Just in time for the 30th anniversary, Cayin brings a device that I have been eagerly waiting for.
The Cayin N7 is something like the successor to the great N6II-R01 and then again not.It does not have a classic DAC chip, but implements the digital-analog conversion using resistors - similar to the N6II with R01 module.Nevertheless, it is obviously not a classic R2R structure.
Cayin describes the N7's converter as "miniature 1-bit 4-rail DAC circuit with resistor network".
I haven't quite grasped what the whole thing means exactly and where exactly the differences lie.It is clear that the N7 can natively decode up to DSD512 and processes PCM up to 32 bit/768kHz.- Not bad! 🤩
And - similar to a classic R2R converter, the new circuit should sound very natural and "analog".In terms of price, however, Cayin placed the N7 in the middle between the N6II and the new N8II.But only in terms of price, mind you!
Because in terms of sound - I will go into this in more detail later - the N7 is much closer to the N8II than to the N6II.Actually damn close!
But let's take a closer look at the part first.
The packaging is chic and simple and contains everything you need.
The design language of the N7 has been adapted to that of its big brother, the N8II - at first glance, the two even look confusingly similar.The dimensions are also very similar.However, the N8II is thicker and heavier.
The "Sundial" of the N8II can also be found in the N8II.
After the blue-green cover of the N8II didn't go over so well, a new cover was designed in pale orange with gold - and also adopted it for the N7.
Quality and fit are very good and the biggest point of criticism has also been addressed: While the original N8II case is open at the top and the DAP is therefore unprotected at this point, the new case can be closed at the top with a magnetic closure.
The back has a polygonal pattern, which reflects depending on the incidence of light.
And the sound?
The headline already suggests it: What is offered here is at absolute flagship level.The technical equipment alone is impressive and can even surpass the N8II in some respects!
This also applies to the sound in some aspects.In my opinion, the N6II-R01 was able to beat the "old" N8 in terms of sound.It's not quite that simple here, but the N7 is very, very close to the N8II.
The N7 was based on the big brother N8II, but left out everything that was not absolutely necessary: no dual Korg Nutubes, no Power+ mode.The new 1-bit DSD DAC will have to do.You can only switch between Class A and A-B and the differences are marginal.
But: The N7 sounds incredibly clear, transparent and natural "out of the box".
The displayed details are at least on the same level as the N8II and the height has plenty of "sparkle".
Voices are brought to the fore a little further than on the N8II and sound wonderfully sonorous and haunting.The entire ensemble plays extremely coherently - every instrument, every voice is clearly distinguishable and locatable.
Channel separation is excellent - given the right IEM or headphones.
The stage display is particularly noteworthy, because in my opinion the N7 even surpasses the N8II.With a corresponding flagship - IEM or - headphones, it sounds really three-dimensional - great!
Last but not least, I would like to mention the bass, because it is really powerful.N8II and Hiby RS8 are not bad parents here, but the bass of the N7 tops both of them off.Depending on taste and headphones, this can be an advantage or disadvantage.
I immediately noticed that the already not weak Odin with the N7 in the "basement" generates significantly more pressure and "rumble" and with the Traiillii finally gets the bass that his BA drivers have so far denied stayed.
In other words: If you wanted more bass from your IEMs or headphones, you can get it with the N7!
I haven't had the Oriolus Traillii for a long time out of the closet - with the N7 it's as if I already have the Traillii Version 2 in my ears and I can hardly get enough of the details, the stage and the wonderfully powerful bass!
If you can do without the tube mode and Power+ of the N8II, you get an all-round carefree DAP with the N7, which not only sounds absolutely great, but also comes with a modern platform with Android 12 - and is also significantly cheaper , than the other flagship DAPs on the market.
In view of the performance and equipment offered, I would even like to talk about a competitive price! Well done, Cayin!
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