The best “budget” DAP
Pros: Sound Quality
Comes with a leather case
Cons: Battery Life
No Volume Knob
Up for review today is the HiBy R6 Pro II (gen 2) Digital Audio Player (DAP). Yes, that name makes little to no sense since HiBy already has an R6 III, which is completely unrelated to the R6 Pro II (and the original R6 Pro). When I say completely unrelated, I mean that they have completely different design languages and specs. HiBy likely should have just called this the R7 or it should have called the R6 III the R5 III since the R6 III and the R5 II share almost the exact same design language – similar to the RS8, etc. So then, the R6PII is something brand new that looks nothing like anything else from HiBy (or anyone else). I picked mine up to review from Musicteck (Shop.Musicteck.com) in exchange for a discount. You can get one here if you like: https://shop.musicteck.com/products…ayer-portable-dap?_pos=1&_sid=4e8f76924&_ss=r. Mine was supposed to come with a free BA04 storage case when I pre-ordered it. It did not. The R6PII retails for $749.
Build Quality / Design / Specs (17/20):
Wow. The build quality on this DAP is epic. I say that with all seriousness after having owned the A&K SP3k, the Cayin N8ii, and the HiBy RS8. The R6PII is 1/3-1/4 the price of those, but it feels like it’s built with the same quality as all of those. The screen is huge and of fantastic quality, the ribs on the back feel great and provide excellent grip. The buttons on the side are really nice and provide good tactile feedback. There’s a cool LED on the side above the power button that shows you the sample rate with Tidal or up to DSD1024 or PCM1536KHz/32Bit. The design is excellent, and the curved back is truly one of the most creative designs I’ve ever seen in the DAP world. I also like the carbon fiber on the back. The leather case covers up most of that design though, and only leaves the really nice screen showing. That screen is a 5.9” 1080*2160 IPS screen – and it is gorgeous. You can also get it in a pretty cool Purple color if that’s something you’re interested in.
The weight is light enough to surprise you at 285g – basically half the weight of the RS8. Once you add the really nice leather case on, the weight will increase a bit, but it’s hardly noticeable in a field of heavyweight DAPs that are 400+ grams. The leather case, while gorgeous, introduces some of the R6PII’s biggest annoyances. The buttons on the case are not tactile, they don’t stick out, and they don’t show what each button is either. Weird design choice. It almost looks like they were supposed to do all of that, but someone forgot to stamp them out or raise them. The Volume Control buttons and the Skip Track buttons look the same on both sides with the case on. Oddly, the “Back” button is separate from the Stop/Play buttons – mimicking the look on the other side of the Power button and the Volume Up/Down buttons. Weird design choice – thanks to the lack of raised case button covers, it’s also very easy to accidentally skip a track just by picking up the DAP. This also brings up another flaw, the lack of a volume control dial. This is a gorgeous DAP, but the lack of a volume dial is a pretty weak design choice since clicking the tiny buttons on the side isn’t all that intuitive compared to a scroll wheel. Also, it almost always makes you skip a track since the track skip buttons are on the other side and to push one, you have to grip the other side. Again, this would all be solved by cutting out the buttons on the case (which it feels like they meant to do?) or raising them and making them tactile. The case also has no way to keep the DAP inside of it other than the unique shape of the player itself – sort of like the Cayin N8II. This is a relatively tall DAP at almost 6”, but it is quite thin compared to a lot of DAPs at just over half an inch. Putting the case on brings this up to about ¾ of an inch.
The specs on this are surprisingly high-end for this price range. The R6PII has 64GB of internal storage, 4GB of LPDDR4x-1866 RAM, USB C, and a Micro SD slot that supports up to 2 TB cards. It also has Android 12, the same Snapdragon 665 that the TOTL DAPs are using right now, and the AK4191EQ+ 2x AK4499EX DACs. It has 4 outputs, a 4.4mm/4.4mm Line Out, and a 3.5mm/3.5mm Line Out – again, something you see on higher-end DAPs – usually starting over $2k (Cayin N7), but HiBy includes this even on the cheaper R6 III. The R6PII has a 5000mAH battery and can charge relatively quickly with QC 2 at 18W, but not the higher-end QC 3 – something TOTL DAPs are starting to include. Battery life is discussed in the Performance section. There’s also a Class AB/Class A amp to choose from. The R6PII will put out 382mW on 4.4mm balanced output at 119db and 125mW at 118dB with the 3.5mm output. It’s not really designed for full-size headphones, but it does drive my HD700 just fine – nowhere near as well as the Cayin N8II though. Overall, The R6PII ears a 17/20 here – losing points for the obnoxious design of the case, and the lack of a volume dial (they could have put it where the cut out of the right side is and it would have solved one of the case’s issues).
The R6PII comes in a pretty nice box, engulfed in foam. It also comes with screen protectors for all of the glass surfaces – the front screen and the back glass covering the carbon fiber above the ribbed metal. Pretty sweet – especially since it comes with extra protectors included if you need them. The only real downside to the screen protectors is that they don’t feel like real glass, they have more resistance and feel “stickier” than glass with more friction. That’s literally the only downside there, well, besides the fact that the screen protector picks up fingerprints like a piece of tape. As previously mentioned, the R6PII comes with a really nice leather case – that has a couple of issues with the buttons. Other than that, seeing a DAP come with a case this nice is a welcome change (looking at you Shanling). Obviously points are taken off there, but it sucks that the buttons weren’t cut out since it feels like they should have been (no other reviewer has holes cutouts there either). Other than that, there’s a USB-C charging cable. It’s unfortunate that there are no 90-degree connectors or anything like that, but I think the meets exactly the use-case the R6PII was intended to meet.
