The tonality is the best part of the RS2. And the timbre, together with note thickness is very well with good texture. The overall resolution is fairly good, and I especially liked the treble transparency. I found the separation to be nice as well, together with the dynamism. I think PRaT is better than the previous HiBy DAPs in or around this price range.
The sound is warm but not “slow”, or boomy. The pace is excellent for its presentation style, and the delivery, while being musical, is impressive. Hence you have a great transient response with your headphones/IEMs. The mids sound very clean in terms of transparency, based on the price level. The timbre and naturalness are excellent, and the resolution is quite good. The treble area has a good resolution.
The soundstage is impressive too, not tremendously wide but it has good depth and width, and the instrument separation is very good. The imaging is strong in the RS2 as a result, which is one of the many qualities it has in the sound.
The only negative point I can make about the RS2 is its presentation with warm-sounding IEMs/headphones. You need to match this player with flat, bright headphones/IEMs to get the best synergy possible. Otherwise, it’ll result in too much warmth and fullness.
In terms of output, it has the power to drive many headphones out there. The HD660S for example is driven nicely by the RS2. With sensitive IEMs I didn’t hear any problems either. That means you probably won’t have issues with sensitive gear. I still recommend rather easy-to-drive headphones (full-size), since the others require a full-size amplifier to sound their best.
The SR25 is another good-performing compact DAP that has a good design, build, and user experience. It of course has the advantage of WiFi, Bluetooth, OTA updates, and custom A&K Android implementation that allows you to use any music service available. So if you’re into streaming services, the RS2 is not an option.
Sound-wise the SR25 is more neutral when compared to the rich and colourful nature of the RS2. The RS2 has a bigger bass with more impact, smoother and warmer mids and a bit more sparkling treble. It plays fuller and deeper. The SR25 however, has good resolution, transparency and separation. It has more air and spaciousness on its stage with a wider stereo image. So if you want musicality and natural timbre, you can get the RS2. Otherwise, if you prefer a classic A&K sound, the SR25 is still a good DAP, especially for the 2nd hand prices.
HiBy’s previous release, the 2nd generation R5, is also a good option for this kind of budget. It also is full Android with HiBy’s custom DSP functions and NOS mode still available. It doesn’t have the Darwin circuit design though, it instead relies on its Class A amplification mode. And some amplifier module that is. Powerful and very dynamic.
The R5 G2 sounds analytical (when compared to the RS2) and neutral, with excellent crispness, PRaT, and dynamism. It’s much better when paired with warm-sounding gear, the opposite of the RS2. These two DAPs couldn’t be more different in terms of sonic performance.
The R5 G2 doesn’t have the fullness, musicality and bass texture of the RS2. It’s also not that pocketable. In return, you have streaming and a bigger screen. I would personally prefer the RS2 sound, but you can choose depending on your existing IEMs/headphones’ sound character.
The HiBy RS2 is a unique player in its way. It’s a nicely designed, compact and elegant player that manages to achieve a single goal; to play your files with high-performing sound for the price. And it does just that. I honestly didn’t expect this performance, and I’m sure the users will be impressed once it reaches out to its potential owners.
In the RS6 review, I mentioned that HiBy can build upon this circuit design and improve it further. Well, they seem to be successful with this RS2 and they now have the potential to appeal to warm and musical sound lovers in the market.
Let’s see how the new RS8 flagship will do soon!