Cayin N5 DAP - Product Info (Post #2), Resources (Post #3) and Discussion
Jun 11, 2015 at 2:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2,546


Headphoneus Supremus
Nov 21, 2014
Calgary, AB
Little birds began twittering several months ago about a possible little brother for the highly respected Cayin N6.
Having reviewed the N6 but not yet pulled the trigger on a purchase, the idea of a smaller, scaled down Cayin DAP excited me. I'm on the road a lot, so I'm always on the lookout for a truly portable DAP (as opposed to TRANSportable, which is how I classify the N6).
This discussion thread started out as a repository for information and photo leaks, desired features, predictions, expressions of excitement, etc., with insider info Cayin and other sources, sneak photos and other hints. Let us know.
Now with release behind us, focus has shifted to reviews and discussion. If you want to skip the rumours parts of the thread, check Post #2 for official updates from Cayin, and then skip ahead to around page 20, where we start getting more solid product updates and discussion. Unboxing and impressions begin at page 26.
If you'd like to see N5 reviews, or need to download the latest N5 firmware, check Post #3 for links.
Jun 11, 2015 at 2:35 PM Post #2 of 2,546
This space reserved for official product info.
Update #1 from Cayin Team (June 14, 2015)
"Hello Everyone,
We are really apprecaited for your followup on our next model of DAP. All of you are correct and our next model number is N5.
We can release some general information over here about N5. It takes the same display as N6. Of course we will re-define the UI and operation of the new N5. In regard with the size information which you concerned most it is much smaller than N6. However we are sorry that we cannot disclose the detail size of it now as we are still optimizing the design of the product including the feeling of handling in hands and details. Cayin, us do not want to transfer any unconfirmed information. It is not a responsible attitude to do so.
As for the part of DAC N5 is using AKM 4490 which can do DSD native decoding and seprate volume control IC too. As the DACs are different the hardware and amplification part will be also different from N6. Once we have finished design and confirmed on the sound test we will have a block to show you the design together with the specifications.
Oh sorry. We have sevral other important changed not mentioned. In N5 we have cancelled the internal storage. Instead we have double TF card. It supports USB 3.0 and has 2.5 balance headphone jacket. 
As above we have seen you have give some suggestions and we are really appreciated for that. Cayin our team will work at our best to do better because of your support and expectation. In fact our N5 project is at its final development stage and we will disclose more and more information accroding to our product development progress.
Cheers everyone and thanks very much.
Best regards,
Cayin Team"
Update #2 from Cayin Team (July 1, 2015)
Received a PM from John at Cayin today with pictures of current working models of the N5.


Dimensions are 111 x 64 x 16.4 mm, in grey or gold. These designs are subject to change, but for now this is the best indication of the N5 form factor.
Update #3 (Aug, 2015)
Some comparison images with N6 DAP.




A very sexy little DAP, wouldn't you say?
Update #4 from @Andykong (Aug. 18, 2015)

So this is N5 specification that you'll see in the user manual of the DAP. There are still chance that they'll adjust the figures before they put this into print, but hopefully nothing significant.

There are some interesting numbers. First of all, the balanced headphone output is rated at 300mW+300mW @ 32ohm. This is a big drop from the earlier version which has been posted in some China websites and forwarded to here several days ago. I believe this is a move to make the N5 more IEM-friendly, afterall 700mW per channel probably is too powerful for a lot of IEMs, especially those high efficient multi BA monitors.

The second issue is the final battery capacity is confirmed as 4200mAH, this is a very large battery at something as sleek as N5. The claimed battery duration is around 9 hours. I was told the test sample can achieve a little bit more then than from initial test, so there is a chance that the real life test will exceed this benchmark after firmware optimization.

The third issue is the line out of N5. The previous version was 1.7V and the final production version is 2V, and the different has a deeper root to the design of the Line Out facilitation. I must take this opportunity to apology to fellow friends about the Line Out of N5 as I stated previously that it will be same design as N6: bypassing voltage amplification and headphone amplification and has its own op-amp. That was corrected up to July 2015. Having a separated line out circuit along side a Balanced Headphone amplification circuit and sharing one 3.5mm output jack seems to introduced a lot of technical issues and the development team subsequently designed to change the Line Out design to a fixed 2V signal out of the Headphone circuit, and the new arrangement will be as follows:
  • Select the appropriate output mode at “Output Selection” of “Music Setting” menu, as illustrated previously
  • Output level is fixed and cannot be altered by volume control of the player
  • When operated in Line Out mode, the device will set the volume to maximum, users are advised to disconnect their earphone from the device and connect to proper device prior to switching output selection
  • When you select Line Out from Output Selection of Music Setting Menu, the device will pop-up warning message to remind you the potential hazel in misconnecting headphone to the device at Line Out mode, you need to press Enter button again to confirm the device is ready before Line Out setting become effective
  • When N5 is set to Line Out mode, and detected the 3.5mm connector has been removed, the device will fall back to headphone mode automatically to avoid mis-connection in the future

