lycos

100+ Head-Fier
Hiby R8ii - cheapest DAP with TOTL SQ
Pros: -Reference sound signature
-Battery life
-Cheapest DAP with TOTL SQ
-Intuitive EQ (MSEB)
Cons: -Reference sound signature
-Weight
Hiby R8ii Impression by Lycos

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Big thanks to @Joe Bloggs for organising this Australian Hiby R8ii tour.


User Experience:
When I took R8ii out of the box, I was impressed by its build quality. At 528gr, it feels heavy and solid – yet it aesthetically looks beautiful and feels nice on hand. The volume is adjusted by up and down buttons. While the button tactility is quite good with no noticeable delay/lag, I still much prefer wheel ergonomics. I think it’s faster and more accurate to adjust volume using wheel.

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For UI, I found the touch screen to be responsive. Also, in general, I found the CPU to be quite fast with very minimal lag when running Android apps. Battery life is simply amazing. It would easily last me 2-3 days. However, the charging time seems to be quite slow. It’s no issue for me since I charged it overnight and by the following morning it would be full again.

R8ii ports are located on the bottom side. 2 ports on the left (4.4mm & 3.5mm) are for headphone/iem – and 2 ports on the right are lineout. They look and feel identical – and for a clumsy person like me, I can’t shake off the fear of accidentally plugging my iem into the line out and blow it. If I bought this DAP, I would definitely buy 4.4mm and 3.5mm plug to cover the line-out.

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R8ii comes with free dap case. The case itself feel quite solid and it’s relatively easy to take it out if needed. However, with case installed, 4.4mm port is located too close to the edge. For cables with wide connectors like Alter Ego stock cable, it wouldn’t fit (see red circle)


Sound Impression:
R8ii settings I used:
-Class A
-Turbo
-EQ/MSEB is disabled
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For benchmark, I would use my current Shanling M9+ as comparison. I would admit it’s not really a fair comparison – M9+ costs $1k more expensive but it’s the only dap I have in my possession at the moment.

Overall
In general, R8ii has reference-like sound signature: neutral, dry, clean and smooth.

Bass
R8ii bass reproduction is characterised by a fast bass. This lack of natural decay makes it sounds more artificial to my ear. In term of quantity, R8ii has a good amount of bass punch – but as expected it is not as elevated as M9+. In term of details, the bass slam feels like 1-dimensional/monotonous and lack of texture.

Mid
R8ii mid is neutral and more forward than M9+. Unfortunately, I am not big fan of its vocal presentation. It lacks of warmth and body. Also, it sounds digital and sterile that reminds me of my previous RME ADI2 mid. Furthermore, vocal does not sound as rich as M9+.

Treble
Treble sounds quite smooth. I tried few tracks that are borderline sibilance and noticed R8ii handled it very well. It would be a great DAP for those who are sensitive to treble. I personally find R8ii to be too smooth. It lacks treble extension and loses too much sparkle. My mate @o0genesis0o recommended switching to amp to Class AB to remedy this. With Class AB, I noticed sharper transient and improved treble extension. Unfortunately, it takes away the dynamics as well and make it sound anaemic.

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Space and Imaging
R8ii has a wide and spacious soundstage. In comparison, M9+ feels claustrophobic. Unfortunately, R8ii does not sound as holographic as M9+. With R8ii the music feels like coming from a flat wall (instead of enveloping around me) and distant.

Details
R8ii has an excellent macro-detail. Different instrument and layering can be easily heard and separated. Unfortunately, it’s lacking in micro-detail. Especially, the texture richness of the vocal, reverb from the guitar pluck etc sound rather dull and less vivid compared to something like M9+.

EQ
Hiby DAPs, including R8ii are well known to have very capable EQ. In addition to the usual PEQ (Parametric EQ), Hiby also offers MSEB (Mage Sound Eight Ball) tuning. It is essentially an EQ but a lot more intuitive. For example, you can adjust the “Note Thickness” from Crisp to Thick – which essentially adjust the frequency at 200Hz. I only managed to try few settings, but I can see huge potential of it in customising R8ii to fit user preference.

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Conclusion
At last, would I recommend Hiby R8ii? If your budget is $2k, it would be very hard to find a better dap. You would get TOTL sound quality, reference sound, outstanding battery life and highly customisable sound (if you are into EQ). But if you don’t mind a second hand DAP, something like M9+, DX320max at roughly similar price to new R8ii would be better options.

Value Rating : 5/5
Absolute Rating : 3/5
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blay

Head-Fier
Hiby R8II, a true Monster!!
Pros: - Natural sound and soundstage.
- Perfect size; not too big, not small
- Volume with buttons instead of wheel
- Different and more certified equalization system
- Battery duration
Cons: - high weight
- Heat that gives off
The first thing that catches your attention as soon as you start listening to it is its naturalness, together with the great body and depth it delivers.

It makes you enjoy tombs and sub-basses full of texture and detail.

On the other hand, and thanks to its snapdragon 665 processor and 8 GB of RAM, the dap behaves completely fluidly, without any type of failure or stoppage or delay.

And if we talk about the battery...brutal!! With its 12,000mAh you have practically an entire day without stopping listening to music. I was timing the usage time in several sessions, and when I had been using it for over 9 hours, it was still at 50%. And even using turbo mode at times.

The first thing I did to be able to listen to my music via streaming was to install the Qobuz and Tidal apps, and then proceed to explore the audio configuration presented by the hiby dap in question.

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I won't get too carried away so as not to make this review too long.

The first option we see is type A or AB amplification. I see little difference between the two, simply noticing a little more body and liveliness in A.

I noticed the Turbo mode when using large headphones. It gives it a little more oomph and power, as well as emphasis on the bass.

Gain: here I did notice a lot more improvement in terms of better dynamics the higher it was set. That is, in High mode it sounded better and more dynamic than in Mid, of course adjusting the volume to equalize both. And mid is better than low.

Plugins: sound field 1.2 offered better control and as an improvement to the soundstage.

Now we move on to the really good setting, “MSEB”. It is a type of equalization different from other daps, since it works with cuts based on bass both in quantity and texture, distinguishing between male and female voices, bringing them closer or further away, etc. etc. With this setting you can adjust the sound to your exact preferences, just by sliding a bar. Very easy. Then you get the sound to please you much more. It's not that it sounds better or worse, but that it fits your personal tastes perfectly and attracts you much more.

I configured it this way and I loved it!!!

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Now let's talk about SOUND:

For this I used several tracks well known to me.

I started analyzing the BASS, with and without equalization. Although I liked adjusting it to my preferences from MSEB better.

In Halie Loren's song, Dance me to the End of Love, the double bass and piano sounded amazing, it seemed like they were going to leave the DAP. They filled the entire stage as if it were a concert.

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With the song Paper Trails by Darkside, the voice sounded super deep, like I had never heard before. Just like These Bones.

In the track Non Stop by Drake, the background subbass flooded the entire scene, contrasting with the singer's much higher voice. Creating a multitude of layers.

With Billie Eilish in Lost Cause, I noticed the strong and dry hit of the bass, around 100hz, with a lot of security and control.

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Regarding the MIDS, just say that they had the detail and naturalness that was expected from this DAP, at the level of the flagships.

Add that without equalization they were a little colder and more backward. With my particular equalization of the voices I advanced them a little and I liked them much more. Warmer and more marked.

Regarding the TREBLE, I would say that they were not annoying at any time, on the contrary, sweet and on point.


To analyze the SOUNDSTAGE I also used my collection.

With Babi Mendes and The Bassface swing trio I was able to see enormous instrumental separation, perfectly placed on different layers. Although I lacked a little more soundstage high and wide.

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With Jordi Savall I appreciated a huge soundstage. Better than with previous themes.

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With the song Letter by Yosi Horikawa, I could hear perfectly how the chalk moved across the blackboard from left to right while he wrote. The sound placement was perfect.

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And finally, with the track Cinecitta, by Henri Texier, I heard how the instruments were progressively incorporated and each one was placed in its place, stratified by correctly placed and separated layers. The clarinet reaching the top, that sax invading all the space, then giving way to the electric guitar and making you feel the climax...

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COMPARISON:

For my testing, I paired the hiby R8II with both iems and headphones.

I used the ibasso it07 iem, and as headphones the hifiman Arya Organic and the Sennheiser HD600.

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My current DAP is the ibasso DX240 with the amp8 MKII.

I can say that the hiby delivers a more natural sound, less cold, more attractive, and above all with more body, more bass and sub-bass and more texture. And as for the voices, they sound softer and sweeter. The high treble is less strident and calm as well.



To sum up, this Hiby R8II, at this price and for everything it offers, both in design, configuration, and battery, is a true monster.
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foxyyy

New Head-Fier
HiBy R8 II - the Portable Concert Hall
Pros: premium build and design
generous storage
beautiful IPS touchscreen display
custom DAC architecture
multiple output options
open-android system
exceptional sound quality
neutral signature
spacious soundstage
detailed music reproduction
superb timbre & texture
versatility
Cons: price
weight/portability
heat
HiBy R8 II - Portable Concert Hall--Flagship HiFi DAP


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Comes in silver, blue & red colors.

I would like to extend my gratitude to HiBy for providing me with their flagship HiBy R8 II DAP for an honest review. This incredible unit was sent to me as part of a review tour with my audio enthusiast group. Rest assured, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I have received no financial gain for this review. I do not pretend to be an expert on audio, but as a common, regular enthusiast who loves good quality music, my experiences and insights may offer valuable perspective. I recommend auditioning the product yourself to determine how it aligns with your preferences.

UNBOXING

Unboxing the HiBy R8 II is a delight. The outer box features a color-changing holographic print, hinting at the premium product inside. Sliding out the inner box reveals the DAP nestled within, presented almost like a butterfly opening its wings. Alongside the device, you'll find a TPU mixed Alcantara protective case, a screen protector, a charging cable, port protector films, a warranty card/QC certificate, and a user guide. The meticulous packaging leaves no doubt that you're experiencing a flagship product from HiBy.

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HARDWARE

Once you pick up the DAP from the box, it exudes and projects a P-R-E-M-I-U-M product. From its slick stainless-steel chassis to the dual curve design of its sides and how the reflection of light dances around it’s mirror-like metallic finish, it radiates a visually stunning product as well as comfortable to hold and use. At the back of the unit, you will find a beautiful and elegant clad Alcantara material, a synthetic textile with a soft, suede-like microfiber pile, noted for its durability. Even the included TPU protective case is adorned with Alcantara on its sides.

There is no denying the fact that one of the thing you'll notice immediately upon holding the HiBy R8 II is it's weight. Its size is just about the same as my Samsung S23 Ultra smartphone, just slightly shorter and narrower but very thick and heavy. Imagine holding a 12,000mah powerbank in your hands, around 515 grams as stated in their website. This is one DAP I wouldn't be carrying around in my pocket for sure. As you would expect from a high power device, expect it to get warm when charging and in-use. Nothing to be of a concern though, normal for devices these days that uses a lot of juice. Using a 33w charger adapter, was able to charge the device from 50% to 100% in around 3 hours. So expect the most 6 hours to fully charge from a fully drained battery.

It uses a snappy Snapdragon 665, has generous amount of storage (8GB+256GB), Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port. Upon turning on the unit, you'll be greeted with a beautiful 5.9" IPS touchscreen with a solid and razor sharp 1080x2060 resolution. The display is bright, same with my Samsung S23 Ultra. Here is a pic compared to a Fiio M15 DAP:

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Being their flagship product, this is their only DAP that uses their very own evolutionary Darwin-MPA custom DAC architecture. Developed by HiBy to be fully configurable and flexible. Here’s an animation of how it works:

Darwin-MPA Animation

We ordinary consumers don’t need to fully understand the inner workings of Darwin, just the end product..a spacious, detailed, dense and powerful sound for our ears to enjoy & appreciate. Truly an evolutionary design that HiBy will continue and further improve with their future products. Here is a graph taken from their Instagram page of the comparison of their R-series DAPs:

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The unit’s amplification can be selected thru software. It has two options: class A and class A/B, which can be selected on the fly. As expected, class A would drain more battery and make the unit warmer. I chose to use class A/B instead as I find the sound difference very negligible. But if you want to absolutely have the best amplification, then you can leave it at class A for the readily available juice for your music. It also has a turbo mode which increases the max voltage therefore increases the max volume. Expect the battery to drain faster and the unit to heat up faster if both class A and turbo mode is on. You can play around which combination setting is best for you.

You can output thru it’s 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced port at the bottom, both capable enough to drive most iems and headphones with a decent output of 225mW and 710mW @ 32ohms respectively. It also has a 3.5mm & 4.4mm line-out as well. All four are available and all are physically separate from each other. Of course, Bluetooth is also an option.

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Overall, the presentation of the unit, the materials used, the technology inside screams top of the line. Indeed a flagship product that truly is worth its price.

SOFTWARE

HiBy digital audio players run on an open-Android system, meticulously tweaked to maximize the device's hardware capabilities. The HiBy R8 II operates on Android 12, providing a user experience that is familiar and intuitive, especially for long-time Android users. While it lacks phone functionality, it offers a wide range of capabilities akin to a smartphone. With access to the Play Store, users can install various apps such as social media, messaging, and even video streaming platforms. Additionally, users can choose their preferred music streaming service, including popular options like Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify, alongside the pre-installed HiBy Music App.

