Trial Impressions of Hiby R6 PRO II: The Mid-Range Hi-Fi Device with Outstanding Appearance and Sound Quality (Standard Version)
In conjunction with the Beijing Z.HIFI Exhibition, I had the privilege of attending the offline launch event and tasting session for the new Hiby R6 PRO II. At this launch event, the official engineers and market leaders from Hiby introduced the development background and product story of the new device to the attending media. From the release of the R6 PRO in 2018 to the present day R6 PRO II, more than four years have passed. I am fortunate enough to have been one of the first users to experience the charm of the R6 PRO II, following the R6 PRO, when its second-generation product was launched.
Due to time constraints, I picked up the new device during the Beijing exhibition and received it the day after the launch event (March 25th, 2023) and posted an unboxing Weibo. During this period, I have been using and burning in the device normally, plugging it in to burn in when not in use. After three weeks, the machine was basically burned in. The most profound impression that the R6 PRO II gave me was that its new state is better than several Hiby players I have used before. The sound quality is no longer dry, dull, or lacking smoothness. Of course, with any player, there is still some lack of smoothness in the sound and slightly rough treble when the machine is first used. The relaxation is weaker, but with the RS8 and R8 from Hiby, these problems are more noticeable, and as they use more separated components, they need to be burned in and used for some time to enter an ideal state. However, the improvements made in the R6 PRO II are quite significant, the sound when the new machine is played back is already vibrant and colorful, and of course, it gets better after the burning-in period.
After the introductory comments, let's get straight to it without further ado. The R6 PRO II comes in two color options, and compared to the first-generation product, the biggest changes are in its appearance and body material. In terms of appearance, the R6 PRO II does not adopt the design of previous models such as the R6III and RS6, but presents users with a completely new body shape featuring a 5.9-inch 1080p screen, which is even larger than the one used on their flagship model, making it a truly full-screen player. However, the highlight of the machine's appearance is the design on the back. At the new product launch, Mr. Luo from Hiby's marketing division described that the concept for the back design was inspired by scenes of midnight stars, waves lapping at the shore, a starry sky, sitting alone on an uninhabited island, enjoying the vast sea of stars and searching for a music utopia. Therefore, the back design became the artistic back panel. Honestly, I do not have a particularly high artistic taste, so I cannot imagine the beautiful scene of waves lapping at the beach, but the back panel of this device is really beautiful with a strong sense of 3D. Especially for the purple body, it is truly eye-catching. At first glance, I thought the back panel had a cutting process that created a high and low 3D effect, but upon touching it, I realized that the three-dimensional visual effect was cleverly achieved by using the diagonal weave pattern in the middle and the side incisions, making you think that the back panel has high and low concave and convex slopes, when in fact it does not, it is an optical effect.
This new player uses a flagship Snapdragon 665 chip from Qualcomm as its main control chip, providing higher efficiency in computing and graphics processing. With the support of the Hiby system, the chip's performance is maximized, effectively improving the energy efficiency ratio of the main control chip and making mainstream streaming music platforms run more smoothly. The 5.9-inch screen delivers excellent display quality, especially for those like me who like to take pictures of album covers and share music albums, the large screen gives a better feel. The new customized system with a purple theme is based on Android 12 with deep customization of Hiby OS, a playback system for professional audio. The audio processing is thoroughly optimized at the system level, bypassing system SRC globally, and even third-party apps can enjoy high-bitrate lossless music. It has a user interface that can be compared to that of a mobile phone system and has further optimized performance at the system level, even when multitasking is running, it maintains the system's smoothness. Lastly, let me say that the purple color scheme for the background is really cool, and even those who bought the black body version can still feel cool. The Hiby Cast remote control, which has been around for some time, is of course also included in the new player. For those accustomed to using a smartphone to control their player, the practicality of this function is self-evident. Of course, for those who prefer to swipe and control the player with the device itself, they may use this feature a little less often. Actually, the importance of this function becomes even more apparent when it is inconvenient to take out the player.
