Disclaimer: Cayin has been covered many times on Headfonia already. The Cayin N5ii was sent to us free of charge 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 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, N6, i5 portable players and the C5 portable amplifier. Now Cayin is back with the N5ii, an Android based DAP with extreme versatility and as the name suggests it is the N5 DAP’s successor.
This is a rather comprehensive review and it has a big part that’s not about sound. Why? Simply because all characteristics are very important in a DAP, and so is usability, etc. On top of that this is the very first Cayin N5ii Production version review on the web, and so it has to be detailed and complete.
N5ii aka N5 MK2
The new Cayin N5ii, just like the original N5, comes with a balanced 2.5mm output and it featured double MicroSD slots. Apart from that, the new N5ii is completely different from the original. The Cayin N5ii is a modern styled, perfectly built DAP that offers great value for money. If you haven’t seen anything on social media or Head-Fi yet about the Cayin N5ii you can discover all about it here on the Cayin website: http://en.cayin.cn/products_info?itemid=111
The Cayin N5ii in many ways is the same as the Cayin i5 Android DAP, and if you haven’t seen their Android implementation yet, I suggest checking out their i5 DAP first here: https://www.headfonia.com/review-cayin-i5-dap-the-do-it-all/
I, together with a selected number of reviewers, have been using a beta version of the Cayin N5ii for a few weeks already now, and Cayin has updated the production version of the N5ii based on our feedback. The Cayin N5ii was also covered in one of our first look videos:
The new Cayin N5ii not only looks very different from the original, it has been redesigned on the inside as well. The N5ii uses the ESS9018K2M DAC chip and they are running completely independent amplification paths for the single ended 3.5mm and the balanced 2.5mm output. A full overview of the Cayin N5ii’s internal mapping (framework) can be found a little further in this article.
The new Cayin N5ii is based on the Android 5.1 system and as a result it is fully customizable. You can download your favorite apps from the Google store and I myself have been successfully using it with Spotify, Tidal and the Last.FM scrobbler. More about this later. The original N5 – which I called “ribbed for your please” has now become a very modern, sexy looking DAP and it of course is perfectly built, just like the i5. The N5ii’s features a CNC aerospace aluminum chassis and a beautiful threaded stainless steel volume knob.
To protect the nice 3.65” screen the Cayin N5 comes delivered with a tempered glass screen protector. The “glass” backside of the player also comes with a pre-installed protector. The retail price for this new N5ii DAP is set at only $369, and that is very impressive.
The “Burn your music” moto is no longer present when starting the DAP and the N5ii moto – just like on the i5- now is: “Never be the same again”. I do think Andy and Cayin did good by changing it. Talking about Andy, we featured him on our “Fav album of” series (https://www.headfonia.com/blog-the-fav-album-of-cayin/) as well as on our Business Insider Interview series: https://www.headfonia.com/q-n-a-saturday-cayin/
The review continues on Page 2, after the click here or the jump below