Impressive thousand-yuan level player - Unboxing and audio test of the HiBy RS6 player.

Facial features: Familiarity

As a former science and engineering student, I always hold great respect for the various technological innovations that emerge within the HiFi industry. Different types of HiFi devices are constantly introducing new materials, circuits, and protocols in order to achieve better sound performance. While these innovations may sometimes seem insignificant, they steadily push the industry forward.

For certain established equipment, such as portable players, achieving innovation can be especially difficult. To innovate means to break out of the firmly established framework and to build an entirely new structure. Needless to say, this type of innovation is an enormous undertaking. In the over 20-year history of portable players, such major events are few and far between.

However, recently, the renowned HiFi manufacturer, Hiby Music, has released a new player, the RS6, and with it, they have made a "big move."

Several months ago, when I first heard that Hiby Music was preparing to release the RS6, I was full of doubt. "6" is the most frequently recurring number in the lineup of Hiby Music's players: the original R6 was their first player and opened the door for Hiby Music to enter the HiFi hardware equipment field; the subsequent R6 Pro and The New HiBy R6 (hereafter referred to as NR6) are both very competitive devices at the advanced level. Furthermore, the announcement of the RS6 came only half a year after the release of the NR6. If the RS6 is in the same tier as the R6 and NR6, then the speed at which they are releasing new products is rather fast.

After the release of the Hiby Music event, it became clear that the RS6 is the first device in a new series, priced at nearly 10,000 yuan. The details of the new technology included in the RS6, as well as the differences between the RS6 and previous Hiby Music players, have attracted the attention of audiophiles. With the same curiosity, I opened the package containing the RS6.

Appearance: Similarities and Differences

The packaging of the RS6 is similar in style to that of the NR6: a long rectangular box which is even smaller than the packaging of many earphones. The only difference is that the outer packaging simply states the model number in bold letters on a dark golden shiny surface, which appears very concise. The box opens to reveal the player and its leather case and screen protector on the right-hand side, while the Type-C data cable and coaxial Type-C to RCA cable are on the left-hand side.


While the variety and quantity of accessories may not be plentiful, the quality of the leather case and cables are quite good. It's worth mentioning the color of the included leather case. The default case is a bright orange-yellow that is similar in color to the player body's shiny gold finish. Moreover, Hiby Music has also released a dark green case with a much heavier color tone. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference. However, both cases do not have a metal grille on the back, which does have some impact on heat dissipation.

In terms of design, the RS6 is very similar to the NR6. The 5-inch 1080P display screen looks and feels similar to smartphones from a few years ago. A TF card slot is located on the left side, while the power button, mode indicator light, and play/pause buttons are aligned in a vertical row on the right side. The volume knob is hidden in a groove on the top right side of the player. The bottom section follows the modular design of the Hiby Music family, which includes the 4.4 balanced LO, 3.5 single-ended LO, Type-C charging port, 3.5 single-ended PO, and 4.4 balanced PO from left to right. The most significant difference in appearance between the RS6 and the NR6 is the material and processing technology used for the outer casing. The copper casing of the RS6 has a matte surface, adding weight to the device and decreasing its portability, making it feel like it could be a bit cumbersome to carry around in a pocket.

From my experience with this engineering prototype, the overall quality of the machine's precision engineering is quite good. However, there are a few minor issues, such as a slight light leakage around the screen edges and a loose volume knob on the RS6, which doesn't feel as sturdy as the ratchet-like feedback of the NR6's knob. It's worth noting that these issues may not necessarily be present in the final product as I'm unsure at this point.

Backbone: Architecture Restructuring

Hiby Music has a strong technical background in hardware and software optimization, and its past player products have performed well in terms of operational experience. This advantage continues with the RS6.
In terms of hardware, the RS6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and features 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. The Android 9.0 operating system runs smoothly, and there were no significant lags or hiccups during my daily use. Of course, I wouldn't recommend using an Android player for gaming.
In terms of software, the RS6 comes pre-installed with the new "Hiby Music" app version 4.1. The most significant update in this version is the introduction of high-quality streaming services. Hiby Music has partnered with Sony to add the Hi-Res music library, and plans to add other Hi-Fi music libraries in the future. This means that the RS6 can easily access high-quality sources and decode, amplify, and output high-fidelity sound.
Moreover, the RS6 supports MQA 16X unfolding, providing enough complete sound reproduction ability for MQA players. For battery life, I found that the RS6 lasted approximately 8 hours on single-ended output and 7 hours on balanced output, which should be sufficient for a day's use with one charge.