In terms of core hardware, in addition to the aforementioned Snapdragon 665 main control chip, the decoding chip uses a combination of dual AK4499EX+AK4191 chips, with MONO mode output, and the digital circuit and analog circuit are completely separate, maximizing the DAC's potential. The new ALLIN audio architecture equips each of the DAC's eight channels with an independent I/V conversion & doubles up the output in MONO mode for both AK4499EXs, whether selecting balanced or unbalanced output. The earphone amplifier circuit still offers the option of two operating modes: A class and AB class, allowing users to choose the appropriate earphone amplifier mode according to their preferences and the type of headphones they are using. MQA 16X is also loaded onto this new player. To achieve higher sound quality and more accurate restoration, a femtosecond crystal oscillator is chosen for the clock. The independent audio output interface, which was previously only offered on high-end models, is also equipped on the R6 PRO II. The outputs from left to right on the bottom are: 4.4mm line output, 3.5mm line output, Type-C interface (charging/data transfer/coaxial output/USB DAC), 3.5mm headphone output, and 4.4mm headphone output. Bluetooth transmission supports two-way Bluetooth, which works well. The device supports audio files up to PCM32bit/1536kHz and DSD1024, which is more than enough for me, who typically listens to PCM16bit/44.1kHz-format files. However, for those who regularly listen to DSD audio sources, this new device is definitely worth considering.
Product Model: Hiby R6 PRO II
Operating System: Hiby SO (deeply customized Android 12)
Main Control CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
DAC Combination: AKM AK4191 + 2 x AK4499EX (Dual DAC Octa-Channel Current Output Mode)
Audio Format: DSD1024/PCM1536kHz-32bit/MQA16X
Analog Output: 3.5mm LO/4.4mm LO, 3.5mm PO/4.4mm PO
Digital Output: Type-C Coaxial Output
WiFi Support: 2.4GHz/5.0GHz
Bluetooth Support: 5.0 Bidirectional
Wireless Audio: UAT, LDAC, apt-X, apt-X HD, AAC, SBC
Screen Specification: 5.9 inches/IPS/1080*2160
Internal Memory: 64GB
USB Interface: USB2.0/USB3.1, supports up to 10Gbps transfer
Expandable Memory: Supports up to 2TB MicroSD card
Charging Parameters: 9V/2A or 5V/0.5A
Battery Capacity: 5000mAh/3.8V
Battery Life: Class A Amplification (3.5mm/6H, 4.4mm/5H) AB Class Amplification (3.5mm/8H, 4.4mm/7H)
Charging Protocol: PD2.0/18W
Charging Time: <2H (0~100%)
Third-party APP: Supported
Output Power: 3.5mm~125mW, 4.4mm~383mW
SNR: 3.5mm~117dB, 4.4mm~119dB
Distortion (minimum): Class A Amplification/0.0009%, AB Class Amplification/0.0015%
Distortion (maximum): 3.5mm~0.1%, 4.4mm~0.2%
Dynamic Range: 3.5mm~118dB, 4.4mm~119dB
Separation: 3.5mm~70dBr, 4.4mm~98dBr
Frequency Range: 20Hz~90kHz
The following is a listening test in which R6PRO II is set to mid-gain and A-Class amplifier mode, connected to ZEN PRO via 4.4mm headphone output.
This is a pair of combination with outstanding music atmosphere and sound detail performance. This combination is suitable for listening to popular music and works of small chamber music, and performs well in three frequencies, showing good details and being able to handle both male and female vocals.
Compared with several high-end models from Hidizs that I have encountered before, R6 PRO II has a relatively clear and lively initial sound state. Even if it is not burned in, the sound will not make you feel rough, stuffy, not stretched, and other unpleasant listening problems. With ZEN PRO, which also has transparent sound and excellent atmosphere, the sound infectivity is outstanding, making it a combination of both musicality and quality.
