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The Cayin C5 portable power house.

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by dsnuts, Aug 6, 2014.
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  1. Devodonaldson
    I got rid of my m100 and upgraded to the Crossfade 2 as it was a much better overall headphone. Cayin C5 is warm. A big part of what goes into the SQ is the DAC source into the amp. M100 aren't very detailed, and are only good for modernusic. I needed a portable with more genre non specific sound properties. Loved them for their bass kick though
  2. TidalWave
    I like my M-100 for all sorts of music, including Classical. I wouldn't say they are only good for modern music. It's kind of silly to generalize like that, as music--and its performance and recording style--is so subjective to begin with. It's interesting you say Crossfade 2 is the better headphone--I've read opinions from those who think M-100 sounds better (I've not tried CF2 myself).

    My C5 arrived today. First impressions: I love it! Sounds wonderful with both of my headphones.

    [EDIT to update the below: it was a faulty unit, new one is fine!]
    Unfortunately I think my unit is faulty and should be replaced (will contact the vendor). The little 3.5mm cord is pretty bad, resulting in crackling and loud popping sounds if it shifts or turns once plugged in, seemingly not great connections. But the main issue is the volume knob, which results in some noise and sometimes loud crackling pops through my headphones when turned. On high gain, which I prefer, it's super loud and hurts my ears. The cable and the volume knob have me barely breathing on my amp least it blows up my eardrums. Hopefully it's a dud and my next unit won't have these issues. I've also ordered a good 2ft 3.5mm cable to use instead of the small one; won't be stacking.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  3. Devodonaldson
    A couple things. Most class A amps pop when they turn on. You're supposed to turn it on BEFORE you put the headphones on, or prior to plugging them in. 2 low gain vs high gain does not change the sound. High gain is used for higher impedence headphones. The m-100 are 32ohm. There is no need to be using high gain, especially with this amp. This is a very powerful amp with enough power to drive 300+ ohm headphones, hence the high gain being what it is. The only issue I can take from your findings is the 3.5mm cable. Try a different one. All your other findings are normal
  4. Andykong
    Sorry for the trouble you have had with the C5 unit. If the replacement is still not up to standard, please contact me, I'll see what I can do.

    The C5 is slow-moving at the moment, we think it is still a very capable portable amplifier, but the market tends to sought after the newer and more expensive products.

    I do suggest C5 users upgrade their 3.5mm cable, the short cable that comes with C5 is barely functional. At the price we charge, we only provide a cable to test the C5 functional when out of the box. Its not necessary to spend big money on that, a $10-$20 cable should work fine already.

    The high gain of C5 sounds warm with good body, some users even described the C5 high gain as tube sound. But the high gain will output 800mW into 32ohm, that's around 30 times more powerful then the headphone output of an iPhone 6. This is certainly a lot of power for sensitive headphones such as M100, so please be very care when you switch the C5 to high gain.
    iphone rated power.jpg
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  5. TidalWave
    I never wrote anything about the amp being off—I wrote that changing the volume on the amp using the volume knob produces crackling sounds some of which are loud. [EDIT: this was a faulty unit, replaced it and all good now.] Changing volume during playback is inevitable, as different recodrings have different volume, and the smooth gradation on the amp is far better than crude volume increments on my phone. The cable issue is separate.

    I’ll try low gain with M-100 more, but at the moment I feel there’s a positive difference in sound at high gain + low volume setting vs. low gain + higher volume setting.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
    Shareknow likes this.
  6. TidalWave
    Wouldn’t 800mW happen at maximum volume? I listen at more like “3” on the volume knob, which is far from maximum (9 or perhaps 10). My other headphones (22 Ohm impedance) are specified at 500mW-1W optimal input power, so I was using high gain for those, later switching to M-100. I keep my phone (not an iPhone) volume at 50% for cleaner noise background, as raising it high results in more staticky background. At low gain I end up at “7”- “8” on the amp volume knob with M-100. That’s acceptable not too loud level. Is the low volume on high gain not safe for headphone drivers?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  7. Devodonaldson
    "some noise and sometimes loud crackling pops through my headphones when turned. On high gain, which..." My mistake. Didn't see the period after turned and before On, lol. Regarding the low volume on high gain. No, it will not hurt the m-100, however the C5 does suffer from channel imbalance when the potentiometer is below 3, so that is something to pay attention to. Wonderful amp, I love it, and I hope it works out for you
  8. Andykong
    If you use low gain with M100, you'll have more "room" to control the volume, actually 3 on high gain of C5 is quite loud with M100.

    Because of budget and size limitation, C5 has no other options but to use variable carbon composite potentiometer, and the common disadvantages of this type of potentiometer is channel imbalance at low level. Using low-gain with higher volume setting will resolve this problem.

    There are better potentiometer alternative but they are a lot more expensive. Cayin uses PGA2311 digital controlled analogue volume in our DAPs, this is a compact and accurate solution but a bit expensive for sub-$100 products.
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  9. TidalWave
    Ah, thank you. Good to know! At 50% volume on my phone the setting of “3” on the amp is not loud through the headphones. It is very loud if I set phone volume to 100% at “3”. I noticed some noise floor effect at high phone volume, so I opted to keep the phone volume at 30-50%. That ends up corresponding to comfortable listening level at ~7-8 on low gain or 2.5-3 on high gain.

    Is Cayin working on a new generation of C5 with some updates? I do really like the C5, just curious if there will soon be a new version. (P.S.: C5 started out costing close to $200, I think. Not sure what you mean by sub-$100).
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  10. Devodonaldson
    50% volume is a little low for source volume. I do understand that at Max volume some issues occur, but you do want source volume as high as possible without introducing audible issues, prior to amping.
  11. TidalWave
    I've actually asked that very question in advance a while ago:

    The answer seemed to be "experiment and find the optimal setting". In my case I was going by background noise amplification, how audible it is. I presume the DAC and amp in my Moto G4 are not that powerful, so if I go to high output volume, I hear more noise via external amplifier. At ~50% volume and turning up the external amp, I hear less amplified background noise than I do at 70-100% source volume.
    . . .
    Per another post above, I don't know what a tube amp sounds like, but I can tell a difference between high gain and low gain at the same effective volume levels, and I prefer the high gain sound signature. It does sound fuller and maybe warmer, whatever that means. I'm new to all this terminology, so I can only describe it in an abstract way. There's no noticeable channel imbalance at volume setting of 2-3, thankfully, so if it's not going to hurt my headphones, I'll continue using high gain at low amp volume setting.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  12. maheeinfy
    Anyone know if C5 is a Class A design or Class AB ?
  13. kukkurovaca
    maheeinfy likes this.
  14. BadReligionPunk
    High gain sounds much fuller and has a nice aggressive body to it that I personally like much better then low gain. Hardly ever get it past 3.5 though.
    Also running through Low gain and then accidentally hitting the switch to High gain will turn you into a vegetable while possibly stopping your heart for a couple seconds. Its easy to do too, and should be addressed if/when the time comes to redesign the amp. Its also a reason I don't use Low gain either.

    Still though, its one of the very few pieces of audio gear I could not live without. Love the Cayin C5 N5 combo.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
    TidalWave likes this.
  15. CJG888
    High gain will drive planars (including HE-500)!
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