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It has been quite hot this season for different discroveries and revelations among HiRes DAPs, IEMs and other audio accessories. One of the main premieres was the HiBy R6Pro DAP with mighty power output, packed with lots of features and built on excellent HW base. Virtually, this model has eliminated the differences between high-quality smartphones and HiRes DAPs, combining the latest Android OS fluent operation with recent Direct Transport Architecture (DTA) protocol, fully functional Google Play services and excellent sound quality. But here comes the successor — HiBy R5 — slightly less sophisticated model, positioned below R6Pro flagship, but with the same philosophy, new features and revised hardware.

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Note: this unit was provided to me by HiBy in exchange for the honest opinion and review.

HiBy R5 at official store

HiBy R5 technical specifications:

General HW&SW:

  • Operating System Android 8.1
  • SoC Snapdragon 425
  • No. of CPU Cores 4
  • CPU Max Frequency 1.4GHz
  • Display 4.0 inches, IPS
  • Resolution 540*1080
  • PPI 300
  • Touchscreen control
  • RAM 2GB
  • Internal Storage 16GB
  • External Storage Up tp 512GB + via 1 micro SD card
  • Firmware Update Over-the-air update
  • Text Size Ajustable
  • 3rd Party Apps Unrestricted access via Google Play and apk download

Audio:

  • DAC CS43198 x 2
  • C43198 dual crystal oscillators (45.1584 + 49.152MHz)
  • Max output power: 1040mW+1040mW@16Ω / 564mW+564mW@32Ω
  • Headphone Impedance Range 16~300Ω
  • EQ Adjustments 10 bands (±12dB)
  • MSEB function
  • Channel Balance L 10dB to R 10dB
  • Gain Level Low / High
  • USB DAC PCM/DoP/Native
  • Headphone Out 3.5mm
  • Balanced Headphone Out 4.4mm
  • Line Out 3.5mm LO
  • Balanced Out 4.4mm LO
  • Digital Out SPDIF (USB out)

Connectivity:

  • WIFI 5GHz/2.4GHz, supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n protocols
  • Two-way Bluetooth 4.2 (supports: apt-X, apt-X HD, LDAC, UAT)
  • USB TypeC (USB2.0 data rate)
  • USB USB storage, USB DAC IN/OUT

Physical:

  • Buttons 6 physical buttons
  • Buttons Definitions Power/Previous/Pause/Next/Volume Up/Volume Down
  • Colors Black/Gray/Gold
  • Dimensions 107.7*61.2*15.6mm

Power:

  • Power Supply 9V/1.5A
  • Battery 3500mAh
  • Charge Time 2H
  • Charge Protocol QC3.0

 

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Most important features of this DAP:

Dual Cirrus Logic’s CS43198: Cirrus Logic audio products with the MasterHIFI™ and SmartHIFI™ designed to meet the highest standard in high-fidelity audio playback. MasterHIFI and SmartHIFI products deliver the very best performance in sound clarity and pure, euphoric audio listening.

Combines Headphone & Line Out functions: both 3.5mm and 4.4mm ports support headphone and line out functions. Thanks to battery space and efficiency optimizations, this palm-sized powerhouse outputs balanced power up to 1040mW+1040mW@16Ω and 564mW+564mW@32Ω, yet manages to last up to 11 hours balanced / 18 hours SE.

DTA Architecture: Android sample rate conversion bypass. Its DTA Android global lossless output technology ensuring that sound output and reception would not be interfered with.

UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission): the ultimate Bluetooth HiFi audio quality provided by audio codec developed by HiBy. Supporting an industry-highest sample rate of 192kHz and data bandwidth of 1.2Mbps.

Two-way Bluetooth: HiBy R5 supports two-way Bluetooth, which can be used as a Bluetooth transmitter or receiver.

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Packaging, design and build quality:

Traditionally for HiBy, R5 DAP comes in black matt box with embossed product name, logo and slogan. Back side of the box contains company address, regular precautions and sticker with the barcode.

