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Cayin Mini-CD MKII CD Player Review

Rate this CD Player:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 30 20.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 75 51.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 35 24.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 3.4%

  • Total voters
    145

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Cayin Mini-CD MKII CD transport and stereo player. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $279.
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Review Linn MIMIK.jpg

The unit comes with a good looking and feeling metal case. I like the large display but controls didn't seem very responsive. Below it is my circa 1998 LINN MIMIK cd player. It cost US $1,595 then which would be almost $3,000 today! I thought it would be nice to compare the performance of one against the other.

Back side shows the usual connections:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Review back panel.jpg

The external adapter is a bit of a buzzkill. They should have charged $299 and put the darn power supply inside.

Here are its specs:
Output Level:2.0V
Frequency Response:20Hz~20kHz (+0.5dB)
Distortion and Noise:0.007% (1kHz)
S/N Ratio:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Dynamic Range:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Crosstalk:77 dB
Digital output:S/PDIF (RCA) & I2S (HDMI)
Output Impedance SPDIF:75ohm
Dimensions:240mmx213mmx58mm (WxDxH)
Net Weight:~2.0kg
Maximum Power Consumption:12W
Disc Support:12cm CD-Audio Disc

Edit: earlier version of this review used a CD which was burned incorrectly. Much thanks to member @Rja4000 for finding the issue with this. The review is now updated.

Cayin MINI-CD MKII Player vs LINN MIMIK Measurements
By definition, I can only run static files burned onto a CD and not sweeps. So we can't run many tests but what is there, should give us a good idea. Let's start with the dashboard using analog out from the Cayin:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Analog Out Measurement.png


Nice to see the full 2 volt output but sad to see that we can't come close to resolving 16 bits with a SINAD of just 83 dB. Third harmonic dominates SINAD. Fortunately it meets spec. The LINN does better but still fails to reach 16 bit fidelity:
LINN MIMIK CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Analog Out Measurement.png

Distortion is now at -96 dB so it is noise that is holding back the LINN.

Switching to S/PDIF on Cayin we come close to the SINAD of dithered 1 kHz tone (around 93 dB) but there is spurious odd set of harmonics:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Digital SPDIF Measurement.png


We will come back to that later in the review. LINN produces perfect output:
LINN MIMIK CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Digital Out Measurement.png


Even though Cayin had higher distortion, it bests the LINN in noise department:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player vs LINN MIMIK Stereo Audio Analog Out Dynamic Range Measurement.png


I also measured both players using white noise:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player vs LINN MIMIK Stereo Audio Analog Out DAC Filter Measurement.png


The Cayin is doing a much better job of filtering out of band noise.

I measured jitter two ways, analog and digital. Let's start with analog output:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Analog Out Jitter Measurement.png


For digital output, the analyzer extracts the clock jitter and performs the FFT spectrum analysis:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio SPDIF Digital Out Jitter Measurement.png


We see that generally Cayin is better in correlated jitter but has one constant, non-correlated component around 16.5 kHz. That might be the microprocessor or display frequency. We actually see it even after we feed the output to Topping D70s and measure its analog output:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Digital SPDIF Topping D70s Measurement.png


That aside, note the much lower noise floor of D70s compared to the two DACs. BTW, those spikes at 250 Hz are part of the signal and need to be there.

One strange thing is why the level is slightly higher when Linn drives the D70s vs Cayin. The explanation may be in the following test where I fed both DACs to Topping D70s over S/PDIF and captured out usual dashboard. First is LINN MIMIK:
LINN MIMIK CD Player Transport Stereo Audio external DAC Topping D70s Measurement.png

Naturally D70s produces exceptionally clean output with essentially no distortion. SINAD is limited by the maximum possible with a dithered 16 bit test tone's noise floor.