When entering the RS6 system by long-pressing the power button, users are greeted with a striking golden-green wallpaper displaying the word "Darwin." This is the self-designed audio processing architecture developed by HiBy Music, which can be described as an all-encompassing framework incorporating both familiar concepts of audio processing for audiophiles as well as revolutionary innovations based on traditional technology. The architecture integrates many functions into an audio processing chain in a logical sequence. The entire architecture is designed with flexibility in mind, allowing each stage of the audio processing chain to be independently adjusted.

Darwin architecture provides different processing methods for PCM and DSD audio signals. When processing PCM signals, they are passed through a 256-stage adjustable pure FIR filter that supports up to 16 times oversampling, enhancing the restoration of the sound and providing space for detail adjustment. In the back-end section based on R2R design, Darwin architecture preserves the high-density and high-energy sound characteristics of the R2R architecture, and reduces resistor distortion with linear compensation technology based on the R2R resistor network. When processing DSD signals, Darwin architecture offers DSD pass-through capability, enabling DSD signals to directly reach the low-pass filter independent of the PCM channel, thereby optimizing playback and reducing high-frequency noise.

The construction of the Darwin architecture could not be made possible without the support of the core components in critical positions. The RS6 is equipped with dual-frequency crystal oscillators at 45.158MHz and 49.152MHz that control phase noise and clock jitter, enabling the SNR of the RS6 output to reach 114dB. The back-end circuit is comprised of two independent current amplifiers composed of one OPA1642 and two OPA1612, in addition to four OPA1622 headphone amplifier chips, greatly improving sound quality and enhancing control.

After examining the official Darwin architecture diagram provided by the manufacturer, I believe that the various modules within the architecture have enormous potential for development, while the strong inclusivity ensures the stability of the entire architecture. In other words, the playability of the RS6 is reproducible, so if the RS series continues to introduce players carrying the Darwin architecture, audiophiles may still be able to experience similar gameplay to that of the RS6.

 Flesh: Surging Power

With the combined action of various modules, the Darwin architecture provides the RS6 with a rich performance space on a sonic level. The Darwin architecture offers two modes, NOS and OS, for audiophiles to choose from. The former skips digital oversampling, and the original audio data is directly converted, resulting in a faster response speed. In the OS mode, various unique features can be individually adjusted, enabling personalized tuning.

Of course, the space for audiophiles to adjust manually is limited, we still need to look at the preset solutions offered by the manufacturer. When the RS6 was released, HiBy Music announced that it would work with nine domestic and international earphone brands to jointly tune the player. During my audition of the RS6, the corresponding exclusive tuning mode for nine earphones, such as the qdc Anole V14, the Fearless Artemis, and the Dita Audio Chant Pro, had already been released with the firmware upgrade. Therefore, in this audition, I selected the V14 as the matching earphones, with all tuning levers on the earphones turned off, and first listened to the sound performance of the RS6 in NOS mode, then switched to the OS mode for exclusive tuning comparison.

Firstly, the performance of RS6's balanced output in NOS mode was tested.

The most direct and profound impression that RS6 gave me was its density. Under the interpretation of RS6, each element in the music presented a full, solid and powerful posture. The vocals were strong and instruments were played with appropriate weight and tempo, without any sense of "weakness". In terms of style, RS6 appeared to be enthusiastic and infectious. The tone had been polished slightly on the basis of neutrality, and the overall performance was mellower, avoiding any dry or sharp listening experience, with higher listening enjoyment.

In terms of overall performance, the most outstanding feature of RS6 was its dynamics - it was able to interpret the magnificent and grand style of music, arousing listeners' emotions to a large extent. Additionally, RS6's transient performance was also outstanding, often highlighting sudden bursts of tension in the music. In terms of soundstage, RS6's balance was suitable, with good layering and no clear edges. The analysis was relatively complete, with no need to sharpen and highlight details in a forced way. The opening of the soundstage was not very refined, and the various musical elements did not have clear boundaries.

Taking Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 as an example, the opening of the first movement set the solemn tone for the whole piece with the brass chorus. The subsequent development section played a soothing and soft melody, and then entered several enthusiastic performances led by the brass. At this point, under RS6's interpretation, the entire piece demonstrated a grand narrative. When the symphony entered the fourth movement, RS6's excellent transient performance instantly aroused listeners' emotions, which was still lingering in the third movement. Subsequently, the entire movement progressed in a cheerful and magnificent way. RS6 made each voice of the orchestra played with a powerful sense, which was very suitable for the theme expressed in the music, making it a very enjoyable experience.

Overall, the balanced output performance of RS6 was quite impressive, with comprehensive performance levels ranking at the level of over ten thousand yuan, and some fine details are also on par with flagship-level portable players.

