The Chic and Playful Elegance: HiBy R6 Pro II Second Generation Lossless Music Player with Ethereal Immersion.
This is the first time in my ten years of professional experience that I've taken the initiative to borrow a sample unit from a manufacturer in order to truly experience it. I'd like to express my gratitude to the staff at HiBy for their cooperation.
The Representation of Chinese Sound in My Eyes.
Even though I'm entirely unfamiliar with the brand, the reason I wanted to borrow this product to try out is very clear. Every time I attend an exhibition, I take the opportunity to listen to HiBy's products, and every time I'm captivated by the quality of sound. Over the past few years, I've noticed that across various products, the tuning remains consistently stable and consistently good. And now, after a few more years have passed, I can confidently classify it as one of the few representative brands in China's audio art scene.
In my view, the sound quality of audio equipment can be categorized into three levels. The first level is the fundamental audio quality, the essence of sound that includes elements like resolution, dynamics, and frequency distribution. After all, these are the basic elements one expects when investing in audio equipment.
The second level is the tuning, which is not something you can just read off from specifications or performance data; it's something you purely experience through listening. It's at this level that a designer's aesthetic understanding of sound art is revealed. This aspect becomes the dividing line between typical audio equipment and high-end HiFi devices.
The third level is even more elusive. It's about a brand's ability to master the sound of their products, possessing a refined sense of sound art aesthetics. They can achieve the continuity of their tuning aesthetics over time, and as time goes on, their products and tuning become uniquely distinct and irreplaceable. There's a high probability that such a brand will eventually become a representative in the realm of music art and aesthetics.
Chinese brands can achieve the first level for the most part, the second level for a select few, and the third level is currently possessed by only three brands in my view – HiBy, HIFIMAN, and L&P (Luxury & Precision).
Similar train of thought includes the likes of UK's Ear, US's Goethe, Switzerland's Nagra – all these are extremely impressive, and you can easily list many more. There are fewer such brands domestically, mainly due to the relatively weaker foundation in modern electronic technology and related artistic development. However, this is not about feeling inferior; after all, things that China has been able to preserve well from ancient times, like language and culinary culture, are things that the whole world acknowledges.
In fact, there are some brands with this potential as well. But due to commercial factors like needing to support a large workforce and catering to a wider range of users with their products, even if they possess a solid foundation in sound aesthetics, they end up producing products in various styles. For instance, brands like Shanling, FiiO, and Dita Audio have this potential.
The Portable Player's Cheng Yaojin.
Whenever I discuss HiBy with friends, there's always a mention of its software background. So, think about it – someone with a software background not only entered the player market but also managed to establish a strong foothold immediately. This software Cheng Yaojin, arriving midway, could they have been so aggressive without having solid hardware chops? HiFi users aren't just people with money to throw around.
In my view, the reason is quite simple. Audio equipment, it's all about sound quality. With HiBy, it's easy to get hooked after a listen. Plus, the price needs to be reasonable, offering a good balance between specifications and performance, ensuring value for money. The design and functionality must also be visually appealing and user-friendly, without any letdowns. It's that straightforward.
Looking behind the scenes, HiBy has hidden away an individual, someone who's likely a seasoned hardware engineer combined with an exceptional sense of sound aesthetics and extensive listening experience (they handle hardware with finesse, and the product tuning is highly consistent). Just observing the details of the R6 Pro II, I have a hunch that this person is probably connected to the professional recording field. Of course, these are all my speculations. Such talent is few and far between in the industry; assembling a team around them would likely serve as the core competitive advantage, setting the tone for everything.
I can't continue to ramble on, even though there's still so much more I want to say about the HiBy brand.
R6 Pro II Second Generation is Not a Mid-range Player.
Speaking of the R6 Pro II itself, it's priced at 4998 yuan. I've also read numerous reviews about this device, and there's one particular point where I strongly disagree: calling the R6 Pro II a mid-range player. But what exactly defines mid-range?
In all aspects, the R6 Pro II is a flagship-level player; it's just that its price tag might seem mid-range. Otherwise, how could it be dubbed the "Cheng Yaojin" of the player world? Flagship players that cost over ten thousand or even twenty thousand, they're essentially just loaded with excess hardware performance or features, or they're designed to look exceptionally powerful, exaggerated, and distinct in certain areas just to highlight their uniqueness. They might use expensive materials and craftsmanship in places unrelated to sound quality, such as appearance.