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The HiBy Music App, a staple for HiBy users, has undergone significant improvements since its inception, now offering a smooth and lag-free experience. Users can access high-resolution music files stored on the device and stream from services like Tidal and Qobuz. Personal playlists can be created using a combination of streamed tracks and local files. The app also features a software remote, allowing users to control the device from another device using HiByLink Controller, or to use the device as a server for remote music access through HiByLink Server.

Moreover, the app offers a range of audio customization options, including an equalizer, parametric equalizer, and the proprietary MSEB (Mage Sound 8-ball Tuning) for fine-tuning the frequency response to match your earphones or headphones. The system-wide plug-ins, meticulously tuned by HiBy engineers, subtly alter the tonality and dynamics of the audio without affecting the overall spectrum, providing a tailored sound experience based on individual preferences.

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LISTENING IMPRESSION

Let's dive into the heart of the matter: the quality of music delivered by HiBy's flagship DAP. To put it simply: WOW! After spending a week with the HiBy R8 II, I can't imagine going back to using my DAC dongle. The sound from the R8 surpasses expectations in every aspect.

The HiBy R8 II's sound signature is fairly neutral, offering a spacious soundstage reminiscent of a concert hall. It allows you to precisely locate instruments and vocals, whether they're in front, behind, above, below, or around you. The spatial sound is truly remarkable, immersing you in a three-dimensional sonic experience.

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Every minute detail in the music is presented, whether it's the grand macro elements or the subtle micro nuances. There's no bleeding between instruments, and the timbre and texture of each sound are incredibly lifelike. Vocals are particularly striking, with each tone and timber coming through distinctly, from the initial note to its lingering decay. This authenticity in rendering vocals and instruments allows listeners to fully appreciate the subtle nuances of the music, as if they were seated in the front row of a concert hall.

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Every headphone I connected, from the budget-friendly Tanchjim Zero IEM to the high-end Focal MG Clear headphones, sounded noticeably better with the HiBy R8 II. I even used it as a DAC for my home audio setup, and the richness and musicality it brought to my B&W speakers were exceptional. When connected to the head unit of my car, the sound was nothing short of exhilarating. The vocal and instrumental textures were a sheer delight to my ears. The HiBy R8 II's timbre stands out as one of its greatest strengths, unmatched by any other DAP.

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Listening to music on the HiBy R8 II is a testament to cutting-edge technology. Whether you're using IEMs, headphones, or other audio equipment, the Darwin-MPA ensures a premium listening experience. If audio quality is your top priority, then the HiBy R8 II is a flagship product that should be at the top of your list.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Equipment used for evaluation:

  • Topping DX3 Pro Desktop DAC/Amp
  • Shanling UA4 DAC/Amp Dongle
  • FIIO M15 DAP
  • Hifiman HE400SE Headphone
  • Audio-Technica ATH-R70X Headphone
  • Focal Clear MG Headphone
  • Tanchjim Zero IEM
  • Simgot EA500LM IEM
  • Symphonium Meteor IEM
  • Marantz PM-6006 Amplifier
  • B&W 606 Speakers
  • Stock Head Unit Ford Everest 2018

Official Website: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r8-ii
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mars chan
mars chan
NIce review :beerchug:
Zerstorer_GOhren
Zerstorer_GOhren
Nice review!
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Yefry

100+ Head-Fier
Hiby R8 II A step in the right direction
Pros: - Excellent design
- Great battery life
- Wide soundstage
- Natural neutral tone with excellent
technicalities
- Great screen in size and display quality
- Modern Android version
Cons: - Protective case with alcantara finish,
despite being of high quality
- The high size and weight make
transportation and usability difficult
-Packaging and unboxing

The box of the new Hiby R8 II is functional and elegant, the DAP is perfectly protected, it is very easy to access its interior and easily remove the player, the cardboard box is well made, magnetic and well organized, I find that it is more than enough for a satisfactory experience without going into too many luxuries that make the product more expensive, the box includes:

- DAP

- Custom made TPU and alcantara case

- Charging and data cable

- Screen and top and bottom bezel protectors

- Manuals

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-Technical specifications:

There is nothing better than a link to the Hiby website where you can easily and in detail see all its features. From my point of view we are looking at a high-end product according to its price and specifications.

https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r8-ii?variant=44121041797336

-Setup, handling and system

Firts, let's talk about the screen, we are looking at a screen with very good definition, more than enough brightness and perfect size in my opinion, I have no complaints at all about the R8's screen and I only wish that other manufacturers would pay the same attention that hiby when it comes to selecting a quality panel, the better visuals and usability that come with having 6 inches in size are notable, a success.

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The build finish is of a high quality, it feels robust and well put together, I find the Alcantara finish pleasing as most of us will use the device with the case provided, I don't find it a problem at all, the anodizing looks very well finished.

The buttons feel solid and have a pleasant touch and recoil, you can perfectly notice the response to pressing them, the only problem you may have is due to the case provided, it is difficult to determine the real location and which of the buttons you are pressing next. If you look at where you are playing, speaking of the case, it seems to me to be of very good quality, perhaps I would have preferred that the case did without the alcantara finish, but it is a personal preference.

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This is a heavy device, we are getting a DAP with a large screen, high amplification power and huge battery, which implies a high size and weight, personally I still find it manageable and within acceptable limits, it can be handled with a hand that still requires some effort to do so.

The first turn on and setup of the Hiby R8 II is extremely fast, just select the language and time zone, in a few seconds you will be on the home screen ready to play your favorite music, adding the Google account is the same Quick and easy, just open the PlayStore and log in with your Google account.

In the software section we have Android 12 which responds very fluidly and quickly in general, the 8GB of RAM and the use of faster ROM memory in the system are noticeable, I have had practically no bugs and anything that I may have had It is too irrelevant to mention it since I don't even remember it, so it does not spoil the user experience at any time.

In all my DAPs I like to install Nova Launcher and Power AMP, the first is an application launcher that allows me to customize the home screen to my liking, it allows me to add certain shortcuts such as the screen lock to avoid excessive use of the button, as well as direct access to the audio configuration menu, avoiding going through the notification bar to access said settings.

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I like Power AMP again for its impressive customization and great appearance.

Both applications work perfectly and without hiccups.

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In the software section there are some things that from my point of view should be added, the first is being able to unlock the screen with a double tap and thus avoid making such continuous use of the button, the second are widgets or shortcuts to very useful functions and widely used such as Pluguins, PEQ or MSEB to name a few, this facilitates access to options that are used very frequently and avoids having to navigate through several menus.

Then there is the battery life, I will only mention that it is excellent and even though I have not calculated the hours of playback that I have achieved, it is a device with a long battery life, you can make intensive use of the screen, the WiFi and still get many hours of music playback.

-Sound

I mainly listen to Pop, Rock and EDM to give a quick description, although random tracks from many other genres are included.

To make a first general description I will say that its sound signature is extremely balanced, perfectly neutral with extended bass and treble, this giving a general U-shaped sound signature, wide soundstage and excellent tonality, the speed and technicalities are of first level.

At first it seemed a touch colder and more analytical than other DAP due to its incredible transparency and speed, but that idea quickly disappeared from my head, giving way to a sound with the best balance I have ever heard in a DAP.

It has a lot of power available and although it is possible that with most iems it will not be noticeable, if there will be a noticeable difference with full size headphones or even with certain iems, I was able to test the R8 with Grand Maestro, which is undoubtedly the iem most power-hungry I've ever been, and the extra power improves some aspects of the sound, for example helping to maintain bass definition and presence, and also maintaining clarity and separation in the most demanding moments when a lot is happening at once on certain tracks.


-TREBLE

The highs on the new R8 have excellent detail and extension, they can show a lot of detail and a lot of air, which contributes to forming its large soundstage, in my opinion its slight emphasis is on the higher treble, this avoiding the troublesome mid-high area, where the dreaded listening fatigue can appear, everything is there, with excellent precision, detail and impressive speed, despite having slightly enhanced and extended treble, everything feels natural, there is nothing that is present in an overly accentuated or artificial way, it is free of any hint of listening fatigue, if you are a person looking for a very warm and relaxed sound, you may not find that here, but I am also sure that you can get used to it quickly due to its naturalness, free from any discomfort.

-Mids

I will be simple and direct, the best, most balanced and best tuned that I have ever heard in a DAP, many times manufacturers insist on advancing the mids where they give a W shape to the sound, bringing the singer closer to a few meters from the listener or even if it seems like you're on stage with him, it doesn't seem like a realistic sound presentation to me.

Luckily, Hiby adapted another approach, the mids are neither delayed nor advanced, they are in a simply perfect position, you are not too far from the stage, nor very close, you are simply in a privileged position in which everything is heard widely, spaced out and precise, you can feel everything around you and look anywhere without feeling like you are swimming between the instruments and the artist, I will use the words naturalness, precision and spaciousness.

Each element is perfectly separated and positioned in the vast soundstage, with enviable clarity and precision. Before I mentioned the word perfectly neutral, because everything has a very correct note weight, it does not have the necessary body to classify the signature as warm, but it is also not thin enough to call it cold or analytical, it is neutral in the best sense of the word, since we have sublime image positioning, incredible amount of detail, but it still sounds natural, there is nothing metallic or artificial that It will take you out of the immersion, all of this contributes in my point of view to offering the best media I have heard to date in a DAP.

-Lows

The bass is another star of the show and another of the pillars of the new R8, they have enviable speed, texture and impact, here you will not find anything slow or bloated, they always remain in place, despite their high quantity they are never overwhelming, neither eclipse the mids or highs, another tour de force of this DAP, it is incredibly deep and detailed, with excellent control and precision, its focus lies, rightly, in the subbass, not in the low mids that, although not they are clipped, they are not emphasized, someone may prefer a little more midbass and you can easily achieve that with any of the multiple adjustments that the device offers, but this approach favors the general signature that is sought with this DAP, which is clarity and separation, with a lot of headroom and air, if you are a fan of elevared bass with good taste, excellent control, depth and speed this DAP will give you great moments.

-Soundstage & Technicalities

Both are at a very high level, the soundstage is very wide, with very good positioning and individuality of the elements, there is a lot of separation and it never sounds slow or confusing, it manages to maintain the rhythm and speed even in the most complex or busy passages , there is no sense of loss of control or congestion in the presentation.

The timbre, despite its neutrality and scarce coloration, feels attractive and natural, thus respecting the sound signature of the iem in question, the instruments obtain a lot of texture and sound realistically.

There is a certain height and depth in the sound, thus providing a certain holographic sensation to the sound, although it is true that the height and depth images are not its strong point and there is room for improvement, the effect can be perceived in a decent way, due to since all the other technical aspects are at a very high level, I don't think anyone will feel disappointed in the technical section.

-Sound customization

I think Hiby is aware of how much audiophiles like to play different parameters and adjust various aspects of the sound, if you like to try and experiment with it, congratulations, this DAP is perfect for you, you can adjust very easily multiple parameters, but let's go in parts.

The first thing is the filters, there are many available and the truth is that the changes are much more noticeable than in other devices with third-party DACs in which, honestly, it is very difficult to hear any type of change between them, I notice that they mainly affect the texture and decay of notes, especially in the bass.

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There is something worth highlighting and that is that the modifications work at the system level and will be applied regardless of the application used, so they will even work on Tidal or any streaming application.

From my point of view the most notable are the parametric equalizer (PEQ) and the MSEB, which allows you to adjust and modify certain sound parameters extremely easily, you get slight adjustments here and there to adapt the sound to your liking.

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But it doesn't end here, in addition, there are several Plugins, in which to apply additional modifications to the sound, the two most notable that I tried were Sound field, which allows you to play with the width of the sound scene, and DRX10K Dynamic, which makes some sound effects, in this case, divided into three bands: treble, medium and bass.

If you think that some aspect of the sound needs some slight adjustment, you will almost certainly find a way to adapt it in one way or another.

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In short, it is the most complete and versatile DAP that I have been able to try, a tuning that you will hardly find lacking, a natural sound loaded with power and details, as if that were not enough, sound customization options in multiple ways, someone from further??

The only real disadvantage, not too notable, compared to other competitors in the same category such as the DX320 and N7, is a certain lack of height and depth, but it more than makes up for it in many other aspects of sound and user experience, so R8 rises to the top of my list of recommendations, if someone asks me about the value of the device, I would say yes, its high price is justified and you will get an experience accordingly.

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YanaMJ

100+ Head-Fier
Speechless : My encounter with the flagship R8II
Pros: - Stunning look in red or black (yes I've used both. I let you know why at the end of my review) / nice use of real Alcantara fabric
- Very responsive android dap
- Huge lifetime battery
- Hybrid case (silicone and Alcantara) of excellent quality
- Better wifi than R6PROII
- Impressive sound qualities
- Excellent amplification
Cons: - Can become a little hot on A amp and turbo mode combined
- Would have prefered a leather case to keep the luxurious feeling of the whole DAP (I'll be ok to buy one if sold one day)
Before starting the review itself, I'd like to precise the dap was a free loan of 10 days from Hiby in exchange of a fair review. This is my first review for a DAP. I'm only a passionate and not a professional so I'll do my best to express my feelings in the following words.

My current daps are the Hiby R6PROII and the R6 2020. Previously I mainly used Ibasso daps but I fell in love with Hiby in 2021. I also have a lots of dongles such as Cayin RU6 and RU7, Fiio KA17 for the most up-to-date...

I had never heard a better dap than my R6PROII and was very curious of how a flagship dap should sound. So when Hiby announced the R8II Tour opened to everyone, I took my chance.