Taking points off here for the case not having cutout holes or raised button spots feels like a double tap, but I’m going to do it anyway since it’s one out of only 3 complaints I have with this DAP. 18/20 points here because the beautiful case gets ruined by the lack of button cutouts. Other than that, this meets all of the intended use scenarios for this price range.
Software / Setup / Ease of Use (19/20):
This is an easy section. Android 12 is excellent, and all DAP makers need to shift to this ASAP. I’ve had no gremlins, no issues, and an extremely easy time using it. Tidal was super easy to download and log into from the Google Play Store. The only thing I’ve noticed is a little popping at the beginning of a song on occasion, usually only when switching to a new song manually. My HiBy RS8 has the same issue, so maybe it’s a HiBy software thing as I haven’t noticed it on any other company’s DAP. HiBy’s player is really good, and you can connect your Tidal account through it if you want to. I prefer the stock Tidal player, but HiBy’s is solid and allows you to do Tidal and onboard songs in one app. You can also download music to the player if you like with Tidal – something you can’t do on ANY of A&K’s players – yay stock Android! Other than that, as long as you can Android on a phone, you can Android here. You can also use this with your computer as an audio output device – pretty cool.
There are also some really nice Audio Settings built into the player – something I wouldn’t necessarily expect at this price level. You get filters, MSEB tuning (EQ basically), channel balance, DSD gain compensation, downloadable plugins, and MQA decoding. It’s a great experience and it earns the R6PII 19/20 points here – 1 point off for the weird pop sometimes.
Side Note: I’ve had two software updates since I got this – both of which supposedly did the same thing according to the update notes. Neither of these has changed my experience in any way. Nice to see HiBy is updating the player though as needed.
Performance / Sound (16/20):
I use my R6PII on Medium Gain at around volume level 30/100 with my Light Harmonic Stella, Campfire Audio Andromeda, and Sound Rhyme SR8 IEMs. I also use the Class A/B instead of the A amp since I’ve never found the Class A to do much for IEMs – it gives me around 2 hours extra battery life also. While the R6PII gets warm with use, it never gets anywhere hot enough to burn me or even get uncomfortable like the Shanling M6 Ultra can if you keep it in a sweatshirt pocket. Heat control is a massive issue for a lot of DAPs, but the R6II seems to remain pretty cool overall – possibly due to the rib design it has on the back. The battery is a complaint for me though. On balanced AB, the R6II gets 7 hours of battery, which is what HiBy claims, but it feels like the battery goes pretty quickly. It’s only 5 hours with the Class A amp on. Switching to 3.5mm Class AB gets you an extra hour of battery for a total of 8 hours. So, while HiBy accurately describes the battery life, that doesn’t mean it’s good. Lowing 12% battery in an hour is pretty bad compared to the N8II or RS8, which have battery lives longer than 10 hours on 4.4mm with Class AB. It’s nowhere near the Shanling M3 Ultra’s 15-20 hour battery and it’s two hours less than the 9-hour Shanling M6 Ultra’s battery life with 4.4mm – that one also outputs 2x as much power. Obviously, the heat from the M6U is a massive downside, but the battery life and power output may be something that some people want.
Sound quality – something that matters a lot with a DAP. Luckily, I can report that the sound from the R6PII is excellent. It’s full-bodied and warm with excellent detail for a DAP in this price range. I put it right below the excellent Cayin N7, which costs more than 2x as much (but has better battery life and a usable case). The soundstage is excellent with the R6PII and the Sound Rhyme SR8. All three of the IEMs I tested the R6PII with had a nice, warm, full-bodied sound to them with more detail and presence than the M6U or M3U did. The R6PII isn’t quite to the level of the N7, N8II, or RS8, but at this price, it shouldn’t be. I haven’t heard this level of sound quality though from anything under $1k, let alone something only $750. It’s a heck of a steal. And no, I’m not the DAP sound guy who will pick apart every single nuance of how a DAP sounds, and I don’t have anything else to really compare it to right now, so look at other reviews for that info if you need all of the detail on sound. For me, it sounds great – take that as you will. 16/20 points here for the mediocre battery life, but great heat and sound quality.
Comparisons / Price (20/20):
The price is fantastic, and I love that it COMES with a leather case at this price. There’s really nothing else this nice at this price. They could have charged $1500 for this and I would still be able to recommend it. iBasso will sell you the 240 for quite a bit more, it’ll come with a crappy User Interface and ads with side-load Tidal and their own mediocre Android. Then, you’ll have to spend more on the good AMP 8 and it comes with a craptastic plastic case worth maybe $3. The Shanling M6 Ultra doesn’t even come with a case, it costs more, it has heat issues, and it doesn’t sound quite as good (subjectively, like sound always is). It will give you better battery life and a good Android experience though. The Cayin N7 is brilliant and comes with a fantastic case (yellow though), Android 12, and better battery life and better sound, but at 2.6x the price. I literally cannot come up with a better DAP for this price with these features. Yeah, the battery isn’t good, and the case annoys me because I think it should have button cutouts, which would make the case perfect. Still, that’s about it really. There is no comparison I can think of – 20/20 points.
This is a fantastic “budget” DAP. No one else makes a DAP at this price with this sound quality, User Interface, design, gorgeous/massive screen with small bezels, good heat dissipation, a light weight, good power output, and the R6PII STILL manages to include a really nice leather case. Yeah, that case isn’t perfect, the lack of a volume knob is annoying, and the battery life could use a couple extra hours’ worth of juice, but these are nit-picks. I don’t think you can do better than this at this price level. I really don’t. Great job HiBy – I’m REALLY looking forward to the next RS8 now.
Wolfhawk’s Rating: 90/100