HiBy R5

General Information

New HiBy R5 Portable Audio Player
Featuring 4.4mm Balanced Output, Android 8.1 Oreo and Snapdragon 425 Processor

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Make/Model: HiBy R5

Operating System: Android 8.1

SoC: Snapdragon 425

No. of CPU Cores: 4

CPU Max Frequency: 1.4GHz

DAC: CS43198 x 2

Input Method: Touchscreen

WIFI: 5GHz/2.4GHz, supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n protocols

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2

USB: Type-C (USB2.0 data rate)

Display Size: 4.0 inches

Colors: 16 million colors

Topology: IPS

Resolution: 540*1080

PPI: 300

Touchscreen: Multitouch


Internal Storage: 16GB

External Storage: Up tp 512GB + via 1 micro SD card

Buttons : 6 physical buttons

Buttons Definitions: Power/Previous/Pause/Next/Volume Up/Volume Down

Headphone Out: 3.5mm

Balanced Headphone Out: 4.4mm

Line Out: 3.5mm LO

Balanced Out: 4.4mm LO

Digital Out: SPDIF (USB out)


Colors: Black/Gray/Gold

Dimensions: 107.7*61.2*15.6mm

Weight: 160g

Headphone Impedance Range: 16~300Ω

EQ Adjustments: 10 bands (±12dB)

Channel Balance: L 10dB to R 10dB

Gain Level: Low / High


Power Supply: 9V/1.5A

Battery: 3500mAh

Charge Time: 2H

Charge Protocol: QC3.0

Firmware Update: Over-the-air update

Text Size: Ajustable

3rd Party Apps: Unrestricted access via Google Play and apk download

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Latest reviews

Pros: Sound
Build quality
Ridiculously low noise floor for such a powerful DAP
Cons: This screen size with a quasi-vanilla Android 8.1
Overall user interface and experience
HiBy Music App
Disclaimer: I have a preference for an open, lush/smooth/warm sound with some definition, texture and soundstage — none to excess. I am not into an analytical or clinical sound. Keep this in mind when reading this review.

· · ·
Although HiBy started as a software company, it is more on the hardware side of things that HiBy has been particularly successful. Since the release of their R6, a plethora of DAPs followed although their flagship — the R6 Pro — caught most of the attention. While their R3 and R3 Pro propose more mainstream alternatives, the recently released R5 boasts amazing features in a package which will fit most hands like a glove.


The R5 is a lush and smooth DAP with excellent soundstage as well as bass. The mids and highs are both there and share the same smoothness as the overall presentation. Unless you’re into analytical, clinical or neutral sound, there is really nothing not to like. The R5 is also a powerful little thing with little to no trade-offs with sensitive IEMs as its noise floor is ridiculously low.


Build quality is surprisingly excellent — the stock pictures really do not do it justice. The design is good. Buttons are pressed with ease but not so easily as to be pressed accidentally in your pocket — particularly when using a leather case such as the one from Dignis. That being said, the fact that the volume buttons are on the other side of the Forward – Play/Pause – Back buttons can lead you to accidentally press buttons you did not intend to.

The Operating System (OS) used is Android 8.1 which is annoying to use on a screen this size and greatly limits the user experience. Does it work? Yes, although the touchscreen quality could be better in terms of reactivity/sensitivity.

The HiBy music app is passable. Issues I have with it are: a lack of reactivity compared to other apps; micro-seconds lost at the beginning of some tracks; as well as, when one changes the volume with the volume buttons, the ability to change the volume via the touchscreen which will make the volume jump to painful levels while you simply wanted to tap on the screen to do anything but this. Some users have and will literally suffer from this — albeit just for a few seconds depending on your reaction time (YMMV ). Again: does it work? Yes, but it should be better, particularly coming from an (ex?) software company.

Last but not least, in terms of connectivity, while I didn’t test the Bluetooth, the Wi-Fi connection worked although it seemed to sometimes struggle.


Sound-wise, both DAPs are close — really close. Here are the main differences I noticed:

· A tiny bit less bass
· Mids a bit more present
· Perhaps more controlled?

· A bit more bass
· Mids a little less present
· Clearly more powerful

Where the ZX300 takes the lead, however, is in terms of user experience — it simply is excellent. With this in mind, the R5 can stream, the ZX300 cannot.


