HiBy R6

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. faceestrella
    Hiby R6 - The Midrange Maestro
    Written by faceestrella
    Published Jun 4, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Touch warm spacious and detailed sound, Bit perfect audio for other apps, Open android, Fast smooth UI, gorgeous screen, black background
    Cons - High output impedance, Needs an iFi IEMatch or similar attenuator to fully unlock the flexibility, Hiby app still has bugs. 32GB built in memory
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    Introduction: Hiby Music, a company that for years has been designing a music player app for phones and a full player platform for DAPs, one day decided that it would breach the software-hardware demarcations and build its own music player, this project is 2 years in the making and is now about done with the crowd funding campaign and is almost ready to take the world by storm. This is the Hiby R6, “The Most Advanced Android Hi-Fi Player” let’s see what Hiby has managed to bring to the table with their first offering that is served right in the "sweet spot" of the mid range market at $569 for aluminum and $649 for the Stainless Steel.

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    Specifications:
    Dual ESS ES9028Q2M DACs
    Dual OPA1612 and Dual TPA6120 Amps
    32-bit/384kHz format support & Native DSD
    Snapdragon 425 Processor (4x1.4gHz)
    3GB RAM (DDR3) and 32GB Storage
    Expandable for up to 2TB (tested on 400GB)
    Dual-Band Wifi (2.4G/5G)
    Bluetooth 4.0 with apt-X
    Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
    DTA (Direct Transport Architecture)
    Bit-perfect output (bypassing Android SRC)
    4.2 inch 300dpi 768X1280 Touchscreen
    Arc-shaped 316L High-impact Stainless Steel CNC Body
    Supports Line out and coaxial digital output
    4000Mah Battery (with 12 hour battery life)
    3.5mm, 2.5mm and line-out/coax outputs
    USB-C with Quick Charge 3.0
    USB DAC functionality and transport

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    Packaging: The Hiby R6 comes in a black cardboard box reminiscent of boxes for most modern mobile phones. The box is sturdy with the Hiby logo embossed on the front and the R6 specifications printed on in the back. Opening the box reveals the player packaged in soft plastic in a foam carrier, and underneath it you would find the rest of the accessories, and literature like instruction manual and warranty card. Everything is packaged nicely and most of the things are wrapped in soft plastic to avoid scuffs or scratches in transport.

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    Accessories: The base R6 has a few basic bundled items, a pin ejector for the Micro SD card, a USB A to USB C charging cable, the cable is black and sheathed in fabric but remains pliable and the connectors are quite sturdy, a line out cable, thicker but like the USB cable it’s sheathed in fabric and retains a nice flexibility with quality connectors. There are also 2 screen protectors one is tempered glass and the other is standard plastic, though Hiby says the R6 comes pre-applied with a screen protector at the factory, so you have 2 spares. Finally, there is a simple jelly style silicone case that while simple fits the unit well and does its job in protecting the player from scuffs and scratches; though a leather case is available as an add on option. Something to note though is that due to the curved nature of the screen borders the screen protectors will never fill the glass front completely.

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    Build Quality: I chose the grey aluminum variant as I preferred aluminums light weight over stainless steel. The R6 body is the familiar glass-metal-glass sandwich that has become the norm for mobile phones in the last few years, albeit a little thicker. The front houses a 4.2-inch 1280 x 768 screen, topped of with 2.5D curved glass and minimal bezels. Right underneath the screen is an aluminum chin with the Hiby logo and a Hi-Res sticker. Moving on the sides of the unit we have 3 ports on the top, a 3.5mm line out port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 2.5mm 4 pole balanced port. On the left-hand side, we have 2 volume buttons and the location of the lone Micro SD slot. On the right is where you will find the power button and status LED, forward backward and play-pause buttons as well. Finally, on the bottom you will find the USB C port. On the back is a full black backed glass panel with the Hiby logo and device information, much like most phones you’d see today.

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    Build quality of the R6 spans from good to great, where the front and back glass meet the chassis you will find close to no gaps and smooth transition and curves at the corners of the screen. The main part of the chassis sports smooth aluminum machining highlighted especially in the top and bottom areas where the aluminum body curves inward to give some relief space for the ports and the port cutouts themselves showing very smooth cutouts for both the USB and analogue ports. The buttons all feel good with nice tactile feedback though the buttons have slight wobble in their default position.

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    Screen: The Hiby R6’s 4.2inch screen is quite simply a delight. At its size and resolution, it hits the ~300DPI sweet spot for most handheld devices for a smooth viewing experience. Resolution however is only one part of the story, the screen boasts wonderful color response, and black levels leading it to being one of the best screens on a DAP I have seen, even more so in this price range, rivaled only by the Pioneer/Onkyo DAPs. There isn’t much backlight bleed to speak of, and while it only has average peak brightness it manages good sunlight legibility and fantastic color visuals, although it has a slight warm cast. This high-quality screen renders album art and the navigation beautifully and, in a pinch, will do perfectly fine for watching streamed video so long as the size is no issue.

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    UI: One of the biggest selling points of the Hiby R6 was both it’s Snapdragon 425 SoC and the 3GB of ram it has packed in. That combo and the software work Hiby has done under the hood has lead to the absolute smoothest UI I have ever used in an Android DAP. Navigation through the familiar android UI is effortless, lag and stutter free in almost all regular usage scenarios whether it is swiping through menus and screens, switching apps, or pulling down the main tray. It can also handle the bevy of day to day apps we can use from social media like Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Spotify it handles them with relative ease even with multiple aps running multitasked. All told the Hiby boasts performance that while not on par with 2018 flagship phones which cost nearly double its price, it’s still miles ahead other DAPs and should be the benchmark for mid and high-end DAPs from here on out.


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    Android Implementation: Hiby decided to go with an open Android 6 implementation on the R6 this giving user the ability to access the Google Play Store and the opportunity to download each and every app under the sun without the need to sideload apps and offering that extra bit of security getting your APKs from a more trusted source entail. There are other DAPs that do this however, so what sets the R6 apart is what Hiby calls DTA or Direct Transport Audio, the reason being that Android natively has what is called SRC or Sample Rate Conversion, essentially this means that audio coming out of an Android device gets resampled to 48kHz, either resampling 44.1kHz audio or downsampling higher sample rates, so this renders open Android platforms moot right?
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    Well most manufacturers get around this by getting their built-in player to bypass the SRC or having dual boot functionality with pure audio modes being available. What Hiby did was something different, they managed to bypass SRC on a wider near system wide scale, meaning whatever audio you’re playing from almost all apps comes out at native sample rates. So, what does this mean for end users? Well DTA plus the open platform gives users unrivaled flexibility in using the R6 not only unlocking its use with current and possibly future Hi-Res streaming platforms, but to also give the user their pick in app, you’re not stuck with the Hiby player if it’s not your cup of tea, the HiFi player apps out there are now yours to access and make the most use of. This freedom of choice is refreshing in the DAP market, and quite surprising coming from Hiby since they pride themselves in their player.

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    Hiby Music App: The stock audio player pre-installed with the R6 is feature rich, with some features being unique to the R6, while suffering from certain bugs that while not something rendering the app unusable is present enough to take note of. First let’s talk about the basic features, the Hiby Music app has the usual selection of sorting via song title, memory folder, album, artist, as well as genre, these are all about as expected though when using the artist tab, it’s noteworthy that you always default to alphabetical list of all the songs, an option to default to the album selection within the artist would be nice. Once you’re playing music you get a nice screen with the album art, the forward and back, play pause, and the Hiby special circular progress bar. Aside from that the song info is displayed, shuffle and repeat options shown and an option to pull a quick tab for the rest of the songs in the playlist. Swiping to the right once brings you a lyric pane and twice a full file info pane, there is also a 10-band equalizer with the usual presets.
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    Now for the interesting bit, what Hiby calls Mage Sound Eight Ball or MSEB and its really interesting software tweak that instead of an EQ that classifies by frequencies classifies items into sounds you want to accentuate or attenuate, dark vs bright tonality, bass extension, texture, sibilance, etc. that really provides a different way to fine tune the sound and for those who are into EQ and other DSP tweaks, this is a cool idea with a great implementation. As for the downsides of the app, the software in charge of obtaining lyrics and album art online is unreliable at best, sometimes getting me art where I can’t seem to find any real connection to the album or artist in question. And another album art problem is that the app can fail to pick up on album art that is already stored in the folder. A firmware update has mitigated but not totally eliminated this issue.

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    Sound: The sound of the Hiby R6 has a duality in it. I’ll discuss more about on it below, but a short version is that due to the relatively high output impedance the R6 has, devices sensitive to this will have an altered sound, usually a reduction in the bass region making the overall signature of IEMs seem brighter.
    To get the best idea of the sound I tested the R6 with multiple IEMs ranging from the iBasso IT01 to the Campfire Audio Andromeda and HiFiMan HE-400i among others. The testing was done volume matched to within as close as tolerances allow. The base tonality of the R6 skews slightly on the warm sound, but nothing drastic, a slight boost in low end at most.

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    The slight warmth lends to a full sounding bass response with impressive extension and a texture that tends to bring out “emotion” in music all the while not losing out in resolution as some players do. This full-bodied approach is carried over into the mids, again with a little emphasis so that vocals in particular won’t sound anemic or dry. Again, seemingly recurring theme with the R6. The tonality is bookended by what is by and large neutral treble that doesn’t accentuate harshness in what you’re listening to. Staging on the R6 is impressive providing good width that has a little more edge in depth, though not disproportionately so, and neither having an artificial feeling, giving a natural and accurate perception with regards to imaging when listening to music.
    Technical aspects are good with the R6 showing quite capable of proper detail retrieval and not having any frequency range losing resolution. Amplification wise the R6 packs in 120mW and 300mW of power on unbalanced and balanced respectively, more than enough to run IEMs and proving capable of powering headphones that are moderately power hungry. The background is very dark, providing no hiss on almost every test situation especially when Wifi was turned off, so even sensitive gear is right at home noise wise.


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    Now let’s talk output impedance shall we. The R6 packs 10 ohms, that’s a pretty high number especially these days. So why does it matter? It’s because of the interaction between the input impedance (IEMs/headphones) and output impedance (amp/DAP), because frequency response changes occur when the output impedance is close to the input impedance. So naturally we’d want higher impedance gear to pair with the R6 so that the attenuation of bass doesn’t happen, so why then does other gear not seem to be impacted the same way? Because the impedance of earphones is not actually fixed but varies throughout the frequency curve and because, and especially with multi driver the impedance curve is different for every IEM.
    Single drivers, dynamics in particular usually have more linear impedance responses therefore is more uniformly affected by the R6, and if they’re all affected the same it balances it out. But once you add more drivers, the more sensitive multi-BA style it gets tricky because every driver could have different impedance ratings and now a change in one drivers output can greatly affect how you hear the signature. So, it’s a lot of uncertainty out of the box. A simple, but not free solution is to buy an IEMatch from ifi it’s a dongle that works well and essentially eliminates all the issues related to the output impedance of the R6. Generally, it will bring back the signature of whatever affected gear you are listening to, and if you are one of those who have many multi BA IEMs it will be your best buddy.

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    Conclusion: The Hiby R6 has a lot going for it. It has a great price, great form factor, great screen, great UI and usability, great sound, even some great secret sauce with the DTA and the MSEB. It has a lot of great things working for it but is marred by some software issues within the app, that with proper support will be patched sooner rather than later, and a hardware design choice that adds an extra step than you need to for it to be fully flexible, something that no amount of software updates will fix. However overall, it’s a device that checks a lot of boxes and falls short in others.
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    But at the price it was offered up for on Indiegogo at somewhere between $400 to $500 depending on the variant and how early of a backer you were it really is hard to beat. But with the $569 and $649 at retail, you understand that you aren’t getting a top of the line device, yet it has a combined feature set and sound that can go toe-to-toe or even beat some of the pricier options in the market and essentially beats everything else around or below it as an overall package. So is the Hiby R6 perfect? A world beater? No. But it sure is a winner, and other DAP manufacturers could learn a thing or two from the R6. It's definitely worth the money and I can't wait for the next thing Hiby has brewing.

