Cayin N5 Mkii

Cayin N5 MKII HIFI Music Player In-depth Review

When we come to write this Cayin N5 MKII review, this is a late assessment, prototype sending test, originally for ES9018K2M and HiBy program player is not too much interest, But this sent to the friend has been three unsuccessful, and finally we accepted the test. Of course, there is another reason, Cayin on the N5II ES9018K2M using external I/V conversion, which is still a little different than the same price point of the player. The difference between N5Is and N5II is not the focus of this article.

Appearance and key features

Cayin N5II at the end of 2017, from the official introduction can see that the N5II design maintained a certain N5 features, but from the appearance of the size is greatly slimmed down: 115mmx15.3mmx57mm, such a size from the subjective use of grip feel is significantly smaller. The machine’s middle frame is the side and front side upper, top, the entire machine housing support by CNC processing aluminum material, the front surface made a delicate brushed surface process, the side is blasting process, the corner has a bright diagonal cutting corner. The overall design and metal appearance are very good.

The N5II uses a 3.65-inch 854×480 resolution IPS screen to support touch operation. The machine’s screen rests relative to the bottom of the body, and the top features a space in the upper right corner to position a volume-adjusted knob. N5II uses a small stainless steel material to do this knob, with its own relatively large density and self-weight, the actual operation feels very stable, of course, it is not linked analog potentiometer, is a software volume synchronization of an encoder. More interestingly, the N5II, a rolling encoder, seems a bit like the wheel used by Logitech’s mouse for the last two years? The interior not only has a certain damping seems to have a simulation out of the larger gear sense? Or maybe it’s because the knob is too heavy to bring a similar feel.

On the top of the Cayin N5II there is a 2.5mm balanced headphone output and a 3.5mm analog output, which can be switched via software PO and LO, the final output of PO and LO is achieved through different circuits from the officially provided internal structure. The N5II does not appear to provide s/PDIF output for coaxial or optical fibers. The upper left side of the machine is the switch lock screen key and the play and tlogger keys are on the top right. Two MicroSD memory card expansion slots are reserved at the bottom right, and the N5II itself has a built-in 32GB of storage capacity.

At the bottom of the N5II is The Type-C USB interface, which supports two-way USB DAC functionality. That is, N5II itself can be used as A USB DAC, so that the computer as the host. At this point, the N5II can support outputs up to 24bit/192kHz and DSD128. In addition, the N5II can also be used as a host to drive external USB DAC, which can support up to 24bit/384kHz outputs. As a player, the official nominal support for PCM up to 64bit, 384kHz, and DSD256 decoding. The actual test, the DSD256 can really play, and there is no pressure. As for 64bit PCM does not seem to find the right audition file.

In terms of software, N5II uses a custom Android 5.1 operating system based on Haibei, operating details and UI has optimization for Cayin’s own, the UI aspect still seems to be better than HiBy’s own look. Estimated is because of the removal of the volume button, we looked for a long time also did not find how to take a screenshot under the Android system, so can only be described in simple text. The N5II-based RK3188 processor is powerful enough, but 1GB of memory seems to be low, and the frame rate on the main UI at the system level seems to be not doing well enough to be smooth enough. But the advantage of this operating system lies in the details of stability and smoothness is very good, such as the whole track audio, even DSD ISO smoothness is also good, including large header file timeline drag, can be dragged at will. This is the advantage of haibeth’s scheme, and iBasso has done a very bad job in this regard . . . iBasso is first-class in the smoothness of the system interface, such as the installation of third-party apps. But the player itself controls, such as the track menu and timeline, which is bad.

We did not do the dismantling of the N5II, but we can go to Cayin’s official website to see the internal PCB picture and the official introduction of the architectural map. As can be seen from the schema diagram, although N5II uses ESS ES9018K2M DAC, a very common DAC chip ( note, a single DAC), it does not use the voltage output mode of DAC, such as vivo phone, Haibei R6 player, etc., but instead uses its current output mode. To be precise, the only products using the ES9018K2M DAC current output mode in the products we tested were Vivo Xplay5s, HiBy R6 and Le Bang’s Monitor 09 used ES9028Q2M, where Monitor Monitor 09 uses a current output mode.