In One of Takuro Yoshida's latest songs, "Rainy Blue," released in 2017, this song is a collection of works for the 45th anniversary of Takuro's debut released by Universal Music. The song features the familiar voice of Takuro singing Eiichi Ohtaki's early masterpiece. Takuro's voice is full of magnetism and storytelling, as if opening his mouth to tell a story to the audience. This combination has a textured and moderately thick vocal part, clear vocal imaging, moderate distance feeling, moderate mouth shape, and good density. The proportion of background music and vocals is reasonable. In the bass part, it is not heavy, with sufficient volume and a clear low-frequency resolution. Although it is a studio recording, the sound field space exhibited is still good in pop music. The entire music piece is spacious, delicate, thin, transparent in sound, slightly warm in tone, and good in detail and level performance, without being abrupt or rough. It is considered a combination that is suitable for this recording.
The second music selection for the listening test is a cello piece - "Moments Musicaux, Op.94, No.3" by Schubert. This music was once selected as the original soundtrack for Hong Kong's animated film "McDull Story." Here, the combination of cello and piano is performed. This combination performs this piece and presents a wide and expansive sound field space. The cello has a strong sound texture, and the details are re-presented clearly, even capturing the breathing sounds of the cellist during playing. The cooperation between the two instruments is very tacit, with the cello as the main melody and the piano playing its accompanying role silently without covering the sound of the cello. This is where the outstanding recording of this piece lies. The moderate sound thickness, transparent and slightly warm tone, spacious sound field space, and clear and delicate details and levels are well-presented. This music can also control the scene, and this combination is also capable of performing well in the chamber music of this instrument.
R6PRO II + IE400 PRO (3.5mm headphone output) was used for this listening test.
This is a combination with transparent sound, stretching, and good performance in vocal spatiality. Compared with the previous combination, the sound of this combination is relatively plain. The paired IE400 PRO earplugs are professional products from Sennheiser, belonging to the monitoring earplugs. Compared to the IE100 PRO, it has higher overall quality. Compared to the IE500 PRO, the imaging of the mid-frequency range, especially the vocal part, is relatively smaller, and the distance feeling is more open. Although the vocal mouth shape is not as full as the IE500 PRO, the delicacy and emotional understanding of the vocals are more prominent. On the contrary, the vocals of the IE500 PRO are relatively plain and simple, but the vocal imaging closer to the real sound is not something that I particularly like.
For the first music selection, the reviewer chose a pop song by Hong Kong singer Teresa Teng called "Qing Cheng". This was a surprisingly pleasant listening experience on the IE400PRO earbuds, which have a unique, non-cold sound with a transparent and detailed texture in vocals. The sound produced by the combination is transparent, clear, and well-defined, with good imaging and separation. The guitar sound was clear and natural with good fidelity. The R6 PRO II, while not having a particularly strong driving force on paper, still managed to drive earbuds within the 16-32Ω range with a sensitivity above 100dB, resulting in a lively and dynamic sound. Overall, the combination produced a transparent and detailed sound with good imaging and separation.
Next, the reviewer played a piece of chamber music by Schubert called "Moment Musical". The sound from the R6 PRO II was lively and clean, with good detail reproduction of the cello and the breaths of the musicians. The piano and cello were well-separated, and the soundstage was open and transparent with a clean background. Although this is chamber music, the combination highlighted the sound quality and the shifting tones of the two instruments. In summary, the output was a detailed, balanced, and clean sound.
Overall, the R6 PRO II has a unique and relatively distinct sound compared to other models on the market. Its AK4191+AK4499EX chipset produces a clear, smooth and flowing sound character, unlike other models that require a long burn-in time. When paired with the Sennheiser IE400 PRO monitoring earbuds, the sound is medium-balanced, transparent, and natural. When paired with the high-end dynamic earbuds from DUNU, the ZEN PRO, it produces a detailed, lively, and well-layered sound, particularly suitable for playing pop music. With a mid-level gain, the R6PRO II can handle most earbuds within the 16-32Ω range with a sensitivity above 100dB. Despite not having the strongest specifications on paper, the R6PRO II was capable of producing excellent sound quality in practice.