Usually,my main listenings are with my Kennerton headphones Thekk and Vali on an external hyrbrid amplifier and on my Marshall Hanwell ( if you don't know this speaker don't juge it too harshly it is far far better than the new Marshall speakers). I almost never plug these headphones directly to my DAP's, only my IEM's.


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So when I received the Hiby R8II I was first really impressed with its look and color. The red is really nice more like the red used in car's interiors, not really easy to show on pictures (looks more light). I also like the secure feeling we have without the case thanks to the Alcantara fabric. It doesn't slip at all. Whole impression is one of luxury.


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Even if it is not in my habit to plug my headphones straight to my DAP's I was determined to make several experiences with it and see what it has in its belly.

High gain, turbo mode, AB amp, Darwin default and here we go...Of course,I tried several options, filters, plugins but this is my default configuration. This is really what I prefered during my 10 days. To be honest, I'm not someone who likes to play with EQ and I didn't feel the need to do so with this R8II anyway.


Yes, it was love at the first sight (first listening to be precise :sweat_smile:) . What a sound !!!


Everything is more refined, vocals have more presence, bass is meaty. I understand why Hiby calls it the portable concert hall. I am in the middle of the recording. I feel the instruments. And it drives my headphones really well. I don't feel the need to plug them on my amplifier everytime. The amplifier is like an option to offer another colour of sound more than an upgrade now.

I've tested all my headphones, several iems and the conclusion is always the same: the R8II makes all my devices sing. And it also applies to my Marshall Hanwell.


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It was such a revelation, I was obsessed with the fact this beauty has to leave. I wanted it to be mine. So I've ordered my « little »portable concert hall.

It was hard but I've finally chosen the black version.

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I have no better conclusion.

Hope you'll enjoy this R8II has much as I enjoy it
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YanaMJ
YanaMJ
This is up to you but not a matter for me
Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
Hi @AboveNBeyond we offer many models with a volume wheel, if you believe that is more important, you may get e.g. the R6III or the RS6 or the RS8.

To me, I would rather revisit the idea of a volume wheel when we have made further improvements on the implementation of such.
W
W41N
Great review @YanaMJ - it seems to have it all, looks, performance, sound, tuning (for those who want that) and uncomplicated charging with absolutely phenomenal battery life...

Ianbanz

New Head-Fier
Hiby R8 II
Pros: • Exceptional sound quality
• Powerful hardware: With a strong processor and ample RAM, it can handle demanding audio processing tasks smoothly.
• Versatile connectivity
• Sleek design: Its aesthetic appeal and premium build quality.
Cons: • No double tap to wake screen.
• Wape up/power button is recessed and hard to reach specially with the tpu case on.
• The volume animation splash screen can be distracting, a simple volume bar indicator on the edge of the screen is better.
• When charging th R8 II the screen stays on and will not go to standy or sleep mode, you have to shutdown the dap when charging.
• Bulky size: It's large and heavy which could affect portability but it does add to the premium appeal.
Embarking on my maiden voyage on reviewing Digital Audio Players (DAPs), I find myself in the capable hands of the Hiby R8II, a device that promises to redefine my audio experience. Join me as I navigate through its features, sound quality, and overall performance, offering short insights from a first time Dap reviewers perspective. Before we dive in, a heartfelt acknowledgment to Hiby for including me in their Philippines review tour, and a special thanks to my brothers and fellow audiophiles at Audio Geek Philippines for their support and camaraderie along the way.

Holding the R8 II in my hands and feeling the heft and weight of it i cant help but think that this dap is a peak of audio engineering, seamlessly blending technology with exquisite craftsmanship to deliver an unforgetable listening experience. In this short review, we explore the different features, technical specifications, and performance capabilities of this flagship digital audio player.

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DAC

At the heart of the HiBy R8II lies the Darwin-MPA technology, a proprietary DAC solution crafted in-house by HiBy. This technology ensures pristine audio reproduction, with unrivaled clarity, detail, and fidelity. Darwin-MPA DAC architecture is a highly adaptable setup designed to optimize playback across various formats and resolutions. Coupled with high-quality opamps (OPA1612 and ADA4625-2) The DAP offers a powerful output of 710mW at 32 ohms in its balanced mode and 225mW at 32 ohms single-ended, providing ample power to drive even demanding iems and headphones. R8II offers support for high-resolution audio formats, including DSD 1024 and PCM 32-Bit at a very high sampling rate of 1536 kHz. This ensures that every nuance of the music is faithfully preserved.


Amplification

It also adopts a sophisticated balanced amplification design, seamlessly integrating both Class A and Class AB amplifiers to deliver optimal performance across the entire frequency spectrum. This ensures powerfull output with low distortion, and exceptional dynamics.


Battery

Powering the HiBy R8II is a 12000mAh battery, providing ample juice to sustain extended listening sessions. although the actual longevity will depend on usage patterns, particularly screen usage and playback settings. The charging time of 5 hours can be a bit lengthy, but this is somewhat expected given the battery size. A minor quirk i notice is that when charging the R8II the screen will stay lit, will not go to sleep or standy mode when charging and displays an annoying blinking charging percentage every second. you have to shutdown the dap while charging if you want to charge it with the display off.

Connectivity

With support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi, along with Bluetooth 5.0, this ensures robust connectivity options for streaming and wireless audio transmission. The inclusion of USB 3.1 enhances its functionality, allowing for faster data transfer and better handling of external accessories.


Operating System

Seamlessly integrated into the HiBy R8II is the latest iteration of the Android operating system, Android 12. This not only provides access to a vast ecosystem of apps like UAPP, Tidal etc.. via the Google Play Store but also ensures a smooth and intuitive user experience, with snappy seamless navigation and multitasking. this also offers a familiar and flexible operating system that is both robust and customizable and with support for OTA updates and the ability to install third-party apps can significantly enhance the device's functionality.

Processor

Driving the performance of the R8II is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 CPU, renowned for its efficiency and processing prowess. This ensures swift response times, seamless playback, and lag free performance even when handling demanding audio processing tasks. Equipped with 8GB of RAM, the R8 II is on par with many modern smartphones in terms of processing power, ensuring a smooth user interface experience under Android 12. This allows the DAP to handle not only music playback but also the efficient running of third-party apps available for installation.

Memory and Storage

Ample memory and storage capacities, the R8II offers generous room for storing high-resolution audio files, apps, and multimedia content. With 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage expandable thru micro sdcard.


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Build Quality

The R8II features a stainless steel chassis, providing a tough and premium housing for its internals. This not only enhances durability but also adds a touch of sophistication to the device's aesthetic appeal, premium feel and durability, albeit with a hefty profile at 515 grams. Its dimensions (149*78*23 mm) make it one of the bulkier players in the market, which might deter those seeking portability. However, the solid build is indicative of a device designed to offer a substantial tactile experience, befitting its flagship status.

Complementing the sleek stainless steel chassis is the luxurious Alcantara back panel with a choice of blue or red colourway, adding a tactile and premium feel to the HiBy R8II. This premium material not only enhances grip and comfort but also adds a touch of opulence to the device's design.


Display

Front and center, the HiBy R8II boasts a stunning 5.9-inch IPS 1080p+ display, offering vibrant colors, crisp details, and immersive visuals. Browsing through music libraries, navigating menus, or enjoying album artwork, the high-resolution display ensures a visually engaging experience looking at the album artwork while enjoying your favorite tracks.
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SOUND

This dap delivers a sound signature characterized by its exceptional balance and neutrality, making it a standout choice for audiophiles seeking accurate and natural audio reproduction. With a touch of warmth that enhances natural vocal clarity.

The neutral sound signature of the Hiby R8 II ensures that every element of the audio spectrum is represented faithfully, from the deepest bass to the crispest treble. Vocals are particularly noteworthy, organic and warm sounding with a natural timbre.

One of the standout features of the R8 II's sound signature is its ability to deliver clean and clear details across the entire frequency range. Intricate instrumental passages or delicate vocals, every nuance is rendered with precision and clarity, allowing you to hear the music exactly as the artist intended.


BASS

The bass reproduction is tight, clean and controlled, with excellent accuracy that ensures a satisfying low-end response without overpowering the rest of the audio spectrum. This balanced bass response adds depth and dimension to music genres that rely mostly on low frequencies.

MIDS

In terms of mid-range reproduction, the R8 II excels at preserving the natural tonality of instruments and vocals, allowing them to shine through with clarity, warmth and detail. The mid-range is not recessed nor forward, striking a perfect balance that ensures every note and vocals is presented with accuracy and authenticity.

TREBLE

The treble performance is crisp and articulate and not too overly energetic delivering sparkling highs that add brilliance and airiness to the overall sound signature. High-frequency details are reproduced with finesse, enhancing the overall listening experience and providing a sense of openness and transparency.


PLUG-INS

The R8II have five plugins to play with. Convolution, Fixed Sample Rate, Sound Field, Balance and DRX10K Dynamics but i will discuss only the two plugins which i think makes a big noticable changes on my tracks the DRX10K Dynamics and my most used the Sound Field plugin.

The Sound Field Plugin is designed to augment the spatial characteristics of the audio playback, allowing users to tailor the width of the soundstage according to their preferences. By manipulating the stereo image, this plugin can create a sense of expansiveness and immersion, particularly suited for IEMs capable of delivering impressive staging depth.

What i really like about the Sound Field Plugin is its ability to enhance the perceived width of the soundstage, providing a more immersive and engaging listening experience. When paired with IEMs like the Symphonium Audio Meteor or The Hidizs MP145, which already exhibit a spacious sound signature, the plugin takes the presentation to new heights. The result is a captivating sense of width and clarity on both ends of the spectrum, particularly evident in airy and ethereal genres.

When setting the plugin value too high can lead to unintended consequences, such as a loss of vocal presence, heightened upper-mid frequencies, and a hall-like reverb effect. To achieve optimal separation and balance, it's recommended to find the sweet spot just slightly to the right of the slider's center. for me this 3 parameters i find best 1.65, 1.75 and 1.80 where the widening effect is pronounced yet controlled.


The DRX10K Dynamics plugin is designed to address perceived compression in recordings by teasing out desired levels of dynamics in specific frequency response areas. With individual sliders for bass, mids, and treble, users can fine-tune the gain levels with up to a potential 10 dB swing in 0.5 dB increments. This level of control allows for precise adjustments tailored to the characteristics of the audio source and personal preferences.

The DRX10K excels in unlocking the dynamic brilliance of audio recordings, offering users the flexibility to sculpt the tonal balance according to their preferences. While some poeple find that the stock settings may not always be ideal for every IEM or Headphone choice, the ability to customize the settings opens up a world of possibilities. By experimenting with different combinations of gain levels, users can achieve unique presentations that highlight specific aspects of the audio, such as vocal dynamics or instrument separation.

When adjusting the parameters of the DRX10K increasing the gain levels can enhance dynamics, it may also lead to potential issues such as clipping during dynamic peaks specially when using sensitive and low impedance iems like my 5 ohm Hidizs MS5. Therefore, it's advisable to keep the gain levels at least 3-4 dB below zero to prevent distortion. Additionally, users should be mindful of the trade-offs involved, including potential reverb, attenuation, and staging quirks. Moderation is key to achieving optimal results, especially when combining the plugin with other audio enhancement tools such as Sound Field and MSEB.

In conclusion, the DRX10K Dynamics plugin for the R8 II is not just a fancy EQ it actually offers a powerful tool for enhancing the dynamics of audio playback, allowing users to tailor the sound to their preferences with precision and flexibility. By manipulating bass, mids, and treble frequencies, users can unlock the full potential of their tracks, highlighting nuances and intricacies that may otherwise go unnoticed.
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Conclusion

In wrapping up my inaugural journey into the world of Digital Audio Players and my exploration of the HiBy R8 II, I'm left deeply impressed and thoroughly enriched by the experience. The R8 II's exceptional blend of technology, premium craftsmanship, and outstanding audio performance has not only redefined my understanding of portable audio but has also set a high bar for future reviews. As I bid farewell to this remarkable device, I do so with gratitude to HiBy for the opportunity and to my brothers and fellow audiophiles in Audio Geek for their trust and support. Here's to many more adventures in the realm of high-fidelity sound, with the HiBy R8 II as a benchmark of excellence guiding my way.
Ianbanz
hokagoteatimereviews
hokagoteatimereviews
Great review!

mars chan

New Head-Fier
Hiby R8 II, review, and comparison.
Pros: .
+ excellent sound quality, befitting its price.
+ solid and luxurious-feeling chassis.
+ very good-looking responsive touch screen.
+ perfectly weighted buttons.
+ gold-plated sockets.
+ good battery life and fast charging.
Cons: .
- no double tap gesture for screen off.
- The volume control screen overlay gets in the way.
- I wish it had a volume control knob.
- The included case is made of TPU, not leather.
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Hiby R8 II, review, and comparison.

This review and comparison is a result of a lucky coincidence, because just after I bought myself a Fiio M15s digital audio player (DAP), and I haven't told anyone about it yet, Eiji Zerstorer Romero asked me if I wanted to review the Hiby R8 II. What a great opportunity it was to be able to compare my Fiio M15s to the more expensive Hiby R8 II. Thank you, Eiji, and of course, Hiby, for providing us with a review unit of a high-end DAP, the Hiby R8 II. I also would like to thank Neil Nino Clark for sending me the DAP. I only have 10 days to review the R8 II, and after that, I have to return it.

