PAGE 2 Features

What a DAP can do is certainly very important and while I appreciate that you certainly may want different features from reader to reader, there is becoming a rather standardised set of abilities and specifications. That being said there are still smaller differences that let some units stand out more than the others. For the most part this chart will cover the most important things but I have babbled into little more depth if that interests you.

Features iBasso DX80 Aune M2 Pro Cayin N5 Opus #1
Battery 13 hours (3600mAh) 6.5 hours (3500mAh) 9 hours (4200mAh) 10 hours (4000mAh)
Micro SD Slots





Coaxial Yes No Yes No
Optical Yes No No Yes
Balanced Out No No Yes Yes
Line Out Yes Yes Shared with Headphone Jack No
Signal to Noise 114dB N/A 108dB 114dB (SE)

115dB (BAL)






Digital Filters





For me connectivity is really quite important but again for some of you as long as it has a headphone jack you don’t want no more. It is without doubt the Aune that is the most basic, as will become a bit of a trend for the physical sections of this review. It is limited to just two outputs, both 3.5mm jacks and one being dedicated for a line out, the other a headphone out. While I appreciate the line out it is the only model that lacks a digital output. Of course if you don’t want an external DAC and use its own specifically designed internals then that won’t be needed, but I like the option of a digital out as it allows you to hook up your DAP with your HiFi which is cool.

The other three have either a 3.5mm coaxial output (Cayin and iBasso) or their headphone output doubles up as an optical output in the case of the Opus (like its inspiration the AK series).The DX80s coaxial out is actually even more special as it doubles up as a mini optical, for double the digital output. While I do feel the Opus and Cayin are the best for connectivity (Cayin actually as I prefer coaxial to optical) since they both feature a 2.5mm balanced output, they do lose the dedicated line output of the other two. The Cayin does have a line out option and the Opus can of course be set to max for use with a portable amp but I still don’t think it classifies as a true option like the Aune and iBasso. The DX80 and N5 also can both behave as USB DACs which is also very handy. Considering the N5 is the cheapest it really is the most kitted out in this area.


Now considering that all 4 of these players can handle DSD and hi res PCM (nothing past 24/192 mind you), memory is an important feature. As Astell & Kern moved into their 2nd generation of players their biggest mistake was going from 2 to 1 micro SD ports. Fortunately other companies realised how smart having two ports is and have adopted that as a feature. That is the case for the Opus, DX80 and N5 while the Aune only has one measly port. This instantly puts the Aune at a heavy disadvantage, especially with the fact that along with the iBasso and Cayin it has no onboard memory. Only the #1 has 32gb on board so you will be needing micro SDs with all of these to have a decent chunk of your music collection with you on the way. With 128gb and 200gb cards being a thing now you can get 400gb at least on any of the players that have two slots but Aune is much more limited with their website saying it only takes up to 128gb cards, ouch.


Lastly I thought we should look at the internals for the product. I have to say that while the Aune has looked a little disappointing up until now in terms of features, this without doubt looks like the one that has had the most time put into the internal design. Instead of just boasting what DAC chips it uses (AKM4490 like the AK380), it puts emphasis on the class A headphone amp section and also the Crystek clocking, low noise power supply and even comes with 4 digital filters. Like the Aune the Cayin also uses a AKM4490 DAC chip but doesn’t go into near as much detail for the rest of internal design. It does however out do the Aune in DFs with 5 to boot! Opus and iBasso both opted to have their take on the DAC chip selection of the AK240, making these both dual DAC designs using Cirrus Logic’s CS4398. While both these companies do mention a little about clocking, jitter and the amp section, just look on the Aune website for the technical manifest they offer.

The Cayin being the cheapest is surely the big surprise here, offering just so much at the price and really being quite the complete package. It even offers more than Cayins flagship N6 hinting that perhaps everything people requested for the N6 ended up in the N5. The iBasso and Opus seem to be pretty well rounded as well and also come to boot with touch screens, which may or may not tickle your fancy. It certainly seems that the Aune is by far the lowest denominator here, with low battery, poor memory and little connectivity, it is a cause for concern. Thankfully it does seem like while they may have forgotten about all these things they have been VERY serious about the components and design of the PCB for this and with me already knowing how good their portable amp sounds this keeps the DAP in good stead for the sound section.

Go Back to Page 1 for the Introduction

Page 3 is UI

Page 4 is Build 

Page 5 is IEM Performance

Page 6 is Headphone Driving Ability

Page 7 is Sound Quality

Page 8 is Our Summary

Sonny Trigg
Page 2 of 812345...Last »
  • Michael Gunin

    Thanks for such a detailed and well-thought comparison. May I ask which IEMs you’d recommend to pair with N5?

    • Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it. First of all I would say an IEM that is not super sensitive as the N5 is a little hiss prone. Once we are past that if you would like a recommendation then a price range would be great in helping me give you a few models to look at.

      In terms of sound signature it depends what you want as the end result. Because of the more fun signature of the DAP if you like the sound of that, then a fun sounding IEM will pair nicely. If you want to try and balance the sound you could get a leaner, dryer and more aggressive IEM with a faster bass and then this may plumpen the sound a bit. Due to its signature it is much easier to pair with compared to say the Opus with its thinner brighter sound, that was more picky.

