when the N7 doing the driving, every ounce of low, mid, and high are squeezed out, giving that wonderful sense of analogue goodness from the DAC, along with a huge and detailed soundstage, with that overall visceral and lifelike presentation. I could easily classify this as another end-game combo, especially now that I've made peace (for now anyway) with the place where dimishing returns kicks in, and my reluctance to delve back into the multi kilobuck sets. I'll likely stay in this weird place of keeping the listing open, but hoping it doesn't actually sell :)



I have seen many DAPs come and go over the last almost three years - to include both those I've owned, and those I observe in my fellow-audio geek circles. I can say with certainty that the Cayin N7 is the DAP I've seen the most satisfaction with, many owners now in possession several months, and no indication of moving on as yet - this is a rare feat in the hobby, and testament to how excellent this somewhat unique DAP is. To get a balance of detail and smoothness in the way the N7 achieves, I believe is unique - DAPs are often a tad warm and maybe lack detail, or a tad bright to neutral - striking this balance is a stunning achievement, and definitely an evolution in how DAPs can perform from a sound perspective. I must admit, in a brief moment of madness a few weeks ago I actually debated selling my N7 as a means to generate cash for the Shanling M9 Plus, but upon hooking up my Camelot again, I realised the error of my ways and quickly pulled the listing - the M9 Plus is certainly a DAP I'm curious about, but will only buy now with the N7 still in my possession, just in case. It was hard to 'only' give 4.5 stars but with the few niggles I had to deduct a small amount - on sound quality alone, the N7 without question scores a full 5/5, a truly bar-raising experience.

To pick a few keywords to close that sum up the N7: analogue, visceral, detailed, musical, unique and captivating.



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@Scuba Devils
I've been using the N7 with the Cayin C9. For me it takes the N7 to the level of depth and soundstage I was getting with the N8ii.

I've had no regrets since moving the N8ii on.

For me I seem to have some kind of end game going on with no major additions for a few months, which as we both know is a life time in this hobby🤣

Current listening is either

N7/C9 with either Fir Audio Rn6 or Sony ier-z1r
@Scuba Devils I have the Sound Tiger Sinfonia on order and expect it next month. It looks to be a perfect pairing with the pre amp out on the N7. Capacitors for days and loads of headroom this should be a good one.
N7 compared to the Kann ultra? which one is the superior DAP? We need a review comparison.


Headphoneus Supremus
Semi-Flagship at its best
Pros: - Amazing Non fatiguing sound
- Wide soundstage
- great connectivity
- no preinstalled bloatware
- looks amazing
Cons: - No System wide EQ
- Hiby and Cayin App have some bugs (don't display more than 50 tracks per Album)
Cayin N7 Review

Thanks to @Andykong and Cayins N7 Review tour I'm able to audition the N7 extensively and share my thoughts on this product.
I want to stress that all impressions here are my own and in no way shape or form influenced by Cayin.
The Review unit was lend to me free of charge and I have to send it to the next reviewer by the end of the 14 days period at my own expense.

So with the disclaimer out of the way, what am I reviewing today?

The Cayin N7 DAP.


This DAP is a first of its kind in the way that it converts everything to DSD first and then solely focuses on DSD to Analogue conversion.
PCM files will be converted to DSD as well instead of the regular PCM to analogue conversion found in most DAC chip and R2R implementations.
Cayin is a pioneer in that regard, since this has (to my knowledge) never been done in a DAP before.
At this point there are many reviews and official sources going into detail about the DAC used, I recommend checking it out for those that are interested in technical details.
This review will focus on subjective impressions of the usability and sound.


In terms of connections the Cayin DAP offers everything one would want or need.
3.5mm Single Ended headphone out(250mW @32 Ohm)
4.4mm balanced headphone out(500mW @32 Ohm)
3.5mm Single ended Line out / Pre Out
4.4mm balanced Line out / Pre Out
Digital SPDIF over USB
Digital i2s out
Digital USB out
Bluetooth both as transmitter and receiver

That leaves the N7 with a huge set of application scenarios.
Full fledged DAP for an all in one device experience.
Streamer/DAC to feed into ones desktop amplifier.
Streamer/DAC/Preamplifier to feed into your poweramp even.
Streamer to feed into ones desktop DAC.
Bluetooth transmitter for Bluetooth headsets.
There are basically no limits to the versatility of the N7.

For unused connectors Cayin also offers covers to prevent dust from getting into the sockets. (and they also look sleek)


User Experience:
The Cayin N7 is an Android 12 based DAP. Luckily the OS is cleaned up and comes with basically no bloatware.
Being unrestricted Android, the N7 offers the ability to download and install all regular streaming apps or media players of chouice.
Even Youtube to watch videos could be utilized here as well as browsers to use it like a smartphone without the telecommunication features.

The shipped media players (and those used for this review) are the Cayin Music app as well as the Hiby Music App.
Cayins own app looks like a stripped down version of the Hiby app. The skin is nice but without the PEQ and Streaming features of the Hiby app, I see no point in using it.
Hopefully Cayin will update their own app to a more recent version of the Hiby Feature set, since the Skin is nicer than all of Hibys own functions.
If you have a favourite Android based media player there are no restrictions and you can use whatever you like (UAPP for instance or the official Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz Apps)
The Hiby App unfortunately suffers from a few bugs, e.g. it can't display more than 50 tracks in a single Album, while more than 50 tracks in a playlist are fine.

There is NO system wide EQ though, of you need one you have to rely on your player to bring one or download a separate one from the play store.
This is the first big downside for me, since offline data from streaming Apps is only supported with the official Apps, and none of them feature their own EQ.
Luckily this is something Cayin could fix with future software updates and nothing that requires hardware changes.
Performance wise the DAP is smooth. Apps open fast and are responsive. The question is how long it stays that way, since android is throttling performance with dimnishing battery life.
Similarly to how each and every smartphone is fast in the beginning and slow a few years later.

The advertised battery duration of 6.5h - 10h has been reached during review tests, even on the longer part of the scale even though the display was on a lot during the time to check out all the features.
Charging it back to full takes quite long with 5.5h though. Maybe this softer charge has positive impact on battery longevity. Unfortunately there is no way for users to replace the battery a few years down the road.

The DAP itself is noteably bigger and heavier than a smartphone. While it is portable for like a train ride, I wouldn't use it during sport activities myself. Many other DAPs are "more portably" in that sense.
The look and feel is great though. It's a very pretty DAP, the controls are easy to reach and to use. The haptics are great, making it a joy to use the Device. (it even comes with a case unlike most other DAPs for which you have to order one in addition)


For many the most important part of the Review, how does the DAP perform sonically?
I used my Meze Rai Penta and Meze Liric for most of the evaluation unless stated otherwise in the Setup.

The Overall Signature is natural, effortless, organic and smooth.
The DAP features decent Bass Extension. Not as deep as my desktop system but also nothing left to desire here.
Bass quantity might be a tiny smitch above neutral to give it a slightly dark tilt.

The midrange features nice body. Offering a rather full sound. Neither remarkably upfront nor recessed. Very balanced.

The Treble is smooth and absolutely never fatiguing. Perfect for my taste or anyone who is treble sensitive, but at the same time it might be slightly too smooth for others.
Certainly a matter of taste here. There is energy up top, don't get me wrong. but Overall the player has a slightly dark tilt.

The Soundstage is remarkable. Quite wide but not exagerated. Very well done and especially for IEMs a great fit to make it not sound so much "in your head" but more natural.

Detail retrieval:
In its price range it keeps up with the best here. ToTL DAPs might beat it in that discipline, but usually cost twice as much as well.

That's it for the general sound signature. It can be adjusted by switching from Class A mode to Class AB.
Class A features slightly fuller sound while AB sounds more cleaner and more neutral.

This DAP doesn't offer any Oversampling modes or similar that you might find in regular chip based DACs, so no choices for slow or fast rolloff etc.
It is possible to change the Upsampling to DSD64, 128, 256 and 512. Differences are very hard to hear to the point I might consider it imagination.
DSD64 goes easier on the battery though. Just in case DSD512 is superior it has been used for 99% of the listening time during this review.

Power wise it never felt like the N7 is struggling when driving my Rai Penta and Liric. Even when using the single Ended connection it had headroom to spare.
Nonetheless for more power hungry headphones the N7 can be used as DAC with it's line out.

Therefore I also connected the N7 to my Feliks Envy to drive my whole collection of headphones.
The results were very surprising. The DAC section is really good. I'd even go as far and say competitive in it's price range among desktop gear.
While it didn't reach the heights of my own dekstop setup (~15k retail) it did offer a very competitive (in its own pricerange) and enjoyable performance.

When used as preamp instead of the line out, it still bypasses all EQ functionality. Therefore in my case it didn't make any sense to include another preamp section into the chain.
If you need the higher output of the preamp vs the line out, this might still be a nice feature to have.

In case you want to use it including the players EQ features you have to use the headphone out, which didn't sound as clean as the line out to me, but I had to test it regardless.


Closing thoughts:
The Cayin N7 is a great Device, with an enoyable sound signature and a technical performance that certainly doesn't have to hide in its price segment, not even compared to desktop gear.
An absolute winner in my book and I hope to see a 1 Bit DAC + Tube combo in one of the upcoming players.
The synergy with the Meze Liric is marvelous, my new favourite portable combo.


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Great review, thanks. I‘m always curious about the DAC on this DAP so would you mind sharing to which DAC you compared it using the line out in your amazing Feliks tube amp? Have you ever tried another DAP in line out mode that gave you such good results, like the Hiby RS6-8 or others? Thanks again.


500+ Head-Fier
Cayin n7
Pros: Amazing analog clarity and detail
Good operating system for a dap
big soundstage
Can be used as a standalone dac
Feels solid nice case
Nice knob
Cons: Big and heavy
After listening and testing the N7 I’ve come to the conclusion that it is possibly the best sounding portable device I’ve ever heard, especially coming from Bluetooth devices such as a BTR7 or go blue
I figured taking a nice leap forward instead of messing around with entry daps the n7 would save me a lot of stress and money going through $500 daps and I’m glad I made the jump and got it over with
I did some comparisons with the cord mojo, and the dethonray honey since I figured those are the closest competitors to it that I own

Between the n7 and mojo was a little embarrassing for the mojo. It got blown out, and I noticed it right away The soundstage resolution layering and detail was a good step above very noticeable
The Dethonray honey was a little more close, the honey was definitely on the smoother side with not quite as much Sounds Stage, clarity and resolution but was still close to as enjoyable in comparison
I used the VE Phoenix, the empire ears Odin the Elysian Gaia, the fir Xe6 the Noble Ragnar and orioles isabell for my testing they all sounded amazing no complaints of synergy it gets along with everything and definitely made everything sound more on the analog side
Amazing dap highly recommended if you don’t mind carrying a big boy in ya pocket enjoy 😁🎶🎼🎵🎤🎧🎸🥁🎹🎺🎻🎷🪗🪇🪈🪕🪘


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Headphoneus Supremus
Cayin N7 the 1 bit wonder
Pros: Euphonic musical sound
Analog touch
Premium build
Highly resolving
Soundstage that is wide and deep
Smooth experience in use
Overall good specs
Cons: Price
Gets warm under use, especially class A
Battery drains fast on class A
Big and heavy
Could have liked more power
Screen while good could have been OLED for this price
64GB Memory

Cayin N7 the 1 bit wonder


The N7 is my first purchase from Cayin, I bought it with my own money. All impressions are my own subjective thoughts, I have used the N7 for a few months now. I am writing this review for @MusicTeck in exchange for a small discount. Can be purchased over at Musicteck:

This is a very subjective hobby where everything from experience, anatomy or age will affect what we hear. Also keep in mind that it is easy to use bold words when talking about differences, while it may be perceived as a small change for you. While I can perceive something as natural sounding, I do believe we can never get a perfect performance similar to what is achieved live.


About me and my gear used for the review

My audio preference is neutral with increased low end, mids and treble can be forward but not too much. I am a believer in having different tuned gear for different genres or moods instead of chasing the single perfect one.

Main music genres I listen to are Metal, Electronica, Jazz, Indy rock/metal, R&B, Pop. I am a music lover, and can also listen to almost all the genres out there. I have been into music gear since the mid 90s, gifted some big speakers at an early age. Then moved more and more into headphones with the Koss Porta Pro and a Sony Discman and Minidisc.

I have also tried playing many instruments over the years from piano to sax and have a feel for what's a natural tone, but not the biggest patience in learning to play. My wife has also played many instruments from string to wind instruments and also piano.

My current standard in Headphones is ZMF Verite and Beyerdynamic T1 G2.
Verite is my favourite for acoustic music and especially metal, while T1 with Dekoni pads is for my basshead mood.

My current standard in IEMs is AüR Audio Neon Pro and AüR Audio Aurora. The NEON Pro has 10 BAs, and has a near perfect tonality for me on the brighter side. AüR Audio Aurora 2 DD + 6 BA has the best bass quality I have tried in an IEM, while not taking over the mids and showing superb natural sound. Penon Serial is also a reference set to me that is a triple dynamic IEM, with a more smooth and darker sound.

Gear used this review:
In the main rig I use Topping E70 DAC together with the Topping A90 Discrete headphone Amp. I also have a Schiit Lokuis I can swap in if I want to do a little analogue EQ.
I have also used the Feliks Audio Echo, one of the more silent OTL amps.

Only had two DAPs before the Cayin N7, HIBY R3 Pro Saber 2022 and HIBY R6 III.


So who is Cayin

Cayin is a Chinese hi end brand brand, while they have many different products it is tube amps where their main focus is. Cayin started in 1993 and focus was more for the stereo market, in 2013 they moved into the DAP and desktop segment also. It's fair to say that they have been successful and well received, by both consumers and reviewers.

Their flagship DAP is at the moment the N8ii, built on ROHM DAC chips and have valves for the amp stage.
They also have two very great dongles, the RU6 and RU7. One being R2R DAC and the other 1 bit DAC, while one is a newer model they both provide a difference and good quality sound.

Going back some years ago, I only knew about their tube amps. I have tried them before and was very impressed, even been looking second hand for a valve speaker amp.

Copied from their website.

Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd. was founded in 1993. The company is devoted to developing best-sounding audio equipment and marketing the Hi-Fi products under the name of Cayin. Cayin's audio products carry distinctive cultural connotations and span over a very wide price range because we believe in making music accessible to all sectors. Our tube amplifiers have been particularly well-received while we have a comprehensive product collection ranging from CD players to speakers as well, all of which present the same high quality benchmark and attractive price performance.
Cayin ventured into personal audio in 2013 and launched a series of Digital Audio Players (DAP) and desktop audio products. The N-series DAP products provide high-quality audio experience for the users while they are on the go, the company also released the i-series desktop audio system for lifestyle customers. Cayin also developed a series of portable audio products including portable amplifiers and in-ear monitors for users to explore a wide range of choices.


Then what is this Cayin N7 with the 1 bit that so many are talking about?

Cayin N7 is a DAP, as most know this is Digital Audio Player. There are many models out there from many popular brands, what makes this model so special is the discrete 1 bit architecture. The DAC part is built up by discrete resistors instead of a single chip, if this makes it better or not is up to discussion. The main thing that is good about 1 bit, is that Cayin can tailor the sound more than what a chip would do.

The amplification stage is also discrete with JFET (junction-gate field-effect transistor) and BJT (Bipolar Junction Transistors) parts, which also contribute in giving the sound a more analog sound. You can choose between Class A and Class AB amplification, in comparison to other DAP brands here you actually hear a change.

It delivers around 500mW to 32 ohm balanced and 250mW to 32 ohm single ended, not the most powerful but in my testing enough for all my IEMs and even many headphones.

The Line and Pre Out is done through the same ports, not relying on different ports. You can switch between Line Out (set volume) and Pre Out (adjustable volume) from the drop down menu in the player.

The player is built upon Android 12 and also has a fairly good SoC, the Snapdragon 665. The N7 also has 4GB RAM, so apps have enough memory to run smoothly without closing or crashing if you go into another app. Internal memory is fairly small with 64 GB, but is enough to get you going if you don't have any memory card. Screen is full HD with 1080x1920 over 5 inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD, no OLED but still provides a good picture both colorwise and in clarity.

The battery is large with 9000mAh, almost twice of what a normal smartphone has. But it's also needed as N7 is power hungry, especially on Class A.








Cayin N7 the experience

The unboxing experience was to me quite good and felt well thought out, nothing excessive but not lacking. You get a USB cable, and adapters for 4.4mm to 2.5mm and 3.5mm to 2.5mm. Screen protector is already applied, an extra one is also in the box.

First holding the N7 it felt solid with nice weight to it, for me it felt like good quality. Buttons on the side are tactile, but maybe a little soft. Enough room between them to not press wrong once you have learned the layout.

The design is rounded and well built, no sharp edges and the glass + aluminium construction feels premium. Looking at the back it's a very cool design, that is only visible when light hits at the right angle.

The volume pot is also quite special, and as a knob lover it is very good looking. Could have maybe had a little more resistance, but also how it is make it more easy to change the volume.
Volume is 4 channel JRC Electronic Volume, outside my comprehension but I guess it's good.

The ring on the bottom under the screen is a nice touch, it changes colour to show what type of audio is being fed. It also serves as a back button, nice to see since most players don't have it.

The N7 is also quite thick when compared to my other DAP, twice as thick while having similar length and width. Still is very ergonomic to hold with its more rounded edges, even more so with the case.

Case is needed and helps it be scratch free, would not have dared to use it without protection personally. The player can get quite warm to the touch, the case makes it more comfortable to hold when it's warm.

The leather case is yellow with magnetic magnetism to hold it closed, it's padded and soft. It has a premium feel to it, both aesthetic and in comfort.


Cayin N7 in use

The player has already been set up by Cayin, so from the first time using it it's just to power it on and start listening to music. Here they have some pre-installed apps to get you going, and the Google Play Store is also installed to download the rest you need.

Pre-installed there is the Cayin music player and also the HIBY music player, the Cayin player is a stripped down version of HIBY. They sound the same and have similar features, but only in the HIBY version do you get the MSEB EQ software that HIBY is known for.

As for streaming apps, you have to download them yourself. At least on Cayin N7 you get the Google Play app already installed, downloaded my preferred services Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, YouTube and USB Audio Player Pro.

The N7 is quite fast at powering up, fully inside after half a minute and is ready to use. But there is a caveat about N7, for the sound to play perfectly around 15 min is needed to warm up the player. For many this will sound weird and not true, but it's due to how the player is made with discrete parts. I listen to music at once when powered on, then it just gets better after a few minutes.

The drop down menu is very accessible and there you can change many of the settings fast.
Switch between line out or pre out, or the power of the gain from low, mid and high. Even with just two touches you can change from class A to AB, nice to have it accessible this way and not under menus inside the settings.

First weeks I had some minor problems where the N7 would stop to play sound at random times. I found out this because of a social media app I installed, uninstalled and the player has been smooth sailing after. Thanks to Andrew from @MusicTeck, in support of finding the issue.

Just adding some screenshots of some of the UI elements and how the apps look:

Drop down menu to access media player shortcut and some settings


Dragging down the menu one more time access even more settings


Using the volume wheel opens an interface for the sound where you can also use the screen instead.


Cayin Music Player


Cayin Library




HIBY Music Player, as you can see the look the same


HIBY Menu where you get access to more EQ features than stock Player from Cayin


Youtube app works great


Tidal also has been flawless in both HIFI and Master quality



Spotify also work good, lets just hope they come with the lossless quality soon



How do Cayin N7 sound like

Cayin N7 is very musical, the term musical is a vague one. But for me this means having a more natural sound, that is not thin or boring. The music is more organic than other DAPs and dongles I have used, for example how a piano recording sounds more realistic.
The sound is also more forward and energetic, so don't think this will be like a slow and dark experience. Vivid is also a nice description of the sound characteristics.

People have different understanding of what tube-like is, so I prefer not to use that word even if it is how I perceive the N7.

The low end has extra weight to it without sounding slower, and is controlled better with more speed. Nuanced and layered low end, it's very well controlled and can show everything.
Mid range also has extra warmth, N7 brings instruments and vocals more forward in the mix with more detail, the highs are crystal clear and forward without being sharp. But I also heard some say that the treble is sharper, for me it's just clear and crisp. On a few IEMs and headphones I have heard it pushed more forward and more present but not in a way making it sharp. For example on my IMR BC2023 that is already energetic in the treble gets less tiresome, with better control of the drivers.

Soundstage is perhaps where I am impressed the most, it's so holographic with the stage moving further out. The layering is at a high level, so if you're a soundstage enthusiast and listens to good recording this is perfect.