From a purely sonic and hardware perspective, the R5 is a great little player which deserves a solid 4/5. However, the experience is hindered by its software (just look at the firmware and software version numbers); a paradox and shame given that HiBy started as a software company. In a day and age when Apple taught everyone that Hardware + Software = 1, such mistakes should not happen, regardless of the price paid. As far as I am concerned, I will not touch another DAP with streaming capabilities unless it is deeply and properly customized. To each his/her own I guess.

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· · ·​


Source: HiBy R5 / Firmware: R5Int_1.7G_20191209_1627 – Audio effects: none / Music app used: HiBy Music 1.4.5Beta – Official site

  • Campfire Audio Andromeda Special Edition: Gold (silicone tips, medium) with stock Smoky Litz Cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended
  • Dunu Titan 6 (balanced (blue) tips, medium) with stock cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended

  • Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Never Going Back Again
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Iron Maiden, Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark
    Quality: 24-Bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue, California
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Nina Simone, Pastel Blues, Sinnerman (Live In New York/1965)
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here
    Quality: DSD / SACD
  • Plüm, You’re the one, You’re the one
    Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Anji
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, Superstition (Album Version)
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Various Artists, Atlantic Jazz: Soul, Comin’ Home Baby (LP Version)
    Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC


8 hours / No improvement noticed

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I was wondering, is it possible to download musics on the R5 from streaming apps like Spotify and Tidal ? I've seen some DAPs in which streaming is possible but downloading doesn't seem to be .
Yes you can on the R5.
Pros: Build quality
Compact design
Full Android 8 interface, smooth and fast
Balanced 4.4mm
Power & dynamics
Very good sound quality for the price, well rounded and coherent presentation
Battery time
Cons: Included screen protector film
PU Leather case is extra
Maybe not the best treble definition

Website - HiBy


Operating System: Android Oreo 8.1
SoC: Snapdragon 425
No. of CPU Cores: 4
CPU Max Frequency: 1.4GHz
DAC: Cirrus Logic CS43198 x 2
WIFI: 5GHz/2.4GHz, supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n protocols
Bluetooth 4.2
USB: Type-C (2.0)
Display: 4.0 inches; Multi touchscreen
Colors: 16 million colors
Topology: IPS
Resolution: 540*1080
PPI: 300
Internal Storage: 16GB
External Storage: Up to 512GB micro SD card
Headphone Out: 3.5mm
Balanced Headphone Out: 4.4mm
Line Out: 3.5mm LO
Balanced Out: 4.4mm LO
Digital Out: SPDIF (USB out)
Dimensions: 107.7*61.2*15.6mm
Weight: ~160g
Headphone Impedance Range: 16~300Ω
EQ Adjustments: 10 bands (±12dB)
Channel Balance: L 10dB to R 10dB
Gain Level: Low / High
Power Supply: 9V/1.5A
Battery: 3500mAh; up to 18 hours on 3.5mm single-ended and 11 hours runtime on 4.4mm balanced of music playing.
Charge Time: ~2h
Charge Protocol: Quick Charge QC3.0
Over-the-air (OTA) firmware update

Price: $399.

Available in Black, Gray and Gold colors.

The HiBy R5 Pro unit here was arranged by HiBy company for review.

Available directly from the official HiBy R5 page and also from MusicTeck store and Amazon.

The HiBy R5 arrives in a very compact black hassle free cardboard box. Very simple with no images printed on it and just some specifications on the back part. The R5 player is placed on the upper layer inside. Below there are two small boxes that contain a couple of accessories. There is a USB to Type-C cable for charging and data transferring, a small pin to open the memory card tray, a transparent TPU case and extra protector screen films. The TPU fits well the whole player and gives a better grip to it leaving all the buttons uncovered.

The PU leather case is an extra for $24 and available in two dark colors, blue and black. The quality seems to be very good and looks very nice too. It is quite tight, and unlike the TPU clear case it covers more the right and left sides leaving small holes for the buttons. It may give a bit more durability and also won't catch dust around the screen unlike the included case.


