Page 3 UI 

This is something that I know you guys have a varying interest in but regardless of how fancy you want your DAP, solid working and lack of bugs and glitches is a must. While all of these players are seeing firmware updates to continually improve the user experience we will be looking at the current state of players. Now iBasso have certainly been known for their players having bugs, especially on release so I was really hoping these guys had cleaned their act up and the other 3 being unknowns, I hoped that they had not rushed into a market they were not ready for, making something sound good is one thing but also making it usable is another.

Now over the four players we have two that have opted for touch screens and two that have all button controls. The Opus takes on the most traditional touchscreen, having a 4 inch display take up the entire front panel. The iBasso has a smaller 3.2 inch IPS touch screen but this trade off comes with an advantage of 3 big traditional buttons for quick pausing and track navigation (Opus has these on the side). The Aune actually has the same 3 buttons but comes without the touch ability on its much smaller screen. For navigation the volume wheel also acts as a scroll wheel. Lastly the Cayin has the smallest screen and comes with a 3 navigation buttons on the front and then a scroll will that houses a final button. All units have volume on the side and everything but the iBasso has the lock button top right like Apple pioneered.

Obviously the two players with the touch screens have a more modern feel to them and I know some people now days snob at anything with buttons. The Opus’s heavily skinned over Android certainly has the best aesthetic in my eyes although the use is simple and it is no where near the level of polish as Astell & Kern lately. It really is quite basic in what it does, having the different headings (artist, album, genre) for music navigation down the bottom and access to settings on the top right. One click of settings will give you the basic ones that you will use the most, while a second click will get you into the more nitty gritty settings like sleep times. It has a 10 band EQ and you can save up to 3 user settings. Some of my favourite parts of the UI are the big artwork that is displayed, the clean information on the now playing screen and the ease of swiping to go back and forth through tracks. There are a few little quibbles for me such as when you access folders on the system memory you have all the standard Android folders such as ringtones, this winds me up but is not really an issue. More of a problem would be that this player probably had the most glitches, resetting itself and sometimes just not responding. There was nothing dangerous but it could certainly be annoying and tedious at times. At first view this may appeal the most being touch screen and Android but when you get down to it I wish it didn’t play up quite as much. You can of course go through an entire listening session without a problem.

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Coming off the Opus’s touch screen the DX80 is ever so laggy. Every swipe or press is accompanied by a short pause before we see an action. iBasso have also gone very simple with this and I actually like the contrast of the screen better than the #1 but it still does not quite have the overall look. You have basically 3 windows open, a centre window which is a now playing screen with artwork and the info you want. Then you can go left for My Music and right for Settings. I actually like the simplicity and found this to be less buggy than my DX50 was although that is not to say this has been without a few little problematic run ins but again nothing major. Probably the worst thing it does is a random bumping and jolting in the sound when playing, it clips in the music. Also while I like the ability to use the big tactile buttons for pausing and playing quickly without unlocking the screen, the placement of the lock button can confuse me when I am so accustomed to it being top right like with the other players. The EQ on this is also a 10 band but is a little easier to work than on the Opus and comes with presets.

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The Cayin actually instantly gave Josh a dose of De Ja Vu because it uses an identical GUI to the Shanling M3 he previously reviewed. While the actual button layout and control scheme is completely different, everything on screen is that same, from the themes to the menus. You can read all about the Shanling here. The combination of the buttons and scroll wheel did not once leave me wishing for a touch screen. While it is admittedly a very basic UI it is very easy to control and I ran in to very few problems, thats what is important.

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Lastly we have the Aune and this is a very different kind of basic, a much more frustrating basic. The play screen is empty with no artwork and that is just the start of it. We can’t break our music down into the standard headings and instead can only browse folders, leaving you wishing to just go into artists or albums like every other player can do. Then you have the fact that a play/pause, forward and back button are not enough to handle movement options. They all double up as other functions and a little help pop up does appear when trying to do something but nothing is ever easy. You then have the fact that the volume wheel is also a scroll wheel. Meaning if you’re not on the now playing screen, don’t even think about adjusting volume, grrrrr. On top of that I have had problems with it playing the wrong songs and not dealing with files properly. I think what Cayin and Shanling use is obviously an open source UI and it works, why could Aune not have just picked that up. Instead they have tried their own and I just am not a fan of it.

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Another thing of note is how every player here lacks WiFi, meaning we cannot stream, do OTA updates or actually use Android properly in the case of Opus. That being said I am down for basic, as most of these have been and only Aune seems to over step the boundaries of basic to hard work. I wish Opus had polished this a little more but it is their first go unlike the other brands here.

Go Back to Page 1 for the Introduction

Page 2 will cover Features

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
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  • 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.
    http://cdn.head-fi.org/1/1c/1ccacf8d_img_keyFeatures_01.gif
    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.

  • MR A RAHMAN

    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
        MDR-1A
        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.