Cayin provided the N3Pro free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
My history with Cayin Audio goes back a ways now. Before every DAP was just a big screen, they created some of my favorite aesthetics. And you know what? They still do. Despite the limitations of a large touchscreen, Cayin continues to imbue their devices with artistic flair.
The Cayin N3Pro is no exception. It’s sleek and elegant, with a handsome gold wheel to offset the dark-hued curves. The N3Pro is solid and weighty, giving off quality and durable vibes. Being neither the biggest nor the smallest of DAPs, I find it perfectly pocketable. The N3pro is significantly smaller than the N6ii. Its height and width is very near to the N5ii, but it’s much thicker depth-wise.
Obviously, that’s not the only comparison you can make to the N5ii. Cayin also priced the N3Pro within the N5ii’s range, re-categorizing the N3 tier from budget to midrange. And considering the feature set and sound quality, it’s made the N5ii utterly obsolete. Which oughtn’t to surprise anyone, given how old the N5ii currently is. To replace it with N3 line, however, suggests to me Cayin is working on something to fill the gap between this price range and the N6ii. Perhaps there is an N5Pro on the horizon.
Time will tell.
The N3Pro is indeed fully featured, with dedicated Line-Out, 3.5mm single-ended headphone out, and 4.4mm balanced headphone and line-out. You get WiFi, BT, and HiByLink. You can run in pure solid-state, or turn on the vintage miniature vacuum tubes in single-ended only. Unfortunately, with my unit, after a few minutes of use, the tubes produce a very audible ringing sound. I find it so distracting I rarely ever turn on the vacuum tubes. While this is sad, I would only call it a deal-breaker if you buy the N3Pro specifically for its tubes.
Cayin went a little crazy with the leather case. As you can see, there’s a cutout in the back with metal slats. These serve no function I can identify and appear to be all for aesthetics. I can appreciate that, but the extreme nature of the design may put some folk off. For me, I think it works, and adds that little something extra.