HiBy R3 II


100+ Head-Fier
Hiby R3 II Review
Pros: Ultimate portable form factor, 4.4mm output is Powerful, Snappy OS, Lot of Accessories, Neutral Sounding
Cons: Lacking dynamics, Thin notes, Neutral sound sometimes brings boredom

HIBY R3 II: Pocket Rocket

Introduction: -

Established in 2011, Hiby Music specialises in research, development, and sales of high-quality portable audio products. They have developed dozens of digital audio players (DAPs), IEMs, USB DACs, etc. Hiby R3 II is HiBy's latest entry-level DAP. This device is a successor model of both the R3 Pro Saber 2022 and R3 Pro Saber regular, but this item has some improvements and substantially upgraded features. R3 II is a super-compact DAP with good features just like the previous R3 iterations. The DAC chips are retained as dual ESS SABRE ES9219C, which supports 32-bit PCM and native DSD256 audio signals. The amplifying section had some overhaul as well. Now both the 3.5mm and newly introduced 4.4mm have more power. To be exact, both outputs have approximately 20% more power, which is a nice improvement and all this for a pocket-friendly price of US$ 179.00.


Specifications: -
  • DAC Used: Dual ES9219C
  • THD+N: 0.0005%@1kHz.
  • Headphone outputs: SE 3.5mm (Supports LO), BAL 4.4mm
  • Power: 70mW@32Ω(SE), 280mW@32Ω(Bal)
  • DNR: ≥115dB
  • Noise: 2.2uV(SE), 3uV(BAL)
  • Max Level: 3.0 Vrms@Bal, 1.5Vrms@SE output
  • Memory card: microSD (supports sizes up to 2TB)
  • Supported formats: PCM 384KHz/32Bit, MQA16X, DSD-256
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.1 (Two Way), LDAC, AptX, AAC, SBC Codecs
  • Dimensions: 86.9 x 60.6 x 14.5mm
  • Battery Capacity: 2000mAH
Disclaimer: -

The review tour for Hiby R3 II was arranged by Joe Bloggs and @gadgetgod in India. We are thankful to them for the opportunity. However, the review reflects our honest opinion.

Packaging & Accessories: -

The Hiby R3 II comes in a medium-sized box with the device and all the accessories. Removing the box reveals the DAP. The supplied Type-C cable is also well-packed along with a warranty card and user manuals. The presentation overall is classy. Additionally, a silicon case and an extra set of screen protectors are found where they have already applied screen and back protection to the unit. Check our full unboxing video here,




Build & Design: -

The DAP is made of aluminium alloy and comes in three different colors, red, silver, and black. Where our unit is Black. It weighs about 118 grams. The design is very portable and easy to use in daily life. The lower and upper edges have been rounded, which makes the design ergonomic. It feels very comfortable in the hand. It comes with a 3.2” LCD touch Display. On the right side, there are three buttons and a volume wheel on the upper half. The three buttons claim the play/pause, fast forward/next track and backward/previous track while the volume wheel also consists of a push button which operates as a Power and Wake up button. On the left side in the lower half, there is the microSD memory card slot. The device has a single MicroSD slot without any internal storage. You can use MicroSD cards up to 2TB.




Software: -

The player uses Linux-based Hiby OS with a very simple UI. I personally didn’t face any problems with the OS as it is on point and easy to use. The boot-up and shut-down speed is fast, also the memory reading process is not too time-consuming. It also supports Tidal and Qubuz streaming services via WiFi. It also supports firmware updates over the air.


Operations & Settings: -

The R3 II is quite fast in terms of operation, with a very responsive touchscreen and buttons and a fast UI. The UI is quite simple indeed, but the functionality is perfect without any flaws. The DAP can only be woken up with power button (Which eventually is the Volume Wheel). The settings allow you to play around with screen time, brightness, Filters, Auto Shutdown, WiFi, Bluetooth and even USB Modes and more. It has an Android-inspired drop-down quick control centre. The small display may limit some of the UI experiences but with proper album art, the display looks very nice. Overall if you like to have a fancy but simple UI with several EQ settings etc., this is the player for you.

Battery & Charging: -

The real-life experience with the battery would be around 10h to 12h in our opinion in Balanced output usage, and although I haven’t done any specific battery tests, I can honestly say that this is one good DAP in terms of battery life. The charging time is over 2 hours with a 2A charger.

Testing Equipment: -

We feel it’s important to list down the IEMs we are using to test the DAP, so here is the list.

IEMs: Penon Fan 2, Penon 10th anniversary, Oriveti OD100, Tanchjim Oxygen, Hiby Yvain, Hisenior Okavango, Hisenior Mega5p Ultra and many other IEMs.


Sound Analysis: -

The overall tonality of R3 II is what we feel is very neutral. It does not add any additional glare or warmth to the outputs and is actually good for testing various IEMs and accessories. The note weight on the lower frequencies is on the lighter side compared to other DAPs. Making the DAP lacking in dynamics although it has its impact in the bass region. The mid-range is quite neutral with a bit more emphasized. Makes the vocals smooth and somewhat weighty. The noise floor is on the higher side on the SE output, but it’s improved on the 4.4mm BAL and the clarity of the sound is also improved on the balanced output. It may sound not exciting to those who are looking to get more dynamic and energetic output. But if you have the IEMs or Headphones that tick your favourite boxes there is no point in avoiding the Hiby R3 II. In our cases, it really went well with warm and musical IEMs synergy-wise.

WhatsApp Image 2023-12-30 at 18.51.50_706eec53.jpg

Technical Performance: -

The device is very competent across frequencies. The detail retrieval is good enough on the mid-range, in the bass and the treble. The soundstage is decent with more depth when we compare it to the other dongles. It never feels so congested even though the width of the soundstage is not big.

Conclusion: -

We didn’t have much expectation about R3II. However, the device quickly won us over with its portability and the value it offers. No, you cannot expect the class-leading sound quality and technical performance from this tiny device, but it gets the job done quite well. The software is snappy, and we loved it as well. In Aural Café we can recommend this item for your companion while running, working out or hassle-free commute as it’s footprints and the output for the price you’re paying.

Non-Affiliated Link- https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r3-ii


500+ Head-Fier
HIBY R3 II: Ultra Portability
Pros: ● Compact yet well-built construction made of aluminium frame paired with glass panels.
● Quite power efficient on a battery life for longer playback time.
● Intuitive volume wheel for adjusting finer volume level.
● A 4.4mm balanced output on a small DAP.
● Can be used as a portable DAC/amp
● Two-way bluetooth
● Compatibility on more advanced bluetooth codec.
● It has a fairly powerful power output on both balanced and single ended audio jack
● Proprietary MSEB Audio tuning system
● Online lossless streaming support (Tidal and Qobuz)
● Native DSD256/ PCM 32-bit/ 384kHz
● Can unfold MQA format up to 16x for MQA lovers.
● Responsive and easy to navigate Linux-based HiBy OS.
Cons: ● Accessing artist selection is a bit unintuitive as we will encounter the album first instead of the track.
● Occasional bluetooth latency connection.
● No built-in memory storage.

“Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.”

~~ Ludwig Van Beethoven, German pianist and composer during Classical period.

HiBy is an audio company that is well-renowned among audio enthusiasts around the globe for the quality of their products as they release some of the best DAPs in the market. They released recently a midrange one which was HIBY R6 PRO II and that product truly blurred the lines of between midrange and TOTL flagship as that DAP performs like a flagship albeit it offers less power output compare to its competitors when it comes to amplification capability to drive some of the power-demanding planar cans.


