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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

AudioSceptic

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I want a cd player because you'd be surprised what you cant find on streaming nowadays and also for archival purposes CDs are good to have~
Why not rip them all to hard-drive? You can then stream them at home, and transfer them to smartphone/portable player to listen in the car, or on the move.
 
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AudioSceptic

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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 ?
The Mimik was Linn's "budget" player at the time; the Ikemi was their top offering and cost about double. I hope it measured better.

I never owned a Linn CD player but love their stuff from that era. I still use a Kremlin, Kolektor and Klout (and Isobarik, LP12, etc.)
 

DanielT

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Thanks for the test Amir.:)

I wonder how a Blu-ray player would perform if used with its digital output together with a decent DAC? I use that combo sometimes. A Sony BDP-S570 together with a Topping E30 DAC. I then use the optical output from the Sony player. I also wonder if there would be any difference between the optical and
and the coax output? Measurable difference that is. For me, there would most certainly not be any audible difference, but it would still be fun to see such a test.:)

VintageFlanker may have tests underway, he writes this in #47 in the thread I link to below:

I happen to have an old (2011-2012) Sony BD player with a coax output somewhere. I also bought the little SMSL C100 for testing (spoilers: which is doing great), so I could try something on that side.


I listen to CDs sometimes to vary with streaming mostly because it's a bit fun fiddling with a physical medium (it can be a bit because of nostalgia too) plus other aspects that tonycollinet in #22 and Mulder in #26 of this thread highlight.
 

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Rja4000

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The Mimik was Linn's "budget" player at the time; the Ikemi was their top offering and cost about double. I hope it measured better.

I never owned a Linn CD player but love their stuff from that era. I still use a Kremlin, Kolektor and Klout (and Isobarik, LP12, etc.)
I use to own a Majik I (first gen, same design than the Mimik here)
 

AudioSceptic

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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.
I think Denon and TEAC did this best. We now use a Denon CEOL Piccolo in our second system.
 

AudioSceptic

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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?
I never stopped. I buy new albums on CD and old ones used on ebay, etc. I don't play them but rip them for streaming, while still having "hard copy" backups. They also get copied to iPhone for playing in the car, etc.
 

Hipster Doofus

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Enjoyed the review, especially the comparison and historical prospective (albeit only a few years). It is fun to see what we have payed in the DOLLAR / SINAD scale over the years. And on a green note, it too early for these cool devices to head for the boneyard … I have enjoyed living in the secondary market of the audio world for most of my time. So knowing how they preform helps me hone in on true bargains, even if it mostly the cool factor. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR LINN ;);)
 
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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.

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Nice review Amir. I always enjoy when you do comparative reviews between vintage audio equipment and newer gear.
Seeing the Mimic brings back nice memories. I still have the Linn Classik M CD/receiver that I purchased in 2002. A nice sounding piece of gear in its day, and with a relatively small footprint.
 

JeremyFife

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Funny how things change... I used to have a mid-level Rega CD (around 500 GBP, described by what hi-fi as 'analogue sounding ' :) ). Now I rip the few CDs I buy and wouldn't dream of spending more than 100 or so if I wanted a player - and only as a transport.

On this though, it's ok - seems well made but basically Meh. I'd have reliability concerns about the slot loading mechanism.

Interesting review, thank you.
 

AudioSceptic

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Enjoyed the review, especially the comparison and historical prospective (albeit only a few years). It is fun to see what we have payed in the DOLLAR / SINAD scale over the years. And on a green note, it too early for these cool devices to head for the boneyard … I have enjoyed living in the secondary market of the audio world for most of my time. So knowing how they preform helps me hone in on true bargains, even if it mostly the cool factor. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR LINN ;);)
Anyone got a CD12 they could send to Amir?
 

TonyJZX

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i have a whole slew of PC optical devices... literally giant fruit boxes full of sata dvdrom, dvdrws. cdroms and even BR devices... i used to work for some secure factilities and we had to remove opitcal units and even block off USB ports for obvious reasons... and so some of these wound up at my place

be that as it may i treat optical devices as dying species... i take the opportunity to rip to flac NOW while i still have working optical drives and a copy of CDEx.

i'm never buying any more optical readers, nor will i likely burn another disc but i do have a heap of spare dvd players i can call upon if needed

they all have some form of digital out and one would think they cant be that bad????
 

Ajax

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Interesting discussion on how we differ in the ways we like to listen to music.

