Cayin N8ii Overview — Headfonics
Right this moment, we evaluation the Cayin N8ii, the corporate’s newest flagship Android DAP that includes a twin Korg Nutube output and a twin ROHM DAC implementation. It’s priced at $3499.
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Although not distinctive for tubes, the Cayin N8ii DAP nonetheless retains its flagship standing and stays a category act providing an unimaginable array of extremely resolving and satisfying sound signatures.
Deliciously clean tube output
A number of Timbre choice
Load of I/O choices
Android 9 is a bit dated
It’s been 4 years since Cayin launched the unique N8 DAP and introduced in regards to the distinctive idea of a tube inside a transportable media participant. Since then they’ve rolled out each the entry-level N3PRO and the top-of-the-line C9 transportable amplifier, each with diversifications of the identical ‘tube in a field theme.
So, an improve appears overdue, particularly on this quickly evolving transportable participant market. The brand new N8ii is simply that after which some. Nonetheless the flagship DAP at $3499 and nonetheless with Nutube however it’s plural now as in Nutubes. Sure, there’s a couple of inside.
On high of that, we have now a contemporary design, a far superior OS with upgraded internals in addition to a very new DAC implementation. That is hardly an iterative product launch. Although it is rather a lot a Cayin when it comes to options and presumably the sound signature, it appears to be like and feels very contemporary and trendy on the similar time.
The N8ii switches away from the earlier AKM AK4497EQ which is now discontinued and to a brand new twin ROHM BD34301EKV implementation in mono mode. This isn’t the primary time we have now seen this DAC getting used inside a DAP this 12 months with the iBasso DX320 springing to thoughts.
The BD34301EKV is a part of ROHM’s new MUS-IC collection of DAC chipsets of which there are two variations. That is the higher-grade model with the BD34352EKV positioned behind it and differentiated by a barely diminished SNR and THD-+N ranking, (round 3-4dB decrease).
This explicit model has a peak of 130dB of SNR and a THD+N of -115 dB and as much as 130dB in its potential dynamic vary. Though that is because the ‘crow flies’, the N8ii does get fairly shut at a most of 125dB of SNR from its solid-state balanced output.
The decoding has improved over the older AK4497EQ additionally. By way of USB you may stand up to DSD512 natively and a most of PCM 32BIT/768kHz when utilizing it as a USB-DAC or in I²S mode. With firmware V1.14 you additionally get a really aggressive MQA unfolding price of 16x, (as much as 768kHz).
You additionally get the utmost 24BIT/192Khz by way of SPDIF and since the N8ii is BT wi-fi you may anticipate as much as 96kHz LDAC. Apparently, HiBy’s UAT can be lined which means if in case you have a appropriate UAT receiver such because the HiBy W5 TWS it is going to go all the best way put to 192kHz wirelessly.
There’s truly so much taking place right here for amplification however if you’re a Cayin fan you’ll already be acquainted with how they’ve been crafting a distinct segment for themselves with not 1 or 2 however 4 totally different flavors of output for the N8 and now the N8ii.
That is made attainable by together with two discreetly engineered amplification output modes, solid-state and tube, mixed with a Class A and Class AB twin operational mode.
All 4 modes may be mixed, for instance, Class A with tubes or Class AB with solid-state and vice versa Class AB with Tube and Class A with solid-state. All of this may be carried out by way of some quick access choices on the OS layer.
For the N8ii tube output, Cayin returns to the spring-loaded Korg Nutube NP61 however this time the implementation is balanced with two Nutubes put in versus the unique N8 which has only one.
That now means you may function the tube output of the N8ii with a balanced connection whereas earlier than you may solely use it with the three.5mm output.
Just like the amplification design, the requisite efficiency numbers from the N8ii output are equally multi-layered. You get a regular benchmark for 3.5mm and 4.4mm and as you’ll anticipate the balanced output is constantly extra highly effective on the numerous load milestone factors.
That in flip has a second layer with the tube output differing in energy in comparison with the marginally stronger solid-state efficiency below numerous hundreds.
Nevertheless, you get one other layer on high of that which is much more highly effective for each outputs utilizing the N8ii’s twin output mode characteristic. The default is P or commonplace and right here you revert to the inventory tube and solid-state efficiency numbers.
Whereas P+, which stands for prime output, will increase the voltage swing from the usual 7V to over 10V which ought to end in a significantly better dynamic vary efficiency, particularly with headphones.
