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Cayin i5 Master Quality Portable Digital Audio Player Review

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Several months ago, Cayin announced and released their first ever Android based portable digital audio player in collaboration with HiBy Music – the Cayin i5 Master Quality Digital Audio Player. Digital audio players, or DAP for short, has been around for quite a number of years already. However, this year has become very interesting since more and more companies are producing what I call “smart DAPs”. And by smart DAPs I mean digital audio players that came with multi-function and features like a smartphone. We previously reviewed Luxury & Precision’s L5 Pro and the sound quality was really good. It has a touch screen display, but it was based on Linux, no swipe feature and doesn’t have any wireless connectivity. Then we reviewed the Opus#1 DAP, an Android based DAP with swipe feature but is limited to a purely music player only and no wireless connections. Then Cayin released the i5, based on Android Kitkat OS and features AKM4490 DAC. It has touch screen display with swipe function, wireless connectivity options, DAC function, third party app support and many more. Seems like the Cayin i5 is a very well rounded portable audio player. If you are in the market looking for a good DAP without costing you a kidney, please continue reading our review below and find out more about the Cayin i5.

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Cayin i5 Portable DAP Review

The Cayin i5 master quality digital audio player, what I think, is currently the most aggressive and innovative approach in their portable lineup. The i5 is actually the successor of the N5, which is also a mid-range DAP. The N6 if I am not mistaken, remains to be their flagship DAP; however it’s not as feature rich compared to the new Cayin i5.

The Cayin i5 is a product that resulted from the collaboration between Cayin and HiBy Music. Smartphone users who went looking for a music player app from the Google store may have already encountered the HiBy music player app. The one integrated on the i5 is similar to that app, but has more features and functions.

Let’s start with what’s under the hood of the i5. Later, we’ll take a closer look on the i5 itself and its user interface on the next succeeding pages. The Cayin i5 features an AKM4490 DAC chip, the same DAC chip you see on other high-end portable audio players and other D/A Converter devices. It supports a wide range of audio formats, including native DSD decoding and DST encoded SACD ISO. The AKM4490 accompanied by an AD712 Op-Amp with very low offset voltage and offset voltage drift, low noise and high speed; a Burr-B PGA2311 low noise digital-controlled analogue volume; and an OPA1652 for voltage amplification with two BuF 634 headphone amplification chips for increased headroom and maximizes dynamic range while maintaining and excellent audio performance.

These chips are basically the core components of the Cayin i5’s audio section. The processing is handled by an LC1813 Quadcore ARM Cortex A7 1.2GHz and a dual-core Mali 400 for graphics processing. The i5 draws its power from a huge 4800mAh battery, which is said to provide offline playback up to 11 hours and WiFi playback up to 10 hours. Of course, actual battery life will depend on your setup and use. The SoC is paired with a 1GB DDR3 memory and a 4GB + 32GB internal storage. The 4GB is for the system storage, while the 32GB is for the app and data storage. Aside from the internal storage, it has one micro SD card that supports up to 200GB of micro SD for storage expansion.

When it comes to connectivity options, the Cayin i5 has a standard 3.5mm headphone out and another 3.5mm line out. There’s also a Type C USB 3.0 port at the bottom which serves as its “all-in-one connection port”; from charging the unit, data transfer, S/PDIF out and for USB DAC function. It also has wireless connectivity options via WiFi 2.4GHz IEEE802.11 b/g/n standard with DLNA support; and Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP profile.

I think that’s about it for the internal section of the Cayin i5. The rest of its specifications and supported audio format can be read from the specs table below. After that, let’s proceed to the next page and take a closer look at the DAP itself and discuss more of its features.

Cayin i5 Specifications

Modeli5
ColorGun color
MCULeadcore LC1813 Quadcore Cortex A7 1.2GHz
DACAK4490EQ
FPGABHC2500A
Headphone Op-AmpBUF634 x2
VolumePGA2311
Internal Storage32GB
UI designCustom developed theme
Display3.97” IPS Display 800x480 resolution
ControlTouch Screen + Physical button + Volume Knob
OutputsPhone out (3.5mm)
Headphone Impedance Range8-300Ω (recommended)
ChassisCNC Aerospace Aluminum
Net Weight195 g
Dimension64mm x 126mm x 14mm
Phone Out
Power rating190mW+190mW (@32Ω)
THD+N0.006% (1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
SNR108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
Frequency Response20-20kHz (±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz)
5-50kHz (±1dB,Fs=192kHz)
Dynamic Range108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
Output Impedance≤1Ω
Line Out
Output Level1.0V (@10kΩ)
THD+N0.005% (1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
SNR108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
Frequency Response20-20kHz (±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz)
5-50kHz (±1dB,Fs=192kHz)
Dynamic Range108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
USB DAC  
USB ModeAsynchronized USB Audio 2.0 Class
PCMUp to 384kHz/32Bit
MAC OS XSupport
AndroidNot Support
DSDUp to DSD128
WindowsSupport (Driver required)
iOSNot Support
Power Specification                
Battery4800mAh 3.8V Lithium ion polymer
Charging time~4.5 HRS (with 2A Charger, not provided)
Battery duration~10 HRS
Charging Current≤1500mA when charge with 2A Charger,≤500mA when charge with computer USB port
Music Format (Local Storage)
DSFNative hardware decode  DSD64 and DSD128
DFFNative hardware decode  DSD64 and DSD128
SACD-ISONative hardware decode  DSD64 and DSD128
APESupport 16-32bits, Fast/Normal /High/Extra High compression level
FLACUp to 384kHz/32bit
WAVUp to 384kHz/32bit
AIFFUp to 384kHz/32bit
ALACUp to 384kHz/32bit
WMAUp to 96kHz/24bit
WMA LosslessUp to 96kHz/24bit
MP2/MP3Up to 48kHz/16bit
AACUp to 48kHz/16bit
OGGUp to 48kHz/16bit

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