Hiby is an audiophile company based in China. They make high-quality DAPs with prices ranging from 150 US dollars to as high as 3,200 US dollars. They also made the Hiby FC6 dongle DAC/amp, which is popular among the portable audiophile community, and on top of that, they also developed apps, software, and firmware that are used by other companies to run some of their DAPs.

The Hiby R8 II is a 2000-dollar Android-based DAP that has a stainless steel chassis and weighs 515 grams. It's an open Android platform, so you can install other apps or music players; you can connect it to Wifi and watch YouTube and look at social media; it is like a smartphone but without cameras, speakers, or mobile data; it and others like it are solely made for music lovers who like to listen to the best sound quality possible.

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The stainless chassis and the alcantara covered back made the R8 II feel very classy in the hand; the over 500 grams of weight added to the luxurious feel; the gold-plated ports; and the perfectly weighted tactile buttons always remind me that I'm holding a high-end product.

User interface and battery life:

The user interface is responsive, and the screen and battery life are very good, especially for a DAP.

Power and pairing:


It drove my Sennheiser HD6xx and other headphones easily at mid and high gain settings, but for this review, I only use 3 of my in-ear monitors (IEM), namely the Hidizs MP145, which is a planar, the Simgot EA1000, which is a single dynamic driver (DD), and the Xenns Mangird Top, which is a hybrid of DD and BA, or balanced armature drivers, with the gain setting set to low. I use the ePro EP00 medium size and Dunu S&S large eartips with cables from Tripowin, Xinhs, and JBC audio in balance 4.4mm connection. The phone out and the line out are noise free and provide me with all the power I require.

Settings:

I used the class AB amplifier mode exclusively, as I find it to sound more dynamic and have better-controlled bass than the class A mode. It sounds fabulous at the default settings, so I never felt the need to tweak the MSEB and the Darwin DAC's audio parameters. Also, no EQ was used. WiFi and Bluetooth were turned off. Additionally, I didn't critically listened to it while it was charging to eliminate the potential of the audio signal being contaminated.

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Sound signature and tonality:

First of all, I'd like to clarify that the sound coming from the R8 II is very neutral, with a very flat frequency response and zero sonic coloration; in short, it is very transparent. Anything I say about the sound quality amounts to very little in real-life casual listening; some people might not notice them and some might not care, so take them with a grain of salt.

The sound is very refined and neutral, with a hint of warmth in the bass and a tiny amount of recession in the upper midrange and lower treble. The upper treble is neutral in intensity and is very extended. You will easily recognize that you are listening to a high-end device by just how smooth and refined it sounds; it's like taking a ride in a luxury vehicle in its smoothness and refinement.

Sound staging:

It's huge; it's like you are in a very big venue where the music is happening, more so than all my other audio sources.

Imaging:

The images of the musical instruments and vocals are planted in front in a very spatially stable manner and are well separated from each other; they don't get mixed together even at high volume levels; they remain very stable and clear.

Dynamics:

The power delivery is effortless; I hear no strain coming from its amplifiers, but I also observed that the dynamics are just average; they are neither the most anemic nor the most energetic I have heard; they are just average and neutral in their punchiness.

Bass:

The bass is not the tightest and most controlled I've heard; it's not too loose either; it lets go of total control just enough to make the bass sound a little warm. On some tracks, I can hear a tiny hint of boominess on fast successive beats, but it's never bloated. The overall sound of the bass is very pleasant.

Midrange:

The midrange is very smooth and neutral, with a huge sound stage. I hear a tiny amount of relaxation in the upper midrange, making it forgiving of badly recorded music tracks. Some female voices sound very seductive and sweet, with a very palpable presence.

Treble:

The treble is very extended, airy, and detailed; the lower treble is a little laid back. I can hear all the nuances and micro-details from the instruments while remaining non-fatiguing.

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Compare to Fiio M15s:


The Fiio M15s is a mid-priced DAP that costs half the Hiby R8 II, and it's not a surprise that the R8 II feels more luxurious in the hand. The R8 II has a much better screen too.

I used the Hiby music app, the Fiio music app on the M15s, and mostly the Poweramp music player for this comparison.

I use the medium or high gain settings only for the Fiio M15s because the low gain setting sounds a little bright, grainy, and metallic. By doing so together with turning on the "All to DSD" feature bring it very close to the sound quality of the R8 II, about 97% in my estimate.

The Hiby R8 II sounds more refined, smooth, and liquid, with a bigger sound stage and a cleaner, darker background. The instrument decay is also cleaner-sounding, with more air around the vocals and instruments, but let me tell you again that with the settings on the M15s previously stated, the differences in sound quality are really minute.

Without using the "All to DSD" feature on the M15s, Both the R8 II and the M15s are very musical and engaging, but the R8 II sounds more laid-back and forgiving of badly recorded music, while the M15 II is more analytical and unforgiving, which can sometimes more likely to cause fatigue on poorly recorded tracks.

The Hiby R8 II has a noticeably better battery life than the Fiio M15s.

In the Fiio M15s' defense, it has snappier and bolder dynamics, tighter bass response, and more forward in detail presentation, not to mention that the M15s has an excellent volume control knob and much better free leather case as opposed to the R8 II's TPU case. Plus, there are some songs and genres that suit the M15s better, like metal and electronic music.

Is the Hiby R8 II worth the price premium over the Fiio M15s? This is the question that came to mind upon knowing I would be reviewing the R8 II, and my answer is a resounding yes! The big sound stage, smoothness, and overall refinement in sound quality of the R8 II over the M15s are impossible to deny.
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Compared to Topping G5:

The Topping G5 is a battery-powered DAC/amp combo that has state-of-the art measured performance.

Overall, the R8 II sounds better; it has a bigger sound stage and has clearer details; it also has a more musical and engaging sound. The only area where the Topping G5 can top the R8 II is in the bass; it is more controlled and taut.

Compared to my other USB dongle Dac/amps:

Compared to my Hidizs S9 Pro Plus Martha, Moondrop Moonriver 2, Dawn Pro, Fiio Ka11, and all
the other USB dongle DAC I have heard of, forget it guys, they could all go home now; there's no contest. I feel like I'm downgrading in sound quality every time I have to use those dongles when I'm at work or outside. I can't say 100 percent sure that this is better than all the dongle DAC/amps available, though. As I haven't yet heard the Hiby FC6, L&P W4, Questyle M15i, iFi Kensei, and other expensive DACs, I am only 99.9999% certain that this is better because all the USB dongle DACs have limited power supply as they have to rely on the USB from the phone for power, ultimately limiting the sound quality.

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Minor complaints:


I wish it had a double tap for screen-off gesture.

I wish Hiby made the volume control animation that takes over the whole screen every time I adjust the volume optional; correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't found a menu in the DAP to turn the animation off.

I wish the free case was made of leather, not TPU.


Pros:

+ excellent sound quality, befitting its price.
+ solid and luxurious-feeling chassis.
+ very good-looking responsive touch screen.
+ perfectly weighted buttons.
+ gold-plated sockets.
+ good battery life and fast charging.


Cons:

- no double tap gesture for screen off.
- The volume control screen overlay gets in the way.
- I wish it had a volume control knob.
- The included case is made of TPU, not leather.

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I now see why the Hiby R8 II is priced as it is. Upon first listen, it is clear to me that this DAP was meticulously optimized, from the parts used, the design and materials utilized, the engineering of their unique digital to analog converter chip, and the fine tuning of that chip's algorithm. This level of sound clarity and finesse does not happen by chance, and I can hear it every time I listen to the Hiby R8 II.

Would I recommend the Hiby R8 II to friends over the more affordable DAPs? Sure, without hesitation, if they have the funds. It's so good that I would even advise audiophiles to save up some cash to get it. And that wraps up my review and comparison of the superbly-sounding Hiby R8 II. Cheers!

4-11-2024
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hokagoteatimereviews
hokagoteatimereviews
Great detailed review!!
mars chan
mars chan
Thank you Hokagoteatimereviews :slight_smile: :beerchug:
senorx12562
senorx12562
Absolutely agree. I have not heard any $3k+ daps, so not an expert, but the N7 and R8ii make me think the totl daps might be overkill, at least for my old deaf ass. Especially with the c9.

MusicalDoc8

500+ Head-Fier
The (not so) little red brick of musical wonder!
Pros: - Detail
- Internal storage
- CPU power
- Button location (also a cons)
- Power
Cons: - Button location (also a pro)
- Might be too sparkly with some pairings
It's big, it's beautiful, it's wonderful to the touch! Here it comes the review of the DAP/Accent piece called HiBy R8II!

First off: they basically gave ALL the steroids to the R6ProII, making it grow big and strong. And also gave it a wonderful alcantara jacket. It is true that it can be considered something that can get dirty over time, but the looks are just great.
They put the buttons on both side, left for volume control, right for all the others. To me the old controls on the RS8 were the apex of controls, impossible to push the wrong buttons, and one side free for better handling. But to each their own, and experimenting is never a wrong thing to improve a product!

But the real question that i hope to answer here is: Is this a titan killer that for 2k mogs the TOTL daps and thus usher a new deflationary trend in DAPs?
Testing methodology: I pit the R8II vs my RS8, both turbo settings, high gain and both using my LCD5 to give them a big sweat with THE audio equivalent of an electron microscope.

Let's get started:
Right off the bat, i had to really go between the player constantly to get any real readout. The R8II exhibits a more analytical experience, in the sense that the RS8 has a more "armounious" sound, bring the whole frequency spectrum together, while the R8II i feel has a tendency for emphasys on higher frequencies and separation. Mind you, the difference is there but it is taxing to actually be sure of what i just wrote, thus it should be considered a "nuance", and not something that impacts sound too deeply.
And as always, sample your DAPs before purchase! though at this point i also have to say that unless you have already a TOTL player, this guy is 99.5% of the TOTL game for half the price. I feel the last 0.5%, the "apex predator" part, is when it goes beyond just perfection in technicalities and frequency response and brings the music more "coherently" together.

Classical Song: Beethoven, Simphony no.9 1. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
Both they render it wonderfully, but if i were to boil up the experience, is a tad more "neutral" on the R8II, while the RS8 links tha whole spectrum together in a more organic way. I'd say that the RS8 is what you feel when you have the sound played by an instrument, while the R8II feels like how it sounds straight from a top-end surround system. It's apex technicalities + tonality on the R8II and apex technicalities + tonality + armonious on the RS8.


Jazz: Weaver - A Anight Of Chesky Jazz Live at Town Hall
There again is the only real difference i can spot: the RS8 goes in to avoid any "excess" in the frequencies, and the highs are rendered powerfully yet never shrilly. Meanwhile the R8II follows very strictly the recording, and it feels like the highs are a tad higher and less to my liking. Though the R8II also seems to have a small edge in soundstage. Listening to the song, at the 4.50 mark, there is the audience clapping, and the R8II feels like sitting in the center front row, hearing the distinct claps, while the RS8 has a really small reduction of the individual claps.

Vocal: I Put a Spell On You - Casey Abrams - Chesky Records
I feel here the slight edge of the R8II in soundstage here, and the same tendency of edging toward laser-like accuracy of the sound vs the more "enveloping" feeling of the sound on the RS8.
It highlights the difference in philosophy of the player. The RS8 is geared toward the most armonious sound, while R8II is geared more toward soundstage improvement and sound positioning.

Metal: Through the Fire and Flames - Dragonforce
The RS8 makes a more armonious sound, while the R8II analytical aspect makes for a less "coherent" sound, focusing too much of detail and slightly missing to amalgam the sound. Basically you get "too" detailed, and thus it feels less engaging and more a dry description.


Videogame/: Atomic Heart - Golden Hoop (NEUS Remix)
The RS8's rendition is amazing, engaging and powerful, visceral! The R8II is more evened out, spacing the different sound sources, powerful basses and pleasant highs. But if i were to chose one, the RS8 wins in the "emotional" aspect, while the R8II is "analytical".

Battery:
Gotta add this part beacuse the RS8 has less battery drain both in idle and while playing. Not otherwordly, but can make a difference since i prefer charging my players as rarely as possible to maximize battery lifespan. Then again, the R8II follows the wise philosophy of HiBy with two sets of screws that can be unscrewed to access the battery, thus changing it isn's much of an hassle.

Conclusions:
For 2k, it's basically a TOTL minus, when compared to the RS8, that special sauce that brings the sound more "armoniously" together. Hard to put in words, better to listen to it with a TOTL HP and have the time to try different sounds.
Hiby made a player that gives you so much TOTL experience that gives you much reason to hesitate to invest more into the DAP game. Is it perfect? No the RS8 in my opinion is still the King. But this is just a step under it, and for basically half the price. New to the DAP game? This is your endgame before you have a chance to try the RS8 and fall in love with it. But if you want the peak perf-price in the TOTL game, this is it easily.
Very reccomended, and my congratulations to HiBy for having a very sensible pricing policy. Other could have slapped a 3k price on it and still would have been competitive. HiBy instead chose to allow more people to experience this level of sound, and for that they have my respect, in a world where companies try to milk their customers dry instead of earning their love and support.

