Cayin N3pro - thoughts and reflections

Petite, intriguing, enigmatic, commercially astute, linga yoni, personal stereophonic experience.

The Cayin N3pro is not my first rodeo into brokeback audio reviewing of mountains of gear over the years. I have previously had the pleasure of borrowing for a decent amount of time the Cayin N8 and Cayin N6ii with several modules. Cayin being generous in that they let me loan them with the caveat `just tell us what you think`, no pressure to write up a review, no `here is unit and write a review in two weeks` rubbish which is often the case with some other companies of which i just say `no thanks`.
Time is an elephant, but in these cases it is precious time. Not only for the more important life points of family, work and rest but to slowly take ones time to absorb a product in ones own way.
Others may choose to write exhaustive tomes on gear, i myself am past that. brevity is key.

Luckily Cayin gear is top notch and something i find a pleasure in using and listening to, so of course a write up of sorts is naturally formed with an easy path of no resistance.

If the gear bores me, bad or just plain ugly in sound and presentation i have no energy or inner impetus to write about it. If its covered on head pie these days i generally like or love it. Less time writing about gear that sucks or is just average or bottom feeder material saves my aural soul from the torture machines that might invade my ears.

Of course one never knows whether ger is going to be good, great or excellent until one uses it, but one can take a flying educated guess. plenty of reviewers out there these days to cover all spectrums so nothing is lost into the ether. fear not.

These days much of what reviewers had to dredge up from forums and their own explorations and findings from testing and general use is included on the companies website. 
Companies websites include all the pretty pictures, specs, descriptions and overview one needs a lot of the time these days. Of course reviewers and consumers views as boots on the ground is a helpful addition also when one is parting with what can be a sizable chunk of cash. especially in the annus horribilis of 2020.

The above really tells you all the basics of what you need to know when it comes to functions. Dap shopping 101 Choose your budget, save some more, decide what functions you want or need. Find that dap, then go for it.

More detailed information of the above here:

Cayin N3 pro user manual here:

Is this a review, impressions or a monologue???

The hope is satisfaction, in seeing the hard earned e-money not dissipated.

The Cayin N3pro dap clocks in at around US$479.
of course geography and sales etc may play a part in shifting prices but that is a general price or there abouts.

It is a mid fi dap, you get what you pay for. Yester years totl daps are todays mid fi daps. I loved the iBasso DX160, i think the Hidizs AP80 & pro are great along with other entry and mid fi daps that have been coming out. I have not tested or listened to all on the market thanks to CoVid-19 and the lack of shows and my lack of willingness to head to the local audio shop for some short and unpredictable demo sessions.

I would point my readers in the direction of Twister6 reviews. He usually gets sent most daps due to his constant consistency and work ethic. The benefit for us is we get one reviewers baseline over several years worth of experience and also he does comparisons between the daps.

But yet again i digress. Price sound, specs, descriptions etc etc pleeease.

Well it is Head pie and #headpiesucks .... :)
Plenty of no frills literature free reviews out there, why not take a walk in word salad park once in a while?

So mid fi, what can that mean in terms of daps? Well the good thing about daps is they generally fit into their price point in terms of overall performance and resolution if the company has a stable of them from entry level to totl.
One can hook them up to a headphone switcher, volume match them with a SPL meter and sit back and hear the general (insert audiophile buzzwords here) over performance improve.
Of course the user is also limited by earphones/headphones used in the process.
Entry level earphones, do they stay at an entry level or do the more totl daps open them up and add a certain something to their performance.
Totl earphones, do they get choked by the lower level daps or not, and perform as expected at their peak when moving up the chain etc etc.

it is generally expected that daps will follow a similar process also, having had several levels of Opus, FiiO, iBasso daps and performing this process for too many reviews to name i can attest this to be true in my experience.

Having the N6ii with various modules and the N3pro at the same time has been useful in that sense, that i could place the Cayin N3pro somewhere along the continuum line from entry to totl.

I do think that Cayin has priced it correctly. For functions and general performance it is not the N6ii and one should not expect it to be, nor is it a sub $300 model. I think they have found a sweet spot for pricing.

Beauty yields eternal hope, entropy adds dissolving processes into eternity

The main thing that catches people eyes initially is not only the choice of outputs and inputs, but the tubes, the tubes and of course the solid state option.

The Cayin site says:

Solid state: Stella dynamic and separation, recommended for music which requires authority and transparency.
Vacuum tube: Smooth, liquid and warm, shines with vocal and pop music.

Dual operation mode:

Triode and ultra-linear:
Change output power and sound signature instantly. Optimize your system for different music presentations.

