Welcome to Linus’ new interview series on Headfonia.com! Every two weeks we will publish an interview with an insider of the audio industry. They will give us a little insight on how they started and what they are up to. We are thrilled to be able to share a little something with all of you.
We’re honored to have Andy Kong, Marketing Director of Cayin Audio, as this week’s interview partner!
HFN: Please give us a short introduction about yourself
AK: I am Andy from Cayin Audio, I am Marketing Director of Cayin Audio, and I am responsible for the Overseas Marketing function of Cayin.
I started my career as a faculty staff at local (HK) university teaching Computers and Information Systems and stayed there for 10 years, I started my IT System Integration business after that, and joined the Hi-Tech Venture capital business because of my pet-project, and these two added another 10 years to my resume. I took a long break after that and decided to serve the needing community, so I spent another 10 years in charity, taking up projects to build orphanages in China and lining up education sponsor in rural area. When I decided to get back to business, I ran into Cayin. I enjoy making new friends and meeting people who share the same passion as me, in person or online, so this is a perfect role for me and I am glad that I found someone to pay me doing this.
HFN: How did you personally get into audio?
AK: That’s a long story. I was the owner of a small IT consultant firm and a reviewer in a printed audio magazines back in 1997. I wanted to develop something that integrated my hobby and my profession, so I wrote a home entertainment proposal based on the home networking concept, which was a hot topic back in the late 90‘s. I finally signed up with an investor in 2000. At the same time my investor asked me to join his Venture Capital team and become the COO and Content Director of his audiophile.com project, so I was wearing two hats at that time. Unfortunately my investor decided to slow down the projects after 9/11, and the projects were finally wrapped up by 2005, and I moved to Shanghai and headed a PCB/semiconductor research plant under the same investor after that, and that started my venture in Mainland China. Since my investor is serious in audiophile business, I was kind of attached to the audio industry all the time.
HFN: How did Cayin start?
AK: Cayin was founded in 1993, and a lot of our customers probably aren’t aware that Cayin is a state-owned company. We are a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) of China, a state-owned aerospace and defense enterprise. Back in the early 90’s, the President of AVIC was a dedicated audiophile, he wanted to contributed to the society by promoting music appreciation, so he gathered several engineers and started the Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd. The company started off as an OEM shop and develop tube amplifiers under the name of Spark. Our product carried distinctive cultural connotation and span over a very wide price range because we are determined to make music accessible to all sectors, not just the high net worth group. By 2003 we decided to marketed our Hi-Fi products under the name of Cayin and business grows slowly but steadily ever since.
HFN: Cayin also manufactures a lot of other hifi equipment, how do you do the split between two channel hifi and portable?
AK: We have developed over 400 products to date, covering almost every part of a sound system, from CD players to speakers, from cables to portable DAP. We ventured into personal audio in 2013 and developed around a dozen of portable/desktop headphone orientated products, before that we were 100% two channel hifi brand. Right now personal audio plays the major role of our business. Over 50% R&D resources were devoted to this area, and sales are ramping up quickly. The personal audio products haven’t reached the 50% sales revenue benchmark yet, but we are getting there.
HFN: Your latest product is the revamped N5, called N5ii. Can you give us some information about it?
AK: This is our second Android based DAP, fully customised Lollipop with Quad-core 1.6GH MCU, 3.65“ touch screen.
HFN: What was the main goal to achieve when designing the N5ii?
AK: We wanted to build something that integrates our expertise and experience in a mid-tier DAP. We believe we are doing very well in this sector. So we set off to develop something that will inherit our fine tradition, something that looks like the i5 (2016) and carry the well-received features such as dual TF card slot and balanced headphone output of our N5 (2015), and that’s how we conceptualized our N5ii project.
The interview continues on page 2!