TL;DR
R8II is a monster of detail and technicalities. FR is so even you can use it as a level, and you have a laser-like accuracy in sound direction. And the price-performance is amazing.
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kesobie

100+ Head-Fier
Two Weeks in Heaven: My Experience with the HiBy R8 II
Pros: Extremely well-engineered piece of tech
TOTL build & aesthetics
Alcantara fabric is VERY premium
Great screen quality for a DAP
Very responsive and stable UI
AMAZING Battery life for how much the DAP does
Feature-rich
Versatile device
Darwin-MPA is an improvement from the standard R2R
Dedicated Tube-like OPAMPS
Great for media consumption
Solid power output on 4.4mm
Turbo Mode for extra power and crispness
Smooth, analogue-like sound without massive compromise on technologies
Hi-Res wireless support
System-Wide Bit Perfect Audio
HiBy suite works flawlessly with the DAP
Great storage size and expansion
8gb RAM is more than enough for audio and slight multitasking operations
Cons: Might be too thick or too heavy
SE might be too low-powered for some
Alcantara fabric is a dust magnet and might not age well
Gets VERY hot on turbo mode and 4.4mm
4 hours to fully charge from 0 to 100%

Two Weeks in Heaven: My Experience with the HiBy R8 II


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WATCH FULL REVIEW HERE:



PRICE: $1,999​


PROS:​

  • Extremely well-engineered piece of tech
  • TOTL build & aesthetics
  • Alcantara fabric is VERY premium
  • Great screen quality for a DAP
  • Very responsive and stable UI
  • AMAZING Battery life for how much the DAP does
  • Feature-rich
  • Versatile device
  • Darwin-MPA is an improvement from the standard R2R
  • Dedicated Tube-like OPAMPS
  • Great for media consumption
  • Solid power output on 4.4mm
  • Turbo Mode for extra power and crispness
  • Smooth, analogue-like sound without massive compromise on technologies
  • Hi-Res wireless support
  • System-Wide Bit Perfect Audio
  • HiBy suite works flawlessly with the DAP
  • Great storage size and expansion
  • 8gb RAM is more than enough for audio and slight multitasking operations


CONS:​

  • Might be too thick or too heavy
  • SE might be too low-powered for some
  • Alcantara fabric is a dust magnet and might not age well
  • Gets VERY hot on turbo mode and 4.4mm
  • 4 hours to fully charge from 0 to 100%

WHO THIS UNIT IS FOR:​

  • People looking for an overall TOTL music listening experience
  • People looking for a powerful, feature-rich, and versatile music player
  • People looking for an analog-like sound without compromising on technicalities or distortion
  • People who want a well-built premium looking and feeling device

WHO THIS UNIT ISN’T:​

  • People who want a lightweight music player
  • People who want something less boujee and more lowkey in terms of aesthetics
  • People who want more power in SE/3.5mm
  • People who want an easier-to-maintain device

AT A GLANCE:​

Bringing the flagship listening experience to the absolute highest order, the HiBy R8 II is genuinely one of the most impressive device that I’ve held and used. Powered by their brand new Darwin-MPA and sipping from a 12000mAh battery, the DAP is more than just a music player. Quite frankly, this lives up to its name of the “portable concert hall” as the experience from the build all the way to the listening experience is luxury. This is fundamentally a rich flex, however. The features, while revolutionary and ground-breaking on some aspects, are way beyond what a normal music enjoyer might want. This is a dedicated device for hardened audiophiles who really care about their listening experience and want to squeeze out everything you could in an audio device. And if you care that much, you deserve to have a taste of the top, and the R8 II delivers exactly that.

Thank you for reading my review on the HiBy R8 II. Big thanks to Joseph Yeung of HiBy for giving me and my fellow reviewers the opportunity to review the HiBy R8 II. If you would like to order one (to which I’d say good on you), consider using the non-affiliated link below:

If you have any questions or concerns, contact me on my Facebook page or at obodioreviews@gmail.com

PHOTOS GALLERY: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r8-ii
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sofastreamer
sofastreamer
L
littlexx26
this is a introduction, not review
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Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
@littlexx26 you missed the part where this is an introduction to the full review which is the youtube video

Zerstorer_GOhren

500+ Head-Fier
HIBY R8 II: Innovative DAP At It's Finest
Pros: ● Its overall construction is quite robust as it is made of surgical-grade stainless steel on its chassis.
● That Alcantara fabric gives a luxurious-feel and adds some sophistication and elegance to its already masterfully-crafted physical appearance.
● Well-placed button control keys and it is quite snappy to press them.
● Probably the most “affordable” DAP among the flagship devices in the audio market.
● Crisp and vividly coloured HD LCD screen
● Separate output modes for LO and PO.
● The power output on different gain modes have a sufficient voltage output to drive most of the stubborn, power demanding IEMs out there. Might be able to drive some cans with higher impedance requirements.
● Innovative proprietary PWM-based delta-sigma DACs which have better decoding performance while conserving some power on its advanced circuitry.
● Enormous battery capacity.
● 256GB internal memory storage, it even supports micro-SD cards for more memory storage capacity.
● Android 12 OS for versatility and customisation on operating this device.
● A versatile sound profile that might be likeable for both musical and critical-analytical type of audio enthusiasts
● Its DARWIN architecture offers a lot of customisation from low-pass antialiasing filter setting and Harmonic Control.
● A warmish-neutral that sounds so well-balanced and clear sound quality.
● Natural and almost life-like sounding vocals and instruments.
● Its sound/speaker stage projection is quite cavernous with its atmospheric-feel that we are in a concert hall.
● Well-defined layering and excellent separation
● Excellent resolution capabilities for a warmish-neutral sounding DAP.
Cons: ● Well, Alcantara fabrics were quite a dust and pollen magnet.
● This is indeed a bulky device and has some substantial weight on it.
● It takes some time on charging just to replenish its battery power.
● Turbo mode will definitely draw more battery power and it's getting warm for longer usage.
● Ideally, a hard-bound leather case with Alcantara lining would be better on this device.
● I wish that this device had a volume wheel on instead of a button key system.
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“It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”


~~Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer and musician in the Baroque Period.


In this new era of digital revolution, where mobile multimedia devices are ubiquitous, portable audio technology is also evolving to meet people's needs to experience high-fidelity sound from a compact mobile device they can roam around with. With the advancing elimination of the headphone jack from smartphones (they weren't much good anyway, say most audiophiles), dedicated portable DAPs (digital audio players) are growing out from being a niche product to become mainstream offerings, offering with their vast dedicated audio circuitry sound quality that one would never have found on smartphones anyway, jack or no jack.

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This is actually my third review of a HIBY DAP as I did some reviews from their entry-level up to the midrange models and I find them all excellent in terms of pricing and performance. And now, I want to present their latest TOTL, flagship DAP, The HIBY R8 II.

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The HIBY R8 II is the flagship-level android-based premium DAP in their R series, and this is indeed a step-up from their R6 PRO II. The R series introduces some new design language for the modern look of their devices. While this is not the most expensive DAP from HIBY as the HIBY RS8 still takes the crown on that category, R8 II is also a device that should be noted as premium yet less pricey that it has some new features that makes this device more fresh.

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The overall construction of the HIBY R8 II is quite robust and solid as it is made of high quality stainless steel with an exquisite synthetic fabric which are usually implemented on interiors of some luxury or sports cars and premium furniture pieces, the Alcantara. The stainless steel chassis applied is surgical-grade, known to have a high tensile strength and better corrosion resistance compared to standard steel while the Alcantara fabric offers a premium-feel with its softness, fussiness and napped-finish texture at the back with an embossed print of “Designed by Hiby). The colour of this device that I have is the Preussisch blau (Prussian blue) variant one which is actually my favourite colour blue out there due to its association with the Prussian military colour which I am also an avid reader of European history.

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At the left side panel, the volume keys were situated there while at the opposite side panel, there's the micro-SD slot along with a power button with LED indicator and another set of key buttons for pause/play and previous/forward. Meanwhile on its screen part, It has a HD LCD screen of 2160 x1080p in 2:1 aspect with oleophobic coating which makes the screen have a more punchy and vivid colour to make it more visually appealing.

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At the bottom part of this device, there we can find the output interfaces and USB-C port. Regarding its output interfaces, there are two sets of 3.5mm and 4.4mm balanced audio jacks and each of these jacks were placed vertically along with the 3.2 rated USB-C port is placed at the centre and it serves as an outlet for charging and sync with quick charge and PD support up to 20W and a 10Gbps transfer speed. The reason of why there are four audio jacks on this device because each of them are linked into different kind of audio output transmission, the PO (Power Output) at the left part which have a low impedance output enough to drive IEMs, earbuds, headphones and loudspeakers, and the LO (Line Out) at the right part which have high impedance output and constantly emitting a high level of voltage signal which are more suitable for devices with high input of resistance like amplifiers. It should be noted that all ports are gold-plated for better conductivity and resistance to corrosion.

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As for its internal part and components, the HIBY R8 II has a discrete 16-way PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) - constructed Delta Sigma DAC with a DARWIN MPA (Multiphase Array) DSP architecture. This type of technology seems to further improve the performance of frequencies to be more consistent and precise compared to standard Delta-sigma based DACs which are known to have inconsistent levels of modulation that needs some other parts precision for a proper performance on its digital filters and analogue circuitry. These drastic improvements will somehow give a more accurate and natural music playback with its innovative DARWIN digital filter that oversamples on PCM data at 128x with its high speed MPA DAC while maintaining a superb power efficiency. And also, it is capable of higher quality anti-aliasing while oversampling than the other DARWIN units from HIBY thus far (RS6, RS8 for example), with a fully configurable first-stage 2x oversampled AA filter (just like the other Darwin DAPs), but of 1024 taps filter length compared to the 256 taps for the previous models.

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For more technical information, check out Zeppelin and Co.'s more in-depth detail on this technology here.


The performance of this DAC in terms of encoding audio data formats, it supports PCM's maximum bitrate and sampling rate up to 32-bit/1536kHz while on DSD format, it is capable to decode up to DSD1024 which are quite mind blowing visually. I almost forgot to mention that this device still supports MQA-format and it can unfold some data up to 16x.

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Aside from DAC, it also has some high quality audio capacitors along with high capacity tantalum capacitors for a detailed sound quality while retaining its analogue-ish characteristics. It also has a pair of high frequency precision crystal oscillators for better timing accuracy on its digital audio samplings at atomic clock level.

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On its amplification, this device has a class-A amplification were driven by Analog Devices’ dual-drivered ADA4624-2 op amps which are known to have an optimal performance on providing high voltage, high gain and low noise application for zero crossover distortion and faster transient responses in which was also supported with 16 custom transistors. On the other type of amplification, its class-AB amplification was handled by three Texas Instrument OPA1612 op amps which have lower amplification enough for low impedance, high sensitivity devices which yields better conserving power output for longer battery life and better thermal control.

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All internal circuitry that this device has, from DA to postamp circuits, each of them are independently electrified by either DC/DC transformers, inductors or regulators, which makes this one even more stable on its operation.

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The HIBY R8 II is powered by an 8-core midrange chipset, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 665 which has a maximum processing speed up to 2 Ghz which is quite enough on this device for multitasking and a fairly snappy software performance. This device also has internal memory storage of 256 GB which can be extended via micro-SD and an 8 GB of RAM for software tasks and operation.

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Its bluetooth version is 5.0 and it can support more advanced bluetooth audio codec like LDAC, APTX, APTX-HD and HIBY's proprietary UAT codec. This device also has a dual band Wi-Fi, a 2.4 GHz and 5GHz for fast, consistent and stable internet connectivity for music streaming and it should be noted that it also supports DLNA/Airplay/ WiFi music download and upload.

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As for battery capacity, this device has a whopping 12000mAh/3.8V which is shielded with pure copper plating for heat dissipation and we can used it for almost half a day in a normal usage depending on some factors like amplification output and gain mode, volume listening levels, screen brightness and streaming music online and it should be noted that activating the Turbo Mode will even take a hit for more battery consumption.

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On the software side, The R8 II has an Android 12 operating system which was heavily modified to tailor HIBY's specifics for audio improvements and customisations and also to control some of its internal components via executing some simple software command. It also has a system-wide bit perfect audio from a stock app up to the third-party apps.

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As for its visual interface, on its status and notification bar, it still has a look of an Android UI in which retains some of its features like Brightness control, Internet, Bluetooth and Auto-rotate but it add some features the HIBY specifically tailored for their devices like Audio Settings, Darwin Controller, Gain mode settings and Amplifier-Type. And also, HIBY has its own file management system with more advanced features.

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Under the Audio setting section, there is the Amplifier Operation, Turbo mode, Gain, Plugins, MSEB, PEQ, DSD gain compensation, Channel balanced, MQA decoder, Spdif digital volume lock and USB digital volume lock.

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On DARWIN controller, there you can find its advance settings on its low-pass digital settings, Here are the following settings:


Darwin Default - Offers high frequency bandwidth and exemplary SAF* rejection for exemplary performance according to regular definitions of audio performance. Also does not have any pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies.**

Linear Phase Sharp Rolloff - Similar to Darwin Default, but with zero phase shift across all frequencies, in exchange for pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, which may be more audible than post-ringing, owing to uneven auditory masking for humans before and after an impulse. (Ringing is equal in amount to Darwin default but distributed equally between pre- and post- ringing).**

Linear Phase Sharp Late Rolloff - Offers further high frequency extension with slightly less SAF rejection which is fine for earphones with exemplary high frequency fidelity. Also has zero phase shift across all frequencies, in exchange for pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, which may be more audible than post-ringing, owing to uneven auditory masking for humans before and after an impulse.

