HiBy RS2 Review: Discover the Analog Elegance and Natural Sound Signature

Hiby RS2 DAP

HiBy RS2 Review: Unveiling Natural Sound and Analog Elegance

In the ever-evolving landscape of portable digital audio players (DAPs), the HiBy RS2 emerges as a distinct and enticing contender. Carrying the legacy of HiBy’s expertise in software development and its expanding portfolio of audio hardware, the RS2 offers a unique proposition for discerning audiophiles. 

At its core lies a discrete resistor R-2R digital-to-analog converter (DAC), a technology celebrated for its ability to deliver a natural, warm, and profoundly analog-like sound experience. With a compact form factor reminiscent of classic audio players, this DAP not only embraces nostalgia but also presents a compelling blend of traditional charm and contemporary functionality

In this Hiby RS2, we delve into the intricacies of the HiBy RS2, uncovering its technical prowess, innovative features, and distinctive sound profile. Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile in search of a new musical companion or an enthusiast curious about the realm of R2R DACs, join us on this journey to discover the soulful notes that the RS2 brings to the world of portable audio.

Hiby RS2 Review of Build

The build of the HiBy RS2 digital audio player is characterized by a blend of classic aesthetics and modern craftsmanship. Here are some key aspects of its build:

  • Chassis Material: The RS2 features an aluminum alloy chassis. Aluminum alloy is chosen for its durability, lightweight nature, and its ability to dissipate heat effectively.
  • Dimensions: The RS2 has compact dimensions, measuring approximately 90.3 x 64.8 x 18.8 mm. This compact form factor makes it highly portable and easy to carry.
  • Weight: The RS2 weighs approximately 158 grams, contributing to its lightweight and portable nature.
  • Design: The design of the RS2 has a retro and timeless quality. It features bold edges and a design scheme in line with HiBy’s family of DAPs. The device exudes a sense of classic charm while incorporating modern technology.
  • Included Accessories: The RS2 package includes a high-quality green leather case that complements the device’s design language and provides protection during transportation.

Software and Features

Operating System: HiByOS PureAudio is designed to provide a clean and pure audio playback pathway, ensuring an audiophile-level music experience. While it’s not a full-fledged Android OS, this customized OS is optimized for high-quality audio processing.

Hiby RS2 FirmwareClick here to download the latest firmware for Hiby RS2 from official sources.

User Interface: The RS2’s user interface has a retro design language with a green and gold theme, which complements its classic aesthetics (Colour can be changed manually). The menu structure is simplified, making it fairly intuitive and user-friendly to navigate.

MSEB (Magic Sound Effects Box): An equaliser and sound enhancement tool for fine-tuning your audio experience.

Hiby RS2 MSEB

10-Band Graphic Equaliser: Allows precise adjustment of audio frequencies for personalised sound.

Hiby RS2 Equaliser

Darwin Digital Filters: Offers various digital filters for sound customization with NOS (Non-Oversampling) Mode which Provides an option for more natural sound processing.

Hiby RS2 Darwin

USB DAC Functionality: Can be used as a USB DAC to improve audio quality from external sources.

Hiby RS2

Dual Card Storage: Two Micro SD card slots supporting up to 4TB for extensive music libraries.

MQA Support: Offers MQA(Know more about MQA) 8x unfolding for high-quality audio playback.

USB DAC/Coaxial Digital/Line Out: Versatile output options for different audio setups.

Uncharging Mode: Reduces battery consumption when operating as a USB DAC.

Sound Performance: Offers a natural, warm, and organic sound signature suitable for a wide range of audio preferences.

Sound

Natural Sound: The RS2’s sound presentation is often described as natural, offering a faithful representation of the original audio source. It aims to capture the nuances and subtleties of the music, providing a listening experience that feels true to the recording.

Warm Tonality: One of the standout features of the RS2 is its warm tonality. It emphasizes a slightly warmer and rounded bass presentation, which contributes to a sense of richness and fullness in the lower frequencies. This warmth can be particularly enjoyable for genres that benefit from a more laid-back, warm sound.

Bass Emphasis: The RS2 is known for its bass note weight, which means that bass frequencies are given a slightly stronger presence in the overall sound profile. This characteristic can make the music feel more engaging and can be appreciated by those who enjoy a substantial low-end response.

Fuller Lower-Midrange: The lower-midrange on the RS2 is slightly fuller than neutral, adding a bit of body and warmth to instruments and vocals. This contributes to a more organic and musical presentation, making the music feel more immersive.

Upper-Midrange Clarity: The upper-midrange of the RS2 is well-defined, ensuring that vocals and instruments are clear and articulate. This clarity helps maintain a balanced sound profile despite the warmth and fullness in other areas.

Lower-Treble Neutrality: The lower-treble response on the RS2 is generally neutral, avoiding excessive brightness or harshness. This contributes to a smoother and more relaxed presentation.

Upper-Treble Smoothness: The upper-treble presentation is on the smoother side of the spectrum, which can enhance the overall listening comfort and prevent any sibilance or harshness in the high frequencies.