R6PRO II + A5000
"I'm Fine" by Gigi Leung from the album "Fresh"
"IF" from the album "The Missing Linc"
Transparent, exquisite, and relaxing is the combination of R6 PRO II and A5000. The A5000 has a smooth and transparent sound with impressive performance for female vocals and small ensembles. However, when paired with certain front-end sources, especially those with slightly prominent mids and highs, the A5000 may have some shortcomings, such as a slightly floating vocal, a lack of thickness in the mid-low range, and an unsteady sound quality. Nevertheless, this combination still performs well.
"I'm Fine" by Gigi Leung is not a popular song but has its own flavor. This pop song from the late 90s features clear and precise instrument and vocal imaging with a smooth, transparent, and exquisite sound profile. The high-pitched sound is bright and clear without being harsh, and the soundstage is well-structured with a clean background. Although the texture of the vocals is relatively fine, the overall sound is smooth and not harsh. Compared to systems that only highlight the high-pitched sound to create an illusion of high resolution, this combination delivers a sound quality that is worth its price. The bass may lack a little bit of depth, but from another perspective, if it had deeper bass, it would have a higher price tag.
Every time I listen to "IF," the opening Baroque-style harpsichord always moves me. This combination performs decently with this song, scoring 7.5 out of 10 points overall. The sound quality of this work is better than a pop song mentioned earlier. The atmosphere created by this piece not only allows you to enjoy the sound details but also relaxes your mind with a sense of serene transparency. The sound brightness is just right with the perfect balance between stimulation and dynamic changes. The bass is still restrained and moderate, with a solid and coherent sound. However, if you are looking for a combination that emphasizes the impact and energy of the bass, this combination may be a bit limited. Nonetheless, the clean vocal and stable background are still its strengths. The strings are slender, transparent, and have clear and distinct outlines. Although the harmonics and resonance are not fully displayed in the cello, the overall performance is satisfactory. The soundstage created by this song is more expansive than the pop song mentioned earlier, providing a broad and comfortable listening experience.
Overall, this combination has high transparency, good resolution, smooth and relaxing sound, and a spacious soundstage. It performs well with pop songs and small ensembles. The A5000 has a relatively subdued sound but is balanced and elegant, making it a great match for the R6 PRO II without any problems.
R6PRO II + Brown Thrasher
"I'm Fine" by Gigi Leung from the album "Fresh"
"Interlude of Life" by Jacky Cheung from the album "Love and Symphony"
A combination with a strong atmosphere and music infectiousness, very suitable for listening to pop music, is a truly comprehensive combination of sound and color. Unlike some earphones that use flat diaphragm, the Thrush actually uses the traditional defined flat unit rather than the flat diaphragm dynamic unit. A 14mm large flat speaker is responsible for the entire midrange, allowing the Thrush to have a very delicate and exquisite human voice. Compared to products that use dynamic iron units for midrange output, the Thrush has smoother, warmer, and fuller listening experience. The low frequency is handled by the dynamic unit, and the Thrush undergoes a period of burning before leaving the factory, so it has a certain effect when first used. The low frequency atmosphere and volume sense are both good. The high frequency section is handled by traditional dynamic iron units. The Thrush's high frequency is not stimulating, and some people even say that it leans toward the mid-to-low frequency with a darker high frequency. But to my ears, the high frequency is basically adequate. Of course, if you pursue extreme resolution, exceptionally transparent detail, and line feeling, then the Thrush may not be for you.
