The HiBy WH2 is the world’s first LDAC capable TWS and comes in two versions, a single dynamic driver priced at an SRP of $149 or dual BA priced at $169.
There will be further early-bird discounts on the SRP price offered during the Kickstarter campaign period now live.
Disclaimer: The HiBy WH2 was sent to us as a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank HiBy Music for this opportunity.
To learn more about HiBy reviews on Headfonics you can click here.
Note, this review was written before the WH2 app has been launched and follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
HiBy is the first manufacturer to announce LDAC supported TWS, and they have given us a big jump again bringing to us their latest True Wireless model WH2.
This new model has whooping high Bluetooth specs, featuring 990kbps max LDAC also UAT TWS support, possibly one of the most tech-capable TWS in the market we have seen thus far.
Two models including the single dynamic version and a dual BA version will be available on Kickstarter in the middle of June, and this time we have the chance to review the dynamic version before it is available to the public. Let us look into what this Bluetooth 5.2 single driver offering can do right away!
HiBy is the first brand to officially support LDAC on TWS earphones, even faster than the designer of the Codec Sony. Not only do they support this high-resolution Codec to the full extent at 990kbps, the WH2 also works under their self-developed UAT high-resolution codec.
Advanced Bluetooth solutions actually require a lot of engineering expertise and a long development cycle to master and HiBy obviously polishes it quite well. The software seems quite stable, so is the connection.
With top Bluetooth 5.2 specs, the WH2 connects and reconnects mega fast, also supports a longer connection distance with a more stable connection.
The stated max connection length is 10m which should apply for the lower kbps Codecs. While LDAC will be more optimal for use within a few meters. It may be more restricted to 1-2m when using the ‘quality optimized’ modes or when you are moving around.
Bluetooth codecs supported include UAT、LDAC、AAC, SBC, and the kbps/Bitrate supported is as following:
- LDAC 330~990kbps 24/96
- UAT TWS 350~550kbps 24/96
- AAC <250kbps 16/44.1
- SBC <350kbps 16/48
Unless your pocket is deep enough, you will have to make a choice between the single driver version or the dual-driver version when pledging the Kickstarter campaign.
Version 1: Single Dynamic Driver
Inside the single DD version, HiBy puts in a Carbon Nanotube Diaphragm equipped driver unit with the aim of creating a coherent dynamic driver timbre that focuses on the bass texture.
Version 2: Dual Balanced Armature drivers
The dual BA drivers are built to sound cleaner and more articulate in the treble range. HiBy claims the performance will be “unforgettable” but we will need to leave it to you to examine as we are getting our hands on the single dynamic driver version only!
What makes this version more interesting is HiBy’s patented ‘adjustable digital crossover’. This allows users to customize and tweak the sound to their own preferences and minimize phase mismatch.
To not limit the WH2 to just audiophile listening but also practical daily operations, there are two microphones on the WH2 implemented for clear phone calls.
This is one area that is lacking on a handful of the audiophile TWS offerings, most often the mic is poor and sometimes pointing in the wrong direction that picks up a lot of noise that disrupts vocal clarity.
If you are connecting the TWS to your phones or laptop for conference calls, the WH2 is much more promising with the other side being able to hear you quite clearly even when the background noise is quite high.
HiBy’s industrial design has been getting more and more appealing. This time the WH2 comes in a small but solid pebble-like cradle with white lining inside that holds the two metallic earpieces and LED indicators to show the charging status and battery level. I really like how the navy blue theme and matching white color interior complement each other.
The cradle is small but slightly hefty at 83.5g. You can feel how well-built it is by just holding the cradle with a finely machined metallic joint that connects the lid and main body of the cradle. The mechanism will hold the lid open at a certain angle to reveal a beautiful design. On the side of the cradle, you will find a USB-C socket to charge the unit.