Cayin N7 compared with HIBY R6 III

The impressions below are in comparison to my R6 III DAP, it has a similarly powerful AMP section but uses an ESS chip for the DAC portion. Used both in class A with mostly my own files through the HIBY player, and a few albums through Tidal. Giving a few examples on the music used.


AüR Audio Neon Pro is a very sensitive 10 balanced armature IEM, tonality is balanced U shape. It is also super resolving at almost the Anole VX level, with also a deep soundstage expanding very deep. Energetic sound and can be too much for some, while for me perfect for metal and rock music.

Neon Pro already has a good bass presentation with superb extension, fast and sound close to a DD instead of BA. The change here is quite special as it gets a more DD like, The R6 III play the drum hits more blunted. The N7 also increases the texture slightly so every hit is more visceral, the combination is a good change for me and makes me love Neon Pro even more.
Mids with switch off are neutral with some warmth, and get even slightly more warm here on instruments and vocals being in the low midrange. While brass instruments get less sibilant and shouty.
The highs are what changes the least here, can perhaps pick a little more detail and airyness over R6 III.
Soundstage was already big, and the change from R6 III to N7 just expanded it like one row more back.


Gojira - Magma using this as an example since this is my Metal IEM. Magma is a heavy metal album that is quite technical, here I need faster and clearer IEMs to enjoy it. This is also why Neon Pro is so good for it.

The track Silvera starts fast and brutal, and it is quite obvious that the R6 III is thin sounding compared to N7. Added weight to both the distorted guitar and the drums, sounds much more real and full. His vocal has also more weight and is clearer, it's also more forward in the mix.
Not the fastest music I listen to, but it is still fast and since Neon Pro is already a super fast IEM it's open sounding on both DAPs. But the more I listen to R6 III it has a more tiresome sound, and better on N7 even if it's fuller and more refined sound.

The track Stranded is perhaps their most popular song, or at least one of them. The N7 is more intense in the sound with more detail, for some this might be too much and would prefer the softer sound of R6 III. I like it very much, it's like putting a supercharger on the already detailed and energetic Neon Pro. Drums get more visceral and full, the cymbals have more sparkle to them. His voice also is more detailed and dynamic, the guitars get more focused and clear. Having that extra grunt they also deserve.


Penon Serial is a special IEM for me that has 3 dynamic drivers, one for bass, mids and treble. Not the most technical IEM out there, but has a slower and organic sound to it. For example acoustic music with strings or piano has a natural and thick tonality to it, more organic as I like to say or analog. Bass is deep and thick but on the slow side, mids are also a little thick and forward while treble being slightly shadowed by the bass and mids. If there was one thing I would have liked more on Serial, it's more treble energy. And the nice thing is that N7 solves this to a small degree.

Treble is more clear and detailed, giving music more energy and bite. Bass is looser with R6 III and gets tighter and more impactful on N7, I still find less change in the low end with Serial than what I did with Neon Pro. Mids get even warmer, giving vocals a little more thickness than what I actually prefer. Soundstage also expands mores, I already perceived soundstage as oval and above average this just adds some more to the depth.


Dave Brubeck - Time Out is one of my favourite jazz albums, it's also a very good recording that is dynamic and resolving.

First track Blue Rondo à la Turk is opening fast, with lots of detail going on with all the instruments. First thing I noticed is that the recording has some noise that is more present on N7 this already shows that N7 is higher resolution than R6 III.
Serial has a wonderful piano part with N7 that is cleaner and fuller, less mellow tonality than R6 III. The sax breaths more openly, and is more forward sounding. The double bass is more present with more of the string resonance visible in the sound image, it's like putting on glasses for your ears.
This is what goes through here, it's cleaner and more open. Less dark and mellow, and gets some extra vivid timbre that is perfect for jazz.

Take Five my favourite track is such a masterpiece, the Serial and N7 have very good synergies here. The alto sax is breathy and detailed with good presence and thicker weight to it, the N7 also gives it a more airy tone over the R6 III. Each cymbal hit gets extra sparkle and sounds more real, the drums are more clear and snappy. The piano part sounds very similar on both, just a little more nuanced with N7.


Koss KPH40 is a good contender and scale with great gear, this has 60 ohm impedance and 101dB SPL. Sounds good from most sources, but give it good power and it will sing and open up more. This is a model that is very similar to the old Koss Porta Pro, but sleeker design and improved technicalities.

High gain and around 40-50% volume is correct for most music, the warm sound of KPH40 is balanced out better with N7 than my R6 III.
The bass moves from being soft and rounded to having a more visceral approach. This means that every bass kick is fast and crisper, and slam is improved.
Mids get focused more forward on both vocals and instruments, the mids have been my biggest downside with KPH40. They always felt lacking compared to the mid bass presence, upper mids/treble. The N7 has the ability to power it up pushing vocalists more into the mix and also giving them more nuanced details over R6 III. This is also true for instruments like cello or piano.
Treble gets also clearer with more detail, not that it gets airier but it gets more bite on certain songs.


Francis Harris - Leland is an electronic music album in the deep house genre with jazz elements added in some tracks and more. The album is warm sounding with slower beats and a dark atmosphere, this also influenced by his father passing away around the time of the album.

Lostfound has a female singer, she gets pushed more forward on KPH40 + N7 with more detail and a more open sound. The trumpet parts are also pushed forward and are more present, more veiled on the R6 III in comparison. Bass is more rounded in how it bounces, almost has some unevenness to it. This I find weird as it's not a fast beat, but for some reason it gets more controlled on N7.

Pensum is also a great one, has a big thumpy sound to each bass hit. Each bass impact is softer on R6 and is a small amount louder on N7, decaying also faster.
The trumpet is gently and softly played, N7 shows more of the nuances in the trumpet with more warmth. And appear softer with less focus in R6, it's not huge and mostly apparent when both players use class A.
There are more micro-details going on with N7 over R6 III, small but important details coming forth giving almost an extra ambient scene in the music.


ZMF Verite is hard to drive headphones with impedance of 300 ohm and 97dB sensitivity, Verite plays better with more power and is not meant to be used with smaller portable devices. N7 needs high gain and 60-70% volume for most music, R6 III can have around 5% less volume for same loudness.

Soundstage is much more open, it falls apart on R6 III and sounds closer and more diffuse. Bass hits are often soft, it also lacks dynamics and detail. Mids are also a part where everything gets more in focus, R6 III has a tendency to be thin and shouty. Treble has that extra shimmer and bite that is softer and veiled with R6 III.

Even so I find the headphone out good and acceptable on N7 for not as critical listening, but if I go and compare it against my desktop amps I find it lacking dynamics and fullness. The most interesting part is that even if both the players have similar power output the Verite sounds thinner on R6 III, if I change to class AB the difference is closer but also there.
So specially on N7 the class A amplification pushes the Verite better, while the class A on R6 III doesn't seem to help anything.


Swallow the Sun - Moonflowers is a great recording in the doom metal genre, has both instruments and vocals. For the whole album N7 is more open, and R6 III falls more apart making it tiresome and messy. N7 is a step closer to what desktop amps can do, and moving up to desktop gear is even more worth it and I advise it for hard to drive headphones.

The opening track Moonflowers Bloom in Misery opens up softly with an airy sound, his voice singing emotionally and gently. His voice is more open and less muddy on N7, R6 II makes him sound more woolly with less details. Violin that joins in is also more present and detailed on N7, has that extra realistic sound to it. When it gets intense, both lack the openness and separation I am used to from my desktop gear. But even so it's a clear difference where I would pick N7 every day, as R6 II falls more apart when much is happening

Woven into Sorrow is perhaps my favourite of the album, deep lyrics and ambient sound. The cymbal hits were one thing being quite different. It sounded tinny and hollow on R6 III, moving onto the N7 they have a more correct tone and shimmer on every hit. The distorted guitar and violin parts get messy on R6, while N7 manages to keep the sound more open and less congested. Every drum hit is more weighty with authority and especially his growling gets thicker and nuanced, note weight is a thing here that R6 III lacks compared to N7.


Cayin N7 line out

I have been using the N7 as a source for my XD05 Pro, Feliks Audio Echo and my Topping A90 Discrete, I have tried both the Pre and Line out function. From my testing both are super clear and resolving, but in my scenario line out makes the most sense. Both of the amps are usually fed by my Topping E70 DAC, it uses ESS9028PRO and I perceive the DAC as neutral sounding. I have been N7 this way for over many days, writing down notes along the way. When doing the last writing I used the albums mentioned here.


Feliks Audio Echo is already a neutral warm OTL amp, bass is tight and lush. The midrange also has some extra warmth, while the treble is on the crystal clear side and also a little hot with my current tubes. Soundstage is wide and deep with superb staging. My testing here has been with ZMF Verite Silkwood. In a way similar to how I perceive the N7 as a standalone player, adding in the N7 just takes everything up a step making it even more euphonic and musical.


First I noticed when playing music from Tool 10,000 days album, that the sound is more open and less busy. There are parts that are usually sharp and busy that are now more refined, also with it sounding less busy the sound opens up so you can hear more details. Guitars have more detail while also being more realistic, drums also have more weight to them while being snappier.
Staging is marginally improved in size, in a way it's more circular with N7 than the oval size with E70. Verite imaging is more 3D with N7 than E70, and I do pick up more layers in some recordings.


Cello Suite No.1 nos. 1, 5 & 6 played by Yo-Yo Ma, always loved to use either cello or piano to check after realistic timbre. N7 is fuller sounding with more weight, especially on the lowest parts. Every stroke he uses has more nuance in it, the dynamic range seems larger between the loud and more silent parts. The decay of the cello goes further into the depth of the recording, I am very impressed. This gets a full score for me on realistic sound.


Topping A90 Discrete is a very good amp, that is different from most amps coming from the Chinese budget brands. It has a more organic feel to the sound, almost like a hint of tube sound.
It's highly resolving already with my current DAC, the change from E70 to N7 has a smaller change in the sonics. It synergises well and just makes it more euphonic, in a way more vivid sounding.
Here I have been using my AüR Audio Neon Pro when comparing, as it's even more resolving than Verite.


Checking first some Aes Dana with the album Pollen (Remastered), the N7 is clearer in the treble range while being more detailed. The sound cues are also more 3D and appearing to go further out and in, both are good but the difference is quite noticeable. There is also some added bass weight, so the track has more fun factor for me. Especially noticeable in the sub range when using my Neon Pro, it also seems to make the bass more dynamic and impactful.


I used Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits the whole album but used the track Dreams the most. The drums are more in focus, and have some extra crispness to each cymbal hit. Her vocal is more in focus, overall the N7 shows more detail. It sounds clearer than E70, it's not a huge change. Here N7 makes the track get more energy, I like it more because of this. The soundstage is interesting as especially on this recording it is a good step up in depth and layering over E70.



This is a very good portable player, best I have tried no doubt. Before this I had problems seeing the value in such expensive DAPs, since you can now get a capable one for a small amount of the cost of Cayin N7. But even so this adds the extra joy to my music that I didn't know I was lacking, it's of course not mandatory and I still enjoy my cheaper sources. But this is one experience once you have heard it it's hard to go back to not having it.

Lately I have been enjoying the portable side of this hobby much more, and this does give me the same quality I am used to at my desktop setup. I could have liked more power for hard to drive headphones, but this is solved by having a portable amplifier. This would make the portable setup even larger. Even alone the N7 is not that portable for pockets, so it's more of a solution to take with you and sit down.

Is it perfect, not really. It has some negatives, I could have liked a better screen or more power. Or that it was cooler in use with no build up time for the sound to be perfect, but this comes back to what makes Cayin N7 sound like it does. Price is also on the high side, if it's worth the cost depends on your values. Sonically changes between sources are smaller than IEMs or headphones, but if you are satisfied with the rest of your collection this can be the extra step for musical euphonia.

In the end I recommend the Cayin N7, and my unit is not leaving my collection after this review.

Can be purchased over at @MusicTeck

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@Tom75 Yeah I have, my favorite source for Aurora is N7. Aurora is neutral warm, and Aurora just get even more musical and fun together with N7. Added richness to the sound .
wondering how the sound compares to the Fiio M15s.... it looks nice... shame it doesn't have any power ...
Yup that alone is the biggest improvement they could have done, but paired with a nice portable amp this can be a killer setup. But ofc that means another thing to drag with you.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Polished OS
TOTL sound
Great build
Cons: Gets HOT
Buttons are hard to find with the case on
Into and disclaimer

This is the first Cayin product that I’ve ever tried. I was lucky enough to be selected for the official Cayin N7 review tour. The N7 was sent to me for two weeks in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own. Thanks to Andykong and Cayin for setting up this tour.


Gear Used
Cayin N7

Chord Mojo 2 (no eq or crossfade)

Shanling M3 Pro

Fir Audio Neon (Custom)

Dan Clark Audio Noire

Audeze EL-8 Closed

ZMF Verite Open



The packaging for the N7 is simple but still gives a nice presentation. You don’t feel like you’re missing our or that you spent money on something that doesn’t add value to your experience, just end up in a landfill our clutter up your closet. I prefer to have simpler packing to keep waste and cost down. No issues here.



The build on the N7 is outstanding. It has a solid feel to it and the rounded sides give a really nice feeling in the hand. The volume wheel has a little tactile feedback to it and is super smooth. All the buttons have an identical feel to them in terms of pressure and feedback. The ports all have a nice solid feel to them with no play at all. The screen has nice color saturation and good brightness for outdoor use.

The N7 also runs warm especially in Class A mode.


You get extra screen protectors, leather case a high-quality USB C to C cable as well as two adapters. One 2.5 to 4.4 and one 2.5 to 3.5. I am not sure why the 2.5 to 3.5 adapter is included because you might as well take advantage of the balanced circuit with the 2.5 to 4.4 adapter. The case has a premium feel to it and fits the device very well.


During my 30+ hours of use I ZERO issues with the OS. Very well done. As soon as I connected to the Wi-Fi, there was a popup notification that there was an update available. The update was quick and smooth. The screen is very responsive, there is very little lag. My 6000+ tracks of music on my 1TB SD card scanned quickly and accurately. The information at the top of the screen displays a lot of information at a glance. I can see gain settings, output settings, if I’m in Class A or AB, volume level, but rate, battery info, Wi-Fi info and the time. Clean yet informative.

I have a few minor quibbles about the button layout and design. The volume knob at the top of the device makes it difficult to use the N7 one handed. I really like the volume knob on iBasso and Shanling daps. It is easy to use the device one handed. Not a huge gripe but more of an observation. Also, with the case on, it’s hard to select the right button on feel alone. Even after extended use, I was still not able to reliably select the right button for play, pause and next track. On the Shanling, the buttons are not covered by the case and have different shapes. It is easy to select the desired button even without looking.

Overall signature

I tried the N7 with multiple headphones and IEMs and the overall impression is that the N7 is neutral with a touch of extra treble. I prefer to like a little more treble energy and found it added to my enjoyment with several headphones that I paired with the Cayin.


Cayin N7 Versus Shanling M3 Ultra

The overall signatures are shockingly close. The biggest difference that I noticed was the N7 having a bit more energy in the bass with the Noire. The sound is more layered and engaging with the Cayin. Specs wise, the N7 doesn’t have a ton of power but I had no issues powering the Noire which do tend to benefit from more power. With the Verite they were also very close. I did go back and forth between the single ended output of both devices. Here the difference was much clearer. The M3 was missing all those subtle nuances in the music. The vocals were more forward and more organic. The differences are still there on the balanced output but the gap shrinks. The M3 is a very good DAP but the extra money brings a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience.

Cayin N7 Versus Chord Mojo 2 (no eq or crossfade)

The N7 has a touch more treble energy giving the perception of more details. The stage on the Cayin is a touch narrower and more in your head. These two are close. After trying a few more tracks, I started to feel more layers and depth to the sound versus the Mojo 2. I enjoy the sound of the Mojo and then the N7 takes it to the next level. Again, these are very close and I think that’s a good thing to get a Mojo 2 like sound in a single device with a screen and streaming ability.



The N7 is not cheap. There are a lot of great options out there for less money. That said, I think it’s worth the extra funds. In my experience, a lot of gear can sound very similar but the real difference is in the layering and depth of the sound especially in the mid-range. Simply stated, I enjoy the music more with some higher end gear including the N7. The sound is more engaging, and you get more drawn into it. I hope that makes sense. I think this conclusion is a bit of a departure from other review conclusions I’ve done. I mention it here because it was a revelation that I had doing this review. I found myself a/b one track after another and finding myself finishing the entire track with the N7 just because I got so into the music. At the end of the day, that's what this hobby is about. Enjoy!


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

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

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

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

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

the IEM’s and headphone used were:

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

N7 with monitors used.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

IEM and Headphone Paring

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

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

Audio Player Applications and Respective Sound

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

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

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

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

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


100+ Head-Fier
Cayin N7 - power with control and versatility
Pros: fast boot up time
very responsive device
good output power, especially balanced
easily switchable between class A and AB operation
impactful bass (even more on class A) and neutral tuning
Android 12 with no bloatware apps installed
Cons: buttons with case on are not really easily palpable or distinquishable blindly
lack of system-wide EQ/DSP possibilites
in USB DAC mode minor delay, so you cannot watch videos lipsync
gets warm (class AB), almost hot (class A)

Disclaimer: The N7 was temporary provided as part of the European loaner tour

Right after the unboxing and the first boot-up (that happens very fast in comparison to many other Android-based players) you are presented with a clean and minimalist environment:
  • no bloatware installed, just the Cayin player and HibyCast apps (and some other utility apps, not even the "stock" Google apps besides the Playstore) with an really up-to-date Android 12 version that will enable to use the device for quite some time
  • on top of the system drawer you have easy accessible toggle buttons: low/high gain, class A/AB amplification and different output settings
  • after adding the google account I installed only two streaming apps TIDAL and Spotify and was ready to go
  • the overall performance feels very snappy and responsive in all apps even on longer playlists while scrolling
  • WiFi connection was very stable and reliable the whole time of use


Smiles and amazingness everywhere😇

After starting playback in class AB mode with several full-sized headphones I quickly got the impression that the N7 is a very capable device.
Very enveloping and engaging sound around you with a wider soundstage perception, while staying on the neutral side without adding anything artificial to the mix.

This impression even further manifested when switching to class A amplification mode, where you get a noticeable increase in bass impact perception on almost every headphone I tried. One of the downsides of this, you want this to run mostly in this mode for added pleasure :), but the battery will drain faster and the unit gets noticeable warmer after some time of use.

On most headphones I usually use EQ more or less mandatory on my desktop units, but on the N7 I interestingly did not feel the need for that - even I could have used build-in EQ functionality on other player apps.


Everyone bows to the Maestro!

Headphones tried on the N7
ZMF Caldera
Meze Liric
Denon AH-D9200
E-MU Teak
Klipsch HP-3
Dan Clark AEON 2 Closed
Kennerton Rögnir
Kennerton Rögnir Dynamic
Fostex TH-909
Audeze LCD-XC 2021
Kennerton Gjallarhorn JM Edition
Hifiman HE6SEv2 (gets noticeably loud, but doesn't reach its full potential - as expected)

Gear used for comparison
Questyle CMA Fifteen [ES9038PRO DAC + solid-state amplifier]
Violectric DHA V226 [Cirrus Logic CS43131 + solid-state amplifier]
xDuoo TA-22 [tube hybrid amplifier]
Cayin DAC 11 + Cayin HA-3A [Burr Brown DAC with tube output + transformer-coupled tube amplifier]
Gustard X26 Pro + HeadAmp GS-X mini [2x ES9038PRO DAC + solid-state amplifier]

The included case has a high-quality feel to it, but what I appreciate less is the feel of the button area, when the case is on: you can hardly "feel" the correct button without looking at it.

The Cayin N7 is a device with enough power to potentially replace your desktop setup for driving normal demanding full-sized headphones with the bonus of having a complete all-in-one unit with added streaming and controlling capabilities right at your hand! You do not sacrifice very much on the sound compared to similar priced desktop solutions while getting so much more on top. With the Cayin N7 really made a compelling DAP reduced the its core functionality without all the unnecessary bells and whistles. Open your player app of preference, start the playback and enjoy listening!
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Hello, nice review, quite some equipment you have there, I’m jealous! Hahaha. Would you mind sharing some thought on what you find different when using your Cayin DAC 11 with the HA-3A amp versus the N7 line out to feed that nice tube amp? Thanks much.
@Loftprojection I did not try the scenario using the N7 as a DAC as part of my evaluation yet, but you are right, it also a valid one.
So I just hooked up the N7 line-out to the HA-3A by RCA. Sadly I don't have a 4.4mm to XLR cable at hand - in terms of signal path it indeed matters on the HA-3A if you go by RCA or XLR input (XLR has input transformers before the driver tube).
From my brief test (with a grain of salt) I would say the pure DAC implementation of the N7 in regards of detail and soundstage width is a hair superior to the dated Burr Brown chip inside the DAC11, but you will not have that additional distortion, reverberation and sweetened bass of the tube output.
Thanks godmax, your finding is similar to another similar comparison I tried in the past since like you I have a desktop tube amp (Unison SH) and a NOS tube DAC (MHDT Orchid). I was "hoping" to get rid of my DAC to simplify my system but I have yet to find a DAP that will reproduce the sweetness of the Orchid DAC.