The new R5 resembles a lot the R6 Pro, HiBy flagship DAP, and in many ways looks like a minimized version of it at about half the price. It is sharing a so similar layout and same user interface, which is a logical and very positive take from HiBy considering the easy and fast response from the upper model. The R5 may go back to an aluminum made main chassis but then adds more glass parts in a more compact, lighter and elegant design. From the outside, the aluminum is shown on both right and left sides which have now a curved finish making the device look less as a rectangular brick and more as a modern portable smart device. The aluminum material seems thick and solid enough and has a very smooth finish; using the included TPU or getting the optional PU leather case is highly recommended to give a better grip as the metal surface of the player can be too smooth. Both front and back panels are of glass, and also the bottom and top sides. All the buttons are made of aluminum as well and are easy to press. Do note that unlike the TPU case on the R6 Pro, the R5 case does not cover any of the buttons. Dimensions run shorter than any full Android player (just 107.7x61.2x15.6mm) and with a smaller screen of 4” diagonal length the R5 won’t compete against new smartphones, but as a dedicated portable player it is very well built and much more pocket friendly as daily audio device.

The layout follows the R6 Pro with minor changes. The left side has the same volume buttons on the upper part and the concealed micro SD slot tray in the middle. Opening the tray is possible with the included pin tool, and it’s much less tight than on the R6 Pro which required extra effort to remove. The R5 rates a supported capacity of up to 512GB cards which are the highest available on the market right now. Haven’t tried higher memory cards, but as usual my 128GB Samsung EVO Plus of 128GB worked with zero issues.

Similarly, the right side holds the four other physical buttons. Upper one is for power and screen button featuring the same LED light that indicates different player status and file quality. Of course, the LED light can be set off under the settings menus. Below are the three smaller buttons for playback, previous/back, play/pause and next/forward. Volume and playback buttons can be set to work or not when screen is off.

The bottom side concentrates all the available input and output ports, leaving the upper side in blank. The two audio ports are placed on the corners, standard 3.5mm stereo output to the left and 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced to the right, already introduced with the R6 Pro. There is no dedicated line-out, coaxial/spdif port, as both 3.5mm and 4.4mm double as audio and line-out ports that can be selected under the audio settings. In the middle there is the USB Type-C port for charging (supporting Quick charge 3.0) and data transferring and for the digital/spdif output and DAC (in/out) functions.

The compact size of the R5 means the LCD screen has been shrunk to 4”, versus the 4.2” of the R6. It is still of good quality featuring a full 2.5D glass panel that now occupies the whole front panel, and despite the lowered resolution and density it offers very good viewing angle, sharp and vivid colors and high brightness. It may be difficult to pick out from the photos, but next to the R6 Pro the color hue and temperature are a bit different; the R5 is a bit brighter while R6 Pro is smoother and more natural. Unless it would be used for playing long videos and complex games then the screen quality is very good for a compact smart device.

For inner audio hardware the R5 switches to a Cirrus Logic dual CS43198 DAC. A new take from side HiBy as the R3 and R6s all implemented Sabre ESS dac chips. The CS43198 does not offer any digital audio filters or the Tonality options either, though hardly could be considered a disadvantage considering the so minor changes those offer if any at all. On paper, output power rates high enough, and indeed is quite impressive for a compact and much pocket-friendly audio device. The great Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor is kept only lowering the RAM capacity to 2GB, and still performs just as good. Internal storage memory, however, is cut to a limited amount of 16GB which in practice allows about 10GB for user storage; pretty much the only downside, fixable by extra micro SD card. Nevertheless, system speed and responsiveness is very fast with no lags and delays even handling various apps simultaneously.

User Interface & Software

R5 runs on Android Oreo 8.1, same as R6 Pro. So apart from the playback and volume controls everything is controlled through the full touchscreen. Android 9 Pie might have been nicer to have since the R5 release was on 2019, but only for the sake of carrying the “upgrade” tag, otherwise there is nothing missing on the 8.1 for portable audio use. The international R5 version arrives with preinstalled Google Play, giving access to pretty much any compatible app. Combined with the fast Qualcomm processor the system runs very fast and accurate. Navigating through multiple menus or long file lists is very smooth with no lags. Despite the lower 2GB of RAM it runs practically as good as the R6 Pro. Audio and system settings all are pretty much self-explanatory, with just are the usual extra options under the Audio settings. Screen response is very good too, however, the preinstalled screen protector film may affect this a bit; it also catches a lot of fingertips and some dust around the borders. On HiBy they are already aware of this issue, and while removing the film should help in this regard, applying a better screen film would make a safer solution.