I think this is a fairly safe design for day-to-day operation, the safety procedures might be too tight for experienced users and causing some inconvenient to specific scenario such as AB comparing different 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, but if this is inevitable if we put consumer safety as our top priority.
Update #5 from @Andykong (Aug. 21, 2015)
I'll give you the latest set of N5 photo that we shortlisted as our N5 launched photo:

As of the status of DAP, Cayin officially launched N5 on 20th August 2015 and the following link is the N5 from Cayin's office Taobao shop, so this is not a rumour anymore. We are still fine tuning the production line and will try out best to deliver production units to shops by early next week.
Update #6 from @Andykong (Aug. 29, 2015)

This is a busy year in Cayin. The success of N6 has opened up a lot of opportunities to this 20 plus years prestige audio company. After the launch of C5DAC, Cayin R&D team has been busy in further integrating their amplifier expertise with latest DAP experience, and their effort will pay off when the new N5 is released. This is the second DAP from Cayin and is tentatively priced at US$349 (subject to local tax and logistic charges) and yet maintain the overall sound signature and capability of N6, so It is a compact and powerful, low cost and professional DAP that every headfier should looking forwards to.

Cayin started to go into headfi market few years back and started with several desktop based Headphone amplifiers. They decide to venture into portable market as their new development focus in 2013 and have launched two very successful products in 2014: the C5 portable headphone amplifier and the N6 Digital Audio Player (DAP). These two products were exceedingly well-received among HeadFi communities all over the world. Cayin has been working very hard since then and planned to offer 5 new products in 2015. The C5DAC back in Q1 was a capable twin to the prominent C5, and the forthcoming N5 will be a strong alternative to the renowned N6.

Cayin N5 was conceptualized way back in early 2015, and the design draft/prototype was completed by mid-June. The player is significantly smaller (63% of N6 by volume) device but surprisingly comes with a fully balanced (4xBUF634U) headphone amplifier circuit. The player aimed to cover a younger group of audience, and sound signature will be more pop-orientated when compare to the all rounded N6. The production candidate version of N5 was displayed at a HeadFi meet in Shenzhen on 19 July, and is officially available at ¥2099 RMB (~US$349) in Mainland China from 20 August 2015.

For detail of other Cayin products, check out the following discussion threads:

C5 portable headphone amp

N6 Digital Audio Player

C5DAC portable DAC/headphone amp.

Design and Features

2.5mm Balanced Headphone Output

One the most eye-catching new features in N5 is the 2.5mm Balanced Headphone output. This is one of the most frequently asked sound-related features when Cayin launched the N6 back in December 2014, and since you asked for it, Cayin goes for it.

Cayin N5 supports both 3.5mm single ended headphone output and 2.5mm Balanced output. The analogue amplification section of N5 is comprised of TWO Dual Op-Amp for Voltage amplification, and FOUR Op-Amp for Headphone amplification. So we have put a fully balanced amplifier inside the N5, and you can enjoy all the benefit of balanced amplification in N5, namely significantly higher power, better control, better separation, and lower interference. In fact, the full output from balanced headphone amp of N5 was so high that we need to tune it down so that it can work with most IEMs.

Digital Design with AK4490EQ DAC

Although N5 is the entry model of Cayin’s DAP lineup, we still opt for the best possible components that fit the design purpose. For this reason AK4490EQ was selected as the DAC core for N5. The digital capability of this chipset is nothing short from impressive and can natively decode PCM (upto 24bits/192kHz) and DSD (DSD64 and DSD128) at a very high specification, and it will read SACD ISO directly and extracted into individual track internally. We want to make sure N5 can handle all sorts of digital music format and standard to the best possible level at this form factor.