New Head-Fier
Cayin N7 from a layman perspective
Pros: Processor, updated UI, screen quality, overall sound
Cons: only 64GB of internal storage
My review of the Cayin N7 can be described as coming from more of a layman who listens to a lot of music from different devices than a more in-depth review coming from a self-professed audiophile. I like to think I have a pretty good ear, but not as good as some reviewers I have read. Anyway, my experience follows:


Prior to making my purchase I researched the Cayin N7 and found several things that intrigued me:

Discrete fully-balanced 1-Bit Resistor Network “DSD” DAC

Dual Amplification Mode (Choice of Class A/Class AB)

Android 12

9000mAh Battery with a duration of 6 to 10 hours

Snapdragon 665 CPU, 4GB RAM, 64GB Internal (negative about only 64gb memory)

Direct playback from USB OTG Storage

For a complete list of Cayin N7 details check out Cayin’s site at


After finally deciding to add the Cayin N7 to my collection I ordered it from MusicTeck and anxiously awaited its arrival. When I received the package and opened it I found a nicely packaged unit in a box covered by shrink wrap. When I opened the box, I found the following items:

The Cayin N7

A leather case for the N7

4.4mm to 2.5mm (F) Adapter

4. 3.5mm to 2.5mm (F) Adapter

A USB-C cable

A glass screen protector

User manual

Spending Time With My Cayin N7

After using the N7 for over two weeks now, I find the most important thing included in the package (other than the Cayin N7 itself) is the leather case. The case is a necessary addition to the package that helps keep a device at this price point from getting scratched and damaged. One positive thing I have found about the N7 case is the space between the case and buttons. My N8ii had more space between the case and buttons and I found that sometimes it was not as easy as the N7 in turning it on and off.

Looking at the N7 you see a 5” screen at 1080p. You will find the volume knob on the top right side. The power, play and skip buttons are on the right side. I find I have no problem with Cayin’s decision to place the power button on this side. On the bottom you have: 4.4mm balanced LO/Pre output, 3.5mm single ended LO/Pre output, 3.5mm single ended phone output and 4.4mm balanced phone output. Below that, also on the bottom of the device, is a Mini-HDMI and a USB audio in and out (USB-C) S/PDIF output.

When you power on the N7 the Snapdragon 665 CPU and its 4GB of RAM boot you into a fast and modern operating system by way of Android 12. This is a nice addition as Android 12 is a newer version of Android. I have noticed no “lag” in the UI with the included 4GB of ram. Having a newer version of Android means it contains several updated settings not included in earlier versions of Android. One such setting is the option of using “Dark theme” which uses less battery by turning the display dark. Another is “Double-click to wake up.” I have used this a lot on Android based mobile devices that support it and find it easier than pressing the power button. One negative thing I would like to point out is that the N7 includes only 64GB of internal storage. I would think that a DAP at this price point would include at least 128GB.

The ability to use Google Play Store to download apps is a nice addition as well. I’ve been able to install and use Qobuz and Tidal with no issues. I have also had no problems connecting to hotspots.

The Audio Settings in the included Android 12 include the following selections: Output specifications, Digital Out, Amplifier Operation, Line/Pre-Out Select, Po/Pre Gain, Channel balance, Max volume selector, Volume Control Setting and MQA decoder. I will briefly discuss two of these settings I use regularly. First is the Amplifier Operation which gives you the option to select Class A or Class AB mode for your listening pleasure. I really enjoy this feature on Cayin’s C9 and find that it works equally as well on the N7. The other setting, or feature, I am glad was included is the ability to listen to MQA music. The N7 includes a 16x full decoder to listen to MQA music.

Cayin says the included 9000mAh battery provides the N7 with a duration of 6 to 10 hours depending on the Amp Mode used and I found that to be an accurate statement.


I think the N7 sounds smooth and has plenty of power to drive most headphones. The N7 separates DSD from PCM signals and allows it to bypass a typical SRC multibit converter. This is where Cayin’s 1-BIT format comes into play and leaves the signal unaltered when it reaches the resistor network DAC. I think Cayin’s fully-balanced 1-Bit Resistor Network “DSD” works well and I have experienced no negative issues from using it. I have listened to all types of music with the N7 and have no complaints.


With so many choices of solid DAPs on the market, each company is trying to set itself above the rest by producing a better product. I find that by producing an aesthetically pleasing device by using sandblasted CNC aluminum Cayin at least causes the N7 to get noticed when one is in the market for such a device. Upon further examination you find a DAP worthy of the Cayin name able to hold its own with similarly priced DAPs, even at some priced higher. I give the Cayin N7 a 4.5 as there is always room for improvement. I am happy with my purchase and will continue to enjoy the experience provided by the Cayin N7.
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New Head-Fier
The Cayin N7 Digital Audio Player A powerful, luscious sounding, solidly constructed and flexible DA
Pros: Strong amp compared to A&K A&futura SE 180
Good dynamic range for jazz and classical
Strong low end and tonal balance
Long battery life
Pre-amp outputs
Excellent case
Full Play Store support
Cons: Can run out of battery while being used as a USB DAC with a laptop
Difficult to identify play-mode icon, of which there is only one, and there is one place to change play mode
Could not get coaxial digital out from CD transport to work with USB-C input using converter wire, to use N7 as DAC
Could not hear difference between class-A and class-AB amps
I’ll be talking, mostly, about the new Cayin N7 DAP that I’ve been using heavily over the last week. It’s a hefty piece of electronics with great features, great sound, and great battery life. It can be used in a variety of ways because of the many output capabilities (and input capabilities) Cayin has given it. It’s the highest price point DAP I’ve held in my hands, the next being the Astell & Kern A&futura SE 180. Both sound amazing, and rather than compare their sounds, I focus on what my experiences were like when I was learning to use the N7 and when I was listening to music with it. The story starts when I get the box.


The box is wrapped in thin plastic if your N7 is new, as mine was. The box looks nice enough that I relied upon my fingers to break through the wrap, so as not to damage the box. It is a tightly fitting box, where I had difficulty separating the top (outside half) from the bottom (inside half). I ended up finding that shaking it with authority caused the inside to come out just enough to work it the rest of the way out. Once it’s open, you’ll probably not want to close it again any time soon. The packaging is elegantly designed, with easy-to work ribbon pulls to get the player out from its nook, and another to lift the false bottom and get at the USB C-to-USB C cable and two headphone-plug adapters, one a 4.4 mm balanced (TRRS) right-angle adapter and the other a 3.5 mm single ended (TRS) right-angle adapter. These will fit onto a 2.5-mm plug, I think, but I don’t have one. The carrying case for the N7, a bright, yellow-tan or buckskin custom case, well designed to fit the N7 snugly, leaving its controls operable, is also under the false bottom.

N7 in box edit.jpg

First word of warning: keep your N7 in its case. It’s a good case, better than the case for the Cayin N3Pro. It holds the N7 inside the case with a powerful magnetic clasp, and the volume knob is well protected by the case material, unlike the case for the N3Pro, where the volume knob is not protected at all and is liable to get banged around. Also, the N3Pro case has no closure strap, so I once had the N3Pro slip out of the case and fall onto concrete, cracking the screen all the way through. It still worked, and I applied a type of rubberized superglue to help things stay together, but I eventually sent it back for a replacement screen. (Music Teck, the seller, was great about helping me figure out what could be fixed and at what cost. Through them, the expense was $30 for the new screen.) The most problematic thing about the N3Pro, in striking contrast with the N7, is the volume knob’s unreliability. I’ve had two N3Pros, and both had volume knob issues. They just gradually stopped working altogether. The N7’s volume knob is within the contours of the player’s chassis, and the case gives it extra protection. Also, it is beautifully engraved with two concentric rings with line designs, and a central flaming sun (if I’m interpreting the graphic right).

Anyway, I say keep it in the case because the back side of the N7 is easily scratched, though the back of mine is covered by a plastic membrane held in place with clear adhesive, allowing the gorgeous, crystal-like, quasi-holographic geometric pattern to show. The mistake I am always seeming to make with my DAPs is putting them into my pocket with my metal house keys and others, without thinking, and this always results in scratching the DAP. With a solid case like the one that comes with the N7, and with its attractive, eye-catching aesthetics, there’s not a good reason not to keep it in the case. Sure, the N7 runs warm, and its smooth curves and well-defined angles are nice to handle, but I already regret not having put it into its case today. Yes, the keys, again, have scratched it. I put it back into the case soon after realizing my mistake, and I have not had problems with overheating. Perhaps the metal-grilled back provides heat-sink capabilities.

The UI​

Some DAPs have regrettable operating systems and graphical user interfaces. The N7, having a full-fledged Android 12 OS with full Play Store access, is like magic for practical DAP purposes for a user like me. Comparing it with the Astell & Kern A&futura SE 180, it is as easy to add a streaming app or web browser to your N7 as it is on an Android phone. That is to point out that there’s no concern about whether the app has been put on a list of allowed or supported Android apps, as there is with the SE 180. I’ve put Firefox and two streaming apps (Qobuz and Bandcamp) onto my N7, and an internet browser app allows me to connect to Wi-Fi networks that involve interactive sign-in, like Starbucks hotspots. The N7 ships with the Via browser, and different browser apps are available through the Play Store.

setting up screen on N7 edit.jpg

Listening with the N7​

There’s plenty of power in the single-ended headphone output to drive 300-Ω Sennheiser HD650s, and they sound great with it. Listening to the silky guitar of Tal Farlow’s album Chromatic Palette reveals just how good the 650s can sound with a great source and plenty of power. With the balanced headphone output, my Sendy Peacocks, at just 50-Ω, were at a moderate listening volume when in a quiet office waiting room, and the volume control was at 38 out of 100. The Senns, for the record, are comfortably loud through the single-ended output, with the volume at 60 out of 100. Different albums, with different dynamic levels, will cause your experience to vary. Chromatic Palette came out in 1981, and more recent albums, such as John Scofield’s Combo 66, and Bibio’s BIBIO, have noticeably louder sound at the same volume setting, with Bibio being a little too loud at a volume setting of 60, when played through the HD650s. When positioning the N7 on a flat surface such as a coffee shop table, the volume knob can be swiped easily. The knob has little resistance to turning, and it’s oriented vertically (axis is horizontal) when placed flat on a table. The volume divisions on the knob are such that even a casual adjustment allows a precise tailoring of the volume to one’s liking. I haven’t taken it apart(!), but it is likely a rotary-shaft encoder circuit connected to the volume wheel, which spins endlessly in both directions.

The player’s HiBy player app’s play mode came set to (or I accidentally set it to) “Shuffle all,” and I could not find a way to change it, either in the controls on the device or in any manual or article online. This may sound petty, but just imagine, for a minute, not having any control over the order in which songs play, when playing with the Cayin music player app (play modes work fine for apps downloaded from the Play Store). I try to listen to an album, and the tracks play in random order. I select the tracks for the play queue, and they play in random order. I reached out to Music Teck, the retailer, for help. It turned out there is an icon/button in the upper-left corner of the slide-up GUI square you get if you tap on the song currently playing, at the bottom of the large screen (icon circled in photo, below). I was flummoxed, since neither the Cayin manual nor the internet had a solution to what seems to be a basic aspect of operation; but, the N7 is a complex piece of software and hardware, and documenting everything, especially those things that might seem obvious, would greatly expand the manual and the cost of it.

N7 screen showing play mode icon.jpg

One thing I have liked about the Cayin DAPs I’ve owned (which are, admittedly, limited to the N3Pro and the N7) is the ability to change amplification types. On the N3Pro, there are four amplification modes (if one counts balanced as a fourth): a solid-state single ended mode, triode and ultra-linear tube modes, and a solid-state balanced mode. The N7 has solid-state class A and class AB to choose from. Maybe it is too early to say, or maybe my ear is not developed enough, but I cannot tell any difference in sound between these two. I expect some people could. Just having the opportunity to compare them is a fun feature. The Cayin marketing verbiage makes suggestions for what music to listen to with either class of amp. For Cayin’s pitch for the N7, see

An outstanding experience I have had with the N7 is, several days after beginning to listen to it, I played back a live recording of Brad Mehldau on piano, backed by bass and drums, at the Village Vanguard in New York, NY. The striking thing was how wonderful it sounded through the modest pair of Sennheiser HD600 open back, over-ear headphones I’m wearing even now. The sound stage was as wide as if I were sitting in the front row, right up against the stage, with a drum set to my right, the acoustic bass nearer to center stage, and the acoustic piano on my left I have been listening to these Senns for days, since I only very recently acquired them and I had not thought much of them before giving them a chance. I’ve been surprised by the similarities in sound between the HD600s and the HD650s. The listening experience is magnificent. Neither has the dominating bass of the HD6XX’S and later 600-series Senns.

I found sounds to my right were farther to my right than I think I had ever heard them. Typically, I hear with a wide left side of the sound stage and a short right side, where my ear marks the rightmost expansion of the music. Here, some of the mikes for the drum set are coming from beyond that. Again, let me say, these are not Sennheisers about which I remember hearing praise. It’s the N7 and the expert sound engineering at the Vanguard, which has long impressed me with its live recordings, that produce the expansive listening space and orchestration of tone. The higher price point Sendy Peacocks also sound terrific with this album, and for some of the same reasons.

The N7 as a Pre-amplifier​

One cool thing about the Cayin N7 is that not only does it have balanced and single-ended headphone jacks, but it has both balanced and single-ended line-level outputs as well—and it has balanced and single-ended pre-amp level outputs, with adjustable output up to several volts. The line-level and pre-amp level outputs share jacks, while the headphone jacks are separate jacks from those. This prevents accidental switching to a very high output level and exploding your ears with a blast you may not have expected. A word of warning: the N7 gets very unhappy if you try plugging into both pre-amp and headphone jacks at the same time. Play stops and a kind of digital grunt comes through the headphones before there is silence, in which I wondered, a bit fearfully, “What have I done?” I didn’t break it. The N7 is a heavy, solidly built piece of audio gear. All the same, I’m not going to do further experimentation with plugging in multiple outputs at the same time. There are some experiments that are not meant to be carried out.

I'm just now trying out the single-ended pre-amp out into my Sublime Audio active crossover and from there into three Schiit Audio Aegir class-A solid-state power amps. Active tri-amping is a little project that has given me much satisfaction. This pre-amp out feature allows me to get a solid-state pre-amp (class A or class AB) instead of my all-tube Schiit Audio Valhalla pre-amp/headphone amp. I’ve tried both amp types available on the N7—class A and class AB—and, as I said above, it may be too early, or my ear may not be sophisticated enough, to distinguish the two. I can’t hear a difference, though I do not deny there could be one. There’s some talk on audio forums, that any type of amp, if built properly, will sound identical to any other type of amp that has been built properly—say, a tube amp vs a switching amp (class D amplification), but I cannot weigh in on that discussion. Again, Cayin makes recommendations about what sounds better with class-A or class-AB amplification. I leave it to the reader to learn about it. This is not the place for a long digression on that.

Rather than compare the N7 as pre-amp to my Valhalla 2 pre-amp, I’ll try to describe the listening and listener-user experience of operating the N7 in pre-amp mode. Even at output levels of over 70 out of 100 (max.), I have not heard any clipping. To give this a good test, I’ll try out a recent, high dynamic-level pop recording. (I’m using the single-ended pre-amp output—I don’t have a stereo set-up where a balanced pre-amp can be used.)

Turning the pre-amp level to 100 out of 100 (maxing it out on the N7), I selected “Boom, Clap” by Charlie XCX and a track called “Zoo Rave.” Here, the limiting factor is undoubtedly my power amps, which run 30 W max RMS with an unknown max power rating. Loud volumes and hard transients such as bass drums and cymbals are probably harmed by the relatively underpowered stereo I own. I don’t throw raves in my house. At typical listening levels, with the N7’s pre-amp output level set to 80 out of 100, there is no sense that the music was being smashed down and transients are weak, even on a hard-hitting track such as “Boom, Clap.” Listening, now, to an M4A (Apple) CD-rip of a 1990s edition of Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto, at a pre-amp level of 80 out of 100, the dynamics are free and open. Nothing seems compressed or smashed down. The volume is not loud during this quieter part of the work, but there is plenty of room for reproduction of both quiet tones and louder tones. And the sound is marvelous. Different instruments sound separately and are not crowded into aural porridge.

I have not addressed many of the sale points for the N7, such as the discrete resistor network and the up-sampling to DSD for outputs. I have tried each of the four DAC/amp modules that are available for the Astell & Kern A&future SE 180 DAP, a mighty piece of hardware, and the sound of the N7 seems to take the best aspects of each of them and produce a lovely tonal palette with enough bass, mid and treble to support all the types of music I have tried with it. I especially love hearing classical and live jazz recordings, since the dynamic range on the N7 is large, with its powerful amplifiers that can play quietly or loudly. And the fidelity of the music the N7 puts out is luscious. I cannot speak to it as an “audiophile’s” choice—though I use the term, audiophile, in the name of this substack. The term seems to have different meanings depending on who is using it. I prefer the simple interpretation of a literal reading of its word roots, which I think come out as “lover of sound,” as “philosopher” is often given to mean “lover of wisdom.” That—lover of sound (or, alternatively, lover of music)—seems like a good starting point for discussing nuances in meaning.

So, I’m not saying this is a “reference” DAP that recreated the music experience as the artists and engineers and producers may have intended. I am saying it sounds superb—at least as good, to me, as the A&K SE 180 with any of its modules. These are the only two DAPs at this price point I’ve heard. I can’t compare it to others at the same price point. Their numbers may be different, but different sounds can elude numbers we have available today, at this relatively early stage of understanding how measurements of sound and the physical characteristics of hardware relate to the music as it is heard.

The Cayin N7’s ease of use, with the Play Store available, multiple mechanical buttons on the side, and a responsive volume knob, as well as its multifarious output capabilities, make this a versatile DAP that can be used by a person who doesn’t design computer systems for a living. I try to refrain from giving a “thumbs-up/thumbs-down” evaluation in what I have to say about audio equipment. I see it as a hobby, even an adventure, that can take me down surprising paths. I believe there is no “right” DAP for everyone, though I think some are better than others. I’m not giving this a star rating either. I am happy I purchased it, and I intend to use it for a long time and in many ways. I offer my description of what it was like for me to use it and my description of the music I heard through it. When it comes to audio gear generally, my story is this: until I heard it, I didn’t know what I was missing. And then I knew the monetary cost was worth it. I give this a 4.5 because it is the most powerful, flexible, usable DAP I have used, and the -0.5 star is because I can't hear any difference between class-A and class-AB amplification. That could just be me. My experience with DAPs at this price point is limited, so I may be overly impressed, and it may fare worse when compared with more DAPs at its price point. For people excited about hearing their favorite music on good or even great equipment—like myself—deciding that a splurge is worth it has always ended with happier listening.
just one comment about using N7 as usb dac connected to your laptop. Your laptop usb port is slow charging, and while using N7 as usb dac, you are probably discharging at a faster rate than charging it up. I don't have any with me to test it, but maybe try a powered usb hub?
To the best of my knowledge, the USB port will limit the current available to the connected device. With USB 2.1, the N7 probably will receive upto 500mA (25% of standard 5V 2A charger) when connect to as USB DAC, USB3.1 will charge at 900mA, significantly better than USB 2.1 connections.
Thank you for the fine review. I own an 'old' N8 which I understood I will keep and will suit me just fine for the future (I like pure players best, do not use streaming services). That 'play mode feature' is simple and intuitive, always the same for any Hiby UI since my first R3 (2018?) to some many DAPs I have had with it (lastly the great pocketable Hidizs AP80Pro - X CU).


100+ Head-Fier
ToTL DAP for a fraction of the price
Pros: Amazing soundstage
Variety of tuning options
DAC implementation
True line out/Pre-amp
Black Background
Great battery life (in Class AB)
Cons: Bass can be a bit too prominent for in Class A
Treble can be a bit TOO smooth for my tastes
Class A battery life leaves a bit to be desired
Hello all, time again for another Delitia review, as per usual, basics out of the way first.

