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Cayin i5 Lossless Android DAP with AKM4490 DAC supporting 32/384 PCM + 64/128 DSD

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by nmatheis, Mar 21, 2016.
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  1. Andykong

    You are corrected, we have tested again, the MTP mode works in first connection, we can copy file to TF card alright, but when we reset the player during connection, the TF card content become empty and that reconcile your observation. This is not an acceptable condition.

    We have filed a bug report right away, Sorry for our incomplete test before firmware release.
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  2. Andykong
    Alex has finally published his i5 Review, I am sure this is "the" review that many friend in on-line i5 community are looking forwards to. Alex has compared i5 against other Cayin DAPs and Fiio X5iii, I am sure these are interesting topic to read,

    Alex is a regular contributor in this thread, if you have any questions regarding his review, I guess you can raise it here and Alex will be happy to discussion his observations with you. :beerchug:
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  3. bavinck
    Nice to see a review that goes against the grain. Alex is a good reviewer, just says what he sees. I have a second hand i5 inbound and have decided to skip the X5iii. I usually agree with Alex's assessments so it looks like I made the right call.

    BTW, the acoustic research m20 dap is highly underrated.
  4. ngoshawk

    Begging your pardon, but I'm not sure I understand your "against the grain" comment. If you mean that twister6 likes the i5 more than the x5iii, then he succinctly and validly lays out his points. We may disagree (but he is MUCH more experienced, than I), but I think he also laid out why the i5 is a great entry Android DAP for Cayin.

    In a long many day conversation I had with another respected member, "he" pointed out to me, rightly so, that this was Cayin's first entry into an Android-based OS. After our conversation, my appreciation for Cayin's effort grew. My thinking is that there will definitely be improvements in the i5, which will keep it competitive.

    I can also say, that I still consider it on par with others mentioned; and if I did not have some DAP's on the way, into my family; I would GLADLY accept the i5 into my realm.

    I think you are saying that Alex says the i5 is the "better," which does seem to go against the accepted grain right now. I still like the i5, very much too.

    Cheers, and. no offense, please.
  5. bavinck
    Not sure what your point is, or what you don't understand about my comment. I have not heard X5iii or i5 yet. Headfi X5iii hype train is really strong right now, Alex seems to like the sq on the i5 a bit better than X5iii, where most of the hype train is calling the i5 dark he is calling it tonally natural and even brighter/more revealing than the X5iii. This is against the grain, not bad or good. Just is. Nice to see him report his findings even though he knows the hype train is going to disagree.

    I was complimenting him.
  6. twister6 Contributor
    I try to keep my write ups "neutral" and unbiased.  We already have a lot of i5 reviews and soon will see a lot of X5iii reviews.  Both of them are great DAPs intended for a different audience.  The intent of my review is to describe what I hear and how I hear it.  The intent of the comparison is to show strong and weak points of each product.  I will leave it up to my readers which one their prefer better, drawing their own conclusion [​IMG]  Don't forget, we all have a different perception of the sound, and use different headphones for comparison (for example, I'm using UERR, Zeus-XRA, and W900 when I'm evaluating the sound).  It's all a subjective opinion.  And for those who are wondering what's going on, here is an excerpt from my blog:
    i5 vs X5iii – in comparison, i5 has a little wider soundstage, while the staging depth is the same in both.  The bass in i5 is more layered with a better articulation, while X5iii bass sounds a little more one dimensional in comparison.  Both have a very similar bass extension and impact.  Upper mids in i5 are a little brighter and more revealing, including treble having more sparkle and airiness, while X5iii is a little smoother and more organic, including a little smoother treble.  I think that’s one of the biggest differences between these two DAPs, where i5 has an edge in sound quality due to a better upper end extension and more airiness which expands the dynamics of the sound, while X5iii sounds a little flatter in comparison.
    My testing was done comparing Single Ended 3.5mm outputs, volume matched, between these DAPs.  When comparing i5 to X5iii BAL HO, I hear an improvement in sound where X5iii is a little more dynamic now, but still doesn't reach i5 level.  Also, both have a very noticeable hissing with sensitive IEMs (like Zeus), though i5 is a little stronger and with a higher pitch sound.
    When it comes to a design, i5 has a more premium solid look, but X5iii has a more practical and a more comfortable one handed operation since playback controls and volume wheel are on the same side and the volume wheel is a lot easier to turn.  Also, despite having the same 32GB of internal storage, X5iii has two microSD slots.
    In terms of GUI design and interface, X5iii offers a more smartphone-like experience which is smoother when dealing with Google Play store and apps, while in case of i5 the Android apps feel like a hidden add-on.  That’s one of the biggest differences, where X5iii feels like Android OS with FiiO music app on top of it, while i5 feels more like an audio DAP with a limited Android access to allow apps on top of it.  It's a very different experience that could attract different users.  If you are into audio streaming and apps and need more storage, X5iii will suite your needs better.  If you just want access to streaming apps and your focus is on better audio quality, i5 has a definitive edge here.  Keep in mind, i5 has a single AK4490 DAC while X5iii has two AK4490 DACs, and it's a good example that more DACs doesn't mean a better sound quality.
    cayin_i5-16.jpg   cayin_i5-17.jpg
    cayin_i5-18.jpg   cayin_i5-19.jpg
    glassmonkey, Light - Man and ngoshawk like this.
  7. nmatheis Contributor
    I've been listening to i5 vs X5 v3 pretty intensively over the past few days. Both are on the latest fw. I've used both with high-impedance earbuds, sensitive IEM, and fairly easy to drive headphones.

