Cayin N6ii

Comparison.

Every audio player has its own Pros and Cons, and you will have to figure out which ones are at the top of your priority list when deciding on your next DAP.  The notes below focus more on the sound characteristics, and I was using 64 Audio U18t for monitoring, volume matched in every comparison. But when comparing the rest, keep in mind N6ii battery life, full open Android OS with access to Google Play, dual band WiFi, Bluetooth w/LDAC and aptX, 4.4mm BAL output and it’s power rating.

N6ii vs iBasso DX220 (w/amp8 & amp9) – DX228 soundstage is a little wider; doesn’t mean N6ii staging is narrow, just under my test conditions I hear DX228 having a little edge. N6ii sound has fuller body (especially in lower mids), smoother more musical tonality, with deeper sub-bass and a little more relaxed (slower attack) mid-bass impact, more organic mids, and smoother treble response in comparison to a more transparent, more neutral sound of DX228 with a faster, tighter bass, more revealing less colored mids, and a touch more sparkle in treble.  When compared to DX220 w/amp9, I still hear soundstage of DX229 being a little wider, and now having a fuller body which brings it closer to N6ii performance.  I actually hear a lot of similarities in sound between N6ii and DX229, but DX229 bass has a little deeper sub-bass rumble, and lower mids have a touch fuller body, making its overall sound a little smoother and warmer in comparison to N6ii.

cayin_n6ii-x18

N6ii vs Lotoo PAW Gold Touch (LPGT) – similar soundstage width. N6ii tonality has a fuller warmer more natural body (especially in lower mids) vs LGPT being more transparent, brighter, leaner. Both have a deep low end extension, but N6ii bass has a little more impact, the bass (N6ii) sounds more analog with a slower attack and longer decay vs LPGT having a tighter faster bass. N6ii mids/vocals are thicker, warmer, more organic, while LPGT is brighter and more revealing. Also, LPGT treble is crisper and airier.

N6ii vs Cowon Plenue L – very similar soundstage width. There are a lot of similarities in tonality and sound presentation between these two DAPs. Both have a deeper, more relaxed low end with a more analog flavor. Both have a fuller body more natural mids, though I’m hearing N6ii sounding just a touch warmer and fuller. But one noticeable difference is in treble, where N6ii presents treble in a smoother, more organic way, while PL has a brighter, crisper, more extended treble.

N6ii vs A&K SP1000 SS – N6ii soundstage is a touch wider than SPK, under my test conditions. The sound signatures are closer in tonality, being more natural, more musical, not as revealing, but there are some subtle differences. SPK bass is a little faster while N6ii bass is a little more relaxed, with more analog texture. Lower mids in N6ii have a little more body, actually reminding me a lot of SPKM Gold tonality (or SPK CU), especially in lower mids, while SPK SS is a little more neutral in comparison. Also, I find that SPK SS has a little more sparkle in treble.

N6ii vs Sony WM1Z – N6ii soundstage is a touch wider than 1Z, under my test conditions. N6ii sound is a little more organic with a fuller body, while 1Z is a little more neutral. Both have a very similar bass extension and impact, and to my ears the bass in both has a touch of analog texture. But I do hear the bass attack a little faster in 1Z. Mids are a little leaner, more neutral in 1Z, while N6ii has a little warmer, smoother presentation of mids. Also, 1Z treble is a little crisper, brighter, slightly more elevated.

N6ii vs Hiby R6Pro – I hear a lot of overall similarities between these two DAPs. Soundstage expansion has a similar width, maybe with N6ii being just a touch wider. Both have a similar bass extension and bass impact, except N6ii sounds a touch more relaxed, while R6Pro is a little faster. Both have fuller body lower mids and more natural upper mids, but N6ii is a little smoother and more organic, takes just an edge off R6Pro. Also, treble is a little smoother and a touch less crisp in N6ii, giving it a little more natural tonality. One difference I did notice, N6ii has a slightly better sound dynamics with improved layering and separation of sounds. I mentioned this in a few other recent DAP comparisons; it doesn’t mean that R6Pro is congested/compressed, just that I find other DAPs to have a slight edge over it.

N6ii vs Cayin N5iiS – N6ii has a wider soundstage, a little smoother tonality, slightly more body in mids, and a little less sparkle in treble. Also, N6ii has a superior technical performance with better dynamics, and improved layering and separation of sounds. I wouldn’t say exactly night’n’day difference, but you can clearly hear the performance of N6ii being superior over N5iiS.