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Inner box compartment consists of soft insert that holds R5 DAP at place and couple of additional cases with the accessories underneath it.

Box contents:

  • HiBy R5 DAP (with preapplied screen and back panel protective film)
  • Memory card clip
  • USB type-C -> USB cable
  • Transparent silicone case
  • 1 extra screen protector
  • User manual
  • Couple of leaflets concerning warranty

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Silicone case is a great accessory to have right out of the box — no need to jump across the websites in a search of the protection for such beatiful and at the same time vulnerable device. This case is transparent, with precise openings for all the buttons and ports.

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HiBy R5 shell is made of rough aluminum with lots of glass panels. Front part is occupied by the glass cover of 4inch, almost boarderless, 2.5D screen.

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Similar in dimension 2.5D glass panel is applied to the back side of this DAP.

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Top and bottom edges are also covered with glass. Only the curved sides represents pure aluminum with no additional decore elements.

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As to the physical controls and ports: top edge if left totally blank while right side contains volume buttons and memory card slot, left side — power, plays/pause/ previous/next buttons and bottom edge gathered all ports (3.5mm / 4.4mm / USB type-C).

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Again, traditionally for HiBy, power button is combined with multicolor LED that indicates charging states and type / quality of currently playing audio. All buttons have comfortable feel, not too tight or too loose, with the obvious click. No rattling or free movement of buttons or other elements whatsoever.

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In overall, the design of R5 is kind of conservative but with interesting and attractive findings in descoration by glass panels. Build quality is excellent, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.

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The only thing that might have been improved is the screen protection film that is preapplied on the factory — its edges are getting peeled off the curved sided of the screen. As far as I know this is the headache for all manufacturers now if they have chosen to deal with 2.5D screen glass.

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Screen:

Surely, this is one of the main recent trends and one of the best screens you would find among all current DAPs. HiBy didn’t hesitate to provide the best user experience in terms of vitrual controls in its Android-based player.

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Expect similar behavior of 4inch multitouch IPS as in any high-quality smartphone. There is vitrually not distance between screen glass and panel, all finger interactions with vitrual elements are precise. One OTA update for R5 has already been released that have raised touch layer sensitivity which made the intercations even more comfortable and snappy.

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Screen density of 300PPI is totally enough for this physical size to maintain the balance between very good picture detalization and size of the elements. HiBy R6Pro still holds the lead as the DAP with the best screen but R5 is a only a fraction behind: brightness level and contrast are almost equal while the sensitivity and sharpness of R6Pro screen is still slightly better.

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But the IPS panels, at least, seem to originate from the same vendor — color calibration and other parameters are very close to each other. Great screen, still rare for DAPs and that would not limit functionality of the device.

OS and UI in operation:

In general, Andoid OS and stock UI feel great on the chosen Snapdragon 425 platform. It’s working fast, with fluent system animations and good response. 2GB RAM might become a limitation in case if to load too many apps but the main idea of this device is to deliver best audio quality with stock HiBy Music app. Several other apps like Youtube, Tidal, etc won’t do much difference and would coexist perfectly.

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Just remember not to open to many tabs in browser 🙂 as always. Some slight hiccups when scrolling through songs were found in HiBy Music app right after the initial track list was populated by the SD scan function. When the indexing was over — nothing like this was spotted again. Fluent and snappy.

R5 back side of the case heats up while charging to about 38-39C. Less heat is generated when it is just decoding audio.

Outputs and connectivity:

One of the best thing about R5 is the amount of connectivity options leading to the different usage scenarios. First of all — they have combined 3.5mm SE / 4.4mm Balanced phone outputs with LO options.

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Although, couldn’t find the information of the impedance change when LO is selected on either of the two ports. Volume lock doesn’t occur either, it just jumps to the highest setting when you select LO mode with the further ability to control it. Next is the two-way Bluetooth that allows the reception or sending audio stream with the most sophisticated wireless protocols such as LDAC. Moreover, Bluetooth supports UAT codec as well — highest quality of Bluetooth audio (24bit/192kHz) currently available on the market and developed by HiBy.

