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HIFIMAN Releases New Flagship DAP "R2R2000"

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Edric Li, Dec 22, 2017.
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  1. dhc0329
    To me listening on r2r2k over u18 connected with horus was unbearably piercing which I couldn't stand a minute on most of songs. Forte sounded alright. I believe r2r2k needs warm sounding iem.
    I regret selling wm1z before having u18 because I really want to know how u18 match up with wm1z.
     
    quantumrush likes this.
  2. decur
    Yes, i would have liked to have seen this player with a larger battery,to squeeze out a couple more hours in hi quality mode.
    I think they wanted to keep this unit as small as possible. There are trade offs with all designs. That being said,the run time is ample for me.
    There is no doubt that pairing of headphones to the r2r-2000 is important,but that goes for any headphone rig,and non headphone (speaker based sound systems) its when you get this pairing right,is when the magic occurs
     
  3. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    I'm on a fixed disability income, and so for a long time I was set in my gear list and not interested in picking up anything new. But hearing the R2R2000 at CanJam was eye opening. I'd like to post my most recent impressions and thoughts here as well now.

    Also, here is a link to my CanJam show post from October with my initial impressions - still EXTREMELY impressed with the R2R2000, HE-1000se, and RE-2000 https://www.head-fi.org/threads/can...ions-oct-5-7-2018.890427/page-6#post-14525590

    This will be my review of sorts. I'll refer to a few comments posted above as well.

    I am blown away by the R2R2000 sound, mostly using it as a USB DAC on my MacBook the past couple of months, or as a standalone DAP with a 64GB SD card full of FLAC music. If I'm going to be using my iPhone to play wireless to my JH Audio Roxanne or Westone ES60 while on the go, then I tend to use my ultra-lightweight CEntrance BlueDAC, as it's feather light and if I lose it while I'm out and about I'm not heartbroken over losing a $2500 Desktop quality DAC.

    The R2R2000 via USB (or SD card) sounds more open with a bigger soundstage, and while the BueDAC is fantastic for the price, despite the weight and short battery I'd chose the R2R2000 if I could only pick one, due to it's versatility. Compared to my DACport HD I found that the DACport has an even shallower soundstage and the bass is not as fast and tight as the R2R2000 or BlueDAC (I'm sitting here with my Grado HF-2 listening right now).

    I used to think the DACport HD was a good benchmark for others to beat, and then it was the HiFi-M8, and while the BlueDAC and HiFi-M8 step things up, the R2R2000 simply sounds more open, transparent, natural, and musical to my ear. It's great with everything, and the midrange is more alive.

    I can hear an improvement playing the music via the HifiMan iPhone app, with improved spaciousness and separation over regular BT, such that it rivals being plugged directly into my MacBook USB. Unfortunately the app has a few issues.

    First of all, it changes the song order of the iPhone music to be played alphabetically (same with SD card music), so I have to change my song names to start with 01, 02, 03 etc in order to get them to play in the right order using the HifiMan app. This was maybe okay with the limited number of FLAC files on the 64GB SD card, but my 300GB iTunes library on my 512GB iPhone Xs Max hasn't been renamed yet to add song numbers, so I end up having to use regular BT which doesn't sound quite as remarkable.

    An easier solution is to use the iPhone app to play Tidal lossless music, and then the song order remains correct as it should be. But the HifiMan app doesn't support Tidal offline, and I can only stream Tidal via Hifiman app. The app does let me see "My Music" and so I have access to my saved personal Playlists, Albums, and Tracks.

    Also many times the Hifiman iPhone App with Tidal doesn't always show the play button correctly to reflect whether it's playing or paused. Often it does show the play/pause button correctly, but sometimes I can tap the button to pause, and tap again to play, but the button itself doesn't change from being the "play triangle" on the iPhone app screen to the pause button. Right now it's working again, but earlier today it didn't.

    Also, the HifiMan app shows a volume slider just like Apple Music app, but it does nothing and you have to adjust the volume on the R2R2000 itself. This is a problem if you want to keep the R2R2000 in your pocket and control everything with your iPhone.

    Lastly, if I'm connected via BT and using the app for music, when I quit the app and go to play music via normal AAC BT from the Apple Music app, the volume slider is set to zero and there is no sound. Once you move the volume slider even a little it then the sound comes back, but you still can't adjust the volume with the slider and have to reach for the R2R2000 volume knob.

    Streaming with Tidal from the Hifiman iPhone app to R2R2000 sounds just as stunning as if the lossless music were stored on the iPhone or SD card (or using it via USB). I just wish we didn't have to use the proprietary app to play from the iPhone at it's best quality.