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      hqssui likes this.
  2. Dobrescu George
    Hiby R6 - True Android Power
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published May 26, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Clean Sound, PRaT/ADSR, Price, Detail, Build Quality, Large and Bright Display, Usable Outdoors, Battery Life, Software stability and reliability, Customizable Sound in the Hiby APP, Great Support from Hiby, Really good driving power, solid device through and through
    Cons - High output imedance can cause issues with some IEMs
    Hiby R6 - True Android Power

    Hiby R6 is the first DAP (Digital Audio Player) from Hiby. It comes with a smartphone-grade CPU, and a lot of processing power for a smoother overall GUI and system. We're going to look into the other aspects of it, including its sonic abilities and ergonomics, along with how much this improved CPU affects music listening.

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    Introduction

    Hiby has been the company behind FiiO DAPs (they used to make the firmware for FiiO in the days of the early FiiO X5, X5ii, X3, X3ii), and Hiby still is the company behind some amazing devices, like Cayin N5ii, which we reviewed recently, and a lot of other Chinese DAPs. What makes them so capable as a firmware developer is their experience, they have been doing this for many years and gained great experience in it, and nowadays they also make an app for Android based on their expertise, app which we will study as well in this review. Besides their excellent overall firmware and informational support, Hiby is supported by Joe Bloggs who takes care of service and customer interaction, a well-known music enthusiast who always offered a great amount of help to this growing community.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Hiby, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Hiby or anyone else. I'd like to thank Hiby for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with Hiby's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Hiby R6. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Hiby R6 find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    On the packaging side, Hiby R6 looks modest. The package is very complete and includes all the accessories you could need to enjoy it, but the package itself is not very flashy, a typical black cardboard box which seems similar to those used with 100$ Chinese IEMs. It is fairly sturdy though, and will offer great protection to R6 while it is in shipping. This might actually be for the better as it might help you have an easier time with the customs process when receiving R6, and having to pay less customs, so we like Hiby's choice of including a basic yet very practical package.

    Once you open the package, though, you are met with the true greatness that Hoby R6 is. The DAP comes with high quality screen protectors applied on both its front and back, the front being a large display, while the back is made of glass and looks quite good in person. There is a high-quality USB Type-C cable, and a few other accessories that will surely come in handy to users, like the Coax cable which is also of a very good quality, although we have to be honest and accept that we haven't used it quite that much, as it is too long for a portable usage.

    There is a rubber case included with Hiby R6 and it is pretty nice, and there is an extra screen protector as well.

    Hiby also makes a high quality leather case that you can buy, but we didn't feel very enthusiastic about its color, as it is blue. While it will surely work well for some, and while it is of very high quality and it protects very well from any kind of shock, blue isn't exactly the most sleek or easy color.

    All in all, the package content of R6 is quite good, you get most things you will ever need with a DAP, you get high quality accessories, a spare screen protector, and there just isn't anything we could have asked for or we felt would have been welcome with R6.



    What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAP

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

    (Taken from Hiby Official)

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    Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

    In buld quality, it is actually one of the most solid DAPs we had the honor to hold in our hands to date. It is made from one piece of metal, with a thick glass screen that ensures excellent amounts of protection, there is no bending, no twisting, it is solid as a rock.

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    Aesthetically, we have the black version, and it is a sleek device with slightly rounded corners, and with a very ergonomic overall fit in hand. The weight is okay for a portable, not too heavy, not too light, the size is good, although we'd prefer having a device with an ever larger display. While we can totally see the cover art and explore our favorite music with R6, we feel that actually using it for typing when searching for music is not quite that comfortable, but then again, our reference is a 6.44" Xiaomi Mi Max 2, so maybe the whole point is unfair.

    The UI is where things are really interesting, basically, Hiby made themselves a DAP that has the backbone of an upper midrange smartphone. By this, we mean all the power, from Streaming to Youtube to playing games. The CPU behind this magic is the Snapdragon 425, which we knew from having used smartphones rocking it. Considering how much of the base Android is stripped from R6, the 425 from Snapdragon is actually more than enough for a Digital Audio Player, and we generally didn't find ourselves complaining about speed with any device, R6 is really nice to use.

    We had no issues with the Wifi signal, we were able to use R6 and stream Masa Works Design Youtube videos while on the Subway, and we even could play games on the mighty little R6. It is possible to see a new horizon of possibilities that you never knew existed when using R6, but we'd like to note that when it comes to a DAP, the most important aspect of it still remains the sonic ability.

    The firmware provided by Hiby, is, as expected, rock solid. There have been no issues, no hangups, and no overall problems with the usage of R6, although we should note that our test consists of Redbook FLAC files only, no DSD, but we tested its ability to act as a transport, and to provide all other kids of usage scenarios, and it passed all our tests with flying colors.

    What we found out that you can do with R6:

    Listen to music
    Enjoying the said music
    Browsing music
    Watching Youtube Videos
    Streaming Music
    Using it as a transport for an external DAC/AMP like FiiO Q5
    Playing mobile games
    Having a fluid experience through and through
    Changing the volume while the display is turned off
    Using most apps for listening to music to listen to music
    Browse between apps as it has those 3GB of RAM
    Read your mails

    You can always expand this list with your usage scenario, but unless Masa Works Design or Utsu-P will have DSD versions of their music, we feel that we can't speak of R6's DSD abilities yet, although, Hiby sports them in the specs, so R6 will clearly play them just well.

    Other things we noticed during our time with it are connected to its battery life, which is amazingly good. At a certain moment, I only had R6 on me, and had to take a trip to a 3 KM distance and back. It was around 30% battery when I left. It simply lasted me until the moment I was climbing the stairs back to my room, so it is really good in this aspect, down to the last % of battery.

    The screen is bright and readable in full sunlight, and we did test this in depth, with the coming of summer in Romania. The device doesn't get extremely hot even in full summer here, and we're happy to report that the overall experience with R6 is quite excellent.

    There is a Magesound 8-Ball thingy in the menu, which helps you EQ faster, with an excellent quality to it, and instead of showing the EQ bands, which can be hard to understand at first, it explains how you can make the sound, for example crispier, or airier, and it gives you both sliders and a way to tune the sliders to add more or less with each click.

    In all honesty, Hiby made the build quality and the firmware of R6 absolutely bulletproof. They mixed excellent hardware, like 3 GB of RAM, with excellent firmware support, with a nice build quality, and it all sums up to an awesome device.



    Sound Quality

    Hiby R6 is a little interesting to describe, because it will change its signature with certain IEMs, but first, let's talk about its base signature. It is a beefy sound, with a slightly thick note presentation, a beefy low end with an impactful presentation, with a smoother midrange and top end that remind us of DX200 while it has AMP1 attached. IF you're coming from a FiiO X7mkii, it will come off as thicker and more relaxed, compared to the very clean and energetic sound of X7mkii. The top end isn't very smooth, so nowhere near DX150+AMP6 or FiiO X5-3 levels of smoothness, but it isn't as energetic as FiiO X7mkii either, leading to a slightly smoother top end.

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    Now, the tricky part, Hiby R6 can both have hiss with some low impedance IEMs due to its extremely high output impedance of 10 OHM, and it will change its sonic signature with certain IEMs, if they are not linear in their impedance response. Those two things are inherent to R6's very beeft and high quality AMP stage, which tries to cover everything from end to end, but which has this little issue with certain IEMs. We noticed very little hissing with certain IEMs, but we haven't noticed many changes of its base signature with IEMs with different impedances. We didn't look for it especially, but we didn't notice it as a glaring issue either, it might sound a bit brighter or a bit darker with certain IEMs, but we feel that the differences will be within what most people won't notice in typical usage. The hiss will be noticed by most people though, and we should warn against it. It isn't audible while listening to music (no hiss ever is), only a very muted hiss when there is nothing playing.

    Now that everything's out of the way, let's study its signature in-depth.

    The bass is very deep and drops as low as one could ever desire, while the speed of the bass is on the normal side of things. This means that it will sound natural and relaxed, it won't be the fastest bass there is, but neither the slowest, just a natural and impactful, with a deep presentation and with enough detail to impress even the most avid bassheads. The upper bass is clean, there is nothing colored there, while the midrange is on the meatier side of things, with a slightly thick presentation, and again with a natural presentation to things. The tonal balance is good, even spot-on for the most part, although we insist that you should try the Magesound 8-Ball thingy as it really can change the tonality of R6 and for the better.

    The upper midrange has excellent overall emotional emphasis, and it brings a good tone to female vocals and to violins. The lower treble is also very good, it doesn't have a grainy texture, thing which is awesome because it lets the IEM or headphone apply its own kind of texture and it acts basically as a transparent window to music.

    The upper treble has a good amount of air, leading to a pretty good soundstage and instrument separation for Hiby R6. The extension is very good, the treble is not smoothed out, thing which we appreciate, because it lets brighter IEMs and headphones be bright, while smoother IEMs and Headphones sound smooth.

    All in all, we're very happy with the sonic performance of Hiby R6, it is a champ at being transparent, and with the magic infused by hiby in their 8-Ball, you can actually alter the signature and performance of R6 in any way you like, be it a brighter and more analytical signature, or towards a smoother and leaner one, Hiby has you covered.



    Soundstage

    The soundstage of Hiby R6 is fairly good, well expanded on all axis, and with the right headphones, it can give a very holographic experience to the listener (for example with Audeze LCD-MX4). The soundstage depends more on the headphones, and especially on how airy their sound is, but with the treble area of R6 being rather natural, if a headphone is airy by its nature, R6 will have a larger soundstage with it, while if a headphone is toned down in the treble area, especially if it has less air, R6 will paint it smoother.

    The instrument separation is excellent, and it goes hand in hand with a headphone or IEM with good instrument separation. It is easy to distinguish multiple layers of music, and it is very easy to notice certain background elements, while the foreground elements don't lose strength and sound as forward as they should.



    ADSR/PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, and Pace Rhythm and Timing) characteristics of Hiby R6 are on the natural side of things, with a natural sounding texture, making a good combination with IEMs or headphones that have either natural or enhanced texture, while the headphones and IEMs with a relaxed or smooth texture might sound too smooth. With something that is also natural, the textures in the music of Masa Works Design or Mindless Self Indulgence bear excellent overall response, are textured where they need to be, and they are smoother where they need to be. With something very ADSR/PRaT happy, like Etymotic IEMs, like ER3XR, the sound is very well textured and every fine texture can be distinguished.



    Portable Usage

    Here's where Hiby R6 shines really well. It is a lightweight DAP, with a large, bright and clear screen, with a fluid UI, and with an excellent sound. It has all the ingredients to be an excellent DAP for portability, and with only one mention, it actually is.

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    That mention is its compatibility with IEMs, basically, since it has a high output impedance, you should consider either getting an iFi tool for alleviating that, or making sure that you like the synergy between your IEMs and R6. We couldn't detect any abnormalities in our tests, or anything that is truly remarkable, but we're sure that some people might, so we need to mention this and to warn you about it.

    When it comes to its battery life, it is pretty excellent, around ten hours or so of music playback, with some screen activity and with some loud listening, so we're pretty happy with it. We didn't test it with Wifi and BT turned on, as we consider that on-the-go most people won't have access to either of those services.

    The screen is easily readable in full sunlight, and the Bucharest sunlight is something one needs to see with their own eyes to believe, we get really bright daylight, so we're sure that the display will be readable anywhere in the world in full sunlight, and one can easily operate R6 in this kind of environment.

    The device (surprisingly) does not get very warm during playback at loud volumes, and we have some really warm days in Bucharest, but we noticed that it gets warmer if music is being played at much lower volumes.

    The ergonomics are excellent, one handed usage is possible and even fun, you can lower the main volume by 1-click steps while the screen is turned off, you can click on forward, backward, play/stop, and all with one hand, even while it is in a pocket. Because the two sides of R6 have a different number of buttons, it is easy to tell what you're going to press, and the buttons on the right side, where there are 4 buttons, are all different sizes, so you get a really good feeling of what you're going to press after you get used to it.