Linear Phase Short Ring - Offers shorter pre- and post-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies for better-defined transients in exchange for lower high frequency bandwidth. The treble is more mellow and "analogue". Also has zero phase shift across all frequencies, in exchange for pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, which may be more audible than post-ringing, owing to uneven auditory masking for humans before and after an impulse. (Ringing is less than Darwin default but distributed equally between pre- and post- ringing).**

Linear Phase Short Ring Late Rolloff - Offers shorter pre- and post-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies for better-defined transients and does not lose high frequency bandwidth. Has lower SAF rejection instead. The treble is more pin-point accurate if played from earphones with exemplary high-frequency fidelity. Also has zero phase shift across all frequencies, in exchange for pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, which may be more audible than post-ringing, owing to uneven auditory masking for humans before and after an impulse. (Ringing is less than Darwin default but distributed equally between pre- and post- ringing).**

Minimum Phase Sharp Rolloff - Compared to Darwin Default, offers shorter post-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies for better-defined transients and does not lose high frequency bandwidth. Has lower SAF rejection instead. The treble is more pin-point accurate if played from earphones with exemplary high-frequency fidelity. Does not have any pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, and post-ringing is less than the fast-roll off filters.**

Minimum Phase Sharp Late Rolloff - Compared to Darwin Default, offers further high frequency extension with slightly less SAF rejection which is fine for earphones with exemplary high-frequency fidelity. Also does not have any pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies.**

Minimum Phase Short Ring - Compared to Darwin Default, offers shorter post-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies for better-defined transients and does not lose high frequency bandwidth. Has lower SAF rejection instead. The treble is more pin-point accurate if played from earphones with exemplary high-frequency fidelity. Does not have any pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, and post-ringing is less than the fast-roll off filters.**

Minimum Phase Short Ring Late Rolloff - Compared to Darwin Default, offers shorter post-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies for better-defined transients in exchange for lower high frequency bandwidth. The treble is more mellow and "analogue". Does not have any pre-ringing of ultrasonic cutoff frequencies, and post-ringing is less than the fast-roll off filters.**

0th Order Hold NOS - one of 3 possible implementations of an "NOS" result, other than the actual NOS switch. Applies 0th-order hold of original signal to upsampled output resulting in the classic "stair step" waveform response of most "NOS" systems (including also the actual NOS switch also available). No pre- or post- ringing. Has slow and widely rolled off highs, owing to the physics of 0th-order hold, which also offers some (very little) SAF rejection. Sound is more mellow, "analog" than all filters (except no. 11), if not distorted by SAF-IMD.**

Darwin Ultra - based on long experience with R2R, NOS vs D-S, OS, we crafted the ideal oversampling filter for analog sound lovers. It has the same audible characteristics as the smoothest NOS filter (1st-order interpolation), while taking full advantage of the fidelity-increasing SAF rejection capabilities offered by oversampling. Even the phase response is a new secret sauce that is superior to both minimum phase and linear phase.**


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Note: **- the information on each filter was provided by Mr. Joseph Yeung, a representative of HIBY, credits to his effort on this in-depth explanation.

On gain mode level, this device offers three (3) gain mode options, low gain, medium gain and high gain modes, each gain mode corresponds with signal and noise level based on the sensitivity tolerance of each set that the higher gain mode on driving a sensitive set, we might encounter some audible hiss.

In regards to MSEB, this feature was HIBY's proprietary advanced software algorithm feature that combines parametric equalisation and sound field adjustments. This feature is quite beneficial for audio enthusiasts who have their own sound target preference to customise it in a more convenient and ease of operating its functionality. This feature is also fully integrated into their HIBY MUSIC app.

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The Turbo mode appears to give more sharper definition on note attacks on instruments and a bit tighter and even more incisive bass response.

About its stock player, HIBY installed a professional version of their proprietary music app, The HIBY Music app, which was considered as one of the best music players in mobile app space due its advanced features like theme, advanced parametric equalisers and an online streaming support.

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The product packaging of HIBY R8 II is a large rectangular-shaped packaging box and it is quite pretty well-presented and the contents are well-organised in a manner that a premium DAP could only offer.

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Here are the following contents inside of HIBY's packaging box:
  • The HIBY R8 II DAP
  • A premium opaque TPU case with Alcantra fabric on each side panel.
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable.
  • Extra screen protector
  • Some paperwork
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In terms of tonal qualities, The HIBY R8 II has a warmish-neutral sound that makes them sound more natural, well-balanced on representing each frequency tone while maintaining a surprising transparency and more accurate tonal colour. But given it DARWIN digital filters, it somehow affects some marginal changes of its high frequency response

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In my testing settings, I turn on the turbo mode, a stock DARWIN Default filter, low gain mode and a class AB mode as I believe that it is more doable based on my preferred set-up and usage.

I'm using some of the IEMs that were considered as neutral-sounding ones or just slightly coloured sounding a bit. Here are the following sets:
  • HIBY Crystal 6 Mk.II
  • LETSHUOER CADENZA 12
  • LETSHUOER EJ07M
  • LETSHUOER EJ09
  • AFUL PERFORMER 8
  • AFUL MAGICONE
  • BQEYZ WINTER
  • BQEYZ WIND
  • KINERA IDUN GOLDEN
  • TINHIFI T2 Mk.II

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As for its sound profile, same as my initial impression, the HIBY R8 II has that warmish-neutral sound profile that both analogue and digital music lovers have a common ground to like its overall tuning. It will deliver the closest and a quite faithful reproduction on both vocals and instruments in an exceptional natural tone on them while maintaining a smoothness and well-texture for more engaging and musical experience.


LOWS/BASS:

This device is very capable of delivering a sufficient punchiness, deepness and tactility in its bass response. It retains a clean, precise and accuracy that this device is able to project without adding unnecessary colouration.

The sub-bass presence is fairly perceived if some instruments like low tone bass guitars, octabasses, synthesisers and drum machines that I usually experience it from genres like old school hip-hop, classic rock and synthpops. On the mid-bass presentation, it has an ample texture just to give a well-balanced note density on instruments like bass guitars, bass trumpets, viola, cello, bass kick drums and bass clarinets, and on male vocals like bass up to bass-baritone.


MIDRANGE:

While having a neutral and linear midrange, it has a hint of warmth with a good texture to add a tad of lushness and richness on vocals and instruments while having a transparent and resolving sound quality. It has this analogue-ish characteristic that somehow defines its organic sound.

Male vocals are properly textured with good depth and volume as it gives a gruff, deep and well-modulated sound on baritones, tenors and countertenors. On female vocals, contraltos have rich and smoky voices while mezzo-sopranos have sweet and soothing vocals, and then sopranos have these ethereal and hypnotic voices as they sound silvery and silky.

On instruments, all instruments sounds natural and realistic as the brass instruments like trumpets, trombones and horns sound stately, full and warm subsequently while on woodwinds instruments, piccolos sounds graceful, concert flutes have rich and ethereal sound, clarinets have expressive sound and saxophones have sonorous and velvety sound. Strings like guitars, violins and harps, there's a well-balanced sound with a good presence of overtones on acoustic guitars while violins have a lively and clear sound, and then, harps have crystalline and resonant sound on them. As for percussive instruments, snares have precise and clear sound, tom-toms have warm and resonant sound, field drums have venerable and full sound and kettledrums have rumbly and velvety sound on them. Pianos seem to have an even, well-balanced with just the right amount of warmth on their sound.


HIGHS/TREBLE:

The treble response that this set is able to deliver is quite energetic, pretty lucid with a good amount of airy extension. Despite some noticeable evenness and smoothness on its character overall, it can execute a well-defined vocal projection and well-rendered attack of rhythmic and percussive instruments.

Treble-focus instruments like cymbals, hi-hats, glockenspiels and celestas have a precise, delineated and accurate timbre on them as they sound almost life-like.


SOUNDSTAGE, IMAGING AND OTHER TECHNICALITIES:

With a moniker of “Portable Concert Hall”, this DAP truly delivers on how it projects a spacious, well-layered and atmospheric sound/speaker stage dimension that when pairing it to some sets with superb technical capabilities will be even more improved in terms of openness and probably will reach a pinnacle of technical excellence that you rarely encountered on a portable audio set-up.

This device gives a clean, pitch black background on its sonic canvas where I was able to pinpoint the exact location of instruments and vocals in a perceived soundscape that makes this one truly at the top of the line level. It has an excellent resolution as it has solid and well-textured macro-dynamics while it has well-defined and decently sharp on micro-detail retrieval as it is capable to project a plenty amount of subtleties and nuances like vocal ends, perceived spatial cues reverberations and notation attacks of instruments like strumming of string guitars, reverberating effect on hitting the drum head, bow gripping of note strings on violins, cellos etc.


PEER COMPARISONS:

SONY WM1Z (DEMO)


  • This was probably the first TOTL DAP that I've ever encountered as I've started delving seriously towards more audio enthusiasm around 2018 as I wondered why this device was so expensive at that time. Compared to the R8 II, it has a smaller screen-size, appears to use a heavily Linux distro, a more intuitive and logical placement of buttons and is somehow lighter. It only has a single 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended which were placed on each side with lesser power output.
  • As for its tonal profile, this is probably the most liked Sony DAP in my opinion as it has a balanced-warmish tuning in which make this one is quite a refinement among the Sony DAPs even to the modern models although it still follows the in-house sound of Sony in which as I have some qualms on it as it sound too coloured in my liking. It has a more warmer and lusher due to its more textured note weight on both bass and midrange frequencies, therefore, it sounds more coloured compared to R8II.
  • Technicalities-wise, I don't see this device as a very technical sounding one to be honest as it focuses more on its distinctive in-house sound rather than having competent technical capabilities. It doesn't have a wide lateral width span on its sound field but it has a good depth. Separation and layering of this DAP is on above-average that doesn't have a standout feature.


ASTELL & KERN SP1000 (DEMO)

  • One of the first TOTL DAPs from A&K that I've tested. Like all A&K DAPs, this device has an irregular chassis design but it appears durable and looks sophisticated due its carbon-fibre cover in its rear part. It is made of stainless steel with a volume control wheel that I really preferred. It has a smaller screen size and for balanced output, it only has a 2.5mm balanced port as A&K usually implemented at that time. Like the R8II, it has a heavily modified Android OS and a large capacity of internal memory storage of 256 GB. It uses an AKM DAC with a good amount of power output but not on par with R8 II which has more power output.
  • Regarding its tonality, I can definitely attesting that this DAP has a neutral-ish-bright sound signature as I've tested it many times every time I've visited the hi-fi store that I'm hanging out with, and in my thoughts it sounds like a typical ESS DAC rather than lush and velvety characteristics of most AKM DACs that some of my dongles and smartphone have. Compared to the R8 II, it has a tighter bass response, crisper and brighter midrange and a more energetic treble response that makes it more sparkling.
  • As for technical performance, SP1000 appears to be more analytical in nature on how it projects a quite well-defined layering and excellent separation of elements in a fairly spacious sound/speaker stage. It has a sharper micro-detail retrieval but its macro-dynamics appears to be on a leaner side.

LOTOO PAW GOLD TOUCH
  • This is actually my favourite reference TOTL DAP as it impresses me up to now. It has a more compact chassis design on which its material is made of aluminium alloy and it uses an AKM flagship DAC but in terms of decoding capability, the PCM decoding of this is quite limited as it is only capable up to 768kHz on paper. It has a 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single-ended that can be switched on either PO or LO configuration which both have good power output in my opinion. And also, it has a volume roller which is quite smooth and snappy on operating it at the top part which makes it more accessible to adjust desired volume level. On software, it uses a modified linux OS for better customisation and more coherent UI to use.
  • In regards to its tonal aspect, as I mentioned before, this device is my reference sound profile. It has balanced-neutral sound that makes it almost uncoloured sounding while maintaining an excellent resolution while having a well-delineated definition of its overall sound quality. Bass response is well-rendered for its punchiness while making it well-segregated to have a sense of tidiness on it, then a linear yet transparent.with sufficiently textured and well-detailed midrange presentation and a neutral and yet quite airy treble response.
  • Technical performance appears to be LOTOO PAW GOLD TOUCH's one of its strongest asset as it has a quite a bit larger sound/speaker stage compared to R8II but the rest of its technical aspects appears to be on par or slightly better on both DAPs if I compared it side by side.


As I conclude my assessment of this device, HIBY R8 II truly delivers a performance befitting for a top of the line, flagship device that we have seen recently. The way of the execution on how this device was constructed with such refined craftsmanship along with the implementation of some of the innovative features to deliver the best possible sound quality with superior technical capabilities that a digital audio player could have.

A breakthrough of its proprietary delta-sigma DAC that HIBY painstakingly and meticulously developed shows the level of dedication on its research and development on how it was able to overcome the physical hurdles of a typical delta-sigma DACs in terms of complex processing, harmonic errors, signal output and modulation.

With its moniker “Portable Concert Hall'', it isn't just a mere marketing stunt but rather a reality that this device is capable of. And to think that in the realm of TOTL flagship DAPs, HIBY R8 II pricing should be considered and with its feature-rich qualities that this device has, its asking price is justified enough on it.

HIBY R8 II is now available at HIBY’s official store, I'll provide an unaffiliated link below.

★★ HIBY R8 II - OFFICIAL STORE ★★

For more reviews of HIBY products, check out my previous reviewers on their products before.

