Everything viewed in retrospect. For a company of firsts, Cayin Audio saved the best for last. With the announcement of N6II/R01, a discrete R2R ladder DAC built from 96 individual, precisely matched resistors, it reaffirms everything Head-Fi’s first fully modular, multi-DAC/amp player stood for upon launch in 2019.
Until R01, N6II hadn’t been a music player that sold itself. A cursory look at published specs didn’t excite nor differentiate itself from the playing field. But then, N6II never aimed to. After all, anyone can read a brochure. Cayin made the interested dig a bit deeper when considering what in all respects is a groundbreaking player fundamentals at heart.
Really, N6II made the interested listen a bit deeper. Faced with five different sounding modules and an infinite number of possible pairings, it was clear you had to lay your own groundwork, do the homework.
Suddenly, enter resistor ladder DAC R01, arriving on the scene to tell you resistance is futile. R01 breaks new ground not just because it breaks new ground for a portable, smart, fully Android and Google Play player. But also because it’s arguably the first N6II motherboard to sell itself.
There's genuine excitement about R01.
Imagine, from Cayin's mouth:
The R-2R DAC in the N6II/R01 version is a 24-bit dual-channel circuit structure, with a total of 23 R resistors and 25 2R resistors, for a total of 96 R-2R resistors for both channels. The root of R2R is that the designer wants to take tuning of the sound as the first priority, until the final goal is achieved. This is fundamentally different from the use of integrated circuit DAC chips and will cause much more work to designers.
This ultra-high precision, low temperature drift, film resistor from Taiwan’s Viking Resistor is very expensive. Cayin use R-2R resistor networks parts with an accuracy of 0.01 per cent for the most basic guarantee of matching so that the resistor error itself is down to a relatively low level. The temperature coefficient of resistance means we can ensure the accuracy of matching and the relative stability of the work under different scenarios.
Ridiculous to attempt in a portable music player, perhaps. Name thy disadvantages: parts, labour, time, cost, cost, cost. But then Cayin's pain, your gain. Is it really that surprising from a company that's always revolutionised, never recycling.
Especially for the pleasure business: naturally detailed and unfatiguing digital audio synonymous with R2R DACs, to confirm the resurgence of the format in all corners of audio, extending to portable use.
N6II and now R01 opens up a new world of possibilities, its relative affordability for an R2R pairing with the ability to listen to it consuming all kinds of media. PCM or DSD, Spotify or Tidal. The niche of R2R takes a step towards the norm. Music's meant to be easy, not esoteric.
And Cayin make it easy to enjoy R01's innovation. From the same people to first put a tube in a music player, to the same people who gave Head-Fi its first modular, multi-DAC/amp player, arrives the first smart, fully Android, R2R DAP. We promise it won't be Cayin's last instance of innovation.