    The power it has, is pretty much awesome for a portable device. FiiO X7mkii and iBasso DX200 both have more power for your power hungry headphones, but both are more expensive than R6, and R6 has a somewhat faster CPU than both, for a fluid system UI.

    It takes almost any microSD card, but we'd like to warn about this, you need to wait around one minute after it has been turned on, before you can start using it, otherwise it can act strangely, this is something we noticed after using it for a while, but it is possible to repeat it. This behavior might be changed by a different caching algorithm in future firmwares, but on the current, latest firmware, this is something we should take into account. Most devices are similar in this aspect though.



    Select Pairings

    Please note that for any pairing, the IEM has more impact on the final result than the DAP, the best DAP being one that is as transparent as possible - #1s being quite good at this.

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    Hiby R6 + ClearTune VS4 - Once again we bring up the good old mighty VS4 from ClearTune. What left us with an interesting impression is how well it manages to hold its title in "vintage" and how good it plays music, especially vintage rock and metal, with an excellent warmth and depth. R6 is able to make them play with in a very vivid way, with excellent dynamics and textures, along with their really intriguing signature, including the spicy and interesting top end. As a pairing, we feel like one would be quite happy with this one, and would probably find their rock experience to be one heck-of-a-kind.

    Hiby R6 + Sennheiser IE800 - We'll do a larger article on IE800 sometime in the future, as with time, we have a better understanding of what made IE800 so special in the first place, and after using them for so long, we also understand their shortcomings much better. IE800 is a very colored IEM, with an extremely deep and impactful bass, to the point where it is hard to find anything like it. The midbass is then recessed, and the midrange is further recessed, until the upper midrange, where the violins and emotion is, where Ie800 takes a slope back up, with the treble being once again extremely enhanced, like its sub-bass. This results in a very specific signature that will either make your music perfect, or break it entirely. We're saying this because when we tried this exact combination, IE800 and R6, we stumbled upon a very interesting result. We never heard Death Metal, Thrash Metal, some Post-Hardcore and most Black Metal and Punk bands sound so good. It is something one has to hear to understand. Then, when we tried some Fall Out Boy, the sound was pretty forward, a bit more than we'd have liked it to be. What IE800 does there, is that it brings up a lot of treble and bass, so music that was mastered with less bass and treble, like most black or death metal, and even some older rock, will sound excellent, to the point where one is blindly in love with IE800. When one listens to something that already has a good amount of treble and bass in the mix, like, say, most electronic music, IE800, although extremely textured, has too much treble. All in all, we feel that this requires an article of its own, as the initial review on Ie800 we made years ago didn't reflect this aspect, as, at that time, our testing samples were made mostly out of music that IE800 complimented. Now, about the pairing, Ie800 is very sensitive to the DAC quality and much less to the AMP stage, and here it reveals R6 to have one of the best DACs we heard lately, with one of the most enticing presentations ever seen, the levels of textures and instrument separation are outstanding, and we have nothing to complain about, if you're considering this pairing, and if you're a metal music / rock / punk fan, then this will surely make your days sweet and enjoyable.

    Hiby R6 + HIFIMAN RE2000 - HIFIMAN RE2000 has been one of the best IEMs we tested to date, but it is also one of the most expensive IEMs we tested to date. Whether HIFIMAN's pricing is correct or not, they do sound unique and have a level of texture and vividness that we simply haven't really heard in the sub-1000 USD price range, so they surely created something unique with their RE2000. We'd love to see a version that's maybe a little more accessible, even if it won't be electroplated with gold, and such. The pairing with R6 is once again very good, with enough depth and impact to make all music sound real, with a good extension both ways, and with the visceral and impressive bass of RE200 being vivid throughout all music.

    Hiby R6 + Audeze LCD-MX4 - One of the last pairings we're going to write about in our R6 review, LCD-MX4 is a love for a life, and for a good reason. The main reason we fell so much in love with them is that they are not only sounding extremely sweet, but are also extremely comfortable, being a headphone you don't want to take off once you place on your head. Just now, while writing this review, my girl has been wearing them for almost 6 hours straight, so you get the point of how amazing they are. Combined with R6, the question that's going to be on everyone's mind is about their power, are they driven well? The only answer that we can place here, is yes. We are using some EQ tricks with R6, and we're happy that Hiby supports such a good EQ implementation, because LCD-MX4 sounds out-of-this world driven by R6. From our collection, only very few setups are able to drive LCD-MX4 well, and R6 is probably the most affordable one, along with being almost at the same level as the best one. The Magic Ball feature Hiby has also helps make the sound a little crisper, in case anyone is looking for a less leaner experience than LCD-MX4 provides by default. The impact is as good as it gets, and with LCD-MX4 and Audeze planars in general, that means a speaker-like kind of impact, a deep and thunderous bass that's always clear and which goes through things like a knife through butter. The midrange is clean and clear (most less expensive DAPs will most probably struggle in the midrange as well, which resulted in some of the early negative impressions over LCD-MX4, from them not being well driven, as we've noticed with some less expensive DAPs, where they got loud enough, but didn't have the clarity that R6 can give them), and the treble is smooth, yet clear and well expressed. Of course, when we click in some metal music, we also click in some EQ to bring that treble more into foreground and to give it more of a lively experience. All in all, we really couldn't ask for more from this pairing, at this price, R6 is able to drive a fully-fledged 3000 USD Audeze Headphone, so we can call it a day.



    Comparisons

    Please keep in mind that the source is supposed to try to reproduce the signal as colorless as possible, to leave any kind of tilting for the DSP (EQ) or transducer (Headphone, IEM, Earphone).

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    Hiby R6 vs FiiO X7mkii - We need to start testing R6 against more expensive and more complex devices, because testing it against something like N5ii, which is both more affordable, and which also relies on Hiby's own firmware wouldn't feel very fair. Of course, even N5ii can be an interesting choice for some, because it has two microSD slots, just like Opus #1s, but we feel that once one has reached this price point, the main direct competitor of R6 will be FiiO X7mkii. Starting with the build quality, both are really solid devices, the main difference here being that R6 is a one-piece device, while X7mkii is a modular device, with modular AMPs, which can change both the driving power, battery life, and sonic signature of the device. There's a lot going on for X7mkii, with Streaming abilities, a really nice and bright display, and with a very nice user interface. The main differences between X7mkii and R6 are that X7mkii has two microSD slots, which will surely come in handy to those with very large music libraries, X7mkii has a volume wheel, which is nice to play with and for blind controlling your device, and X7mkii also has a modular AMP stage, so you can change AMP modules for different sonic characteristics, and battery life. Hiby R6 is a one-piece device, and for the most part, X7mkii is more detailed, a bit more dynamic and has a wider and deeper soundstage, but R6 really has something in their pocket when it comes to their software support. Hiby R6 is one of the very few devices which comes with a strong firmware support made by Hiby, along with one of the strongest CPUs among the audiophile DAPs, Snapdragon 425. Keeping in mind that I had that CPU in a smartphone for a long time, and lived pretty happily with that smartphone, R6 is clearly more than adequate for music listening, and more, Streaming, Youtube, and other music related activities. Here, X7mkii was really good in my personal experience, but certain users asked for certain features, and complained about its overall UI speed, or speed for specific operations, which R6 should handle better. Especially third party app support should be better in R6, where in X7mkii, I mainly played with its default FiiO Music App, which was excellent in my book, but I didn't really test how good it handles third party apps, while with R6, I can guarantee that it handles Youtube and my (light) streaming experience fairly well. When X7mkii is sporting its default AMP module, it sounds more neutral than R6, wider, more energetic, with a sparklier top end, and with less bass impact than R6. R6 sounds, by comparison, warmer and more forward, more personal, and has more of a low end presence than X7mkii. R6 is slightly thicker as well. Both are excellent devices, X7mkii is more versatile in its sonic ability, while R6 is quite versatile in its software and Android-Third Party APP support. X7mkii has a low overall output impedance and should work well with all IEMs out there, on all its modules, while R6 has a high output impedance, thing which should be taken into account.

    Hiby R6 vs iBasso DX150 - Here, the prices are closer to each other. Both devices have a large and bright display, although DX150 has both a brighter and a larger display, making for a better experience in the UI. DX150 has a very good hardware support, along with Lurker's mod excellent UI support, but it doesn't have a Snapdragon 425 CPU, although third party apps work just fine, once you install Lurker's firmware, or download the APK and install the app. Both devices have one microSD slot, and both devices have a good build quality. Both are slightly more rigid than X7mkii actually, but this won't be important unless you drop or apply really heavy amounts of pressure on them, point by which all will probably be similar since all have something that probably shouldn't be subjected to too much pressure, R6 has a glass back, DX150 a volume wheel, and X7mkii feels a tiny bit less rigid. By definition, they are all very similar. When it comes to their sonic signatures, R6 and DX150 are pretty different. DX150 is considerably thicker in its sonic presentation, has more depth to its bass, and more impact, sounds smoother in the top end, and meatier, and has probably a less analytical overall presentation than R6, although R6 never crossed me as an analytical device. DX150 has modular AMP modules, just like X7mkii, so it really makes a compelling choice, since you can always slap on an AMP5 or even an AMP4S from iBasso for one of the best sonic experiences possible on a portable Player, but that costs another 200USD, and R6 still has its really good software and third party app support to show for. In all honesty, DX150 feels like a very slightly cut down DX200, while R6 feels more like an Android smartphone with an actually audiophile sonic output, so they are rather different devices for different publics. DX150 has a low output impedance, while R6 has a high output impedance, especially important for low impedance and multi-driver in-ears.

    Hiby R6 vs Opus #3 - Now here is a more interesting comparison. Opus #3 is actually cheaper than R6 at this point, but it still is a premium device with a lot going on for it. All devices compared to R6 have a volume wheel, while R6 does not, this starting to feel like something Hiby really wanted to be unique in. We can't complain, we actually feel confident that some folks will prefer a unibody device without a wheel, but if the other products are a good indicator of what most people want, then people like volume wheels. When it comes to their bodies, both are really well-made devices, the biggest difference being that R6 is smooth all around, while #3 has corners that can be sharp. Not a big issue in any way, but you should keep an eye open in case you want to place it in a pocket. The other things one has to take into account are that #3 has a marginally brighter display, which can come in handy for outdoors usage, but R6 is fairly good as well. Both devices have a good battery life, both can do third party apps and Streaming, but the underlying Operating Systems are pretty different, with R6 offering a pretty vanilla Android experience, while #3 has Opus's custom version on top of Android, a very refined experience that focuses on music. The sonic signatures are different, #3 being brighter, more energetic, wider, clearer, and with more air in its sound than R6, while R6 feels deeper, meatier, leaner, and more focused than #3, although both are really excellent devices. #3 feels more like a punk-rock device, while R6 feels more like a Jazz and Classical music device. R6 has a pretty high output impedance, note important for low-impedance and multi-driver In-ears, while #3 doesn't have any output impedance issues.



    Value and Conclusion

    We're talking about a pretty expensive Player when we're talking about Hiby R6, so we need to have some expectations from it. It's price isn't quite as high as FiiO X7mkii or iBasso DX200, but it isn't quite that inexpensive either, so we're taking every detail with utmost care into account when judging its value. +

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    Starting with the overall package, you get a lot in the package with your R6. The cables that come with it feel good, they are pretty reliable, and the fact that it has glass screen protectors applied from the factory is pretty nice. For a tradition started by FiiO with their X-series of players many years ago, we are really happy to see it being kept to this date. There's nothing we would have liked included in the package, given the amount of accessories already there, maybe the leather case would have been nice to have been part of the original package, but we actually have used R6 almost exclusively without a case, so no harm done there.

    The build quality of R6 is rock solid and more. It has a large, bright and colorful display, that surely serves well for both browsing your collection, and for creating playlists, and even for enjoying Youtube videos, with a metallic body that feels hard as a rock.