    Fortunately the sound quality with BT AAC music playback is still outstanding, and I use it that way with my Apple music app when I'm trying to save LTE Bandwidth and listen offline, until they get the app bugs worked out.


    That was me that posted that about the file transfer - Fang explained that SDHC is very much like LDHC but without the licensing fees (public domain). He was pretty clear that the R2R2000 provides two modes to use it wirelessly with my iPhone, (1) via normal AAC BT with lossy compression which still sounds quite good and similar to the CEntrance BlueDAC but with richer mids, or (2) via the HifiMan app that uses BT to send the music to the R2R2000 as a lossless compressed data file, and not via audio codec, and then the music data file is expanded and decoded on the other end inside the R2R2000. I assume this is a similar file transmission to something like Airdrop on the iPhone, where you are dealing with file transfers through bluetooth, not audio.

    The R2R2000 works as a standalone DAP with music on the SD card. You don't have to carry around another device if you have music on SD cards. The only issue is my having to add track numbers to the file names to get the play order correct. But it sounds great with ALAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF files played directly off the SD card.

    I agree. I have used the R2R2000 a lot with my Hifiman Edition-X which also have good synergy with it, but the HE1000 V1 and SE can be driven well by this DAP/DAC, and it also has very good synergy with the RE2000 IEM. It's like it was tuned to work well with their headphones, but other IEM such as the Westone W60/W80 and ED60 or JH Audio Roxanne also work quite well with it. I don't hear any hiss, and neither does my 21 yr old son.

    I could listen to the R2R2000 with the RE2000 or Edition-X while mobile all day long and not get fatigued or tired of it. It also has fantastic synergy with my Grado HF-2, which had been put on the back burner until I tested them with this DAP recently.

    I still need to pull out my high impedance Sennheiser HD600 and HD800 to try with it, but I've mostly been using my HifiMan headphones for the past couple of years and had retired my Sennheiser and Grado headphones. For portable I have been mostly using my Westone ES60 or JHA Roxanne and JH16 pro, and sometimes Westone W80 wired or W60 wireless.

    Despite having a plethora or DAC/amps and IEM around the house, I only took the Hifiman RE2000 and R2R2000 with me on a trip to Orlando for 8 days, leaving everything else at home, and I was very happy with the synergy and sound of these. The only problem on the trip was that the RE2000 were still too efficient to plug directly into the airplane's TV screen, and I had to keep the volume at the lowest setting to watch Monster University, which was still a little too loud. They had good enough isolation to use on an airplane without needing to crank up the volume over the engine droning on and on. I wold still bring a volume attenuator adapter for situations like that.

    HifiMan hit this one out of the park. The R2R2000 basically disappears and you just get caught up in the music. My BlueDAC midrange is not as rich and present with the RE2000 as the R2R2000 DAP, although in other areas it's fairly close with just a casual audition. Nevertheless, the vocals from the R2R2000 driving the RE2000 seem so natural and alive, and the soundstage is so open and spacious, that I can forget what I'm listening to and just enjoy the music.

    If this were just a high-end USB DAC/AMP, that can also play Hi-res Music off an SD card as a stand alone device it would be a hit. But you get more.

    I think that it would have an audience even without adding the AAC BT DAC/amp that sounds better than anything you'd expect, and having Hi-Res lossless BT audio via their own app is just icing the cake. With these 4 ways of playing music (USB, DAP, AAC BT, SHDC BT) 3 of the 4 work as expected, and the 4th way should soon follow once they get the app updated a few more times.

    My main complaints about this HifiMan DAP/DAC are the high price, and the iPhone app that needs improvement. Also, it bothers me a little bit that I can't spin the volume knob quickly to jump up from 0 volume to level 15-18 really fast, and I have to slowly turn it through a series of tactile clicks to make it a little louder with each rotation/click. Also, the battery gauge will drop quickly to what looks like 50% charge in the 1st hour, but then it stays there forever so it still lasts 4-6 hours - it fools you into thinking that it might die in 2 hours based on how fast it drops to 50%, but it's not accurate. Lastly, I would like the volume slider in Apple Music or HifiMan app to work, and not force us to use the physical volume knob on the DAP.

