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Cayin N8 TOTL DAP: KORG Nutube, 4.4mm Balanced, Dual AK4497, Dual output mode, Dual Line Out

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Andykong, May 5, 2018.
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  1. Andykong
    N8 HiFi+ Adv.jpg

    N8: Cayin Reference Digital Audio Player

    MSRP: US$3,299.99


    The N8 is the first price-is-no-object portable Digital Audio Player (DAP) from Cayin. This is our attempt to deliver best possible high fidelity audio performance to portable users. The N8 has consolidated 25 years of extensive experience in high-end audio industry and offers impeccable digital and analogue audio capabilities. We spend three years of solid R&D to develop the innovative solutions on material and circuitry, and we have solved numerous structural and practical problems that will benefit our subsequent Portable Audio products.

    The N8 DAP features two AKM AK4497EQ DAC chipsets and can native decode up to DSD256 and 32 Bit/384kHz with stellar dynamic range and resolution. This is the first DAP that features a Triode vacuum tube in the amplification circuit, and can handle sensitive IEM or difficult earphones with high impedance loading

    Innovative Features

    1. Triode vacuum tube and full balanced solid state

    N8 will offer 3 choice of amplification (4.4mm Bal, 3.5mm SE-SS, 3.5mm SE-Tube). On top of the full-blow balanced circuit behind the 4.4mm, users can choose between vacuum tube or solid state from the 3.5mm headphone output. Providing users with the choice of Tube and Solid State output is a common feature in Cayin high-end CD players, the CDT-15a (2009) is our first digital product that introduced this features and N8 DAP is the first DAP that embrace this innovative audio technology. We have tailor designed a vacuum tube amplification circuit around the KORG Nutube 6P1, a dual-channel Triode vacuum tube from Japan, and added a piece of premium grade digitally-controlled analog volume management chip, PGA2311UA, to suppress background noise of Nutube and facilitate gain compensation with Solid State circuit. We have designed a Spring-loaded Suspension System to eliminate the microphonic effect of the KORG Nutube 6P1 so that it can be used for portable application, and we have solved another dozen of technical problems before we can deliver a reference level implementation.

    Spring-loaded Suspension installation device to enable Nutube in portable application are further explained in the following posts:

    N8 Sales Guide 02.jpg
    2. High Impedance High Output Mode

    Cayin has designed a multi-level power supply for N8 headphone amplifier circuit and offers two different Power Rating Modes. At Standard (STD) mode, the N8 will behave like regular DAP, targeted at the more common earphones. When we increased the voltage of the power supply to the headphone amplifier circuit, the DAP will enter High Power High Impedance (HIGH2) mode. The rated power of HIGH2 mode at low impedance loading will be fairly similar to the STD mode but the sound signature will slide toward full and rich presentation, you should be able to hear the different on the expenses of faster battery drain (and maybe higher noise floor with sensitive IEMs). As the impedance of headphone (i.e., loading) increased, the rated power will ramp up gradually and delivers up to 200mW at 300Ω loading (4.4mm headphone output)

    High Impedance High Output Mode is further explained in the following post:

    N8 Sales Guide 03.jpg

    3. Comprehensive Digital Interface including I2S Digital output (via HDMI Type-C)

    Cayin developed a proprietary solution to embedded the S/PDIF signal into the SBU (Sideband use) pins of the Type-C connector. These pins are NOT USED for in USB transmission, so they are not occupied in normal application and left out in normal USB-C cable. This implementation is plug and play, the S/PDIF bitstream is directly embedded into connector, it is NOT a conversion of USB Audio to S/PDIF. To get the S/PDIF out of N5ii, you need a custom make Type-C cable by wiring the SBU pins to a coaxial cable.

    N8 also support both USB Audio Out (USB Transport) and USB Audio In (USB-DAC) from the Type-C USB connector, you need an OTG Type-C cable to access these function. The USB Audio output is, from functional point of view, similar to the coaxial output but it offers noticeably better specification so if you need DSD128 or PCM upto 384kHz, you'll have to go for the USB Audio option instead of Coaxial.