Setting aside all the bells and whistles of various flagship players, let's objectively consider the R6 Pro II. It's inherently very pure and distinctly positioned in the realm of portable players. It's a complete flagship-grade player in every aspect. As for claims that mid-range players have a significant gap in sound quality compared to various flagship players in terms of resolution, dynamics, and such, from my own conjecture and listening to various devices, I truly don't perceive much difference in sound between this device and the various high-priced flagship players.
Appearance Without Further Explanation.
I've heard HiBy staff introduce the appearance of the R6 Pro II Second Generation, available in two colors: black and purple. The combination of the curved back design, the curvature, and the carbon fiber finish is described as "stars and the sea," which immediately reminded me of the phrase "toward the stars and the abyss" from the game "Genshin Impact." Whether it's the sea, stars, distant mountains, or the pitch-black abyss, whether it's radiant purple or pitch black, the innovative spirit behind the R6 Pro II's appearance is commendable. Even the small hidden colored indicator light looks good.
However, the precision of the buttons could be improved, as the overall feel is somewhat loose, and the tactile sensation is slightly thin.
The craftsmanship of the leather case also needs enhancement; while it fits tightly, its finesse is lacking. When touched, the buttons lack distinct texture and resolution.
Hardware Craftsmanship, Blade by Blade Infusion.
I believe I can still understand what the official promotional page is emphasizing.
The core decoding section employs the latest flagship AKM 4191+4499EX chips. The crucial point here is chip-level ladder DAC separation, coupled with the addition of an NDK femtosecond clock for the digital section. The 8-channel full power of the 4499EX is unleashed, leading to a pure Class A fully balanced amplification. The digital-to-analog conversion, IV conversion, operational amplifier, and amplification stages are powered separately in four channels. The skillful and refined quality of the sound is like the mastery of a butcher, every blade cut into the soul with precision, leaving no aspect untouched. Oh, by the way, it doesn't emphasize shielding; that's something I'm not aware of.
The amplification section supports both Class A and Class AB switching, with Class A providing slightly better performance, delivering a more expansive, robust, and transparent sound, while Class AB conserves power and yields a softer sound. Some might argue that the driving power of the R6 Pro II Second Generation is relatively low, with a bit over 100mW for the single-ended output and nearly 400mW for the balanced output.
I'll just share my perspective – why do I find this designer to be skilled? When it comes to portable setups, the main drive is for in-ear monitors and a few easily driven over-ear headphones. The driving power of the R6 Pro II is undoubtedly sufficient for these scenarios. Battery life, power supply, size, endurance, heat dissipation, and performance release aren't about being the biggest or the most unique; the hardest part is achieving an all-encompassing balance. This designer must be exceptionally experienced and insightful, not blindly chasing the market trends but rather defining the product based on its size. Ensuring the maximized release of core performance while also rationally balancing performance in other aspects to achieve an optimal state is a challenging feat that requires a well-rounded approach.
So, I want to emphasize once again that the R6 Pro II Second Generation is a fully powerful and balanced flagship-level portable player, and its hardware design is exceptionally insightful. It's precisely because of its comprehensive excellence that there's a key point being highlighted in the product introduction – the R6 Pro II is highly suitable as a desktop digital signal source (a digital hub) and a digital playback decoder (including the dedicated Line Out interface, which not only appears very "audiophile" but also undoubtedly showcases its strong confidence in its digital and decoding capabilities). It can be connected to active speakers, headphone amplifiers/preamps, and similar products. I've carefully tested this functionality, and the audio quality demonstrated by these features has truly left me very satisfied.
Other features like support for high-definition Bluetooth input/output and digital input (for pure decoding or decoding plus headphone amplification use) are also highly practical.
A Software System with Noticeable Distinction.
Although HiBy comes from a software background, from a broader perspective, the overall operating experience and smoothness don't seem to present any particularly evident advantages – Android is still Android. Deep customization based on the Android system is common, and for the sake of sound quality, the R6 Pro II Second Generation globally bypasses the influence of the underlying SRC (Sample Rate Conversion).
However, it can still be observed that the overall software logic of the R6 Pro II has its distinctiveness. Unlike the majority of players where nearly all operations and functionalities are embedded within the Android system, the R6 Pro II can be understood as being half reliant on the system and half focused on its in-device HiBy Music app. Features such as Wi-Fi song transmission, various USB output adjustments, and HiBy Link are all found within the app.
