Cayin N8 - DAP - Official Thread

There may still be one in our warehouse… who knows?

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Stop it!!! :wink:
@taronlissimore I would probably pick up the Focal Stelia first lol… I still need to sell off a couple of my headphones and gear I don’t use…

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I hear you have a set of absolutely gorgeous ZMF Aelous with an anxious full-original-price buyer waiting in the wings …

(You just set yourself up for this stuff … :wink: )

I will say the N8 is magnificent with the Stellia, and the Vérité … and pretty much every other headphone or IEM I’ve tried it with (it’s a bit light on power for the LCD-4 and Abyss).

If using the N8 just as a desktop DAC (USB in, SE or BAL out) it is hard to classify. I’d still put it ahead of the RME ADI-2 DAC, my long-time-favorite Yggdrasil (Analog 2) is more different than necessarily better (they both have their strengths) … not sure exactly what I’d equate it to here …

And at this point, I can’t name a better DAC/amp at any price.

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Library Indexing

  • Album mode works perfectly, as far as I can tell.

  • Genre mode, as previously mentioned, isn’t very useful.

  • Song mode, while almost completely useless on any player (for me), also works correctly.

  • Artist mode, is quite literal (I thought it wasn’t working correctly at first) … it lists artists, then sub-groups by album. It uses the Artist field, not the Album Artist field to do this, so when you get to an Album this way it only shows the tracks by that Artist (not all the tracks in the Album).

Album Art

I haven’t figure out why, yet, but some album art doesn’t display. It seems to be limited to my Needledrop-generated files, but not all of them. So either there’s an issue with some aspect of embedded art (resolution, format etc.) or there’s something else going on. All the embedded art should be in baseline .JPG format, as the Sony WM1Z will only display baseline-encoded images, but it’s possible there’s a size or resolution limit there (or it could just be general weirdness).


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@Torq is there a possibility to get a LPGT loaner from headphones.com in order to compare those two flagships. Also, maybe I didn’t find it in this thread, but how does the Stellia pair with the N8?

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I don’t believe headphones.com are a Lotoo dealer, so probably not. I can probably source one anyway, but if so it’d be a while before I got a chance to review it - I have quite the backlog of stuff I have auditioned but still need to write up*.

As for the Stellia with the N8 … it’s a fantastic pairing. I absolutely love the combination. And this applies regardless of whether you’re using the balanced solid-state output, which is the most accurate way to listen with these two units, or whether I feel like indulging in the richer, lusher, presentation from the N8’s single-ended “tube” output.

Most of my “listening for pleasure” time with the N8 has been split between the Stellia, the Vérité and the tia Fourté. All are a decadent experience. The N8 works beautifully with almost all my other headphones too, but the above are where my time has been focused so far.

And unlike with most DAPs, where once the “new toy” syndrome has worn off they tend to get relegated to being used pretty much only when needed (not because they aren’t engaging to listen to … I just typically find DAPs and IEMs to be fiddlier than I want to deal with if I don’t have to), the N8 has me grabbing it and my Stellia and heading outside to the deck just because I have some time where I can do so. And sometimes even when I don’t have the time for it!

The only headphones I’ve not found to pair that well with the N8 so far are the LCD-4 and Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC. This is purely about power. And both still sound very good out of the N8 - they just don’t hit their maximum potential without more power on tap (I could say the same about driving those particular headphones directly out of my DAVE, too).

And the Stellia, similarly, pair well with everything I’ve tried them with except for OTL tube amps, where they get very loose and excitable in the lower frequencies (which is completely expected for a low-impedance headphone on an OTL amp). Even with inexpensive setups, like the array of popular $200 stacks, the Stellia sound excellent, though they’re revealing enough of what drives them that they will make any shortcomings with such setups quite apparent (of course … you need to have heard them driven in more resolving/capable chains for that to apply).


*This is one reason why, going forward, my reviews are going to shift in focus to high-end gear - possibly just TOTL and flagship pieces - there’s just too much to keep up with otherwise.

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Couldn’t let @Torq have all the fun! After some back and forth we decided to bring our other unit to the office to play with since he made it too tempting to pass up. Please ignore the giant air pocket under the screen protector. I was a little too antsy to start playing the Cayin N8 and put the screen protector on with not as much care as I should have. I went back and fixed it though.

Man this thing is a beast. I’ve only had some time to play with it combined with the Customart FIBAE 4 IEMs and naturally almost all of that was in the tube mode. The sound coming from the Cayin N8 in tube mode is actually intoxicating. I’m planning on taking this to CanJam and testing it with quite a few different pairings.