Musicality: The RS2’s sound signature is often described as musical, meaning it prioritizes musical enjoyment and engagement over absolute instrument clarity. While it may not be the most resolving DAP in its price segment, it offers a rich and flavorful sound that many listeners find enjoyable.

NOS Mode: The RS2 offers a Non-Oversampling (NOS) mode, which bypasses certain processing steps for a more natural sound processing. Some listeners may prefer this mode for its subtle differences in sound presentation. 

Overall the differences from the mode switch were miniscule, however, it was greatly dependent on the music being played as well. It’s great to have both options though, one can switch it easily from the top slider and experience the differences, if they can perceive it that is.

Pairing

The RS2 tends to pair excellently with brighter or clinical-sounding in-ear monitors (IEMs). It infuses these IEMs with organic richness and musicality, potentially addressing any perceived clinical tendencies in the headphones. In Ear Monitors such as Blessing 2 and ER2SE were well-complimented with the warm tonality of the RS2. Similarly, on the AFUL Performer 8, the mid-bass became more juice, and the vocals had a very nice organic tonality. 

Another great pairing came out to be with Softears RSV, the midbass did get quiet in the face surprisingly the RSV paired very well with RS2 as well, the vocal performance of the pairs was just unbeatable. So, it is easily said that RS2 would drive most IEMs with ease, It compliments well with analytical IEMs but also sounds great with well-rounded IEMs’. It should be noted that overly warm IEMs could be a hit or miss for these.

Comparison

HiBy R5 Gen 2 (R5II):
Design and UI: R5II has an open Android OS with a full 720p touchscreen, offering more versatility and app compatibility compared to RS2’s customized HiByOS. Features: R5II supports WiFi and Bluetooth, making it suitable for streaming and wireless connectivity. It also offers dual amp modes with Class A as an option and an exceptional battery life of 35 hours with the Economy mode. 

Sound: RS2 has a warmer and more organic tonality, while R5II is described as more neutral with better technical performance, including improved separation and treble balance. R5II’s Class A mode may appeal to those seeking a balance between natural tonality and technical prowess.

TempoTec Variations V6:
Design and UI: Variations V6 also has an open Android OS with a full 1080p touchscreen, similar to the R5II, offering app compatibility and versatility. RS2, however, is noted for a smoother and faster UI.

Sound: Variations V6 is known for its reference sound with a clean and clear performance that prioritizes clarity, micro-detail retrieval, resolution, and transient speed. RS2, on the other hand, offers a warmer, more analog-like sound with a smoother upper treble. Variations V6 has better treble resolution, while RS2 provides a stronger bass punch.

In summary, the HiBy RS2 stands out for its natural, warm, and organic sound signature, making it an attractive choice for those who enjoy a rich and immersive listening experience. However, other DAPs like the HiBy R5 Gen 2 and TempoTec Variations V6 offer different features, including Android OS and greater technical performance, which may better suit users seeking a balance between versatility and sound quality. The choice ultimately depends on individual preferences and priorities in terms of sound and functionality.

Cayin RU6:

Considering the similar nature of DAC implementation (R2R) the dongle from cayin goes neck to neck with the DAP, offering a similar sound overall with minor differences. Upon listening it is very difficult to differentiate unless doing an A/B test. Where the HiBy RS2 offers a warm, organic sound characterized by a rich, engaging bass and a musical, immersive listening experience. In contrast, the HiBy RU6 boasts a mature tuning with balanced sound and enhanced midrange detail, providing an enjoyable, euphonic character. The differences are not major and one cannot go wrong with either of these, RU6 feels a bit more balanced, and RS2 feels somewhat more warmish, However when choosing between the two, consider your sound preferences and the type of headphones or IEMs you plan to use and most importantly the use case. If you prefer a warmer, more immersive sound, the RS2 may be your choice, whereas the RU6’s balanced tuning and midrange focus cater to those seeking a more neutral and detailed sound signature.

TL;DR

The HiBy RS2 is a digital audio player (DAP) that offers a warm, organic, and natural sound signature thanks to its discrete resistor R-2R DAC. It has a compact, retro design, and runs on HiByOS PureAudio. While it lacks Android and streaming capabilities, it excels in providing an engaging, musical sound but falls slightly short in technical performance compared to some competitors in its price range. 

Consider it if you value a warm, rich sound and unique R-2R architecture, but alternatives like the HiBy R5 Gen 2 or iBasso DX170 offer more features and versatility.

Tech Spec

Model: HiBy RS2
Operating System: HiByOS PureAudio version
CPU: X1000E
DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter): Darwin Architecture
Audio Format Support:
PCM: Up to 384kHz
DSD: Up to DSD256
USB: USB 2.0
Display Size: 2.45 inches
Touchscreen: Yes
Display Resolution: 480 x 360 pixels

Storage – Card Slot 1: Micro SD card slot, supports up to 2TB
Storage – Card Slot 2: Micro SD card slot, supports up to 2TB
Chassis Material: Aluminium alloy
Dimensions: 90.3 x 64.8 x 18.8 mm
Weight: Approximately 158g
Charging: 5V⎓1.5A
Battery Size: 3500mAh
Charging Time: Approximately 3 hours (0% to 100%)

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