Cayin Fantasy Review
Pros: – Reference bass tuning and performance
– Ultimate clarity
– Resolving and detailed
– Wide and holographic soundstage
– Comfortable and isolating
– Build quality
– Beautiful and attractive
– Quality cable
– Carrying case
– Large selection of ear tips
Cons: – Bright signature may not suit everyone
– Upper mids prominence may not suit everyone
– Timbre lacks coherency
– Cable is only single ended and the balanced is sold separately
The Cayin Fantasy iem was loaned to me in the course of the European brunch of the Headfi tour.
I was the first one to receive it and I kept it for fifteen days while I was instructed to burn it for 100 hours which I did prior to critical listening.
I would like to thank Cayin and Mr. Andy Kong for giving me the opportunity.
The selling price is $799.
The Fantasy features a 10.3mm dual cavity with two-way magnetic driver structure with 9.5mm beryllium-plated diaphragm.
The additional rear cavity controls the sound wave to flow smoothly
and reduces resonance.
This will enhance the clarity and
the soundstage will be more holographic.
Increased magnetic flux offers excellent control to diaphragm and
reproduces low level details accurately and seamlessly.
The Beryllium-plated Bio-cellulose diaphragm improves stiffness, reduces resonance and minimises deformation.
Delivers a fast, accurate and low distortion diaphragm response.
Clean and non-fatigue playback with enhanced details.
Build quality and fit
The Fantasy is crafted from grade 316 surgical stainless steel with a shiny mirror finishing that is visually attractive although it is a fingerprint magnet.
Build quality and finish are top notch and the Fantasy has a premium look worthy of the status of a flagship.
It has an elegant design inspired by stringed musical instruments which is beautiful and at the same time anatomically fits the ear.
The fit is comfortable and stress free , suitable for longer listening sessions but due to the increased weight it has the tendency to occasionally slip out.
We should also note that although this is a comfortable iem it is still on the bulky side so it is better suited for medium to larger ears.
With carefully selected ear tips the Fantasy isolates pretty well and provides a good seal for a deeper bass response.
Choosing the right ear tips is not a problem since there are 12 pairs provided.
The detachable cable features 2-pin 0.78mm gold plated connectors with non recessed extruded design.
There is only one cable provided which is custom made and consists of four 38 strands conductors with carefully mixed OCC copper and silver plated core.
It is flexible and noise free with a custom made high quality gold plated 3.5mm plug.
Unfortunately the plug is not swappable and since this is the only cable to be found in the package the user must buy an extra one if he wishes to go balanced.
At $799 this is a serious omission especially if we consider that swappable plug cables are now available with much more inexpensive earphones like the FiiO FD5 , FH5s or the Dunu EST 112.
For the tour duties we were provided with an extra balanced cable of high quality and it would be great if it was included as part of the retail package.
The Fantasy comes packed in a premium cardboard box with two separate drawers that contain the accessories.
Except for the cable we get a nice selection of ear tips , a total of 12 pairs plus the one that is already fitted in the earphones , a high quality carrying pouch with internal pockets , a cleaning brush and cloth plus a cable clip.
Listening set up
We have used various DACs and players starting from the ddHiFi TC44B , moving up the ladder to the THX Onyx and EarMen Sparrow closing with the FiiO M11 Plus and the iBasso DX300.
The Fantasy is open sounding , lighting fast , crystal clear and resolves great amounts of detail without being overly analytical.
The overall tuning is bright and there is a contrast between the full bodied and slightly warm bass against the lean and aggressive treble with the sound signature being slightly reminiscent of the Sennheiser HD800S.
The bass is truly amazing with excellent timbre and top quality technical performance.
It is balanced and neutral without any unnecessary emphasis and although there is a little warmth to it , everything sounds clean without a mid-bass bloat.
There is no masking effect and all low register instruments with their upper harmonics are clearly distinguishable no matter how loaded the bass line gets.
Sub – bass extension is more than enough but the Fantasy is focused on quality rather than quantity so although it can reach as low as it is needed it doesn’t have that extra low bass boost and rumble to name it bass-head friendly.
The beryllium drivers are famous for their agility and as such the bass is exemplary tight and well controlled with the perfect timing and a steady pace not afraid of dense passage work.
Full bodied but not very thick it is always defined , precise and impactful with great dynamic contrast while rise and fall time is spot on , so everything sounds natural with great levels of realism.
Mids are of high quality and sound finely articulated with crystalline clarity , good layering and nice texture.
Tuning is somewhat uneven with a neutral lower part followed by a sudden , steep upper-mid emphasis.
Such kind of forwardness will favor certain instruments and voices to become more present while lower pitched ones will be pushed farther behind.
This is not the classic mid centric tuning and while the sound profile may suit some kinds of music and tastes the truth is that as a whole the Fantasy can easily become unbalanced and shouty at this particular frequencies.
Rising higher it is not difficult to perceive the peak at the presence area that helps to add tons of clarity and definition but unfortunately results in a bright and partially out of tune sound signature.
The treble is rather aggressive and dynamic but not particularly harsh or piercing so it will not make your ears bleed.
There is also a nice contrast between the slightly warm bass so the effect is not as severe and the Fantasy can be pretty enjoyable with modern electronic music that needs that extra bite and crispiness to the sound.
Tuning aside there is a loss of textural quality and timbral density and combined with the rushed decay results in an instrumental tone that is too thin and without harmonic complexity.
While moving from the bottom to the upper octaves there is a varying difference in tone quality and the Fantasy is lacking in coherency, something that becomes pretty apparent with classical music.
The soundstage is worthy of a flagship , not only wide and expanded but also proportionally and naturally arranged without sounding artificial or forced.
Depth layering is great and all instrumentalists are projected in well organized groups with pinpoint positioning and extra space around them.
What is also remarkable is the ability of the Fantasy to successfully communicate the inner reverb and echo of the recording location.
At the end
There is a strong personality behind the Fantasy that can be very polarizing if it falls into the wrong hands.
This is an iem clearly addressed to people who know exactly what they want from their earphones.
If you like your sound crystal clear and highly resolving with thunderous dynamics , reference bass tuning , extended soundstage and you are not afraid of some brightness then the Fantasy might be what you are looking for.
Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021