Today we’re looking at the Cayin N6ii DAP, the brand new portable player from Cayin Audio selling at $1,119USD.
Disclaimer: Cayin has been covered many times on Headfonia already. The Cayin N6ii was sent to us in exchange for this review.
Cayin is a premium Chinese high end audio brand (since 1993) and their focus has mostly been on dedicated HiFi equipment, covering every chain in the music reproduction path, from CD players to speakers, but the essence is no doubt their tube amplifiers. Their equipment ranges from around US$100 to just below US$10,000 per item, covering the needs of different requirements and budgets. Lately Cayin has been focusing on the portable market as well with successful units such as the N5ii, the N3 and the reference N8. Now Cayin is back with the N6ii, a brand new DAP with changeable AMP and DAC.
N6II Intro & Modules
This isn’t the first review of the Cayin N6ii and so I won’t go into all the small details as those have been covered by many others before. Let’s stay focused on what’s really important. I on purpose postponed this review for three reasons. One, so it wouldn’t get lost between the others articles after the launch. Second, because I wanted to have used it for a couple of months as a daily driver. And third, because I really wanted to have the YB04 IEM with it for this review, as they were designed to work best together. That being said, we did preview the N6ii already, right here.
The Cayin N6ii with its price tag of $1,199 clearly is positioned in the higher end segment, so we and every buyer expect a lot from it. As said in our preview article, the most interesting feature is the changeable motherboard. Cayin is one of the first companies to launch a DAP in which you can change DAC and AMP modules. Sure we’ve seen interchangeable AMP cards before with Fiio, Hifiman and iBasso to name a few, but changing the AMP and DAC? That’s special!
So far Cayin has released two modules:
The N6ii is called the Master Quality Digital Audio Player and the original version came with Audio Motherboard A01, which has an AK 4497EQx1 DAC chip. This is the same DAC chip as Astell&Kern’s SP1000 is using, as wel as Cayin’s own N8 flagship. This N6ii’s dedicated web page can be found here: https://en.cayin.cn/products_info?itemid=119
The second motherboard version is the T01 and it consists of a DAC and analogue amplification circuit. It features Dual PCM1792A DAC chips that can hardware decode DSD up to DSD256 and PCM up to 24Bit/192kHz. It has a digitally controlled analogue volume and features a fully balanced design with parallel headphone amplification, using 4.4mm and 3.5mm outputs. You can find out all about this module here https://en.cayin.cn/products_info?itemid=123 and here https://en.cayin.cn/products_info?itemid=122
A new, third, module is upcoming. Basically this system allows Cayin and the users of the N6ii to change the sound signature in any way they want, and that’s one heck of a feature. In the part on sound – later in this article – we’ll discuss the difference between the two available models.
Is the Cayin N6ii a baby N8? Let’s find out!
The N6II – A closer look (Inside, looks and a lot more)
The Cayin N6ii comes with a fully Customized Android 8.1 operating system with Google Play pre-installed. That means the N6ii supports popular streaming services such as Tidal and Spotify. But it also means you can install plenty of APK’s, no matter if they’re sound related. A modern DAP should be able to and the N6ii delivers.
Of course there’s always a close link between Cayin and HiBy and as such you can remote control the N6ii by your mobile phone through HiByLink. I don’t really use the feature myself, but I know many love this.
The Cayin N6ii is powered by Snapdragon using 4GB of RAM. Connectivity-wise it sports dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 with Hi-Res Codec (aptX and LDAC) up to 96kHz. To be more precise: Bluetooth 4.2 – LDAC, aptX, AAC SBC in transmitter mode and LDAC, SBC in receiver mode (to be enabled by FW upgrade)
Full N6ii specs can be checked on the N6ii’s dedicated web pages
The N6ii’s case is CNC machined aerospace aluminium alloy and it has a fine sandblasting finish. The N6ii feels good in the hand even though it isn’t the smallest looking at its thickness.
The build quality is high and there are no issues whatsoever. The buttons feel sturdy, the volume dial smooth. The replaceable motherboards sit perfectly flush in the N6ii’s body, as does the screen. The N6ii feel soft and smooth and it has that luxury look.
In short: no issues, a really lovely DAP.
Design & Lay-Out
The N6ii at a quick glance looks like the N8, Cayin’s TOTL player. But at the same time it look-wise is different enough from the N8. Both look nice, high-end and modern.
The Cayin N6ii is reasonably small and it’s mostly it’s thickness which impresses. The N6ii features a 4.2” 768 x 1280 IPS touch screen and even though that maybe isn’t the best on the market, I really like it and feel it’s sufficient.
The player measure 70mm x 21mm x 121mm and weighs only 290g, making it very pocketable. The lay-out then:
On top you get the motherboard outputs: 4.4mm balanced, 3.5mm single ended and a 3.5mm line-out. On the left of the player you have the single Micro SD slot. The bottom of the DAP sports the Digital connections: the i²S and the USB In/Output. The right side of the unit from top to bottom shows the volume dial/ Power button, the previous song, play/pause and next song buttons.
On the screen you also have the invisible “Home” button and all-in-all the Cayin N6ii looks really nice and sexy. Sure it could have been a little bit less thick but the N6II with this design and lay-out works very well, even with one hand.
The back of the player comes in tempered glass and is really pretty, but once the DAP is inside its leather case, this no longer is visible. You also don’t have to remove the case to switch sd cards.
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