■ HIBY CRYSTAL 6 Mk.II

■ HIBY R6 PRO II

■ HIBY R3 II

■ HIBY YVAIN


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Some Tracks Tested: ( * = 16-bit FLAC, ** = 24-bit FLAC, *'* = MQA, '*' = DSD, *'= .WAV)

Alison Krauss -When You Say Nothing At All *
Jade Wiedlin - Blue Kiss**
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks **
Mountain - Mississippi Queen *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Sergio Mendes- Never Gonna Let You Go '*'
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Assassin - Fight (To Stop The Tyranny)*
Celtic Frost- Visual Aggression *
New Order - Blue Monday *
The Corrs- What Can I do (unplugged version) *
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child *
The Madness- Buggy Trousers *
Metallica - Motorbreath **
Mariah Carey- Always Be My Baby *
Destiny's Child - Say My Name *
Malice Mizer- Au Revoir *
Mozart - Lacrimosa *
New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Dvorak- Symphony 9 " From the New World." *
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (Sting cover)*
Michael Jackson - Give In To Me *
Exciter - Violence and Force *
Diana Krall - Stop This World **
Debbie Gibson - Foolish Beat *'*
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection**
Suzanne Vega – Luka **
Lauren Christy – Steep *
Ottoman Mehter - Hucum Marsi *
Diana Damrau - Mozart: Die Zauberflöte*
Type O Negative - Black No.1 *
Felix Ayo - Vivaldi: Presto **
Three Tenors - Nessum Dorma *
Mercyful Fate - Witches' Dance *

P.S.

I am not affiliated to HIBY MUSIC nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.

Once again, I would like to send my gratitude to JOSEPH YEUNG of HIBY MUSIC for providing this review unit. I truly appreciate his generosity and trust towards me and other reviewers.


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Last edited:
L
littlexx26
a promo type review close to useless
Zerstorer_GOhren
Zerstorer_GOhren
@littlexx26 thanks for having a time on reading my review :wink:
Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
@littlexx26 having the full introduction of all features of the device like an extension of the hiby product page does not mean he did not also review the unit in full. I did suggest he have links within the table of contents to take readers directly to the relevant parts they are after but it was technically unfeasible on head-fi

Leonarfd

Headphoneus Supremus
HIBY R8 II - Bordeaux Red
Pros: Neutral organic sound
Background totally black
Luxurious design with stainless steel and alcantara
Flagship DAP at a good price
Fairly long battery time
Powerful enough for most IEMs and Earbuds
Dynamic and spacious stage
Excellent sub bass texture
Resolving
Clear and extended top end
Natural clear transients
Close to no coloration of sound
Easy to use EQ software that is system wide
Large and HD IPS display
Fast and stable player with Android 12
Good hardware with Snapdragon 665 SOC and 8 GB RAM
Cons: Heavy and large player
Alcantara might have questionable longevity
Could have liked more power
The fabric attracts dust
Neutral sound so it won't tame brighter gear
Gets a little warm on the turbo mode
The applied screen protector doesn't cover the whole display area
Large battery so a Quick Charger is needed for reasonable charging time
C34Db1UnZ5MA_TF6k-_A0e0ZwFEnj6_ulyvSRwt-bcndDfkMapWUIouAyp7ekhWnmXIl-GSMPgOpECwbpGNVdLHSUwjBOfGkOFnfOo4hqViyaLoZ85hhLpH3Rqou_7JMfjGvBeq06XYjBIrOQxIbdjA


HIBY R8 II - Bordeaux Red

Disclaimer


The R8 II is the 5th DAP I have owned from HIBY. I did buy the R8 II with a discount in return for a review through @MusicTeck. Reviewing DAPs is really hard as the differences are smaller than comparing a set of headphones or IEMs, because of this the differences might be exaggerated throughout the review.

All impressions are my own subjective thoughts after having used them for a good time. These are my thoughts at this moment, and as time moves I might change my opinion.
This is also a very subjective hobby where everything from experience, anatomy or age will affect what we hear. Also keep in mind that it is easy to use bold words when talking about differences, while it may be perceived as a small change for you.
While I can perceive something as natural sounding, I do believe we can never get a perfect performance similar to what is achieved live.

Ranking System:
1 Very bad or unlistenable
2 Listenable but not good
3 Average
4 Very good
5 Exceptional or having a special sauce

My rating system highly values what is musical, so my rating will always be a subjective opinion.

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About me and my gear used for the review

My audio preference is neutral with increased low end, I can also like forward midrange if not excessive. I can also handle some treble spikes if it is not excessive. I am a believer in having different tuned IEMs for different genres or moods instead of chasing the single perfect one.
Main music genres I listen to are Metal, Electronica, Jazz, Indy rock/metal, R&B, Pop. I am a music lover, and can also listen to almost all the genres out there.
I have been into music gear since the mid 90s, gifted some big speakers at an early age. Then moved more and more into headphones with the Koss Porta Pro and a Sony Discman.
I have also tried playing many instruments over the years from piano to sax and have a feel for what's a natural tone, but not the biggest patience in learning to play.

My current standard in Headphones is ZMF Verite Open and Beyerdynamic T1 G2.

My current favorites in IEMs are AüR Audio Ascension and 634ears Miroak-II. The AüR Audio Ascension is a tribrid with 1DD 5BA and 2EST, that is tuned to be warm and natural. Miroak-II is my favorite single DD, it has a warm and bassy sound that is also very natural sounding. Both of the models clearly belong to the similar category for, and aligns with my taste for warm sound that is more organic.

Gear used in the main rig is Topping E70 DAC together with the Topping A90 Discrete headphone Amp. I also have a Schiit Lokuis I can swap in if I want to do a little analogue EQ.
I have only one DAP, the HIBY R6 Pro2. But I do have plenty of dongles to change up the sound, from neutral ones to some that are warm and analogue.
I have a good range of cables from Clan Audio, DUNU, Effect Audio, NiceHCK, XINHS and Gladiator Cables.

https://shop.musicteck.com/products/hiby-r8-ii

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Who is HIBY

Personally I have been using their products for a few years, it was the small R3 Pro Saber that made me interested in DAPs. And over the years HIBY has grown to become my favorite DAP maker, providing good quality at a reasonable price.

From their own About Us Page:

HiBy is a company with over 15 years of expertise in the field of music players, and it has two subsidiary brands: HiBy Music and HiBy Digital. HiBy Music focuses on developing high-fidelity, high-quality portable music players and headphone decoders. HiBy Digital, built on HiBy's years of expertise in the professional field, has created a stylish digital music consumer electronics brand, enabling more music enthusiasts to experience their own unique musical beauty.

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https://store.hiby.com/pages/about-hiby

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So what is the R8 II

The HIBY R8 II is their newest Digital Audio Player (DAP) priced at $1999, combining new technology and excellent build quality.

According to their own website R8 II is their flagship DAP, this is interesting as the RS8 is a more expensive DAP. The R8 series of DAPs is a higher end line than their models coming from the R6 or R3 series, there has been a previous R8 that also was highly regarded.

The DAC section of the R8 II is a special one, combining the DARWIN MPA from their R2R DACs together with a Delta Sigma implementation. From my understanding it's 16 DAC parts that go into the mix, with lots of tech that is outside of my understanding of DACs.

The amp section is OPAMP based with switchable Class A or AB, 3x OPA1612 + 2x ADA4625-2 for the Output Amplification and NJW1195 for the Volume. There is also the Turbo mode to increase the 6V to 7.5V for more power, at the cost of battery time.

The internal parts are high quality, much of it carries over from their previous flagship RS8.

Instead of listing all the specs:

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Design

Starting off with the design, the model I have here is the Bordeaux Red version. It's covered in glass, surgical steel and Alcantara. The R8 II is a fairly large player and weighs 515g, not a light weighter.
Even so it's comfortable to hold in the hand both without or with the supplied case, but this is clearly a DAP for sitting down instead of your neighborhood walk.

Looking from the front the R8 II looks normal except for the fact that the screen is longer than most DAPs, similar to smartphones now have more height and remain the same width.

The display is 5.9” IPS HD screen with Corning Gorilla Glass, provides good colors and dynamic range for a DAP display. As we are here for music and not the display it's probably not as important for everyone, but for me it's important as we are used to quality screens on our smartphones. The front glass also has a slight rounded edge toward the metal bezel, looks nice but also makes the glass protector have a limit for how far it can go to the edge. On the flip side if you remove the screen protector and use it without a case you get a very premium feel.

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The backside of the R8 II is covered in alcantara fabric, making it comfortable to hold and look awesome. Also make it so it doesn't feel so fragile when you put it down on a hard surface like a glass table. Only concern I have is that this might get ugly over time. I decided on red but I bet black is the safest if we think about the long term and how stains would show, even if alcantara is one of the better fabric materials to clean.

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The bottom of the player should be familiar for most Cayin and HIBY users, here you have line out ports on the right side in both balanced and single ended. The left side has the headphone outputs, in both 3.5mm single ended and 4.4mm balanced. In the middle is the USB Type-C port USB 3.2, that is used for both charging and other functions. Can be used as DAC, Digital Out, SPDIF and probably more.

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The packaging is nice and clean without being over the top, you get a few accessories.
The TPU case fits snug and has the same alcantara fabric, but on the sides instead. The case works perfectly and has working buttons that don't miss press like another DAP I will talk about later.
There is no charger in the box, only a USB C cable to get you going. There is also an extra screen protector if you need to change it, there is also a transparent protector for the bottom of the player.

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The button layout is different from my previous HIBYs, here you have volume on the left side. Yes there is no volume wheel, but personally I prefer it this way.
The right side of the player has Back, Pause/Skip, Forward and ON/OFF buttons, intuitive and positioned so it's easy to press correctly. The right side also has the Micro SD card that can hold up to 2TB, but can not be accessed when the TPU case is on.

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Usability, battery and UI

The player is ready to use right after turning it on, you just have to go to the Google Play Store and install your favorite streaming app or insert your Micro SD card.

When adjusting the volume with the physical buttons, the volume interface pops up on the screen. Then you can easily adjust it with your fingers instead by dragging the yellow line up or down.

The battery runs for around 12-14 hours for me when using medium gain and class AB, this is also with the display on for much of the time.

With the display off and using low gain on sensitive IEMs it would probably work even longer, but the other way using class A and Turbo was more like 8-10 hours. Did not try it scientific when testing this, so take the numbers with a little scepticism.

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From the drop down menu you have access to quick settings, I advise you to edit the list for what is most suited for you. Here you can then access Gain, class A/AB, Darwin Controller and more settings. To access the menu you just need to drag your finger down from the top, then 4 of the quick settings are visible. Drag another time down to see the rest of the quick settings, and also the settings and edit button.

Been smooth sailing with the R8 II, never a freeze or anything that made the player stop or have problems. The quality of the Wi-Fi connection has worked well, even if I have been outside in my garden.

It is fast enough in use for a DAP, of course it will be more sluggish than the flagship android smartphones. But I find the performance here is good, also it helps that the player has 8GB RAM so more than one app can be open or for some multitasking.

Since this is an android device there are endless settings to adjust, not going to go through this in the review. I bet some other reviews will be more thorough on this part.

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The included HIBY Music Player is the professional edition, it's easy to use and works great.
My main listening is with streaming, I have used Tidal, Bandcamp, YouTube and Spotify. R8 II has worked flawlessly on both my files or when streaming.

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I want to talk about the 8 way EQ band, this is called MSEB and is HIBY’s built in EQ. They have words or descriptions instead of the actual ranges, you can search online and find a description of what each of them is doing. It's a fairly easy way to change the sound, it also works system wide on the player.

Photo two and tree is what I use sometimes when I want to EQ, it's a plugin that works as a 3 way EQ. It works in a different way than normal EQ as it also affects the dynamics of the sound, personally I have used it to increase bass on some sets or even boost/cut the highs.

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Sound impressions

When evaluating the R8 II I have often used the albums found in the playlist under. Also I have used a lot more music that is not in the Tidal playlist, but should give a good idea of the music used.

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/ad7bbfa3-2067-4235-b2ed-f5a3fb53ff28

I have a few hundred hours of playtime now, mention it in case the player needs to burn in for the ultimate sound reproduction.

The HIBY R8 II has a neutral sound, it presents music in a natural way with some warmth. I have been extremely satisfied with the sound, it doesn't color the sound but also doesn't sound boring or sterile.

The R8 II has a fatigue free sound for me, being more analogue and not as digital as some Sigma Delta sources are.

The background is super black, even on my most sensitive IEM the Neon Pro I can not hear any noise. The transients are super clear and fast, the dynamic range being on the large side.
This makes the R8 II a very resolving player, and is as good as other flagship DAPs I have tried in the past if not better.

The soundstage has a wide and large projection, much of this depends on the transducer being used. I found it quite large when I compared it to R6 Pro 2 and N7, the concert hall description of HIBY is of course a little exaggerated.

The sound profile makes the R8 II suitable for all the gear I have used, and with the added MSEB or Plugins I can then instead change the sound as I want to. This also means that it won't help smooth down spicy treble by itself, if you want that you have to access the built in EQ options.

I need to mention that the upper mids are more forgiving than some other sources, which helps on some IEMs that I can find borderline shouty.

Another standout feature is the bass, it has extra textured quality and more of a deep sub bass focus.

I will come back to the sound more in the comparison later against the N7 and R6 Pro 2.

Sound Settings

Class A and AB sound to me very close to the same, I find it hard to notice on IEMs. Even super resolving sets, it's first when I used a hard to drive earbud that the class A sounded fuller and smoother sounding. Due to this I let it stay in AB for most of my listening, as I use this mainly for easy to drive IEMs or earbuds. I do believe the battery drained slightly faster on Class A, so a positive point using AB instead.
Turbo didn't change the sound that much but again more than Class A/AB, a small amount more impactful sound. Its first when I used harder to drive gear it helped push the dynamic range and make it sound more full.