Thank you once again, as always, to Andrew and Musicteck for the chance to review this product, you can find the Cayin N7 and other Cayin products at

Throughout this review I'll be using the Nostalgia Audio Tesseract via the Effect Audio Cleopatra II Octa (with Radius Deep mount clear, medium, for tips) for all of my comparisons and where the Cayin C9 is utilized, it is connected via Line Out or Pre-Amp via a Cleopatra II Octa interconnect and in Tube timbre with Class AB amplification unless otherwise stated.

I went into the purchase of this DAP with high expectations having been eyeing the N8ii for a long time and from all the reviews and impressions the excellent quality of not only the Cayin sound but also their phenomenal build quality and attention to detail throughout. I purchased it alongside the Cayin C9 (review also to follow!) with the sole purpose of finding a suitable match to my quickly beloved Tesseract and the N7 has not disappointed in the least.

Comparisons to my other DAPs will be included in the sound analysis, these include the Astell&Kern SP3000 (SS&CU), iBasso DX320 max and standard 320 with amp 14. Due to the very similar nature of the SP3Ks, I'll be covering the comparisons together and noting where any standout differences occur. I'll also do my best to compare Class A/Class AB amplifiers, but to put it out in the open, I much preferred Class AB with the N7, which I'll cover in the bass section.


The N7s packaging is about on par with every other DAP I've purchased, including all the necessities of charging cable, extra screen protectors and an EXCELLENT quality case (I opted to buy the blue version because....yellow stock). The nice extra inclusion is a set of 3.5mm and 4.4mm angled adapter set. Personally I'll probably never have a use for these, but it's a great inclusion. Another note, the N7 comes with all screen/back etc. protectors pre-applied, so no fiddling with getting it on there yourself and getting annoying air bubbles or dust. Also to note, it comes with a pre-inserted HDMI silicone plug, another very nice touch since most users will likely never use this slot so protecting it's a great addition. Not too much else to say here as it's your standard bag of any upper echelon DAP packaging.



Build Quality:

The N7 is on the smaller and lighter side of most other DAPs in the ToTL space but against others in it's price range it's about average to slightly bigger, nothing that will hinder pocket/travel or normal use. The only downside, this seems to be Cayin's standard build philosophy though, is that all the ports are on the bottom side, so pocket use, the volume knob is going to be facing down, out of reach. The other downside of all the ports on one side is charging/listening at once usage is slightly annoying. The rest of the DAP is solid and as per usual Cayin, the case is very high quality, aesthetically pleasing and function (back metal plate is vented to assist with heat dissipation). All plugs are tight and no easily yanked ports, usb-c included and the volume wheel is excellent. All in all, a great quality on the outside, now for the software.

It's android 12, open with a lot of very nice visual customizations. The first and most noticeable is the top pull down menu. It has been fully customized to have all your most needed options right there in front of you so you never have to dig for them. You can quickly flip between gain modes, line in/out and amplifier class all within the pull down, extremely convenient and well thought out. Other DAPs have similar but no where near as customized and intuitive as this, that I own, anyway.

The UI is all fast and I personally have never experienced any slow downs or unresponsiveness from either the screen or side buttons, an issue I commonly have with both of my iBasso DAPs (neither AK has this issue either). Start up, shut downs and restarts are all snappy.

The latest firmware update has added the option to select how the 1 Bit DAC implemented will up-sample your music, you have options from DSD 64 through DSD 512. This is a nice touch for those that may feel or notice any degradation with higher up-sampling options. I personally have left this on DSD 512 and not experienced any feedback or other noise associated with it. The quality of going up the DSD chain is also noticeable, bigger soundstage, better dynamics, slightly more air.




The N7 has an excellent dark background, despite the measurements which seem fairly on the "poor" side given the class of the DAP there is no background noise even with the Tesseract which seems to be fairly sensitive to it in my testing due to their clarity. Both Class A and AB share the same traits, the only time I noticed any background noise was when paired with the C9, where both Timbre states and amplifier classes result in the same low hum. Comparative to all my other DAPS, the N7 performs well here except against the SP3K, which has the darkest background of all DAPs I've heard. Not really a knock on the N7, as the SP3K is $1700 more.


The soundstage of the N7 is HUGE with the Tesseract in Class AB. I'll say it right off the bat, my previous largest soundstage comparison was the DX320 MAX in ultimate mode. The N7 beats it, and at a $1,400 lower price tag. Truly a feat and Cayin did excellent work with the 1Bit DAC implementation. The soundstage within Class A feels slightly smaller, but I believe that's perception due to the elevated bass and smoother mids/treble. The only place where the soundstage is "lacking" compared to other ToTL DAPs is in the height, since the Treble is smoothed out more than my other DAPs it leads to less of a perception in how high it goes, again, more so in Class A than Class AB. This is an issue that is rectified by attaching the N7 to the Cayin C9 amplifier. The C9 doesn't have much impact on the soundstage anywhere else but in height, to me, the width and depth are untouched and still very wide and deep.

SP3k (SS&CU): Much like the aforementioned iBasso DX320 MAX, the SP3K loses to the N7 in soundstage, it's not by a big margin but it is noticeable with the Tesseract. The SP3K does have a significantly higher staging available to it though, even with the C9 included on the N7.

DX320 w/ amp14: Slightly smaller than the SP3K above, a relatively decent margin below the N7, much more noticeable when not listening distinctly for the differences unlike it's competitors.



The N7 is competent and capable here, but due to the more smoothed treble response and more forward bass, especially in Class A, there is less of that sense of separation from top to bottom. Class AB performs much better in this space as the bass becomes less prominent, tighter and faster with the treble becoming less smooth. In general, pairing with the C9 brings the dynamics to a higher level and much closer/on-par with other ToTLs (one would hope, given the amplifiers added cost) but there is the background noise when no music is playing, I have not noticed it during playback though, even in the quietest sections of songs.

SP3K: When compared to Class A the SP3K is quite a bit ahead of the N7, there is a much greater top to bottom separation with those at the end of the spectrum having a less pronounced level but still being more clearly audible. This isn't to say the N7 is lacking detail or loses detail, it actually performs wonderfully but the SP3K black background is likely the cause of that greater stand-out. When put in Class AB they are much closer in micro and macro detail presentation but the quieter background lends itself to the SP3K once again to edge out the N7.

320Max: The N7 in class A has a very similar performance to the 320max, as both elevate the bass performance heavily, to the point where some of the dynamics and micro details are drowned out. When put in Class AB, the N7 out performs the 320Max. I was mildly surprised here as the MAX contains a super class A amp, but it's just more credit to how well Cayin was able to integrate the DAC and amp sections of this DAP. While I believe the 320max is a DAP with strong transients, the bass leaning signature of it can sometimes distract/make it feel like a slower sounding DAP than it actually is, I'd put it about on par with Class A N7 but slower than Class AB by a good margin and slower than any settings when paired with C9.

320 w/ amp 14: Amp 14 performs somewhere between solo N7 and N7+C9. There is a higher definition of the treble and a bass that sits between Class A and AB making it perform better than the N7 on it's own but slightly less than when paired with the C9. The transients of the amp14 are surprisingly strong and quick despite being a tube, a feature the C9s tubes also share, I'd put its speed between Class A and AB similar to the SP3K but closer to A rather than AB.


The N7 in Class AB shares a similar lean as the SP3K SS, it's very neutral but leaning just into that warm territory on it's own, with Class A being closer to the CU being ever so slightly warmer. Everything through the mids sounds very natural with no signs of metallic, shouty or bloomy-ness associated with vocals in the upper mids. Treble is very smoothed as I mentioned earlier which leads to a darker rather than brighter, sparklier sound. The N7 lends itself to being a DAP that will pair well with any monitor due to this, even treble leaning IEMs and those who are sensitive likely won't have any issues.

320Max: A more neutral, brighter sound due to the higher definition/sparkle for the treble not being as recessed as the N7.

320 w/ amp14: Like with dynamics, the amp 14 sits between the N7 solid state and C9 tube. It's a brighter sounding tube compared to the C9 which has slightly more smoothness and warmth from treble down into the upper mids.

Sound Profile:

Before jumping into each area of the spectrum, I want to quickly discuss the Line Out vs Pre-Out. As others on Head-Fi have mentioned, Line-out will give you a presentation that is closer to the amp which you are outputting to, while Pre-Out will give you an N7 leaning profile. I found both to work very well and it gives yet another layer of customization/sound tweaking the user can play with to meet their preferences. You also have access to Low and High gain features, I did not play around with this too much as all my IEMs are fairly sensitive and I have no over ears to test the drive of High vs Low gain. I have not had the need for High gain as any IEM I own and paired we very loud even at 30-50 volume (I keep Tesseract at 35, Odin went to 45~ plus or minus based on song, Ragnar at 52~ and 48 for the Indigo). I did fiddle with the Trifecta on high gain and it benefits well being a less sensitive IEM gaining a bit more of a dynamic presentation and settled on around 40 volume.

From what I've read, since I have no had the luck to spend any time with the N8ii, the N7 shares the Cayin flavor of keeping the bass elevated, tactile and quick. There is a big difference however between Class A and AB that leads me to vastly prefer AB. When in Class A, the N7 has a very forward sub bass presentation to the point where the mid-bass takes a bit of a back seat and quieter sections can sometimes be drowned out due to the sub bass elevation. There is also a slight bit of bloom from the sub bass into the lower mids and as a result, does not sound as quick. Class AB is much more balanced and has far greater dynamism to it than Class A. The Bass still remains very tactile but is not longer elevated or as forward (thus the dynamics perception increase). The mid bass is able to shine much more here being balanced with the sub bass, the bloom/bleed present in Class A is no longer there and therefore the mids have a much clearer presentation. I personally find Class A to be much too sub bass forward although this is personal taste (especially with the Tesseract pairing) and many will love the DAP for this level of bass.

SP3K: The SP3K SS has a very tight, fast and has a good tactility but not as much punch as the N7 in Class A. The CU has a slightly greater elevation of bass vs the SS which brings it closer to N7/Class A but still not as elevated. As mentioned in the technicalities section, the SP3K (SS and CU) are able to reach a lower register than the N7 and this lends itself to sound a bit more engaging but they are not far off and for nearly double the price, it's a personal call/preference. I did not like the Tesseract synergy with the SP3K but I absolutely love how it sounds with the N7, especially via Line Out to the C9.

320Max: N7 and Max share a lot in common in the bass, but the max is more of a blend between Class A and AB presentation. It has the forwardness of Class A but closer to the speed of Class AB but without the bloom/mid bleed that the N7 experiences with more crowded tracks.

320 w/ amp14: I was very surprised with the bass similarities and tonality here given solid state vs tube of the amp14. The amp14 has a sub bass leaning presentation but it is close to balanced only slightly skewed toward sub. This actually puts the sound much closer to Class AB.


The mids are heavily influenced in their presentation by your choice of amp class, not because they are actually tweaked but because the bass signature, as mentioned above, has a huge impact on their perception. In Class A the lower mids are recessed and can be lost due to the sub bass elevation. This makes deeper male vocals that are on the quieter side to have less micro-details as they are lost in the sub bass bloom while Class AB does not suffer from this, so the mids come in to a much more balanced and slightly colder tonality. Upper mids on both Class A and AB sound fantastic with female vocals never being shouty or nasally with any of my IEMs I paired, even the Odin. With Class AB I experienced no loss in fidelity of the mids with any music I threw at it, even the most cluttered, complex metal tracks were handled with ease.

SP3K: Both the SP3K SS and CU have a more organic and natural sounding mids when compared to the N7 but the N7 is not far behind and when paired with the C9, they are very close in their presentation qualities. The tonality is the biggest difference between these two, with the SS leaning toward the tonality of Class AB but still a bit warmer while the CU leans to Class A but a little colder in tonality. Overall, I wouldn't say one is better than the other, it really comes down to synergy of your pairing, as I did not enjoy the Ragnar nearly as much with the N7 as I do with the SP3K but I find the Odin to be much more enjoyable on the N7.

320Max: The 320max has a much more neutral, cold, analytical tonality to it's mids than the N7. However, despite this, I feel a greater level of detail from the N7 in Class AB due to the bass presentation of the MAX tending to drown out more minute details. I feel that the 320max, similar to Class A N7 requires a very bass light IEM to get the most out of the mids as they get much more recessed/loss micro-details on some tracks.

320 w/ amp14: No surprise that the amp14 has an amazing mid presentation being a tube amp. The real surprise here is that despite being a tube it is not overly warm or lacking micro details, it hits a sweet spot of a warm, flowing and engaging tonality without being overly so as to lose micro-details. With mid specialist IEMs such as the Odin, Mentor or others, I believe the amp14 to be the better choice especially when factoring in the bass bloom Class A suffers from. In class AB though it will come down to preference, slightly more micro-details and speed from the N7 or a little more warmth and musical flow from the amp14.


This is where my half a point rating comes off. The treble of the N7 is extremely smooth and unintrusive, especially with an IEM like the Tesseract where the treble is already slightly set back. Now, despite being smooth and recessed, there is an outstanding quality to the treble. There is a lot of air, especially with the Tesseract (it's true strength, with 6 ESTs) and despite the recessed nature, micro details are not absent or hidden, which is nice. There is a strong level of extension but those at the end of the FR can be a bit muted from the smoothed nature. Between Class A and Class AB I do not hear too much of a tonality change, mostly just a slightly more prevalent treble response due to the bass being toned down, so there is greater separation due to the balance. Class AB also carries it's greater transient and dynamics through to the treble region making the decay of cymbals and others more incisive. With Class A there is a more distinct reverb that lingers. My only wish was that the treble region were a little brighter with a touch more sparkle to it, luckily the C9 in tube and AB solves this.

SP3K: The treble of both the SS and CU SP3K, to me, is the same. They both have an extremely well extended bright and sparkly treble that only has the smallest touch of smoothness at the end of the notes, taking any sharpness that some might be sensitive to off. The N7 is only a touch behind the SP3K in extension. I find the treble quality of these two to be extremely close when you listen closely, especially in AB as the note decay comes closer to that of the SP3K. This will be preference for users, those who are treble sensitive will love the N7 as even with the Trifecta, known for some levels of sibilance, is completely free of any harshness occurring.

320Max: The Max has a similar extension to the SP3K, sitting a hair back but still slightly more extended than the N7 but it's really splitting hairs at this level. As mentioned earlier, there is a greater brightness and sparkle from the 320max than the N7 but the story continues of the max and Class A N7 having a, for me, negative impact on the treble as the forwardness tends to strip away micro details and softer cymbals from the sound.

320 w/ amp14: At this point, I think the best description for the amp14 can be a tube amp that has all the great qualities of a tube but also inherits the qualities and strengths of a good solid-state amp as well. The treble is well extended, nearing SP3K levels, with a great sparkle and brightness that only has a touch of dark/smoothness on the trail end but still gets great incisive zings. Between the N7 and the Amp14, I greatly prefer the Amp14s presentation which is very similar to that of the C9 when paired to the N7.


With this being my introduction to Cayin products, both the N7 and C9, I can say I am very pleased. The N7 exceeded all expectations I had for it going into the purchase and it is an absolutely amazing DAP, especially when factoring in it's price point, accessories and build quality comparative to other ToTLs, there is nothing lacking.

I absolutely adore this DAP especially paired to my Tesseract and it has quickly risen to competing levels of first place favoritism with the Ragnar and Indigo. For those looking for either a great local player or streamer, the N7 won't disappoint at all and the DSD 1 Bit DAC up-sampling is phenomenal.

Hopefully this review will help any prospective buyers in their decision making process and let you know if the N7 is the right DAP for you. Thank you for taking the time to read and appreciate any feedback or comments!

And don't forget to check out the Cayin shop at Musicteck for the N7 and many other Cayin products at
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Headphoneus Supremus
Great choice for SACD/DSD use
Pros: - Solid build
- Black background
- Engaging timbre
- Excellent for native DSD
- Dedicated LO
Cons: - Restrained by its amp performance
- Not the most dynamic sounding DAP
[Disclaimer: this review unit was provided by Cayin as part of the N7 EU tour. Big shout out to the most excellent Andy Kong for his generosity].

A 1-Bit DAP?

To 1-bit or not two 1-bit? This is the question the Cayin N7 raises with its latest DAP. You’ll forgive me if I don’t get into the technicalities of this DAC architecture here. As is now widely known (somewhat), what renders the N7 unique is that PCM sources are converted to DSD format. While other DAPs have various upscaling DSP features, from what I understand the N7 is the first DAP to have this architecture as an FPGA based system. What I want to focus on here, however, are the subjective aspects of how this technology sounds. How does the N7 sound? I have owned various Cayin products over the years and would consider myself a fan; the R01 module for the N6ii is what I would also describe as a modern-day classic, so I was especially curious about the N7.


Before I get to this, let me begin with a confession: I am not a streamer, so I’m only interested in the N7 as a local storage device. Let me also add, because I’m a local guy, I’ve inadvertently accumulated too much media over the years, including vast swathes of SACD/DSD media alongside regular FLAC/WAV formats. I have to say, having gone deep into this format rabbit hole, my overall conclusion is that what really matters is the original mastering of the album rather than the format itself. If an album is poorly produced, then there’s nothing that upsampling/converting or downloading in high-res can do to redeem it. In the same measure, a well-produced album can certainly benefit in some cases from DSD format, I think. Finally, it seems to me (as I hear it) that DSD format is suited for some genres more than others; classical, fusion, jazz, soundtracks seem to thrive in this format, but I would not opt to listen to Megadeth in DSD.

Build and Feel

To the N7, first impressions. Build is very sturdy, feels good in the hand, nice weight. It’s large though I wouldn’t exactly take it out and about for a walk, but I don’t see a problem in using it once settled in some café/bar/hotel/office etc. I’m personally really not a fan of having the outputs on the bottom side. I know this is very personal, but this doesn’t make any sense to me and I far prefer the format of the N6ii with the volume on the side and the outputs on the top. The gold volume knob is nice but the resistance is a bit loose and it certainly doesn’t have the premium feel of the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch gold knob. The leather case is less yellow than I anticipated but it’s still quite yellow.


No issues at all with the UI and speed. Everything is very snappy with no lag. I’m using a SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB card with about 15,000 tracks and everything moves along nicely. Screen is very good. This might be a redundant observation, but it would be nice to have some kind of Roon style indication of what’s going on in the conversion process, at least to confirm which DSD rate is being played. On this point, I largely left the N7 in stock form during my time with it. The difference between class A and AB in amp performance are noticeable but subtle. Class A takes off some edges in the upper mids and adds a little more weight in the lower mids. With respect to the DSD output introduced in the latest FW, I have to confess even with my most transparent gear, I could barely hear any difference.

Sound Impressions

How, finally, does the N7 sound? I would describe the overall N7 timbre has having a natural signature which tilts toward slight warmth. I had read previously that there was some confusion/conflation between the N7 and R2R sounding DAPs, especially R01. It’s been a while since I had the R01, but to my ears, the N7 is overall more forgiving with more of an emphasis in the lower mids.

The overall presentation is smooth, fairly laid back, and basically what one might call “musical.” Bass is fairly well-contained with good texture, mids are for the most part rather linear if not slightly pushed forward, and the upper mids/treble is airy but at times becomes slightly strident when challenged with sharp sounding albums. Nevertheless, I think the appeal of the N7 will be that it tends to act as a good all-rounder for those looking for a nice upgrade from entry level sources, especially when paired with an external amp (see below).


What about DSD vs PCM? I installed a native SACD copy of “Thriller” alongside a PCM conversion of the same album on the N7. What I found is quite striking: the native DSD copy has much better dynamics, more impactful with a more technically precise presentation. The PCM version, on the other hand, is much softer if not slightly blurrier. I found this to be the case throughout my time with the N7: it excels when playing native DSD in every sense, whereas the PCM version felt arguably weaker and less engaging. I would say this is a big selling point if you’re invested in the SACD eco-system but in terms of being a player for PCM sources, that’ll be a question of taste.


On a technical level, the N7 performs well within its price range. The background is blackish (noir black?) but not on the level of a TOTL DAP where there’s more of an effortless sense of presentation in micro details. Nevertheless, the N7 has a good sense of space and width, which is very engaging. In terms of imaging, layering, and detail retrieval, I find the N7 to perform well but technicalities tend to be rather soft. The same is true of dynamics; on a pair of IEMs like the IE900, the N7 comes into its own as a very capable of source, which does justice to an already dynamic sounding set of IEMs. But pushed with something more demanding like Kennerton’s planar magnetic IEM, the RIG, one has a sense of the limitations of the N7’s amp stage in particular.