I ripped all my CDs and then gave them away to a charity (local coast guard) as I didn't play them. I tended to only listen to my favourite tracks and made playlists to suit what I was doing - chilling out, road trips, sailing, dinner party etc. More recently I find the convenience, quality and variety of "Tidal Connect" suits my needs perfectly. I use my phone as a remote and stream to an old Sonos connected through SPDIF into a Benchmark DAC2 & Hypex Amp.

I kept my 300 vinyl albums as I didn't know how to digitally store them (I also thought they maybe valuable one day). As it turns out my 24 year old son loves playing them.

For those enjoying playing CDs and are concerned about playback quality can I suggest the only thing you need to ensure is that the transport is "bit perfect" and then connect the optical or coaxial (SPDIF) out to an inexpensive SMSL or Topping DAC and you are good to go.
 

Corvuscorone

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I have the Audiolab CDT-6000 cd transporter connected optically or coaxially to the Topping DX3 pro plus and some recordings sound better from cds than from Tidal or Qobuz via the Chromecast audio connected optically to the same Topping dac.
 

Rja4000

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I gave it a try :
I burned my own test CD

UPDATE:

After further check, the results below are not correct.
The test files on the CD I created contained too much distortion.
Only the last result, from the test file on USB stick, shows correct values.
(You may now find why in
this new post.)


Then I measured the output of an old Philips CD604 CD player
(which has some issues)
I think that was the cheapest of all the Philips full size CD players at the time (1991 or so)

From what I could find, it was costing 130 GBP at the time.


SINAD
997Hz 0dBFS
Left: Analog output
Right: SPDIF output

Philips CD604-008 SINAD 997Hz 0dBFS Test CD Left Analog Right SPDIF.png


We are not at the same level on the analog output, for sure.

But the 90.4dB SINAD in digital is similar to Amir's measurements
He measured 90.6dB SINAD on the SPDIF out above :

index.php


Also interesting is that this figure for digital output seems to be limited by distortion rather than noise.


Another attempt with a more serious contender

The NAD M50 Streamer and CD transport was around 2500€ at launch
(I bought it second hand)

It has no analog output. Therefore, the measurement here is just digital output.

NAD M50 Test CD 44.1kHz 997Hz 0dBFS Crop.png


We get the exact same figure than above.

It may be a limitation of my Test CD ?

So I tried another test signal, generated by AP tool (Reference 0dBFS 997Hz), that I also included on the test CD

NAD M50 Test CD 44.1kHz AP 997Hz 0dBFS Crop.png


SINAD figure is slightly better (0.8dB)
So the 90.4 is the limitation of my first test signal, obviously.


Knowing this, I re-ran the same signal on the Philicps CD604 and got the exact same figure from the digital out.
(I also re-ran the test with Analog output, but, unfortunately, that didn't bring any benefit vs the measurement above)

Philips CD604-008 SINAD AP 997Hz 0dBFS Test CD SPDIF Crop.png



The fact both reach exactly the same result brings again the question:
Is the limitation due to my test CD ?


Interestingly, the M50 being a streamer,
I may play directly the file with the test signal from a USB stick :

NAD M50 From file 44.1kHz AP 997Hz 0dBFS Crop.png


We now get what we expected.
And a massive 15dB improvement on THD.


In my above measurements, we see the impact of the CD itself
The degradation is either due to the quality of my test CD-R or to my engraver (it's getting old) or to the player or...
Or, more likely, something I don't understand.
Yet.

Update: Now I know why !

Read on here


(Also have a look at other 16 bits measurements here)
 
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mps

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My takeaway from this is that the Cayin delivers comparable performance to the Linn for about a tenth of the cost, which shows how much digital technology has advanced over the last 25 years. Is that an accurate take?
 
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GXAlan

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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.
The SA-10 hits the limits of dithered CD.


After two CDP reviews I'm tempted to send my Kenwood DP7090 to @VintageFlanker - 8x PCM1702.
Would be nice to know if it was really as good as claimed.
But I fear transport damage. :confused:
Pick up an E1DA Cosmos ADC from Audiophonics. It’s easy to test line level gear.
 

AndreaT

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Great Review! I am still left wondering how the S/PDIF signal turns out to be so poor as not to clear the 16 bits dynamic range of the Red Book CD specs. As a collector of CDs, Amir's review shows that not all transports are created equal, as they present noise and harmonic distortion (about -97 dB of a third harmonic for the Cayin) and a comparison with the digital output of the Linn could have been helpful. I suspect that some current and inexpensive CD readers for computer use have a better SINAD of their digital stream that the Cayin.
 
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