    The sonic qualities of R6 are not to be taken lightly, but before that, the firmware support, along with the hardware, especially its CPU, is something rare in the audiophile world. It has a very strong CPU that will allow you to install and use some of the most intricate third party apps, and complex streaming apps, without a hiccup, along with watching Youtube Videos and other fun activities enabled by a Snapdragon 425. It even is possible to play some games using R6, thing which surely comes in useful and fun.

    The music coming out of R6 is as fun and lovely as you can imagine it to be, ever so slightly warm and full, with a slightly lean and smooth approach, but only a smidgen so, just perfect to compliment almost any IEM or headphone thrown at it. The high output impedance might be relevant to some listeners, but in our honest experience we couldn't notice any serious downsides, besides a slight hiss that surely goes away while music is playing. From Ie800 all the way to Audeze LCD-MX4, for a one-piece device, its driving power is also pretty insane, something music lovers from a few years ago probably wouldn't imagine being possible, and at this rather friendly price point.

    Priced at 570USD from MusicTeck, Hiby R6 is no joking matter, and we are honestly impressed by what the guys at Hiby managed to pull for their first DAP, surely a device many are going to remember and hold in high regards.

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    If you're looking for a very versatile device, with a lot of driving power, a slightly lean and smooth, yet full and dynamic sound, with a fast and powerful snapdragon processor, a good battery life, and an even better build quality, then Hiby R6 might be the right Player for you, and we feel you should consider it in your list of future DAPs, as it actually feels like a DAP of the future.


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    Purchase link (MusicTeck): https://shop.musicteck.com/products/hiby-r6-src-free-hi-res-android-dap

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    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!



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    1. androidjedi
      would it possible to share your tonal setting?
      androidjedi, Jun 4, 2018
      Dobrescu George likes this.
    2. Dobrescu George
      @androidjedi Depends a lot on what headphones you're going to pair it with and what you're going to be listening to

      I usually leave it on absolutely neutral, unless mentioning this in a review for that headphone, where I present the EQ setting for the said headphone.

      Are you curious about any pairing in particular? I think I might be able to provide better help if you're looking for an EQ profile for something
      Dobrescu George, Jun 4, 2018
  3. Kervsky
    An Amazing Android Adventure
    Written by Kervsky
    Published Apr 12, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great build quality, ergonomic buttons and placement, multiple outputs, USB-C/QuickCharge, beautiful and functional screen, neutral tuning, Direct Transport Audio technology, amazing sound and user experience.
    Cons - Output impedance could have been lower
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    The Hiby R6 has more than a few reviews out there already so I won't bother you, too much with some repeated information. But an intro recap of sorts: The R6 in Indiegogo is Hiby's first step into the Digital Audio Player hardware arena though they have operated with audio software for over 10 years and collaborated in more than a few popular DAPs. The R6 is also a competitively priced DAP ($509 on IGG and $569 at retail) for the hardware specs and audio capabilities it promises, and with all the buzz going around it, lets see what the Hiby R6 has to offer.

    Please note that at the time of this writing, the R6 is no longer available for purchase on Indiegogo and impressively ended up being funded 582%.

    Disclaimer:
    This Hiby R6 was purchased as a backer on Indiegogo for the purpose of a review, and thus there is no monetary incentive for providing a positive review. My model is the Black Aluminum, has over 250 hours of clocked usage and it's pictures may not look exactly like others due to sample variance (and maybe lighting). More information on the how I arrived at my findings are at the very end.

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    Specs (the skinny version no pics):
    Dual ESS ES9028Q2M DACs
    Dual OPA1612 and Dual TPA6120 Amps
    32-bit/384kHz format support & Native DSD
    Snapdragon 425 Processor (4x1.4gHz)
    3GB RAM (DDR3) and 32GB Storage
    Expandable for up to 2TB (tested on 400GB)
    Dual-Band Wifi (2.4G/5G)
    Bluetooth 4.0 with apt-X
    Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
    DTA (Direct Transport Architecture)
    Bit-perfect output (bypassing Android SRC)
    4.2 inch 300dpi 768X1280 Touchscreen
    Arc-shaped 316L High-impact Stainless Steel CNC Body
    Supports Line out and coaxial digital output
    4000Mah Battery (with 12 hour battery life)
    3.5mm, 2.5mm and line-out/coax outputs
    USB-C with Quick Charge 3.0
    USB DAC functionality and transport

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    Box/Contents/Precious:
    The Hiby R6 came in a sealed hard cardboard box where the DAP sits on top of the other contents (from top left to right): Black thin cardboard separator with the micro SD card ejector pin clipped on it, a Quality Control pass card, (bonus) tempered glass cover, plastic screen protector, manual, warranty booklet. (Bottom, left to right) DAP foam Tray, 3 extra Hi-Res audio stickers, the branded Hiby charging cable, 3.5mm to COAX cable and (bonus) silicone case.

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    The Hiby R6 itself is a solid piece of milled aluminum with no jagged or sharp edges that feels good in hand with enough heft and weight to be significant but not a burden when carried. When you first get it, there's a matte protective sticker on the screen with printed guides for the R6 parts. Note that a screen protector should have been factory installed on the R6 but mine did not have one, this is fine since I would have removed it anyway in deference to the tempered glass installed above (I like the smoother glide on glass than plastic).

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    So on the right side from top to bottom:
    Power - For turning the unit and screen on or off, it has a little LED indicator that shows the status of the R6 (Red blinking is charging, solid white is DSD audio playing, green is 24bit, blue is 16bit and lower) and this light can be turned off if you wish.

    Previous - With the screen on, holding it down pauses playing and "rewinds" the time bar till it is released. If pressed once with the time bar at 10 seconds or more, it will go to the start of the song, otherwise it will go to the previous track. With the screen off, pressing it once does the same thing as when the screen is on, but holding it down (no matter how long) will move the time bar around 3 seconds back, you can repeat this to be able to go back through a song.

    Play/Pause - is self explanatory and does as advertised with screen open or closed.

    Next - With the screen on, holding it down pauses playing and moves the song "fast forward" till you release it. Pressing it once will skip to the next song whether the screen is off or on. When the screen is off, holding it down will move the time bar forward by 3 seconds while the song continues playing. You can repeat this quickly several times to move the time bar forward.

    USB C port - For charging, USB output (transport) and DAC (usb input).

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    From (bottom) left to right:
    2.5mm Balanced Output - Plastic rubber ring around the plug is not so pretty but it works.

    3.5mm Single Output - Gold ring makes it look sturdy and pretty.

    3.5mm Line-Out/COAX - By default the software is at Line-Out mode for this identical gold ringed plug, which means max ear busting volume, be careful!

    Volume Up - Turns the volume up once per press, holding it down moves the volume continuously up but only when the screen is on.

    Volume Down - Just the reverse of Volume Up.

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    The glass back is covered by a plastic screen with 2 stickers, (white sticker) barcode with model number & date of production, (black) is the same info found in English printed under the glass. As much as I like the feel of a glass screen over plastic, I just took the 2 stickers off and kept the plastic to help protect the beautiful glass back as there is no included back protector. The front and back glass panels are 2.5D curved glass, which may make fitting a generic, cut to fit protector fiddly as there is no defined edge and that it may look like a floating square panel (you'll see it here and in subsequent pictures.)

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    The first thing you'll see is the Hiby logo till boot up is finished, and if you've inserted a micro SD card, a setup screen appears. Choosing "Internal Storage" will make card the default storage and encrypt the whole card so that it isn't readable outside the DAP, good for security and if you want a bigger internal storage. "Portable Storage" is simply making the micro SD card a removable, storage space usable/readable by any device, so unless you have security needs, I would suggest to use this option.

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    Once the screen guide/protector is taken off, you'll be exposed to a truly awesome display, nice saturated colors and resolution that compared to a lot of DAPs in the market, pale in comparison to the R6's display. Sunlight legibility with the tempered glass installed is nice (it was kinda cloudy when I shot this) though it can look washed out with distance and certain angles. Since the screen is of high resolution, old album art with smaller resolutions can look unpretty, this may mean you'll need to update them. The (free) tempered glass isn't exactly the same size as the available area on the screen, but does cover the LCD's viewable areas enough for protection.

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    The micro SD card tray is similar to some mobile phones and is a very secure design (it can never accidentally fall out) though changing cards will be hard as you need the pin (or a paperclip/push pin/etc) to eject the tray.

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    Wireless:
    Bluetooth is very good with pairing and is stable with the devices I've used it with, audio quality is great with apt-X feeding more bits into the headset and speaker. Unlike my experience with mobile phones though, my Bluetooth devices (Sony WH-1000xMkII and SRS-XB20) do not fully sync with the R6's volume (sync, meaning the volume changes are the same whether it's done on the phone or Bluetooth device) so you may need to max out the volume on your device and control the volume from the R6 to get maximum control on one device.

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    With it's Wi-Fi antenna using dual bands, the speed and reliability is at par with most modern mobile phones though strength over distance is a bit less in comparison, this was likely done to reduce power consumption. Overall, the R6 allows you to stream and download music and apps at really good speeds reliably.

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    UI & User Experience:
    If you've ever used a mid to high end Android phone in the last year or so, you'll feel at home with the R6 and it's impressive system. The R6's Android 6.0 operating system is stable and bloat free with only a handful of stock apps and the 2 Hiby apps: Hiby Music and Wireless Update. The user interface is very smooth, fast and responsive (Note that adding a screen protector/tempered glass may reduce screen sensitivity and responsiveness) with most of the options and menu system streamlined for DAP use and only one part (that I know now) needs to be removed since it doesn't work, is the Snapdragon sound adjustment menu that shows up when using the EQ or sound adjustment on 3rd party apps like Deezer and Spotify. There are some vestiges of mobile phone stuff that have yet to be removed, like Wi-Fi hotspot, but I won't mention them beyond this as it does not add nor detract from the experience unless you intentionally go down that rabbit hole. Hopefully in the next update (that Hiby makes easy to do with Wireless Update,) the above little things will have been addressed.

    Quick charge 3.0 actually works, which is a welcome feature when you need it powered up fast or need a bit of a top-up before a trip. This feature works in tandem with the battery life of the R6 where various files from dsd, mqa, flac being played continuously on single end lasted 11 hours and 18 minutes with 7% power left. On balanced, it lasted a modest 7 hours and 46 minutes with 8% power left though to be fair, I did open the screen a lot while on balanced and fiddled with different songs while doing this review.

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    DAC/Transport/Line-Out:
    As a transport, the R6 does well and provides a clean and seamless stream of data for an external DAC/Amp to process. Compatibility seems good as my Sony PHA-1a and XDuuo XD-05 had no issues receiving the sound data provided by the R6, I'd safely bet the popular Mojo and other current DAC/Amps would have no issues as well.

    As a DAC/Amp for other devices like my Lenovo IdeaPad 100 laptop, Huawei P9 and a few Sony Xperia phones like the XZ Premium, the R6 did exceptionally well in processing the sound data it was provided and made it seem like it was played in the R6 natively.

    In both cases, you do not need to do anything on the R6, once you plug it into a source or into a DAC/Amp, it will automatically shift to provide the sound data through USB or process the data it receives.

    Note that unlike the AP200, there is no visual indication of the R6 being used as a DAC or as a transport. Hopefully some form of indication on the R6 can be implemented on the next update.

    Line-Out just works when I tried it on my home system, there was no noise and the music just flowed lovingly into the system and out of the speakers. Unfortunately, I don't have a device that could use COAXial input so I couldn't test that part of the R6.

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    Output Technicalities:
    So let me address the best known specification of the Hiby R6, it's 10Ω output impedance and the reason there's an IFI IEMatch between the R6 and the Andromeda by giving you a link to Output Impedance (Explained) which is easier to understand then most I've seen online. TLDR, R6's 10Ω output impedance will affect the Frequency Response of ear gear depending on it's own impedance, its impedance at different frequencies and whether it is prone to large impedance swings like Balanced Armatures. In the case of the CA Andromeda with 5 BAs and 12.8Ω impedance, it shifts the frequency forward, significantly reducing the bass, raising the mids forward and the highs to near sibilance, tonally making it brighter and shifts the positioning a bit higher spatially. Now this is why an IFI IEMatch comes in handy as it reduces the impedance to 1-2Ω (and the volume output by 11 steps on high sensitivity) and in effect, returns the old Andromeda sound to my ears.