As for the earpieces measuring 4.5g each, they are solidly built with a smooth, glossy metallic blue finish that reminds me of the Seeds II earphones. You can see holes for the dual mics onboard each side of the earpieces and the metallic connectors for charging.
The seamless build is of exceedingly high quality. Sensors in the faceplate allow you to tap and hold for different functions, for example, holding two seconds to call up Siri or Google Assistant.
There is a white LED that flashes at different modes. When you power the WH2 on it will flash 7 times, and once it goes into pairing mode it will be flashing fast. When you successfully connect it to a host device the flashing pace will slow down and when the battery is low it will also flash slowly.
Comfort & Isolation
The WH2 is noticeably light and does not catch on the wind so no microphonics is detected. The fit is quite shallow and that seems to enhance the bass response, but at the same time, I will need to switch to other tips for a secured fit as the original tips are slightly slippery on my ears.
Overall, the comfort is good, and it does not stress my ears even after having it on for 3+ hours but the stock tips are not working for me.
The faceplate has a sunken round area that actually hides sensors that support user-defined touch gestures. These are programmable on HiBy’s to-be-released app that will also allow users to tweak the crossover settings on the BA model of WH2.
You will be able to switch to the next song or last song by triple tapping on either side or to call up Siri/ Google Assistant by double-tapping on either side.
The WH2 has a matching app “HiBy Blue” that allows users to tweak settings including gain and equalizing, right now it is locked but it should be soon available to users. The HiBy app acts as the control center for everything related to the Bluetooth earpieces.
If you choose to get the dual BA version of the WH2 you can access a digital crossover setting manual that allows you to slide and choose the crossover point. You will also be able to customize the behavior when tapping either side of the touch panel, for example, when you double-tap, you can choose to switch to the next song or set the response to play/pause.
Other functions in the app include changing the transmission codec and you can switch to lower kbps ones when playing games for the least delay. The app also supports upgrading the firmware on the earpieces thus making the WH2 more future-proof.
The cradle holds s 350mAh battery size and can recharge the earpieces 4-5 times, totaling 30 hours based on SBC connection. The earpieces house 40mAh per side and will give you up to 6 hours per charge with AAC, which is sufficient.
Officially HiBy explains there will be 4 hours of playback time when using LDAC with their software optimization. Testing on LDAC connection mode there is still power after more than 3 hours of continuous listening, which isn’t much but the sound quality is quite consistent even when the battery is lower.
With a dynamic driver inside the WH2 sounded spacious and detailed when first unboxed. Nevertheless, I still gave it some burn-in time to get the driver warmed up.
Pairing it with the R6 2020 with the latest firmware that supports global MQA unfolds at 16x, even on Tidal, this duo sounds incredibly smooth. The first thing I noticed was the strong stereo image not commonly heard on TWS and air in the bass, also the vocal that is clearly presented.
Overall, the WH2 displays a lively W-shaped tuning with punchy bass and a lot of air and swift overtones in the treble. This works excellently with double bass and other strings instruments. Instrument positioning is quite intimate but spaced out nicely, sounding quite open with the vocal very cleanly imaged and rounded to sound soothing and comfortable.
The WH2 can keep up pretty well with better mastering to sound more defined and stronger in the stereo image. Listening to some well-mastered DSD tracks on LDAC mode, it sounds obviously superior compared to SBC mode.
It seems like LDAC Codec has unlocked a new fighting ring for wireless earphones with much better dynamics and control than what I have experienced with aptX HD. Lower codecs seem to smooth out some detail and sound relatively compressed as a result.
The below impression is made using the WH2 LDAC mode which has better density and resolution compared to aptX and AAC. With SBC it also sounds looser and flatter, especially in the upper register. So, unless you need a longer playback time on the go, do switch to LDAC at all times which will deliver the most detailed presentation.
The WH2 delivers full, warm bass, with solid a punch and a clean decay. The rather fast-responding membrane combined with the more dynamic presentation from the LDAC mode keeps the bass sounding quite airy and natural, with satisfactory density and layering.
