PROS: Discrete resistor R-2R DAC (w/updated Darwin II architecture), natural resolving tonality, balanced sound with a deeper bass response, no hissing even with sensitive IEMs, turbo mode with a voltage boost, fast Android 12 performance (665 SoC, 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM), MQA 16x, DSD1024 and PCM1536 support, hi-res 5.5” screen, Titanium chassis, phenomenal battery life.
CONS: weight, price, and at the time of writing fw still required tweaks.
The product was provided to me for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Hiby. Available for sale directly or from authorized retailers like Musicteck.
Lately, I find it challenging to review flagship DAPs. Many are getting bigger in size, becoming transportable rather than portable. They run optimized versions of Android on fast Snapdragon processors and with plenty of RAM for multitasking. They have higher output power to drive even some of the demanding headphones. The price gap is also not as wide anymore. And every flagship DAP is tuned to sound its best, showcasing years of accumulated manufacturer’s experience. So how do you choose which one is better or the right fit for you when you are dealing with so much overlap? You must look deeper while trying to find something unique about it, something that makes it stand out, especially in pair ups with your favorite IEMs and headphones.
After spending a month with RS8, testing it with different earphones and comparing to other audio players, I’m ready to share my findings about this latest flagship release from Hiby so you can decide for yourself if this is the right DAP for you.
Unboxing and Accessories.
To celebrate the release of their latest flagship DAP, Hiby designed a custom full-grain premium leather box which they referred to as “suitcase”. Actually, the leather box was inside of a silver cardboard storage box and that box was inside of a premium material drawstring bag. The leather storage box was beautifully crafted with stamped diamond-shaped patterns and a buckle design across the top cover. Once you lift up the cover, everything inside is lined with a soft suede like material. The top tray has a precise cutout for RS8 where you will find the star of the show and next to it you have a titanium nameplate, the same material as the chassis of the DAP. It would have been cool to have a serial number etched on that Ti plate, but this is not a limited-edition release so the plate is probably the same across every box.
Under the top tray, at the bottom, you will find a slightly bigger cutout for a storage box with a leather RS8 case, also full-grain genuine premium teal/bluish color leather material, and cable accessories. There was also an envelope with a spare screen protector, with one already applied to the screen, warranty card, and a manual. The included cables are usb-c to usb-c charging/data cable and usb-c to RCA coax cable, both high quality durable built cables. I guess Hiby recognized that most of today’s chargers are usb-c based, so no more usb-A to usb-c, but it would have been useful to include usb-c to usb-A adapter. Some people still use old chargers and many laptops only have one usb-c thunderbolt port used for a laptop charging, meaning you will need usb-A adapter to use the included cable with a regular usb port.
The leather case design is unique. RS8 slides from the top, so its top is fully open, and the bottom has a full cutout for all the ports, only covering the bottom edges of the chassis. Left side is fully covered, hiding direct access to spring loaded microSD card slot, and Right side has a generous cutout for Playback control and Power buttons, including status LED. If you prefer a tactile response of physical buttons, this cutout gives you direct access to all of them. But the unique part of the case design is on the back where you have a huge cutout exposing the back of titanium chassis, allowing unrestricted air circulation to keep it cool. A lot of today’s DAP cases are following popular Dignis designs with metal grill on the back that makes it look pretty but blocks some air. This is different and I can confirm that RS8 never got warm to the touch. One thing to mention, after a while the open titanium back got a bit oxidized, turning a shade darker which is visible when you take RS8 out to reveal a brighter edge area that was covered by.................