Pairings and Synergy

But before I get to that, let me mention briefly pairings. For me, IE900 had the best synergy of the gear I tried: nimble, dynamic, engaging, musical with a very impressive sense of space. I am mostly a headphone user, so was curious about how well the N7 would perform with portable headphones. Results: Audio Technica WP900 perform very well especially with SACD recordings (Weather Report sounded super). The Tago T3-01 from the niche Japanese company also sounded nicely balanced, as did Meze 99, but I would not venture into full-size planar territory with the N7.


Stacking Up

Moving on, my overriding impression of the N7 is that it’s a very fine DAP but it’s held back by its amp performance. This was confirmed to me when I paired it using the very clean LO to a set of portable and desktop amps.

Some brief impressions:

  • First amp pairing the Elekit TU-HP03 from the Japanese company. This is a small portable tube amp with swappable op-amps. Even plugging into this small amp, you can get a sense of what the N7 DAC is capable of. The presentation is smoother but also has better control compared to the N7’s own amp. Overall timbre and tonality remain the same, but the TU-HP03 offers a snappier presentation.
  • Then I tried with Bakoon’s (Satri Circuit Lab) 5520MK2. Now we’re moving into big boy territory. Background is much blacker, soundstage is wider, dynamics are vastly more refined. Manifestly power is also on another tier, the 5520MK2 capable of driving Kennerton Thror with ease.

  • Mass Kobo 428: another Japanese amp, and this one takes the N7 to a whole other level. The pairing is like listening to a completely different DAP. The whole presentation is highly resolving, with crystal clear clarity, exceptional depth, and outstanding transparency. Top recommendation!
  • Mass Kobo 433 and Bakoon 5210MK4: continuing this pattern, I then paired with my desktop amps. What I hear is a DAC that is now revealing its true potential, especially with native DSD formats. If you own a N7, you’d be missing out greatly without connecting it to a higher-tier amp.


Finally, some brief comparisons with other sources:

  • Acoustic Research AR-M2: this is a sort of “cult” DAP, which is highly venerated and highly sought after. I was suspicious until I owned one (actually two of them) and then believed the hype. It’s a very dynamic sounding DAP with an immensely powerful internal class-A amp. Compared to N7, the M2’s hissy background is even more audible. That said, it has a charm which stands the test of time. N7 is cleaner and performs far better with native DSD formats, though I hear a little more dynamic punch on FLAC/WAV on the M2.
  • Mojo 2: Yes, the Mojo 2 is a DAC/amp rather than a DAP, but nevertheless a comparison might be beneficial given how popular the Mojo 2 is. Compared to N7, the Mojo 2 has a more neutral tuning, but with greater transparency, a higher sense of resolution, and more incisive dynamics. I also hear the Mojo 2 to have a background that is even blacker than N7. This may come as a surprise, but my sense is that N7’s appeal is less with technical precision and dynamic engagement, and more with a smooth timbre that is largely devoid of fatiguing properties. Personally speaking, I lean toward the Mojo 2 as a preferred source, but this is a question of taste.
  • Lotoo Paw Gold Touch Ti: Ok, unfair comparison. For me, the Ti offers desktop/flagship level performance in a portable package. The N7 is not on this level, but paired with a decent high-end portable amp, the gap becomes more ambiguous.


To sum up what has been a too long set of impressions, the N7 is a very fine DAP, the appeal of which is understandable. It offers a very solid performance with an engaging timbre, a black background, and a very snappy UI. For those with a large SACD/DSD collection, I think it’s an optimal DAP.

If I were to be critical, I would only say that the N7 is somewhat held back by its internal amp performance and soft dynamics, especially within the context of PCM conversion. But the fact that it scales up so well should make it an inviting prospect for those who already have a set of amps waiting to be used.
Very nice and interesting review, wow! If you have experience with an R2R Dac (from a DAP or desktop), would you be able to give us some comments on your PCM vs DSD findings? To my knowledge you are the first to highlight that the same song in PCM vs DSD format sounds "relatively" better on the N7 but in theory, this is somewhat normal. So the real question is on a "native" PCM R2R DAC, do you have the same behaviour? BTW, like you I have an extensive PCM library and I almost never stream! :wink: Many thanks again for a great review.
Glad it was helpful. On R2R DACs, I had the Sonnet Morpheus at one point, and also Cayin's R01 and Hiby's little RS2 which also scales up well. The R01 I was and am a huge fan of. But of course, the N7 isn't R2R even if it might share some tonal similarities, so any comparisons have limited use.

If I may just clarify, I didn't mean to imply that PCM is substandard on the N7 - simply that because it's being converted to DSD, it loses a sense of attack and dynamics. But this is generally in keeping with the unique DSD presentation which is generally described as "smooth" and "musical."

As i think I also said, I'm basically a fan of PCM. I would take a well produced Redbook CD over any other format, and of course I would rather retain this format than upsample or convert it because for me, something is lost in this conversion.

The N7 is on a European tour, so hopefully others will chip in on any differences they hear between formats.
Hmmm, highly appreciate the comparison with Mojo2. I like it very much but struggle to find a DAP to upgrade to with breaking the bank.


1000+ Head-Fier
Cayin N7 Review
Pros: - Price
- Sound quality and timbre
- Great build quality
- Dedicated line out
- Case included
Cons: - Size and weight
- Battery life for some
- Charge time

The Cayin N7 caught most of us by surprise. Most people were expecting a successor to the N6ii with its swappable motherboards. Instead, much like they did with N8ii, Cayin headed in a new direction bringing out an entirely new type of device to the portable market.

For me, the N7 arrived at an interesting time as I had started transitioning away from delta sigma-based DAPs and found myself using desktop R2R systems for my music enjoyment. While devices like the Hiby RS8 were certainly of interest, its price and the initial reports of teething issues caused me to pause and I had basically decided to make no further DAP purchases.

Enter the N7 to turn all those plans on their head. While not exactly being given away, the pricing of the N7 vs other top-of-the-line devices made it a much easier purchasing decision, and I ended up picking one up from MusicTeck. I’ve been using the N7 as my on-the-go source since, and what follows are my impressions after about two months of use.

Like with any review, my impressions below are just my experience with the device, listening with my IEMs and, more importantly, my ears. They are subjective, so treat them as such! If you don’t agree with them, that is perfectly ok, but I hope my thoughts may help someone considering buying the N7.

What’s in the Box​

Cayin’s packaging is always high quality, and the N7 is no exception. Opening the box, you are presented with the device, and once you have removed it, underneath, there is a case, some 2.5mm balanced and single-ended adapters, a USB-C cable, a manual and some screen protectors.

The included case is thankfully a much better design than the one that came bundled with the N8ii. It has a flap at the top to keep the device from being ejected every time you pick it up!! The mustard colour won’t be for everyone though and I do have some concerns with how it may wear or discolour over time. So far though, it has survived my laptop bag and my grubby hands without showing it. However, it ends up, it is nice to get a decent case included at this price point.

Specs Overview​

  • Discrete fully-balanced 1-Bit Resistor Network “DSD” DAC
  • Discrete fully-balanced Low Pass Filter with BJT driver
  • Discrete fully-balanced Headphone Amplifier with JFET input stage and BJT amplification.
  • FPGA/Audio Bridge to re-shape, de-jitter and transcode/oversample PCM to DSD512
  • Dual Amplification Mode (Choice of Class A/Class AB)
  • High Quality “unamplified” single-ended and balanced Line Out
  • Unique variable-voltage single-ended and balanced Pre Out
  • 4-ch resistor ladder electronic controlled analog volume from JRC
  • Decode DSD512 natively; support PCM up to 32bit/768kHzk; 16x MQA decoder
  • Headphone Outputs: 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced
  • Shared Line and Pre Output: 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced
  • Digital Interface: USB In, USB Out, Coaxial Output, I2S Output.
  • Snapdragon 665 CPU, 4G RAM, 64G Internal, 1xTF card (up to 1TB)
  • Android 12 with Google Play preinstalled, streaming ready
  • DTA bypass Android SRC, Hi-Res playback to all applications
  • Dual Band Wifi: 2.4G/5G.
  • 9000mAh Battery with a duration of 6 to 10 hours.
  • 5" TFT multi-point touch screen.

There is no doubt a lot in the Cayin N7 that people won’t be familiar with or even understand. Cayin have done an excellent job creating detailed posts explaining all of the main features of the device. I have linked them below and they can be found in the main N7 thread here. Cayin always publishes vast amounts of details about their devices and it is a great resource if you are interested in gaining a more in-depth understanding of the tech used inside it and how it works.

Unexplored Frontier in DAP, a discrete fully-balanced design
Pure 1-Bit “DSD” DAC Explained
Discrete LPF Circuit Explained
How to use HiByCast
Fully Balanced Discrete Class A/AB Headphone Amplifier in N7
N7 Analog Connectivity



Size-wise, the N7 probably sits between mid-range and totl DAPs. The device measures 142 x 77.8 x 22.2mm and weighs in at 380g. While there isn’t too much out of the ordinary in the chunky candy bar design, the rounded sides and smaller size make the N7 so much easier to handle and carry around compared to the sharp edges of the N8ii. I didn’t really consider the N8ii a portable device, but the N7 sits just at the limit of what I would consider pocketable.

All of the ports sit at the bottom of the device. There are LO & PO, 4.4mm and 3.5mm connections, along with a USB-C port and an I2S port that uses a mini HDMI connection. The volume dial sits at the top of the device, and as someone who listens mainly at the desk, this is my preferred arrangement. For those who plan to use the device on the go, not having the outputs on the same end as the volume dial will undoubtedly cause frustrations. It’s impossible to keep everyone happy here, so it is not really a negative of the device.

The power button, along with the standard player controls, sit on the righthand side of the device and the MicroSD card slot sits on the left.

Most of the front of the device is taken up by the 5” screen with a Home button sitting on the bottom bezel. There are no other buttons for control, and navigation in Android is done via screen gestures outside of the home button, which also acts as a back button when tapped once.

While I don’t have the N8ii here to compare directly, the quality of the screen seems about the same from memory. It’s detailed, has good colours, and it will be possible to watch high-quality videos if that is your thing, but for me, the screen is turned off the majority of the time, so it isn’t something I spend too much time worrying about as long as there is a decent level of resolution for album art.

While I like using DAPs naked, devices like the N7 really need to be kept in their cases to prevent scratching or bumps. The case included fits well, and the hardware buttons are very easy to locate and use while the device is in its case. It is also easy to swipe down on the screen for the Android notification tray, something that was infuriating to do with the case that came with the N8ii. These are simple things, but it makes a big difference to your user experience with the device.

The N7 comes with a 9000mAh battery which can be fast charged. Using the balanced jack, I am averaging around 7 to 8 hours from it, but how you use the device will clearly have an impact. I have been a lot happier with the battery life for my use case vs what I experienced with N8ii. Something N7 does share with N8ii though is a long charge time. The battery is quite large, so even with fast charging you are looking at 3 to 4 hours to charge fully.



It is hard to avoid Android if you would like a device that can stream. There are very few alternatives out there right now that don’t come with their own issues. When it comes to Android, the Cayin N7 comes s with a very sleek and clean version of Android which, during all my testing, has never got in the way or been a source of any type of issues.

The N7 comes preinstalled with the Play Store so there is no need for third-party stores or any other stress related to trying to install apps.

Compared to N8ii, this is a newer and faster version of Android and it is evident in use. Not that N8ii was sluggish or anything like that, but this version of Android feels better.

I installed Apple Music, Tidal, SoundCloud, UAPP and a few other audio apps without any issues. Everything has just worked out of the box. I haven’t done any stress tests or benchmarks as I don’t think anyone really cares about the arbitrary numbers those tests produce as long as the device is quick to use and album art and tracks load quickly.

Cayin have released a number of firmware updates since the device launched addressing some bugs and so on, and all of these have gone smoothly without any issues to report. Overall, the device works very well, and I have yet to experience any issues related to the operating system.


I have listened to, owned or demoed pretty much everything Cayin has released in the last number of years. I can’t say I have always loved what they have released, but I have certainly appreciated it, and in the case of something like the N8ii, got many, many hours of enjoyment from it.

While I am an engineer and love the ins and outs of the technology behind what we listen to, I can’t claim to know what the difference is between 1-bit architecture devices and R2R beyond what I can only describe as an overview. I have, however, owned a number of 1-bit devices down through the years and currently own a 1-bit Gustard R26 desktop DAC which I was very keen to compare to the N7.

While the engineer in me can get caught up in frivolous conversations about the tech, at the end of the day the only thing that counts is how something sounds in this hobby. Cayin deserves great credit in my book for doing something different, but when you stick your neck out and do something different, it better be good.

I think the pricing of the N7 places it behind the N8ii but I do wonder if it had a higher price, where would people place it? I think it is great that the price was kept “reasonable” but the price still infers what level something is at. If N8ii is the TOTL device then N7 will no doubt be seen as the inferior device. Not the “better value” device.

After the AKM fire, many companies were forced into the hands of ESS. Coming from AKM-powered devices that were often quite warm and rich leaning, it was quite hard to love ESS-based devices, even those that deployed warm op-amps to try to negate the differences. The ROMH DACs that were present in the N8ii were probably the best attempt at capturing the best of both camps. Anyone that has heard the N8ii knows what it excels at, but it can be a device that pushes parts of the frequency range too far and it is often described as “bright”, as a result.

With the AKM factory now producing a new generation of DACs, it would be easy to revert back to choosing one of the different flavours of AKM DACs now available. Thankfully, Cayin has chosen a different path, one I feel is pretty brave considering the fact it would have been easy just to choose an off-the-shelf option.

However you describe the tech that is in the N7, there is no doubt to my ears that it has an R2R-like timbre. While it isn’t quintessential R2R, if I was asked to blind test it, I would describe it as R2R with an elevation in treble. I think many who like that aspect of delta-sigma DACs will enjoy with the N7. It is not as “bright” as the N8iii, nor is it as technical, but it offers a much more analog and smooth-sounding signature while still delivering great detail.

Over the last couple of months of testing, I have found the N7 to be a very versatile device. When listened to at low volumes, I find the sound signature to be detailed but very smooth, and it is very easy to listen to as a result.

I spend a large part of my work day basically listening in the background. I have IEMs in my ears mainly to block out ambient noise and help me focus. It needs to be background music, and if it becomes any more engaging, the music would distract me from work, and I’d get nothing done! With the N7 at low volumes, it ticks this box perfectly. It produces a detailed and satisfying signature which keeps in its lane and doesn’t distract.

While at low volumes and gain, it is a reasonably sedate device, when you crank things up, it becomes an engaging device that has an exceptionally wide soundstage, with an impactful and textured bass and, overall, a device that sits among the best devices in its price range right now.

The sound signature leans warm once the volume or gain it up. Polite before but definitely warm after. That may not be for everyone, but for those that enjoy R2R timbre and appreciate what that brings, it is an excellent device, considering its price.

It is not warm for the sake of being warm, it is a characteristic and it is coupled with plenty of detail and refinement, something devices like the Cayin N6ii R01, Hiby RS6 or RS2 lack. I like all of these devices in their own way, but N7 is a step above for me.

Before the device was burned in, it would be easy to describe things as a little flat. There was a very clear difference in the tone and technical abilities of the device as it developed with more hours. So it is worth keeping this in mind if you are demoing the device. It also needs some time to warm up every day before it sounds at its best.

Class A vs Class AB​

The differences between Class A and Class AB are subtle but much more clearly noticeable than they were with N8ii. Class A has a more analog tone to my ears. Vocals become smoother and the edges are rounded a little. Class AB has a more delta-sigma type signature with sharper, faster notes and a wider soundstage which is quite noticeable when listening to electronic music.

For the most part, with natural music I have preferred listening using Class A but prefer Class AB when listening to anything electronic/ synthesised. Class A drains the battery slightly faster but not to the point of it being prohibitive to use.

Sound with IEMs​

Noble Audio Ragnar​


N7 with Ragnar is an excellent pairing. N7 adds a little warmth to the mix and smoothens some of the intensity Ragnar can bring in the treble region while still allowing it to shine. Vocals sound clear, detailed and very natural. In addition to the tonal benefits, N7 also creates a huge, 3D soundstage with Ragnar which stretches far in every direction.

Fir Audio XE6​


A warm leaning source with a warm IEM produces a result you would probably expect but that’s not to say it isn’t good. Similarly to Ragnar, N7 helps to create a really impressive soundstage with a great sense of grandeur. Class AB produces the best results with XE6 for the electronic genres I listen to with it. It sharpens everything a little and allows XE6’s superb treble to cut through the warmth of the bass. A coloured combination for sure, but very enjoyable and technically impressive.

Line Out​

If you want that performance to take another step up again you can pair the N7 with an external amp.

The N7 has both 4.4mm and 3.5mm dedicated lineouts. For most people, this will probably go unused but for the few of us in the community who enjoy using external amps in a chain with our IEMs, the dedicated hardware Cayin has included in the N7 for this is a welcome addition.

I have owned many of the 4.4mm input portable amps that are available, and I am currently putting the Astell and Kern AK PA10 through burn-in so have used that to try out the LO on N7.

So how does N7 perform in line out? I’ll start with the negatives. It is not completely silent. I use a Topping A90D every day for my IEMs and it is absolutely silent with any IEM but when I swap to N7 with the A&K amp, there is some noise. That noise is not there with 3.5mm connections and it also isn’t there with 4.4mm when I use different sources with the A&K amp.

Now does that noise present a problem in general listening? Absolutely not. It is unnoticeable to me when the music starts but I do not have sensitive IEMs and maybe not the ears to isolate it from music, but some people are super sensitive to noise so I have highlighted what I found.

When it comes to sound quality, N7 is superb in line-out mode. I absolutely love how it sounds with the A&K amp. The sound is full and rich, and the soundstage is immense. If you are happy to add another device to the chain, it can produce a very enjoyable listen.

I have seen comments about the amp stage of the N7 being weak. For sure, things will improve if you add a dedicated amp, but I feel the amp stage of the N7 is very much in line with its price. I have owned most of the DAPs in this price range, and there is nothing that exceeds the quality of N7 for me in this bracket. Simply, you will have to pay more if you want better. My impressions are for sure based on listening with IEMs. If it it is the case you are interested in N7 for use with headphones then I can only suggest you do more research as it is not a use case I have tested.

I’ve been very impressed with the line-out quality of the N7 during all of my testing to date, and I tend to use N7 a lot with the AK amp. It isn’t the case that N7 needs an external amp, but it’s nice to have the dedicated LO, so you have more options available to you.

USB C Out/ I2S Out​

Digital outs are a secondary feature for me and not the main reason I would buy a DAP, but you do have an expectancy of quality with them, considering this is an expensive device.

I tried the USB-C port and the I2S port on N7 to connect to the USB and I2S inputs on my Gustard R26. It is always hard to say with any certainty if there is much of a difference between any of these options as you have to allow for switching cables and selecting another input on the receiver, but I can say that N7 with both USB C out and I2S out are both excellent quality and I have zero issues to report with either so if you wanted to use N7 as a source for your desktop equipment, it performs well. Both ports sounded the same to me, but as I mentioned, it is hard to directly compare without relying on memory.

Select Comparisons​


I am not going to get into comparing delta-sigma to resister ladder DACs here. I think if you are reading this, there is something about the timbre a device like N7 produces that ticks a box for you.

I purchased the Hiby RS2 DAP sometime back when it was available for less than 400 euros. It is a source that often gets overlooked due to its price and the fact it can’t stream, but I immediately thought it would be very interesting to compare it to N7 to see what the extra 1600 euros got you, other than streaming.

As I mentioned above, I also have a Gustard R26 R2R DAC here, which is my standard that all sources, such as N7, get compared against. It is 1-bit R2R architecture and one of the finest sources I have listened to.

Hiby RS2​

My RS2 has many hundred hours of use clocked up at this stage. I use it regularly around the house or out and about when I want a light source in my pocket. For sure, it is not the best source you will encounter, but it is very good value for its price. It is unashamedly warm and coloured but in a tasteful way. You don’t get distracted by its colour, but you know it’s adding it. When it was new, it had a narrow stage but with more use, that opened up to be as big as most other sources.

When I compare RS2 to N7, it really comes down to the IEM I am using for which source I prefer more. With something like the Noble Audio Ragnar, which is at the very top level when it comes to detail retrieval, listening with RS2 adds a nice amount of warmth and while it is not as technical as the N7, Ragnar has so much on offer when it comes to its technicals that the difference between N7 and RS2 isn’t so clear. That is not to say that the differences are not there; they are, but if I played a track on Ragnar with RS2 for you and then swapped to N7 as the source, what you would pick as the winner would come down to what you valued more. N7 is clearly more refined with better technicals but RS2 can produce a fun and enjoyable sound that makes it compete in its own way.