And now what I have here is HiBy's latest entry-level DAP, The HiBy R3 II. This device is a successor model of both R3 Pro Saber 2022 and R3 Pro Saber regular but this set has some improvement and substantial upgraded features that differentiate itself from its predecessors.


The HiBy R3 II has a small form factor that makes it a very portable device that is pocket-friendly that you can carry it anywhere to listen to hi-fi quality music. With a 3.2 inches touch screen LCD display in an aluminium alloy frame that was reinforced with toughened, scratch-resistant glass in both front and back. At the left panel, there is a micro-SD slot to expand your memory capacity to store more audio tracks. And in the right panel, there's a RGB LED indicator for status and sample rate indicator, volume knob which gives us a precise and granular volume control, button keys for play/pause and forward/back commands which are quite tactile to push.


At the bottom part, the output interfaces of different types are located there, and these are 4.4mm balanced output, USB type-C port and 3.5mm output jack. The 4.4mm balanced became more standardised as it replaced the less reliable 2.5mm balanced and it was rated at 3.5 Vrms that it can deliver a maximum output up to 380mW at 32 ohms which is quite sufficient to power up those power hungry earphones and probably, some cans. Its 3.5mm single ended output at 1.9 Vrms that can reach a maximum output at 112 mW on a 32 ohms load. As for its type-C port, it support USB2.0 and USB 3.1 protocol that can support a bandwidth up to 10 Gbps, and aside from being a charging port for replenishing battery power, it can be used as a USB DAC/amp dongle for your computer and even mobile device as it can decode up to 32-bit/384Khz PCM and up to DSD256. You can even use a dongle to bypass the built-in DAC of this device.


On its internals, it equips a dual ESS DAC, the ES9219P model which is one of the reliable mobile DACs in the market due to its performance for delivering high power output, low noise and pristine audio quality with low power consumption. Another component that was implemented here dual crystal oscillators for accurate clocking for variable sample rates, lessens any chances of jittering and reduces phase noise to have a better accuracy and delivers a more analogue sound. On its wireless features, it has a wi-fi module that is rated at 2.4G for seamless connectivity via Wi-Fi hotspots for streaming music or OTA updates for this device and a two-way 5.1 bluetooth version that which improves its connection while reducing latency on other wireless devices and also it can be used as a bluetooth receiver. It supports some basic and advanced bluetooth codecs like SBC, AAC, aptX (transmission only), UAT and LDAC. This device furnishes an Ingenix X1000E processor which has lower power consumption and can do basic computation and processing operation and its CPU speed was rated up to 1.0 GHz and it also fitted out with a 2000mAh battery that can give up to 15 hours of playback time.


On its 3.2 inches LCD with a screen resolution of 380 * 480, the R3 II gives a decent crisp and fairly detailed visual interface. It has a Hiby OS based on a Linux system as its software that can do some decent task commands via touch navigation or swipe gesture on its screen. At the home UI, it has minimalist tile presentation on its built-in application like Music, Stream media, Wireless, Book (E-book reader), System and About. If you do right drag gesture, you will access the music UI with album pic of an audio track that was presently playing and basic control functionality, and in pull down gesture, there we can access shortcut menu the software volume level, some wireless connectivity, output mode and gain mode (it will activate automatically if there is an aux connection on its output interfaces) and playing command options.


Here are the following subcategory menus under each application:


● All

● Files

● Albums

● Artists

● Genres

● Album Artist


Stream media

● Tidal

● Qobuz



● Bluetooth

● Wi-Fi

● Hiby Link

● Import Music via Wi-Fi


● AirPlay



● Scanning

● Books

● Favorites

● Files

● Recently readed



● Language

● Brightness

● Backlight time

● Theme color

● Font size

● USB working mode

● USB device mode

● USB current limited

● USB DAC feedback

● Time setting

● Idle timer

● Sleep timer

● Battery percentage display

● Standby

● In-line remote

● LED indicator

● Double tap to wake up

● Button operation when screen off

● Shortcut menu

● Screensaver setting

● Screen rotation

● Restore factory settings

● Firmware update

● Certification information


Since this is a HiBy device, it has its vaunted proprietary MSEB which is their advanced parametric equaliser that will be tailored and adjusted for our specific tonal preference and perceived sound field adjustments for our listening enjoyment. And also, aside from MSEB it also has a basic EQ too in which it offers more simplified adjustment on specific frequency range.


The product packaging of HiBy R3 II is quite minimalist but it offers a lot of inclusion, here are some of the following contents inside.


● USB-C cable

● Clear plastic case

● Screen protectors

● Warranty card

● User manual


Regarding its sonic profile, HiBy R3 II has balanced-neutral tuning as if all parts of the frequencies are evenly presented in a sonic spectrum.

The following IEMs that will be used for testing:

● HiBY Yvain

● HiBY Crystal 6 Mk.II




It delivers a sufficient punch and good sub-bass presence on the set which sounds quite clean and well-segregated. On the sub-bass part, there's a perceivable rumbling and reverberations coming from instruments such as low tone bass guitars, synthesisers, drum machines and other sub-bass focus instruments.

Mid-bass will have an ample texture and volume on the note weight on instruments and a few male vocal types, particular bass- baritone vocals.


The midrange part is quite well-presented across all over its frequency range as this device is able to project forward vocals while maintaining a neutral, transparent, clean and reasonable texture, neither too lean nor an exaggerated beefy one. Male vocals somewhat seem to have enough warmth and depth on its note weight just to sound more organic and engaging, while female vocals have sufficient vividness and energy on their voices to sound ethereal and sweet.

Instruments seem to sound natural as each specific instrument's timbre appears to sound correct, perhaps quite clean and balanced tone. Strings have vibrant and reasonable brightness on guitars and violins, percussive instrument have resonant, a tad warm and rich especially on snares, tom-toms, field drums and kettledrums, brasses have brassy and full sound on trumpets, horns and trombones and last but not the least, the woodwind instruments like piccolos, concert flutes and clarinets have sufficient airiness and graceful sound on them.


The treble response of this device projects a well-balanced, smooth and non-offensive tuning on this part of the frequency range. The upper-mids appears to be rounded as it tames down some accentuated peaks to lessen any chances of sibilance and harshness which make it more pleasant to listen especially for treble sensitive folk. It has sufficient crispness and definition for instruments’ attacks and vocal emphasis.

Brilliance part of the treble region seems to have a decent airy extension with adequate sparkle for some treble clef-focused instruments.


Its overall technical capabilities appear to be very competent for an entry-level DAP. The sound/speaker stage dimension can project a quite spacious sound field with good stereo imaging as it is able to pan out good separation of instruments and vocals, then a well-delineated layering aptness on this device.

It is also quite resolving on both macro-dynamics and micro-detail retrieval capable of delivering a good note texture and note ends on the macro-dynamics while a fairly sharp detail definition on micro-detail retrieval as it extracts some nuances and subtleties of information from an audio track.

As I conclude my assessment of this product, It seems that HiBy has continued to diversify its products as it reaches across the audio market from entry-level to flagship models where each product has its own specific offering to cater the needs of audio enthusiasts based on performance and value for money proposition. And HiBy R3 II is one of the products that HiBy truly offers that paradigm of performance and value for money that will appeal most of the budget-conscious audio enthusiasts seeking for.

If you are looking for a DAP that offers portability and sound quality performance at an affordable price, this device definitely fits the bill.

HiBy R3 II is currently available in HiBy's official store. Check the unaffiliated link below.