There are no extra applications installed on the device only the own HiBy Music App, main music player application. Easy to use and presents the usual various categories for music files sorting by folder, album, artist, etc. The audio settings menu is accessible by the left icon. There are multiple basic and more complex playing options, including a different EQ presets and a wide range of custom EQ of 10 bands (31Hz to 16kHz and -12 to +12 dB). And of course, the more interesting EQ feature, the MageSound 8-ball DSP effect, or MSEB, the own HiBy popular parametric equalizer. HiBy Link and USB DAC settings are found here as well.

Below are some screenshots of the Android platform and HiBy Music App:

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Wireless features – Bluetooth & WiFi

Bluetooth on the R5 is still of same 4.2 version supporting the higher audio quality codecs like AptX HD, LDAC and HWA. Bluetooth 5.0 would have been a better take considering new players from the competition are starting to implement the latest BT version. Even so, HiBy have applied their own new UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission), a codec advertised to be of even higher quality than LDAC; the only catch is that is still very new and currently supported only with the own W5 and more recent W3 BT receivers. Moreover, the R5 supports now two-way Bluetooth meaning it works both as transmitter and as receiver including in LDAC codec and work as wireless Amp/DAC with balanced 4.4mm – R6 Pro now allows this two-way BT feature (with last current firmware). Anyway, Bluetooth transmission is solid with the R5 even with standard codec and 4.2v BT earphones. The only issue is that the volume may jump too drastically so disabling the player volume when under BT should be recommended. Of course, HiBy Link feature is available as well, accessed from the HiBy Music App, what allows to control the music directly from a smart phone or other devices.

For Wi-Fi it supports dual band 2.4/5GHz. Not much to comment here, it works; the transmission is solid and speed is decent as for web navigation or streaming. Pretty much as decent as any standard smartphone. Firmware update is done through Wi-Fi too.


Battery capacity is of 3500mAh, lower than the 4000 on the R6 Pro, but then quite good for the more compact design, and more importantly, the battery time runs higher. Rated as up to 18 and 11 hours out from the single and balanced outputs, respectively, and while in practice it is difficult to accurately test it, the R5 definitely holds a very good battery time. Especially, for the balanced option with such powerful output and running under full Android platform, the R5 is one of the very few players to get close the 10 hours of playback on balanced mode. Charging time is decent, and the supported QC 3.0 is an advantage.

Sound Impressions

Sources used for comparison: Shanling M5s, HiBy R6 Pro, iBasso DX220 & DX120, Fiio M6, xDuoo XD-10 (Poke)
iBasso IT04, Dunu DK-3001 Pro, final B1, Sendy Audio Aiva; and for more critical listening the qdc Anole VX, Fusion and Dita Audio Twins

For the new, and more affordable, portable player which could be considered as a mid-tier (or at least low mid-tier), HiBy implements a Cirrus DAC chip. It may still sit below the Sabre ESS chips on the R6/R6 Pro but very good on its own. A different take as well from other similar priced DAPs that use AKM chips for example (Shanling M5s and FiiO M11). However, the actual audio performance it is not to be judged by just the hardware audio converter or other single components but from the whole implementation and tuning.

The HiBy R5 fits quite well its price tag for the current options in the market; taking the FiiO M6 or iBasso DX120 options as reference, the R5 is better sounding overall, but not up there with twice priced flagships such as the R6 Pro or iBasso DX220, and yet compares well to its closer competitor Shanling M5s.

The sound presentation of the R5 could be described as rather neutral and fairly balanced. However, that’s something that could match many other players and yet the R5 would be different to them. It’s more about the weight, tonality, highlights and dynamic range of the player that marks the difference and similarities between each other. (Dedicated comparisons will be mentioned afterwards).

With equalization and MSEB options set to off, the R5 keeps a rather neutral tuning, not emphasizing a certain range and not missing anything either. However, the balance and neutrality are not perceived presented in a flat, linear reference-like way where notes tend to sound lean or too clinical. The sound is presented with very good weight from lows to highs and in a right amount, avoiding being too thick. As result, the R5 may put less priority in having the total transparency in favor of a bit more musicality which is always welcomed for a portable player. The speed is very good too, and while being less analytical the R5 stands out a bit more in dynamics of the sound. I don’t find it as ‘fun’ sounding as the DX120 which has more weight and shimmering treble, but on the other hand it has a bit more weighty and engaging sound than the M5s. the bass is rather linear from the sub-bass notes with a clean and controlled mid-bass that adds no coloration to the midrange. Layering and separation are very good and shows very decent depth as well. The midrange positioning is very neutral. It is not thin, but can be a bit dry and may lack forwardness for some. Instruments separation is sharp enough but then is missing some richness and emotion on vocals.

