[TOUR] Cayin N5 DAP (AK4490EQ, DSD, 2.5mm balanced headphone)
Aug 28, 2015 at 12:14 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 149
Nov 16, 2013

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 values the user experience and constructive feedback from HeadFi, we learned a lot from this community and we sure hope to get connected with as many dedicated and diversified DAP enthusiast as possible. In view of this, Cayin will set aside FIVE N5 and organize a world tour as follow:

Tour Schedule:
28 August 2015: World Tour Application Starts
14 September 2015: World Tour Application Ended
18 September 2015: World Tour Participants announced
19 September 2015: Confirm mailing arrangement of all participants
21 September 2015: Sending out World Tour Sample

For those who are interested in trying out the N5, you can apply to join the tour by replying to this thread and including the following information either in your message or through PM to me. Please also read the Tour Rules and Guideline before you jump on-board.

  • Your location (City and Country)
  • Headphone(s) you have
  • Music player(s) you have
  • Cayin product(s) you possess (if any)
  • Links to review(s) you have posted (if any) no matter it is on Head-Fi or some others

[COLOR=FF00AA]Shipping arrangement[/COLOR]

Cayin will organise reviewers into groups according to their geographical location, and sending out N5 as per required. Since China (PRC) and Hong Kong (HKG) will organise their own tour, reviewers from these areas can PM me and I’ll put you in touch with the organiser of these tours. In our past experience, we are expecting tour groups from North America, Europe, South East Asia and Australia respectively but we shall keep the option open until we receive all the application as dated. Cayin will pay for shipping to the first reviewer and from the last reviewer back to Cayin for each group.

I shall publish the list of reviewer in each group, and PM the contact information of previous and next reviewer in your list when details are confirmed. Reviewers should ship the player to the next reviewer in the package material we provided, and properly packed/sealed according to local practise. You are required to send out the player by traceable service providers (e.g., Fedex or UPS), and provide the tracking number to the next reviewer as soon as the package is shipped. If the receiving party is in doubt, please contact me immediately.

When you receive the player, please check for physical and operational damage as soon as possible, and keep us informed if there is any issue arise. We trust all participants will take care of the player as recommended, so under no circumstances will participant be held responsible for any damage to the player, we simply want to keep an eye on the event replace the player when accident happens.

The N5 review sample will not include any TF card, please prepare the storage as deem necessary. We strongly recommend you format your storage card with the Format feature in the Setup Menu of N5, just to make sure the card is compatible with N5. When you finish your review, please remember to remove your TF card before you ship the player to next reviewer in your list.

[COLOR=FF00AA]Review Process[/COLOR]

We have set asides FIVE N5 for this tour, and we hope to accommodate 4-5 participants in each group. Cayin wants to cover a wider range of users in the tour, so we shall offer some advantages to reviewers with diversified profile.

The first reviewer of the group can keep the N5 test unit for 10 days, and subsequent reviewer can keep the unit for 7 days. At the end of your review period, reviewers are required to send the unit to the next reviewer in the list. We offer a slightly longer review period to our first reviewer of each group because we expect he/she need more time to explore the basic feature of the player, and subsequent reviewers will take advantages of the aging and writing of the first reviewer.

[COLOR=FF00AA]Publication guideline to Reviewer[/COLOR]

At of end of your review period, we encourage you to share your comments and impression with Headfi communities, we are particularly interested with the equipment/headphone you used during the review, and is most appreciated if you can include photo of N5 with associated equipment in your writing.

Please observe the following guideline in your review/sharing:

  1. Please state that the N5 is a free loan unit from Cayin, and you have/shall return the unit to Cayin at the end of review period.
  2. You can free to write up your sharing or impression as long as it represents your true feeling and opinions toward the product. Cayin respects your opinion and will not check your content prior to publishing
  3. Please provide the link to your sharing either in the N5 Tour thread or by PM, so that we can keep track on the progress and review the content for fact checking.
  4. If in case we want to clarify on certain factual/operational/technical issues, we shall request you to post our feedback alongside or as footnote to your original publication.
  5. If in case you disagree with our feedback, you are free to continue relevant discussion after our feedback was channeled.