LINK: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r3-ii

For more HiBy products, check out my previous reviews on their products.




Some Tracks Tested: ( * = 16-bit FLAC, ** = 24-bit FLAC, *'* = MQA, '*' = DSD, *'= .WAV)

Alison Krauss -When You Say Nothing At All *
Jade Wiedlin - Blue Kiss**
Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks **
Mountain - Mississippi Queen *
Queen - Killer Queen **
Guns N' Roses - Patience *'*
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven '*'
Sergio Mendes- Never Gonna Let You Go '*'
Pearl Jam - Daughter **
Roselia - Hidamari Rhodonite *
Assassin - Fight (To Stop The Tyranny)*
Celtic Frost- Visual Aggression *
New Order - Blue Monday *
The Corrs- What Can I do (unplugged version) *
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child *
The Madness- Buggy Trousers *
Metallica - Motorbreath **
Mariah Carey- Always Be My Baby *
Destiny's Child - Say My Name *
Malice Mizer- Au Revoir *
Mozart - Lacrimosa *
New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Dvorak- Symphony 9 " From the New World." *
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (Sting cover)*
Michael Jackson - Give In To Me *
Exciter - Violence and Force *
Diana Krall - Stop This World **
Debbie Gibson - Foolish Beat *'*
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection**
Suzanne Vega – Luka **
Lauren Christy – Steep *
Ottoman Mehter - Hucum Marsi *
Diana Damrau - Mozart: Die Zauberflöte*
Type O Negative - Black No.1 *
Felix Ayo - Vivaldi: Presto **
Three Tenors - Nessum Dorma *
Mercyful Fate - Witches' Dance *


I am not affiliated to HIBY MUSIC nor receive monetary incentives and financial gains as they provide me a review unit for an exchange of factual and sincere feedback from yours truly.

Once again, I would like to send my gratitude to JOSEPH YEUNG of HIBY MUSIC for providing this review unit. I truly appreciate his generosity and trust towards me and other reviewers.

Last edited:
I don't understand what you mean when you say "Accessing artist selection is a bit unintuitive as we will encounter the album first instead of the track." If you mean when you select an artist, you see a list of albums, I don't see what's unintuitive about that? I don't want to see a wall of tracks for each artist - surely it's more intuitive to listen to whole albums rather than random tracks from different albums in alphabetical order?
@eaglesgift its a bit unintuitive in my opinion if I want to play a certain track instantly, its a bit of hassle to press again just the access the track.

I'm a type of a person wants to access the tracks instantly..

Ideally: Artist > Track not Artist > Album > Track.

I'm quite used on how LG stock player on their LG V/G series on organising and compiling an audio track on their playlist. It more manageable and easier to navigate.
So you prefer to see all the tracks for an artist in alphabetical order? I guess it would be good if they provided an option in settings to choose either that or album view, so we both get what we want!


New Head-Fier
A compact yet powerful DAP! HiBy R3 II
Pros: 1. Comfortable and convenient form factor
2. Easy and responsive OS
3. Better SQ than other DAPs around this price range
Cons: 1. Surfing around can be a little time consuming on a small screen

Review Of The HiBy R3 II



I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to try HiBy products, which completely blew me away after seeing both their mid-range and high-end models. Because of my great experiences with their products in terms of quality, it puts me at ease and gives me confidence in them. And today I had the chance to test out the HiBy R3 Gen II, their updated version of the well-received R3. However, before we go any further, I want to share certain details with you.



*Since this unit tour was organised by Joe Bloggs, I am very grateful for this opportunity. And as I've said in all of my evaluations, the same is true for this one: all of the concepts I've expressed below are entirely my own, original ideas that haven't been influenced by anyone else. If interested, go to this link.
*I am not associated with the connection, and I receive no financial assistance from anyone.
*For the remainder of the review, I will refer to the DAP as “R3 II.”
*I am using various IEMs and sources for better judgement and versatility.
*Finally, I will only evaluate the R3 II. based on their performance, even though I will explain how it feels and seems physically and aesthetically.


The R3 II has two ES9129C DACs, which enable DSD256 and PCM384kHz/32bit/MQA16X outputs via the 3.5mm PO, 4.4mm BAL, and 3.5mm LO analog audio ports.Additionally, it supports the previously mentioned via coaxial digital (via Type-C port) and digital audio ports. The system runs on HiByOS, an internal Linux operating system. The CPU is an X1000E, which I will talk about later and feels fine to use. Additionally, the device supports wireless transfers via Bluetooth Version 5.1 (Two-way), which supports UAT, LDAC, APTX, AAC, SBC, Airplay, DLNA, and HiByLink, and 2.4GHz WiFiHz. It has a 2000mah battery and supports microSD cards up to 2TB. The screen has a 3.2" touchscreen with a resolution of 320 by 480. The audio output's technical specifications are listed below.


Tested Specification3.5mm PO4.4mm BAL
Max voltage1.9Vrms3.5Vrms
Max power112mW380mW
Normal voltage1.5Vrms3Vrms
Normal power70mW280mW

The DAP comes with a USB C data cable and a clear plastic case with screen protectors.


Design And Aesthetics

The R3 II features reinforced glass front and rear plates, as well as an aluminum alloy chassis. There are three color options: red, silver, and black. It weighs 118g and has dimensions of 86.9*60.6*14.5 mm. It is well worth it because of the form factor and weight, as the former is ideal for one-handed use and fits beneath your palm. I used it without a cover for a while even though I kept it in the silicone case, and I had no trouble managing it. Although I had anticipated that the fact that neither port wiggled would be cause for alarm, the volume knob makes me feel insecure about it. I never thought the device was warm or hot, not even after I completely depleted the battery. Approaching the chases with confidence, I can retain any grip and even take a few blows because it's robust and stiff. Therefore, I find the design and aesthetics to be both appealing and eye-catching; nevertheless, I'll talk more about the usefulness of utilizing one later.



I was able to obtain between nine and eleven hours on the 3.5mm and 4.4mm port with my usage. Although it is a matter of taste, I find that holding and using the Shanling M0 and the HiBy R2 II feels significantly better, so the small factor does come in helpful as it is not too small to feel little in comparison to my IEM stack around it. There were moments when I felt uneasy with the volume, as though it could easily come off. The speedy and user-friendly HiBy OS made it easy for me to navigate through all of my songs, but the biggest worry was how long it took me to locate the album I was looking for. Of course, with a device this small, this is unavoidable. I did feel less constrained and more at ease using it as my daily source, but I did think that the experience wasn't quite up to par with what I am used to. I was taken aback when it powered my HD600 with a good 70–80 volume gain, but once more, driving isn't what the cans require—juice, which is conspicuously absent from every DAP I've tried. Therefore, in terms of usability, I think this holds up well to what an audiophile essentially requires.


Sound Impressions


Thieaudio Monarch MKII

Monarch MKII is the foundation from where I start recognising other IEMs. For me the Monarch MKII has the perfect treble, mid range and bass. I may prefer more punchy bass though, but all in all close to what I find in an IEM. The treble is extensive and exceptionally smooth for my taste. The mid range is centric and very expressive and the bass goes deep and rumbles beautifully. The bass feels lacking slam but it is there, but I love the way it is. In my opinion, these are technical monster, as the stage is expansive and realistic with great depth and acting dimensions. The imaging may have been more edgy and sharp but it is enough to sound clean and crisp. The separation is really how distant and distinctive every element should be. The attack and decay resolves at a pace I find natural and real. All in all I find it to sound perfect with superb tonality and excellent technicalities. Monarch MKII still surprises me how both technical and tonal performances blend and compliments each other. A peaceful and relaxed play. No other sources were able to alter or change the sound of this IEM except for the mid range which either became subdued or very revealing, the sound felt the same except for warm sources or very transparent ones like the WM1A and Questyle M15.


