I am Beta Tester of Cayin new DAP N6 and have received my testing unit on 30 October. I never owned any Cayin equipment as is not familiar with this brand in the past, so my participation was mean to be a nonpartial headfier offering an independent view to their new product. I didn’t plan to start a new thread on N6 initially as this is mean to be an internal testing process and the result was supposed to be for Cayin’s eyes only. Anyway, my initial impression to the N6 is very positive so I approached Cayin and get their endorsement to post the N6 information here on on HeadFi. I’ll take my time to work out the content gradually during the Beta test, so please be patient and come back once for a while to check out updates. To start with, I want to clarify that: The review unit is a pre-production version, it is provided by Cayin, I didn’t pay for it, and I need to return the unit to Cayin at the end of the Beta test. I am not an employee of Cayin, and Cayin didn’t pay me to do the Beta test or public writing, this is a volunteer process. I can free to comment and discuss on the audio performance of N6, but I cannot disclose the bud reports and functions under development to public. I can disclose photo of the testing unit, but I am not allowed to open up the machine and take internal photo. I maintain regular communication with Cayin and other Beta tester via QQ Chat-group, I can convey selected updates and progress notes as deem fit, but all price and sales information will be followed by Cayin officially, I am sure they’ll pop out in this thread occasionally. The Story of Cayin N6 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 items, covering the needs of different requirements and budget. 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 setup several new project plan by early 2014. C5 portable headphone amplifier was their first attempt and has been well received since July 2014. Their second and the heart of their portable product plan is the N6 DAP. With close to a full year of hard-pressed development, the N6 is now finally at its dawn. Cayin published initial information about N6 on erji.net as early as late May 2014, and the official product announced was released on 2 September 2014. A N6 video clip was published on 15 September, and they spend more than a month to fine tuning the final sound signature of N6, and finally started the Beta test process by end of October 2014. http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzgyODYwNDgw.html PS: for detaila of C5 portable headphone amp, please refer to the following post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/729545/the-new-cayin-c5-portable-power-house Design and Features Dual PCM1792A DAC While the specification might not be the most superior available, PCM1792A is consider one of the best sounding DAC chipset on market, and most important, in line with the sound signature that Cayin has carried for the past two decades. With a firm determination to offer the best audio performance possible for portable application, Cayin opted to use TWO PCM1792A instead of one. While similar configuration is no stranger on full-size mega dollar digital components, but to have two PCM1792A is an ambitious attempt that audiophiles should be looking forward to. Extreme Low Jitter (3xTCXO) Cayin wants their DAP to be musical and free from digital artifact as much as possible, and one of their primary design objective were to achieve a design with lowest possible jitter. For that, Cayin used THREE high precision Temperature compensate X’tal Oscillators (TCXO) from Japan (NDK/KDS), one for 44.1kHz based PCM signal (44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, 176.4kHz), one for 48kHz based PCM signal (48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz), and the last one dedicated to DSD signal (2.8224 MHz, 5.6448 MHz). Cayin even 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 N6 will set off from a clean ground for its first step of digital audio processing, Cayin will not compromise for less than the best. Classical BTL Amplification Design The power of dual DAC chipset will not be fully explored without an appropriate analogue circuit, and this happened to be the area that Cayin is excelled in. The analogue audio part of N6 is a classical Bridge-Tied Loads (BTL) Amplification Circuit, (aka. Bridged-Mono). This has been the choice of Cayin since Day 1 of N6 development, a choice that leads to multiple problems in subsequent product development. With literally two identical amplifiers inside a portable device, Cayin need to fight with issues such as power drainage, heat dispersion and much higher circuit complexity and components counts. The good news is N6 will offer the best possible channel separation with minimum crosstalk, doubled voltage swing at the same load, and extremely linear over the complete audio bandwidth. Uncompromised Implementation A good design will only be meaningful with a good execution and Cayin has been extremely thorough in doing this. N6 starts with 4 layer Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG) PCB in order to achieve excellent surface planarity and oxidation resistance. A total of 13 pieces of high quality Op Amp were used in the analogue circuit of N6, more then what you can find in desktop audio components. The Line Out of N6 is a copycat of Cayin’s latest eye-catching CD player CDT-17A MK2 (RMB 8,800 or US$1,500). In other word, Cayin is putting the N6 in par with their mega dollar desktop HiFi products when come to product design and audio standard. http://cn.cayin.cn/HTML/PRO/YYXL/218.HTML 