The first song I chose to listen to was "I'm Fine" by Sister Chang Hsiao-yen. A friend of mine told me that the Thrush is particularly suitable for pop music, especially male vocals. I primarily use the Thrush to listen to pop music, and I believe it is good for both male and female voices. The quality is good, and the sound and atmosphere are perfect online. Paired with the R6 PRO II, it fully displays the sense of music and atmosphere. The flat unit's delicate, loose, and smooth sound texture is fully displayed. The low frequency is not too heavy, and there is usually no unpleasant listening sensation of booming. The guitar and violin in the accompaniment are particularly outstanding. In the second paragraph, the low frequency is strengthened, but this combination does not have excessive low frequency, with moderate downforce and volume sense, while maintaining the low-frequency texture of the dynamic unit. Listening to this song, the low frequency is not heavy, infectious, and the sound is full. The human voice part is pleasing, with good details, medium density, clear contour of the mouth, and fullness. The slightly forward sound image sounds very affectionate, but not overly close. The Thrush's sound field is better than the previous black-and-yellow Thrush that I used to listen to pop music, and the sound is more relaxed and wider.
<The Interlude of Life>
As Jackie Cheung said at the concert, the songs chosen for this concert may be a bit obscure, but they are songs that he thinks are good but have not become popular, or for various reasons cannot become popular. For example, this song is quite good, but did not become popular in the mainstream album.
The lyrics of this song are quite interesting, and the storyline fits the theme of the affair, but it is also very realistic. The prelude is a very beautiful violin and piano, but with a faint sadness. Because this is a live recording, the sound field effect presented is different from the studio version. The accompaniment is a full orchestra, with rich and realistic instruments. Of course, it also depends on the level of the sound engineer. It is a boutique that combines classical and pop music. This combination does not excel in displaying orchestral music, but the basic atmosphere and hierarchy can be displayed. But remember, don't compare it with so-called top-of-the-line portable configurations for playing classical music, they are not comparable. The human voice part of this song has tension, its mouth is not large, and the emotion is well invested. Here, I have to commend Jackie Cheung's singing skills. Singing live with this level of proficiency is what makes him the Song God. Finally, regarding the orchestral accompaniment, it is really different from general live recordings. It presents a grand and magnificent scene, wide-ranging sound domain, and an open sound field space, which is really a first-class auditory experience. When it comes to this combination, it is just barely qualified with good quality, good sense of music and atmosphere, but it won't make you feel like you are listening to over-compensated atmosphere or overly exaggerated feelings. However, with a total price of nearly 10,000 yuan, it is basically about the limit for purely listening to pop music. Even more expensive, it has little practical significance, especially for friends who go out wearing earplugs to listen to music, and then use desktop headphones or large systems to play pop music at home. When playing to this level, it's basically enough.
R6PRO II + ER4XR
<Brindisi> "Opera Without Singing"
<IF> "The Missing Linc"
A combination of calm and passionate, in the perspective of audiophiles, the ER4XR has already received sufficient bass enhancement, but to most friends who listen to pop music, the bass of the ER4XR is still a bit lacking. In the current market overwhelmed by dynamic driver earphones, the little bit of bass that the ER4XR has can only satisfy a certain group of people who like it for personal enjoyment. This combination is more suitable for listening to classical or chamber music, and may not be as enjoyable for pop music.