Core structure

Outside the DAC, i/V conversion is made using OPA1652, while the headset part uses OPA1622 as LPF, and the balance part uses two OPA1622 to do LPF. The single-ended output of the headset is not transferred from a balanced, it appears to be completely independent. The Lineout section, on the other hand, is the OPA1652 LPF output. So, what is the current amplification of the headset? LPF zooms in directly on the output???

According to official data, the output power of 150mWx2 is provided at 32 ohm at the output of a single-ended headset, while the output power of 250mWx2 can be achieved at a balanced 32 ohm load. For the current small earbuds, this output power is more than enough.

It’s interesting to think about the internal solutions of Kayin N5II. When everyone uses a dual ESS DAC chip voltage output, it uses a single DAC but a more sophisticated external I/V conversion. From past testing experience, both Guzu’s Qm and Lebang’s Monitor 09 are a far cry from the voltage-based output of ES9018K2M/9028Q2M. But the ESS series of DAcs is also interesting, and when single monos are used, the dynamic performance does indeed improve significantly.

So what will N5II do?

Objective testing

In objective testing, we do the objective test of RMAA under the high and medium gain of the headphone output. The Volume of the N5II is divided into 100 gears, and at high gain, there are some problems with the design stability of the encoder, sometimes 0dB at 97 hours, and sometimes 0dB at 87, and there may be 1-2 gears of uncertainty. For example, 97 and 96 may be the same. The medium gain gear is the output of -6dB.

Cayin N5 MKII HIFI Music Player In-depth Review 4

From the objective test results and frequency scan, N5II performed well and was in the range of theoretical best values. However, there are a few unstable places, in the USB DAC section, the test showed that the working condition is not stable enough, so that we later found that the test USB RMAA part clock is unstable, the results are not available.

At the same time, the test also found that the playback of DSD in USB mode and 96kH sample rate are not stable, the reason is not known.

Listening experience

In the subjective hearing test, we chose two contrasting objects. One is the vivo Xplay5s, which uses the ESS ES9028Q2M scheme, and the other is the HiBy R6, which also uses ES9028Q2M. Use the headset spree the Vsonic GR09, Westone W60 and FLC 8n. Headphones used are AKG K701, MSR7 and so on.

Overall impression: N5II is more neutral than The R6 and Xplay 5s, and is typical of ES90. If not mistaken, the test of the Cayin N6, high-frequency processing is quite characteristic of the traces of high frequency modification, and in the N5II also reflected, but seems to be weaker. In addition to the high-frequency impression is quite impressive, other sound style and details are too much like ES9018/28 mobile low-power version of The Taste of DAC, sound balance, medium frequency full and solid. In terms of low frequencies, the N5II is not quite the same as several similar devices common.

Treble performance: Cayin N5II’s high frequency than r6 and Xplay5s, are significantly more neutral, of course, than the sound M1Pro this more prominent. Its high frequency density and dynamic relative to R6, Xplay5s have some advantages, the sound has some more fine particle sense, but not loose enough, so in some high-frequency tight electric headphones on the actual cause of sound is relatively thin, slightly astringent listening. This is mainly manifested in the violin and other string-stringed instruments of the high-pitched aspects. Compared to the iBasso DX200 player, this high frequency is still not sophisticated enough. Compared with high frequencies such as The R6 and Xplay5s, its retouching taste is more beneficial than harmful. Especially for the pursuit of high-frequency resolution and density of the last two years of listening, such a modification is more pleasing to the user.

Medium frequency performance: N5II’s medium frequency is ES9018K2M or ES9028Q2M and other similar mobile version of the typical taste of DAC, more unfortunately its external I/V did not significantly enhance the sound thickness and dynamic, of course, we have speculated before, in the end is the external I/V single DAC stronger, Or is the dual DAC built-in I/V stronger? From the N5II point of view, at least it certainly does not meet the amazing trend on Gujin Qm. In the performance of human voice, N5II is still biased, the pursuit of sound resolution. The Xplay5s and R6s, on the other hand, tend to be soft, while the sound is noticeably softer. In this regard, like the taste of straight, or like the soft taste, each person’s preferences are different.