    N8 is our first DAP equipped with I2S output via a HDMI Type-C connector (aka. Mini-HDMI). This is definitely the most preferred digital interface both in terms of digital capability and audio performance. If you are using a Cayin DAC with compatible I2S input, such as the CS-100DAC, this will be the preferred digital interface. For the record, our I2S implementation adopts the pin-definition of PS Audio I2S system, we have tested and confirmed the compatibility with PS Audio DAC but we cannot guarantee full compatibility with all DAC that claimed to be PS Audio I2S equivalent.

    Digital Interface circuit and applications are further explained in the following post:

    N8 Sales Guide 06.jpg

    4. Dual line out from shared Pentaconn 4.4mm and dedicated 3.5mm

    N8 offers two desktop grade line out: 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced, and they are rated at 2.1V and 4.3V respectively. Besides, they are fit for audio equipment with input impedance higher than 10 kΩ. We planned to include balanced line out since the very early day of N8 development. When 4.4mm balanced headphone connector jumped into spot light and we decided to adopt it into N8, it become a perfect platform for full balanced line out because the TRRRS design enable a grounded balanced connection.

    Line Out circuit and applications are further explained in the following post:

    N8 Sales Guide 05.jpg

    5. Duplex Bluetooth, Wireless DAC for streaming app and HiByLink compatible

    N8 supports BTv4.2, LDAC and SBC in both receive and transmit and aptX in transmit only. This will enable the N8 to serve as wireless player (upto 16Bit/96kHz) and wireless DAC (24Bit/96kHz). User can enjoy their streaming app on mobile and playback through LDAC in HiRes. The Bluetooth capability also enabled HiByLink, a feature in HiBy Music Player app that allow you to control the N8 DAP via the Bluetooth connection of your mobile phone

    N8 Sales Guide 07B.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 08.jpg

    6. Fully integrated Type C USB Connection

    N8 is equipped with a USB Type C connector, Cayin has integrated QC2.0 quick charging, high speed USB3.0 data transfer, USB DAC digital input, S/PDIF coaxial digital output and USB Audio output into one connection. The Type C connector is secure, robust, and bi-directional, it is easy to use and is booming the standard interface of modern mobile devices.

    7. Comprehensive cable adapter package

    As an early adapter of 4.4mm Pentaconn connector and an innovator to embedded S/PDIF coaxial bitstream into Type-C connector , we foresee some degree of inconvenient to our users, so Cayin will provide the following adapters with N8 DAP:
    • 4.4mm to dual XLR (Male) Balanced Line out Adapter
    • 4.4mm to 2.5mm (Female) Balanced Phone Adapter
    • Type-C to RCA (Female) Coaxial Adapter
    • Type-C to 3.5mm Coaxial Cable
    Connectivity and accessories of N8 is further explained in the following post:

    N8 Sales Guide 16.jpg

    Summary of N8 Features
    1. Dual AK4497EQ, the new generation premium 32-bit DAC based DAC chipset
    2. Outstanding digital audio capability, Playback all popular music file format,
    3. PCM decoded up to 32Bit/384kHz, DSD up to DSD256, handle SACD-ISO directly (do not support DST encoded)
    4. Support 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended headphone output
    5. Support 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended line output
    6. Support USB Audio, S/PDIF and I2S digital output
    7. Choice of Vacuum Tube and Solid State amplification in 3.5mm headphone output
    8. Dual Output Mode: High Impedance High Output Mode (HIGH2) delivers 200mWpc@300Ω (4.4mm balanced phone output)
    9. Balanced and single-end phone out deliver 480mWpc and 230mWPC at STD mode, 750mWpc and 400mWpc at HIGH2 mode respectively (@32Ω)
    10. Extremely low output impedance: Single-ended @0.6Ω, balanced at 1.2Ω
    11. Desktop grade line output: single-ended at 2.1V (dedicated 3.5mm) and balanced at 4.3V (shared 4.4mm)
    12. Comprehensive digital output option: I2S, USB Audio, and S/PDIF
    13. Support multiple Bluetooth audio profiles including LDAC (upto 24Bit/96kHz)
    14. Remote control through HiBy Music App on mobile phone
    15. Support OTA firmware upgrade via Dual Band 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi connection
    16. Massive 128GB internal storage and one external TF card up to 512GB. Can extend storage capacity through OTG extended storage,
    17. USB3.0 high speed data transmission.
    18. Quick charge ready with 7000mAH Lithium battery, support QC2.0 from Qualcomm and Pump Express from MediaTek.
    19. 3.2” 480x360 Multi-touch IPS screen with innovative physical button (dual multi-function dials on side panel and Home/Return button
    20. Stainless steel chassis with PVD coating, 24K gold plated solid brass control dials
    21. Custom fit Corning Gorilla 3 (AF and DLC coating) curved glass back panel
    22. Multi-color smart glowing LED, indicates sampling rate, breathing when charging
    23. Attach Pyrolytic Graphic Sheet (PGS) to heat-generating components, enhance heat dissipation and maintain circuitry at lower operation temperature
    24. Comprehensive cables and accessories bundled
    N8 Sales Guide 13.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 14.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 12.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 04.jpg

