This year has definitely been full of exciting new head-fi products, but a few have really surprised me. 😱
My most anticipated product of 2022 was definitely the Cayin N8ii DAP. After the great and very successful R01 module for Cayins N6ii, my love for R2R was completely inflamed. So when Cayin announced their new flagship, the N8ii, I was certain it would be an R2R flagship DAP that would eclipse anything that had gone before (including the L&P P6 PRo).
...and small disappointments
Then the first details came to light and disappointment spread through me. NO R2R! 😵😣
How should the N8ii beat the N6ii-R01 without an R2R DAC? With the R01 module, the N6ii had overtaken the old N8 in terms of sound in my eyes (or ears) and the new N8ii should now come onto the market without the R2R, but with a conventional DAC?
Then it was finally so far and all my doubts were completely dispelled after the first notes: the N8ii was and is a masterpiece of a DAP. Instead of R2R, it has been given a dual ROHM DAC, which is otherwise only used in extremely expensive desktop hi-fi - plus balanced tubes and a great amp section.
Everything is fine...
All this makes the N8ii probably the most versatile and customizable DAP of all time - and one of the best in terms of sound in the world. From now on, the N8ii was my daily companion when listening to music and a workhorse to assess and compare other components.
But a little melancholy stayed in my heart, because I couldn't quite let go of the thought of an Android flagship R2R-DAP.
...and it gets even better
Then suddenly, in September of this year, the first images and information appeared on head-fi.org, which an attentive and loyal customer sent me and asked when the product could be bought. I was immediately hooked and learned from Hiby that the Hiby RS8 - their new R2R-DAP flagship, would be launched at the end of November. I couldn't wait!
And it's finally here - the RS8 is here and it blew me away in every way. But enough of the words - let's take a closer look at the good piece. The following pictures are from the "Launch Edition", which exclusively includes a leather case that will not be included in the "normal" edition.
Ok, that thing looks incredibly good and is just perfectly made - titanium, leather, fabric - what more could you ask for? 😍
But how does it sound now? This time I don't just want to share my own impressions, but also let some of our customers have their say - and we'll also see what the pros think about it to give you all a better impression.
My first impression
I had read that the RS8 should be burned in for up to 200 hours to reach its full potential - so I was cautiously optimistic...
...and was blown away by his first notes! 😵😱
The first word that came to mind was "natural". This DAP just sounds incredibly natural and organic. I immediately grabbed my Cayin N8ii and started an A/B test.
The result: Both DAPs play at the same, very highest level and are together the two best DAPs in the world.
The differences: The N8ii sounds "brighter" overall, so it has a little more treble extension than the RS8, which at first glance could be confused with more resolution.However, repeated switching between the two DAPs made it clear to me that the amount of detail, i.e. the resolution, that both are able to reproduce is pretty much the same
While the N8ii sounds a bit crisper, crisper and tighter , the RS8 counters with a naturalness and effortlessness, an organic, almost analogous reproduction that is second to none and does not need to hide from large R2R desktop solutions - on the contrary, it is on the same level. The N8ii's bass is also slightly faster and tighter, but the RS8's has more texture and "digs deeper".
All in all, after my short time with the RS8 so far, I can conclude that this device is the biggest surprise of 2022 for me.
Hiby gave me what I had hoped for from Cayin: an absolute pocket-sized flagship R2R device that completely convinced me in every respect, be it processing, presentation, sound and future security (Android 12!). Well done Hiby!
Oh yes, so far I have mainly tested with the new Empire Ears x Astell&Kern Odyssey IEMs - they just go perfectly with the RS8!
"The very first words that come to mind on first hearing the RS8 are expressive, expansive, < There's a vibrancy to the sound that engages you almost immediately , not as an overwhelming 'shock to the senses', but rather it just sounds genuinely large, life-like and dynamic."
That's what our customers say
As announced, some of our customers will give their opinion on the RS8 over the next few days and weeks....