However, in any case, the sound thickness and the overall sound form, R6 and N5II relatively different, and the overall medium frequency, medium-high frequency and even low-frequency convergence style, is quite typical esS taste. In the relatively large dynamic and loud pressure, we think that Kaiyin N5II still shows some control advantages, but it is difficult to say that this is from the I/V external design advantages?

Since official information does not know what the N5II is using in the ear-to-ear section, perhaps the N5II can use a more powerful ear set to show the advantages of the previous i/V over-processed voltage output.

Bass performance: N5II low frequency volume sense is relatively small, we are exposed to Cayin products are not much, do not understand their overall design style. However, compared with the Xplay5s and R6s, the low frequency volume is less. Even with flC8n, which is easier to drive, the low frequency is not only less, but also less dynamic and explosive. The benefit, of course, is to show a little bit of control and a little better resolution. And in the medium and low frequency section, the above talked about its entire sound form is still quite solid, IS ES9018K2M and other similar DAC comparison standard taste, N5II with a relatively large output power also let its performance in this kind of design in a better level. However, the external design of I/V doesn’t give us much to hear.

Balanced output: N5II supports 2.5mm standard balanced output, in fact, 250mW 32 euro balance output is currently in our hands the headset should be matched with W60 and Sony Z5, overall the balance performance is certainly better than the single end. It’s worth noting that the N5II offers a high-third-grade high-end gain for the previous gain, and for enthusiasts, even the GR09 may need to use high gain in a single-ended output. However, if you plan to use a balanced output, the high gain like FLC8n, GR09 is too big, but to withdraw a little with mid-range is a good choice.

We believe that it is still necessary to set up the three-stage front gain option under the output of the largepower headphones, and this part of the function should be designed more seriously.

Headphones combination: It has to be said that flC8s and FLC8ns are really good ring-iron headphones, even if the high frequency of the FLC8n is already so bright, but with the N5II is not much of a problem. The dynamic aspects of low and medium frequency are ideal for the ESS family,this full and solid, but soft-spoken level is not enough flavor. W60 and W4R’s dynamic iron performance on the N5II also has no problem, there is no multi-unit low frequency problem, the sound of the source and headphones are very positive style, so that this combination sounds slightly rigid. Westone, of course, is rigid. Finally, with GR09, the medium frequency stretch a lot, and the high frequency of refinement and stretch is still relatively inadequate. The softness and stretch of the medium frequency and the full listening feel is in line with the taste of the ESS family DAC, but slightly lacking in low-frequency burst force, GR09 this dynamic ring is not as good as the FLC8n on that low frequency drive.

Other experiences: The player’s built-in app itself has DLNA playback, but the actual test is that the music list can never be read out on the NAS under the NAS music server using the Group Group DS718. And we use AV amplifier and Foobar 2000 is no problem. Tests also found that n5II WiFi signal capacity is relatively general, in about -55dB signal strength, DLNA server list can not be found, -60dB signal strength under the WiFi connection may be unstable, which is a fairly weak performance.


The sound performance of The Inn N5II does not surprise us too much because of the external I/V, but the design of a single DAC is really no worse than the ES9028Q2M’s many two-piece design. Especially in the medium- and high-frequency and high-frequency sections, the N5II performs better, but in the medium- and low-frequency and low-frequency sections, the sound thickness and sense of measurement may be weaker. But we speculate that this may be a matter of style grasping in Cayin itself, rather than the gap between a single DAC and a double DAC. At the same time, we also speculate that the N5II should use a more intense taste design in the ear section, so that its front I/V external advantages, the advantages of good control play more obvious? For now, at least, this advantage is not as obvious as Gujin Qm and Monitor 09.

N5II’s overall sound performance and experience are in line with its price positioning, but WiFi antenna design and network playback function, USB playback stability issues need to be fixed or strengthened.

Cayin N5 MKII HIFI Music Player In-depth Review
Cayin N5 MKII HIFI Music Player In-depth Review 5

Cayin N5II’s overall sound performance and experience are in line with its price positioning, but WiFi antenna design and network playback function, USB playback stability issues need to be fixed or strengthened.

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