    Audio and Power Supply Design

    To facilitate the audio performance that we have in minded, Cayin has developed a one-of-a-kind 5-stages amplification circuit into the N8 DAP. This is by far the most innovative and complicated amplification circuit ever implemented in a portable music player. Together with two desktop grade lineout (2.1V Single-end and 4.3V Balanced), USB-DAC, and three digital output options (I2S, USB Audio, S/PDIF coaxial), the N8 can serve as the centerpiece of your music system, both portable and desktop based.

    N8 Functional Diagram.jpg

    Headphone amplification circuit and applications are further explained in the following post:

    Cayin believes clean and stable power supply is the root of good audio performance. That’s why we always pay serious attention to the power supply module of our product. Given the complexity of the digital and analogue circuit in N8, it is important to develop a power management system that will deliver power to critical components accurately with minimum interference. This is the power supply system of N8, I am sure you'll be amazed by the complexity and cost required to implement this into a DAP.


    N8 Sales Guide 19.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 18.jpg


    N8 Sales Guide 21.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 22.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 23.jpg
    N8 Sales Guide 20.jpg

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  2. Andykong
    have forgotten how many times I have been asked whether Cayin will release a successor to our N6. I have quite a few N6 users told me that while they have bought several DAP after N6, they are still looking forward to the N6ii because N6 is special to them.

    We are flattered by the support and recognition of our users because N6 is, after-all, our ex-flagship DAP launched back in December 2014. When the recent DAP product life cycle is shortened from 18 months to 12 months, a three and a half years old DAP is more or less a historical item already. A lot of DAP have been forgotten by the market way before they reach thus far, and that probably will include our N5 and N3 DAPs.

    So far, I have only told friends and customers that Cayin has a mark 2 of N6 in plan, but we don’t have a date for that, which is an honest statement. What I didn’t tell them is, Cayin will introduce a new flagship before we proceed to N6ii. Now the wait (and the hide) is almost over, as this is about time to unveil our new flagship DAP: the N8.

    N8 debut Munich 01.jpg

    2018 is indeed a very important milestone for Cayin. We’ll celebrate our 25th Anniversary on August 2018, and we want to show the world what Cayin is truly capable of at this important moment. HA-300 is our first statement product on 2018 and we have established a new benchmark on tube amplifier for ourselves. We’ll release another product to showcase our digital capability very soon, and the N8 is our third and probably most important flagship product in our 25 years history.

    The N6 is a very special DAP to me. When Headfonia interviewed Cayin and ask me what is my favorite personal audio product, I named Cayin N6 immediately. This is because I reviewed this DAP as a beta Tester, I was an audiophile taking a long medical recovery at that time, I know almost nothing about Cayin before I find out N6 in on the pipeline, and I joined Cayin after a 6 months non-stop interaction with their engineers and managers as an outsider. N6, the ex-flagship DAP from Cayin, changed my professional path. So when I discussed the N8 marketing plan with our CEO, I pleaded to become the thread starter of Cayin’s new flagship DAP.

    Munich 2018 logo white.jpg

    The N8 will debut at Munich High End 2018, Cayin will host a display booth at Booth H12, Hall 2 of MOC from 10-13 of May. We’ll have demonstrate an engineering sample of N8 in this important event, and we’ll also showcase the exotic HA-300, our Direct Heated Triode tube headphone amplifier. The pre-production version of the CS-100DAC, our new flagship desktop DAC will also be demonstrated at the same time. We shall also display our complete line of Personal Audio products, and selected star-products from our CD players and pre/power/integrated tube amplifiers. So if you plan to visit Munich High End Show this year, please make sure Booth H12 of Hall 2 is on your to-visit list.




