How does a manufacturer of True Wireless (TWS) IEMs stand out from the noise generated by thousands of rival products? If you’re portable audio specialist Hiby, you sing loud and proud about your WH2 being the world’s first LDAC-certified true wireless IEM. (They’ve even beat Sony to the punch*).
LDAC is a codec developed by Sony and adopted by Google for its Android operating system to offer up to 990kbps data throughput over a Bluetooth audio connection – dropping to 660kbps and 330kbps as the connection quality weakens – to any LDAC-supporting headphones or IEMs. Even at its maximum 990kbps bitrate, LDAC’s hybrid ‘lossless and lossy’ encoding method is insufficient for lossless audio carriage but it’s the closest we have right now.
Moreover, the WH2’s ‘Hi-Res Wireless’ certification is not to be confused with the hi-res audio transmission that we enjoy over a wifi or Ethernet connection. With the WH2 sucking on a hi-res file over LDAC-powered Bluetooth, audio data will be thrown away by the smartphone to accommodate LDAC’s 990kbps ceiling. That said, music sent from an LDAC-capable Android phone to an LDAC-capable pair of headphones/IEMs can sound very good indeed but Apple users take note: neither iOS nor MacOS supports LDAC.
All this Bluetooth codec talk can often cause the tail to wag the dog. A headphone’s hardware will have an even greater impact on what we hear than the codec in play. Source-first folk often overlook how the hardware that follows the source file needs to be sufficiently revealing in order to expose the audible benefits of any upstream improvements.
Hiby’s WH2 hardware brings with it a twist. This true wireless IEM will be made available in two versions: one that sees a single dynamic driver run full range and another where a pair of balanced armature drivers split the frequency spectrum coverage in two. According to Hiby’s teaser information pack, the twin BA’s crossover will be digitally executed (as per DSP-based active loudspeakers) but also user-adjustable via the WH2’s accompanying Blue smartphone app.
The WH2 feature set is rounded out by Bluetooth 5.2 support and dual microphones for ‘clear voice calls’. Hiby is remaining tight-lipped about battery life and pricing but the WH2 are expected to begin shipping in June.
UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention – and not by Hiby – that the WH2 is coming to market via Kickstarter. Buyers are therefore advised to proceed with extreme caution.
Further information: Hiby
Footnote #1: Sony’s WF-1000XM3 support only SBC and AAC.