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    Now some may hate this shift and some may like it and it all depends on how it may affect your gear or not at all and if yes, are you willing to buy an impedance reducer like the IEMatch for the R6. As it stands, sensitive IEMs (from what I've read, 17Ω and below is affected, where the lower the sensitivity the more the of an FR shift you'll notice) with BAs may need an IEMatch to return it to it's original FR. On the other hand, low impedance IEMs using dynamic drivers like the CA Dorado (15Ω) and hybrids like the FLC8 (11Ω) that I tried with the R6, didn't exhibit any great tonal changes (there is likely some but I didn't go deep into them since I don't own them) and other ear gear higher than 17Ω don't seem to shift much (if any) with the higher output impedance.

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    Sound:
    I've heard the word reference tossed around among DAPs for a long time and (confession time) I don't enjoy them as much as other people. Which is why after trying the R6 with different IEMs, headphones and even earbuds, I can happily say that this baby, though close, is definitely NOT reference, there is a an emotion, body in the music it plays that makes it enjoyable to listen even while using the most flat sounding headphones I have. Voices are adequately filled in but not meaty, resolution is presented with clarity and detail, bass is not enhanced but there is a touch of warmth that lends the bass with impact and life while the highs are expanded though it feels a bit more neutrally placed than the rest of the frequency. So if I'd put a label on it, it's a neutral signature with a hint of warmth and musicality.

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    The way the R6 processes sound, it provides a very quiet and black background, it's so silent that the IEMatch which helps reduce noise doesn't improve anything in that aspect. Sound is expanded and does not sound congested or compressed which allows ear gear like the Andromeda to stretch out it's wide soundstage as well as provide a soundscape that is clear and revealing, with a reach of the highs that sound natural, clean but not very airy.

    Given the base signature of the R6 and the fact that any Android app (thanks to DTA) have full access to every bit and power provided by the R6 architecture, there's still something it can offer to change and/or improve tonality with MageSound 8-Ball which currently only appears with the Hiby Music app (which hopefully, may change and be extended to other apps like Spotify, Deezer and Tidal among other players). I'd like to think of it as an advance but EQ noob friendly sound modifier. You want more warmth? More bass impact? More sparkly notes? MageSound can do it without mystery (effects are easily understandable) and easily with just a few swipes and taps.

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    Summary:
    Even if the R6 is the first ever DAP Hiby has made, it's definitely an amazing DAP with well thought out features and hardware that ticks a lot of boxes on the get go. It looks good, is solidly built, sounds great especially if you like the more neutral or near reference level of sound, it can easily be a transport for your music as well as be the DAC/Amp for other sound devices, is well priced, provides a very enjoyable musical experience on and offline, it's an amazing value compared to the currently available Android DAPs out there and something I'll keep and use for a very very long time.

    Pros: Great build quality, ergonomic buttons and placement, multiple outputs, USB-C/QuickCharge, beautiful and functional screen, neutral tuning, Direct Transport Audio technology, amazing sound and user experience.

    Cons: Output impedance could have been lower

    Personal nitpicks/wish list: DAC/Transport indication, 2.5mm plug could have been made of metal for durability, Line-out/COAX could have been made/marked differently (like it having the black rubber ring instead of the 2.5mm) or moved further away to avoid plug confusion, distance between volume up/down could be smaller (for faster location and easy volume adjustment), single micro SD card slot on a 32GB DAP - dual slots would've made the R6 more expansion friendly and a hand strap slot (but that's just me is seems.)

    [​IMG]

    Gears Used:
    To arrive at my own assessment of how the R6 sounds, I have at my disposal, gear used as benchmarks, points of comparison and reference (note some are not shown in the pictures above). A Sony WM1a, Hidizs AP200, Xduoo XD-05, Sony PHA-1a, CA Andromeda, Hifi Boy OS V3, Kinera Seed, Kinera Earbud, Kinera BD005, Tennmak Trio, Hifiman HE400i, AKG K553 Pro, Sony WH-1000xMkII, An SPL meter, several adapters including an IFI IEMatch 2.5mm, cables and a myriad of tips.

    [​IMG]

    Tracks Used:
    A Different Way - Lauv
    A Foggy Day - Van Morrison
    A Question of Lust - Depeche Mode (Live 1988)
    Alive - Pearl Jam
    Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
    Cheap Thrills - Sia
    Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
    Come Round Soon - Sara Bareilles
    Country Road - James Taylor
    Deeply Disturbed - Infected Mushroom
    Discover Tokyo - Shuta Hasunuma
    Do what you have to do - Sarah McLachlan
    Dream a Little Dream of Me - Ella Fitzgerald
    Get Lucky - Daft Punk
    Hail to the King - Avenged Sevenfold
    Ignorance - Paramore
    Is This Love - Bob Marley
    It's a Long Way To the Top - AC/DC
    Lithium - Nirvana
    Marian Hill - Breathe Into Me
    My Curse - Killswitch Engage
    One Day - Matishyahu
    Photograph - Ed Sheeran
    Pull Me Under - Dream Factory
    Send My Love - Adele
    September - Earth Wind and Fire
    So Far Away - Martin Garrix
    Staying Alive - Bee Gees
    Sugar - Maroon 5
    Sunday Morning - No Doubt
    The Day The World Went Away - Nine Inch Nails
    Way Down Deep - Jennifer Warnes
      emptymt likes this.
  4. twister6
    The Android champ!
    Written by twister6
    Published Apr 5, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - solid build, reference quality sound tuning, balanced output, fast android performance, beautiful display.
    Cons - high output impedance (needs iEMatch in some pair ups), firmware is almost there.


    The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with my readers on Head-fi.

    Manufacturer website: Hiby.


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    Intro.

    It probably sounds cliché, but you have to be living under a rock if you never heard of Hiby. Maybe not as well known yet for their hardware, Hiby has been behind many DAP releases (FiiO, Cayin, Shanling, Hidizs, Questyle, and others) with their custom firmware, as well as their own popular music app for smartphones. And thanks to their Android OS software workaround, many of these DAPs are free of Sample Rate Conversion (SRC) limitation which down-samples the audio. I guess it was only a matter of time before they decided to release their own DAP – Hiby R6. Considering the accumulated experience while working with other DAP manufacturers, Hiby did their homework to come up with an impressive hardware spec to boost the Android performance, something you would expect from higher end smartphones.

    In their debut release, Hiby decided to introduce R6 DAP through Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, giving the project more exposure with a help of social media. The campaign was successful, over 575% funded, but a real surprise came later when they announced the shipment of the first batch of aluminum alloy R6 ahead of the proposed schedule - very rare for any crowdfunding campaign. Of course, nothing is perfect, and Hiby design decision of high output impedance did raise questions in audiophile community. But I found it to be not the end of the world, if you got iEMatch handy, and I will go into more details when discussing R6 pair up with numerous headphones in corresponding section of my write up. Now, let’s proceed to the review.

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    Unboxing and Accessories.

    Here, unboxing was straight forward, with a basic black compact sturdy box, and R6 under the cover in a secure foam cutout. All the included accessories and documentation was underneath, found at the bottom of the box once you take the foam tray out. The back of the box had detailed highlights of the features with a graphic thumbnail illustration of each one.

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    The included accessories are basic, yet useful. You get "Hiby" branded usb-c charging/data cable (decent quality), and line out coax cable to connect digital output to external DAC/amp coax input (longer cable with a durable shielding). 3.5mm to 3.5mm line out audio cable was not included, though would have been appropriate here. You also get extra high-res stickers and a screen protector, while a pair on the front and the back has been already applied to R6. Plus, included is a pin-tool required to open the concealed uSD door to take out the tray with a flash card.

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    As part of Indiegogo stretch goals, a silicone case and tempered glass screen protector were also included. Silicone case is basic cheap case with covered buttons. It's actually not bad to enhance the grip and provide friction when placed on the surface, but it's not as "glamorous" as a leather case. Tempered glass has an advantage over a regular protection film in case if you have a direct impact which absorbs the shock, shattering only the tempered glass instead of the display.

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    The leather case is optional and cost $24 when ordered from IGG page. It has a dark blue color which from a distance almost looks black, and made of full-grain leather with felt inner lining to protect R6 metal finish from scratches. It has a slide-in design from the top, keeping the top fully open, and has generous cutouts around the buttons on both sides to allow direct access while keeping buttons recessed and safe from accidental pressing. It also has a generous opening at the bottom for usb-c port access. I like this case.

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    I was also told that MITER is working on a case for R6, and I will update the review once I get my hands on a sample. Traditionally, MITER cases use a soft leather and feature their signature kickstand to allow propping R6 up when watching video/movies.

    But, the #1 Recommended accessory for R6 is iFi Audio iEMatch, a very compact durable pigtail dongle which reduces the output impedance and nearly eliminates the issue of R6 high OI. It’s available in 3.5mm and 2.5mm variants, where you can also get a cut-down 3.5mm Ear Buddy version with a similar functionality.

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    Design.

    To make their DAP pocket friendly, Hiby kept design very straight forward and slick. You have a typical "smartphone" rectangular bar shape, 116 x 66 x 15 mm in size with 190g (aluminum alloy) or 275g (stainless steel) in weight, and 4.2" touch screen display occupying the front and glass panel on the back. While all the internal design/components are the same, you have a choice of either aluminum alloy or stainless steel (316L high-impact) chassis. Unlike some other DAPs, Hiby doesn't claim any sound difference between these two.

    While the general shape of the DAP is rectangular, the top and the bottom has this slight recessed arc shape to give it a more unique look. The sides have a little rounded shape for a more comfortable grip, though I still prefer to keep it in the case to make it less slippery, especially with a glass back. Using a case enhances the grip and prevents it from sliding across a flat surface.

    Left upper side of the DAP has Volume up/down (+/-) nice concave-in buttons with a tactile response. Keep in mind, once you press the button to change the volume, you also get on-screen volume touch control which you can slide up/down for a faster adjustment. Toward the lower corner of the left side, you have a concealed micro-SD card slot which opens with an included accessory pin. It's a small tray which is flush with chassis, keeping the card secure and dust free, similar to smartphone mechanism.

    Right side has Power button at the top with a multi-color LED which indicates charging, playback, and different types of playback hi-res formats. Below it is 3 playback control buttons with a larger Play/Pause in the middle and smaller Skip Next/Previous above and below it. All the buttons have concave-in shape, etched with a corresponding functionality (except for Power button), rattle free, and have a very tactile click response. I like how they vary in size for an easier ID as you slide your finger, and I also appreciate the ergonomics of asymmetrical layout.

    The bottom of R6 has usb-c port which becoming more popular with DAPs and allows high speed/current QC charging and faster data transfer. Plus, this port is used not only for charging, but also data transfer, USB DAC input functionality, and Digital Output transport control. The top of R6 has 3.5mm port which doubles as Line Out (LO) and Coax outputs (selected from audio settings menu). Next to it you have 3.5mm single ended (SE) headphone output and 2.5mm balanced (BAL) headphone output. Btw, I didn't find any screws accessible from the surface.

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    Under the hood.

    As I mentioned in the intro, Hiby did their homework and picked top performance components. To ensure the Android 6.0 OS runs smoothly, Hiby stepped it up with Snapdragon 425 SoC Processor and 3GB of DDR3 RAM. While some other DAPs use 1GB RAM just to make sure you can run a streaming app, or 2GB of RAM to be able to run other apps, 3GB of RAM doesn't just enable you to run all apps, but to run it as efficient and as responsive like you would have with your smartphone. Internal storage is limited to 32GB, that's a pity, but you have uSD expansion to support the latest max capacity card. Plus, wifi streaming and LAN support expands the playback variety.