    May 10, 2018, High End, Munich – Cayin N8, the new flagship portable Master Quality Digital Audio Player from the leading audio manufacturer, will makes its worldwide debut at High End 2018 (H12, Hall).


    The N8 is the first price-no-objective portable digital audio player from Cayin. This is our attempt to deliver best possible high fidelity audio performance to portable users. The N8 has consolidated their 25 years of extensive experience in high-end audio industry and offers impeccable digital and analogue audio capabilities. It features two AKM AK4497EQ DAC chipsets and can native decode up to DSD256 and 32 Bit/ 384kHz with stellar dynamic range and channel separation,

    Bin Liang, CEO of Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd., parent company of Cayin, said “While the N8 offers state-of-the-art digital decoding for portable player, it’s the analogue that makes it stand our as our statement to the head-fi market. For the first time ever, we have created a DAP with choice of Direct Heated Triode vacuum tube and full balanced solid state in one portable package. N8 users can select the audio signature that fit their headphones or music genre conveniently”.


    On top of being a brilliant standalone player, Cayin N8 offers six input and output options so that you can integrate the DAP into your home audio system flexibly. The I2S Digital output (via micro HDMI) is by far the most sophisticated digital interface from N8, it can connect to I2S input of our CS-100DAC and N8 will become a high performance digital transport. We have also embedded the S/PDIF Coaxial signal into the Type-C secondary bus pins. This is our proprietary design and N8 users will be provided the necessary adapters to connect the player to portable and desktop DAC. N8 also supports USB Audio, it can function as USB DAC (input) or USB Transport (output) through its Type-C USB interface. Last but not least, N8 comes with dual line out design. On top of the commonly used single-ended line out through the dedicated 3.5mm port, Cayin has added a ground connection to the "Pentaconn" connector so that N8 can facilitate full balanced line out through the shared 4.4mm TRRRS port.


    There is no reason to settle for less on the final appeal and finishing when N8 excels in almost every aspect. The main N8 chassis is CNC out of a single piece of stainless steel and the rea panel is a specially molded 3D toughened Gorilla glass with AF and DLC coating. This combination not only offers attractive visual impact, it is also a functional design that feels good when you grasp it.


    World Debut at Munich High End 2018

    Cayin N8 is scheduled to launch at August 2018. The suggested retail price will be announced soon.

    Cayin will demonstrate a N8 Engineering Sample at Munich High End, Hall 2 (H12), MOC, Munich, Germany from 10th to 13th May 2018. The showcase will include complete line of Personal Audio products (including the recently announced HA-300 flagship DHT tube headphone amplifier and the completed i-Series three-piece desktop suit), and selected CD player, DAC and tube amplifier from Cayin latest lineup. Please visit us at Hall 2 of MOC or contact us to reserve a special press audition session.

    About Cayin

    Cayin was founded in 1993. While our products carry a distinctive cultural connotation and span over a very wide price range, we are devoted to developing the best sounding audio equipment at competitive prices.

    We have developed over 400 products to date, ranging from CD players to speakers, all of which provide the same high-quality benchmark and attractive price to performance capabilities. Our tube amplifiers have been particularly well-received within the audio community because of this commitment. With a spectacular track record of over 70 local and international awards, Cayin has grown into one of the largest audio tube amplifier development and manufacturing facilities in the world.

    Cayin pays attention to detail because we believe this is what it takes to reproduce music naturally. We might have a different agenda or employ different technologies for different products, but ultimately, we serve only one purpose: to move our audience with hi-fidelity.

    We deliver music diligently, and we are prepared to go a long way for that.

    With Cayin, your music will never be the same again.

    For more information, please visit www.cayin.cn
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  3. Andykong
    Media Reviews

    Headfonics: Cayin N8 Review

    Twister6: Cayin N8 DAP: Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde.

