I am relatively new to the world of high-end DAPs and IEMs. My 2 channel preferences run towards R2R DACs (currently enjoying a Holo May) and electrostatic speakers. I love my Raal ribbon headphones. I value liquid, transparent mid-range and have a low tolerance for sibilance or congested upper mid/lower treble energy. I listen to a wide variety of acoustic music.
My prior DAP setup was Chord Mojo2/Poly, which I still love. I also had a SP1000M for several years. I have a few IEMs in the below $1,500 range (Monarch Mk2; UM Mest; 7Hz Timeless; Oriolus Isabelae, etc.).
I echo most of what others have already said about the RS8. It is spectacular. It has the organic, analog R2R sound that I love, with a very capable and flexible amp section. The overall sound is refined but lively, without any harshness anywhere in the spectrum. I haven’t yet done a head-to-head comparison with my beloved Mojo2, but I’m certain that the RS8 would come out on top in all respects.
I also echo what others have said about the need for long burn-in. I’m a previous skeptic on the whole burn-in debate. But this experience has turned me around. I let it burn in for 50 or 60 hours before I had a chance to try it. I was quite disappointed at first; it really sounded congested and shrill on anything with complex upper-mid energy (like early music with multiple vocal parts or bluegrass). (As noted, I have a low tolerance for sibilance or congested upper-mids). That problem persisted even as the burn-in got up to 100 or 150 hours. I thought I would have to sell it and return to my beloved Mojo2/Poly.
I held off doing a review in the hopes that it would get better with time. Good thing I did. Things really took a turn for me at around 200 hours of burn in. The harshness and congestion are gone. The sound is lively, with tremendous clarity and “you are there” analog qualities. Just what I was looking for.
A couple more things about convenience for on-the-go use (which is still my main use case goal):
- This thing is huge and heavy like a brick. I am managing to keep it in a cargo pants pocket pretty well. But it is heavy. I wind up carrying it around in my hand, which is pretty inconvenient, compared the way my Mojo2/Poly would slip into my pocket and happily stay there all day while I was at the grocery store, on a hike, or at the kids’ soccer game. I fear there may be a fanny pack in my future.
- Some of the software is still a work in progress. I’m a big Roon user. Roon Remote (which will allow the unit to function as a Roon endpoint) doesn’t work yet, although Hiby assures me that should be fixed in the next firmware update. Compatibility with Roon ARC is also in the works but farther out.
- I am really looking forward to Hibycast, which they say will allow full control of the unit from a nearby phone or tablet. With that, the unit could stay in a pocket (or backpack), or wherever is most convenient to carry something of this size and weight. I understand that Hibycast has recently come on line for Android phone users. But I’m an iOS guy. Hiby tells me an iOS phone client app is in the works but still a ways out.
The purchase experience with Andrew at Musicteck was terrific. He helped me get in touch with Hiby to get me answers on the Roon and Hibycast software questions.
Summary: now that it has burned in for a crazy number of hours, this is a remarkable beast. My only regret is that I’m going to need to take my IEM game up a couple notches to take full advantage of the quality that’s coming out of this unit.