Gustard R26​

The Gustard R26 is an exceptional device. It is very well-priced, and I have yet to come across anything in the mobile realm that competes with it for my tastes.

To keep things fair, I compared the N7 paired with the A&K amp in line out as the Gustard R26 was connected to the Topping A90D amplifier.

The A90D is by no means the best amp on the market, but it is completely silent with IEMs and not priced in the tiers where it would be unfair to compare.

The R26 produces an incredibly refined and detailed sound with a vast, 3D soundstage, and it is here in its technical abilities and refinement that it really stands out. When it comes to timbre, both devices share similarities, but the N7 comes across as warmer. Bass notes are a little looser and slower with N7, and this is apparent when you compare the two directly.

When it comes to details, N7 isn’t quite at the same level, but it gets very close. When I am listening to N7 casually though, and not back-to-back comparing, I don’t feel like it comes up short in the detail department. It is very good at its price, and N7 brings many other positives to the table.


I loved the N8ii when I owned it but it really had its flaws when it came to battery life and portability. If I was just to compare the N8ii and N7 on these two fronts, the N7 would come out ahead. It has good battery life. It is relatively light and portable. It can stream and has a nice Android interface if that’s your thing. If it’s not, it keeps out of your way with no real negatives to report. It is priced incredibly competitively when you take everything I’ve mentioned above into account.

If you want an R2R-like timbre and also want Android for streaming, your options are limited and even more so if you are on a budget. The Cayin N7 is an excellent device in its price bracket and well worth checking out.


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nice review!!!!
Thanks for a very good review and thanks for comparing it with Hiby RS2. I've Cayin R01, yet RS2 in its small pocketable feature is a good complement to it with its R2R. RS2 is definitely a ignored gem
Thanks for the review! Very interesting to see it compared to the mighty R26 as a DAC. Im a little confused, it seems you were comparing them with different amps on each one? Wouldnt that change the impressions? Have you compared them using the same amp? Do those impressions hold true? Thanks!


Headphoneus Supremus
Cayin N7 ($1,995) is your best all-rounder DAP
Pros: TOTL build quality
TOTL resolution and details
Uncolored sound while still very musical
One of the latest Android versions of all DAPs around
Both Cayin and Hiby Music Player with lots of control options
Both Class AB and A options
Very comfortable size
Cons: Not as portable in term of weight
Need more power for hard-to-drive full size headphones
Only one color available for the free case
Battery life not stellar, especially in class A mode
DAP can be very warm in your pocket after a long listening session
Cayin N7 ($1995) is your best all-rounder DAP for IEMs and most of the headphones. If I had to pick only one DAP and leave the hobby, right now, the choice would be Cayin N7.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional reviewer and I received and demoed a loaner Cayin N7 as part of the North American N7 tour. However, I did not and will not receive any incentive or discount because of this review. I am here to provide my honest and truthful impression of this wonder DAP.

Background and Technology

I owned Cayin’s excellent RU6 R2R USB dac/amp. The little dongle is amazingly powerful and sometimes makes me wonder if RU6’s performance rivals or even exceeds my R2R DAP Hiby RS2? I immediately jumped to the opportunity once I heard about the N7 tour since I am particularly interested in N7 because of Cayin’s pioneering work in 1-bit fully discrete design.

Unlike continuous-time Delta Sigma DAC, there are different types of discrete DAC technology: R2R DAC, such as in Hiby RS8 or Luxury & Precision LP; 1 bit DSD is FPGA based and was usually used in desktop system until Cayin introduced N7.

Since I am not an expert in audio technology, I will let the website from Cayin do the job explaining the designing innovations in N7. But I can tell you that technology indeed brings something that is completely new to me in my listening experience.

Cayin N7 Official Description

Purposively designed micro-miniaturized 1-bit
DAC circuit from fully discrete components
• Discrete 1-Bit DAC: convert digital signal to
analogue signal through a resistor network
composed of 128 pcs (4 x32) high precision
Thin Film Resistors
• FPGA: Enhance digital audio signal and output
L+, L-, R+, R- digital bitstream for fully balanced
• Audio Bridge: pass-through DSD unaltered,
convert PCM to 1 bit bitstream before transmits
to DAC circuit
• Power Supply: Sophisticated low-noise
highly-isolated supply circuit to support different
functions of digital and analog processing separately

Cayin 1.jpg

Cayin 2.jpg

What's Inside the Box:

Besides the N7 player, you will get a free case (as in picture below), 4.4mm to 2.5mm (F) Adapter, 3.5mm to 2.5mm (F) Adapter, USB-C Cable, Temper Glass Screen Protector, and User Manual in box. However, I wish one of the two adapters could be XLR to 4.4mm (F) adapter for full size headphones.


Interface and Control

There are tons of options for you to adjust the setting, mostly notably is the availability of both class AB and class A mode. Personally I don't find those two differs significantly enough for me to have a preference when listening to IEMs. You may want to choose AB mode to conserve battery life if like me you don't find the small differences are worthwhile.


For default music players, N7 includes both Cayin and Hiby music. For me, I find Hiby music to be much, much better, both in term of sound quality and the level of control you may have. It is interesting to notice that Hiby actually starts its business as a software developer for other music player manufacturers while Cayin is more focusing on hardware and has much widely range of products, such as Cayin's impressive Tube amplifiers.


Sound Impression

Before I got my hands on Cayin N7, I was expecting a similar sound signature as from R2R DACs, such as Hiby RS8. I was completely wrong. Not only the technology is not that similar, but also the sound signature is very different, in a unique way.

Bass: After days of intensive listening, I must say the bass is one of the most impressive parts of the N7. In the beginning, I immediately found out that the bass from N7 is very clean and high quality but not as impactful as RS2 or some other DAPs. However, this initial impression gradually changed as I found out that the bass from N7 is more correct instead of being artificially boosted. When the bass is called for, N7’s bass is visceral and extremely impactful, and it makes a bass-head like me smile like a baby. What differentiates the bass from N7 from other DAPs is the texture and the details of the bass, N7 simply won’t just boost bass to satisfy the listeners with quantity.

Mids: If bass is the foundation of the music, then Mids is the heart and the body of the music. The Mids from N7 simply demonstrates the true quality of what N7 can do: clean, correct, and with very natural timbre. I will use Sony IER-Z1R as an example to let you know what N7 can do to the Mids since most people will agree that Z1R’s only weakness is its recessed Mids. However, I can tell you that when you pair Z1R with N7, magic will happen and Z1R becomes an impeccable TOTL IEM with no weakness.

Treble: All I can say is that N7 has very nice control of treble with no fatiguing while still gives you all the details.

Sound Stage and Imaging: N7 reminds me of the first time I used HQPlayer 4 desktop software on my PC to listen to music. For every IEM I tried, the sound stage is extended in all directions. The imaging is also precise and sharp. For my overall listening experience, the improvement in sound stage and imaging is one of the most important factors that I fall in love with Cayin N7.

Resolution and separation: I now can clearly hear many details that I was not previously noticed before (compared to my WM1A or RS2). Instrument separation is also improved with N7 with more layers and layer separation.

While I dislike any IEM or DAP that is being purely referenced, that is, being analytical but without any character, Cayin N7 is the first DAP that I feel like what I heard is just so correct but still so enjoyable.

Compared to Sony NW-WM1A, N7 is very clearly one cut above WM1A in almost every single category, from more balanced tonality, better bass quality and control, much better Mids (in some way lift some V shaped IEMs such as Z1R to next level), higher resolution, much larger sound stage, better instrument/vocal separation, sharper imaging, to more natural timbre.

When compared to R2R DAPs, such as RS2 and RS8, while RS8 is slightly more musical and has thicker note weights, N7 has an edge that just being more precise and cleaner.

Compared to DAPs with Delta Sigma DAC chips (which are most of all DAPs), N7 is just more musical (not R2R type of analogue, but a different type of natural timbre that is different from cold and metallic digital sounding).

I know many people described the sound signature of N7 as a child from the marriage of Delta Sigma and R2R. But I just don’t find this best describe N7’s characteristic since N7 is not exactly the middle ground between cold analytic and warm/rounded analogous. Lack of better words, I would use pleasantly correct to describe what I am hearing from N7.


I spent most of my listening time pairing Cayin N7 with Sony IER-Z1R and I found this paring is magic. I also tried different other IEMs and I can tell you that without excpetion N7 lift the performance of every single IEM I tried up to another level.

For full-size headphones, I usually never tried any DAP as I used my desktop gears exclusively for them. This is in part that my collection of full-size headphones are all either very power thirsty, such as Hifiman HE6SE v2, or with high impedance, such as ZMF Atrium open. This time, I tried my ZMF Atrium open with Cayin N7 with class A mode. I was surprised that N7 can drive Atrium with ease. However, even though the volume is there and I really enjoyed listening to Atrium from N7, I still just found something is missing compared to my desktop setup with a tube amp. Hifiman HE6SE v2 is one of the most hard to drive headphones around, especially in term of the current it needs. I tried HE6SE on class A mode and I have to turn volume all the way to 100% to achieve the volume I like. Again, N7 can drive HE6SE, just barely, and you can definitely enjoy the music in that way. However, if you return to desktop setup suitable for HE6SE, you will notice that N7 cannot deliver the full potential, especially in term of bass. But I can safely say that if you have more regular headphones that do not require huge amount of power to drive and with low impedance, Cayin N7 will be a great source as well.


For pairing with IEMs, I cannot think any DAP that would beat N7 if you only want one DAP for all types of IEMs. Some pairing of DAPs and IEMs may have special magic but may not work for other IEMs. In the case of N7, it is not only a safe bet if you are not sure about the synergy given its uncolored sound signature, but also a pretty good one as N7 is musical enough.

Battery performance is very good but not stellar. I have noticed that the battery will drop from 95% to 70% after a two-hour non-stop listening session in class A mode. It is good since you are most likely to take N7 out for an entire day without worrying about battery life. However, if you forget to charge it by the end of the day, you may be in trouble the next day if you need long-term listening again.

Another potential issue is for those who will bring N7 out on a hot summer day. It will become warm, and after a long time, warm enough to feel uncomfortable in your pocket. Since I spent most of my time with N7 in pleasantly cold weather in California, it does not bother me at all.

To sum up: Cayin N7 is the only DAP I would recommend unconditionally to anyone who want to pick just one DAP that works for any IEMs with any genre of music. The reason is straightforward: Cayin N7 is one of the most resolving DAPs that also has one of the most uncolored natural soundings while still being very musical.
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But man, that case...

I agree, not a nice looking case.


100+ Head-Fier
The DAP that may pull me back to DAP
Pros: - Top notch neutral sound quality (a must for me)
- Multiple capacities (LO, streaming, USB dac, digital out etc.)
- Great build quality and beautiful leather case included
- Fast UI
- VERY good q/p ratio vs. competition
Cons: - Missing a few stock accessories (would have loved to see a 4.4mm <=> double XLR cable to benefit from the analog LO, rather than the stock adapters)
- Had a few bugs over 2 weeks of intensive use
- Quite a big and heavy DAP (fit in my DD Hifi and IFI cases but without any room left for iems...)
Disclaimer :
The N7 DAP unit I had was a free loan unit from Cayin Audio. I have to pass the unit to the next reviewer after my 2weeks review period. Thanks Cayin for organizing the review tour and getting me onboard !

This will be a rather short text as many reviews are already available and they all go into a very good level of details regarding the structure of the N7. So I will focus on what struck me the most when reviewing this DAP.


To be honest, I've been out of the DAP game for a while now. I've had quite a frenetic period for DAPs, a few years ago: WM1A, Ibasso DX200, DX200 Max, AK240, QLS QA361, LPGT, LPG Diana, Hiby R8 to name a few. I sold my R8 nearly one year ago and never went back to DAP. I use a small Fiio BTR7 with my iems (U12T and Fiio FH9) when I'm at work or when I travel as the listening conditions are usually not ideal and the BTR7 already does a wonderful job.
At home, I switch to a QLS QA390 or on my desktop setup (Bifrost 2/64 and SW51) and it ticks all the boxes for me.
So after nearly one year, I convinced myself that I did not need a DAP eventually. I tried a few ones in the meantime but never really felt the need to go back to DAP.

This was before I had the N7 for review, as I now find myself really wanting to get my own unit following the Cayin tour.

How so ? Well the N7 comes packed with a lot of good arguments for me:
- of course top notch sound quality. The N7 has quite a neutral sound signature which is exactly what I'm looking for in DAP. My desktop setup is warmer with the SW51 and the N7 provides better precision and snappier bass.PXL_20230512_011550556.jpg
- a lot of I/O that makes the N7 a very versatile DAP. On top of a standalone player I could use it as a USB DAC/amp at work from my laptop, as digital source with my Schiit Bifrost and as analogue source with my Genelec active speakers,

- I love the build quality and the stock case, Cayin did a wonderful job. Also, the UI is pretty fast and I have had 0 frustration in terms of navigation on Tidal etc.

- the price is not entirely dissuasive vs. the competition where any new top DAP is in the 3 to 5 kUSD range

In terms of sound quality, I found the N7 to be really excellent and the comparison with my BTR7 has been a bit cruel for the dongle. Very dynamic, excellent bass response to handle my U12T perfectly and with the right level of richness in the mids to make the sound enjoyable without falling into a warm signature, where the BTR7 is much more dry in comparison. Technically, the scene is rather large with a good level of depth. It was not as exceptional as the sound that I get from my Bifrost but not very far and with better precision vs. the SW51.
To be noted: I had a few bugs with the N7 where I had to reboot the unit. Once because the USB DAC mode wouldn't play any music, or sometimes the MQA wouldnt work, or the screen would freeze for no reason and the DAP would reboot automatically. However, this was still acceptable from my point of view as I listened for the DAP maybe 5/6 hours a day for 14 consecutive days and had 5 or 6 bugs over the 2 weeks, so not a real issue.

A few things could be improved for an even better experience with the N7:
- except for the stock case, I found the stock accessories quite deceiving for the price tag. The stock adapters are not really useful nowadays and a 4.4mm to XLR connectors interconnect would have made much more sense to me as the LO is really excellent and this kind of cables are rarer than the traditional 4.4mm to 2.5mm and 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio adapters.
- I didnt find the the two amplification modes (A and AB) so different in terms of sound signature. The DAP get hot much faster in Class A mode but apart from that I hardly noticed any difference and I'm pretty sure that I wouldnt be able to find which amp mode is used in a blind test. So I did all my listening in AB mode eventually.
- the DAP is quite big (142*77.8*22.2 mm), really reminds me of the R8 in that sense (143*81*20 mm). So it hardly fits in my DD Hifi or my Ifi Audio case which is a bit annoying (no room left for iems and cables)


Anyway, this was overall a really great experience and I thank Cayin again for giving me the opportunity to review the N7. At the end of the 2 weeks, I now find myself wanting a N7 of my own as it gave me much more listening pleasure than the BTR7 at work and would definitely fill a gap at home (e.g. when I move from one room to another). It's also very versatile which is always nice to have.
This N7 may be the one to pull me back to DAPs eventually !


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Headphoneus Supremus
Reviewer at Headfonics
Cayin N7 ($1995): The “near-flagship” carries tricks up its yellow sleeve...
Pros: Cayin build
Cayin sound-wonderfully musical
Options abound
Mids sing wonderfully
Android 12.1
Ability to download your music apps
Cons: Cost
Might be too neutral for some
May not be powerful enough without an external amp
Limited internal memory
Cayin N7 ($1995): The “near-flagship” carries tricks up its yellow sleeve...


Cayin N7

Intro: This sample is part of a North American tour. Andy Kong contacted me to see if I was interested, and of course I said yes. After my time, this unit will be sent to the next reviewer in line. My words for good or ill are mine only, with no affiliate connection what-so-ever.

I have a soft spot for Cayin DAP’s & portable headphone amplifiers. One of my current go-to DAP’s is still the venerable N6ii, running the E01 motherboard. I also have the A01 & T01, but prefer the E01 for its sound, which favors my tastes. I did find this odd, since it only comes in 3.5mm se connectivity. I have not tried the E02, nor do I plan to. My other go-to is an “older” Shanling M6 Pro. I have loved the Shanling “house-sound” since the original M5, which I still own. That said, I will bring in my TOTL neutral DAP, the older Questyle QP2R as well. To me it may just be the finest unencumbered sound out there, new or old. I do also have the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000, and use it heavily as a DAP and streamer in my office two-channel system, so I will try to provide some comparative aspects there as well.

Over the course of my two weeks, I was able to get over 50 hours of listening. Some longer days, some shorter. I tried to accommodate all listening options as well. Others will have had more time to do that with their personal units.

The N7 retails for a cool $2k, so it is not cheap by any means. Plus, in this day of streamers taking center stage, does one truly need this item? You will have to be the judge of that. Slotted just below the N8i, but with some newer technology, the N7 is different enough not to step on the toes of its older sibling.




Gear Used/Tested:

Cayin N6ii (E01)
Questyle QP2R
A&K ACRO CA 1000

Letshuoer Cadenza 12
B&W Px8
BQEYZ Winter
Audeze LCD3



Mostly Qobuz & Tidal favorites list (everything from Jazz to U2 to David Grisman)


Few nail the unboxing aspect every time. Focal comes to mind as one that does, having just finished a review of the excellent Stellia (eCoustics & Head-Fi), which does tend to set the unboxing bar. Cayin has always had nice unboxing experiences as well, but with a bit less bravado. More subtle, but still full of “oooo” moments.

Where others provide overly large boxes, Cayin uses efficiency to protect their wares. The N7 is a prime example of this, coming in a box more fit for a decent pair of IEM’s, except for the quality. The back is laden in gold foil, with black lettering of the specs and important information. Lifting the black rough patterned lid like a nice box of chocolates, you find a black paperboard pouch over with the Cayin mantra of “Never be the Same Again,” in gold. The contents of that pouch are plentiful including the screen protectors with an extra for the back, a very thorough instruction manual, the inspection card and two “HiRes” stickers. Under the pouch is the paperboard covered hard foam insert, which contains the N7. Pulling the insert and N7 out, you find the other accessories including two right angle jacks for 2.5bal to 3.5se and 2.5bal to 4.4bal. All connection options for your headphones are covered with the included jacks, except 6.35mm se.

Directly underneath the N7 lies another box, which contains the superb yellow Dignis case. Dignis is renowned for top quality cases, and this is no different (this one opening on the top, complete with magnetic clasp). The back of the case carries the familiar Cayin triangular shapes, complete with “slots” to see the geo-patterned back of the N7. This case is top notch, and I had no issues with using any of the buttons as some have mentioned on the Head-Fi thread. Tactility was excellent with no erroneous touches or wobbles. Also included in that extra box is a very sturdy USB-C to USB-C charging cable. This can be used for OTG use as well, I believe.

Straightforward, simple yet elegant.



*Individual app usage will be detailed below, as well as technological functions/advancements.

Two years ago, I was privy to the excellent Cayin C9 Nutube headphone amplifier. I mentioned that had I the need for a single amplifier, the C9 might very well be it. Some on the threads have stated that they use the combination of the N7 and C9 together, and are thoroughly satisfied. While I agree, the cost of the pair runs right at $4k USD, and I would hope the user is happy. That said, the combination can be used for pretty much anything with the right combination of connections, replacing your two channel systems if needed. BT of course make running powered speakers a breeze as well.

The C9 had impeccable build qualities as does my N6ii. I have gone months without using the N6ii, to come back and note that the battery had drained only 5-10% when powered off (which is normal, but still wonderful to note. Updates are still had, which is excellent support from Cayin. And yes, still being in production certainly helps (Titanium version). The N7 follows these with exemplary build quality as well. I failed to remember that the actual unit was black (with midnight-blue geometric shapes accented on the back) and not yellow due to the excellent case. Slightly smaller than my iPhone 13 Pro Max, but markedly heavier to me, the N7 is not a small critter by any means. I would also recommend the case for everything, except when changing the single SD card (up to 1TB), because with the curved sides it is slippery.

The 5” screen takes up a good portion of the front, as it should. But good working edges are to be had all the way around. I remember the smartphone craze of “borderless” designs, and find the amount given to the edge on the N7 to be quite good, and allows functionality without accidentally changing something.


The gold accented volume knob on top showcases a pattern similar to a Native American sandpainting, and sits well protected, much like the N6ii, but not on the side. Actual movements of the knob were one for one, with no phantom movements, either. The left side holds a single micro-SD card slot, while the right holds the business items, including the usual on/off power bottom (at the top and larger) followed by FF, play/pause, and REW. A sleek, simple design, with easy functionality.