The followings are recommended platform for your sharing:

The Main N5 Discussion thread

Cayin N5 DAP (Release Imminent) - Product Information and Discussion Thread

The N5 Product page at Head Gear of HeadFi
Cayin N5 DSD Lossless Music Player

[COLOR=FF00AA]Please do not post your impression in this thread[/COLOR], we want to make this an event management thread, and direct all the discussion and sharing to the main N5 discussion thread. On top of the HeadFi forum, you are welcome to post your N5 impression to your local HeadFi forum/blog/magazine etc., but please provide the link or electronic version of your writing in this thread as previously suggested.

If you’ve got any suggestions about the tour, feel free to raise your concern here and we shall try our best to enrich the Tour as much as possible.

We are really appreciated for your time and look forward to your application.

Will Add Tour Updates and Announcement here:

The Final Tour list is as follow:

Tour Progress:

31 Sept., 2015 (US Pacific Time Zone), Carlsan (Group 3) and PinkyPowers (Group 4) has received their N5
1 Oct 2015, Jeff Y (Group 1) and hakushondaimao (Group 2) has received their N5

22 Oct 2015, Cotnijoe (Group 4) and hellfire8888 (Group 1) received their N5
23 Oct 2015, nmatheis (Group 2) received N5
5 Nov 2015, Podster (Group 4) received N5
19 Nov 2015, Wirefriend (Group 1) received N5
24 Nov 2015, x RELIC x (Group 2) received N5
25 Nov 2015, vlenbo (Group 4) received N5
1 Dec 2015, PsiCore (Group 1) received N5
Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
Aug 28, 2015 at 12:15 PM Post #2 of 149
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 N5, pleas check out the main N5 discussion and impression thread:

Cayin N5 DAP (Release Imminent) - Product Information and Discussion Thread

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

C5 portable headphone amp


N6 Digital Audio Player


C5DAC portable DAC/headphone amp.


[COLOR=FF00AA]Design and Features[/COLOR]

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.

[COLOR=FF00AA]Build Quality and Operation[/COLOR]

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.


MCU Dual Core 600MHz Ingenic Xburst JZ4760
PLD SA2000
Volume PGA2311

Headphone 200mW+200mW @ 32 ohm (SE); 300mW+300mW @ 32 ohm (BAL)
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 2.5 mm (BAL headphone)
1x 3.5 mm (headphone/line)
Digital Output 1x 3.5 mm S/PDIF (coaxial)
Physical Control 1x Control Dial + 1xEnter/Play/Pause Button
3x General Navigation Button
Volume (+)
Volume (-)
Language English, French, German, Thai, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified)
Storage 2x micro-SD card (up to 256GB)

Phones Out (Bal)
Power rating 300mW+300mW @ 32 ohm
Freq. Response 20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N 0.006% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )

Phones Out (SE)
Power rating 200mW+200mW @ 32 ohm
Freq. Response 20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N 0.006% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Output Imp. 0.26Ω

Line Out
Output Level 2V ( @10kΩ )
Freq. Response 20-20kHz ( ±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz );5-50kHz ( ±1dB,Fs=192kHz )
THD+N 0.005% ( 1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
Dynamic Range 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )
SNR 108dB ( 20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted )

Coaxial Out
Output Level 0.5Vp-p ( @75Ω; 1.0Vp-p ( unloaded )
Output Imp. 75Ω

Audio Format
WAV Up to 24bit/192kHz
FLAC Up to 24bit/192kHz
ALAC Up to 24bit/192kHz
AIFF Up to 24bit/192kHz
APE Up to 24bit/192kHz
WMA Up to 24bit/96kHz
AAC Supported
OGG Supported

Battery Capacity 4200 mAH
Charger 1.5A
Power LED Flashing: 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
Weight 195g

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.

Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
Aug 28, 2015 at 12:15 PM Post #3 of 149
Reserved for Useful links, Resources, and Impression Collections


The N5 Tour in Mainland China has kick started (1 September 2015), check this out if you are in Mainland China.

Cayin announced N5 firmware V2.0


Impression from the Tour:

Cayin N5: Retro-Cool Lovechild of Cayin's C5 & N6 (by nmatheis)

If Looks Could Kill - a review of the Cayin N5 (by PinkyPowers)

The Warmer, Friendlier Son of N6 (by hakushondaimao)

Cayin N5: A Worthy Performer (by Cotnijoe)

Small size, big delivery! (by hellfire8888)

Enjoyable sounding DAP with very good price/value ratio (by By wirefriend)


N5 Reviews

Top Mid-Fi DAP performer! (by twister6)

Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
Aug 28, 2015 at 1:34 PM Post #4 of 149
I want in!