Moreover, as a pivotal component within the software framework, various EQ sound adjustment modules span across the system and the HiBy app. The user's realm of autonomous sound tuning is exceptionally vast, and this can be regarded as one of the most distinctive aspects of HiBy's player. It's the ultimate choice for users who enjoy tinkering with sound effects. This also leads me to believe that the designer likely has a professional background in recording, as they likely have a penchant for using software and hardware-based reverbs, effects processors, and the like to make the sound more captivating.
The WiFi song transmission function is indeed user-friendly, and the global bypassing of SRC for high bit-rate lossless direct output in various apps (especially Apple Music) is truly suitable for use as a digital audio player. However, throughout, I couldn't seem to locate the Airplay function anywhere.
Resonance of 'Chinese Characters' in Sound.
One must still marvel at the greatness of Chinese characters. Every time I hear HiBy's sound, those graceful and intricate senses of artistry and visual power easily come to mind.
Regarding the three dimensions of sound, the first two need not be reiterated. In terms of the fundamental qualities of sound (accuracy, high resolution, dynamics, imaging, energy distribution, etc.) and the beautiful tonality, the R6 Pro II Second Generation is easily discernible to the ear. Let's mainly discuss why HiBy is considered a representative brand of "Chinese sound."
HiBy's sound itself carries an essence of elegance, freedom, and ease. This then conjures up numerous vibrant and diverse images.
For example, my initial reaction is to sense the flow of a mountain stream, clear and slightly cool. This sound is continuously in motion, turbulent currents striking against the rocky walls, creating a splashing sound. At times, it seems as if the stream has reached the narrow tip of a bamboo tube, moving very slowly, with each droplet accompanied by a gentle "ding-dong," merging with the water below. This transparency and crystalline dynamism, when the piano hammers strike the strings one by one, the solid texture gives way to ethereal harmonics. The enchanting energy, the metaphor "large pearls and small pearls falling onto a jade plate" doesn't quite capture this beauty. Translated, this is a comprehensive expression of imaging texture, harmonics, resolution, extension, and dynamics in the mid-high and high-frequency ranges.
Then, as the camera is pulled back, it's the sense of soundstage from HiBy. It reminds me of the iconic scene from the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" – a profound distant mountain, lush bamboo forest, abundant greenery, serene and leisurely. Yet, there are swordsmen moving within, hidden currents surging beneath the calm surface, ready to erupt at any moment. It exudes the essence of traditional Chinese ink painting – a blend of expressionism and ever-changing concreteness. On closer inspection, it resembles modern colorful ink paintings, vibrant and vivid. In translation, it can be simply understood as having a profound and authentic soundstage, with a serene pitch-black background that holds vibrant soundscapes. This vividness in both sound elements and the background is remarkable (having both lively sound elements and lively backgrounds is a rarity). With such lively notes and soundscapes, the two complement each other, whether it's the sunlight making the autumn chrysanthemum more dazzling or the spring breeze enhancing the vitality of the pine. This lively soundstage truly lives up to the phrase "radiant autumn chrysanthemums, lush spring pines.
The scene then shifts its focus to the two swordsmen engaged in a duel – agile steps, seamlessly transitioning between offense and defense. "Graceful as startled swans, elegant as wandering dragons." In translation, this actually refers to the smoothness of the sound, whether it's the overall volume or the finer details, there's a seamless connection across the entire frequency range. It sounds incredibly smooth everywhere, with a profound internal power that makes it flow effortlessly, creating a sense of satisfaction.
Speaking of internal power, the scene takes yet another turn, and I'm reminded of my experience watching the movie "Kung Fu Hustle." Two musical masters make their moves, and in an instant, the transition between calm and action is immense. A burst of frenzied melodies erupts, and the order, rules, and logic of the music come to the forefront, while chaos dances alongside. Is it exhilarating? Very much so, but it's an exhilaration that's extremely comfortable, liberating, and joyful. "The larger strings clatter like urgent rain, the smaller strings whisper like private conversations" couldn't be a more fitting description. In translation, this means that the control over sound dynamics is excellent, with a natural ebb and flow, clear transitions between light and shade, presenting a distinct and delicate sound. Ultimately, it delivers impeccable sound with a harmonious coordination that's entirely non-intrusive. Whenever you listen, regardless of focal points or overall aspects, everything is harmoniously aligned, calm yet dynamic. In terms of tuning, this might be the most valuable achievement.
Showman-Like" Sound Reproduction.