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 compromise as such so they decided to put in a “proper” volume control here, and they finally picked the PGA2311 from Texas Instrument, a programmable, digitally-controlled analog 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. Cayin understand piling up large number of expensive components does not always result in good audio performance, but high quality components are indeed the foundation of good sound, and Cayin has certainly put in their best shot into N6, it might not be price-no-objective, but putting sound before cost consideration is something that has been gun-holding throughout the N6 design implementation. Comprehensive audio format On top of common PCM based lossless format, N6 can hardware decode DSD64 and DSD128, and it will read SACD ISO directly and extracted into individual track internally. While there are several portable devices offered hardware decode DSD64, N6 is the first ever DAP that can hardware decode DSD128 and SACD ISO in one package. Control and interface Cayin has put in a lot of attention to the control and interface design of N6 because they valued pleasant and effective user experience. The followings are some highlights of N6 design. Screen: Sharp 2.4” TFT 400x360 IPS screen, which is almost doubled the pixels of typical 320x240 2.4” screen, this 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. CPU: Dual Core 600MHz Ingenic Xburst JZ4760, a mid-class mobile phone processor. The processor offers hefty power for a small screen device like N6 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 N6 because low background noise and interference of all kinds are always appreciated. Carefully planned button: N6 is non-touched-screen, button-based control. There is lots of button and some of them might be overlapped, but they server different people and different occasion. The buttons are organized into 3 groups: Front plate: Large Up/Down and Left/Right button for general manipulations Left side: Jog dial, very effective single-button control that covers 90% of the function with simple rotate and click action. Right Sid e: Two buttons dedicated for Vol+/Next and Vol-/Pre, perfect for blind operation. Take Track selection as example, you can use the Up/Down button to go through the title list in a folder, or use the Jog dial on the Left to scroll through a track list quickly. If you were to wear the N6 waist bag, you only need to access the Right side panel and you can control volume and skip/repeat a track already. Effective interface Design: Appropriate graphical means have been used to at different level of interface. The opening and closing screen are animated GIF, the Home screen are icon based and the detail instructions and settings are organized into 5 menus. Based on the user experience from Beta test, the DAP is very user friendly, new users can move around without a manual within 10 minutes, and most functions are sell explained when they go through the menu. 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 is CNC out of a single piece of aerospace aluminum alloy and it takes 3 hours 24 minutes to complete one unit. On top of looks nice and feel good, the aluminum 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 fiber and flush fit to the back of the DAP. The final product will looks like a single solid piece without showing any assembly part or screws N6 Specification As Cayin N6 is still under development, the specification of N6 measurement is based on the Beta test unit and is subject to revise. Cayin reserved the right to change the specification without prior notice. Technical DAC Dual PCM1792A MCU Dual Core 600MHz Ingenic Xburst JZ4760 PLD SA2000 Volume PGA2311 Features Headphone 180mW+180mW @ 32 ohm (to be revised) USB-DAC Asynchronous USB up to 24bit/192kHz Volume Control 0-99 Gain Selection High/Low (+6dB) Channel Balance -10~+10; +/- 10dB Equalization 10 bands, +/- 10dB Power Saving Auto Power Off, Backlight time off, Breakpoint Resume Interface and Storage Display 2.4” TFT 400x360 IPS screen Analog Output 1x 3.5 mm (headphone) 1x 3.5 mm (line) Digital Output 1x 3.5 mm S/PDIF (coaxial) Physical Control 1x Multipurpose Jog Dial 4x General Navigation Button Volume +/Next Volume -/Pre Language English, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified) Storage 1x micro-SD card (up to 128G) Audio Format DSD DSD64 (DSF, DFF), DSD128 (DSF, DFF), SACD ISO WAV Up to 24bit/192kHz FLAC Up to 24bit/192kHz ALAC Up to 24bit/192kHz APE Up to 24bit/192kHz WMA Up to 24bit/96kHz AAC Supported OGG Supported MPEG MP2; MP3 Battery Battery Capacity 5600 mAH Charger 1.2A (to be revised) Power LED Green: Standby, Flashing: Charging Battery Life 6 ~ 8 hours (to be revised) Charging Time 2.5 hours ~ 4.5 hours (to be revised) Physical Dimension (L) 68mm~72mm (H) 126mm (W) 17.6mm~19.7mm Weight 230g Official N6 Photo For those who are interested in N6, please also check out the following thread, there are some interesting and very useful user opinion regarding N6 over there, definitely worth reading while you are putting N6 in your wish list. http://www.head-fi.org/t/735365/cayin-n6-new-audiophile-dap-updated-with-new-pics Firmware Upgrade Cayin has released v1.1. firmware on 22 Jan 2014, details as follows: http://www.head-fi.org/t/740557/cayin-n6-dap-dual-pcm1792-btl-amplication-circuit-24-192-dsd128-sacd-iso/285#post_11247705 (Please be reminded that the correct upgrade procedure is to hold "Up" button and "Power" button at the same time until the player find the firmware file and go into firmware upgrade mode.