So, below P for the N8ii’s tube and SS single-ended output you get an output vary of between 64mW (150Ω) and 420mW (16Ω) which in flip, will increase to 100mW and 72omW below the identical hundreds when utilizing P+.
Switching to the N8ii balanced output utilizing commonplace P mode the ability naturally goes up a notch with the vary beginning at 150mW, (150ohms) as much as 760mW, (16ohms). For P+ you get just a little extra juice at 150Ω at 160mW however you get an enormous bump at 16Ω with a ranking of 1.2W.
Be aware, that each P and P+ modes are solely out there in Class AB mode and never Class A mode so, if you happen to just like the sound of Class A you’ll get barely much less potential voltage swing.
Like its predecessor, the N8ii is a giant beast although on no account the longest or even perhaps the widest. What it has is peak, little question as a result of necessities for the spring-mounted Nutubes that are on the far left aspect and on their sides moderately than mendacity flat.
At 442g it’s heavier than the unique by 42g although I can’t actually inform you if that feels important within the hand given our N8 pattern has lengthy since gone again to Cayin. What I can inform you is that it isn’t far off the shape issue of the HiBy R8 albeit considerably thicker and just a little bit narrower.
The general dimensions do develop into a shade thicker when you placed on the N8ii case however contemplating the worth and using tubes I’d contemplate the protecting case necessary. It is usually a shade on the sharp aspect bodily for cornering so the case helps soften it up a bit for dealing with.
The design language in comparison with the unique, a minimum of for me, is much less overtly ‘Asian’ save for the lavishly gold patterned potentiometer on the highest panel. Shades of Lotoo and Sony come to thoughts although this design movement is extra commonplace today doubtlessly making it essentially the most ‘consumer acceptable’.
Due to the Android implementation, the N8ii is now way more display screen dominant on the entrance panel in comparison with the unique. Mixed with a glossy and barely angular CNC machined aluminum alloy end it feels fairly sturdy but in addition comparatively discreet with its black-colored sandblasted end.
What I particularly like in regards to the contouring are the small recessed pockets in strategic areas that give each the I/O and controls a relative diploma of on a regular basis safety in opposition to bumps and knocks. It’s tastefully carried out moderately than overt and never one thing you’ll instantly discover below dim lights.
You’ll discover the nuanced curving with two small guards to guard the ports on the bottom that elegantly prolong outwards from a pointed aspect panel end in addition to minor recesses across the bodily controls on the suitable panel.
There’s additionally a further lengthy recessed design on the left panel that enables Cayin to trend a protected acrylic window for the inexperienced glow of the N8ii tubes to shine by way of. One thing that’s each operationally helpful and aesthetically pleasing.
Battery life is a consideration right here and while I feel the standard of the AMOLED display screen is completely excellent the 5″ 780p dimension and determination are barely decrease or smaller in comparison with the likes of the 5.5″ 1080p R8 and the newer 6.5″ 2340×1080 DX320.
Nonetheless, if you’re upgrading from the comparatively petite 3.2″ display screen of the unique N8 this can be a huge enchancment. HiBy’s OS has by no means actually wanted huge quantities of area to carry out fairly like Android besides, it’s a extra acquainted and welcoming trendy look for many customers nowadays.
It’s not a borderless design although the bezel is pretty small on the high and sides. The place the thickness creeps in is on the backside with Cayin’s traditional single round touch-sensitive button dominating an in any other case function-free margin.
Contact response and legibility are glorious, or maybe I understand it to be glorious as a result of moderately high-quality’ audiophile’ background display screen image. At 319dpi pixel density, it’s on par with the larger DX320 display screen although at a decrease total density of 305dpi in comparison with 420dpi.
One factor to notice the lighting on the N8ii display screen is superb which means whites look correct white, and extensive angle viewing may be very straightforward. The DX320 appears to be like significantly darker on full-screen brightness when positioned beside it.
All of the I/O save for the exterior reminiscence card slot are housed on the base of the N8ii. Given its above-average peak, there’s greater than sufficient room to suit loads of choices right here together with each digital and analog.
All of the analog is to the left together with twin 4.4mm balanced PO and LO and devoted 3.5mm PO and LO ports. To the far proper are the digital I/O together with USB and a mini I²S socket.