On the R6 Pro II Second Generation, you can experience a multitude of soundscapes that are uniquely tailored to HiBy's tuning. HiBy's interpretation of various sounds is incredibly rich and captivating, and I'm afraid I could go on forever if I continue. Let me emphasize two points briefly. In the midst of listening, I caught a line from a song by the New Pants band, "The girl in the cubicle, with time, becomes beautiful." The lyrics are straightforward and simple, yet they encapsulate the visual and psychological changes brought about by the passage of time. The portrayal is both complete and realistic, offering a satisfying depiction of the life of a "worker." This also aptly characterizes HiBy's tuning – the longer you listen, the more you can uncover the profound beauty across its various dimensions. Translated, this means a well-rounded and balanced sound, delicately emotional, deserving of close attention and appreciation, both enjoyable and enduring.
Speaking of the girl in the cubicle, I can't help but mention that HiBy's tuning possesses a "showman-like" (with no negative connotation) richness and versatility. Regardless of the "girl" being music itself, regardless of its age, whether dressed in school uniform, work attire, or even a wedding dress, or perhaps seductive and alluring like Lolita, everything is harmonious and beautiful. Translated, this refers to HiBy's tuning being inclusive of various musical styles, accurately and authentically portraying musical emotions – it's precise, genuine, adaptable, just like a chameleon. It adjusts according to what you're listening to and what you want, striving for a high level of fidelity and a natural interpretation of musical content and emotions. "After the music ends, the virtuous talents serve," is the tail rhyme of HiBy's tuning. Sometimes, I find myself speculating about the experiences of Ah Bing and what led him to imbue the erhu with such creative expression and performance. I'm also often curious about what kind of power the monk with a broom possesses, embracing a preference for sweeping with no desires left.
Based on the conclusions above, using the R6 Pro II Second Generation, I recommend pairing it with high-end earphone products. Next in line would be easy-to-drive over-ear headphones. I suggest not pairing it with entry-level or mid-range earphone products. The upper limit of the R6 Pro II is relatively high, so it's more cost-effective to utilize its front-end quality and present beautiful sound with more premium options.
Bolstering Desktop Equipment.
Lastly, I also meticulously tested the sound quality of the R6 Pro II Second Generation as a dedicated digital transport and a standalone decoding device. To avoid overly lengthy discussion, let me summarize the most immediate outcomes.
As a pure digital transport, the R6 Pro II's USB digital output works excellently with regular desktop DACs. However, when connecting it to professional sound cards that are integrated with smaller amplifiers, it's less effective (it can be recognized but not played). Despite the R6 Pro II's USB digital output offering various adjustable options, it didn't work even after trying various settings. Later, I learned that these sound cards are likely primarily designed for use with PCs and might have compatibility issues with the UAC protocol. Eventually, I connected it to the Eversolo Z8 decoder to assess its sound characteristics. In the context of serving as a pure digital transport, the R6 Pro II astutely minimized its distinct "HiBy tuning," showcasing high resolution, transparency, notable sound texture, and dynamic performance. It presented a balanced and neutral sonic foundation, demonstrating the designer's deep understanding of the core principles of "neutral audio source.
As a combined streaming and decoding unit, when connected to the recently discovered optimal desktop amplification equipment - the SuperFET Field-Effect Transistor Array Headphone Amplifier/Preamp, the pairing results were truly satisfying. The decoding output of the R6 Pro II presented HiBy's sonic prowess in its entirety. The sound exhibited a harmonious and seamless full-frequency response, imbued with a refreshing dynamism. The elegantly rendered audio continued to tease my senses, back and forth. Moreover, the SuperFET amplifier captured even the minutest signals comprehensively, delivering a complete and amplified reproduction. This combination, whether used with various headphones, earphones, or active speakers, harnessed abundant sound pressure and energy. The pleasing tonality of the HiBy decoding section was both preserved and magnified, offering a sense of fulfillment that kept me engaged for an extended period.
A Sense of Ethereal Elegance.
In a nutshell, the R6 Pro II, in my view, is a comprehensively balanced flagship portable music player in terms of hardware. Its sound is not only delightful but also imbued with an air of elegance, reflecting HiBy's consistent stability and the craftsmanship of a master. This "China-inspired" tuning can be described as having a distinctive blend of ethereal charm and traditional essence.
Despite my long-winded elaboration, the truth is whether it's praised or not, I recently came across a statement that resonated well — when it comes to things we adore, naturally, we'd want to spread the word far and wide.