Review: Cayin YB04 – Up in there

Cayin YB04

Disclaimer: The Cayin YB04 was sent to us directly by Cayin in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. The YB04 does not need to be returned to the factory as far as I know.

 

Cayin Audio

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 player to speaker, 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. Cayin has built over 400 products up to date and lately Cayin has been focusing on the portable market as well with successful units such as the N3, N5, N5ii, N5iiS, N6, i5, N8, N6II portable players and the C5 portable amplifier. Now Cayin is back with something new, some thing they have not done before: an IEM! How awesome is that!

Yep, Cayin Audio has decided to get into the earphone game and they are entering the market with a 4BA-driven, universal IEM called the YB04. What’s in a name!

 

The YB04 & Cable

We actually already previewed the Cayin YB04 when we received the sample. You can find that preview article with our first impressions here: https://www.headfonia.com/picture-sunday-cayin-yb-04/

In the meantime Cayin has also published a dedicated web page on the YB04, and you can find that one right here: https://en.cayin.cn/products_info?itemid=124

Let’s have a closer look at the YB04.

The YB04 is a 4 balanced Armature driven universal IEM, and Cayin chose to partner up with Sonion and Knowles for the drivers. Knowles is delivering the double tweeters and Sonion the double woofers. The driver are housed in a CNC aluminium enclosure with a screw-on face plate. We’ll cover more about the design and build quality later in this article.

According to Cayin they spent a lot of time developing the ideal crossover and aluminium nozzle for the YB04 but what is especially noticeable is the fact that Cayin is putting upfront the specially designed YB04 cable in their advertising. It is a dual tone 8-wire design with an unidirectional crystallized OFC and silver alloy cable. It comes with a high quality gold plated 3.5mm connector, a hexagon design custom molded aluminum splitter and gold-plated 0.78mm 2-pin connectors.

Cayin YB04

The YB04 price has been set at $499/€499 which puts it right in the middle of Mid-Fi territory.

Technical Specifications

  • FR: 18Hz-40kHz
  • Driver units: 4 BA – 2 x Knowles tweeters & 2 x Sonion woofers
  • Impedance: 30Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 113dB@1kHz
  • Enclosure: Machined CNC Aviation Aluminum Alloy

2-pin and Single ended (gold plated) 3.5mm termination, Unidirectional Crystallized OFC (30 core wire), Silver alloy (30 core wire) in the 8-wire cable

Looking at the specs we can see that with the low impedance and 113dB sensitivity, the YB-04 should be a very easy to drive IEM, so none of the modern DAPs should have any issue driving this new monitor.

Build Quality & Design

The YB-04 has all smooth edges and a nicely soft finish. It basically exists out of four main parts: The (screw on) face plate, the top body, the lower body and the nozzle. You can see the different parts but you can’t really feel them and that’s what they mean with the joint-less structure.

I don’t know who designed this IEM, but this is a stunning looking monitor! The YB-04 looks cool and has a robust, matte black (more grey in reality) finish and a joint-less structure which according to Cayin results in minimum resonance. The extremely short aluminum, beautiful nozzle comes with a dust filter, and to me the whole package and the IEM just scream luxury. The precision is in the detail and there’s even a tiny Cayin logo “printed” on the side of the monitor.

Cayin YB04

The curved inside of the body was based on an ear study, but everyone is doing that nowadays. The shell is supposed to give you optimal comfort together with a natural feel and maximum isolation. In reality the inner shell is fairly shapeless really, it does fit nicely, but the German Inear universal shape fits a whole lot better.

In reality the YB-04 size-wise is medium, which means it’s not as small as the Meze Audio Rai Penta, but not as big as the Noble Khan. Because of the size, they also stick out of your ears somewhat. I personally don’t like that but most people who tend to use universal IEMs are used to that or they just don’t care.

The cable that comes with the YB-04 is an 8-wire one but it’s small and light. The cable termination and the 2-pin socket on the IEM have a perfect finish and the plug and cable-splitter might be the sexiest ever. Sound-wise it also performs well and we’ve only used this cable for this review.

I have to admit that there design-wise are two things that bug me a little. First is the 2-pin connector, as it doesn’t sit flush in the design. With the special cable it comes with this isn’t visible but with an aftermarket cable this could look less sexy. Second, the plastic slider to tie the cable behind your head or under your chin. It just feels very cheap. It’s weird because the cable has a very nice hexagonal splitter and then to add a cheap piece of plastic to that, seems a weird design choice. A missed opportunity, yet not a hugely important one as it still gets the work done.

All-in-all the YB04 is a really nice, modern, industrial and sexy looking monitor. I love the curved face plate, the face plate screws and the metallic colour. This IEM to me scores very high in the looks department.

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

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