    Audio processing is under control of dual ESS ES9028Q2M DAC, SoundPlus OPA1612 audio opamp (2x used as Low Pass filter), and TPA6120a (2x hi-fi stereo headphone amp) driving both single ended 3.5mm HO (120mW @ 32ohm, 118dB SNR) and balanced 2.5mm HO (300mW @ 32ohm, 120dB SNR). That's quite an impressive and powerful spec, though output impedance here is on a high side at 10 ohms. With a spec like this, you can play majority of hi-res lossless formats, such as FLAC, APE, WMA, WAV, ALAC, Apple LOSSLESS, DSF, DSDIFF where you have native support/decoding of DSD 128/256 and PCM up to 32bit/384kHz, as well as support of ISO DSD. Plus, support of lossy formats, such as MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG. Keep in mind, Hiby mentions to be able to bypass Android sample-rate conversion to ensure bit-perfect output from any app.

    Its 4.2-inch touch screen IPS display is high-density 300 dpi, with an impressive resolution of 768x1280, supporting 16 million colors, and wide viewing angle. I know, these are just spec numbers, but when you look at the display, especially that color-splash wallpaper with its deep/rich colors, you will understand and appreciate the meaning of this spec. Furthermore, for a wireless connection, you have dual-band (2.4G and 5G) WiFi radio, and Bluetooth 4.x with aptX codec support.

    The provided battery has 4000 mAh capacity and supports quick charging (QC 3.0) standard (140min to full charge), where you can use either DC 5V/2.5A or 9V/1.5A. While Hiby mentioned about 12hrs battery life which is impressive for high performance touch screen Android DAP, I actually found this number to be a little on a conservative side where in my best- case scenario I was able to get even more out of battery.

    Before timing the battery performance, I let R6 run a few charge/discharge cycles to make sure battery is fully calibrated. I started with U18t and single ended cable, low gain, playing MP3 (320kbps, 44.1k/16bit) in a loop at a reasonable volume level with a display off, only occasionally turning it on to check the battery percentage. During this test, I got 12.5 hours of play time with 3% battery juice remaining. Later, I realized that I never turned the WiFi off, which I’m sure contributed to additional battery drain, thus making me believe that a best-case scenario would have been closer to 13hrs of total playback time.

    Next, I switched to CFA Vega with a balanced cable, in high gain, WiFi radio on, pushing volume higher to drive these lower sensitivity IEMs harder while playing hi-res FLAC file in a loop. The result was 7hrs and 45min of playback time. Still not bad for this relatively worst-case scenario, though I’m sure with DSD files it would have been even lower, as expected. Btw, having LED indicator built into a Power button is quite convenient to get “visual” confirmation if you are playing a hi-res file without turning the DAP on.

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    Wired and wireless connections.

    Thanks to a dedicated LO/Coax and multi-functional digital usb-c port, Hiby R6 has flexibility of many various wired connections to enable its use as a transport or to pair up with an external dac/amp. Here are some of the examples of my testing.

    R6 vs R6/HA-2 – Using Shanling usb-c to micro-usb interconnect digital cable, I seamlessly paired up R6 with Oppo HA-2 portable dac/amp, using it as a digital transport. In comparison to a direct R6 connection, I found the sound with HA-2 to have a little more bass impact, but other than that it was very similar. Also, with external connection, your HO impedance changes according to the spec of a paired up device.

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    Micro iDSD BL – While trying to stay portable using DAPs, Micro iDSD is one of the few transportable DAC/amp exceptions I still use due to its sound quality and flexibility supporting various connections. Using a budget eBay digital cable with usb-c to full size usb, I had no issues connecting to iDSD and found the sound to be very clear and detailed with a punchy bass.

    hiby_r6-62.jpg

    In comparison, I switched to use Coax output of R6 (needs to be selected in audio settings from pull down menu), where in this pair up I found the sound to be a little smoother and with a noisier background in comparison to digital connection above.

    hiby_r6-63.jpg

    R6 vs R6/E12A – To take advantage of R6 dual DACs while bypassing its internal amp section, I switched to LO (the same menu option where I selected SPDIF above) to test R6 with FiiO E12A portable amp (my neutral amp reference) where I found the sound to be a little bit smoother and the background not as dark. Based on what I’m hearing, it sounds like R6 amps have a blacker background and a brighter tonality, leading to a more resolving sound.

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    While I’m not a big fan of using portable DAP as USB DAC, this “wired” feature is available with R6 and convenient on the go when you are traveling with your laptop and want to enhance the sound of its stock chipset. Here, after installing Hiby provided drivers, my Win7 laptop recognized R6 without a problem, connected as usb DAC, and it even displayed the sampling/bit rate of the song. The sound quality was the same as listening to R6 standalone.

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    For Wireless Bluetooth test, I used Sennheiser Momentum Over-ear wireless and B&W P7 Wireless full-size headphones. I tested their performance paired up with R6 vs my aging Note 4, though in both cases it should support aptX codec. I found that I could push headphone volume louder with R6 in comparison to my Note 4, not sure if there is some volume limitation for safety reason with my phone.

    In more details, Senns Momentum are picky in some pair ups, but I found no issues with R6. I was able to walk across 50ft of open space, before the sound started to cut off. Comparing the performance of R6 vs Note 4, it sounded nearly identical, crisp, revealing, and with an articulate bass. With P7W, the transmission was clear across 55ft of open space, the sound was balanced and I enjoyed P7W deep bass impact. As a matter of fact, I’m hearing an even deeper sub-bass rumble when paired up with R6 over Note 4.

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    No wireless discussion could be complete without WiFi and Streaming performance. I had R6 connected to my ASUS RT-N66R router (oldy but goody), 5GHz band. While I was streaming Spotify, had R6 aluminum in a leather case placed in the front pocket of my shorts. Walked to the other end of the 1st floor, an open space of a little over 60ft, and had no issues with streaming, though I was down to 1 bar.

    In general, I found R6 to perform like a decent smartphone (not exactly the latest TOTL, but an average smartphone), and with Google Play pre-installed you have access to many different apps, including streaming. I don’t stream too much using apps or from in-house server, but occasionally use either Spotify or DI.fm apps. I know many asked me about Tidal, but unfortunately, I have no account thus wasn’t able to test it. I’m aware that Hiby is working directly with Tidal to fix some minor compatibility issue and hopefully will be able to resolve it soon.

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    GUI.

    While many Android DAPs feature a common interface found in smartphones and tablets, not many of them perform on the same level when it comes to GUI response and app compatibility. Here, thanks to Snapdragon 425 SoC and 3GB of DDR3 RAM, playing music, browsing internet, or streaming audio is a breeze. Plus, Google Play Store already pre-installed so you can start downloading apps without a need to side-load apks or installing custom ROMs.

    Interestingly enough, while Notification bar has a familiar volume icon with a volume level, Bluetooth icon (when enabled), WiFi icon (when it's on), battery icon with remaining %, and a time, once you pull Notification bar down, unlike some other DAPs, you will find a very minimalistic set of short-cut controls: down to brightness adjustment, WiFi and Bluetooth controls, and Audio Settings. There is no general Android Settings icon, instead it's a separate shortcut on the main Android screen, also found in apps drawer.

    Under Audio Settings in Notification menu, you will find Low Pass filter selection for ESS DACs which includes: Minimum phase, fast roll-off, and slow roll-off options; Multifunction Output selection between Lineout or SPDIF; Gain with Low and High settings; L/R channel balance slider; and Tonality (harmonics) selection of Reference, Warm, and Tube Amp. The Settings shortcut on the main screen takes you to a regular Android settings section with typical system settings of WLAN, Bluetooth, Data usage, Display, Apps, Storage, Battery, and others. Perhaps Hiby wanted to keep Notification bar less crowded, but I would have love to see Settings shortcut in the upper right corner where it could be accessible from any screen, instead of searching for the shortcut on the main Android screen.

    Of course, you are free to run any audio app of your choice which going to have its own custom GUI, but since we are on a subject of Hiby DAP which comes already with its Premium Hiby Music v3 app, I didn't bother to use anything else, especially after I learned of MageSound 8-ball DSP effects. Hiby Music app is very user friendly and feature-rich, and its navigation on R6 is very fast, especially since its interface is very logical to navigate.

    The main screen at the start has top bar with Music listing where you can navigate by a song Title with the ability to play all in Shuffle mode or to select individual tracks to add to Queue or to Playlist or to Delete. You can also navigate by Folder or sort by Album, Artist, Genre (depending on ID tag of your songs), or Private Cloud (DLNA/LAN or Baidu?). There is a separate tab for Favorites, Recently played, or Playlist. Also, there is an option to enable HibyLink to connect to your smartphone. Last, but not least, a Search menu. While going through these choices above, at the bottom you always have a visible playback bar with a currently selected song with navigation controls.

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    Tapping on that playback bar brings up the main playback screen, also with a clear layout. At the top you see a song/artist name with 3-dot setting menu next to it (add to playlist, share, EQ, show album info, and properties display). Below it, the top half of the display shows embedded artwork (if available), and you can swipe to the left to see if there is embedded lyrics, and one more swipe for a detailed info about the song. And speaking of detailed info, once playback starts, the sampling rate of the song is displayed in the notification bar, something I haven't seen with any other DAP yet.

    In the lower left corner of artwork screen, you can tap to select playback mode: loop all, loop one, straight play through, or random playback. The lower right corner has a link to open current playback queue, based on either a folder where you are playing from or an album or playlist. Lower part of the screen has playback controls with Skip Next/Prev on the sides, and a large circle with Play/Pause in the middle and Fast Forward/Back navigation to scrub through the song. While I personally prefer a straight horizontal bar to touch-forward through the song, this Circle navigation bar became a signature control of Hiby app, and it's large enough for a precise control.

    Also, I liked the EQ interface which you can access from the playback screen. First of all, unlike many other DAPs where enabling EQ drops the output by at least 3dB to avoid clipping, here the volume doesn't change but you have +/-12dB amp gain adjustment. Then, you have 10-band EQ (31,62,125,250,500,1k,2k,4k,8k,16k) with each band having +/-12dB adjustment. These 10 bands sliders spread across 2 screens, but the top of the EQ has a common graphics screen with a visual of all 10 bands so you can see the final EQ curve. Furthermore, in addition to a custom preset, you also have 8 genre specific EQ presets which you can modify further.

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    Hiby Music app comes with its own comprehensive Settings menu which can be accessed by swiping to the right from the main screen of the app. Here you can access Music Scan (scanning all or specific folder, with a number of scan options), Download manager (assuming, for songs?), Equalizer (as described above), MageSound 8-ball (Hiby own special effects), Plugin (available plug ins, currently with Parametric EQ and Joe's Sound Filed Enhancement plugin), Sleep timer, Settings (a very comprehensive set of music app settings), Quick guide, and About section.

    I'm sure more plugins will be available soon, and I hope PEQ will get its own GUI since for now it's very low level basic interface. MageSound 8-ball is what many will be interested in. It’s a very comprehensive set of very useful effects that can really shape the sound with quite natural results. You can adjust the "temperature" by going from cooler/brighter to warmer/darker signature, adjust bass extension (from light to deep), bass texture (from fast to thumpy), note thickness (from crisp to thick), vocals (from recessed/crisp to more forward/smoother), female overtone, LF/HF sibilance level, impulse response (from slow/music to fast/hard) and level of air. At first, I assumed it will be more like an EQ adjustment, but the more you use it, the more you realize it's like DSP effect processing, reminding me of BBE/JetEffect in some way.

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    Bottom line, no matter what app I was using, everything was very responsive and super fast.

    Sound analysis.

    Usually, I like to get at least 100hrs of playback before any DAP sound evaluation, so after I received R6, it spent a week on a burn in, just playing random music in the loop while I switched between SE and BAL, making sure HO were loaded. As my usual disclaimer, DAP sound description is very tricky because you are describing the synergy of the DAP with headphones you are listening to. It’s easy to fall in a trap of describing the headphone signature, thus I usually go through a number of headphones, from neutral to more revealing, to find common sound characteristics relative to the source, rather than headphones.