Starting off with an opera without lyrics, let me highlight this record again as it is nearly flawless in terms of selection. The best parts of various operas have been compiled, leaving only the orchestral part after removing the Italian-style vocals. The piece chosen here is the famous Drinking Song from Verdi's La Traviata. The atmosphere is high enough, but under the interpretation of the ER4XR, it seems to bring your excitement back down. The bass is truly lacking, even with the middle gain, the low frequency is still quite fast with good speed and transient response, but the sense of quantity is slightly less. As a single balanced armature driver, we can be understanding, and ask ourselves: which other single balanced armature driver can produce sound like the ER4XR? Looking at the curve, you probably have an idea, it does exist in the lower range. Although compared to some current flagship multi-driver in-ear monitors, it has almost no low-frequency advantage, in the era of multi-driver IEMs, the ER4XR is still worth mentioning. The bass is very clean, so I don't know where people get the idea that the ER4XR is muddy or lacking in transparency. After listening to the whole song, I feel like it was played under relatively restrained and calm emotions. The separation of instruments is not weak, and when playing together, the instruments do not interfere with each other. The treble is bright and clear without being harsh or piercing. The details are not exaggerated, and the instruments are presented in a natural way without much embellishment. The sound has the typical transparency and clarity of Etymotic, and is clean. The soundstage is wide with great spatial dimension, but not too vague. The only downside is that it is hard to create a lively atmosphere, as the low frequencies are too few. As an old user of the ER4XR, I can deeply understand this. If you like more bass, then this combo may not be suitable for you. Also, it is a single balanced armature driver, so stop comparing it to other multi-driver flagship IEMs with various driver types and multiple crossovers, it's just not a fair comparison. However, there is one thing that all the multi-driver flagships cannot provide, which is the unique transparent sound of the ER4XR. The calmness and simplicity of the sound is always Etymotic's exclusive taste, and maybe only the friends who like Etymotic can truly feel that special feeling. Alright, after calmly getting high on this piece, it's time to move on to the next track.
For a music album with low recording levels and the moderately sensitive dynamic driver of the Etymotic Research ER4XR headphones, the volume needed to be set at about half to finally hear the details of the music. The beginning of the piece's harpsichord solo is truly pleasant, serene, and tranquil, and at the 20-second mark, the cello starts its performance. For those who have heard this piece before, the harmonic overtones of the cello are not rich, but the sound is tight, clean, transparent, and has sufficient density. As for the bass, this music has plenty, but this combination is not the type that is heavy on bass. The sound is cohesive, tight, and has a slightly quick attack, while the string section of the combination is relatively bright and clear, with well-defined lines and levels, and has a penetrating power. The high notes are fully extended, and the solo violin is intricate and flowing. For me, the ER4XR's high notes are bright, sharp, extended, and most importantly, transparent and not harsh. I absolutely love the first part of the music, and this serene and elegant atmosphere deeply moved me. On the other hand, adding bass to the chorus section was somewhat disappointing and destroyed the original serene and fresh ambiance. Of course, this is purely a matter of personal preference and represents only my personal feelings. Finally, the climax of the music, with percussion, strings, and harpsichord playing together, may have all the instruments present, but it doesn't feel noisy and maintains the fresh, serene atmosphere with a well-ordered music environment.
Regarding soundstage, this combination has a relatively wide soundstage; however, some friends may argue that the ER4SR has a broader soundstage. Here, I just want to say that, my friend, the soundstage is not just about a wide horizontal stretch, it is also crucial to have a good sense of depth, and the height of the space should not be significantly compressed. Only when all three dimensions are relatively balanced can the soundstage be complete, relaxing, and open.
Using two instrumental pieces to test this combination, I can say that I like this kind of sound as an ER4 old user. However, to be frank, compared to many earplugs and even some single-unit moving coils, the bass of the ER4XR is somewhat insufficient in terms of volume, thickness, elasticity, infectivity, and aroma in general portable equipment, especially when driven directly into portable players. Therefore, if you are someone who has considerable requirements for the energy, thickness, volume, elasticity, infectivity, and ambiance of bass, you can probably replace the ER4XR in this combination with confidence.
Write at the end......
And so, this listening share of the R6 PRO II comes to a close. Although the range of earplug combinations I can share is limited, I hope my experience can provide some small help to friends who are interested in this machine. As I stated before, evaluations and listening experiences are only a small part of the suggestions for purchasing equipment and cannot be completely relied upon because everyone's hearing experience can be different. Thus, whenever possible, it's always necessary to listen for oneself to find the answer that one desires.
The R6 PRO II is a machine that balances sound quality and design, and for the price, there aren't any obvious flaws. Ultimately, it's just a matter of whether or not you like its sound. I've said everything I wanted to share in this article, so I won't be too verbose here. Once again, thank you all for reading, and feel free to leave a comment or message to engage in further discussions.