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Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player – No Bluetooth or WiFi, but the finest tube sound

The new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player is a DAP that is designed for the finest sound from a technical point of view, without Bluetooth or WiFi, but with not only solid-state but also classic tube technology in the output stage.

Story Highlights
  • Cayin now presents the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player as a new DAP with an output stage based on tube technology.

Solid state or tube, this question is asked by HiFi enthusiasts in the field of amplifier systems, but in this case also with a so-called DAP, a digital audio player, namely the latest model from Cayin Audio, the Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player. In addition to a variety of very exciting features, the new Cayin N3Ultra also offers a tube output stage.

This tube output stage is based on particularly robust tubes, so-called Military Grade NOS Vacuum Tubes, as well as a proprietary circuit developed by Cayin, which is said to be in its third generation.

Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player – Compact in size

First of all, it should be noted that the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player is a comparatively compact portable Hi-res audio player, especially with regard to the features offered here, as it measures no more than 125 x 65.5 x 19.5 mm and thus weighs 204 g.

The housing has the tried-and-tested, extremely solid design, with the 4.1-inch TFT multi-touch screen with a resolution of 720 x 1,280 pixels taking up most of the front.

There is a rotary encoder and a few buttons on the sides, while all connections are located on the top and bottom, and there are quite a few of them here.


Firstly, there are USB-C ports for direct connection to a PC or Mac, as the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player can of course be used as a compact D/A converter. A direct connection to a smartphone or tablet is also possible so that the Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player can also be used as an outstanding D/A converter in this “interaction”.

The USB-C port can also be used as an output to bring an external D/A converter into play, for example. The USB-C port can also be used as an S/PDIF.

3.5 mm stereo mini jack and 4.4 mm Pentaconn

The new Cayin N3Ultra digital audio player has two options for connecting headphones: an unbalanced 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack and a balanced 4.4 mm Pentaconn.

Line Out for direct connection to active loudspeakers

These connections can also be configured as Line Out, whereby they then also function either as unbalanced or balanced analogue outputs, for example for the direct connection of active speaker systems.

It is particularly important to mention that three output levels can be defined for the analogue outputs, namely High, Mid and Low, in order to guarantee optimum adaptation to different solutions.

Google Android and Qualcomm 425 CPU

The new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player is once again designed as a DAP based on Google Android, with Google Android 8.1 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 DTA providing the basis for sufficient performance. 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory are available, and the Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player can be expanded to up to 1 TByte for audio data using microSD cards.

The audio signal processing initially relies on an FPGA, which supports data in linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 768 kHz, DSD up to and including DSD512 based on particularly precise clocking using dual femtosecond ultra low jitter oscillators (AccuSilicon AS318 Femtosecond Oscillator) and passes this on to two D/A converters from Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation, namely AK4493S DAC in mono mode, for conversion.

Solid-state or tube? Triple Timbre DAP

When it comes to the output stage of the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player, the user can choose between solid-state or tube, in which case the manufacturer even speaks of a Triple Timbre DAP.

So-called military-grade NOS tubes from the Raytheon Company are used here, specifically Raytheon JAN6418 Military-grade Miniature Direct-heated Pentadoe NOS Vacuum Tubes, which are used here in a circuit developed exclusively by the Cayin developers.

Of course, great attention was also paid to the protection of the tubes, with a special CNC-machined aluminium frame and silicone insulation being used to completely decouple the sensitive components from the rest and ensure that they can easily withstand even heavy loads on the road.

As already mentioned, three “flavours” are offered here, namely Classic Tube Timbre and Modern Tube Timbre in addition to the Solid-state Timbre. The changeover can be made at any time via the corresponding options in the menu structure of the Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player.

But that’s not all, the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player also offers a 10-band parametric equaliser to adapt the playback to your own preferences, as well as configuration options for different headphone models, especially for in-ear headphones.

The volume control should also be emphasised, which is carried out via a JRC NJW1195A four-channel volume controller from Nisshinbo Micro Device Inc.

Particularly long battery life

The manufacturer also emphasises the long battery life of the new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player, which is achieved by using a 3,85 V 4,500 mAh lithium-ion battery. The Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player can be used for up to 12 hours with unbalanced headphones and at least up to seven hours with balanced headphones via the tube output stage.

Charging is particularly fast via USB-C and QC3.0, in around one hour, as the manufacturer promises.

Prices and availability

According to the manufacturer, the new Cayin N3Ultra digital audio player should be available soon at a recommended retail price of € 698,-.

Getting to the point

The new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player, also known as the Cayin N3Ultra Gen 3 NOS Tube Portable DAP by the manufacturer itself, is a portable Hi-res audio player for which Cayin promises to offer the finest sound in tube technology on request. It is interesting to note, for example, that standards such as Bluetooth or WiFi have been completely dispensed with, with the focus solely on music playback directly from internal storage media or as a D/A converter for smartphones, tablets and notebooks. The new Cayin N3Ultra Digital Audio Player stands for simplicity and purity.

Price€ 698,-
ManufacturerZhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co. Ltd.
DistributionCayin Audio Distribution GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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