One immediate drawback that was mentioned earlier was that no streaming services are available and will not be made available. My office hard drive is full of pictures of headphones so there is no room for High-Res music in there. But the people buying the N8 will have libraries full of music so I don’t see that being a detractor for the target audience of the N8.

Back to listening to some Joy Division for the evening!

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That Cayin sound is just so addictive! Shame the N8 doesn’t offer streaming capability, but I think that’s a direct response from the issues the N5ii and iiS were having; chances are that Cayin didn’t want to have to deal with it on yet another device.

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@taronlissimore AWESOME pictures!!

And now “you’ve done it” … when I get finished with today’s “Madonna Kick” (inspired by her new release … and just having bought the remaining albums in her catalog that I didn’t already own), I shall have to load up my Joy Division (and “New Order”) catalog …

I haven’t said much about the N8 recently.

This is mostly because I’ve been completely distracted by the RAAL-requisite SR1a, since they arrived.

But … my enthusiasm for the N8 has not abated one jot.

Today I decided to use it’s (included) balanced output cables/adapter and use it in place of my M-Scaler/DAVE chain into the Phonitor X/dual-mono Schiit Vidar’s currently driving the SR1a (hey, they had to factor into this somewhere) …

Even in the face of the SR1a’s ruthlessly “take-no-prisoners” resolution, speed and immediacy, I remain of the opinion that the N8 is a serious desktop-class experience.

Give me the N8, the ZMF Vérité … and the tia Fourté, and I am going to be touring the world with a portable system capable of first-rate musical engagement, enjoyment, and technical performance.

I would love it if this thing could natively stream from, well, anything, if ideally TIDAL and Qobuz. But even without that capability it’s an incredibly compelling setup. It sounds so good that I am, uncharacteristically, willing to overlook that.

Now, “Substance”, the Ziricote Vérité, an Elliot Bay sunset, and a little Latour beckon …

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A recent observation …

In “normal” use, powering off the N8 and leaving it for a bit results in a battery depletion of 2-3% per day.

For reasons I haven’t figured out yet, you can fully power the thing off, with 100% charge, and come back the next day and have the battery at 0%. This is likely some weird software issues, and does not happen all the time, bu it’s annoying when it happens.

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Not very far into to it …

… but “Substance” (New Order, formerly Joy Division) with the Cayin N8 and the un-burned-in ZMF Vérité Ziricote … is nothing less than mesmerizing.

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You just like that your name is on the door, in this music video :thinking::face_with_monocle::smirk:

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Msr. Curtis be praised!

:wink:

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I have not used the N8 with a full-sized set of cans yet, only IEMs. @andrew is debating on bringing the Sennheiser HD 820 for the CanJam flight so if that’s the case that will most likely be the first full-sized headphones.

I continued listening last night by following up with some Foo Fighters and spent a bunch of time playing between the Solid State and Vacuum Tube modes. I can tell that the majority of my listening this weekend will be done with the Vacuum Tubes. I’m bringing along the Solaris, Polaris, Io, Atlas Fibae 4 and A&K Billie Jeans for some IEM testing with it and I’ll be playing around with all the other goodies that’s packed into this beast.

I will say right away though that while the case Cayin adds is nice, I find that it hampers the ability to use the volume control as well as the selector as it fits a little too snug. I’ll give it some more time in the case and see how I feel about it but right now I definitely prefer it out of the case.

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I love me some New Order and Joy Division. Highly recommend watching 24 Hour Party People and Control if you haven’t already. :slight_smile:

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So…where are you staying…and what is your room number? :wink:

I put the case on to see how it fit. I took some pictures of it in the case for my upcoming review. I took the case off and put it back in the box and haven’t even thought about it since. It’s a clever design, and nicely made but it does, as you say, make operating the unit more challenging.

So my N8 has been living in a little micro-fiber sleeve/case.

Turns out that the intermittent “Why has the battery drained to zero?!” issue I was having with the N8 is due to that little micro-fiber case. The elastic closure was sitting on the power button and holding it in, basically turning it on and keeping it powered up.

Never happens if its on the desks even for days at a time.

I figure it was just the auto-shutdown not working 100% of the time, but it’s actually a much simpler explanation (and easily fixed now I know what it is).

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“…and knowing is half the battle!”

:thinking:

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I could post this equally either in this thread, or in the Vérité thread … but taking a break from the SR1a for a bit to indulge in yesterday’s arrival of the Ziricote Vérité …

… listening on the deck, in both balanced and single-ended (tube) mode, the N8/Vérité pairing is just divine (and especially so in tube mode).

Time to close the laptop and my eyes and see you on the other side!

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