Now for these questioning about SPDIF, that is truly carried out by way of the USB-C socket with a conversion cable. Cayin has all the time configured its USB-C ports barely in a different way previously from commonplace codecs and from the unique N8 package deal a couple of years again you bought a particular USB-C to SPDIF coaxial adaptor.
Not this time. There isn’t any adaptor within the N8ii package deal so, you’ll have to purchase a particular Cayin branded model to make use of the coaxial output. For I²S there isn’t any adaptor or cable included both however Cayin’s codecs are normally pretty appropriate with common HDMI cables so, a mini-HDMI format for about $5 will work simply effective right here.
For reminiscence, the N8ii has an honest 128mB of onboard reminiscence with a further microSD slot on the suitable panel to additional broaden your storage capability. The N8ii additionally has OTG functionality which means you may add a couple of extra bodily GB to the storage by way of a flash drive.
As with most trendy DAPs, the N8ii direct management system is a hybrid of contact and bodily. There’s additionally a component of wi-fi integration permitting you some facets of distant management however that can rely upon the third get together software program you might be utilizing resembling HiByLink or Casting providers.
The N8ii retains it easy with a Sony/Lotoo-like triple deck of barely raised round playback buttons on the suitable panel and a bigger energy on/off button simply above.
Blind operation is comparatively easy given their dimension variations and peak relative to the aluminum chassis panel. Nevertheless, carry case customers would possibly notice the diploma of journey turns into longer when slipped onto the N8ii and also you do lose a level of distinction within the button sizing by way of contact solely.
The potentiometer dial on the highest panel has no twin performance just like the N6ii. That is an analog potentiometer purely for quantity management and an correct one at that with no perceived step slippage when rotating.
The touchscreen management system will largely replicate the bodily expertise save for powering on and off the machine. There could also be some nuanced variations relying on the software program use however in any other case, the general framework management expertise is kind of constant.
Nearly all of fast entry controls may be accessed by way of a packed Android drop-down menu system. This contains PO/LO switching, timbre variations, and operational modes in addition to achieve and connectivity choices. You may as well double faucet the display screen to wake the N8ii.
Quantity management may also be managed by way of the touchscreen however solely as soon as initiated by way of the bodily dial which brings up the amount OS overlay.
The N8ii packs a really hefty 10000mAh 3.8V Li-poly battery which is a considerably bigger battery than the three.7V 7000mAh Li-poly battery model used inside the unique N8.
That provides you a comparatively respectable 11 hours on paper utilizing FLAC 16-bit/44kHz weighted measurement system with I presume 50% quantity and the display screen turned off throughout that check time.
That varies barely relying on whether or not you go balanced or SE, tube or SS with balanced SS working at 10 hours in comparison with the top-tier SE SS 11-hour ranking. The bottom parameter is the balanced tube PO at 8 hours utilizing the high-powered output.
That’s an enchancment additionally on the unique which supplied a most of 9.5 hours. All numbers drop by an approximate hour off the lead time when you go into High² mode which is identical because it was for the unique N8 efficiency with the identical setting.
Keep in mind although that, not like the unique N8, the N8ii is an Android machine with a far wider vary of apps and connectivity choices which may and does sap your battery a bit greater than the rated figures. Enjoying as a pure music participant ought to get you shut however streaming, unfolding, or enjoying hi-res would possibly scale back that by 1-2 hours of complete battery life.
The N8ii can be QC3.0 (and PD2/3) fast charging appropriate which means from 20% to 80% in just below 2 hours which is spectacular for a battery of this dimension.
Packaging & Equipment
The Cayin N8ii package deal is a bit more conservative in comparison with the unique’s extra opulent aesthetics however is now fairly according to the styling from the Cayin C9 and N6ii retail packing containers.
This time it’s a extra compact and common jewelry-type fold-out field with the unit nestled in protecting foam on the highest layer and the equipment neatly packed in a slide-out case under.
Equipment embrace a nylon-jacketed USB-A to USB-C for charging, information switch, and USB-DAC duties, and a pleasant inexperienced leather-based case with good rear venting just like the HiBy R8 styling.
You additionally get two adapters, an L-shaped 2.5mm to 4.4mm and a 2.5mm to three.5mm adapter, in addition to one further tempered glass display screen protector.
Click on page 2 below for software and wireless performance
Click on page 3 below for sound impressions and pairings