The Darwin Controller is also an interesting thing, I personally don't think the filter changes anything. If it does, it's so small that it's negligible.
When looking at where DAC filters are positioned ita arguable it might be noticeable on 19200 kHz files, but when you use more high res music like 48000 kHz the filter effect is moved far out from the human hearing.
The Harmonic Controller is different and does seem to affect the soundstage making it more spacious when changed to max. This is also subtle and doesn't affect all IEMs a much as some.

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Line out to external gear

R8 II has a super clean output when paired with my Topping A90 Discrete or Feliks Audio Echo. It might be a little more treble emphasized and airy than my desktop DAC Topping E70 ESS, it also has slightly more heft to the lowest sub bass. Other than that the stage and resolution is close to the same.

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Headphones, Earbuds and IEMs

This is my main use of a DAP, in fact not so much headphones as I have slightly hard to drive headphones that I use with desktop amps instead. Going to just talk about some pairings and what I think with each of them, very short impressions. I find the neutral organic sound of R8 II to suit everything I have on the IEM and earbud side. Most of my impressions under here have been against the HIBY R6 Pro 2, but also sometimes against the Cayin N7 or Topping E70 + A90 Discrete.

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The FranQL Blue Moon, this is a 130 ohm Beryllium earbud. The sound is delicate and very resolving, with good extensions both ways with natural presentation. This is fairly easy to power from most DAPs and dongles, the only problem with some amps is that they can get a little bright sounding.

The R8 II has better control of the highs, creating a sound that is more velvety and airy than my other portable gear. Bass is tight and controlled, with delicate notes from bass to the highest note. I'm very impressed, and it is now my favorite pairing with this earbud.

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Venture Electronics Zen 3.0, this is a 300 ohm earbud that is hard to drive from portable gear. Usually I use this together with my Feliks Audio Echo OTL amp, as they have perfect synergies.
It has good note weight and warm tonality in both the bass and midrange, with clear treble.

I have a portable DAC/Amp that works, but I haven't had any DAP that can drive it without an external amplifier.

When using something like the Cayin N7 it loses dynamic range and sounds thin with weak bass, then change to the R8 II and it gets close to the dynamics of a strong desktop amp. Sounding full and engaging with deep bass presentation for a earbud, so good that I don't mind using this as my goto solution for this good earbud. It's still a small step behind my Topping A90 Discrete, but the gap is close enough I don't mind using it straight from the R8 II.

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AüR Audio Neon Pro is a 10 BA set from Singapore, and has been one of my favorites for a long time. It has a resolving and expansive sound, tuned in an energetic U shaped signature.
Together with R8 II it sounds airy extended in the highs, with a bass presentation that sounds very good for BA. Neon Pro also sounds good on the cheaper R6 Pro 2, but on the R8 II I get a more analogue and engaging sound. It gets more soul into the music, the soundstage expands with more 3D imaging. And I can not hear any noise when using 4.4mm, a good sign since the Neon Pro is very sensitive.

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Oriveti OH700VB is the newest flagship from this brand, delivering a neutral sound with a clean bass boost that reminds me of a subwoofer backing up speakers. The model has 1DD and 6BA, there is also a switch to reduce the mid bass.

The R8 II matches again perfectly and delivers natural sound, bass is controlled with excellent slam or sub bass rumble. It keeps the bass separated from the midrange better than on R6 Pro 2, a part of the tuning also of course. It's tighter in the bass than the R6 Pro 2, and also delivers more of a deep sub bass rumble. Instruments like sax are resolving and less shouty than R6P2, there is also a more dimensional and deep stage. The mid bass slam can actually be less than R6P2, but again more controlled.

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Hisenior Mega5EST is a tribrid with 1DD, 2BA and 2EST, tuned more on the neutral side with some warmth in the low range.

Since this has a natural sound that's also never shouty or bright, it sounds just correct on R8 II.
What surprised me is that the treble was more silky and present here than my desktop amp, an interesting finding and makes me wonder if it just drives the EST driver better.

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Campfire Bonneville is a fun and voluptuous IEM, thick and bombastic bass with a forward and crisp treble. The midrange is on the darker thick side, the stage is also large and spacious.

Bass is more controlled on R8 II than R6 Pro 2, the treble also less sharp. Soundstage expands even more, especially in the height and depth.

Also a note about HIBY, the Bonneville has bright treble and doesn't work on all music. Using the MSEB reducing the sibilance LF and HF slider works excellent, it now has no problems with the treble anymore.

Or other way using the DRX10K plugin to reduce some bass and treble make it less dark and warm to suit more music.

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634ears Miroak-II Cocobolo is one of my favorite IEMs, it's made by an excellent maker in Japan. The configuration is 1 DD, the sound is rather analogue and warm.

Interesting here is that the R8 II sounds less punchy than R6 Pro 2, instead giving back more of a deep and thick sub bass rumble. The midrange is also more resolving and euphonic in R8 II, but again it sounds good on both sources.

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TIMSOK TS-316 is a really good single DD that's clear and resolving, has a U shaped sound with excellent sub bass depth and clear detailed upper range. Can on some sources like Cayin N7 sound quite shouty and bright.

R8 II gives it a more analog nature over N7 or other sigma delta devices, making it more euphoric sounding and refined in the upper mids and highs. It still has plenty of treble energy, but is better controlled. So here also the MSEB can be a good thing for people that are sensitive to upper mids or treble.

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Koss KPH40 is a variant from the Porta Pro, 60 ohm and fairly easy to drive. Cheap and small but scale with good amps, bass can sound a little hollow and uncontrolled on weaker sources.

Clear that R8 II has more power than the little brother R6 Pro 2, it has a more full and lively sound. More real sounding with natural transients and timbre, the soundstage opens up a good amount. Bass especially is more fun and impressive, none of the amps you use will do magic on the sub bass as KPH40 don't reach that low.

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The ZMF Verite Open is a 300 ohm headphone that needs a lot of power to sound good, I prefer to use this with OTL amps.
I still had to give it a listen on r8 II, it lacks some dynamic range and fullness of sound compared to desktop gear. Much like I expected it to do, so for this usage case it's better to have an external amp plugged to the line out on R8 II. It's better sounding than the Cayin N7 and HIBY R6 Pro with the Verite, but I still don't advise R8 II for hard to drive headphones.


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Comparisons

I only have one other DAP, the HIBY R6 Pro 2. For the review I met a friend to try the N7 again, I owned one before and also wrote a review on it.
When I talked about sound on the different transducers above, I used the R6 Pro 2 for most of my comparing.

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HIBY R6 Pro 2

The R6 Pro 2 is their best model in the R6 series, it is a much cheaper DAP than the R8 II at $799. Both have similar Android 12 and Snapdragon 665 SOC, with the same large IPS HD display.

If we look at hardware differences, the R8 II has twice the RAM with 8GB and also a larger storage of 256GB vs R8P2 with 64GB. The DAC and AMP section is also very different, the R6 Pro 2 Sigma Delta chips from AKM and has no Darwin Architecture.

It is physically smaller than the R8 II as it's not as thick or heavy, 285g vs 515g and 15mm vs 23mm. Some of the weight is the much larger battery of 12000mAh vs 5000mAh, the other reason is that R8 II is stainless steel and the R6P2 is aluminium.

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The power output is also stronger with 4.4mm 383mAh vs the R8 II with 710mAh measured with 32ohm, this is not in volume percentage. It's also noticeable in use on harder to drive stuff like some headphones or earbuds, where the R6 Pro 2 struggles with poor dynamics the R8 II can exceed and sound excellent. This also depends on how difficult the headphones are, none of them is going to drive a Modhouse Tungsten.

It should also be mentioned that the LO and PO are swapped from R6 series and R8, actually plugged wrong at first listen with R8 II. The button layout is also improved, on R8 II the volume controls are on the left side alone. The R6 Pro 2 has it on the right side together with the power button, the buttons are also smaller and much easier to mis press on R6 Pro 2. The play buttons are also placed a little weird on R6 Pro 2, normally play/pause is in the middle of back and forward. Not on the R6 Pro 2 that has back and forth beside each other, this is something you learn over time.
But when the case comes into use, the R6 Pro 2 is horrible to use as you mis press all the time. On the R8 II you actually have better control with the case on, quite different.

The biggest downside of the R6 Pro 2 is the bad battery time, you will not get more than 4-6 hours depending on settings or if the screen is on. The R8 II can roughly be active for 3 times longer, so depending on use case the R6 Pro 2 might not be a viable option.

If we go into the sound quality of both DAPs, they both excel at their own price point. The R6 Pro 2 is a very resolving player, can be a little sharp and digital sounding. But I admit I didn't really notice the digital nature when I only owned the R6 Pro2, this came much more to my attention when I acquired the R8 II. This is the first thing that I noticed with the R8 II, the sound being more refined and natural. Made me actually find the R6 Pro 2 slightly unnatural with sharper uneven transients and a smaller dynamic range, bear in mind it's easy to exaggerate here.

The R6 Pro 2 has a more crisp high end, here the R8 II is softer but remains equally as resolving if not more. I find the air to be more whispery and pleasing on R8 II, the R6 Pro has sharper air that is more present and pushed forward in the mix. The volume played is a thing that affects this more, played louder and closer to maximum volume the R6 Pro 2 gets shouty in a way that R8 II don't.

Bass is also different here, the R8 II seems to focus more on the deep sub bass. The R6 Pro 2 has more slam in the mid bass, but lacks some of the sub bass quality of R8 II.

The midrange is more forward on R8 II and vocals seem to pop more while also being more forgiving in the sound, giving what I call a more analogue and smooth delivery.

Soundstage is wider in the presentation and also deeper on the R8 II, making me wonder if there is some type of plugin to expand the stage more. Not that the change is huge, but probably different enough so you would pick it up in a blind test.

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Cayin N7

I don't own the Cayin N7 anymore. The impressions here are from a long Sunday evening when I met a friend to compare, I also used my R6 Pro 2 as reference since I have compared it to N7 before.

Cayin N7 was my first more high end DAP, I don't have it anymore so this part will be fairly small. I had the opportunity to visit a friend's N7 again to refresh my memory, so I could do a fast comparison.

If I am not wrong Cayin N7 is their entry level DAP, what makes this model so special is the discrete 1 bit architecture. The DAC part is built up by discrete resistors instead of a single chip, if this makes it better or not is up to discussion. The main thing that is good about 1 bit, is that Cayin can tailor the sound more than what a chip would do. The amplification stage is also discrete with JFET (junction-gate field-effect transistor) and BJT (Bipolar Junction Transistors) parts, which also contribute in giving the sound a more analog sound. You can choose between Class A and Class AB amplification, in comparison to most other DAPs you actually hear a change.

If we start about usability, both of them are on the more bulky and heavy side. I for some reason prefer the new style of using volume buttons instead of a wheel, never thought I would say that. I actually find it easier to operate, also since it's on the side instead of top. Without a case both the models look awesome, but if we look at ergonomics the N7 is dangerously slippery. Putting on the case the Yellow N7 looks a little more premium, but has buttons that are fairly hard to navigate in the blind compared to R8.

The interface is made by HIBY for both models and is close to the same, but for some reason the N7 had a few bugs coming now and then requiring restart of DAP or reinstall. R8 II in comparison has worked buttery smooth without any problems, screen is also easier to operate due to size and also a better display.

The sound differs more than I expected, the N7 is much brighter up top. Actually more than what I prefer, I did not notice this as much when I had it myself. I would actually call the hot top end slightly unnatural with N7, the R8 II is as detailed in the highs but smoother and more natural sounding. The mids are also more forward sounding on Cayin N7, overall and more intense sound. Listening to some of my favorite jazz tracks from Casiopea and Dave Brubeck the timbre seems more pleasing and organic for me on the R8 II, especially listening to brass parts or cymbals.

Vocals can go both ways, and often come more down to the IEM. Some IEMs like the 64audio U4s I find a little soulless on midrange and vocals, adding in the N7 then gives it a small boost of musicality. This won't happen the same way on R8 II, where the U4s remain slightly boring. But then going into the MSEB it can be fixed more to my preference, then R8 II goes past the N7.

The bass seems tighter on the R8 II with better sub bass extension, the N7 might have a smaller amount more mid bass. The N7 might sound more tubelike due to this, but also due to the synergy with the midrange. Soundstage and imaging is a tough one, I really think they are similar in size while perhaps the R8 II is wider and more stage like.

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Conclusion

This has been an excellent experience, it sounds as good as it looks. Well deserving its higher price point over its cheaper models, and I bet HIBY could have charged even more here.

Right now the HIBY R8 II is most likely the safest DAP purchase in the higher price segment, price is on the higher side but it's also for a reason. The total package is premium, both the quality of the player and the sound.

It is a DAP that is naturally sounding on the neutral side, but without sounding sterile or artificial. This means that I haven't found any IEM or earbud that is not suited for R8 II, they will either sound good or perfect. The player will lack the ultimate power to drive harder headphones like some planars or high impedance models, but pair it up with an external amp and you are good to go for that also.

So again HIBY has proven themselves to be a competitive player in the crowded DAP market, I for one look forward to more releases from them. But for now this will stay as my main listening solution for a long time.
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hokagoteatimereviews
hokagoteatimereviews
Fantastic review as usual Leonard, they look fantastic!
F700
F700
Amazing review Leo! Enjoy this DAP my friend🔥
Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
Sorry for the late reply. @juwa the R8II as a USB DAC supports up to PCM768 and DSD1024 (via native DSD signalling, not DoP). Hope that helps!
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