The treble reminds more of the R6 Pro from the balanced 4.4mm output where it is more balanced, rather than the single-ended 3.5mm that can be more reference tuned with brighter gain. There is enough energy and fair extension on the treble. Quality is good, but not best. It is not completely smooth and controlled; not too forgiving or sibilance free either with just a bit unnatural tonality. Overall resolution is still very good, at least well set for the price, and so is the level of detail. Micro details may not be put as a primary priority but the R5 is nothing laid-back or dull sounding. Soundstage too, scales right for the price tag; spacious but not expansive but or narrow either. It is more noticed when paired with more higher-end gears, like the Anole VX and Dita Twins, but with the likes of IT04 and other mid-fi the stage is well rounded in all dimensions.

Driving power is actually impressive on the R5. Considering the compact size of the device it runs quite efficiently even on more power demanding portable gears, like the final E5000 or Dita Twins which are set with a lower sensitivity. On single-ended output the volume requirement is almost the same as with the R6 Pro, while with the 4.4mm balanced output there is about extra 10 steps needed to match the R6 Pro. Either way it is good enough, and the R5 still holds a longer battery time with a very dark background and low noise floor.

The switch from single to balanced end mainly brings more output power but the signature is pretty much kept the same. The gain is the usual deal, better separation and more distinctive right and left channels, more sense of space and air. The R5 may not be suited for very high demanding headphones, however, it surprisingly shows a very nice synergy with the Sendy Aiva which is a fairly effective planar set, and personally I can find it more likeable than with the R6 Pro as it shows more weight on the bass and forward mids with a less aggressive treble. On the other hand, for more sensitive in-ear models, the balanced output is less recommended – the extra power is reflected in a more v-shaped sound. The DK-3001 Pro, for example, is more natural from the 3.5mm output but gets too extra bass and treble that puts the midrange recessed if switching to the 4.4mm port.


Shanling M5s

The M5s is probably the direct rival of the R5 I have to compare right now (or at least until Shanling release the M6). Both go for a similar price and share similar physical dimensions and weight. Differences start on the layout, the R5 having dedicated buttons for volume while the M5s continues the small wheel which doubles for power and screen functions. Touch screen on both and fast system response. The non-Android based M5s is still too sensitive and scrolling through menus and list can be too fast, less accurate, while the full Android 8 on the R5 with a great Snapdragon processor brings a much smoother and friendly interface. Balanced output on both and multiple features as well.

Sound wise, differences are not huge, but from a critical A/B comparison the M5s is still more neutral and linear, less dynamic but a bit wider in stage. Bass is smaller in quantities and impact with less rumble, a bit more forward midrange, smoother treble but more refined and natural. R5 puts more weight and has a more dynamic sound. Bass is more solid and deeper, a thicker midrange too, and sizzling treble, but not as controlled. More depth in stage and less width. In terms of power they are both very similar, and when paired with the same headphones they both require about same volume levels.

FiiO M6

For greater portability the M6 is still a strong option that is still Android based (even though being a customized version), with various Wi-Fi streaming apps and excellent Bluetooth quality. The HiBy R5 means a jump in price and still offers a compact portable solution, with a full and faster Android system, that works just a small tablet. In sound matters, the M6 is more reserved in power, with less extension in bass and highs and a more forward and sweeter midrange. However, it makes a good reference of how well the R5 is placed for its price range, starting for the soundstage that is more expansive, deeper and extended. Resolution, detail and speed are clearly higher as well. Power is much higher on the R5 and even greater out of the balanced output, making a clearer all-rounder device for both sensitive to more demanding sets with less need of external amplification.

HiBy R6 Pro

The R5 keeps the same user interface, wired and wireless features in just compact and lighter form factor. While build quality is tougher on the R6 Pro with all stainless steel chassis, the R5 is still as solid, especially considering the half price of HiBy's flagship. Despite the lower memory of only 16GB and less RAM of 2GB, the R5 shares the same Snapdragon processor chip 425 and the performance is almost as great.

