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Review: HiBy R6 Pro II

Closing thoughts 

The original R6 Pro is a DAP that’s very close to my heart. If I could I’d probably own one just to have it as a keepsake, a marker for the start of a wonderful journey to the very top of the portable audio tree. 

In many ways, the new R6 Pro II charts a similar course, although today’s porta-fi landscape is far more diverse and competitive. In the four years since the original was released, HiBy has established itself as a reputable DAP maker for almost any demographic and bank balance, and its recent flurry of releases has further extended its coverage.

I that context, the new Pro is very different to what’s come before. The combination of flagship-grade decoding with mainstream amplification and features is an interesting one, and depending on your needs, may or may not work for you. The new design is striking for sure, and also deviates substantially from HiBy’s ‘house look’.

Sonically, it also breaks new ground, with one of the darkest backgrounds to date in a HiBy DAP (short of the flagships), and a level of technical acuity we haven’t seen before in this price bracket. Tonally it’s not doing anything particularly new, but it’s also not trying to. R6 Pro II is a DAP that lets your drivers do the singing, so to speak, lacking only in the last mile of refinement, and then only when compared to DAPs that cost four or five times the price. 

For all the good, R6 Pro II has two Achille’s Heels, at least on paper. Battery life is poor, no question. This may or may not be an issue for you, but if you want all-day performance while hearing this DAP at its best, that’s not going to happen. As discussed in the review, this was a conscious design choice, with HiBy openly admitting that the resources needed to drive two flagship desktop DACs at full speed with Class A amplification demands a much larger power source for all-day use. 

The other ‘issue’ is power output, at least theoretically. However, if you’re an exclusively-IEM listener like myself, it’s a non-issue. R6 Pro II drives all my IEMs, and even hard-to-drive earbuds, without breaking a sweat, so rumours of its meekness are exaggerated at best. Will it drive your large over-ear headphones? Yes, but not optimally, and frankly I wouldn’t expect most DAPs, not even RS8, to drive power-hungry headphones to the max. 

Most of the ‘issues’ I looked long and hard to find with this DAP are, to a large extent, not issues at all. The truth is that for $750, R6 Pro II packs more features, functionality and technology than I’ve seen in flagships only a year or two ago, with sound quality that comes oh so close to that level. It feels as if HiBy was looking to make a value statement with this DAP, as it did with the original R6 Pro, and the statement has well and truly been made.

HiBy’s R6 Pro is my instant recommendation for any DAP at or below the kilobuck mark, and it will be interesting to see if it starts a trend of trickle-down flagship features in the mainstream. 

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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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2 Responses

  1. Fabulous review! With so much detail and thought.

    Any view on how these compare to the shanling m6 ultra? And would pairing the R6P2 with an amp like the Topping NX7, be able to drive full sized headphones like say Sennheiser HD650s?

    1. Thank you. I have not used the Shanling so can’t say, but yes, connecting the R6 Pro II via line-out to an external amp will easily power full-size headphones.

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