Cayin though, acts different:
Cayin Mini-CD MK2 CD Player Transport Stereo Audio Dashboard Topping D70s Measurement.png


We see the same series of spikes. Looking at the spectrum, it is odd harmonics which tells me a bit is being toggled. From this, I am pretty sure the Cayin's digital output is NOT bit exact!!! It is literally producing different digital samples and hence the reason those spikes are burned in and come out of the D70s DAC.

Conclusions
The Cayin looks like a nice CD player despite its low cost. Alas, its built-in DAC has too much distortion. And if my guess is right that it is corrupting the low order bit of the digital stream over S/PDIF, using an external DAC won't help you either! Company needs to investigate this and find out what is going on.

Given the newly found issue with the bitstream coming out of the Cayin and high distortion of its own DAC, I can't recommend it.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:

Angsty

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I own lots of CDs and actively play them. I appreciate this review because I still run across people interested in a low cost, CD-specific transport.

A bit more on the usability of the device would add to the objective components of the review.
 

renaudrenaud

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One thing I like to see measured, should be a USB computer CD player at 15$ connected to a Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi, something around 30$, and an output to seom USB Dac. I cannot see why the performances shoud be not the ones from the DAC. So it means perfect CD player for 50$.
 

DWPress

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Thanks for another great review Amir.

I'd like some more feedback on the button response as well but also how loud is the mechanism during playback? Looks like it could just be housing a cheap laptop optical drive. No sense worrying about distortion levels if you can hear it above your rooms noise floor...
 
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Palladium

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Speaking of CDs, I hope Amir can test the overall performance of those Aiwa/Panasonic/Sony etc all-in-one stereo sets that were popular in the 90s.

My dad had a Pioneer one, and the headphone out sounded pretty good from CD playback with an Audio-Technica headphone which exact model now eludes me.
 
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shuppatsu

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Speaking of CDs, I hope Amir can test the overall performance of those Aiwa/Panasonic/Sony etc all-in-one stereo sets that were popular in the 90s.
This definitely gave me ミニコンポ (mini component) vibes. Very popular in Japan, they were 1/2 size standalone components and speakers, but sold as a set. Is that what you’re referring to?

Kind of goofy, but they did have extra components like minidisc and analog tape, so you could expand while maintaining the same aesthetic.
 

Palladium

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This definitely gave me ミニコンポ (mini component) vibes. Very popular in Japan, they were 1/2 size standalone components and speakers, but sold as a set. Is that what you’re referring to?

Kind of goofy, but they did have extra components like minidisc and analog tape, so you could expand while maintaining the same aesthetic.


Something like this.
 

Blumlein 88

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Thanks for the CD player review, I like the change and still use all my old players. I am curious as to why the players you have tested all fall short of the 16 bit or 94 db CD standard.
I'm not sure I agree with these ideas of 16 bit or 96 db CD standard. Many players were 86-92 db on THD, and better on SNR. Does that mean they cannot do 16 bit? No it does not. You cannot hear the difference in -100 db and -80 db distortion. At lower levels the distortion is lower too. It does not mean these devices lack 16 bit dynamic range (some do) or that they cannot play a very low level signal if the noise if low enough (which it often is). Plus no speakers offer -96 db distortion levels.

If you can play a full scale signal at inaudible distortion and noise levels are at or below 96 db, then it can convey all you can possibly hear in 16 bit source material. In this particular review both devices have too little SNR or Dynamic Range. The distortion is a non-issue to listeners. The noise levels are not beyond reproach. There is no good reason for this to be the case.
 

Owl

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I think I understand your explanation. Amir test's the stand alone DAC's at 24 bit, and I think all fall short of that number.
 

Blumlein 88

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I think I understand your explanation. Amir test's the stand alone DAC's at 24 bit, and I think all fall short of that number.
Yes, and I think with a 16 bit CD player, Amir's test is dithered. So something like 91 or 90 db is as low as the noise can get.

You can see that in this test of an expensive Marantz which as a DAC could do well better than 96 db, but his CD test resulted in a bit over 91 db SINAD.
 