For sound quality, the R6 Pro shows noticeable differences between single and balanced outputs – more linear, reference type presentation and a tad brighter sound on single-end, while fuller, more balanced and musical sound on the balanced option. As mentioned, the R5 doesn’t present the major sound differences from single to balanced, but more power and greater dynamics keeping a same signature overall. Again, R5 is closer in sound presentation to the R6 Pro. Improvements in sound on the R6 Pro are clearly noticed. The R6 has more extension, better resolution and control. It puts more weight on notes too, however, it does not sound thicker or heavier as the R6 is more spacious and layered. With less treble emphasis the midrange is more present on the R5 while the R6 Pro is more energetic and a bit leaner. While R6 has the greater treble quality and higher-end resolution it is less forgiving with brighter sets; R5 is smoother, just not as refined.

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iBasso DX160 (soon)

Brief impressions with different earphones

R5 & final B1

A more dark sounding presentation. Solid, fuller bass response with good depth and strong mid-bass power (not overwhelming). Thicker midrange with more forward vocals, more focus on male voices while female voices sound smoother, lacking some brightness. Treble is laid-back, not particularly rolled-off, but could be missing some energy and air. Very coherent soundstage. The jumps in volume from on the R5 are very smooth with the B1, thanks to its lower sensitivity versus other low impedance hybrids, and even on higher volume the B1 remains all smooth and forgiving.

R5 & iBasso IT04 (2.5mm with 4.4mm adapter)

If compared to the R6 Pro, with R5 the IT04 gains a more forward midrange, a more limited sub-bass extension but still strong mid-bass power. Treble is smoother and more forgiving. Stage is not as wide but keeps good depth and resolution with a bit less detail retrieval. Compared to the Shanling M5s, there is also less width but more depth, a little more bass density if a bit less speed and articulation, midrange is a tad less forward, treble almost identical.


The new HiBy R5 is easy to consider as another all-rounder device. It is compact and very well built, excellent for everyday portable use with a full Android interface that runs very fast and smooth. Battery time is very good as well and the R5 brings plenty of power with the balanced 4.4mm output. Sound wise, it is well balanced and weighted, presenting very good dynamics with a level of detail and coherent soundstage, well matching its suggested price.
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Pros: Great form factor
Nice screen
4.4mm balanced and USB-C Quick Charge support
Google Play Store!
Bypass Android Resampling
Cons: No volume wheel

This is a quick review of the latest Digital Audio Player (DAP) by chinese brand Hiby. The R5 is the third player from the, originally, software company Hiby. They started making digital audio players with their R6 and R3 and more recently the R6 Pro. This latest R5 takes many of the lessons learned of the R6/R6 Pro, and shrinks it down into a more pocketable experience in the R5.

I pre-ordered the Hiby R5 through Hiby's website and it finally arrived at the beginning of last week. I've since used this player quite often and have been rather happy with it so far! As some background, I have used several portable players in the past, starting with the old Walkman cassette decks, to Discmans and Panasonic CD players, to the Sony MiniDisc, to iPods, Creative Zens, and others down the line. Most recently, in terms of Android-based players, I've owned and extensively have used both the Pioneer XDP-300R and Astell & Kern A&Norma SR15. I've also had several weeks of use with the Fiio M6, M9 and M11 DAPs.

So where to start? Let's take a look at it's basic features. The R5 has a very nice looking 4 inch screen, which covers most of the front surface, leaving a little bezel on the top, sides and a slightly larger bezel on the bottom. The rectangular candy bar style device, has rounded edges and all the ports are on the bottom.

The player features USB-C data and charging port, which is a standard nowadays, despite my relatively new SR15 having microUSB (!!). The R5 also has a single-ended 3.5mm stereo jack and a 4.4mm balanced jack, which is different than what I've been accustomed to in portable players. Most players have had 2.5mm balanced jacks, but recently the 4.4mm trend that Sony started has caught on.

The R5 features two Cirrus Logic CS43198 DAC and can power up to 1W at 16Ohm using the balanced connection. I never found power to be an issue with IEMs I threw at it and it was able to play some of my normal headphones quite fine. The player also contains a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor which is a budget-tier phone CPU, but given the lack of significant multi-tasking and phone-needs for this type of device, it's plenty snappy for what this purpose is.