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And finally, USB DAC / SPDIF out to use this player as external USB audio card or transport. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated ASIO driver yet listed in the download section of HiBy official support page (waiting for that to appear later) and the only option in Windows environment is to use WASAPI instead. Vitrually no audio lag in this scenario which leads to comfortable multimedia consumption.

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Another main concern about R5 in comparison to its flagship relative is whether it does have the same amount of interference caused by radio wave emitting devices and whether there is a similarly apparent noise floor on balanced output. And the answer for both questions — no. Haven’t noticed any interference even a smartphone is brought very close to R5. Neither have I noticed any noise — the background stays perfectly dark.

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FW upgrades:

This is too easy part as this DAP supports OTA updates that are pushed by HiBy when available. Ocassional checks would notify about the new versions with the full changelog. The update would be executed automatically after pressing Update button. No reason to download, unpack, copy and place the files in the right folders — everything is automated here. The back door through recovery mode still exists when something went wrong with the main process but, hopefully, wouldn’t be necessary. For now there was one update that increased touchscreen sensitivity and provided some other minor fixes.

Sound quality:

Tested with AudioTechnica ATH-M50, Tanchjim Oxygen, Magaosi K6, Earnine EN2J, Moondrop Kanas Pro, Anew U1, HIFI BOY OSV3…  

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Driving ability: most of the time the volume with IEMs of up to 32Ω was kept at 62% and low gain setting. This was enough to drive IEMs well and to have slightly more volume than necessary for comfortable listening.

Lows and midbass:

R5 has textured and perfectly outlined lows with enough presence and absence of the accent on this range. Bass is deep with fast decay. Lows are clear, naturally fill the space and perfectly separated from mids and treble. Bass remains fully perceptible at all volume levels. Midbass section feels powerful and have enough dynamics to deliver drums naturally. Sound stays neutral here — no evident influence from lower or higher ranges.

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Mids and vocals:

Vocals as well as the instruments in mids are quite thick and dense. The perceptible resolution is impressive and seems to be slightly raised by the influence of treble. Very slight emotional bloom here and there on female vocals and upper mid range instruments. Although, no screaming notes and no hisses. Male and female voices sound naturally and equally exposed. Instrument separation is decent which also helps to define a larger stage. In overall, mids feel smooth, slightly warm and mellow with a slight emotional touch on higher portion.

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Treble:

Treble is clear and crisp while seems to be slightly more exposed that lows. It produces a bit thin sound with no tendency to show the excessive amount of sibilances. It is less delicate than reproduced by R6Pro but giving the sound more transparency and brightness. The overall signature of R5 is slightly brighter and colder because of that (in comparison to R6Pro).

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Soundstage:

R5 produces large imaginary stage in both — width and depth. Stage is very large when paired with good IEMs over balanced type of connection. Precise instument locations, defined contours, good layering between the ranges and distinct sound of all the instruments.

Compared to HiBy R6Pro:

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R6Pro definitely has more reference-like neutral sound with a little accent on delivering and resolving lows. It sounds mellow and warm with high amount of harmonics in lower and mid ranges. Treble is very delicate and calm. HiBy R5 is less oriented towards lows, exposing and resolving treble more. This leads to more emotional, energetic and brighter sound signature. Although, R5 and R6Pro have similarly good texturing on bass and large soundstage.

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Conclusion:

Despite being positioned by HiBy lower that their flagship R6Pro, R5 DAP, as a successor, have some new features and advantages, revised balanced output and keeps up with the same satisfying user experience quite well. Due to high driving potential, it earns similar award for being a powerhouse among most of the other DAPs and due to its hardware/software base — for being a full-feature pack. Moreover, free of radio interference and with showing perfectly black background. Only thing that left is too choose whether you want neutral reference sound of R6Pro or slightly brigher and emotional sound of R5… Either of two would be a great bargain.

Hiby R5 at official store

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