Upon testing my Monarch MKII with the R3, I was sufficiently assured that there was sufficient power to operate them. Although everything about the presentation felt calm, the details were there. I noticed that the notes were smoother and rounder, which gave the impression that it was wider and more expansive. However, the vocals felt forward, with the instruments supporting them. When I paired the bass with my V6, the Monarch MKII seemed to be lacking a slight oomph. In contrast, the mid bass felt more natural and loose.The stage feels the same as the V6, but the texture and details are just better. However, I think the R3 II's quality and presentation is better because it keeps the details while still making the experience more enjoyable.

Thieaudio Hype2

The hype2 is an IEM with a natural sound that completely outperforms IEMs in this price range in terms of tonality, sound imaging, separation, and resolution. The sound is fuller and richer, and the imaging and separation make it easy to listen to vocals, particularly female vocals. It is hypnotic to listen to because it is easy to distinguish between the various vocalists or the vocal layering. The Hype2 is a very capable IEM because I never noticed any changes in tone or quality missing from the response from any of my sources, including the Sony WM1A, Tempotec V6, or other sources I had the chance to listen to like the RU7, BTR7, or Astell & Kern Khan Max. It is only when the vocals are slightly provoked or subdued using sources that there is a slight difference, but that is mostly what I heard while listening. The Hype2 is one of the top IEMs in this price range in my opinion, and it can layer and image just as well as the Monarch MKII.


In comparison to the V6, I noticed a smoother and more pleasant presentation when I paired the HYPE2. When listening to bass tracks, I noticed a sudden improvement in the bass presentation that made for a more effective exposure. In my testing, I did notice that the treble became softer and a little less technical, but the HYPE2 still had the same clarity over the vocals and instruments. Even so, I would still rather have clarity from my HYPE2 in the higher frequencies than a soothing sound.

Thor Mjolnir MKII

Mjolnir is a very bassy set which has a lot of sub bass emphasis. The treble and upper mid range is also very forward in the mix. The upper treble has great extension as well. The bass is very punchy and boomy while acting fast. Mjolnir is a great V-shape sounding IEM with a different approach to explosive bass that has better technicalities, especially in this price range. The stage is great with nice surround stage and depth where the separation of each element sounding distant enough them to procure space to breathe and distinct themselves. The attack and decay of the driver capability is really quick and performs great. The vocals may feel lean and sparkly, the warmth or the fuller experience is something that these lack. Th bass response does vary from sources to sources whether I listen to a warm source or a neutral one, the bass becomes either overwhelming or authoritative or both.


The Mjolnir didn't sound as good as I had hoped because the treble seemed muted and less detailed than before, and the bass felt bloated, which was powerful but messed up the mid range due to how the stage felt. Even though the bass is strong and boomy with a deep sub bass, I would prefer a more sparkling presentation from the Mjolnir since it highlights the finer details. Even so, the vocals continued to feel direct and unambiguous.

HiBy Yvian

The Yvain is an IEM with a bright sound that leans toward dead neutrality, emphasizing only the lower treble and upper midrange. It is evident that the signature differs from other IEMs in this price range. Even though the sound isn't what I was expecting, the emphasis on the notes' calm and clarity makes these IEMs incredibly fantastic. I have never heard of a bright-neutral IEM that eliminates all distracting or objectionable noises from the mix until now. However, it can occasionally be a bit too much for someone like me who prefers a sub bass boost tuning that is more balanced or neutral. I believe that when it was tuned, placing less emphasis on the sharp notes—whether they are in the treble or the mid range—was the right move. Although it sounds less smooth, it isn't piercing or sharp. Additionally, the bass has a really tight tone and effectively defines itself through exposure.


From a sound quality perspective, the R3 II elevates every region in the mix without producing any distinct energy differences, making the Yvian sound very pleasant throughout. The Yvain sounds tonally comfortable thanks to the tone, which is more smooth than sharp. The pairing sounds clean and linear to me, even though I do think the texture in the details isn't as detailed as I have heard in other DAPs. However, they are also more expensive than R3 II.


Luna Haruna - Glory days
Luna Haruna - Overfly
Rokudenashi - The Flame of Love
LMYK - 0 (zero)
Marina Horiuchi - Mizukagami no Sekai
Indila - Love Story
Indila - Tourner dans le vide
Earth, Wind & Fire - September
Tom Petty - Free Fallin'
Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Blue Oyester Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper
Guns 'N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
The Police - Every Breath You Take
Gojira - Amazonia
TV on the radio - Wolf Like Me
Bring Me To The Horizon - Can You Feel My Heart
Bring Me To The Horizon - sTraNgeRs
Avril Lavigne - Dare To Love Me
Travis - Love Will Come Through
Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
DJ Shadows - Six Days (Remix) [feat. Mos Def]
Lady Gaga - Just Dance
Lil Wayne - Lollipop
Flo Rida - Low
Sebastian Lopez & Flug - Electronic Measures
Federico Mecozzi - Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Wayve - Not Enough
Kai Wachi & TeZATalks - Ghost
NGHTMRE, Zeds Dead & Tori Levett - Shady Intentions
Zeds Dead, DNMO & GG Magree - Save My Grave
Skrillex, Noisia, josh pan & Dylan Brady - Supersonic
Skrillex & Nai Barghouti - Xena
Skrillex, Missy Elliott & Mr. Oizo - RATATA
Kaifi Khalil, Eva B & Wahab Bugti - Kana Yaari
A.R. Rahman, Javed Ali & Mohit Chauhan - Kun Faya Kun


To sum up this review, if you're searching for an offline player that can manage your data in a small package, I do think the HiBy R3 II DAP is worth the money. It's among the best DAPs you can get for the money whether you want to use it outside or comfortably while seated in a chair. You won't need more than the power and performance, unless you use headphones frequently. Nevertheless, I have verified that the capability extends beyond appearances. Therefore, it comes highly recommended if you're looking for a convenient and useful DAP.

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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: A fun sounding (extremely small) entry level DAP that goes slightly overboard with driving power
Never gets even a hint of surface warmth during playback
Can be simple and intuitive in use, or offering broad functionality
Outputs in 3.5mm and 4.4mm and USB Type-C digital
Sends and receives BT 5.1
Support BT codecs for UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC and AAC
Charges (from empty to full) in as fast as 2 hours (tested)
Playback up to 16 hours (tested)
Powers some full-size headphones and all IEMs
Cons: None, really none for this style of money

HiBy R3 II
HiBy is primarily known for their DAPs around here, but truth to be told they are a well established manufacture of not only players, but IEMs, portable amps and accessories. HiBy, starting in 2011 has continued to innovate and imagine introducing the HiByMusic player software for Android and iOS. This is my first journey into a HiBy product. And while I have had experience with a number of sound making devices………as of the last 5 years my personal listening has centered around DAP use. I have used 90% exclusively the Sony WM1A and WM1Z. Now while the R3 II does not quite have the resolution or expanded soundstage of the WM1A, enhanced with MrWalkman’s firmware…..it’s also only a fraction of the cost. Where the WM1A sold for $1200.00 and the WM1Z sold for $3200.00……our HiBy R3 II is simply $179.00.



