It has been a while when I had the cayin but I remember his sound to be depth with enormous soundstage like if you were in a concert hall, it was the closest sound to an analog amp. It was great for instrumental/orchestal /vocal music. The a1 is more detailed, analytical, it has a good soundstage but not as huge as the cayin, despite beying both pretty accurate, the a1 does not color the sound as much as the other. it is more balanced overall. As far as I remember the cayin I think that in the a1 the bass is more tight and highs are more crisp mids are accurate. It fits well with all kind of music With the a1 -and the zishan as well- don't think that is worse because the not-knowing company behind it or the lower price.