    Headfonia: REVIEW: Cayin Audio - N8

    HeadFi reviews and Impressions

    Mimouille, May 26, 2018 (Prototype)

    seanwee, July 16, 2018 (Prototype)

    Decreate, August 10, 2018 (Sample/Owner)

    jasonho, August 10, 2018 (Sample)

    seanwee, Aug 14, 2018 (Sample)

    Saltyfatboy, Aug 16, 2018 (Sample)

    ezekiel77, Aug 21, 2018 (Sample)

    MyPants, Oct 7, 2018 (Sample)

    audionewbi, Oct 20, 2018 (Sample)

    FrostClaus, Oct 24, 2018

    dhc0329, Oct 25, 2018 (Sample/Owner)

    Hawaiibadboy, Oct 26, 2018 (Owner)

    jmills8, Oct 30, 2018 (Sample/Owner)

    msiekkb, Dec 13, 2018

    Chip B, Dec 16, 2018 (Owner)

    Firmware Announcement

    v1.1 (Oct 16, 2018)

    v2.0 (Nov 21, 2018)

    LDAC in N8 explained (Nov 23, 2018)

    FAQ and resources

    Basic design explained: Dual DAC, Vacuum Tube output, I2S, Balanced Line Out, Toughened Glass

    Why Tube output is available in Singled-end Headphone only?

    Is the battery user friendly to replacement ?

    The Single-end ver balanced Debate (parallel amplification in N8)

    Is N8 Desktop equivalent? Can we use N8 as a desktop audio product for long term?

    Can N8 do oversampling or DSD upsampling in the fly?

    What is HiByLink? How do I remote control my N8 with my mobile phone?

    What is the different between Idle Shutdown and Scheduled Shutdown?

    The N8 become fairly hot during playback, is it safe?

    Does N8 comes with International warranty? Can I buy N8 from other location and get it repair locally?

    Can I connect a Harddisk to the OTG of N8 as external storage?

    International Dealers
    United State: MusicTeck
    United Kingdom: AdvancedMP3
    Australia: A1 Future
    Spain: Zococity
    Hong Kong: Winner Concept
    Singapore: Jaben
    India: Headphone Zone
    Malaysia: Star Pickers
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  4. seanwee
    Subbed :D

    Any disclosable information about the N8 like what DACs does it use, what processor does it use, etc.
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
    Andykong and majo123 like this.
  5. Wyville
    Very interesting and I look forward to seeing the N8 revealed!

    Also very nice to read about how your personal relationship with Cayin started. Great to see the human side of this industry as well, as I think that it is often forgotten that behind every product there are passionate people who put their heart and soul into it (something I can relate to).
  6. Mython Contributor
    Good luck getting customers to actually read 'post #3' :wink:
    x RELIC x likes this.
  7. Andykong
    I have shared the story back in August 2015, around 1 month after I joined Cayin. It was an important move to me and my family (as I become a frequently traveler soon after that), but I am glad that I make the right move. :beerchug:
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    Wyville likes this.
  8. Andykong

    i know someone will read post #3 frequently, and that's me. This FAQ and resources are there so that I can refer to them again when someone asked similar questions again, and again, and again. :sweat_smile:
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    OK-Guy and MyPants like this.
  9. Slater91
    Can't wait to read more about the N8!
  10. Mython Contributor

    Well, I've truly lost count of the number of times I've had to remind someone to read post #3 in the Mojo thread, even though it says so in the thread title!

    Anyway, good luck to Cayin, on the new release(s).

    I can't deny I'm disappointed at the enormous price of the N8 (iRiver have destroyed the consumer marketplace, by forcing DAP prices higher, in my opinion, and now there's a rush by manufacturers to grab a piece of the high-pricetag-DAP action).

    However, I'm sure Cayin will produce a nice-sounding player. For goodness sake, make sure the firmware is reliable before you release it, though! cheers beerchug EMOTICON.gif
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  11. PinkyPowers

    I've been so impressed by what Cayin does in the mid-tier realm, I've often fantasized about what great heights a summit-fi offering might reach.

    Pinky is losing his $h*t! :D
  12. maira
    Ray3rd likes this.
  13. Dobrescu George
  14. Wyville
    Thanks for linking to that, I enjoyed reading it (it was long before I joined Head-fi). I love seeing these type of stories, both here on Head-fi as well as elsewhere. And of course great to see that you have come full circle with the N6ii release in the future as well. Looking forward to seeing it all!
    ade_hall likes this.
  15. Signal2Noise
    Where has a price been disclosed?
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
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