HIBY R6 PRO II review


Superb Cost-Effective Android Player - HiBy R6 PRO II

The Journey of "Aesthetics" of Chinese Bricks

In the era when I first came into contact with "Chinese Bricks," this category seemed to have nothing to do with "aesthetics." Bulky, ugly, difficult to use... Almost all the labels related to "Chinese Bricks" were not very "beautiful." Enduring odd appearance craftsmanship, hot playback state, and UI freeze, pursuing greater driving force, higher quality, and better "cost-effectiveness" can be said to be the most real experience of Chinese Brick users at that time.

However, HiFi itself represents people's aesthetic needs. We create music because of our pursuit of beautiful melodies, and choose to use HiFi equipment to better appreciate the beauty of music. Playing HiFi is inherently inseparable from "beauty." Aesthetics has always been more than just auditory perception, it is a comprehensive experience of visual, auditory, tactile, and other aspects. In the era when domestic players were still in their infancy, we did not have the conditions to pursue "beauty" in terms of comprehensive experience, and could only use limited technology to focus on sound and create "biased" beauty. But after more than a decade, both domestic brands and consumers have higher requirements for the "aesthetics" of products in terms of design, workmanship, experience, sound, and other aspects. Smooth and delicate UI, delicate and bright display effects, and seamless workmanship are no longer exclusive to foreign bricks.

To be fair, although the mainstream players on the market today are quite well-made, it is not easy for veteran players who have been watching and testing many players to find a machine that really impresses them. Perhaps today's burn-in enthusiasts' recognition of domestic players is hard-won. Under the pressure of public opinion, sales, and other aspects, most brands still prefer to play it safe and choose the most mature and conservative design style, as well as balanced and safe tuning. We cannot say that this kind of choice is not "beautiful," but this "beauty" is somewhat stereotyped.

If there is one product that has been able to impress people with its appearance alone in the past year in the circle, HiBy R6Pro II is definitely the first choice for many people. After several months, I still remember the scene where burn-in enthusiasts enthusiastically discussed this product after the launch ceremony. What is particularly rare is that this time, most people gave quite positive feedback. In the past, the domestic player mostly received odd and mocking nicknames such as "washing machine" and "lighter." For so many years, it is rare to have a design that can receive such unanimously positive feedback, not to mention asymmetric curve design, which is somewhat "unconventional."

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However, such "unconventional" design seems quite reasonable for HiBy. After all, since its establishment, this brand has been keen on creating various interesting products that people love to talk about. The previous generation R6 Pro was a very distinctive presence in the player market, and now R6 Pro II, which has been brewing for many years, is even more powerful than its predecessor in terms of momentum, and seems to be more bold and avant-garde in "aesthetics" - well, this is really HiBy Style.

Unboxing - "Beauty" in Design

The R6 Pro II comes in two options: a safe black and a bold purple. Personally, I prefer the highly saturated purple which, when combined with the curved design, showcases the R6Pro II's beautiful form. The back of the machine is a combination of dark grey carbon fiber material, a shiny gold HiBy logo, and a purple wave pattern. The combination of rich elements and bright colors creates a very harmonious overall look. According to the official interpretation, the carbon fiber panel represents the vast universe, the wave pattern represents the boundless sea, and the small triangle in the middle represents an island between the sea and sky. Some may consider this romantic, while others may see it as overreaching, but in any case, it's rare to find such a design concept with a hint of romance amidst a bunch of "engineering straight male style" texts.

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At first glance of the renderings, many people thought that the R6 Pro II's body was designed with a completely asymmetrical and uneven thickness, similar to Sony's ZX1. However, after getting my hands on the actual device, I realized that this was actually a visual deception played by the designer. The R6 Pro II's body is actually a more regular rectangular prism, with just a small piece of corners shaved off at the top left and bottom right of the back, combined with the wave pattern to create the illusion of "uneven thickness" with curves. The body is wide, and when holding it with the right hand, the edges can be a bit rough. Especially for small hands, it's not so friendly. This point is not as user-friendly as the first generation R6 Pro, and it is a compromise made for the appearance. The official leather case that comes with it fits very well, and uses a magnetic closure design, making it easy to remove and insert.

The front of the device is equipped with a 5.9-inch 1080p large screen, which has a high screen-to-body ratio and adds a lot of points to the device's appearance. The screen quality is good, and the fineness and color are relatively outstanding among players. Interestingly, HiBy even customized a set of purple UI for this version, with default wallpaper and commonly used icons like Hiby Music, CoolAPK, and Photos, all changed to purple and white colors, creating a strong overall consistency. The device is equipped with the matured Qualcomm Snapdragon 665, which has excellent fluency and stability. Moreover, this large screen is extremely comfortable to use, and the experience can even rival some phones.

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The biggest flaw in the user experience of this device is probably its battery life. The 1080p large screen and AK4191+ dual AK4499EX configuration itself consumes a lot of power, and in order to achieve a better feel and appearance, the device cannot be equipped with a too large battery, otherwise it would be too thick. Therefore, the final battery life is only 5-8 hours. For modern people who are always anxious about battery life, this performance is really inadequate.

In fact, just looking at the battery capacity of the R6Pro II, it has reached 5000mAh, which is larger than the first generation R6Pro, but the output power and battery life have decreased. This seems a bit absurd. This is mainly because after several years of experience accumulation and adjustment, HiBy's design philosophy has undergone a considerable transformation in this generation of products. On the one hand, they designed an ALLIN architecture for the dual AK4499EX on the R6Pro II to achieve full power output, and each output is equipped with a separate I/V conversion circuit, allowing the AK4499EX to fully exert its performance. On the other hand, the dual AK4499EX DAC uses MONO mode, with each DAC responsible for the conversion of one channel. In both single-ended and balanced modes, they are always in working state, and there is no "lazy" behavior.