    My two other balanced portable amps use either a full size 4-pin XLR or a 2.5mm TRRS plug, so I can't test my balanced headphones on this amp in balanced mode. I have a few headphone cables with a balanced 4-pin mini-XLR plug that I use with SE and balanced pigtails, so I can buy a Moon-Audio pigtail adapter to let me plug them into one of the R2R2000 balanced TRS jacks, but can't decide between the 4.4mm which allows the lowest gain setting to work, or the 3.5mm balanced that will also work with my HM-901 and many non-balanced amps.

    Sure it doesn't have a pretty interface with touch screen, but the cheaper screen option gives it better battery life in hi-res mode than with a touchscreen, and that's a fair tradeoff. On the other hand, you can easily use this with a small external battery and a USB-C to C cable, so a touch screen and shorter battery life might not be a deal-breaker for everyone.

    If you want a versatile portable DAC/AMP/DAP/BT device with desktop class sound, this one is hard to beat. And if you just need a balanced DAC, you can feed it into an upgraded or more powerful amp for a complete desktop class experience.

    12/17/18 EDIT - MORE IMPRESSIONS:

    Tonight my son and I spent several hours listening to the R2R2000 as a DAC, feeding a Millett Hybrid amp from the 4.4mm jack to test as a "transportable rig", and it's clearly better sounding than using our CEntrance HiFi-M8 portable DAC/amp as the source into the Millett Hybrid. The bass was tighter and the vocals were richer and more organic with the R2R2000. Both sources were very spacious and detailed, but the HiFi-M8 sounded slightly more clinical as a source. This is not to knock the HiFi-M8 because it's a great piece of portable gear, but the R2R is an audible step up from there as a source.

    When driving our HiFiMan Edition-X and HE-1000se via the headphone jacks, these headphones sounded clearer and more analog or organic thru the R2R2000 than with the HiFi-M8, and the bass when using the R2R2000 headphone out was tighter and faster while driving the headphones directly than when feeding the R2R as a DAC into the Millett Hybrid. I'm using a nice HiFiMan 4.4mm 5 pole TRRRS to RCA cable to connect to the amp.

    I didn't try driving two headphones at the same time with the R2R, until I find out if that's safe, but the HiFi-M8 can do this and is clearly powerful enough to drive the HE-1000se via 1/4" jack and the Edition-X via the 3.5mm jack at the same time. I have the 4.4mm balanced cable for the HE-1000se and this output on the R2R adds about 3db in volume so that the HE-1000se sounds as efficient as the Edition-X when driven out of the 3.5mm jack single ended (no need to adjust the volume knob). Still, we tended to listen to the R2R at near 90% max volume when driving the HE-1000se directly (26-27 out of 32).

    Overall, I am very impressed that the R2R2000 can not only offer a desktop quality DAC in a portable package, but it can drive many full-size headphones at very loud volumes without straining, and in some races do a better job than feeding the R2R2000 as a DAC into a more powerful amplifier.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
    audionewbi, gr8soundz and noplsestar like this.
  4. noplsestar
    Wow, thanks for that review!

    Do you, by any chance, know if the R2R also reads a 400gb card? And if so, if there is a song limit?
     
  5. dhc0329
    [QUOTE="
    The R2R2000 works as a standalone DAP with music on the SD card. You don't have to carry around another device if you have music on SD cards. The only issue is my having to add track numbers to the file names to get the play order correct. But it sounds great with ALAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF files played directly off the SD card.[/QUOTE]

    You might have quote me out of context. I am not saying this player cannot read SD card locally but not functionally optimal without the help of external device,
    Hifiman app on your phone to maneuver as an example. You also mentioned about connecting external battery packet due to its short battery life. Last time
    I tried this most of search options were not working locally. So I wonder if they fix it yet. Their firmware is still being posted as 'beta' so not sure if they did.
    Again, when I say self-sufficient is when the device can perform at its full potential alone, not about can this device do the basic play and stop operation.
     
    quantumrush likes this.
  6. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    I don't know the answers to those questions - I have only tried a 32GB and 64GB micro SD card, as I leave my 128GB card in my Car's Pioneer W8400NEX head unit.

    That's a valid point, but I don't know what the "full potential" really is, since that would be limited to the processor they use to drive the simple interface. But I still view this device as primarily a high-end compact USB DAC and BT DAC that can also play your music in stop start fashion, without a second device being needed. My BlueDAC CAN'T do anything at all without my iPhone or MacBook Pro.

    For loading it with music, the best method is to copy music into an artist folder with an album subfolder, and a 2 digit song number added to the song name. Just be sure when using USB to copy the music to the device that you aren't using a cheap Amazon USB-A to C charging cable that is only rated for USB 2.0 speeds.