The bass goes quite deep so you can hear bass guitars quite clearly while some mid-bass frequencies are dipped to prevent bleed into the mids. Overall, it sounds engaging but not muddy.
The WH2 works well with acoustic instruments, even when there are strong dynamics or fast drumming the WH2 can handle it with good authority keeping the bass properly defined.
Firing up some Pink Floyd albums, the bass is effortlessly deep with a lot of texture, the same applies to other tracks with a lot of strings and woodwinds elements that will sound very soothing with the smoothly delivered overtones.
The mids on the WH2 are natural, smooth, and detailed, with a small hint of warmth sprinkled on top that makes strings and the vocal richer in tone.
The separation power is decent while articulation is smooth. Tested on some Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks that have fast electronic instruments and bouncy synthesized elements, there is a good amount of texture and roundness that makes it sound full and physical in their delivery.
There seems to be a bit of a dip in the upper mids or lower treble as the vocal is rounded nicely but lacking in a little air. The vocal imaging also slightly falls back but does not diffuse or curtained in any sense. With most songs and voices it is sweet, but not lush or smeared with some good separation from the backing instruments.
I would have liked to have heard a little bit more extension in the treble but overall, it is a relaxing tuning especially for a longer ride and the very well-rounded vocal actually sounds natural and complete, and it works very well with sharper voicing.
The density and smoothness in vocals as well as the separation are top tier for a TWS using the LDAC mode. The WH2 also works great with percussion but a small EQ lift in the upper mids or lower treble around 7k will give it a little bit more sparkle for the snares makes it even more thrilling to listen to.
The treble is well rounded off without any harshness, and a lot of micro details are preserved. Interestingly when switching to the SBC codec the treble sounds harsher and more protruded.
Somehow it shows that the algorithms in digital signal processing are having an important role in shaping the final output. The treble on the WH2 is clean but not bright, extended to a certain extent that it does not sound edgy or create a metallic overtone.
The treble has good energy and works very well with sopranos, with excellent control over high pitches and the overtones are beautifully presented and dynamics are well preserved. This is one area that aligns with my previous LDAC experience, where the treble is much richer and controlled than on other higher resolution Codecs.
The tuning approach chooses to put in more dynamics in the lower frequencies and preserve naturalness in the vocal range and as suggested by HiBy the other version of WH2 with 2BA will favor treble extension.
The staging width and depth are moderately large with excellent layering. The WH2 successfully captures the tension as well as a lot of details that fill the rendered space.
The vocal is clearly presented, with some elevations to bring in more energy and air. The body of the vocal is slightly pushed back but it still sounds swift with clear positioning. The treble lacks a little bit of headroom but in turn, introduces very little unnatural sibilance.
This is one of the most layered and detailed stages on a TWS I have heard thus far. Overall, the stage rendered is natural, not exaggerated or sounding altered, with excellent depth and a slightly relaxed treble presence.
Either side of the earpieces will automatically connect when picked up from the cradle, and it supports both iOS (Siri) and Android (Google Assistant) platforms. The connection is quite swift and fast and it reconnects to my laptop and iPad Pro instantly when taken out from the cradle. I get the same snappy pairing process from the Bluetooth connection on my iPad.
The AB1565 Bluetooth solution by Airoha behaves quite like Qualcomm’s TrueWireless™ Mirroring modes. This means ditching master-slave pairing restrictions so you can connect to either side for communication.
The earpiece will show up as HiBy WH2 in your pairing process instead of having the “L” and “R” sides displayed individually in the connection menu, which is a lot simpler.
Stability & Range
I have only experienced minor glitches once and could have been a problem from my source. After a one-time stutter effect, the WH2 had a smooth operation throughout this review process and casual listening.
