Shine bright like a… Fantasy!
PROS: a solid stainless-steel design, mid-forward sound sig with revealing tonality and focus on transparency, clarity, and micro-details, premium packaging and accessories.
CONS: the sound is VERY eartips dependent, some might find bass too neutral or overall tonality too revealing, shells have some heft.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
When it comes to single DD iems, it’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get… in terms of tuning. It is more challenging for manufacturers because you are dealing with a single building block of a wide bandwidth dynamic driver that has to cover entire frequency range. So, the tuning could go either way, and you never know what to expect the first time DD iems are in your ears, out of the box. I was also surprised since this is a second IEM release from Cayin, a company well known for their DAPs and DAC/amps. The first one was a quad-BA YB04, and I would have expected the follow up to be a hybrid. But instead, they announced Fantasy IEM, a single DD design model YD01.
When Fantasy arrived and after taking my time to appreciate the looks, I didn’t hesitate to put them in my ears with one of the included silicone pairs of eartips, and within seconds found them to sound bright. Knowing that manufacturers often recommend a burn in period for their DDs, I let them play for about 4-5 days in hope that sound will mature and settle in. After I came back and went through all the stock eartips, including a number from my own personal collection, I still wasn’t at ease with the tuning. Of course, this is a part where I should add that sound preference is a matter of a personal taste, and I wouldn’t waste my time working on a review of something I didn’t enjoy. So, the big question is what has changed my mind to continue working on this review?
As already mentioned, I went through a lot of silicone eartips and also tried the included foam eartips. Still, even after the burn-in, I felt like lower treble was a bit too harsh for my taste, until I realized that 2 pairs of included foamies were of the same size, both medium. When I reached out to Andy of Cayin, he confirmed, it wasn’t a mistake. Due to wear of foam eartips they decided to include a more common medium size with a pair to spare. Since I have the same foam eartips in large size from other iems, I decided to try it and had an instantaneous Eureka moment! All of a sudden it was like listening to an updated pair of IEMs, and I was ready to dive into more listening to continue with my review which I would like to share with you today!
Unboxing and Accessories.
I found the unboxing experience of Fantasy IEMs to be very satisfying. The whole presentation of the packaging was “layered” and well thought out, starting with an outer sleeve cutout at the top to reveal the outline of Fantasy shells printed underneath on the top cover of the packaging box. And to make it easier to slide out the packaging box, the sleeve has another cutout on the side to push the box through, a small yet very convenient detail.
With box out, you have 2 magnetic split covers on the top, one cover flips up to reveal Fantasy iems, showcased inside of a secure cutout like 2 jewelries, and the other cover flips open to reveal the side of the box with 2 slide-out drawers filled with accessories.
One drawer has storage for 12 included pairs of eartips: 3 pairs (S/M/L) of “balanced” all gray silicone eartips, 3 pairs (S/M/L) of “vocal” silicone eartips with red core, 3 pairs of (S/M/L) of “bass” silicone eartips with a black core, a pair of bi-flange large eartips, and two pairs of generic medium size foam eartips. Also included was a soft leather (or maybe pleather) storage pouch with 2 separate internal mesh pockets, very smart to keep metal shells of IEMs away from each other so they wouldn’t bang or scratch.
The drawer at the bottom had a box with IEM cable which I’m going to talk about more in the next section, and another box with miscellaneous accessories, such as a large piece of cleaning cloth, a cable clip, a cleaning brush, user manual, and also plastic tweezers. I didn’t see tweezers listed on Cayin website as part of original accessories, but glad they included those which helps with removal of eartips from the cutouts of the drawer storage.
The included cable looks and feels premium and uses 4 hybrid twisted wires, each one with 38-strands conductors. The ratio of strands in each wire is 8x 6N purity OCC copper (0.08mm each) and 30x Silver-Plated copper (0.05mm each). Wires have a clear flexible jacket and feel very supple. Overall, the cable feels durable, and even rated as having 200D break-proof wire.
The cable has a straight 3.5mm SE TRS plug with a shiny stainless still hexagon housing that matches Fantasy shells and also a rubbery strain relief. Then, you will find a matching hexagon y-split with the same shape and finish as plug, wire strain relief on a common side and rubbery chin-slider on the split side. Going up to 2pin 0.78mm connectors you have a clear heatshrink forming a pre-shaped earhook.
The housing mold of 2pin connector is angled, clear, marked with red/blue dots to id right/left side, and has a non-recessed extruded design that extends and wraps around the pins for a more secure mating with a shell plug. The connector uses standard 0.78mm pins, but because of the custom housing you can’t use it with other 2pin IEMs. But you can use any other 2pin aftermarket cables with Fantasy shells.
I do have to admit that I was a bit surprised that only 3.5mm cable was provided. While you don’t need to use BAL output with its extra power, in many of today’s sources 4.4mm BAL output is superior in technical performance when it comes to wider soundstage and lower noise floor. Of course, you can use any 2pin replacement cable, but those will not have as clean wraparound look when connected with the shell like a stock cable with its custom connector housing. Maybe in the future Cayin would consider a modular cable plug design to accommodate various connection options with a single cable.