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Cayin iHA-6 - US Tour and reviews

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by project86, Feb 7, 2016.
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  1. Andykong
    Dillan has publish his iHA-6 and iDAC-6 review. This is the first review from the US Tour, and the report has been recommended on the HeadFi home page. :beerchug:

    http://www.head-fi.org/products/cayin-iha-6/reviews/16731

    Associated Equipment:

    LH Labs Vi Dac Infinity
    McIntosh MHA100
    Audeze LCD4
    Grado RS2e
    Kaiser K10

    With permission from Dillan, I have extracted the sound-related content of the report for your reference and discussion:

    LCD-4: With the combination of both of Cayin's offerings I thought the sound was very good actually. I definitely have used these LCD-4's with some world class components and I didn't feel like I needed "more" of anything. I found them driven quite well using the four pin balanced connection and even used the HIGH level of single ended configuration with satisfaction. The only time I felt them needing more juice was when I experimented with the LOW port, which obviously isn't meant to drive power hungry planars. The bass was nice and punchy, mids were accurate and detailed and the highs were crisp. If I used some imagination I could call the signature slightly cold, as you expect that warm enveloping sound from the tube stage, but you never really got that. However, because these Audezes already give you a very laid back sound to begin with, I thought the pairing was just fine.

    RS2e: I really love my Grado RS2e. It really is a great sidekick for the LCD-4 in that they have a differentiating sound and at different price points. Listening to the duo with my pair of Grados was another positive experience. Gregory Porters latest album really had me respecting these little devices more and more. With the RS2e's I did feel like I heard a little more of the lushness seeping into the midrange on the tube setting. The bass seemed slightly more euphonic than I had remembered it being and the instrumental treble was very impressive. I tended to use the LOW single ended option with these headphones and I did have to turn the nob up slightly more than you'd expect, but it definitely drove them as loud as I would want them and still with decent headroom. I liked this combo a lot.

    Compared to McIntosh MHA100: ....... Looking at purely the sound I will say both are different, but good. If you happen to prefer an uncolored, unmodified amplifier and just want a great, detailed and accurate sound then I would definitely look at the iHA-6. It sounds very much how a high end solid state amplifier should sound.. comparable to something like the Auralic Taurus or even Schiit's Ragnarok. I found myself grabbing my darker sounding headphones when listening to the Cayin duo and my brighter Grados with the McIntosh. The solid state amplifier coupled with the tube DAC create a sort of detailed musicality that really bring my headphones to life. It is sort of ironic how a tube DAC sounds a lot less warm than the solid state MHA100, but that is what I have found through the comparisons. I would only say that the unique features in the MHA100 outshine Cayins offerings, but the sound itself were almost equally enjoyable and impressive albeit slightly different.

    Compared to LH Labs Vi Dac Infinity: I actually pretty much enjoyed both of these the same, if maybe the Cayin duo more. Both amplifiers can power just about everything I throw at them with pretty impressive headroom. The Vi Dac is again about double the price, but sound-wise I believe it is very easily in the same league as both the iHA-6 and iDAC-6. If anything I think the filters and tubestage options on the iDAC made it a lot more impressive. I certainly found the filters almost inaudibly different, but they were slight enough to make things interesting. Features in general wasn't even a contest as the Cayin combination have many more options and outputs ...... I think I would recommend saving your coins for something else and going for the Cayin units if it were a choice between these two. Really great stuff from Cayin!

    Closing Thoughts: I really enjoyed my time with both the iDAC-6 and the iHA-6. The best situation for someone to buy these is if they have limited desk space or don't want huge devices getting in the way.. all while gaining a modern stylish look of audio products with excellent sound quality and a few niche bonuses such as a quad tube DAC. I didn't mention before that these little offerings pair well with a broad selection of IEMs too. My Kaiser K10's especially were driven correctly and sounded as perfect as they ever had. I only very faintly heard a whisper of hiss-like distortion due to the sensitivity of the K10's, which is completely expected. These are very versatile, sound just as good as much more expensive equipment and I think anyone would be proud to have these in their inventory. Well done Cayin!

    I want to thank Dillan for his helpful and informative contribution. The review certainly provides a solid background for HeadFier who are looking for DAC or headphone amplifier at this price range. Complete a product review at this level of detail within 7 days period is a very tough job, and I salute Dillan for his diligent and hardworking.

    Please feel free to share your views after reading Dillan's report, and we are looking forwards to more Tour reports down the road. :beerchug:
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
  2. Andykong
    With great pleasure, we would like to announce MusicTeck from New Jersey as our new US authorized seller. They will carry the complete Personal Audio products from Cayin, including the iDAC-6 Digital Analog Converter and iHA-6 Headphone Amplifier. We have dispatched their first order already and Musicteck will update their website as soon as they have received our products. US customers who are interested in the Cayin combo can contact MusicTeck for more detail. :beerchug:
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
    grizzlybeast likes this.
  3. rudra
    @Andykong can you please advise if the single ended input is converted to balanced output.
     