Rja4000

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Thanks for another usefull review.

The Mimik was considered a good CD player at the time (although less renowned than Meridian, somehow).

By the way, did you also measure the digital output on the Linn ?

And also, because I'm also interested in testing the players I have at hand :
How confident are you of your test CD performance ?
How to make sure it's not limiting results ?

EDIT:
To compare, I measured the DAC section on my SONY PCM-R300 DAC recorder

I also burned my own test CD.
See my first results here, in this thread.
 
Last edited:

Tangband

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Cayin Mini-CD MKII CD transport and stereo player. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $279.
View attachment 303504
The unit comes with a good looking and feeling metal case. I like the large display but controls didn't seem very responsive. Below it is my circa 1998 LINN MIMIK cd player. It cost US $1,595 then which would be almost $3,000 today! I thought it would be nice to compare the performance of one against the other.

Back side shows the usual connections:
View attachment 303505
The external adapter is a bit of a buzzkill. They should have charged $299 and put the darn power supply inside.

Here are its specs:
Output Level:2.0V
Frequency Response:20Hz~20kHz (+0.5dB)
Distortion and Noise:0.007% (1kHz)
S/N Ratio:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Dynamic Range:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Crosstalk:77 dB
Digital output:S/PDIF (RCA) & I2S (HDMI)
Output Impedance SPDIF:75ohm
Dimensions:240mmx213mmx58mm (WxDxH)
Net Weight:~2.0kg
Maximum Power Consumption:12W
Disc Support:12cm CD-Audio Disc

Cayin MINI-CD MKII Player vs LINN MIMIK Measurements
By definition, I can only run static files burned onto a CD and not sweeps. So we can't run many tests but what is there, should give us a good idea. Let's start with the dashboard using analog out from the Cayin:
View attachment 303506

Nice to see the full 2 volt output but sad to see that we can't come close to resolving 16 bits with a SINAD of just 82 dB. Third harmonic dominates SINAD. Fortunately it meets spec.

The LINN does better but still fails the reach 16 bit fidelity:
View attachment 303507

Switching to S/PDIF on Cayin we still can't get the ideal 16 bit dithered response (about 93 dB):
View attachment 303508

Dynamic range using Cayin analog out still misses the mark:
View attachment 303509

It actually bests the LINN by a bit:
View attachment 303510

The last test I have for you is 16-bit jitter (so you are going to see a lot of valid spikes):
View attachment 303511

Blue at the bottom is the DAC in the Audio Precision analyzer. As you can see, it has much lower noise than both. The LINN has flattish noise floor whereas the Cayin has more noise around the 1 kHz ("skirt"), but less at higher frequencies. Difference is slight though.

Conclusions
The Cayin could certainly do better both in noise and distortion departments. Sadly, while LINN MIMIK has lower distortion, it still has too much noise and distortion to get us full fidelity out of 16 bit format. Little did we know then that we were not getting all that we were putting on the tray.

I do like the honest specs from Cayin. It is a rare thing these days.

I don't know why anyone would want a CD player these days but if you do, I guess the Cayin is not half bad. Suggest using an outboard DAC with it if you want the best performance.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Nice review.

”Switching to S/PDIF on Cayin we still can't get the ideal 16 bit dithered response (about 93 dB)”

This is evidence that all CD transports dont put out a correct signal from spdif out . Both of those players are below par using analog out. It would be very interesting to se measurements of digital out from the mimik .
 

Audioagnostic

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Thanks for the review, very interesting! I hope to see more cd player reviews.

"I don't know why anyone would want a CD player these days but if you do, I guess the Cayin is not half bad."

I actually stopped streaming and started buying CDs again. Thrift stores, people getting rid of their CDs, many opportunities to get them cheap. It is perhaps nostalgia in a similar vein as collecting vinyl but with better sound quality.