The MCU of N5 is Dual Core 600MHz Ingenic Xburst JZ4760, a mid-class mobile phone processor. The processor offers hefty power for a small screen device like N5 and is the base of a smooth and swiftly operation. The processor supports DSP instructions, built-in SPDIF capability, and provides 24bit/192kHz digital audio output. In addition, the JZ4760 is a low-power processor that won’t disperse a lot of heat even when operate at full speed, this is important to N5 because low background noise and interference of all kinds are always appreciated.

Cayin also developed their own coding and employed a high performance PLD (Programmable Logic Device), SA2000, to clean up all digital signal prior entering the DAC circuit and control signal routing base on the source file sampling rate, including the native DSD signal to DAC directly. This design certainly increased the cost and complication significantly, but to ensure N5 will set off from a clean ground for its first step of digital audio processing, Cayin will not compromise for less than the best.

Good Sound Comes From Good Design

Take a look at the N5 framework and you’ll appreciate the kind of effort that has been devoted to this entry model DAP. The system architecture is definitely way beyond what we can expect from a sub-$400 DAP. Cayin didn’t cut corners after they gain user acceptance, and they stand by the key features that contributed to their previous success:

Take Volume Control as example, typical DAP design will either use ALPS or digital volume control inside DAC or MCU chipset. ALPS while is cost effective, will introduce channel imbalance at low volume. Digital volume in DAP typically will be achieved by lowering the bit depth at DAC or MCU and this will certainly compromise on resolution. Cayin won’t accept these compromises so they stick with PGA2311 from Texas Instrument as N5’s volume control. This is a programmable, digitally-controlled analogue volume control that offers +31.5dB to -95.5dB with 0.5dB steps, -130 db Interchannel crosstalk (@ 1 kHz) and upto 0.05db channel accuracy. With this, volume control will no longer be a bottleneck any more.

The amplification circuit is nothing short from classical design. With OPA1662 at LPF, AD712 at Voltage amplification, and BUF634U at headphone amplification, the N5 is indeed a portable version of a desktop amplifier. Last but not least, there are FOUR units of BUF634U and each of them can deliver upto 250mA current, this is a WOW to everyone when they get to see the PCB of this little player.

Power supply is also a critical part to achieve high quality sound performance, and this is always a bottleneck for DAP application as the battery capacity is limited, and everything is crammed into a very congested space. To ensure pure and non-interference power supply to every components in the system, N5 has three independent power supply circuit feeding the system, digital and analogue section separately, and everything is controlled by the Power management chip AXP202.

External DAC

N5 can be used as an USB DAC when connected to your computer and became a DAC/headphone amp for your desktop setup. The USB3.0 port of N5 will work with any Windows or Mac OS X based computer, and is backward compatible with USB2.0 computers.

N5 is plug and play with OS X, device but you need to install appropriate drivers when you connect it to a Window based computer. You can download the driver from Cayin website but please be reminded that all Windows 8/8.1/10 installation will need to disable the driver signature enforcement feature before you can install the driver properly.

Battery and Duration

The N5 is powered by a custom 4200 mAH Lithium battery, the battery is huge consider the size of the DAP, and offers 9 hours of continuous playback (might vary according to format/resolution of digital audio file).

The battery can be recharged by any 5V USB charger with either USB3.0 cable or micro USB 2.0 cable. The built-in charger of N5 can charge up the battery at around 1500mA, so we recommend to charge the N5 with a 2A USB charge and it take over 3 hours to charge up the device completely. However if connect to the USB port of a computer, the charging current will be limited to 500mA and it take a lot longer to charge up the player.


There are two features that belong to the bigger is always better category. The first one is continuous playback duration between charge and the second one is storage capacity. Since the N5 system architecture cannot take advantage of the latest large capacity flash memory as internal memory, Cayin decided to convert the internal memory (8G-16G) slot in second TF card slot and the N5 maximum storage capacity is increased to 256GB. The USB port is also upgrade to USB3.0 standard, which is 10 times faster (upto 5 gbps) then USB2.0, so transferring file between your computer and N5 is much more effective than USB2.0 based DAP.