    While it does read meta data and can identify hundreds or artists or album names on my micro SD card (even when not in a folder named by artist with a subfolder named by album), it seems to have trouble identifying the song number or song order. When browsing by "Folder" it always gets the numbered songs in the right order, but it does it alphabetically if the songs are not pre numbered. But sometimes when sorting through "Artist > Album" it sorts the numbered songs in the wrong order too.

    For example, if I use it as a stand alone player and sort by artist, that the songs for "Chris Jones > Roadhouses and Automobiles" or "Fourplay > Between the Sheets" have all 11-12 songs listed in the right order. But if I choose "Carla Lother > 100 Lovers", then the songs are sorted in the wrong order despite being numbered (and they don't even appear in alphabetical order), being ordered as 01, 11, 12, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09. So somehow song 11 and 12 are inserted between song #01 and song #02 on this album, a numerical mixup.

    If I Browse the "Folders > Diana Krall > Live in Paris" the music is listed in the correct order based on names starting with a 2-digit number. But if I sort by "Artist > Dianna Krall > Live in Paris" then the song order is 08, 11, 07, 02, 06, 12, 04, 09, 10, 03, 05, 01 which is totally inexplicable.

    Most of the time I just go to "Browse > Folder" and go the the artist folder or playlist folder that I copied to the R2R2000, and as long as the song names are numbered everything is good. This is the method I have used 99.9% of the time when using it standalone.

    Rarely would I sort by "Artist > Album" and choose an album, because I have many incomplete albums on the device where I might have 30 songs from 25 different artists all thrown into one folder for a "New Age" playlist. So if I were to sort by artist or album then they may only have one song to their name on my device, and it's waste of my time unless I only want to hear one song, especially if I have to scroll through 100 artists names to get to "Pink Floyd" vs scrolling through 30 folders. In my case I like to start music for a 20-90 minute session with multiple songs in one folder, not just pick out one song.

    I plan to report this bug to fang very soon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    noplsestar likes this.
  7. gr8soundz
    Great review and perspective on the R2R2000. I haven't heard it yet but have no doubts about it's sound quality.

    I'm dealing with similar circumstances (including fixed income) and my next DAP may be the last one I purchase for a long while. Since getting a small desktop R2R DAC and a multi-bit DAP over the past couple years, I said I'd never buy another delta-sigma device (R2R or bust!).

    But Hifiman had to go and price theirs at over $2K (maybe that's where the model# comes from). I know it's packed with hundreds of dollars worth of chips alone but every unboxing I've seen shows the player only without a case or even a screen protector along with a mismatched color USB cable. I'm also not a fan of capacitive controls but there aren't many R2R DAPs available.

    Anyway, I'm still considering it due the R2R architecture and balanced out. I have less than 200GB worth of albums but they're already ripped according to track numbers since my first player was a Creative Zen M that required mostly untagged WAV files.

    My main concern at the moment (aside from price) is the R2R2000's line-out. AFAIK, only the 4.4mm out is switchable to line-out. If so, does that mean I'll need to use some sort of 4.4mm to 3.5mm TRS adapter to stack the player with a portable amp? Is that even possible?; normally it's a bad idea to connect a balanced out to a single-end input.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  8. twister6 Contributor
    Hang on a sec, is R2R2k back to being a DAP? When R2R2000 was announced, it was a DAP (digital audio player), meaning it can play music from a local storage. Then, posts in this thread talked about the issues reading files from microSD card (or something like that), and DAP feature being disabled in firmware until HiFiMAN resolves this problem.

    Today, HiFiMAN officially lists R2R2000 as HD Streaming Audio Device "The World's smallest High-Definition (HD) Bluetooth / USB DAC Streaming Device" - http://hifiman.com/products/detail/293, where the name of the product is changed from DAP to Streaming DAC. But when you scroll down to the bottom, there is a mentioning of local file playback support. Color me confused...
     
  9. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    Yes, this has local micro SD card music playback - I am using a 64GB micro SD card but the website says it supports 256GB.

    I also just updated it from 1.07 firmware to 1.09 beta and I seem to have lost the ability to select ECO mode which I was going to test, and the ability to select which jack I am using for line out. I may have to run the firmware update again.

    MORE IMPRESSIONS:

    Tonight my son and I spent several hours listening to the R2R2000 as a DAC, feeding a Millett Hybrid amp from the 4.4mm jack to test as a "transportable rig", and it's clearly better sounding than using our CEntrance HiFi-M8 portable DAC/amp as the source into the Millett Hybrid. The bass was tighter and the vocals were richer and more organic with the R2R2000. Both sources were very spacious and detailed, but the HiFi-M8 sounded slightly more clinical as a source. This is not to knock the HiFi-M8 because it's a great piece of portable gear, but the R2R is an audible step up from there as a source.