    In general, I found R6 to be a neutral DAP with a little tilt toward a brighter more revealing side. It has a rather wide soundstage expansion, both in width and in depth. It also stands out with decent dynamics, where, regardless of headphone pair up, the sound was always vertically expanded, never felt compressed. The background is black and hiss free even with most sensitive low impedance iems. Also, the transient response of notes on/off transition is clean and sharp, which makes details pop out faster. Though in the settings there is Tonality selection with Reference/Warm/Tube amp, all three sounded on a reference level to me. MageSound 8-Ball effect is where I was able to tweak tonality with a more noticeable effect. And, especially when paired up with more revealing analytical earphones/headphones, you can appreciate the level of layering, transparency, and separation between the sounds.

    But there is one variable when it comes to a tonality since R6 has a higher than usual output impedance, 10 ohms, while today's typical DAPs have around 1 ohm or less. So, what does that mean? With majority of full size dynamic driver headphones and single driver IEMs or higher impedance headphones/iems, a pair up with R6 will have a minimum effect on a change of the original tonality as intended by headphone manufacturers. But a handful of low impedance multi-BA and hybrid IEMs will be affected to the point where the bass gets attenuated and the treble is a little boosted. The degree of this effect will vary, and I have examples in pair up section of this review. You can't ignore it, but it's also not the end of the world since you can use iEMatch (http://amzn.to/2tVhc1W) from iFi (either 3.5mm or 2.5mm version) to "restore" the sound.

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    Comparison.

    In this comparison I used a few different IEMs, all volume matched, to compare how R6 stacks up against some other DAPs.

    R6 vs FiiO X5iii - R6 has a more neutral revealing sound while in comparison X5iii is smoother, warmer and less resolving. With R6, bass is more articulate and better controlled, and there is more sparkle in treble. Two things that stand out for me, R6 has a blacker background (very noticeable) and a wider soundstage. X5iii has quite a noticeable hissing. Also, from a technical performance, R6 sound has more layering, better separation, better dynamic expansion. R6 sound is just cleaner and more detailed. And the same with Android performance, R6 is faster, more responsive, and more capable as a standalone Android device. X5ii does have dual uSD, more storage, and it has low OI, but in terms of sound quality and Android performance, there is a big gap between these two.

    R6 vs Cayin N5ii - There are a lot of similarities in sound when comparing these two. Both have a similar soundstage expansion, though I noticed with some IEMs R6 sounds a little wider, not sure if OI and/or using iEMatch has anything to do with it. For example, I noticed this difference with U18t, while with IE800s connected directly - it was nearly identical in both soundstage and tonality. So, lots of similarities in terms of being neutral and with a more revealing tonality, though in some cases where I had to use iEMatch, the bass was a little more neutral and treble had a touch more sparkle. Both have a nice dynamic expansion of the sound and a black background. In terms of a technical performance, R6 has a little edge in layering, separation, and transparency of the sound. Besides output impedance, the biggest difference here is Android interface where R6 feels like a smartphone with a higher quality display and a very snappy Android performance. In contrast, N5ii presents itself as DAP first and Android device with Google Play and streaming capability second, like an add-on. Also, N5ii has an advantage of a dual uSD versus a single card in R6.

    R6 vs FiiO X7ii - Similar soundstage expansion, though R6 is just a little wider. Also, R6 has a blacker background. Both have a very similar neutral revealing tonality with excellent retrieval of details, punchy extended bass, layered detailed mids, and well defined airy treble, though in some pairs up with R6, I hear treble being more extended. Besides the sound, there are also many feature similarities with both being a full Android DAP. But while they both support Bluetooth and wifi, and have open Android OS with pre-installed Google Play Store, the actual navigation and Android OS experience is on a much higher level with R6, while X7ii is slower and not as responsive as R6. Both have the same internal and external storage, but X7ii also has an advantage of replaceable amp modules.

    R6 vs theBit Opus#3 - While I hear R6 soundstage to be a little wider, in terms of the sound signature these two are very close with a brighter revealing neutral tonality where in a blind test it's hard to even tell them apart. Even their technical performance, in terms of layering and separation of the sounds is very similar. They both have a more neutral, yet rather articulate and punchy bass, and a little brighter upper mids and crisp airy lower treble. Both have a similar black background. What sets them apart are the physical features. While #3 has 64GB of internal memory vs 32GB of R6, they both have one uSD. Also, both support Bluetooth and Wifi, but #3 has Android running in the background and it's closed, to the point where you have to side-load apps. R6 has a full open Android support with access to Google Play where you can easily install any app. So, while tonality and overall sound performance might be similar, if you want a true powerful android DAP, R6 is the way to go. Plus, 8-Ball sound shaping effects of R6 are a huge plus.

    R6 vs Cowon Plenue R - Both have a very similar soundstage expansion, in width and depth. The difference here in R6 being more revealing and a little brighter while PR sound is smoother and a touch warmer in comparison. Both have a similar bass emphasis, though the tonality of PR gives it a little deeper perception. I'm also hearing R6 mids to be more layered with a little better separation of sounds. Both have a nice extended airy treble. While R6 has its MageSound 8-ball, Plenue has its advanced JetEffect. Both have Bluetooth to pair up with wireless headphones or speakers. That’s about it for PR, while R6 is a full android dap with Google Play store support to load any app, including streaming ones. In terms of storage, PR 128GB of internal storage and uSD card are superior to 32GB of R6 w/uSD. Also, PR has better battery life.

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    Pair up.

    This is probably the most important section of my review because it covers how R6 pairs up with different full-size headphones and IEMs. There was no need to even consider iEMatch until I switched to IEMs.

    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x (open back, full size dynamic) - wide airy soundstage expansion, a very balanced sound signature with more emphasis on mids, not necessary being mid-forward but just making them standout with a more natural tonality and effortless retrieval of details. Bass is very neutral, extends deep with a nice rumble, but a very neutral quantity, and the same with mid-bass, with an overall bass being articulate and layered. Treble has a nice neutral sparkle as well, not too harsh or rolled off, just a perfect amount for a natural definition of the sound.

    Oppo PM3 (planar magnetic) - above average soundstage width with more depth. The sound is brighter in tonality in comparison to other pair ups, PM3 sound can get easily congested with some DAPs, here the sound was closer to neutral with a more revealing tonality, still smooth and a little laid back, not very layered or with improved separation. Warm sub-bass extension with a slightly elevated mid-bass - bass is typical of PM3, being slower, not as articulate, but it has a better control in comparison to pair ups with other DAPs where bass usually spills into lower mids. Here, lower mids do have full body, but they are not muddy or congested. Upper mids are smooth and detailed, while treble has a nice well-defined sparkle.

    Audeze EL8C (planar magnetic) - wide/deep soundstage and a very fast sound, typical of planar magnetic driver performance. Bass is very neutral, being all about quality rather than quantity when it comes to sub-bass extension and mid-bass punch. Lower mids are lean, and the big emphasis here is on upper mids and treble. Mids are detailed, actually down to micro-detailed level, but they are also cold and more analytical. And the treble is a little too piercing, making the sound too revealing and less natural. It wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm glad to report there wasn't metallic sheen in the sound, like I find in some other pair ups.

    Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd (Tesla, full size dynamic) - wide/deep soundstage, almost on a holographic level, and the overall sound is very balanced, with a natural neutral-revealing tonality. Sub-bass has a nice deep extension, but the quantity of the rumble is a little north of neutral. Mid-bass has a nice fast punch, with an overall bass being very articulate, layered and well controlled. This leads to a more neutral lower mids and micro-detailed upper mids, but with a more natural detailed tonality. Treble is crisp and airy, gives a very good definition to a sound.

    VE ZEN (320 ohms earbuds) - above average soundstage width with more depth. The overall tonality is a little brighter and more revealing in comparison to how Zen pairs up with some other DAPs where it usually sounds a little smoother and more organic. The sound is actually faster and a little leaner. Bass goes down to a deep sub-bass extension with a very nice rumble. Mids bass has a fast punch, this is probably the "fastest" I heard Zen bass, being very articulate and well controlled. Lower mids are a little leaner, and upper mids are natural, transparent, with an improved retrieval of details. Treble has a nice sparkle, not too bright or too crisp, with a good extension.

    Next, I tested a lot of IEMs where I made a note about pair up with and without iEMatch.

    Sennheiser IE800S (DD) - the sound is balanced with a nice deep sub-bass extension, great mid-bass impact, very natural detailed mids, and a nice crisp airy treble. iEMatch reduces some of the treble definition, taking away a bit of sparkle and airiness. Wide soundstage. I prefer a direct pair up here.

    Beyerdynamic Xelento (tesla DD) - very expanded soundstage, tastefully done v-shaped sound with upper mids pushing just a little bit back. Bass goes deep with a healthy sub-bass rumble and fast punchy mid-bass, lower mids are neutral while upper mids are natural and detailed, nice organic tonality, and treble has a nice controlled sparkle. With iEMatch mids are pushed more back. Direct pair up is preferred.

    Campfire Audio Vega (DD) - nice soundstage expansion, a typical expected L-shaped sound sig, perhaps more like a reversed J-shaped since I can also hear a nice treble sparkle. Bass goes deep with lots of sub-bass and slower mid-bass, overpowering mids which are smooth and warm, and pushed back in their presentation, and a nice crisp treble. With and without iEMatch the sound is the same.

    Campfire Audio Andromeda (5BA) - here, iEMatch is definitely a must-have because without it the sound has a very neutral bass with a rather forward upper mids and splashy treble and a very noticeable sibilance, which you usually don't hear from Andro. Once iEMatch added, it transforms into the sound I'm used to while listening with other sources - you get a fast mid-bass and a nice sub-bass extension which shines more with quality rather than quantity, neutral mids, detailed upper mids with a little brighter and more revealing tonality and crisp airy treble. iEMatch definitely brings Andro back to its fun signature.

    iBasso IT01 (DD) - another example where iEMatch is not necessary, and it actually reduces the quality of the sound. Here with a direct connection you get a fun v-shaped signature with a deep and powerful sub-bass rumble and elevated mid-bass punch, neutral clear lower mids and revealing brighter upper mids, and crisp airy treble with a nice extension. iEMatch reduces the sparkle of the treble, turning v-shaped fun into a more L-shaped sound. I definitely prefer a direct pair up here.

    iBasso IT03 (DD/2BA hybrid) - here, using iEMatch is actually a big plus. Directly connected, sub-bass and mid-bass becomes very neutral with upper mids and treble pushed more forward, and even some emphasis on sibilance. Once you connect iEMatch the sound change is back to expected tonality with a nice sub-bass rumble, faster mids-bass punch, a little pushed back but still detailed and brighter mids, and well-defined and controlled crisp treble.

    Westone W80 (8BA) - low impedance multi-BA, you can safely guess iEMatch will be a welcome addition here. Direct connection gives you a slightly mid-forward signature since bass is more neutral and upper mids/treble are elevated. With iEMatch, the sound is balanced with a nice sub-bass rumble and punchy well controlled mid-bass, not too fast or too slow, neutral lower mids, natural detailed upper mids, and a crisp and well controlled treble. Very enjoyable pair-up, as long as you keep iEMatch handy.

    Ultimate Ears UERR (3BA) - didn't expect this one, but with or without iEMatch the sound is nearly identical. I hear a very neutral natural tonality with a decent sub-bass rumble, polite mid-bass much, neutral lower mids and natural detailed upper mids, and well-defined treble with a controlled sparkle. Actually, a very good pair up.

    Noble K10UA (10BA) - another surprise where the sound is the same with and without iEMatch. You get a very well-balanced sound signature with a good sub-bass rumble, elevated fast mid-bass punch, neutral lower mids, revealing brighter upper mids, and crisp airy treble. Plug these in directly and you are good to go.

    HiFiMAN RE2000 (DD) - with a single dynamic driver I was expecting that iEMatch is not necessary, and found it connected directly to sound nearly the same as other sources, but adding iEMatch actually took down a layer of brightness from the upper mids and lower treble, making the sound more pleasant and less harsh. You still get a great dynamic driver quality sub-bass extension and surprisingly articulate overall bass performance, mids are more analytical and on a brighter side, while treble is crisp and airy, but upper frequencies are smoother in comparison to direct connection. This is just a matter of personal preference.