Build Quality and Operation

Impeccable workmanship

There is no reason to settle for less on the final appeal and finishing after what Cayin have done to package all the goodies into a portable package. The main chassis of N5 a two pieces design and are CNC out of aerospace aluminium alloy. On top of looks nice and feel good, the aluminium chassis is a very good heat dispenser, the machine will feel warm but this will keep the machine operate healthy. The rear panel is make out of a carbon fibre and flush fit to the back of the DAP. The USB and TF card slots are protected by a dust cover. All these added up to an elegant device that will appeal to all quality minded users.

Control and interface

Cayin has put in a lot of attention to the control and interface design of N5 because they valued pleasant and effective user experience. The followings are some highlights of N5 design.

Appropriate graphical means have been used to at different level of interface. The opening and closing screen are animated GIF and the Home screen are icon based and the detail instructions. Operation control and user setting are organized into 5 menus and most functions are self-explained when they go through the menu.

On top of design user interface from effective perspective, Cayin offers FOUR sets of theme to uses. You can change the interface theme at the Setup menu, and Cayin will release development kit for user with graphical capability to customise their own user theme later on.

N5 display is a 2.4” 400x360 TFT IPS screen from Sharp. This is almost doubled the pixels of typical 320x240 2.4” screen. A high resolution screen will not only improved the album art resolution, but also enhance the clarity of all text instruction, and allow smaller fonts to be used and yet highly readable.

N5 is non-touched-screen, button-based control. The Control Dial with Enter button in the centre is the main navigation mechanism. There are three supporting hardware button on the left and they are the Back button for menu navigation, and Next and Previous button for playback Control.

The three buttons on the left are dedicated for Vol (+), Vol (-) and bring up Hidden Menu in various point of operation. These three buttons will also serve as the blind operation keys. When the screen are blacked out, on top of the regular Volume control function, the Menu button will become the Play/Pause control, and hold down the Vol (+) or Vol (-) will serve as Next and Previous track in playback control.



MCUDual Core 600MHz Ingenic Xburst JZ4760

Headphone200mW+200mW @ 32 ohm (SE); 300mW+300mW @ 32 ohm (BAL)
USB-DACAsynchronous USB up to 24bit/192kHz
Volume Control0-99
Gain SelectionHigh/Low (+6dB)
Channel Balance-10~+10; +/- 10dB
Equalization10 bands, +/- 10dB
Power SavingAuto Power Off, Backlight time off, Breakpoint Resume

Interface and Storage
Display2.4” TFT 400x360 IPS screen
Analog Output1x 2.5 mm (BAL headphone)
1x 3.5 mm (headphone/line)
Digital Output1x 3.5 mm S/PDIF (coaxial)
Physical Control1x Control Dial + 1xEnter/Play/Pause Button
3x General Navigation Button
Volume (+)
Volume (-)
LanguageEnglish, French, German, Thai, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified)
Storage2x micro-SD card (up to 256GB)

Phones Out (Bal)
Power rating300mW+300mW @ 32 ohm
Freq. Response20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N0.006% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )

Phones Out (SE)
Power rating200mW+200mW @ 32 ohm
Freq. Response20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N0.006% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Output Imp.0.26Ω

Line Out
Output Level2V ( @10kΩ )
Freq. Response20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N0.005% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )

Coaxial Out
Output Level0.5Vp-p ( @75Ω; 1.0Vp-p ( unloaded )
Output Imp.75Ω

Audio Format
WAVUp to 24bit/192kHz
FLACUp to 24bit/192kHz
ALACUp to 24bit/192kHz
AIFFUp to 24bit/192kHz
APEUp to 24bit/192kHz
WMAUp to 24bit/96kHz

Battery Capacity4200 mAH
Power LEDFlashing: Charging
Battery Life~ 9 hours
Charging Time~ 3 hours (with 2A Charger, not provided)
Charging Current<=1500mA when charge with 2A Charger,
<=500mA when charge with computer USB port

Dimension(L) 64mm
(H) 111mm
(W) 16.4mm

Cayin reserved the right to change the specification without prior notice.

Cayin Audio

Cayin is a premium HiFi brand from China, has been a major player in local (Mainland China) market since 1993. Their focus has been always dedicated HiFi equipment covering every chain in the music reproduction path, from CD player to speaker, but the essence is no doubt their tube amplifiers. Their equipment ranged from around US$100 to just below US$10,000 per item, covering the needs of different requirements and budget.