N6ii vs Cayin N6 – N6ii has a wider soundstage. There is a difference in tonality with N6ii being warmer, smoother, more laidback, while N6 being brighter, crisper, more revealing. N6ii has more sub-bass rumble, better extension, fuller body in lower mids, and smoother treble, while N6 sound has a faster bass, leaner mids, and crisper treble. It’s hard to believe how much this DAP evolved in 4.5 years from N6 to N6ii.

cayin_n6ii-x19

Conclusion.

Every time I receive a new DAP for review, the first question I hear from my readers “which DAP sounds better?” The problem is while the price gap is still pretty wide, the sound performance among flagship level DAPs starting to get closer. One of the more noticeable differences is in tonality which will affect the pair up synergy with your favorite IEMs or full size headphones.

While testing N6ii, I found its sound to be different from many of my other DAPs, offering a smoother and more musical tonality, with more analog texture, slightly laidback presentation, and fuller body with a touch less treble sparkle. It makes no sense to describe it as the best or the better, when in reality it’s different and unique, and will be up to a personal sound preference.

What I can objectively say, N6ii has a fast processor with a snappy Android performance and access to Google Play to download your favorite streaming and other entertainment apps. It has a rather impressive battery life, and it features a more reliable 4.4mm BAL headphone output with 530mW of power (@32 ohm load), which also doubles as a balanced Line Output. It has a good design ergonomics, and I especially like the convenience of volume wheel and a power button combination (like in A&K DAPs). And last, but certainly not least, is the main selling point of N6ii modular design where you can replace its DAC/amp combo to update the sound signature.

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19 thoughts on “Cayin N6ii

  1. very impressive and detailed review , useful

    get the signature of the DAP

    from the comparison of sony WM1Z , seems n6ii get close to it , but at a much lower price , interesting , though WM1z already very warm to me , n6ii even warmer may not suitable for some music category

    Thanks again

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  2. Hi, Thanks for the preview!! Can you please comment on the differences as you personally perceive them between n6 mk2 and the DX229 please? Thanks again!!

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      1. Can’t wait for your review man! I’m loving the N6ii so far– it pairs with my Solaris beautifully.

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      2. Thanks man, in theory this N6ii review is almost done, just need to finalize it with a few updates. But I’m truly loving it. And btw, you did a good job with your N6ii review on HF 😉

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  3. This dap paired with the Meze Rai Penta (4.4mm balanced cable) was one of the stars of the recent CanJam London for me.

    I’d visted the Meze stand to hear the Rai Penta & initially used my own sources (Pioneer 300R and QPR1) which proved to be disappointing – not bad as such, but underwhelming given the hype around the Rai Penta.

    Spotted they had the N6ii on the table & thought I’d give it a whirl… Stunning pairing that elevates the Rai Penta into a different league.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was about to place an order here in the UK but decided against it. Can’t believe that a £999 product comes with 1 year worth of warranty with no means to extend it.

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    1. saw your post on head-fi 😀 did you contact Cayin to clarify it? I thought it’s pretty standard with all dap manufacturers, but tbh, in many cases your distributors make exceptions sometimes. Since you are from UK, I assume you were planning to buy it from Phil/AC, right? Maybe talk to him as well.

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      1. Hey, thanks for getting back to me.

        Phil has no stock at the moment. The only other place to stock it is a shop I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

        I am shocked by Cayin’s English website, their reply to me via Facebook messenger was very vague too..

        A bit of a shame as this could’ve been my first proper good DAP.

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      2. Certainly, I just bought an oBravo Cupid from him, top guy. So yeah, we’re definitely on the same page here 🙂

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      3. Btw, maybe it’s for the best that you didn’t get N6ii yet 😉 I just received their new T01 card with dual pcm 1792a dac and so far it sounds really good!!! Already posted pics on head-fi in N6ii thread. I heard that moving forward cayin will offer N6ii with either A01 or T01. So, don’t rush to order yours yet.

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      4. Now that’s a great piece of advice :p
        Keep up the great work with your reviews, I am mightily impressed!

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    1. Will be reviewing R2R2k red soon. When it comes to sound, Red has a more transparent less colored sound and a wider soundstage expansion. N6ii has a smoother, warmer, more musical performance and more intimate soundstage, though Cayin just teased with upcoming E01 dac/amp module. Hopefully to be released by Xmas.

      Liked by 1 person

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