In terms of the three frequency ranges, RS6 maintains a balanced sound with a slight emphasis on the mid-range, but the strengthened part is not harsh. Supported by a dense and full sound, the mid-range of RS6 has a good thickness, with vocals in the right position, clear lines, fullness without overcrowding. The high-frequency range has strong brightness and a silky smooth sound, with enough information retained, but the extension of the high highs is relatively average. The low-frequency range has obvious cohesion, some depth, fast recovery of strength, and not too many overtones. Overall, the performance of the three frequency ranges is like this. However, if the "Atmospheric Enhancement" switch is turned on in the Darwin controller, the sense of volume in the low-frequency range will be slightly enhanced, and the overall proportion will be closer to the mid-range, but it still won't "steal the show". Personally, I think the switch can make the music performance more complete.

Based on the three-frequency style of RS6, I believe that RS6 is suitable for a wide range of music genres, and is slightly better for popular music than for instrumental music. RS6 has clear and full vocals without being "syrupy", and has a good degree of restoration for the singer's voice color. For audiophiles who like to listen to the original singing style of singers, this style is undoubtedly able to satisfy their listening preferences. For example, the famous "smoky" Rod Stewart's deep and slightly hoarse singing in "Sailing", the soft whispers in the first half and the hoarse screams in the second half of Sarah Connor's solo version of "Just One Last Dance", all have considerable expressive power after being interpreted by RS6.

Of course, RS6 also has good performance in the interpretation of classical music. I would prefer to choose symphonic works with complex arrangements and grand narratives to bring out the advantages of RS6 in dynamics, transients, and other aspects.

After trying the balanced output, switch to the single-ended output. The volume required to achieve roughly equal sound pressure for both PO ports is almost the same. After careful comparison, it can be found that the overall quality of the single-ended output is already solid, and it is slightly better than the single-ended output of the NR6 player in terms of dynamics and resolution. The balanced output further enhances performance in all dimensions.

The balanced output power of RS6 is 690mW, while the single-ended output is 180mW. The characteristics of the earphones suitable for the two ports are not the same. V14 has a certain driving threshold. To drive it with a balanced output, it can indeed make its quality perform better. If RS6 is used with some earphones with a low driving threshold, the single-ended output is sufficient

  • Let's try out the exclusive tuning set up by HiBy Music and qdc for the V14 one last time. Following the official recommendation, I connected the V14 to the single-ended port of the RS6 and set the gain to low.

    Before opening the exclusive tuning mode, there were no significant differences in sound quality, frequency distribution, or tonality of the V14. However, in the exclusive tuning mode, the V14 demonstrated a captivating sense of stability: the vocals and instruments each found their place in the not-so-large soundstage, gradually presenting each music segment in a calm and non-jumping manner. The RS6 performed comparatively clear for the lead singer and the solo instrument play, while the other accompaniment instruments blended into the whole, making for a well-coordinated and clear distinction between lead and supporting roles. This refined nuance also added a touch of infectiousness to this combination.


    Soul: The Road to Exploration

    If we only consider the Darwin architecture, the flexible design approach has reserved many directions for the subsequent upgrade of the architecture. It is conceivable that this "RS" series debut has already determined the technical design concept for the subsequent player products. Perhaps soon, series new flagship and entry-level models that audiophiles are eagerly anticipating will follow in the footsteps of the RS6. This is what "evolution" is all about.

    When I placed the RS6 in the lineup of HiBy Music players, I could clearly feel the difference between this player and its predecessors. The new technology has given RS6 powerful quality and high playability, and it is difficult to measure this new player by the standards of the HiBy Music R player series. To be frank, if a comparison must be made, I believe that the quality of the RS6 is significantly superior to the NR6 and is closer to that of the R8, although there are slight differences in the creation of the sense of space. However, in terms of overall sound performance, the RS6 is more enjoyable than the R-series players. To some extent, the RS series represents the starting point of the "rebirth" of the HiBy Music audio technology.

    In fact, during these years of audiophile pursuits, I have often heard about the introduction of new technologies by HiBy Music, such as HiByLink, 4G all-network player, power Turbo mode, UAT encoding, and adjustable digital crossover. Whenever new equipment loaded with new technologies was released, I always found myself drawn towards them.

    My impression of HiBy Music is that they are constantly seeking "new" and "change." If HiBy Music continued to release new products in their existing framework, they would still be able to win the favor of audiophiles with their excellent product strength. However, in the rapidly evolving digital electronics industry today, HiBy Music seems to be following the trend of the times with their steps. Especially under the current situation of the global shortage of core electronic components, HiBy Music's active innovation shows us another possibility for the industry's development.

    The above is the recollection of an audiophile about HiBy Music.