Pictured from left to right, Sony WM1A, HiBy R3 II, Shanling UA3 and Apple Dongle.

In so many ways the R3 II finds its sound between the WM1A and Apple Dongle. But more than that, the R3 II is a blessing in use. I was going to name this review Ditch the Dongle. I really was…..then I got to thinking that I’ve only heard 3 Dongles, so I thought maybe I don’t have enough experience to make such a claim? Still remember the Apple Dongle and UA3 still need more equipment before they will make music. Where we find both the Sony WM1A and HiBy R3 II are fully self contained audio devices, yep…..just plug in and away you go. Still if you must complicate matters the R3 II is a Swiss Army Knife of functionality, it CAN act as a Dongle, it can send and receive BlueTooth 5.1. You can use it to read books or stream Tidal and Qobuz. The R3 II is super powerful and can drive many full-size headphones. Plus it’s easy to use and sounds fantastic.
  • Model : R3 II
  • Operating System : Hiby OS
  • Screen : 3.2’’ Touch Screen (480×360pixel)
  • DAC : Dual ES9219C
  • CPU : Ingenic X1000E
  • Wi-Fi Support : 2.4GHz with AirPlay, DLNA and Wireless Audio support
  • Bluetooth : BT V5.1
  • Bluetooth Codec Support : UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC, AAC
  • Phone Output : 3.5mm Single Ended
  • Balanced Output : 4.4mm TRRRS
  • USB In/Out : USB Type-C Charging / Data transfer / USB DAC / Coaxial
  • SNR : 3.5mm SE – 119dB / 4.4mm Balanced – 119dB
  • Min. THD : 3.5mm SE – 0.0005% / 4.4mm Balanced – 0.0005%
  • Channel Separation : 3.5mm SE – 74dB / 4.4mm Balanced – 103dB
  • Frequency Range : 20Hz – 90kHz (3.5mm SE & 4.4mm Balanced)
  • Max Output Power @32Ω : 3.5mm SE – 112mW / 4.4mm Balanced – 380mW
  • Storage : 1 x MicroSD Card Slot
  • Battery Capacity : 2000mAH
  • Dimensions : 86.9 x 60.6 x 14.5mm
  • Weight : 118g

You can use the HiBy R3 II to listen to music from an on-board microSD card, stream from Tidal or Qobuz. Use the R3 II to access DLNA or Airplay, and read books.


Now I know the HiBy R3 II does a lot, but my favorite feature is the multifunction knob.

Such a little knob can turn-on the device, or will simply light-up the screen from sleeping…..of course pushing it and holding the knob completely shuts the device down after a few (screen counted) seconds. There are exactly 100 clicks from pushing +0 volume level to 100. And of course you can change volume on the 3.2” Touch Screen, except the (multifunction) knob is just easier, and causes the on-screen volume gauge to appear for just 2 seconds. Strangely there are about three different thumb positions which are both ergonomic and accurate to change volume levels. In each thumb-position you feel the clicks to tell you where you are……..which becomes totally satisfying? Also when inside the included case, the knob sticks out just exactly far enough to still safely be found. There is also a play/pause and physical buttons with track forward or track reverse. Such buttons are raised and can be operated by feel.

Device comparisons:

This section is primarily focused on comparative device sound quality, yet goes ahead to delineate just what the sound of the HiBy R3 II is in relation to the Sony WM1A, Shanling UA3 and Apple Dongle. Keep in mind there are other benefits to using DAPs over Dongles in that it frees up Phone batteries and wards-off interruptions too.

Sony WM1A v HiBy R3 II:
The WM1A weighs in at 267 grams compared to just 118 grams for the R3 II, and the size can be noted in the photograph here. Such differences maybe don’t seem like much, but I actually purchased the 1A as a way to leave the house with music, but never used it in such a fashion? Where truly the R3 II is portable….and the fact that it’s all-in-one makes it user friendly. After testing with the high-gain and 3/4 volume level I was able to get exactly 12 hours using the Sony TOTL MDR-Z1R full-size headphones at authoritative all-you-would-want volume levels. Regular IEMs at drastically lower (output needed) volume levels, and regular gain setting, enjoy the full 16 hours of playback (tested). You can start to understand the ease of use with the R3 II. Even being it charges from empty to full-charge in just 2 hours…….tested, where the Sony takes 7 hours to charge. To reiterate on other examples here (even in Dongle mode user experience) the HiBy R3 II just seems like an easier device to haul around, simply dropping it into a bag. Going into the menu and choosing USB device mode places the R3 II into Dongle Activation coming off a MacBook Air hooked-up via a USB Type-C cable. In such use the little R3 II screen will then fall back to saying only D.A.C. in big easy to read letters along with the kHz of file played. And don’t forget even in limited Dongle use, the R3 II is getting its charge topped-off for DAP use on the go.


Sound comparisons:
After 120 hours of burn-in on the R3 II and introduction of the Noble Audio Encore I was ready for sound comparisons. Sure as the week went by I tried various IEMs, and typically I gravitate towards the thicker sounding ones, to kinda add authority to the little R3 II. Now that’s not to say the signature of the R3 II is not well rounded because it is. In fact the Encore ends up my microscope to try and see thru the fog, looking for truth. This time matched with the ISN CS02 cable to smooth out the highs and promote warmth. Here the upper midrange of the Encore would show if there was any graininess, and if there was a lack of bass, the neutral bass of the Encore will delineate that too. Is marrying-up a past TOTL flagship IEM a waist of time with the R3 II? Not at all, especially if you’re into the form factor the R3 II offers. The bottom line in comparison to the WM1A was mostly with stage. There of course was some lack of resolution and realness the R3 II couldn’t perform in relation to the WM1A, still……when you compare the price differences and small size of the R3 II, well…..it is a well-calculated reduction in technicalities. While yes, with the WM1A/Encore imaging of elements were formed of greater detail and hovering further-out into the stage, there was maybe a blacker background even….but still though-out my week of listening I was always saying to myself…….I could live with this style of R3 II playback? And even though I have heard better replay, the R3 II walks that line of providing just enough detail and musicality to (in the end) make it work. :)

The Cheese comparison:
I know this is off on a tangent, except this proves my points here. Where if you ask people what their favorite cheese is, often you will get a variety of answers. None of them are wrong, folks just simply like what they like. You have your Swiss cheese fanatics, your Blue or Roquefort fans, or even folks who like a mixture of Cheddar blended with Blue cheese. If you ask them why they like what they like, often they can’t explain….it’s simply how they feel. Yet if you get to know an Artisan Cheese Retailer they will tell you they reject certain batches of cheese. Of course once again we are relying on the subjective preference of an individual, except that individual is in-charge of cheese retail. So there are factors at play that still make Audio Replay and Cheese Taste (quality) stay with-in boundaries of acceptability.

The Apple Dongle (A1749) v The HiBy R3 II:
With the introduction of the Apple Dongle in 2016 (with the iPhone7) the personal audio world was changed forever. Yep, Apple was doing away with the line-out of their phones and they needed a device to still enable wired headphone listening. While for many the device is simply all they need. Myself in trying to definitively (whatever that means) ascertain Apple Dongle quality, I played around with using the device as the DAC then to an amplifier……..then to TOTL Flagship headphones. And sure you can pair the Apple Dongle in sequence (of more equipment) in order to see into the sonic profile of the little guy. Still that doesn’t answer all the questions as to how and why there are still people who swear that the Dongle is endgame? Remember there are people living today, whole groups of listeners who believe that the Dongle is really all you need, that spending more money (on a DAP or Dongle) is getting you (at best) euphonic distortion.