Kansas City, MO 64137 USA

JH Audio-Angie, Audio Technica IM03, Sennheiser HD600, Klipsch R6, Klipsch X7i

Music Players:
Astell & Kern AK120ii, FiiO X3ii, FiiO X5 Classic, Audioquest Dragonfly1.2

I have yet to try any Cayin products. I am excited to.

FiiO X3 2nd Generation
FiiO X5 Classic
JH Audio Siren Series - Angie
Aug 28, 2015 at 2:15 PM Post #5 of 149
Great announcement - you know how much I've been looking forward to this @Andykong!!!
Your location (City and Country)
Portland, OR USA
Headphone(s) you have
Too many to list here 

It's a good mix of HP & IEM from different manufacturers at different price points, though.
Here's a [b]LINK[/b] to my profile which has a pretty up to date list.
I'd probably test the N6 with AKG K553 & HiFiMan HE-400 HP + Heir 4.Ai & TPEOS Altone200 IEM but am open to suggestions
Music player(s) you have
Apple iPhones (3GS, 4S, 5S), Apple iPad 5.5G, Fiio X3 & X5, iBasso DX90, iRiver IHP-140, Sharp DR7 + tested Cayin N6, Fiio X3ii & X5ii, Shanling M3 (and loads of minidisc players back in the day)
Fiio E12A and E12 DIY + tested various amps and dac/amps
Cayin product(s) you possess (if any)
Previously owned C5 (loved the sound sig and would still own it if it were more usable with IEM)
Tested C5DAC & N6
Links to review(s) you have posted
LINK to my reviews with some relevant ones highlighted below
DAPs: Fiio X3ii, Fiio X5ii, Shanling M3
Amps and Amp/DACs: Aune B1Calyx PaTCayin C5DAC, Shanling H3
P.S., Can't believe you beat me to this @PinkyPowers 

Aug 28, 2015 at 2:24 PM Post #6 of 149

Metro Vancouver area, BC, Canada


Audeze LCD-XC, Audez LCD-2, JH Angie universal IEM, AKG-K550, V-Moda M-100

- owned Sennheiser Momentum, Shure SRH840

Music Players:

FiiO X5ii, FiiO X5, iPod classic, iPhone 5S, iPad (4), ALO Rx portable amp, FiiO e12 portable amp.

- owned FiiO X3, FiiO e17.

No Cayin products currently in my possession.


Aug 28, 2015 at 2:42 PM Post #7 of 149
Hello to All the Usual Suspects:
I would love to be on the tour....
I currently enjoy the Cayin N6 with 3 different Final Audio iems, up to Heaven VIII
as well as Denon D5000 and MM400...
and a couple more items....
I am in London, Ontario...Canada
Looking forward to this.
Aug 28, 2015 at 10:58 PM Post #10 of 149
Mark. Ready. Set. Go! ...?

Aug 29, 2015 at 5:57 PM Post #11 of 149
Well, you gotta know I want in, @Andykong! Very excited to see this project coming to fruition, and would love to give the N5 a listen and review.
Location: Calgary, Canada
Headphone(s): Numerous, including ATH-R70x, AKG K7XX, ATH-MSR7, SHP-9500, HD-598, Noble 6, Dunu DN2000J, Fidue A73, Trinity Delta, and Altone 200
Music player(s): Fiio X5ii, Hidizs AP-100, Fiio X3ii
Cayin product(s): Cayin C5 (plus reviewed N6 and C5DAC)
Links to reviews: LINK to all reviews, including Cayin N6 and C5DAC
Aug 29, 2015 at 6:10 PM Post #13 of 149
Your location (City and Country)
Krakow, Poland
Headphone(s) you have
1964 Ears Adel A12, Denon AH-D5000, VSonic GR07
Music player(s) you have
iBasso DX100, HifiMan HM-901 Balanced amp card
Cayin product(s) you possess (if any)
Links to review(s) you have posted (if any) no matter it is on Head-Fi or some others
None so far but will be happy to write about Cayin

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