The bottom of the N7 is a veritable functions paradise, not unlike the C9. Some have mentioned that it takes a bit of getting used to the location of all inputs/outputs, but this is not dissimilar to iFi and some of their older wares. The two gold-lined jacks on the bottom right are for the 3.5mm se & 4.4mm bal headphone connections. The bottom left is for use as either a pre-amp or line-out, such as into the C9 or another amplifier. Both 3.5mm se and 4.4mm bal are included again. Under the Pre-Amp/LO options lies an I2S connection for digital use, and to the right of that the USB-C port for either charging or digital use as well such as a DAC from your computer. Digital Coax can be used as well. This is where the potential use for streaming into your two-channel system can come about, which seems to be more the norm these days.



As noted in the picture above, the N7 comes with many improvements in technology from previous Cayin DAP’s, but are done without making the others superfluous. Of note first, is that the N7 is a fully discrete model, technology-wise. This means that no unwanted electrical passovers can ruin the flow from one part to the next. Isolation keeps unwanted energy from impeding the audio signal quality. We see this in fine home 2-channel systems, which allows the individual parts to function without interference from other parts. More manufacturers are turning to this design philosophy for the portable market as well. I applaud Cayin for doing this, even if the cost rises a bit to cover the tech involved. The discrete 1-Bit DAC converts digital signals to analogue through a resistor network composed of 128 pcs (4 x32) of high precision thin film resistors and, as quoted by Andy Kong, “a pure DSD DAC, that is designed to natively decode DSD format efficiently.”

Based off of the highly acclaimed Philips TDA1547, 1-bit is a dedicated Switch Capacitor Network chipset using technology from CD players. This technology is still in use in high-end Marantz CD players as an example, which lends further credence to the tech.


From Andy’s excellent explanation behind the tech involved:

“While reviewers and users appreciate 1-bit DAC technologies as natural, smooth, and realistic when compare to their analog experience in the practical world, they are inevitably not as popular as their PCM counterparts. The not-so-impressive measurements have hesitated a lot of vendors to devote their resources to 1-bit DAC. In addition, the existing solutions are far too bulky and consumed too much power for personal audio, so we didn’t have any 1-Bit DSD DAC implementation for DAP or even transportable DAC/Amp. To introduce 1-Bit DAC to our portable users, Cayin designs a micro-miniaturized 1-bit DAC circuit from fully discrete components:

  1. DSP Pre-processing: Enhance digital audio signal and output L+, L-, R+, and R- digital bitstream for fully balanced decoding.
  2. Audio Bridge: pass-through DSD unaltered, convert PCM to 1-bit bitstream before transmits to DAC circuit
  3. Discrete 1-Bit DAC: convert digital signal to analog signal through a resistor network composed of 128 pcs (4 x32) high precision Thin Film Resistors
  4. Power Supply: Sophisticated low-noise highly-isolated supply circuit to support different functions of digital and analog processing separately

As mentioned previously, 1-bit DAC is very sensitive to the integrity of the incoming digital signals, we have to perform a series of DSP pre-processing including re-clock, de-jitter, and noise shaping. The resulting bit-stream will then be passed to Audio Bridge where all incoming signals will be organized before feeding to the DAC circuit. If the incoming signal is DSD, then it will be pass-through without any conversion. If the incoming signal is PCM, it will be transcoded and upsampled to DSD512. Theoretically, FPGA is a good fit for this job, but the FPGA we adopted for N7 cannot handle (1) and (2) above simultaneously, we need to off-load either (1) or (2) to other options, and after numerous studies and experiments, we decided to add a single chip SRC (Sample Rate Converter). With this design, DSD playback will remain purely software-based DSP in (1) and (2), while PCM playback will go through the single chip SRC plus software DSP in FPGA/MCU.”

The major knock on 1-bit seems to be that it provides the listener with a more laidback, smooth presentation of the sound, versus R2R technology, which purports to be more “mastering-like” in sound. Frankly, I don’t care as long as the critter sounds good to me.

To me, discrete technology is the next logical step in isolating any unwanted electrical interference, and worth the extra cost. Woo Audio has done it with their superb tube amplifiers for a good while, having a whole separate power source. I liken this to when many manufacturers went to purposefully-designed sound chambers in developing their in-ear monitors. Having a consistent chamber, which reproduces sound allows the chamber to be used across multiple models, or between custom & non-custom models. On a larger scale, this is no different than when Japanese cars (and VW) moved to single or a small number of platforms & engines to cut cost in the long run, while still having the ability to develop many different models. Discrete technology allows for any potential sound impurities or outside interference to be isolated or removed as a result.


Many manufacturers are moving towards dual band WIFI as well, giving the user options and in some instances, the 2.4gHz can be a more stable interface (or at least another option). I have found that the lower rate does present issues with some streaming platforms, but having the option is a good idea. I have Starlink at our cabin up north in the boonies, and my solar panel interface (and Arlo cameras) runs strictly off of the 2.4gHz option, so I can use the 5.0gHz for my audio/streaming/computer uses delight. Having the choice is good. Running BT 5.0 on the N7, while not the most current application, still affords excellent connectivity to all devices I tried, and without issue. The ability to run LDAC as well as AAC, UAT & SBC (2-way), gives the user the latest options for sound quality.

The N7 can also run either Class-A amplification, or Class-AB amplification. It used to be that Class-A was meant for high dollar items only, and kind of the Holy Grail of audio component systems. A status symbol, but with the goods to back it up. Many current budget systems run either AB or Class-D amplification, for the cost savings. My current office unit, the versatile Yamaha A-S301 (yes budget, but it meets my needs) is a Class-D. The Shanling M6 Pro DAP can run either A or AB as well. While the N7 is not to be considered in the affordable bracket, it shows that many manufacturers are moving to incorporate both A & AB for consumers. This is a win-win. Hand mounting of the amplification units is done, after matching each channel gain-wise as close as possible. Thus, Cayin insures the parts function as a whole, without distraction, or error.


While the amplification is solid state, the user can still hook the N7 up to the C9, for that NuTube sound, which gives you the ability to tailor your sound, and the many options available between the two. Hence the mere fact that the combination could be all you need in a small apartment (complete with powered speakers).

Quoting Andy again, “The discrete amp circuit of N7 offers Dual Amplification Operation (DAO), a feature that allows users to configure the HeadAmp circuit in class A or class AB and deliver different audio experiences.

Both Class A and Class AB headphone amplification circuits can eliminate the crossover distortion of the output stage satisfactorily, but they perform differently with regard to their harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion. The difference mainly occurred in the distribution and weight of various harmonic distortions. Even if we are using the same circuit, like N7 or N8ii, changing the operation mode from Class A to Class AB, or vice versa, will deliver a different sound signature and minor deviation in sound quality.

In fact, there is not much difference between the total harmonic distortion (THD) and transient intermodulation distortion of the two Amplification Operation Modes of N7 HeadAmp, but the distribution and weight of each harmonic distortion in different modes are different. With Class A, the proportion of even-order harmonics such as the 2nd and 4th orders are increased, and the proportion of odd-order harmonics such as the 3rd and 5th order is decreased, and that explained why Class A and Class AB sound slightly different when you compare them in a critical audition.”


While the two solid state amplifiers run on the same circuitry, isolating them in the discrete circuitry allows for each to play a part in the sound, independent of the other and without bother from outside (other parts) sources. Many do feel that pure Class-A, while sounding closer to the mastering of the music source, providing a less powerful amp as a result but a smoother signature (but use more power). Class-AB thus provides more power and a different sound (but uses less). Depending upon who you talk to, this can be good or bad. Class-A does take more (battery) power to run, and thus there are listening length differences between A & AB. Cayin has worked to minimize that discrepancy, starting with the C9. To me, this is an insignificant portion of the user experience as some songs demand AB, while other such as jazz (to me) prefer pure Class-A. Class-AB tends to provide a somewhat more dynamic signature to me, and Class-A a slightly warmer and richer, but without becoming drippy or too molasses-like. I switch between the two regularly on my M6 Pro, and did so here as well. The picture below describes what we should hear from the N7.


As per most devices as well, the round lighted button on the bottom shows the format playing by color from red to green to blue to magenta. This is the typical format for users, so familiarity should be easy.


Running a customized Android 12.1, with Snapdragon 665, you get the latest snappiest OS for the N7 as well. That said, my N6ii still runs Android 8.1 and functions well. It did take me a bit to familiarize myself with the dropdown menu accessed by swiping down from the top. I do like that there are larger panels for each function on the N7, instead of the thin line item of previous iterations. Access to all usable functions is there, and you can even drag them about for a more personalized option. Other items can be added from the menu, listed below those tiles already present by clicking on the “pencil” to enter edit mode.


As noted above, I had no issues with the excellent case mounted, and tactile feel of all buttons was excellent. There was no “gap” between the case and button, the feeling was snug and secure, but not overly so. The one disadvantage to me is that the micro-SD card cannot be accessed unless the case is off. No bother really, since most of us have music on one card or stream from the device.

I was able to easily log into my Google Play account and download Qobuz, Tidal and the B&W app for use with the Px8’s in the testing. Functioning between apps was fairly quick, but there was some delay once inside both Tidal and Qobuz. This could easily have been the WIFI connection where I was as well. On my home network, the apps functioned as expected, and without much delay. There is also plenty of space to download all of your music apps, and I highly suggest you include your dedicated headphone apps, such as I did with the B&W for fully functionality of the headphones in use.



After a long intro, what follows is my sound interpretations based upon the different listening options presented in the N7.


The sound emanating from the N7 is as I expected, and hoped. Dynamic, full of energy and vibrancy when called upon, while technically quite proficient on both streaming platforms and internal use (including micro-SD card). This ranks up there with the best DAP’s I have heard, including the vaunted Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000. While not as technically proficient as the CA1000, the sound coming forth was rich, vibrant and accurate, based upon the many options available to the user for fine tuning to your tastes. While not cheap, this shows that DAPs are not dead, and hopefully can still be a huge part of the musical choices presented to us.


Listening to Ahmad Jamal’s Live version of “Poinciana” I am struck by the succinctness of each piano strike. Accurate and detailed, the supporting upright bass and drums fill the necessary gaps superbly. Timbre is accurate and detailed, providing me with a firsthand account like the front row. Moving to Lenny Kravit’s seminal song, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,” his voice is piercing, but delightful. S-sounds and upper notes are tight, and reach up into the limits of my tolerance. Yet, I still find myself reaching to turn the gold volume know UP, such is the musical experience from the song on Qobuz. Class-A here presents a more-forward signature, with cymbal strikes becoming more prominent and detailed. Class-AB sound fuller, but with less detail and clarity to me. On Class-A, that S-sound from his voice sounds more natural to me, and I leave Class-A on for forthcoming songs. Switching to Tidal for the same song, I find that Qobuz emits a warmer signature on the song than Tidal. I like both music applications and can see the continued use of both, even with the MQA debacle. FLAC is on the way for Tidal, so that seems to be a moot point.


Using the drop down menu to change amplification settings is a breeze, and you can truly change the sound song-by-song, or even within songs. A nice feature to have readily available. On Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning,” I switched back to Class-AB, since to me the drum strikes were too prominent. To me, this song demands a warmer, richer signature (even though I preferred Class-AB here...) to fully engulf my senses in the immersive effect of death and destruction of our planet. A fitting song, less than a week after Earth Day.


Courtesy of the internet

Switching between Tidal and Qobuz, I did find the user interface for Tidal to be more accurate and usable. Tidal continuously showed song progress and time played and left on each song. Qobuz had trouble showing time left on songs. Mind you, this is a minor quibble, and not Cayin’s faults. Many of you won’t care that the time left shows 0:00, but I like knowing. Tactility of Tidal was slightly better as well to me. Those of you with Android phones or DAP’s most likely already know of these limitations.

Coincidentally, the Midnight Oil song listed above sounded better to me on Class-A in Tidal, but Class-AB in Qobuz. Make of that what you want, but having the ability to change on the fly definitely makes this nice to have (and this could be my preference to a warmer, richer sound...). Conversely Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.” sounded better on Class-AB in Tidal to me, but Class-A in Qobuz. I find his pulsating voice can bother my upper end intolerance, and as a result, having the ability to change is a definite positive.

Using the excellent Letshuoer Cadenza 12, I find the combination exquisite. Considering the total cost, it should be. But synergy plays into many combinations and here this duo plays together nicely on the see-saw of audio.


Courtesy of the internet

Connection on BT was seamless, and Using the B&W Px8 allowed me to add another device without issue. While wearing, the connection was easy, and the voice told me confidently, “Second device connected.” Hence, I could easily switch between my phone and the N7 without issue. I found that while I appreciated the quick, seamless connection of the B&W, the sound quality was markedly behind the Cadenza 12, as it should be. While not unpleasant, I was jaded by the quality of the Letshuoer, something I thought would never happen after the Tape IEM. It is good to see the company changing directions and correcting mistakes. A review of them is forthcoming.

Had I listened to the Px8 first, I would be (and really am...) thoroughly satisfied. The combination is very, very good, but without downloading the app* (I have not yet), you lose some options, such as tailoring the ANC. You are stuck with ANC on, or off and Transparency. One annoying aspect of use with the Px8, was that after about 10 minutes, the volume dropped markedly. I can only assume this is the Px8 safeguard volume adjustment. Without the app, I could not defeat that. When pulling down the dropdown menus, the volume dropped as well. I will as a result download the app, along with the Sony app for use with the WH-1000XM5.

*With the app installed, the volume drop was defeated, but without any input from myself. It was magic in other words...

Connection to the Sony WH-1000XM5 was easy as well, once I turned BT off on my phone. Once done, connection was entered easily. Mind you, this was a quick check before bed, and hence more explanation will be had below. The Sony sounded quite good as well, and in some instances, I favor it over the Px8 for wireless headphone use.


What I am finding is that the N7 scales well with whatever listening device you use. But and here is the kicker, that scaling effect can jade you moving from a high-quality IEM such as the Cadenza, to lower-priced but thoroughly satisfying wireless headphones such as the Px8 or WH-1000XM5. Be prepared to allow yourself time to acclimate to each listening tool before making judgment.

When listening to my favorite DAP (portable), the Shanling M6 Pro in comparison, I am presented with a warm, rich signature; with enough detail to keep me interested. On pure sound though, the A&K CA1000 wins hands down to me plus, the ability to incorporate it into a 2-channel system as a streamer makes it a winner. With the Cayin N7 though, the ability to enhance the staging quality (think placement within the cubic space) and imaging complexity of the headphones & IEM’s I used, is also delivered with a very natural tonality. To me, it mimics the M6 Pro in this regard, but more so. I have a soft spot for the Shanling “house sound,” and the N7 is the closest I have come to equaling that signature I love. The ability to drive whatever I threw its way makes the N7 extremely versatile as well. Some have mentioned that it may lack the power to truly drive harder headphones, but I found no issue with my Audeze LCD-3’s.

Excellent soundstage came about across pretty much any IEM or headphone I threw its way, limited only on BT to me and the aforementioned B&W and Sony models. Class-A sounds superb on the Cadenza 12 and the LCD-3’s, almost equally well; except for the sound signature differences of course. That dynamic range of detail and clarity within most listening devices affords the N7 the ability to present an expansive soundstage no matter the device or music. But, with good authority and note weight; and that quality mentioned above. Timbre is rich, but without coloring the sound too much, and to me enhances that spaciousness of soundstage. To me this would be a “just right” soundstage. Not too big, not too small, just about equally present in all dimensions allowing the instruments to be placed accurately and in a supportive manner across the song. It is that expanse, which allows the notes good detail and weight, where a larger stage might yield notes of too thin a character; with too much air between those notes.


Courtesy of the internet

Pairing the N7 with the “pedestrian” BQEYZ Winter allowed me to showcase the N7 working effortlessly with IEMs of all price points. Jazz from Qobuz through the duo sounded crisp and clean, with a solid bass line supporting whatever I sent its way, from “Sonny Side Up,” to Dexter Gordon’s “Three O’clock In The Morning.” I was not left wanting with this duo, and could happily pair them for whatever I saw fit.

Some have mentioned that adding an external amplifier made for a fuller sounding signature, with harder to drive headphones. In other words, to fully drive a headphone. To test this, I paired the N7 with the excellent EarMen Angel using the 4.4bal LO, and my Audeze LCD-3 as the listening source. The music was divine, with the Angel not countering the somewhat warm, rich character of the N7; something I appreciated. I cannot really say if there was more or less detail, only that the extra power from the Angel afforded me to fully drive the LCD-3 with ease, and give the notes a bit better weight to them. Your experience will of course differ most likely depending upon what you pair the N7 with, but many have had good results with the equally excellent C9. It seems Cayin knew what they were doing when they gave us these options.



My time comes to an end. I have given the N7 50+ hours of my time over the two weeks, prying, probing, changing, listening, and finally settling in with some commonalities, regardless of what music I played. My preference for Class-A over Class-AB was not to be had, since a simple flip for each song afforded me a good, solid listening experience, song-dependent. Some I preferred Class-A. Some Class-AB. I can easily do this on my Shanling M6 Pro, including bringing in dual DAC’s as needed. It seems manufacturers are taking this into consideration, by giving the user more options with each upgrade.

Comparing the N7 to the N6ii seems a bit superfluous, unless you are looking to upgrade. In that regard, I will not make the choice for you. There are many options to tailor the N6ii to your tastes, what with the multiple motherboards, but you are stuck with Android 8.1. The N7’s Android 12 is miles ahead in terms of functionality and use. It works better (as an upgrade should), but is not entirely unfamiliar to those who use the Android platform. As such, you will appreciate the newer OS, but I posit that should not be the reason for the upgrade.


1-bit is another upgrade, which will allow you to isolate your sound from input to output without degradation. Fully-discrete technology is overdue, and I welcome this, even if it drives the cost up a bit. Those with better ears can be the judge as to whether that is worth their cost. In my two-channel system, I can tell the difference with the black background. The black background follows on portable use as well, but as for auditory benefits, better ears can judge.

So, we are left with a “near” flagship DAP, from one of the most respected companies out there. Along with Astell & Kern, and FiiO (iBasso & HiBy as well), Cayin seems to be telling us, we are not going to give up on the DAP, and you should not either. From their flagships to their lower models, you get extremely good performance and units, which will be with us for a good long time. You can easily hook this into your two-channel system as well, taking a bite out of the streaming technology. And in that regard, the N7 is leagues ahead of pretty much everything out there that cost less, or possibly even a bit more. I find that by adding the A&K ACRO CA1000 into my two-channel as a streamer, I am completely satiated with the sound, knowing that there isn’t a streamer this side of $4k that compares. I would put the N7 in that same sphere, and not just for the streaming. The sound, and ability to change settings to your heart’s desire make this a serious contender in the ultra-DAP level. You should consider it if you like Cayin products. You should consider it if you like FiiO or A&K or iBasso products as well. But I will not spend your money for you and you must decide whether that cost is worth it.

I appreciate Andy & Cayin including me on this tour, between Will and myself, we have a great appreciation for the marque, and for the N7. It really is an astounding product, and if you are in the market at this price, please give it a comparison with the others. It will be worth the effort.


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Much appreciated!

Great DAP ! Thanks for the Review 👍
Thank you! Have a great day.😎


Reviewer at hxosplus
Join the "resistance"
Pros: + Natural and organic sound signature
+ Complete absence of digital glare and ringing
+ Excellent transparency and clarity
+ Dual amplifier operation modes, class A and AB
+ Dead silent background
+ Expansive and holographic soundstage with supreme imaging
+ Great recreation of the recording venue
+ End game line output performance
+ USB, coaxial and I²S digital outputs
+ Fast and responsive user interface with Android 12 OS
+ Premium protective case
+ Excellent build quality
Cons: - Slightly forward treble
- Only 64GB of on board memory
- Shared coaxial output with the USB port requires an expensive adapter cable
- Not as powerful as the competition
- Gets hot during use
- Average battery duration
- Quite heavy for the size
This review was made possible thanks to the tour organized by Cayin.
The Cayin N7 was loaned to me for three weeks and now is returned to the company.
I didn't receive monetary or any other kind of compensation and I don't use affiliate links.
The price of the Cayin N7 is $1999 and you can order it from all authorized dealers around the world.