Of course, the cost of all this is higher power consumption. In addition, the R6Pro II adopts A/AB dual-mode switching function, and therefore in the highest power consumption A mode, the battery life drops directly to about 5 hours. In short, HiBy's design and adjustment for the R6Pro II follow the "sound quality first" philosophy, which may not be so in line with the needs of some portable players, but for HiFi products, this is an understandable trade-off.

Overall, the design philosophy of the R6 Pro II, both in appearance and audio, is quite different from the early R6Pro, and the improvement in aesthetic level and craftsmanship is quite obvious. The product form is also full of innovation. In terms of experience, except for slightly shorter battery life, its performance is quite comprehensive and has not let everyone down after four years of waiting.

Listening - The "Beauty" of Sound

As an old user who got hooked with the first generation R6, I can actually feel the changes in HiBy's sound aesthetics over the years. In the early years, HiBy, whether in product form or tuning, had a bit of a "tech geek" style, with a high level of information and separation in the sound, and a relatively low overall tonal coloration, pursuing high degree of reduction. This style, although accurate and objective, is also still somewhat lacking in human touch. However, in the past two years, the RS6 and R5 II, which have been launched, have focused more on the charm and musicality of sound, and have tuned the tonal coloration to be more pleasing to the ears without affecting the hard qualities. Especially the different tones under the A/AB dual-mode of R5 II, which have improved the playability and compatibility of HiBy's players to another level, and this mode is also used in the R6Pro II.

The density of R6Pro II is quite excellent, with a spacious soundstage and good resolution. The overall sound has delicate transparency and a certain degree of smoothness. In AB class mode, the sound is relatively neutral, with the three frequencies slightly biased towards the upper-middle range. The high-frequency extension is high, with rich details and overtones, transparent, bright and shiny. The mid-frequency is dense and delicate, with smooth imaging, accurate restoration of instruments and vocals, and a touch of warmth. The low-frequency volume is not particularly high, with moderate submergence and some delay, but not dragging. In my taste, the low-frequency recovery is slightly fast, and the atmosphere of rock and electronic music is still not quite enough. If switched to A class mode, the charm of R6Pro II will be further enhanced, especially the changes in the mid-frequency, the sound is warmer and more solid, vocals are slightly forward, the thickness also increases, and it sounds more infectious. The atmosphere of the low-frequency also improves a lot, with richer reverberations and increased volume. For audiophiles who focus on "musicality" and have a more old-school taste, the sound in A class mode would be more pleasing.

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Due to the two modes, R6 Pro II is actually quite adaptable to different music styles. The more neutral AB mode is relatively good at instruments like violin, pipa, and harp with rich overtones and bright sound, and it also gives a more accurate and correct feeling when performing large-scale compositions. Of course, this does not mean that AB mode is completely unsuitable for listening to vocals. For crossover female voices like Sarah Brightman and Enya, the sound is quite fitting, instrument and vocals complement each other, and blend very naturally. For most vocal enthusiasts, A class mode has an irreplaceable charm, with excellent musicality and low-frequency atmosphere, and a round and smooth sound that makes the overall listening experience more vivid and full of tension.

On paper, R6 Pro II's output power is not as good as R6 Pro, but in terms of actual listening experience, this generation of machines emphasizes stronger control and is even better adapted to headphones than the first generation. In the middle gain mode, R6Pro II can drive the vast majority of earphones, including most flagship products. Only a few single dynamic coil and portable headphones with high power demand require the use of high gain. If the earphone itself has a warm sound and good smoothness, AB mode will be more durable, and A mode may become a bit monotonous after long-term listening. For headphones with a more neutral sound and slightly inferior musicality, R6Pro II can play a good neutralizing role, giving the headphones better musicality and warm charm.

If the R6 Pro II initially attracted me with its innovative design and unique aesthetics, what ultimately impressed me the most is its sound performance, which shows HiBy's deep attention and consideration. It fully retains the excellent hard qualities that HiBy has always valued since the first generation of products, and has created its own unique charm based on high fidelity. The two modes, with two completely different styles, can fully satisfy the increasingly picky taste of audiophiles.

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Conclusion - HiBy's "Beauty"

In HiBy's current product lineup, the R6 Pro II, priced at 4998, is barely in the mid-range level, and even far below the expectations of many audiophiles before its release. However, in my eyes, it is definitely one of the most representative products that HiBy has launched in recent years, and even in some ways, it has more "HiBy style" than its flagship products. It has a unique design concept, distinctive product appearance, distinct sound characteristics, and some small flaws that have to be retained in order to pursue "the ultimate". It may not be perfect, but it is "beauty" that is unruly and very "HiBy".

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Chinese-made digital audio players have come a long way today, with both their craftsmanship and sound tuning becoming more mature. However, oftentimes, it is precisely the lack of the courage to deviate from the norm that prevents them from establishing their own unique brand style. HiBy, which has never followed the usual path since its debut, still maintains the same passion and creativity of a new brand, even though it now has a wealth of experience and a solid fan base. It is always interesting and full of surprises. "Making mistakes is never scary for our team. It's the exhaustion of creativity that scares us the most," said the head of HiBy, Ganzhou Qiange, during an interview last year at HiBy. This may be the secret recipe that allows HiBy to make eye-catching products like the R6Pro II amidst a sea of "safe products", and it is also the reason why HiBy has maintained a sense of "freshness" in the industry after years of hard work and struggle.