Hiby RS8

Under the hood.

After RS8 announcement and considering we are still dealing with Darwin architecture, I’m sure some assumed its discrete R-2R DAC will be just cut and paste from RS6.  Some things remained the same.  RS8 still processes PCM signal by utilizing the updated design in the heart of their own custom Darwin Architecture with FIR Filter (256-tap adjustable Impulse Response filter), Oversampling 16x (to remove any sound aliasing artifacts), Nonlinear Harmonics control (to increase some harmonics and to make the sound more natural), and Linearity Compensation (using algorithms to compensate some non-linearities of R-2R resistor network) followed by R-2R DAC.  Hiby also implemented Non-oversampling (NOS) mode that bypasses FIR Filter and Oversampling for a more natural processing of the sound.  DSD decoding bypasses all that by following a different path.

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But there are also changes as part of Darwin II introduction.  The number of high precision resistors have doubled from 92 to 184, including the upgrade to 12 high speed electronic switches (also doubled from RS6) which according to Hiby supposed to improve the dynamics by 15dB.  Other discrete components have been upgraded to top-shelf expensive caps, such as 4 Elna SILMIC II silk fibre capacitors (for tube-like timbre), 47 high-capacity tantalum capacitors, and 10 Panasonic thin-film POSCAPs.  Those who are into DIY will know these are all pricey components.  Class A headphone amp output was added, selectable in settings between Class A and Class AB, and you also have access to Turbo mode which boosts output from 6V to 7.5V.

The system now runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 and optimized Android 12.  It comes with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and microSD card expandable up to 2TB.  The open Android 12 OS features Direct Transport Architecture (DTA, systemwide bitperfect audio) and a support for USB DTA (bitperfect USB audio).  RS8 interface is as fast as other 660/665 based DAPs I tested.  As expected, all the popular audio formats are supported, including MQA 16x hardware decoding.  Plus, RS8 now raised the bar with the max sample rate going up to PCM 1536kHz and DSD1024. 

As already mentioned, RS8 features a generous size 5.5” Display with Corning Gorilla Glass.  This is a hi-res 1080p HD display with 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and 443ppi pixel density, higher pixel density than R8 5.5” display.  Plus, it features oleophobic coating and detection of double-tapping to wake up the screen.  It is a great feature where you turn the display on by double-tapping on it, so you can give your power button a little break.

Other standard features are dual-band WiFi with a support of 2.4GHz and 5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 with two-way support of all popular hi-res codecs, including aptX HD, LDAC, and UAT, and two-way Bluetooth pair up with wireless headphones/speakers (as transmitter) and to your smartphone (as receiver) to function like a wireless BT DAC/amp.  Also, as already mentioned, USB-C port is multi-functional for charging, data copying, USB DAC functionality, Digital out, and SPDIF output to bring out Coax signal with the included custom cable.

And last, but not least, RS8 features a huge 12000mA battery in a custom pure copper heat dissipation case, supporting QC3.0 and PD charging.  You can definitely see a lot faster charging when using PD or QC chargers.  In my battery test using average sensitivity IEMs at normal listening level in high gain from 4.4mm BAL output with Class AB selected, I was getting around 17.5hrs of playback time!!!  When I switched to Class A, it went down to around 13hrs, still very impressive.

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OS / GUI.

I do spend extra time talking about details of GUI in my Android DAP reviews, while here we are still dealing with a default popular HibyMusic app that many are already familiar with.  Thus, no need to repeat myself.  All Hiby Android DAPs come preloaded with HibyMusic app, regular version of which you can download and install on any smartphone or tablet device for free.  RS8 comes with Professional Edition version of HibyMusic, v2.0.4.

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While being the open Android DAP with preinstalled Google Play, you can install any app depending on their compatibility with a device.  You must be aware that some devices or geographic locations have limitations set by Google of what you can download and install.  If you ran into such problem, you could visit APKPure website to download and sideload apps.  Another VERY important point.  If you have to do a factory reset, either from Settings/System or through Android Recovery while re-starting the device and holding Skip button (above Play) to get into Android Recovery (and then Power + Skip to get into Recovery menu), after the reset you will not find Google Play until you go to Apps section and scroll down to Enable Google Play Store.