    Both have good build quality. Personally, I slightly prefer the looks and feel in the hand of the X5 v3. The matte finish helps to grip it more securely when not using a case. The i5's smooth finish makes it more slippery. However when it comes to placement of controls, I'd give the nod to the i5 especially the volume knob which I like a lot better than the X5 v3's volume wheel.

    X5 v3 definitely wins when it comes to storage with 2 x mSD slots vs i5's one, lonely slot. I think I prefer the sim tray type slots FiiO used over the typical open mSD slot Cayin used - classy!

    When it comes to GUI, I think both are fine. It will come down to personal preference, and I prefer i5 which feels more DAPs first, whereas X5 v3 feels more Android-first unless you enable Pure Music mode. I also prefer Cayin's less cluttered approach to the Now Playing screen. I think FiiO tried to cram too many icons on the Now Playing screen. So many tiny icons in close proximity isn't my gig.

    When it comes to streaming / third-party apps, both DAPs struggle a bit. I know i5 has issues with Tidal as outlined by Andy in an earlier post. I'm not a Tidal user, so that doesn't affect me. I'm a Google Play Music subscriber, and that's worked well for me on the i5. Google Play Music on the X5 v3 is a different story, stuttering on and off with both streaming and downloaded songs. I basically gave up on Google Play Music with X5 v3 and didn't find myself using it much with i5, either. I've actually used streaming more with my Shanling M1, using it as a BT receiver for my smartphone. Seems like the best solution at least for me would be AptX HD streaming from phone to DAP. Convenient and offloads all the third-party app stuff to your phone which is honestly better equipped for it.

    As usual, Cayin is using a more aggressive volume curve. Volume gets loud quickly when using IEM. Thankfully Cayin is adopting a different approach with the new N3, which is using a Low, Medium, High Gain approach with a less aggressive Low Gain volume curve. I *think* this will be coming to i5 in the future. But for right now, I'm happier with FiiO's gentler volume curve which lets me really dial in the volume with sensitive IEM.

    And finally sound... Here's where the surprise comes. Up until the last fw update, I felt like i5 was a bit too warm and sound felt a bit claustrophobic as a result. But after the last fw update, things opened up. Bass is well-controlled and punchy, lower mids are full and satisfying, upper mids are restrained and sound quite refined as a result, treble is smooth but detailed, and soundstage is wider than previous fw. If you couldn't tell, I'm really liking i5's sound after the last fw update. X5 v3 in comparison has softer bass, thinner lower mids, more prominent upper mids, and less detailed treble. Soundstage is pretty good. Overall though, I'm preferring i5 sound at this point.

    One thing both need to implement is an effective standby mode to prevent the need to shut down competely after use to prevent battery drain because startup / boot time is close to a minute for both DAPs. That's a long wait to get your DAP up and running when you're used to conventional DAPs. I'm not sure how theBit did it with Opus #1, but that Android-based DAP has stellar standby battery life. It would be great if both Cayin and FiiO could bring that to their Android DAPs.

    So overall, both are good (but not perfect) DAPs, and it will take some research for individuals to decide which is the right DAP for them. For me, Cayin's i5 meets my needs better, and I'll be sad to send it back home to Andy & Co. but am happy to have had the opportunity to audition it extensively. Hope that helps, guys.

    EDIT: Totally forgot to comment on the fact that X5 v3 has balanced, whereas i5 only has single-ended headphone out. X5 v3 balanced out didn't sound much different to me, so I didn't find this to be a big advantage for my use case. Personally, I preferred i5 SE to both X5 v3 SE and balanced. Of course YMMV. If X5 v3 was significantly better out of balanced out life Aune M1s, things might've find differently...

    aangen, miceblue, x RELIC x and 3 others like this.
  8. emptymt
    I had a short audition not too long ago for the Fiio X5 III (idk about the fw) and like some people here, I also prefer the sound of the I5 at that time. I also like the volume knob on the I5 better than the one in X5.
    although that 2 sd slot on the X5 III is very convenient.
  9. subguy812
    Although my review scoring of the i5 was critical it's sound was pretty awesome. With a lot of listening time it really opened up. It was still laid back and smooth, never harsh, but the details started shining through. Prior to the FW update so many little issues and the battery drain rendered sleep mode so bad. I am not sure those things were fixed.
  10. nmatheis Contributor

    Yes, I think these DAPs which try to be Android + DAP is pushing the limit right now. If used as a simple DAP, the approach iBasso and thebit have taken works very well.
  11. subguy812

  12. professor55
    After updating to 2.2, I can no longer "drag search" lists using the sidebar. It stops at the "b's". It worked fine before the 2.2 update. I have restarted several times to see if that would correct it.
    EDIT: Rescanning the tracks has corrected this problem.
  13. raykkho
    Thank you Andy for looking into this.
  14. timetochill
    My i5 randomly crashes while playing music in USB-DAC mode. I'm running on the latest firmware and not sure what the problem is. Does anyone have any solutions to this?
  15. PsiCore
    Regarding the upgrade, am I doing something wrong?
    • Enter Recovery Mode of Cayin i5 by pressing Down key at the right side and Power On/off at the left side
    - pressing both at once, shut off/restart opens
    - pressing first down, holding and then power off/on, shut off/restart opens
    - pressing first down then power off/on - screen shuts down
    So how should I press it again? 
    I feel stupid...
    EDIT. Duh, you have to first switch off the player after copying the file and then enter the recovery mode. I suggest to put that in the instruction for dummies like me :wink:
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