While there is nothing wrong with the Apple Dongle, it’s relatively flat and clear, though it only supports a 48 kHz sampling rate. So that by itself limits the audiophile potential in some people's minds. Still just going by my basic perception, the Apple Dongle seems slightly lifeless and while not boring, it doesn’t have the realism found with other playback methods. If some would say that realism is warmer harmonic distortion, I wouldn’t argue one bit. But most of my preferred audio gear has some style of warm-up, be it the amp, or DAC or whatever? Musical notes seem to have more weight, stage seems expanded and smoother, and finally music seems to have more body to it. In the next paragraph we will get into more how the HiBy R3 II sounds, but to simply (in two words) compare it to the Apple Dongle it would be both thicker and clearer. Where the Apple Dongle would be the Kraft Cheddar Cheese where you can make a sandwich with it, but eating the sandwich is not really an event, as with some other cheeses.

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The Shanling UA3 v The HiBy R3 II:
I performed this test by audibly matching volumes from the two devices. I did this by plugging the HiBy R3 II into the right USB output and the Shanling UA3 into the left USB output of a computer. I used Colibri 2.0.2 with an OST playing and listened to how both the ambiance was in the stage positioning, for one. Each time I would simply change my 3.5mm IEM plug and choose the output inside the Colibri software. Such changes of devices became very fast and effective in use. This test was crucial as in so many ways as the UA3 and R3 II are both contemporaries. And when it boils-down-to-it their output is very close to the same, with stages very comparable as well as tone. While at times the R3 II seemed clearer, the stage was slightly larger with the UA3; at least the stage for the lows? Both approached the OST style music much the same…….though the UA3 with its AKM AK4493SEQ chip, came off slightly smoother and held softer edges. The R3 II was subtly more direct and slightly more forward (and robust) in presentation. I could have guessed this about the UA3, but hearing them side-by-side simply reconfirmed the outcome. In truth the R3 II dual ES9219C chips get a different stance on sound, a more down to business stance offering up what clarity comes from being less warm, compared to the UA3. Even though the UA3 comes off warmer……….the HiBy comes across still overall warm but into a more M shape tonal response. Yet there was also a tinge of added top-end with the Shanling UA3? Still with-in the R3 II response, sub-bass has surprising kick and while treble is nicely smoothed out, there is none of that stridency or over emphasis looking for treble detail wrongly. What this ends up with is the HiBy R3 II coming-off surprisingly musical and forgiving but in no way dull or murky.

Conclusion of comparisons:
My first realization was just how good the Noble Audio K-10 Encore sounded. This has been my on-going relationship with an IEM, and I totally know and understand the tone. While out-of-the-box the HiBy R3 II sounded slightly pressed and rigid, yet after 120 hours of burn-in a style of smoothness was noted to have arrived. What does this have to do with the other Apple Dongle, Shanling UA3 or Sony WM1A you ask? The Encore can be critical to show playback imbalances, yet here was both the actual tone of the R3 II and Encore tone colliding into full-on acceptability. Later I will demonstrate 3 other IEMs, but this little test showed that we hit pay-dirt. The comparison test also showed just how close the Shanling UA3 and R3 II could be…….still remember the R3 II is fully self-contained, and the UA3 only a Dongle. In the end the R3 II was at the exact middle between the Apple Dongle and the Sony WM1A, yet where that landed was a surprisingly comfortable and musical, holding much of what I listen to a DAP for, with exactly enough oomph to generate authority with the Sony MDR-Z1R, with still 25% of volume going unused, on high gain.


Such a main music playback screen shows album artwork, and will momentarily show volume levels at the top, The included photograph was taken at 50% screen brightness. Such a screen will even show song lyrics if provided. Holding in your left hand a quick swipe to the right with your index finger will pull up (and take you back to) the “Home Screen”.


Media management:
The R3 II uses HiBy OS which in-turn acts in an unusual way to more or less guide you through operation. When in fact the screen art-work is where I keep the settings, but that’s just me, as I like album art-work. When tuning on the player you will be greeted with the “Home Screen”. From there you can choose various selections……..which makes total sense if you are going to be accessing features that don’t involve use of your on-board music library. Though while reading my 16 gig music card (the first time) it took all of about 3 seconds.


Besides the regular EQ set-up HiBy has brought in their own ideas of sound processing called MSEB. MSEB stands for MageSound 8-ball Equalizer. Such blending of regular EQ parameters end in new combinations using multiple algorithms to alter and fine-tune the sound. The R3 II also adds the ability to control your smartphone remotely with HiBy Link. Such feature allows you to gain access to viewing and using music stored on your smartphone (after HiBy Link installed there) and finding phone playback at higher quality than Bluetooth when using the R3 II as the receiver.


The System Menu:
Backlight time
Theme color
Font size
USB Working mode
USB device mode
Time setting
Idle timer
Sleep timer
Battery percentage display
In-line remote
LED Indicators
Double tap to wake up
Button operation when screen off
Volume operation when screen off
Shortcut menu
Screensaver setting
Screen rotation
Restore factory settings
Firmware update
Certification information

Now just in case you don’t want to get lost inside the R3 II labyrinth, a pull-down of six small quick-access symbols are provided.

Wifi File Transfer:

Having your R3 II and PC hooked to the same network allows the HiBy Music Application to drag and transfer songs.

Book Reader:
Often you can access CD rip information here, as well as books. I won’t go into it too much but this allows you to choose favorite books as well as recently read files.

While trying this out it was super easy to gain LDAC playback from the WM1Z, hooking-up to a phone or iPod touch needed me to choose the codec, though once chosen from a list, the player always knew what codec to use. The HiBy R3 II regularly uses BT 5.1 which it will send and receive. Receiving UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC, AAC.

One Bluetooth feature I used a lot was to simply have BT streaming to the R3 II while watching a Youtube video on an iPod Touch. While there was a 1/8-1/16th second delay, it was exactly the same (style of delay) as while using the BT receiver feature with the Sony WM1A/WM1Z. And in fact one way around this is to have recorded movies played back and sync the dialogue with the video player software. Meaning you can adjust the time of dialogue to perfectly sync-up during movie watching. And while I know of no way to correct for YouTube, after 9 different videos, only one was severely out-of-synch and I’m pretty sure it was a delay from the video. Watching music videos was perfect with no delay noted. Though with speaking parts in videos such a delay can be noted, especially if you focus on the phenomena.


Tidal and Qobuz Applications:
Such access is provided for the player, yet I don’t have subscriptions to test.

Such abilities allow you to connect to media servers and stream directly.

Using the R3 II as a Dongle device:
As talked about briefly in my Dongle side-by-side tests, this is a simple function and works intuitively, showing kHz and sounds just like files read from your card.

Allows for songs to be transferred through USB-C to CoAxial cable or via USB to another decoder.

USB Digital Output:
An example of accessing the Type-C USB digital out, the R3 II will act as a file server to the new style of DSP IEM cables. This new style of IEMs don't use 3.5mm or 4.4mm plugs, but use a DSP processor and amplifier inside the plug of the cable. In use you simply make sure the R3 II has the USB output set for audio instead of USB storage, and away you go.

Another way yo use the R3 II is as a digital file server, with up to 2TB of access you can hook the USB Type-C to a Dongle or Amp. Hooking it directly to the Shanling UA3 took all of 3 seconds and became fully functional.

