Versatile accessory set, Gorgeous design and build, Comfortable fit, Excellent technical performance, Sharp imaging, Super fast and controlled bass, Easy to drive
Included case isn’t very protective, Mediocre isolation, Sharp lower-treble requires some experimentation to get right
The Fantasy is a beautifully constructed earphone with plenty of Beryllium magic applying to its sensational technical performance but also to its proclivity for sharpness in stock configuration.
Cayin are a well-known source manufacturer who most recently achieved fame for their flagship DAP featuring both solid-state and tube amp circuits. The company is a huge proponent of innovation and have since turned their attention to the IEM world like many-a DAP company prior. Their YB04 became a popular option, a 4-BA earphone sporting a balanced tonality and the company’s signature build quality. The Fantasy is their newest model sporting a single-DD configuration that continues to build atop this foundation. It seeks to offer flagship performance with a Beryllium-plated 10.3mm driver with two-way magnetic structure and dual-cavity acoustic chamber. 316 stainless steel shells complete a premium experience alongside a high-quality silver cable. I’ve personally been loving this newfound approach to single-DD designs and the Fantasy is definitely shaping up to be a strong addition to the market.
I would like to thank Andy from Cayin very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Fantasy for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Driver: 10.3mm Dual-Cavity, Two-way Magnetic DD
- Diaphragm: Beryllium-plated, Bio-cellulose Diaphragm
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40kHz
- Impedance: 37ohms
- Sensitivity: 108dB
- Isolation: -26dB
Behind the Design –
While the Be plating might make the headline, the Bio-cellulose foundation is just as interesting. As opposed to a normal Mylar film, bio-cellulose drivers are created by nanometre by nanometre by bacteria. In turn, they can be created incredibly thin, thus, superbly lightweight. The issue then becomes rigidity which is addressed by the Be-plating, lauded for its tensile strength per weight. The result is a highly rigid diaphragm that is simultaneously lightweight for low-distortion combined with an agile transient response.
Magnet & Acoustics
With two magnet structures as opposed to one, the magnetic field becomes much stronger permitting greater driver control and dynamics. In addition, two separate acoustic chambers allow greater control of resonances and pressure on either side of the driver. This works in tandem with a dual-vent system front and back which also serves to increase wearing comfort by reducing pressure. While not stated, the dense stainless steel housings will also contribute to a low vibration, low resonance acoustic environment.
The Fantasy truly offers an extravagant and otherworldly unboxing experience alongside an abundance of accessories. The outer sleeve has laser cut-outs that reveal embossed renders below. Sliding off the outer sleeve and removing the hard lid reveals the gorgeous earphone shells within a protective foam inlet. Below are two slide-out trays, one containing the ear tips and case, the other containing the cable and other miscellaneous accessories. The tip selection is generous, also offering some basic tuning to user preference. Included are 3 pairs of balanced tips, 3 pairs of vocal tips, 3 pairs of bass tips, 2 pairs of memory foam tips and a pair of bi-flange tips in addition to the tips pre-installed on the earphones. Beside is the carrying case, a beautiful leather pouch that feels super soft in the hand. It also has two mesh interior pouches that separate the housings to prevent scratches during transit, however, due to its thin and soft nature, the case is unlikely to provide much protection in case of drops. The other accessories are also considerate, including a cleaning tool, shirt clip and a micro fibre cleaning cloth.
Around this price mark we start seeing some really nice designs and the Fantasy is right up there with the best. The two-piece 316L steel shells provide a blend of beautiful sweeping curves and bold angular panels. The faceplate seam is visible, but the tolerances are so tight it can barely be felt – this is especially impressive given the meticulously sculpted shape of the housings. As expected from the material choice, the Fantasy provides an immense sense of density and solidity in the hand. The metal nozzle filters are also threaded and can be replaced by the user in case of damage (no replacement filters included). The chrome finish is stunning and immaculate, though as always, have a microfibre cloth handy to keep them that way.
Up top are protruding 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The stock cable has recessed plugs, retaining compatibility with third party solutions whilst providing a little more security with the stock connectors. The cable is a 4-core unit with a high-strand count consisting of OCC copper wires and silver-plated cores. It has a smooth, supple jacket with minimal memory which makes it easy to coil and also tangle resistant. Microphonic noise is minimal especially with the over-ear fit and the pre-moulded ear guides are comfortable if a little large for my ears. The 3.5mm plug is protruded and case friendly, the angular metal interconnects complete a delightful visual and tactile experience.
Fit & Isolation –
Though far from the most compact single-DD earphone I’ve tested, the Fantasy is very shapely in order to avoid hotspot formations. I especially like the aggressive taper at the bottom of the housings that permits them to sit snuggly behind the tragus. And, similar to Final’s designs, the angular faceplates are never felt by the user as the main housing is rounded and smoothly sculpted. They have well-angled, protruding nozzles that provide a medium depth fit and a good seal. They are very large which will limit aftermarket tip pairings to T400 size and above models. There is minimal wearing pressure due to the obvious venting with 3-ports visible on various faces of the housings.
In turn, they are especially comfortable, forming no hotspots for my average sized ears and no driver flex was present either. Isolation, however, does suffer as a result. These offer below average attenuation which is further exacerbated by above average susceptibility to wind noise when worn outdoors. Combined with their leaner, brighter tuning, the Fantasy is not ideal for travel and is not especially enjoyable for commute either – at least, for Sydney’s archaic public transport system.