    When driving our HiFiMan Edition-X and HE-1000se via the headphone jacks, these headphones sounded clearer and more analog or organic thru the R2R2000 than with the HiFi-M8, and the bass when using the R2R2000 headphone out was tighter and faster while driving the headphones directly than when feeding the R2R as a DAC into the Millett Hybrid. I'm using a nice HiFiMan 4.4mm 5 pole TRRRS to RCA cable to connect to the amp.

    I didn't try driving two headphones at the same time with the R2R, until I find out if that's safe, but the HiFi-M8 can do this and is clearly powerful enough to drive the HE-1000se via 1/4" jack and the Edition-X via the 3.5mm jack at the same time. I have the 4.4mm balanced cable for the HE-1000se and this output on the R2R adds about 3db in volume so that the HE-1000se sounds as efficient as the Edition-X when driven out of the 3.5mm jack single ended (no need to adjust the volume knob).

    Still, we tended to listen to the R2R at near 90% max volume when driving the HE-1000se directly (26-27 out of 32). The gain settings also seem to have disappeared with the 1.09 beta.

    I plan to write up my impressions of the HE-1000se vs HE-1000 v1 vs Edition-X in a HE-1K thread soon. Suffice to say, the HE-1000se are near perfect. The HE-1000 v1 sound a little more laid back and need more power to reach the same volumes as the 1000se, while the Edition-X are more energetic but have a slight bump in the mid-bass and upper-mids with slightly less high-end treble than the HE-1000se. All three are great, and the Edition-X are still a very fun headphone to listen to, but the HE-1000se are so transparent and effortless sounding that I can't find any fault with them at all.

    EDIT - I just went back to the UI2018-9-30 version of the V1.9 beta firmware and got back the options for "Sound Quality", "Headset Output", "High/Low" gain, and "Vibrate". I didn't notice a change in sound when I went to the UI2018-11-30 version, but I'll keep my eyes out for any changes.

    EDIT - Okay, so once change I've noticed is that the older firmware doesn't find the artists and albums in the metadata on my micro SD card's music like the newer firmware did (even though the new firmware was playing song in the wrong order). This older firmware was released quickly around CanJam 2018 in October, to fix the issue that iOS 12.0 had with allowing other apps to access our Apple Music media files. With this older firmware, the HiFiMan app could finally access your downloaded music on your phone with iOS 12 installed, and not just act as a lossless BT Tidal music player when using the app.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  10. dhc0329
    The new firmware v.1.9 noted improvement in battery life. Is there a real improvement or just a wishful thinking from HFM.
    I just got the r2r2000 at real discounted price so I am giving it another shot.
     
    quantumrush likes this.
  11. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    I only installed the new 2018-11-30 firmware a couple of days ago before typing up my review, and then went back to 2018-09-30 to compare, so I don't have any battery life numbers for the newest one. They're both v1.9, but with different dates, not sure why.
     
  12. twister6 Contributor
    and I assume no issues with playback from microSD card (flacs, dsd, etc)? Will give it a shot at CJ NYC :)
     
  13. dhc0329
    Mine will arrive this week but if I recall, it can surely play almost all type of audio formats locally. Again, if I can vaguely remember, I initially thought this sounded exceptionally
    well but then I don't recall why decided to ditch it. Look forward to your review after your trying out at CJ.
     
    quantumrush likes this.
  14. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    So far I have had no problems playing FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and AIFF from the micro SD card.

    I’m still pretty amazed at the sound from this DAP, even if you don’t consider its diminutive size. It was good enough to be my only DAC/AMP while away on an 8 day trip to Orlando around Halloween, and it’s the only portable one I’ve been using with my MacBook and iPhone routinely since Canjam over 2 months ago.

    I have not really tested the battery life until it completely stops, because I keep it paired with a small 4000 mah Mophie battery pack that’s about the same size to top it off regularly. That way when I do need to take it solo in my pocket I know the battery will be 100% and not die before I am done with it.
     
  15. dhc0329
    It's an irony that this device's so tiny yet you have to carry other devices to supplement it but hey, I still like the size and it can provide the basic play function
    which I only need. If it plays damn well, it served its purpose. I will carry it around if I am too tired to carry N8.
     
    quantumrush likes this.
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