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HiBy R8 II: A Flagship Evolved

Closing thoughts

It’s interesting how I feel similarly about R8 II as I first did when the original R8 was released. 

At the time, R8 was ground-breaking, not necessarily the very best at anything, but exceptionally solid across the board, from sound quality to usability. It was also aggressively priced, despite being the most expensive HiBy DAP by some distance, with a unique angular design that set it apart. 

Today, R8 II is again looking to change the game. This time, the biggest surprise is its price, but only because its design, features and performance effectively make it the equal of DAPs that cost significantly more. In fact, while R8 II has its own distinct character, I consider its performance every bit as impressive as RS8, which is to say top of the line

More impressive still is its adaptability. With a slightly warmish but still mostly neutral tuning, R8 II plays nice with almost every IEM, bringing out their best features without necessarily imposing its own sound on proceedings. It has a solid amp section that, while not the most powerful I’ve heard, is more than powerful enough to drive even the most power-hungry IEMs to their full portable potential, without resorting to bulky external amplification. 

Then there’s that all-new discrete DAC and feature-rich Darwin MPA architecture that gives HiBy a competitive advantage in a market where most DAP makers don’t build for redundancy. R8 II can and will be improved with regular software updates, as we’ve already seen with HiBy’s previous Darwin DAPs. 

This alone makes R8 II a more astute ‘investment’, especially for those who tend to replace their DAPs every time an updated competitive model is released. It also makes R8 II’s aggressive price point even more surprising, since you’re not paying more – and indeed, are paying much less – for the same flagship-level hardware performance without sacrificing the robust software platform.

It’s a little less surprising, then, that R8 II officially inherits my vote for the most attractive high-end DAP on the market today, bar none. That has nothing to do with the Alcantara, by the way, which I sometimes find myself stroking out of habit because it’s so soft. Instead, it has everything to do with the combination of top-tier performance, eye-catching design, and bar-setting value, and as such, HiBy’s R8 II earns my highest possible recommendation

You can purchase your own R8 II direct from the HiBy Store, or visit the excellent folks at MusicTeck for top-tier service if you’re in the US. 

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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