Cayin N3 Pro
“Anticipated but unpredictable” is the slogan that fronts Cayin Audio’s N3 Pro tube output player, and isn’t that an apt statement. This actual Raytheon JAN6418 vacuum tube entry-level music player from Head-Fi's tube specialists packs a dual operation (triode or ultra-linear) mode from its 3.5mm output.
That's before you want to enjoy the detail its 4.4mm solid-state output unearths from dual AKM4493 DAC chips. The switch from emotion to precision is stark – the expectations that follow from the entry tier of portable players completely surpassed.
Naturally open, tube mode isn't shy passing high-frequency information – perfect for opening up the sound of Acoustune's HS1695TI, Campfire Audio's Solaris 2020, Ikko Audio's OH7, Sony's IER-M9, and even the Empire Ears Legend X and Valkyrie II.
It's a story that sells itself before its sound does, another on Cayin's long list of firsts told in the form of 10 pages that you can read here. Not content to say they offer the first vacuum tubes in a music player, the ability to toggle amounts of negative feedback via triode and ultra-linear mode is unsurpassed and documented separately here.