Jun 11, 2015 at 2:35 PM Post #3 of 2,546
With worldwide tours wrapping up and sales of the N5 going strong, here are some additional resources for those interested in a purchase. Check back with this post going forward for links to firmware updates as they're released. 
(1) N5 Product Information and User Review

(2) N5 World Tour

(3) N5 Firmware v2.0

(4) N5 Firmware v3.0
Jun 11, 2015 at 2:42 PM Post #4 of 2,546
What a coincidence. Let us explain to you our rules for our model naming.
We have named our models after our brand name Cayin of which there are five characters C, A, Y, I and N. One letter will represent one series of products. Now we have used C, A and N. 
C represents our portable headphone amplifiers for which we already have C6, C5, C5DAC. A represents our WIFI speakers for which we have A6. N represents our digital audio players for which we have N6. Maybe you have already found a rule for our model name that as for each series of products we are naming the first model of the series after Number 6. It relates to Chinese culture. In China number 6 has a meaning of Luck, Sucess and therefore we often prefer to use the 6.
Next let's go to the line of our portable headphone amplifers. Our first model is C6 and why we have name our second model as C5. It is because C6 is a model with the DAC for Appple devices but the C5 does not have any decoding function. C5 is a pure headphone amplifier which we can see it a product "lower" than the C6. Therefore have used a number smaller than 6 and we take 5. In future if we are developing even lower version of such series of products we may name them after C4, C3, C2, etc. Why we have taken C5DAC then. Maybe you can see the reason from the response my Collegue Thomas has made above. It is because our C5DAC has the same look as our C5 and developed based on it. But we have added a new USB DAC funtion for Android system of phones and PC into the new model and then we have named it C5DAC. In fact originally we planned to name it C8 but we have a worry that some customers may question us that why Cayin would name a similar products with two totally differnt model names. 
That is the story of ours and in future you will see more products of ours named after the characters of C, N, I or A and Y.

FYI, for anyone interested in Cayin's naming practices (and why N5 can be predicted to be a smaller, scaled down DAP), this quote from the C5DAC thread tells it all.
Jun 11, 2015 at 3:22 PM Post #6 of 2,546
Yes, very interested too as an on-the-go IEM user. Is dual DAC likely to stay in a smaller design? Hope so as this is a major draw for me.
Jun 11, 2015 at 3:27 PM Post #7 of 2,546
Guys what you think about AKM4490 and balance 2.5mm interface?

Jun 11, 2015 at 8:55 PM Post #9 of 2,546
Hoping they can retain the soundstage and musicality from the N6. There be magic there.
Jun 11, 2015 at 9:08 PM Post #10 of 2,546
Hoping they can retain the soundstage and musicality from the N6. There be magic there.

Agreed 100%. Would also like to see them keep the jog-wheel, but perhaps re-jig the front button design and some of the UI elements. Love the carbon fibre back on the N6, but could live without it in a smaller Dap if it keeps costs (and thus retail price) down.
Jun 11, 2015 at 9:53 PM Post #11 of 2,546
Agreed 100%. Would also like to see them keep the jog-wheel, but perhaps re-jig the front button design and some of the UI elements. Love the carbon fibre back on the N6, but could live without it in a smaller Dap if it keeps costs (and thus retail price) down.

Your speed is really fast, thank concern.
CAYIN will determine what will soon respond.
Jun 11, 2015 at 10:12 PM Post #12 of 2,546
1. a less powerful amp, c/iem only, might allow for a smaller form factor while maintaining sq.
2. no coax out or line out.  a pure c/iem dap.
put all the money into the dac/dacs and a quality but lower power amp.
Jun 11, 2015 at 10:34 PM Post #14 of 2,546
  1. a less powerful amp, c/iem only, might allow for a smaller form factor while maintaining sq.
2. no coax out or line out.  a pure c/iem dap.
put all the money into the dac/dacs and a quality but lower power amp.

The "magic" of N6 DAP sound comes from it's amp section.  For sure, it's too powerful now (in N6) so could be scaled down which also helps with a battery life, but I would try to keep a similar sound sig.  I have a feeling, just a pure speculation, that N5 will be scaled down to a single DAC, so amp compensation and a proper architecture to keep soundstage width is important.  At the same time, with reduction in amp power, I would keep LO to give an option for a stack up with a more powerful amp (like C5).
Jun 11, 2015 at 10:38 PM Post #15 of 2,546
  Your speed is really fast, thank concern.
CAYIN will determine what will soon respond.

I work quickly when I'm excited. This is exciting.


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