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  4. wadi
    Has anyone had any problems with low impedance iems or headphones plugged into low impedance unbalanced output?
     
  5. grizzlybeast
    that is good news!!!!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. project86 Contributor
     
    Not necessarily problems but I would say it's not an ideal match. Output impedance a bit too high. It's doable unless the IEMs are really sensitive but definitely not the best possible result from this amp.
     
  7. Dillan
    Yea I found the balanced 4 pin output was what really made these the amazing little things they are. I wouldn't personally recommend buying this stack for only single ended efficient headphones/IEMs.. Although I didn't have any "problems" with that per se.
     
  8. wadi
    Hello @Andykong
     
    Has Cayin measured output power of balanced and unbalanced outputs into 50 ohms,150 ohms, 300 ohms, 600 ohms?
     
  9. EvenR
    When i first got the Cayin iHA-6 and iDAC-6 combo and paired it with my HD800S, i wasn't too thrilled. Compared to my previous HDVD800, there was more detail present from the dac, but it came with some extra brightness and a general sense of being a bit overemphatic. It sounds thin, the soundstage is small and the treble is not well-integrated in the mix when starting from cold.
     
    It's now a month later i'd the units have around 100 hours on them. What i find now, after regular use and long listening sessions, is that the combo warms up and peaks 6 hours in.
     
    The difference in sound quality after the dac tubes have completely warmed up, is nothing short of amazing and revelatory. It's like a flower blooming and revealing it's inner essence. It truly shows you what this Cayin stack is all about. All it requires is a bit of patience.
     
    After 6 hours the tubes provide the warmth and depth that makes the music full, natural and liquid. The soundstage opens up and positioning is improved and very convincing. The overall tone is buttery smooth natural with slam and dynamism and detailed highs, which are held in an iron grip and kept it in a straight line. The whole presentation is extremely balanced and i can't point to any sharp edges or any dullness. It's simply alive and groovy. 
     
    I've previously owned the original HD800 the HDVD800, but then switched over to this setup. Even with the HD800S, i felt that i might need another headphone to compliment it. I don't have the need anymore. After discovering my setups full potential, it has made my HD800S a genre master. Something i thought i'd never say about this line of headphones.
     
    This is the only setup i've been satisfied with over the years. It's my end game.
     
    Nevertheless i'm in a financial situation where i have to sell it, since i'm moving out. I'll definitely pick up something similar when i'm settled in my new home. There's no way i'm going to have any setup without a pair of HD800S at least. 
     
    I'm not saying the Cayin's are the only good option for your HD800/S, as there are certainly others, but at it's price, i consider this an exceptional value with high end performance.
     
    It's no wonder that Cayin chose the HD800, when shooting pictures of their stack, as they both look and sound great together.
     
  10. wswbd
    Have you tried other DAC feeding into iHA-6 and compare the SQ of HD800S?
     
  11. Andykong

    Yes, iHA-6 will convert the single-ended (RCA) input to balanced before feeding into the amplification circuit The conversion is actually quite well performed, you won't hear the different unless you compare them critically.
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
  12. Andykong

    I'll pursue these after I get back from my US trip. :beerchug:
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
  13. Andykong

    Its sad to know that you have to depart from your setup, especially when you start to like your setup. The Cayin i-combo does require some time before it can be perform at its best. The iDAC-6 offers 10 different tonal setting while the iHA-6 offers 4 different driving setting, a total of 40 combinations "mathematically", its versatile and probably need some extra time to get familiar with the different setup in both iDAC-6 and iHA-6.

    I wish all you all the best in your forth coming venture, and please come back when you are building your next audio system, even when you are not using Cayin product in your future setup, your experience is still appreciated and we'll always welcome you with open arms.
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
  14. Andykong
    MyHeadFi20160727sm.jpg

    I'll chime in but please remember I am part of the Cayin team when you read my comment.

    I have three DAC in my home rig: Cayin iDAC-6, Yulong D8 and Goldmund Metis DA. They are connected to four different amplifiers during normal setup (I have sold my Little Dot Mk6 to simplified my setup earlier on :D ), but I did connect all three to iHA-6 (two at a time) and Ragnarok (all three DAC connected at the same time( during the exploring process.

    MyHeadFi20160727sm.jpg

    I only do "rough" level match (90db at 1kHz signal with a SPL) but under a blind test condition. The iHA-6 can work with all three DAC fairly well and it is transparent enough to reflect the sound signature of the three DAC and I can appreciate the music and best suit headphone under each setup.

    After the exploration period, I have iDAC-6+iHA-6 connected as a pair, Ragnarok and HA-1Amk2 connected to Yulong D8, and the Goldmund Metis DA feeding the Koss ESP/950 directly. :L3000:
     
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://en.cayin.cn/
  15. wadi
    It would be interesting to read a comparison between Cayin iha-6 and Schiit Jotunheim. Both are called neutral and have similar power ratings.
     
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