Triode mode: Sophisticated and elegant, the sound stage will tighten up.
Images(?) is focused, mid-range will be more up-front.
For string and vocal-based music, songs that are intimated and refined.

Ultra-linear mode: Lively, clean and energetic, transients will be enhanced.
Sound stage will open up, a better sense of space and dimension.
For instrumental, songs that require punch, dynamics and control.

back to Head pie. i find these descriptions are correct enough to stand alone. I found that it was handy switching between the three options with various albums to be useful in finding what works best for your earphones and general choice of music, you might even change album to albums as needed.

Do note: 
The tubes (and SS) operate when using the 3.5mm only.
The balanced 4.4mm is for SS/solid state only.

I have had many a satisfied listening day with the Cayin N3 pro. Its cute size is a plus for a pocket and in hand. Also its size made it useful as a back up dap when out and about with a totl dap also, the tube option makes it an attractive secondary option.

I did not come to any favorites when choosing between solid state, triode or ultra linear but mixed and matched as the music demanded. I usually carry a 3.5mm and 4.4mm with me so i can mix and match between the outputs as desired in the moment.

I listen mostly from a heavily curated micro sd card. I do not have an extensive library, nor do i yearn after one. I know what i like and it fits on a modest sized card. i have read of some having issues with huge libraries. Often daps of this ilk have a 20,000 songs limit or so. also having multi, multi tiered folder systems do not always help in smooth running.
It does take 1TB cards, but from my days of ipod touches and taking photos and having to sacrifice albums one by one until only my favorite king of the hill albums were left like some musical battle royale - so i have main must have music and some that i might listen to occasionally.

Myself i drag and drop the albums over and have no sub folders and let the dap sort em out, if i can not find it under, album or artist i go to directory. I am lazy like that, then again i am from the age of buying actual albums and cassettes.
Others may go for more complex files systems, others may want to use it as a dac, a digital source, BT or cabled, paired with a phone etc for streaming.

Also remember that as there is a swipe down menu, there is also a swipe up settings menu (which i `cough` found later, lol).
read the manual folks (me!):

On Head-fi there is a thread where the Cayin rep is very active in replying and addressing any issues that users may have. Another reason to recommend Cayin (amongst a few other companies that do the same).

I don`t have much else to say. I like it. There are faster UI daps out there, more totl daps, smaller daps, more powerful daps. For me the Cayin N3pro occupies a space that was earlier empty in the audio sphere and it does it well. 
It is a mid fi dap that has class, easy to use and the above basic functions are pleasing to this user.

Also its very cute in its pretty case.


Dual Timbre: Vacuum Tube and Solid Dual (3.5mm single-ended only)
Dual Operation Mode: Triode and Ultra-linear (3.5mm Tube only)
Matched pair JAN6418 in mechanically suspended shock-absorption protection
Dual AK4493 DAC decodes up to 32Bit/384kHz and DSD256 native
Fully balanced design with 4.4mm and 3.5mm phone out
Powerful Headphone output, up to 800mW@32Ω Balanced
2 line out, 2 digital outputs, USB DAC
Hi-Res Wireless DAC (LDAC, UAT, AAC).

*From an earlier initial write up:

Many general queries about user interface, menus and such like are answered below in a visual sense. I also recommend you to check out the Cayin N3 Pro webpage which gives a good run down and general overview of its many functions.

Cayin N3pro Unveiling Pron

More to come in due course... its just been unboxed! But i have had a few hours playing around with it and am initially enamored with it.

Black background, dynamic depth and a generally beautiful listening experience.

After having had the N8 loaned a while back, and currently the N6ii on loan with a variety of daps it will be good to compare. Not to mention the generally positive word on the street about this latest player from Cayin.

I have delved into the solid state more than the tubes so far, as the journey has just begun...but it starts with a general positive impression that makes me want to listen more.

More detailed information here:

Nice to have the option to add the Hi-Res stickers yourself and starter guide book

Usb A to usb C for charging and data transfer etc

Plasticky case included. I will stick with the gorgeous green and metal special sauce case

Screen protectors already installed. A personal favorite.

Next to an iphone SE for size comparison

Smexy buttons

A variety of outputs

A micro sd card shaped plastic was inserted to protect the slot

Basic UI visual intro

System setting and music settings (always read the manual! ‘Doh!’

(Swipe up).

For more detailed information specs and whatnot visit the source:

N3 pro user manual:

Thank you to Cayin for sending the N3 pro for our thoughts and reflections


  1. I can't get the Cayin N3 Pro to crossfade when in that setting. It seems to do the same as gapless setting. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Sorry. The unit is out on loan to another reviewer for the last few months so i can not check. I recommend asking in the head-fi thread


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