Hifiman unboxing and impression, R2R2000 - Audionewbi

Hifiman, a brand that arguably begun the hi-res portable movement. Producing audiophile classics such as Jade, HM-801. It is a brand I first got to know when I was looking for a good amp for my ER4S. The minibox+ was THE amp everyone recommend for my ER4S. I ended up getting the HM-801, God how good times were. I had a brick for a DAP, and my most loved IEM was an intrusive IEM that required to be inserted deep in my ear canal, only milimeters away from my ear-drum. Sure it was not comfortable, but the entire setup cost me less than what some cables cost now days, 1300 AUD is what I paid for that setup. 
Those days were indeed good as I had to face a minor discomfort to afford a good sound, I did not required to sell off my kidneys to get an idea of what "high-end" good sounds cost.

Entered Astell and Kern. As much good they did to the market regarding creating a demand for a product that easy to function, sound good and have GUI that applies to the current decade, they also realised the market is thirsty for what they are offering and they asked for more money with each new release. It begun with AK100 $799, AK120 $1200, AK240 for AUD 2400, you get the idea right?

Slowly the trend spread like wildfire across all other part of our hobby and low and behold it is rare to see a product not costing below 1000 USD. 
I better stop here and make another post about this topic later on. Back to R2R2000 impressions!
R2R2000 is basically what made hm-801 so famous, the infamous PCM-1704. A DAC chip released back in 1998 and remains as one of the all time best sounding chip to date.

Having owned the hm-801 and hm901, I can say R2R2K is nothing like hm-801 sonically and closer to hm-901 but it is much more than them sonically.
What attracted me to R2R2K is its form factor. It is portable; I don't need a bag to carry it around! When I first listen to, I knew there is something special about the sound. Slowly it won me over. R2R2K is my new sonic reference, however not it is not my reference DAP. As a DAP it still has a lot of work to do. For instance, the lack of physical button to change track is annoying. 
I know Hifiman at one point was thinking of marketing the R2R2000 as a pure bluetooth HD streamer, which in my opinion is the best Bluetooth streamer I've ever tried, but if you have a micro-SD slot, we expect it to work.
What stands out the most about R2R2K is its transparency and the most natural bass decay I've ever come across. Lately I've become very sensitive to harshness and how digital delta-sigma DAC chip can sound. With R2R2K I can listen to music for 3-4 hours and never get sound fatigued. Only other source that allows me to have such a long session are my HUGO sources. But they too sound dull in bass compared to R2R2K. Bad recording sound bad on 2K and good recording sound amazing. 

Regarding noise-floor, well 2K has the settings to accommodate for all sort of IEM, but to me there is a sonic difference between the balance 3.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm TRRS out that makes the 3.5mm balance out sound more musical. I find 3.5mm jack blacker in background. 
Battery life for me is no issue, I get 4-5 hours playing mostly 24/96 FLAC. However, the eco-power feature is nowhere to be found. It was removed on the latest FW released. For me 4 hours is plenty, more than enough for my daily commute.

Overall I'm happy with my purchase. It is not a DAP for everyone, but for me sonically it has replaced my LPG and Quloss QA361. QA361 is still my reference DAP, WM1A my DSD DAP and for PCM R2R2K is my sonic reference. It brings me so much joy to have such a sound in such a size format, and despite how arrogant Hifiman is about this DAP, its insane price tag of 2400 USD for a dap that offers so very little features, ignoring all that, and focusing on sound, it is a DAP worthy of reference level status. I hope to see a day where R2R chip come back. Until then I will cherish this dap, and ignore all that it doesn't offer.

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