      • Michael Gunin

        I see, thanks. Still choosing at $100-300 price range and a smooth, non-sibilant sound for jazz, soul, funk, classical. Dunu Titan 3, Echobox Finder and Trinity Atlas were among the options you’ve recommended me via PM, also considering Oriveti Primacy and Lear LHF-AE1d. I have DX50 as a source and think of N5/N6 as a possible upgrade, also ATH-ESW9 is in my stock already.

        • Oh sorry Michael, I did not put 2 and 2 together and realise we had talked over PM! All of them 3 IEM I recommended actually suit the Cayin nicely. I have the Lear coming very soon as well so look out for a review on that. The Cayin N5 IMO is certainly an upgrade over the DX50, sadly I have not heard the N6, but have it on good ground it is more analytical and neutral than the N5, which is a little warmer and more fun. I would put funds to a new IEM first though and do the DAP upgrade later.

          • Michael Gunin

            Yep, I guess you are often asked for advice which is reasonable 🙂 Also Dunu-2000 you’ve recommended as I remember now. So, will look forward for your review of Lear since the model is really interesting. And, will save funds for IEMs first and (as you recommend) only after that will proceed with upgrading the DAP.

            BTW, any advice for some portable closed-back upgrade to ATH-ESW9? I’m thinking of Oppo PM3 and 2nd gen of Momentum as my top ideas.

          • I don’t know the ESW9 to well but for closed portables we just got through the Meze Classics 99 and Jays U-Jays. Meze seem ok but the U-Jays are currently blowing us away. Josh is handling the review on both of them but I have listened to both and would happily recommend the Jays. They sound good and are an all round solid package on top of that! Also if you have a DAP with some power the ZMF Master Model is always a safe bet, great planar sound, a bit on the fun side but sadly a little inefficient.

          • Michael Gunin

            Oh, thanks – didn’t consider any of these, will read more. And, some final thought: would you recommend N5 over Shanling M3/M2?

          • Yes we will have reviews of the jays and Meze soon enough. Yes I would, I prefer N5 has an all around player and in sound.

          • Michael Gunin

            Terrific. Will wait patiently, u-Jays do look!

          • Stuart Macgregor

            The Aune m2 has fantastic sq as good as the mojo and thats the basic player,oh and it has digital out(soon)

          • It does indeed sound fantastic. They are going to add a digital output? That would have to be a new model, I dont see how they could over firmware unless they just did not finish it in time for release and circuitry is already there?

  • baby turtle

    Cayin N5 does have line out.
    It’s combined with SE headphones output.
    You can choose which one to use via player settings.
    As for digital filters, Cayin N5 has 5 of them.
    Just FYI
    Thanks for comparison. Nice work!

    • Yes I am aware of the line out option on the Cayin but like what the AK models have, it is not true as it still will go through the amp section of the device. A separate jack is needed for it to be straight from the DAC and unaltered, thats not to say I had problems with the Cayin Line Out option. Also my bad for the typo on the filter options, cheers for pointing that out (will go amend now) and that chart is nice, I had never seen it.

  • Clarence

    The opus sounds very musical to me, neutral with a tad warmness, not analytical at all.
    The bummer is not be able to use Tidal.

  • Luke Lee

    Hi, really enjoyed this detailed comparison. May I ask what type of ciem will pair with the opus #1 do you recommend?

  • Luke Lee

    Hi, really enjoyed this detailed comparison. May I ask what type of ciem to pair with the opus #1 do you recommend?

    • It depends what kind of sound you are after of course….

      The opus isn’t so far devoid from neutral that it warrants any crazy sonic changes from that of the earphone, obviously the opus signature will have an effect but it’s not going to make a bassy earphone like the Heir 8.A thin and reference class. I think it is a good place to start and let the signature of a CIEM do the talking so what sound are you after in a CIEM, then we can go from there!

      • Luke Lee

        I see thanks. The type of sound I’m after is warm,fun and detailed signature. I’m currently using aaw a3h pro with the opus and looking to upgrade my ciem in the future.


    Hi thanks for a very comprehensive review.i have a Aune m2 pro what headphones do u think would pair best
    I am after a fast fluid bass and lower bass
    Regards Ateeq

    • It really depends on how much you are wiling to spend. I guess you want headphones that go over your ears but what is your budget and do you want portability or open back?

      • MR A RAHMAN

        Hi i want to spend about 200 pound or cheaper but the main thing true to the original sound just like hearing the low and mid base .open back is fine i also use the Aune b1 headphone amp .have u had any experience with it .
        My current headphone is sony
        Regards Ateeq

  • Karol Kędzierski

    All the things written about the dx80 are actually crap. Is exactly the opposite way. The bass is well articulated, with full body and really nice extend. “The mid range continues the same way and I just struggle to enjoy what the DX80 offers, it feels so vague in every sense, I just don’t get what they have gone for here” — what?? The mids are actually the hero of dx80. Having the same DACs as the AK120II and AK240 it really sounds similar. The mids are forward and dominant, really defined, clear, and airy with great separation of instruments for this price range. The trebbles are actually a bit laid back, so it makes the dx80 warmer sounding DAP but even then, they are sparkling and detailed enough. Maybe u didnt have good pair up with headphones. I listened to dx80 with Pinnacles P1 (fantastic clear sound, great soundstage, very natural sounding, but lacking in subbas, no hiss at all), Sennheiser IE80 (enormous soundstage, even too big, deep but overflowing bass, too high level of hiss for me) and over ear headphones- Bang Olufsen H6 – amazing pairing, great soundstage for closed back headphones, superb defined bass, great female vocals.