Built with a mixture of aluminum and glass we are greeted with a perfect size and weight. Glass on the top edge, glass on the back. Feels good man.





The microSD card reader is covered and easy to add cards or to change your card.


Such added features as a light bar will fully go ahead to explain visually both at what level Hi Res is in playback, also (red) if charge is taking place, or simply white if the unit is on.


Coming well protected in a medium box..........an extra set of screen protectors is found in addition to the already added screen and back protectors. A USB charge cable and paper work in included. Probably the highlight of the box-opening experience (for me) was finding a great case included for your DAP.




IEM sound comparisons tests:
Since starting off with non-burned-in R3 II, my first set of IEMs were on the extra bass side of the street. This was simply to use the actual personality in IEM playback to kind-of add authority. And that was fine, except later after 120 hours of burn-in the HiBy R3 II seemed to change its stance. Yep, it was warmer, smoother and even more well rounded. What that meant in daily use was that I could use whatever IEM I wanted. Meaning the additional authority was provided in the signature of the player. So even though the Noble Audio Encore is not photographed here, it was one of the standout IEMs in testing, providing a smooth yet detailed upper treble shelf! It also should be noted that this section was the most fun to do. Where the preceding information was a formality, here the pedal hit the metal. Here is what reviews are all about…..music replay!


The Sound Rhyme SR7 (6BA X 1DD Hybrid)

The Sound Rhyme is a new IEM phenomena to hit the streets. And with my standard wide-bore silicone ear-tips and provided stock cable…….we will learn what’s up. Here the largest stage setting (Dip-switches both up) was chosen on the SR7. Using the more powerful R3 II 4.4mm output was not a total necessity, but preferred none-the-less. While reading about folks accessing the high-gain mode, I don’t ever see a reason to need it. Yes, these are super efficient IEMs, still loud is just a hair over middle volume position, in fact I can’t even go past that? This may be the best I have ever heard the R3 II? I mean I know I say that now, but I tested this combo earlier in the week, yet right now it’s fantastic. Big washes of sound, and cool embellishes of harmonic guitar tone finding the tone fully involved and interactive……..and that was just the guitar…lol. I know I am repeating myself, but here, this sound is a keeper………and makes me wonder why anyone would need anything else. Bass is tight and somehow in focus, vocals are to die for! Really the vividness of the SR7 is putting the shoes on this deal? Truly special! I don’t need anything else…….if you question this outcome, I challenge you to simply try it! It’s that good? The stage that the SR7 is doing naturally is creating synergy here.


The HiSenior Okavango (6BA X 1DD Hybrid)

While coming off slightly more clear than the SR7, there was a stage that had me infatuated with the SR7, that and a wilder tone that was simply more over-the-top. Still this here is not a small stage, or in any way bad or compromised to tell the tale of this DAP. Nope, it’s again all here, if not showing a slightly reserved manner. I will let you know that this has been a combo that I have revisited often in the last few days……….finding the bass carefully constructed and offering a more Harman tune yet with a pizzaz of sorts. Just enough bottom end to make the pace and make this fun. The wonderful thing here is that the R3 II is making each and every IEM better than the next…………….finding a synergy that is noticeable and an experience. A little cleaner and of slightly better composure, yet a 100% winner nonetheless. Again, I know this sounds too good to be true, but try it and get back to me………..if you're curious! :)


The Penon 10th Anniversary (2EST X 2BA X 2DD)
Finally my favorite IEM at the moment. And while in truth it’s not all that different from the two just tested. This is a hobby built on small differences, and to try and tell-the-tale of synergy here, it starts with the stage. The stage is perfectly separated with a slight harmonic aura of distortion in the guitars that has me smitten. And while the R3 II is not the most bass heavy in replay, it’s unarguable that the 10th is reintroducing the (bass) goods here, to bring it all in focus and authority. The ESTs are giving that tiny extra (tint) of clarity that comes off noticeable and separated into the stage…….. adding a sizable level of involvement on tap. Need I say, this is end-game……….it’s hard to believe such elements of replay could be found from such a device, except the IEMs are doing exactly what they are suppose to be doing, they are adding-in the extra tone.


So there you have it, the HiBy R3 II. I have never experienced a Hiby product before, nor do I want to come-off as a DAP expert in any way. Though I do know what I like as far as features and tone. What I can read is that HiBy has ramped-up their features like a 25% bigger battery (from past models) and added an extra DAC chip to make two Dual ES9219C in daily use. Also functionality is streamlined, with absolutely no delays or lags…….everything as planned and going accordingly. In fact I must be jaded or have done way too many reviews, as I (unexpectedly) found a home here……with this silly little DAP. The overall size and menial cost may have you guess otherwise…....but this review ended in surprise. So much so that I had to take-out a few (test) IEMs once more to really be sure about what level of quality I was talking about. If you are wondering about possibly getting a new Dongle or wanted to get your feet wet in the DAP game, I can’t fathom a better starter DAP. And while the R3 II is not everything, it is on the best side of performance, performance to dollar ratio, that is. And I don’t want to allude to the R3 II being more than it is, except that a few IEMs I listened to all evening and the better part of a morning, simply had me wondering if this truly is all I need? Because the R3 II performs at a nice level of sonic passion, getting you the needed involvement to enjoy your music!



I want to thank HiBy for the R3 II review sample

These are one person's ideas and concepts, your results may vary.

Equipment Used:
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudoQuest Carbon USB
Samsung Phone 3.5mm
Shanling UA3 Dongle 4.4mm
HiBy R3II 4 DAP 4.4mm and 3.5mm
MacBook Air
Apple IPod Touch

HiBy current product offerings:

Device sound reiterations:
This section is placed as a further reference for those still curious as to the HiBy R3 II tone in relation to some of the products I’ve heard. As it is through comparisons that reality of playback can be discovered.

Sony WM1Z:

Such a player came available in 2017 as Sony’s TOTL DAP. While tonally V shaped the product was taken to the next level with MrWalkman’s firmware. Still there is an immovable stance the 1Z holds as its demeanor in sound replay. Coming off bass heavy the low-end is both round and dense, even clouding a portion of detail…..but in the end generating a wholesome dark tone loved by many. Such a deep-end allows for a counter-balance of treble sparkle. So imagine a filled-out and highly detailed expanse of treble stage surrounding image placement. This V shape promotes deeper/bigger bass and a tip-top of bright expanded enhancements.

Sony WM1A:
Here we are gifted with the opposite tone, bringing speedy tight bass and a subdued treble, yet still offering brightness due to an enhanced upper midrange.

The HiBy 3 II:
While not offering the stage of the WM1A, the stage is still quite the feature, much larger in size than the price would have you guess. As in audio you get what you pay for, except times are moving forward and technology is advancing, simply offering you more bang for your buck. This M shaped tonal response means a slight tuck in the low-lows which advances pace and gives the lower mids a boost. The upper midrange also offers a provocative staging display which seems to move imaging outward into formation of brilliance. So we find a well rounded and careful tune which will appeal to more listeners. None of that tip-top brightness which gives unnatural treble detail, and no deep lows to smear the pace. What we are left with is a highly musical and well rounded M response. Power reserves come into play here too, as the R3 II is never seemingly thwarted by what it is required to power, leaving the sound character (described above) fully intact.

The (A1749) Apple Dongle:
Linear and clear, yet holding a correct, yet a slightly sterile tone-nature. This utilitarian profile goes good to get-the-job-done, but limits absorption and emotional interaction. Never showing any extra personality or even individual charm, the Apple Dongle simply is what it is…..and it still needs a phone to work.

