Cayin i-HA6 - Impressions, opinion

Discussion in 'Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by gbeast, Jul 17, 2016.

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  1. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    So I recently wrote up a review of this amp. However, I feel like it was wayyyy tooo long, wayyyy too wordy and not concise enough. And I missed out on some aspects. In short, this amp is very good for the money. I think its WOF status is very deserved.

    In case anyone is interested in the amp I figured I would give a run down of my impressions of it. I am considering owning it at some point but haven't made up my mind. With all this new gear coming out I don't know what the freak to do.

    Impressions:

    Pros:

    • Resolution: I believe this amp is pretty resolving. It gives off an immediate sense of speed and clarity. The transparency is excellent for such a small hefty little amp. I could hear a good amount of microdetails. Micro dynamics are okay as well. If I only had a grand and wanted the best transparency I could get I would hop on this amp.
    • Neutrality: Pretty much as flat as it gets, There is a treble sheen to this amp that is noticeable and a flatness throughout the frequency range but I didn't hear a lot of hard etchiness. The treble texture is open and kind of soft but very much present in balance. Sparkle- this amp does it but in a non scratchy fashion. I guess I mean the treble is refined but not super solid or glaring. It has some edge but not much scratch. The midrange is very balanced and fast. The lower mids are flat and the upper mids are present. Words like lush, euphonic, organic or warm may not apply to this amp.
    • Bass: is flat but pretty much free of bloat and extra warmth. If you are looking for an amp to firm up a headphone with weak bass keep looking unless in the case of a headphone like the Omni, sheer power helps the bass. I won't call it lacking, just flat. If you already have a headphone that has good bass then this won't screw it up but rather play it like it is. I actually appreciate the control this amp has. It is decently solid and can be punchy with the right headphone pairing through the balanced jack.
    • Separation: Pretty good just not on the level of my Trafomatic Head 2 amp. I never get a sense of blending but the fast sound, average tonal density, only slightly above average soundstage, and less than exceptional depth prevent me from experiencing that wonderful layering effect some other amps may offer. It is technically a capable amp for the price though. It shows here as well.
    • Price: 999 that means a used one can be even found eventually for 700 and that is a very good price.
    • Build: Who says the Chinese can't build quality products?... You need to hold, listen, and even open this piece of gear for proof of the opposite.
    • Good with most headphones: I had little synergy issues except for the Audeze LCD2.F and it not sounding like a tube amp for the HD800S...because it def sounds solid state.
    • Power: 7W into 32 ohms
    On the fence:
    • Soundstage: I guess this is due to the company it was in during my time with it. It had a decent soundstage but nothing really to boast about. Slightly round but not really wide or deep. For a solid state I feel it didnt hold the HD800S back but it didn't really compliment it either. The Airist Heron 5 is exceptionally wider. The Nuprime HPA-9 is slightly deeper. My TH2 is slightly wider but tons deeper. I didn't feel boxed in by the soundstage so that is why I am on the fence about it.
    • Treble: I feel this amp is a bit bright. Cayin can be known for their sparkle. I don't believe it is prickly but overall I would prefer it to be just a hair less in presence. Again I am on the fence about it because with a headphone like the Kennerton Vali it is very much welcomed. The HD650 however, for my tastes, didn't need the extra presence, but soaked up the extra speed. I just feel like for the 650 it further exposed it's graininess.
    Cons:
    • Jacks: Despite it being relatively low noise and clean with sensitive headphones, and having a high impedance and low impedance jack, EVERYTHING SOUNDS BETTER BALANCED with it. The HD800S sounded okay through the high impedance jack but the other jacks seemed a bit soft in dynamics and punch. It only sounds punchy and dynamic using it balanced.
    • Layering: I'd prefer better heft of tone to compliment its decent separation. This in my opinion helps the layering because dense tones have a better time at keeping from getting blended in complex and busy music. Good separation, Deep soundstage, Heavy and solid tones = good layering. This is missing the last two aspects in my opinion. Maybe this is only because my TH2 excels in this area and may not be a good reference. Usually good tube amps do better than solid state here anyway.
    woops...well looking up I didn't expect to type as much as I did....wordy as usual and with tons of errors like most times but I believe this gives a good idea of what this amp is all about...what the heck here are some comparisons with amps that are just about as unpopular.

    Breif comparisons:
    Heron 5
    - 989 MSRP: The Airist is a lot wider, a lot airier even though just a little less bright. The 5 is even flatter in soundstage and worse in layering, has better midrange tonality, less resolving, less detailed, a lot less dynamic, less transparent but close. Softer and less dense bass, less bass. It is less powerful, takes up more desktop space and is not balanced.
    Bonus: On Massdrop for 750 it is still a good amp for the right headphone due to its relatively good level of clarity, wide open sound, and gorgeous midrange tonality (haven't heard a better tuned midrange as far as balance goes yet)

    Nuprime HPA-9 649 MSRP: Similar soundstage, more bass, warmer lower midrange, slightly hazier separation, punchier as a single ended amp but the Cayin is just as punchy/dynamic when using it balanced. The cayin is faster, clearer, more detailed, and more powerful.

    The Cayin sounds in a different league compared to the other two above despite it losing on minor things.

    Trafomatic Head 2 MSRP 2500 stock tubes: Cayin is the better value since it is just as transparent compared to the TH2 with stock tubes (better tubes improve clarity) It is also a better match with hard to power planars. The bass, while less solid and hefty in tone can also have less fuzziness around it (depending on the headphones since the TH2 actually has no fuzziness with the 800S bass). The TH2 however when matched with the proper headphone pretty much bests it in every area. Especially with the HD650 the TH2 has better depth, layering, details, bass, tonality, texture, density....yadda yadda...
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016

  2. takato14

    takato14 Doglover

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    Getting me very excited for this piece of kit, for sure...
     
  3. Warrior

    Warrior Friend

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    Nice write up. Cayin builds some good shit. I like what they do.
     
  4. gbeast

    gbeast Mighty Moral Power Ranger

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    Once they get good distribution to the US then it will be available. Right now you can only get it through Canada.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016

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