Putting on the LDAC mode at the highest transmission quality it connects stably within 1-2m, if you move the source player quickly away from the source you may hear the signal being affected but in everyday scenarios, it just works fine.
On SBC mode, the connection power is stronger and the connection remains perfect when I walk around a few meters away. Walking on a busy train the signal doesn’t drop with a satisfactory level of connection stability.
It is inevitable for the latency to be compromised on higher bit rate transmission and LDAC mode does cause delays. Firing up some YouTube videos and connecting using the LDAC codec the lag is not too severe. However, when it comes to in-game audio it becomes quite obvious.
We do not have aptX adaptive here so the best way is to switch to SBC mode for a faster connection, which will keep up with the gaming speed adequately and reducing potential lag. In most cases the latency on higher kbps modes is acceptable and you may not notice it unless you are sensitive or if the gameplay pace is very fast.
The Hifiman TWS800 has strong punching power thanks to its excellent amping architecture inside the rather big housing. I really like the analog and effortlessly tuned midrange performance on this one which makes up for the missing higher kbps codec support.
However, revisiting the TWS800 again with the WH2 compared head-to-head you will notice the LDAC equipped WH2 really makes some difference with more density, better resolution while keeping enough dynamics and control in there to sound more detailed and euphonic.
The TWS800 still has its merits in being more powerful and opened up in the vocals, but it is not as precisely imaged and as defined. Nor does it preserve as much treble detail while having less separation and layering, particularly vocal imaging.
The Final EVA2020 is a cool special collaboration product using the Evangelion theme. It has an engaging tuning that sounds natural and dynamically tuned at the same time. There is a slight bump in the bass that matches well with pop and gaming or electronic music.
Though being nicely tuned, compared to the WH2, the EVA2020 is not as strong in quality. The EVA2020 sounds less resolving and airy, not as defined, and textured in both the lows and the treble.
With some old tracks like Policenauts – Opening Theme the EVA2020 sounds swift and lovely, putting you into the retro vibes immediately. But when it gets more demanding, having more instruments on the track, the EVA2020 will struggle to squeeze out more resolution.
The WH2 is definitely more capable of sounding more unaltered and defining instruments from each other more effortlessly. You can feel the EVA2020 smoothing out more detail, even on the aptX connection, however, that may make it sound more forgiving for lossy files.
The WH2 can capture more micro-detail though it will sound a little bit darker with some thicker voices. Overall, the dynamic range on the WH2 is larger with the bass going deeper and the treble more precisely handled for a livelier and more engaging performance.
Another weak point on the Final TWS is the Mic, which is comparatively much less sensitive in picking up voices from the speaker end and collects more ambient noise.
This is the most advanced product in the market and HiBy has been leading in bringing in devices with top specs recently, which also includes excellent MQA unfolding power.
Truth be told, HiBy stock tuning is a hit and miss for me and I sometimes rely on MSEB to find the sweet spot. However, this time everything (except the ear tips) works really well even without EQ tweaks.
I have tested quite a lot of other TWS IEMs including the Sony range, the Noble Falcon, and many more, but they don’t offer the same level of density and control.
The WH2 sounds a bit dark at first listen but it is wonderfully comfortable for long listening sessions. I would say the timbre in LDAC mode is similar to wired IEMs on LDAC capable receivers.
If you feel single dynamic driver aptX TWS performances are a little loose and wooly then the WH2 puts an excellent foot forward as the first LDAC capable TWS.
HiBY WH2 Specifications
- Configuration: Single dynamic driver
- Codecs support: UAT、LDAC、AAC、SBC
- LDAC 330~990kbps 24/96
- UAT TWS 350~550kbps 24/96
- AAC <250kbps 16/44.1
- SBC <350kbps 16/48
- Weight: 83.5g (cradle) 4.5g (each earpiece)
- Battery: 350mAh, 40mAh on each side of the earpiece
- Playback hours: 6 hours per charge, ~30 hours total on SBC
- Connection range: 10m