The Shanling UA3:
Once more limited in features in comparison to the R3 II, and needing files to chew-on…..the UA3 does offer a wonderful and expansive tone. Such a romantic stage finds maybe a slight top-end push over the HiBy R3 II, that and a warmer smoother yet softer deep-end.
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You seem quite brand defensive there, I wouldn't take objective statements as criticism or personally. The A55 and others are up to 45 hours so not 1/3 more battery life, more than double. I have the A55 and it definitely doesn't take anywhere near 4 hours to charge, not with any charger I use. I've not timed it but it's probably less than 2 hours. Charging time doesn't bother me, the battery life does. I mentioned all of the Sony A series as the form factors are the same and of similar size to Hiby. You compared the Hiby to the high end Sony in your review so what you said about me mentioning the A306 is a bit pot meet kettle...

I have 2 Hiby DAPs and have ordered this one so I've zero problem with their products but I think the R3 II should have better battery life.
Something very big happened to me today, you see. For the first time it occurs to me to connect the R3 II in DAC mode to my Xiaomi 12 and the NEO 5, a real audiophile party! On the smartphone I have purchased and installed the Poweramp app, I have set the EQ to my liking and I have saved the corresponding profile, at a volume of 45% for the R3 II and 50% for the smartphone. Marvelous!! I couldn't be happier. The CS02 cable is on its way along with the Liqueur tips. You don't have to invest so much to enjoy great sound.

Congratulations! 👍🏻
You really don’t have to invest a fortune nowadays for musicality......enjoy! Cheers!


Headphoneus Supremus
HiBy R3 Gen II - Micro DAP with proper sound
Pros: Size
Good detail retrieval
No significant compromise in soundstage
Cons: Audio latency over AAC connection
Album art compatibility issue
One of my biggest disappointments when it comes to to IEM setup is the lacklustre sonic quality of smaller and more budget-friendly music players comparing to their full-sized counterparts, especially when it comes to staging, detail, and dynamic. Of course, we cannot expect tiny boxes with little battery and little space for cooling to match the larger and more sophisticated ones. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect more when driving IEMs, especially when even bluetooth earhooks are getting way better. Today, I take a look at HiBy R3 Gen II to answer the burning question: can micro DAP be good?

YouTube review:


  • In this review, I use the term “source” to denote a DAC+amp combo for brevity and convenience.
  • Sources do not make sounds. Therefore, when I say sources “sound” a certain way, I talk about the change they make to my IEMs and earphones.
  • I want my music to be crisp, clear, well-separated and form a 3D soundstage around my head. Sources that intensify those characteristics of my IEMs are considered “better”.
  • The unit used for this review was a preproduction sample provided by HiBy (Thank you!). The unit is retailed for $179 and can be found on HiBy official store (non-affiliated link)


  • Operating system: HiBy OS (Linux-based)
  • Decoding chip: 2xES9219C
  • Screen: 3.2-inch touch-sensitive (320x480)
  • Built-in storage capacity: N/A
  • Expansion interface: microSD, upto 2TB
  • Wireless network: Wi-Fi 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.1 (UAT, LDAC, aptX (transmit), AAC, SBC)
  • Terminal: 4.4mm balance (PO / LO), 3.5mm unbalanced (PO / LO)
  • Nominal output power: 280mW ( Balanced), 70mW (unbalanced)
  • Continuous playback time: about 15 hours (2000mAh)

Non-sound Aspects​

Build quality:
  • Aluminium frame, sandwiched by glass panels.
  • Screen protectors pre-applied from factory.
  • Buttons have no wiggle. Pressing actions are firm and crisp.
  • Volume wheel have decent snap between notches. It can be operated with one hand. At the same time, I have not had any case of volume adjusting itself in my pocket.
  • Small enough to fit in my palm.
  • Thin and light enough to slip into jacket’s pocket or trouser pocket without adding bulk.
  • The included plastic case is quite difficult to put on or remove.
  • A new version of HiBy OS.
  • You can filter your music by album artists now.
  • R3II can stream Tidal and Qobuz in addition to playing local files in SD card.
  • Scrolling is smooth and responsive.
  • Building music database from SD card does not take long (less than 1 minute for 10 GB of music).
  • 10-band EQ and MSEB are still available for EQ needs
  • Wifi is reliable enough to stream TIDAL at master quality.
  • I couldn’t connect to enterprise Wifi networks (the ones with username and password). No problem connecting to iPhone hotspot and home Wifi.
  • R3 II can send audio to bluetooth devices.
  • R3 II can receive audio via bluetooth. I have very bad delay with AAC via iPhone, meaning I cannot use R3 II to watch YouTube videos. The audio quality is as expected from AAC. I didn’t try LDAC. In my experience, HiBy OS devices tend to work better with LDAC than AAC.
  • Strong battery life when playing local music. I consistently have two to three days of listening with around 4 to 5 hours a day.
  • Battery drops noticeably faster when streaming TIDAL.
Software issues in the preproduction firmware (HiBy might have fixed these problems in the production version):
  • The screen sometimes hangs after waking the device from sleep. Fixable by sleeping and waking the device again.
  • Clicking on my playlist in Tidal crashed the OS.
  • Album arts must be baseline JPG. Many of my album arts do not show because they are in the progressive JPG format.

Sound Performance​

Neutral tonality: R3II does not add warmth or thickness to the midrange. It does not add the usual glare and brightness that some ESS-based dongles tend to have.

Light note weight: The midbass seems more quiet with R3II in direct comparison against most dongles and DAPs in my collection. The subbass is still presented properly, so R3II is still dynamic and impactful when the music calls for, but it is not weighty.

Detailed: detail retrieval across the frequency is strong. To put in context, the detail of R3II is quite close to Chord Mojo2 and DX300.

Soundstage: when playing spacious orchestral recordings with good IEM, the gap between R3II and the previous generation and some dongles are quite clear. R3II can present proper space between instruments and the listeners, as well as between the instruments themselves. There is also a strong separation between foreground and background. Simply put, whilst R3II does not match a desktop setup or a TOTL DAP like DX300, it does not limit the staging performance of my good IEMs to an unacceptable level that I usually experience with dongles and micro DAPs.

Handling Low-impedance, low-sensitivity IEM (E5000): R3II did a decent job. However, E5000 sounds noticeably small and more congested with R3II comparing to DX300.

Handling high-impedance transducers (TGXear Serratus, 300ohm): The gap between R3II and DX300 was smaller than the E5000 pairing. It seems that R3II has problem with current delivery rather than voltage.


I admit: I didn’t have much expectation when I heard about R3II. However, the device quickly won me over with the portability and sound quality. No, this tiny box does not offer the sound quality that makes my DX300 redundant. However, it does not hinder the soundstage performance of my IEMs significantly whilst being much more compact and pocketable. And that’s what a micro DAP should do.

Absolute Sonic Performance: 3/5 - Good.

Bias score: 4/5 - I am happy to add this device to my rotation.

  • Size
  • Price
  • Battery
  • Good detail retrieval
  • No significant compromise in soundstage
  • Audio latency over AAC connection
  • Album art compatibility issue

Updated: September 16, 2023
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Good detailed review.
I had this one on preorder, but wasn’t confident it wouldn’t be too bright and harsh like the R3 Pro Sabre.
Your experience suggest a major improvement.
How is the navigation, for example if going from Artist, then Album, are the tracks then shown in correct order? I have seen on other HibyOS that the tracks are just alphabetical.
@Sudmanche tracks in album are in the correct order