Cayin N7 Technical highlights

The N7 is the latest DAP from Cayin, the creator N8ii Flagship DAP that I have already reviewed here
And while the N8ii utilizes dual ROHM BD34301 D/S DAC chips, for the N7 Cayin has decided to go fully discrete.
The N7 uses a fully-discrete 1-Bit DSD DAC that converts the digital signals to analog through a resistor network series composed of 128 high-precision thin-film resistors.
A precisely implemented FPGA enhances the digital audio signal and outputs L+, L-, R+, R- digital bitstream to fully balanced decoding. DSD signals are passed through unaltered, and PCM signals are converted to a 1-Bit bitstream before it is transmitted to the DAC circuitry.


For amplification duties, the Cayin N7 features a 4-channel discrete component-based fully balanced headphone amplification circuitry.
It adopts low-noise audio grade JFET (Junction Gate Field-Effect Transistors) as differential input stage and BJT (Bipolar Junction Transistor) as the voltage amplification and output stage.
Cayin N7 features Class A and Class AB easily selectable dual-operational modes for the amp circuit.
It delivers the high-power low-noise output with special optimization for low-impedance high-sensitivity IEMs. Class A amplification requires all channels to be in near-identical gain, so they are manually matched and manually installed to the PCB before final soldering.
The Cayin N7 also features a low-noise, low-distortion electronic resistance ladder-based volume control from JRC.
The controller uses a 4-channel in one integrated controller chip that offers precise Volume adjustments and lower power consumption.


The Cayin N7 is a pure flagship-grade digital audio player that supports all-leading audio formats.
It supports high-resolution 32-bit/768kHz PCM signals along with native DSD512 audio signals. It also supports full 16x MQA unfolding. Cayin N7 also has high-resolution two-way Bluetooth connectivity with class-leading LDAC, UAT, AAC, and SBC transmission protocols.
You can read everything about the Cayin N7 here.



The Cayin N7 comes together with a heavy duty, real leather, case of yellow color, a USB-C cable, 4.4mm to 2.5mm and 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio adapters and a tempered glass screen protector.


Input and outputs

Cayin N7 features both 3.5mm and 4.4mm output ports, independent for headphone and line-out.
You can easily select whether the line output will be fixed or variable pre-out through the drop down menu.
The fixed line output is a clean, unamplified signal that bypasses the volume control.
The Cayin N7 also supports USB together with I²S (mini HDMI) and coaxial digital outputs so it is widely compatible in different desktop and portable scenarios to use it as a digital transport to an external DAC.
The coaxial output is embedded in the USB port so you have to buy a special cable that is not provided.
The Cayin N7 also supports USB DAC connection to use it with a PC.


Build quality and appearance

The chassis is made from a solid piece of CNC'd aluminum with a high quality, sand blasted, black finish.
The appearance is premium and luxurious while the body has more rounded edges in the design than the N8ii so allows for better handling.
The Cayin N7 is not that big, it measures 142x77.8x22.2mm so it is more compact than the FiiO M17 but weighing 380g is slightly heavier than the iBasso DX320 which weighs 320g despite having a larger screen.


Interface and user experience

At the top right of the chassis there is the volume knob that has a nice design and some resistance to give a tactile enough experience while adjusting the volume level.
From the menu you can configure whether it will rise by turning it left or right.
On the right side of the DAP there are the power, track skip/previous, and play/pause buttons.
On the left side is the microSD card slot for expanding the storage up to 1TB.
At the bottom there are the headphone and line out jacks together with the I²S and USB ports.


The Cayin N7 is powered by a Snapdragon 665 SoC chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, running an open Android 12 OS and supports systemwide high-resolution decoding with SRC bypass.
The multitouch screen is a 5" FHD display that has vibrant colors and is very responsive while it supports double tap to wake.
There is also the familiar Cayin home button that doubles as back key while it also serves as the sampling rate indicator.
The Cayin N7 comes with the official Google store pre-installed so you can easily download all your favorite applications.
The overall user experience is very satisfying, the Cayin N7 is very responsive and fast with a flawless and lag-free operation.
It is highly configurable and customizable, the only thing missing is an ambient light sensor for auto adjusting the contrast.
You can browse, watch videos and use all known streaming applications.
All audio related operations are easily selectable from the drop down menu, gain settings, amplifier class and line output pre or fixed adjustment.
There are no user-selectable digital filters but you can fine tune the sound with the amplifier bias adjustment which is only effective for the headphone outputs.
For music playback you can download your favorite player or use the embedded Cayin music player that concentrates on audio quality by killing all other unnecessary tasks.
The Cayin N7 also supports system-wide control via mobile with the aid of the HiByCast application.


Battery duration

The Cayin N7 has an enormous 9000mAh lithium battery with a carefully tuned power management system.
It supports rapid charging from 20% to 80% in about two hours but despite all the power optimization, the Cayin N7 is a power hungry beast that depletes the battery quite fast.
The actual usage time depends on various parameters like gain, volume and WiFi.
From the balanced output set at the high gain, with mixed class A and AB operation and steaming high resolution files I got about 6 to 7 hours of playback time.
The Cayin N7 gets pretty warm at class AB operation mode and hot at class A.
I wouldn't suggest charging and playing music at the same time because the player gets really hot.


Power output

The Cayin N7 is not that powerful as the competition, the maximum rated power output is 500mW/32Ω from the 4.4mm jack when for example the iBasso DX320 can do a whole 1200mW/32Ω with the stock amp.
So don't expect it to drive more demanding loads, they sound compressed and underpowered but you will have no problem with easier headphones like the Focal Clear Mg, the Sennheiser HD660S2 and the Meze Elite that I have used with very satisfying results.
At the same time the Cayin N7 is absolutely dead silent so it is suitable for use with very sensitive earphones.
Output impedance is 1.2Ω from the balanced output and 0.6Ω from the single ended which is good enough but not the best, the competition can get as low as 0.38Ω from the balanced output.


Associated gear

I was the first reviewer to receive the Cayin N7 so I burned it for a full 200 hours as I was instructed to let the capacitors and the discrete components settle down.
The Cayin N7 was tested with the Sennheiser HD660S2, the Focal Clear Mg, the Sennheiser HD8XX, the Meze Elite and the Yamaha YH-5000SE while I have also used a couple of earphones like the FiiO FDX and the Meze Rai Penta.
All headphone cables used, except for the YH-5000SE, are of pure silver made by Lavricables.
To test the line output I have used the Cayin C9 portable headphone amplifier and the EarMen ST-Amp.
The player was updated to the latest firmware v1.2 that was available when writing this review.


Listening impressions

Non D/S modulator DACs and discrete amplifiers are usually associated with natural timbre and this is exactly what happens with the Cayin N7 which combines both of these design principles.
This is the kind of DAP that invites the listener into deep listening sessions, it is so expressive and engaging that it makes him forget about everything else.
Like when I first got it in my hands and thought, let's hear a couple of tracks to test the performance but finally ended listening for more than 3 hours continuously.
The Cayin N7 is melodic and organic sounding while at the same time it is absolutely transparent with a mirror-like source fidelity.
The engineers have managed to combine a modern, technical performance with great timbre realism and an analogue-like character to the sound.
The timbre is natural and lifelike but the sound doesn't get too warm and of course not muddy or mushy, the player is fast, with good timing, and it is characterized by an exceptional clarity and a superb definition throughout the whole frequency range.

The bass is tight and controlled with excellent, deep layering while the texture is not too visceral but not lean or dry either.
The Cayin N7 is dynamic and impactful, especially with easier to drive earphones, and while it is not the most powerful DAP, it still manages to sound convincingly contrasted.
The mid-range is very harmonious and resonant with plenty of colorful overtones, voices and instruments sound alive and breathing.
The Cayin N7 is tonally balanced but the upper-mids are perceived as a little pronounced and also the treble feels a little sharper than neutral, there is a bit of extra luminosity and energy that make it stand as a touch highlighted and borderline bright.
This is something though that should not be confused with the qualities of the higher frequencies which are very refined and resolving with natural decay characteristics and no loss of body weight relatively to the low end.
With the Cayin N7 you are not going to hear any pre or post ringing, there is a complete absence of digital glare and artificiality, the sound reminds more of an analogue than a digital source.
These sound qualities make the Cayin N7 the perfect DAP for people who like to listen to classical music or anything with unamplified instruments but thanks to its stellar technicalities it is also suitable for pretty much everything else making it a great all rounder source.
Listening to this latest recording of Richard Strauss, it was a revelatory experience not only because of the aforementioned sound characteristics of the player but also thanks for the immaculate recreation of the actual
recording venue.


It can't be stretched enough how capable is the N7 of recreating a faithful image of the recording venue by drawing a spacious and extended soundstage with a solid center image, extremely accurate positioning and a strikingly holographic and grand relief, especially with speaker-like sounding headphones like the Meze Elite.

Class AB or A?

The two operation modes of the headphone amplifier offer some really tasteful variations to the overall sound characteristics of the player.
The class AB has a touch more clarity and definition, the sound is a bit cleaner and tight, more controlled and neutral but with a sharper, cooler treble and slightly leaner texture.
Class AB is slightly more impactful and controlled on the bass but in class A it sounds fuller, weightier and more visceral.
Class A sounds more diffuse and a little looser in the time domain while it presents better harmonic wealth and timbre realism with greater sense of holography and more natural echo.
With class A you can literally hear the violin notes bouncing in the walls and the galleries of the Cathedral in the following recording.


The line output

The line output of the Cayin N7 is awesome, the sound quality is even better than the headphone because it carries out all the above described characteristics and additionally it manages to sound even more natural and organic.
And this is because it doesn't accentuate the upper-mids and the treble so the tonality is even more balanced and high pitched instruments sound closer to reality.

The pairing of the N7 with the Cayin C9 portable headphone amplifier is really marvelous, the natural and organic timbre of the player is combined with the tube warmth and holography, making a match made in heaven, an end-game listening experience.


Compared to the iBasso DX320 ($1600)

The iBasso DX320 is the flagship DAP of the company and supports interchangeable amp modules that allow for deeper sound customization.
The player is slightly bigger than the N7, because of the larger 6.5" screen, but is also more lightweight.
For the comparison I used the stock AMP11 MK2s and the Focal Clear Mg that are easy to drive and a fair load for the Cayin N7 but it should be noted that the iBasso is considerably more powerful and suitable for harder to drive headphones while both players have a pitch black background.
Both players offer flagship level user experience but the Cayin N7 comes with the latest Android 12 and is a bit faster and more responsive than the DX320.
The Cayin N7 has two slightly different sounding operation modes (class A and AB) when in the iBasso DX320 you can do a deeper and more effective sound customization but you have to pay extra for the additional amp modules.

The DX320 sounds slightly fuller and more visceral in the bass, it is more impactful but not as tight and controlled, clear and layered as in the Cayin N7.
The overall sound signature on the iBasso DX320 is just slightly more neutral with less sharp treble and upper-mids.
The DX320 soundstage is more focused on the center and a bit intimate when the Cayin N7 offers a wider presentation, it is more diffuse and it has sharper imagining with more precise placement.
Clarity and transparency are on the same level and while the line output of the iBasso DX320 is good enough, the line output of the Cayin N7 is of higher sound quality.


Compared to the FiiO M17 ($1800)

The FiiO M17 is the flagship DAP of the company which has the extra feature that it can be powered by an external power adapter that bypasses the internal battery and unlocks a desktop mode with a power output as high as 3W/32Ω.
It features a 6" screen but it is really bigger and heavier than the Cayin N7.
The FiiO M17 has no other sound customization options except for the embedded low pass filters of the DAC and a feature called second harmonic regulation which are not as effective as the dual operation modes of the Cayin N7.
Both players offer flagship level user experience but the Cayin N7 comes with the latest Android 12 OS and is slightly more responsive and faster.


Using the Focal Clear Mg to keep things fair for the N7, the sound comparison yielded the FiiO M17 as a touch leaner and drier in the overall texture but also slightly more transparent and cleaner sounding.
The M17 is definitely more impactful and dynamic in the low end but also a bit brighter and sharper in the lower and upper treble.
It is faster and more energetic with a grander and more expansive soundstage but the Cayin N7 is the best when it comes to imaging and positioning.
Additionally the N7 is a bit more organic and natural sounding with greater timbre realism and a smoother, less edgy sound presentation.
The M17 offers a competitive line output, just like the iBasso DX320, but it is really difficult to beat the supreme sound quality of the Cayin N7 line-out.

In the end

The Cayin N7 might not be the flagship DAP of the company but the performance is extremely close while certain sound qualities might be more appealing to a lot of people.
It doesn't have the dual Nutube timbre or the ultimate transparency and refinement of the flagship but it is not that far behind while it presents the music in a very natural and organic manner with excellent timbre realism.
The Cayin N7 offers something different than the D/S based DAPs bringing a very analogue quality to the sound that is going to reward the lucky owner with many hours of pure musical bliss.
Test playlist

Copyright - Petros Laskis 2023.
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Thank you for your comments.
I don't think that the N7 is lacking in impact and control especially with easy to drive earphones like yours.
And please consider that the N7 must be fully burned in order to sound impactful and controlled.
  • Like
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Very interesting this comparison with the DX320 I own.

In addition to the beautiful material to test it: thank you for this Review and curious to know how it compares with Hiby's Flagship...
  • Like
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Hello, thank you for reading.
Unfortunately I can't compare to the Hiby flagship because I never had the chance to test it.


100+ Head-Fier
Cayin N7 - exceptional sound with some frustrations
Pros: Lively musical presentation
Very well controlled bass
Extreme soundstage and imaging
Excellent build quality
Cons: Add ons cost extra (dust cover for unused outputs)
Headphone outputs on bottom of device (but you can flip the screen, though not ideal)
Confusing marketing materials related to DSD conversion
Software issues with using as an external DAC
UPDATE: I managed to determined that the issue causing the intermittent disconnection of the N7 from my PC when used as an external DAC was the USB-C cable that Cayin included with the device. Using different USB-C cables I was able to get the device functioning as an external DAC. However, it is somewhat glitchy as the option to disable USB charging when used as a DAC does not work, and the charging continues even when that option is selected. I have updated to 4.5 stars, with the .5 star deduction for the included cable issue and not being able to disable USB charging.

I received a discounted Cayin N7 from MusicTeck in exchange for agreeing to provide a detailed, honest review of the device. I was already considering the device before I purchased it from them.

My experience with MusicTeck was great from start to finish; I received near immediate responses to questions, shipping was extremely quick, and I found their website to be easy to navigate and have some really high end products.


Overall, I am very pleased with the N7 and would recommend it to anyone looking for a well-made DAP that has a fun sound, exceptional bass and mids, but may not mind some software frustrations when trying to use the device as an external DAC. For me, that is not a significant issue, but I deducted a star because it may be an issue for some, particularly since it is supposed to have that functionality. Otherwise, I did not deduct points for the other “Cons” noted above, and only note them for your consideration.



The Cayin N7 comes with a yellow leather case (the marketing materials refer to it as orange, but it is in fact yellow), a hefty USB C charging cable, a tempered glass screen protector, a pre-applied protector for the back of the unit, and a 3.5 to 2.5mm female adapter and a 4.4 to 2.5mm female adapter. If you want the sea green leather case (referred to in the marketing materials as blue) you need to pay an additional $89.00, and for dust covers for the unused 3.5mm and 4.4mm outputs you need to pay an additional $14.99. I found the dust covers more useful than the female adapters and would have preferred those were included. Regardless, they are a nice touch, and plug the unused jacks. I do not mind the yellow case. I actually really like the gold accents on the volume knob, jacks, and back of the leather case.


The unit itself feels very solid in hand, and its rounded edges make it feel soft despite its heft. I only use it with the case, which seems to be a decent quality leather. The leather case has a magnetic closure, which is sturdy and allows for access to the volume control. Though the output jacks are at the bottom of the device, you can flip the screen vertically and this allows you to run the cords from the "top" of the device. This is somewhat frustrating because the home screen button then takes up space at the "top" of the device, which seems awkward, but it is better than having the headphone cord run out of the bottom of the device, which seems more awkward if lying down while listening.

The user interface is Android 12, which is very fast and very user friendly if you are already familiar with Android’s OS. What I found particularly useful was the drop down menu accessible from the home screen that allows for changing the amplifier type from A to AB (the overall difference between the two being that I perceive AB to push the mids forward and add some detail, which A relaxes the presentation), the output selection, and other sound-related settings.

Though I am fairly skilled in setting up computer audio, I must say that I am presently disappointed in the ability to use the Cayin N7 as an external DAC because it keeps disconnecting itself from my computer. I downloaded the required USB driver, confirmed that it was installed, and used the installed taskbar application as instructed to check the device status. Intermittently, the device shows as not available. I have tried to have the device identified within Audirvana, within Qobuz, and just as a Windows output device, and continue to get the same result. My device manager reports that the device was requested to install, though the device shows as installed as evidenced by the application noting the device being connected, but then it intermittently disconnects according to both device manager and the application (as well as within Audirvana and Qobuz). For this reason and frustration, I am deducting a star. I will continue to tinker and reach out to support as needed, and will update if appropriate.


The sound of the Cayin N7 is robust and tends to a livelier, fuller presentation than both the Mojo 2 and iBasso DX240, though not as dynamic as the Hugo TT2. Previously, my go-to portable device was the Mojo 2, as I found it to have great clarity and a level of musicality that I felt was a good balance. I tend toward the analytical sound, and usually find there is a tradeoff between good detail retrieval and musicality. However, the Cayin N7 caused me to sell my DX240 and Mojo 2, as it struck the balance so well that I no longer found the Mojo 2 necessary, having previously felt the need to pair the Mojo 2 with my DX240 in order to get the desired balance. With the N7 I found great detail retrieval and clarity, yet a very full and fun sound. It was not as good as the TT2, but that is probably not a fair comparison. It was better at musicality and dynamics than both the Mojo 2 and Hugo 2, however.

What I first noticed with the N7 was the immense soundstage and exceptional imaging. At first, I reviewed using both my SE846 and IE900, and heard sounds outside of my head and could easily pick out instrument placement across a very broad stage. I found it even better than when using my full size HD800S, which are known for an already wide soundstage. I then used my Noble Kadence IEMs, which have a narrow soundstage. I found the soundstage respectable with the Kadence, though not as wide and surprising as the N7 created with the SE846 and IE900.


With the N7 I felt that there was excellent control over the bass, regardless of whether using IEMs or the HD800S. I never felt that it sounded like it did not have a grip on the bass, whereas with the DX240 I felt it seemed to have loose control at times. The HD800S demonstrated solid depth and weighty notes, and what I found most exceptional was the bass from the Kadence, which is considered a reference monitor. I would not say that the N7 is warm or dark, but I would say that it provides great bass extension and control, which adds to the sense of richness of its sound.


I found the presentation of the mids to be on par with the bass presentation. I felt as though I was listening to a larger system than the small device sitting on my desk, regardless of which IEM I was using. In fact, the fullness of the sound – which I attribute to the bass and mids – was so impressive that I found myself preferring my SE846 over my IE900, whereas with both the DX240 and Mojo 2 I much preferred the IE900 for their fuller, dynamic driver sound. The N7 was able to add a weight to the SE846 such that it became a much richer listen, while still preserving detail retrieval and clarity.


I am typically sensitive to treble, but I felt that the N7 didn’t do anything offensive with it. I found it well extended. Take this with appropriate weight because the IEMs I used and the HD800S all have good extension as well. In short, nothing put me off about the treble, nor did it particularly impress me.

Last Gripe

My last gripe with the N7 is that it appears that the advertised DSD 1-bit conversion may only be realized when stored music is played through the onboard player. In playing streaming music through UAPP it seemed that the upsample feature on UAPP only recognized the internal DAC of the N7 as capable of 192 khz. When the device was connected to my computer, it recognized the DAC as capable of 768 khz and DSD. Previously, when using my Mojo 2 with UAPP through the DX240, UAPP recognized the Mojo 2 as capable of outputting 768 khz. After some digging on the settings on the N7, the best I could determine was that the DSD settings were only available in the Cayin onboard app, which does not allow streaming. I had assumed based on the marketing materials that the N7 converts all music, whether stored or streaming, to DSD. That does not appear to be the case as near as I can determine. Regardless, it still sounds great.
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N7 converts all incoming bitstream to 1-Bit DSD format before decoding, including streaming. We employ a 1-bit discrete resistor network DAC in N7, this DAC circuit is incapable of decoding PCM bitstream directly, all PCM bitstream, including streaming content or USB Audio input, will go through transcoding and upsampling to DSD512 before decoding.
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This is helpful, thank you. Any idea why UAPP would show as 192 kHz if the stream was being upsampled by UAPP if the device upsamples to DSD? I realize upsampling through software would result in resampling but used UAPP in an effort to determine if the stream was upsampled by the device to DSD. I would have thought it would have shown up sampling to the device maximum, not 192 kHz.