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Relative to Android Settings, straight from the pulldown Notification bar you have access to different shortcuts, including Audio Settings menu shortcut where you can select Amplifier type (A or AB), enable Turbo mode, change the Gain (low, mid, high), Download and select plugins, access global MSEB (MageSound 8-ball DSP sound effects – very effective for sound shaping), select DSD gain compensation, Channel balance adjustment, Max volume cap setting, Volume Control setting (clockwise or counterclockwise), and MQA decoder (enable/disable).  The MSEB settings are system wide and should work with any audio application.  Meaning, for example, you can apply MSEB dsp sound effects to any audio app.  You will also find a Gain setting shortcut in notification bar and Darwin Controller setting shortcut where you can change Low-pass antialiasing filter (10 settings), DSD filter, enable NOS, enable Atmosphere Enhanced, change Harmonics, and select customizable IEM preset.

There are a few other interesting menu options which some might not be familiar with or forget about.  For example, under Battery setting there is Idle Shutdown feature where you can set a timeout to shut down the DAP after idling for predefined period.  Hiby has it in their other Android DAPs as well, but not everybody remembers to enable it which comes in handy when we treat the DAP like a smartphone and forget to turn it off.  Under Security you can config Lock-screen button settings.  In Settings under System go to Gestures to configure System navigation (gesture or traditional 3-button), enable Swipe 3-fingers down to take a Screenshot, and enable Double-click to wake up.  These are all very useful features.

Another new addition is HibyCast which allows system wide remote control of the DAP from another device such as your smartphone after you install HibyCast app on your phone.  I didn’t have a chance to test this app yet, but when I do, I will come back to add my comments.

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Page 3 – Sound Analysis, Comparison.
Page 4 – Pair up, Wired/wireless connections, and Conclusion.

11 thoughts on “Hiby RS8

  1. Great reviews. Very much enjoyed. I am currently a RS6 user. Not sure if it’s worthy to buy the RS8. Love the sound of RS6, is there a big difference?

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  2. Hi,

    I am a RS6 owner, I curious how much improvement in term of sound from RS6->8? Especially if I use a portable amp such as C9?

    Cheers

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    1. Per you previous and this comment, and especially since you are using LO w/C9, stick with RS6. Is there an improvement? Yes, I find it with a number of my specific IEMs. You can’t quantify this improvement, we all hear things differently and use different IEMs (or maybe headphones in your case). But in your case, you already have a solid setup with RS6 + C9.

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  3. Hi,
    Great review! How different is the synergy of XE6 with RS8 compared to N8ii? Mainly looking at how the bass and mids sound, which one has better synergy in your opinion?
    Cheers

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    1. Of course, it’s my subjective opinion, but I find XE6 to pair up better with RS8. With N8ii, XE6 has U-shaped sound sig with more emphasis on bass and treble, not as much mids. With RS8, XE6 sound sig is balanced with mids coming more forward.

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    1. In what way? They are designed and tuned differently, if anything, complementing each other. Depending on your preference, you might find some of your iems pair up better with one vs the other. But one is not superior to the other. The only truly superior part is battery performance and staying cool (temperature), that is where RS8 has an upper hand.

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      1. Hello Alex, I’m about to ask the same thing, but now that you already said your opinion I think I’ll keep my N8ii. And yes, what interest me on RS8 is the battery life and newer Android OS, but I’m not sure about the sound because I’ve never use a R2R DAC before. You said that N8ii is more revealing but I think I can tame that with cable rolling. (I’m using Odin + Chiron)

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  4. Hey, could you please share what 4.4mm interconnect you use to connect your C9? Thank you! Love your reviews!! You help so much in selecting product 🙂

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