The player also features 2GB of RAM which is a little less than I'd like, but I found it does a perfectly fine job. It's not as fast as the Fiio M11, or Pioneer XDP-300R, and nowhere near as my Galaxy S10 phone, but it does the job. There's a little bit of slow caching of album art using the Hiby music player in navigation screens, but I never had much issues with loading album art in Poweramp.

That said, I did find some clicky sounds with using Poweramp, which is a third-party music player that I prefer. I found that increasing the buffer size helped remove this issue and haven't experienced it since a firmware upgrade.

In general, I found the player to be quite slick, and love the way it's sized and feels. I do miss not having a volume wheel like my previous players had, but the volume buttons are nice, large, and round and easy to use.

I find the Hiby R5 to be relatively neutral sounding, but with a splash of warmth. It also isn't quite as airy as say the M11 or XDP-300R, and nowhere near as mid-luscious as the SR15. It's just a nice balance of sound between all the players I had before, while still retaining the good detail retrieval I found on the SR15, and not the flabbiness of the M11 or the sterileness of the XDP-300R.

I think in general, I find the bass to be well layered and detailed, with a good amount of punch and well controlled. The mids are relatively smooth and are as they should sound, while the treble is airy, but not overly bright, and I end up liking this player just the way it sounds.

With an IEM like the qdc Anole VX, which is an aggressive detail monster, I was a little nervous on how it would sound given that it matches so well with the mid-centric SR15 and it's warm, detailed mid-range and tight, tight bass. It's lacking a little bit in the treble/air department, which works really well in an IEM like the VX.

Luckily, the treble is tamed enough that I don't find the VX overly aggressive. This was great news to me since I am actually quite happy to say that the VX sounds just fine and dandy on the R5.


A&K SR15
The SR15 is my other "current" DAP and I love it to pieces. It's got a unique shape that ends up being amazingly ergonomic, and a great volume wheel and fun tilted screen that ends up being quite useful. The player has just flat out great mid-range and tight bass response that is definitely on the colored sound type of spectrum than the R5. That said, the R5 has just enough warmth to it that it's not sterile and I find that it's a good blend to have. I still really dig the SR15's overall sound though, as it is tuned so well to be a great musical experience and extremely enjoyable.

The SR15 is a little laggy though, especially when you just turn it on, or have an app open while switching back to the main player. It's limited RAM and weaker CPU really shows it with some really random slowdowns. It's still faster than say the Fiio M6/M9, but it can be frustrating. The R5 is much, much faster and that's a great thing. I do miss the volume wheel though and that's a hardware feature I wish the R5 had.


Pioneer XDP-300R
The XDP-300R is quite sterile in my opinion, and it's a good reference DAP for that purpose. It's also very large and has a nice large screen and build that is amazing. The 300R is very fast despite being an older player, but does run an older Android 5.1 OS. The volume wheel is also on the 300R and not on the R5.

Both run Google Play store which allows for installing any android app on the market, which is quite handy. The 300R is a tad brighter sounding, and it's bass is lacking the oomph you get with the R5. In terms of sound, I really prefer the R5 over it.

Fiio M11
The M11 is the largest of the bunch I am doing the comparisons to. It's also the fastest, by quite a bit , of the players. The build on it is excellent and it also has a nice volume wheel. Where it is lacking is not having the Google Play store, but it can have side-loaded apps like the SR15, and without restrictions unlike the SR15 has.

The M11's sound has similar mids and maybe just a touch more bright treble that makes it sound more airy. The bass on the M11, however, really lacked detail, layering, and texture, and I found it was rather uncontrolled and a little flabby in comparison to the other three. The output of the headphone jacks were also audibly hissy, which does not make them a good match for BA-driven IEMs and especially the more sensitive ones from Campfire and Shure.

At the end of the day, I am keeping the Hiby R5 as my choice DAP for now. It's the best size, performance, sound, and feature combination of the players I have used and I haven't had any major issues with it so far. I'm really digging it and it's price of $399 is just right.
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alexandros a
alexandros a
Well nice review very informative, while I am still puzzled between R5 & DX160 (I am on the lookout for a new dap nowadays)
What do you think?
299 dollars (current price) or 100 more for DX160?
alexandros a
alexandros a
Thanks for the info man