In my opinion, having a physical carrier leads to more focused listening to whole albums, I am less likely to skip songs when playing a cd. The collecting aspect is also nice.
Buying CDs at thrift stores also helps me to finding music that I never heard of, independent of spotify algorithms. It opens new areas of music for me.

I am not alone , there may be a cd renaissance?
 

DuncanTodd

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Thanks for the review, very interesting! I hope to see more cd player reviews.

"I don't know why anyone would want a CD player these days but if you do, I guess the Cayin is not half bad."

I actually stopped streaming and started buying CDs again. Thrift stores, people getting rid of their CDs, many opportunities to get them cheap. It is perhaps nostalgia in a similar vein as collecting vinyl but with better sound quality.

In my opinion, having a physical carrier leads to more focused listening to whole albums, I am less likely to skip songs when playing a cd. The collecting aspect is also nice.
Buying CDs at thrift stores also helps me to finding music that I never heard of, independent of spotify algorithms. It opens new areas of music for me.

I am not alone , there may be a cd renaissance?
+1
 

jamescarter1982

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Dec 11, 2021
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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Cayin Mini-CD MKII CD transport and stereo player. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $279.
View attachment 303504
The unit comes with a good looking and feeling metal case. I like the large display but controls didn't seem very responsive. Below it is my circa 1998 LINN MIMIK cd player. It cost US $1,595 then which would be almost $3,000 today! I thought it would be nice to compare the performance of one against the other.

Back side shows the usual connections:
View attachment 303505
The external adapter is a bit of a buzzkill. They should have charged $299 and put the darn power supply inside.

Here are its specs:
Output Level:2.0V
Frequency Response:20Hz~20kHz (+0.5dB)
Distortion and Noise:0.007% (1kHz)
S/N Ratio:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Dynamic Range:90dB (20-20KHz, A-weighted)
Crosstalk:77 dB
Digital output:S/PDIF (RCA) & I2S (HDMI)
Output Impedance SPDIF:75ohm
Dimensions:240mmx213mmx58mm (WxDxH)
Net Weight:~2.0kg
Maximum Power Consumption:12W
Disc Support:12cm CD-Audio Disc

Cayin MINI-CD MKII Player vs LINN MIMIK Measurements
By definition, I can only run static files burned onto a CD and not sweeps. So we can't run many tests but what is there, should give us a good idea. Let's start with the dashboard using analog out from the Cayin:
View attachment 303506

Nice to see the full 2 volt output but sad to see that we can't come close to resolving 16 bits with a SINAD of just 82 dB. Third harmonic dominates SINAD. Fortunately it meets spec.

The LINN does better but still fails the reach 16 bit fidelity:
View attachment 303507

Switching to S/PDIF on Cayin we still can't get the ideal 16 bit dithered response (about 93 dB):
View attachment 303508

Dynamic range using Cayin analog out still misses the mark:
View attachment 303509

It actually bests the LINN by a bit:
View attachment 303510

The last test I have for you is 16-bit jitter (so you are going to see a lot of valid spikes):
View attachment 303511

Blue at the bottom is the DAC in the Audio Precision analyzer. As you can see, it has much lower noise than both. The LINN has flattish noise floor whereas the Cayin has more noise around the 1 kHz ("skirt"), but less at higher frequencies. Difference is slight though.

Conclusions
The Cayin could certainly do better both in noise and distortion departments. Sadly, while LINN MIMIK has lower distortion, it still has too much noise and distortion to get us full fidelity out of 16 bit format. Little did we know then that we were not getting all that we were putting on the tray.

I do like the honest specs from Cayin. It is a rare thing these days.

I don't know why anyone would want a CD player these days but if you do, I guess the Cayin is not half bad. Suggest using an outboard DAC with it if you want the best performance.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Click here if you have some audio gear you want me to test.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
thank-you I wondered what is the best way to play back a cd nowadays ? transport to topping dac or cd drive to pc then dac ?
 
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