    64 Audio U12 (12BA) - this is how the original U12 was intended to sound! It's not a secret that this IEM was tuned using higher OI source for performing stage musicians who use higher impedance wireless packs. The difference between R6 and any other DAP is around bass where with R6 bass is no longer bloated and overwhelming, you get a textured sub-bass rumble with a punchy mid-bass; with bass being well controlled without spilling into lower mids, and lower mids being north of neutral with a nice body but not muddy or congested, while upper mids are smooth and natural and still detailed, treble is well defined but not as crisp or airy. Adding iEMatch makes sound a little congested around lower mids, so direct connection is desired here.

    64 Audio U12t (12BA) - learning a lesson from the original U12, U12t now features LID tech where the sound should be identical from any OI source. And indeed, when compared between R6 and other low OI daps - the signature is the same with a balanced sound sig where you have a nice bass impact, not too overwhelming and well controlled, neutral lower mids with a more natural-revealing tonality of upper mids, and crisp airy treble thanks to TIA driver. Adding iEMatch in series doesn't affect much the bass or the lower mids, but it does make upper mids and lower treble a shade smoother if you want to tone down the TIA sparkle.

    64 Audio Fourte (DD/3BA hybrid) - this is the one pair up so far where the synergy between a dap and iem wasn't there, regardless of iEMatch or not. Adding this adapter does takes an edge off the upper mids/treble which could be a little too vivid for some, and regardless of the adapter the bass was still very accurate and with a nice sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch, though both rather polite in quantity. But the main problem here were the mids which sounded a bit muffled to my ears, not the same as other DAPs. For me personally, this is not a good pair up.

    64 Audio U18t (18BA) - talking about night'n'day difference, that's how I can describe the sound of these iems with and without iEMatch. Without, you have a very mid-forward bright signature with a neutral flat bass. Once iEMatch added in series, U18t transforms with a deep textured sub-bass rumble and fast mid-bass punch with a slightly boosted quantity, neutral lower mids, natural micro-detailed upper mids, and crisp airy extended treble. This is not even a question, if you want to use U/A18t with R6, iEMatch is a necessity.

    Empire Ears Legend X (2DD/5BA hybrid) - the clever crossover design of this hybrid reassures there is no need to worry about iEMatch because with or without it the sound is the same. You get a powerful L-shaped signature with a deep impactful sub-bass rumble and elevated mid-bass slam, with bass being well controlled despite being a force of nature that you feel in your chest. Mids are very natural and detailed, not really pushed back, but being more in a background due to elevated bass, and the same with a treble which is well defined and with a polite crisp and airiness. This is a basshead audiophile iem and it hits hard with a bass. Actually, even harder in comparison to other dap pair ups.

    hiby_r6-19.jpg hiby_r6-20.jpg

    Conclusion.

    When you are entering a competitive market of today's mid-fi DAPs, you need to be able to stand out from the crowd. Many manufacturers respond to this challenge by offering unique looking designs or adding extra features or cutting corners to lower the price. Unless you have budget and resources of Sony or A&K proportions, smaller manufacturers focus on finalizing the hardware before the release, and then hoping to catch up with fw updates to fix remaining issues. Hiby is in a unique position where they are the one who help others to "fix" their fw issues, and as a result they are one step ahead of competition when it comes to fw/sw. And with that power, they're also in a position to cherry pick their own hw because they know how to optimize its performance.

    That's exactly what happened in the debut release of Hiby R6 DAP. They picked a higher end SoC processor, the most RAM in comparison to other Android DAPs, top quality display, two premium ESS DACs, and also premium LPF and headphone amplifier opamp components. We are not just talking about another Android DAP release, but Android 6.0 with DTA (direct transport audio) architecture to ensure bit-perfect output (bypassing Android SRC). And this is not another ES9018 dual dac release, but they actually used higher end 9028 dac. And not a gimmicky balanced output, but actually BAL output with more than double the power of SE. And not just usb-c port because it's a new popular standard, but actually with a support of QC3.0.

    It would have been nearly perfect, except for high output impedance which could be an issue with some IEMs. I intentionally put extra effort in pair up testing with many different IEMs/headphones to describe the effect of OI. And as you can see, it's not really the end of the world, and could be resolved with iEMatch. I'm not making excuses for Hiby, they learned their lesson and the upcoming R3 release already has lower output impedance. Also, I don't want people to get an impression that R6 is only about fast Android performance. It also has a very impressive sound performance, along with a collection of MageSound 8-Ball effects to further fine tune the sound to perfection. Yes, you might have to invest into iEMatch, but it's a small price to pay when you are looking for a top Android performance high-res DAP.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. gemmoglock
      Hi @twister6, did you remove the factory screen protector before installing the tempered glass, or you stuck it on top? Thank you for the review :)
      gemmoglock, Apr 23, 2018
    3. twister6
      @gemmoglock : I didn't install tempered glass yet, was waiting for Miter leather case (just received it) to make sure it fits without a problem with a glass. But when I do, film screen protector has to come off!!!
      twister6, Apr 24, 2018
      gemmoglock likes this.
    4. androidjedi
      would it be possible to share your "best" tonal settings?
      androidjedi, Jun 4, 2018
      ateeq likes this.
  5. ryanjsoo
    Hiby R6 Review – Convergence
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Feb 17, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - - Blazing fast hardware
    - Full Android 6.0
    - Resolving, spacious sound
    Cons - - *10ohm output impedance
    - Laid-back high-end is a matter of taste
    Introduction –

    Though not always known by name, those who have experience with any non-Android DAP from the past few years are likely familiar with Hiby. They develop the software that runs on almost all of these devices, including those from Fiio, Cayin and Shanling, the list goes on. Hiby are masters of software and the R6 represents their first attempt at a complete in-house developed product. And, given the popularity of Hiby’s software and the size of the company, they’re afforded certain liberties with specification and pricing unattainable by smaller companies.

    It was during recent correspondence with other manufacturers that I was alerted to the difficulties of making a smart DAP. Android is an immensely powerful platform with great software support. However, in terms of sound, there are far more variables at play that manufacturers have to consider. Using their experience with software development, Hiby promise to rectify this. The R6 runs full Android 6.0 with DTA that bypasses Android’s native audio processing. It’s also the first midrange DAP to use a Snapdragon SOC, the same used in modern smartphones.

    The R6’s hardware is also impressive, featuring two ESS Saber ES9028Q2M DAC chips and the option of either an aluminium or stainless steel housing. It has a vivid 4.2” screen and a 4000mah battery crammed into a housing the same size as the X5 III. To put that into perspective, the aforementioned Fiio has a smaller 4” display and a 3400mah battery. But perhaps the R6’s most impressive aspect is its price. At just $479/529 on Hiby’s Indiegogo campaign ($650 USD RRP), the R6 represents terrific value, making it a product of interest for many. You can read all about the R6 on Hiby’s campaign here and their website here.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Joe from Hiby very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the R6 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the DAP free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



    Accessories –

    [​IMG]
    The R6 has a more comprehensive accessory suite than most, providing everything the buyer might need to take full advantage of the R6’s features.

    [​IMG]
    Their small hard box contains the R6 itself in addition to high-quality braided USB Type-C and Coaxial cables. Hiby are kind to provide clear film protectors front and back pre-installed from factory to prevent scratches with two additional protectors included in the box.

    [​IMG]
    Hiby also offer a tempered glass option at additional cost. Interestingly, Hiby also provide some High-Res audio stickers for reasons inexplicable to me.



    Design –

    I love the freedom afforded to DAPs. Truly daring designs like the Shozy Alien are something long lost to the homogenous smartphone world. However, on the other hand, DAPs like Fiio’s X7 II and iBasso’s DX200, though respectable within their class, don’t feel perfectly adapted towards their smart interface. In this regard, the R6 feels years ahead; its curvaceous unibody housing and impressive screen to body ratio contributing to both enhanced ergonomics and a sleek, streamlined aesthetic.

    [​IMG]
    The back of the DAP is glass with metal of choice (aluminium or stainless steel) forming its perimeter. It’s a compact player, with similar dimensions to the Fiio X5 III and Hidizs AP200, making it considerably smaller than the iBasso DX200 despite having the same 4.2” screen size. It’s still not especially slim, but its lack of bezels and a bottom amp module allow for easier one-handed use. I was also very pleased by the finish of the player; my anodized model had a smooth, even surface with no visual or palpable defects. What especially impressed me was the machining on the edges; the R6 is smoothly rounded, granting a much more ergonomic in-hand feel. Compared to the sharper edges on the X7 II and DX200, the R6 is a step above.

    [​IMG]
    The control scheme is also well thought out, with an asymmetrical button layout. The audio outputs are at the top of the DAP, an unconventional placement that will ultimately come down to user preference. The buttons themselves are terrific, countersunk for tactility and very clicky with nice travel. The volume buttons are on the left while the media controls (play/pause and skip track) are on the right. An illuminated power button is on the top right, it’s well separated from the other buttons to prevent accidental presses.

    [​IMG]
    On the bottom of the player is a USB Type-C port. This is a much better connector than micro-USB, far sturdier and reversible. The R6 accepts a single micro-sd card using an integrated tray. Other touches that make the Hiby so outstanding to use include 2.5D curved glass over the display that more gently guides the finger. These small considerations all culminate to form a DAP that excels during daily use.



    Usability –

    The first thing users will notice when using the R6 is its screen which is easily the best I’ve seen on a DAP. Not only does it boast a higher 1280×768 resolution (350dpi), but it has excellent contrast and saturation too. The panel also provided great viewing angles with no colour shift or significant brightness drop-off. Maximum brightness is among the highest I’ve seen, higher than the X7 II and DX200, remaining easily visible under the harsh Australian sun. The touchscreen is also very responsive, not quite as precise as an iPhone or high-end Android, but certainly more so than most Android DAPs. As the screen is the main interface of the device, the R6 is simply a pleasure to use.

    [​IMG]
    And beyond the display itself, what powers it can make or break the experience; an example being the Hidizs AP200 whose lag-ridden UI was practically unusable. On the contrary, the R6 is once again exemplary, keeping in mind that these comments are in relation to DAPs, not smartphones. This can be attributed to the implementation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 which provides a huge leap in performance over the Rockchip RK3188 that powers the vast majority of Android DAPs. To my knowledge, it’s the first DAP to assume this chipset and the benefits to real-world performance are immediately apparent.

    [​IMG]
    The R6 zips through its UI with quick animations and smooth transitioning between apps. It feels unburdened by its higher resolution screen or fully-featured Android implementation, unlike other DAPs that forgo Google services to improve performance. I would also hypothesize that Android is more optimised for Qualcomm chipsets as they’re used by the vast majority of smartphones. Combined with a huge increase in raw compute performance, the R6 offers the fastest, smoothest UI I’ve ever experienced from a DAP.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Hiby R6 – Fiio X7 MKII

    The 425 also brings an extended feature set and various optimizations, being based on a vastly newer, more power-efficient process. For instance, standby power draw is much-improved over most Rockchip DAPs and, during use, the R6 managed to just meet Hiby’s 12hr claim, which is highly impressive considering that it has superior power output to Fiio’s X7 II which only manages a modest 8hrs. This can also be attributed to the R6’s large battery capacity at 4000mah. It isn’t unheard of, similar to the DX200 and Echobox Explorer, but it’s a slight bump over the 3800mah Fiio X7 MKII and impressive given how compact the R6 is.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The R6 delivers quick r/w performance

    The R6 has 32GB of internal storage which is on par with most midrange to high-end DAPs. Storage is expandable via a single micro-sd card slot that supports all available capacities. What most impressed me, however, was the speed of Hiby’s solution, which is magnitudes faster than other DAPs and rivals flagship smartphones. This is a specification that isn’t at all marketable but can have a huge impact on the user experience; especially when updating apps, opening and closing apps and most importantly, scrolling through an extensive music library.

    [​IMG]
    In addition, the R6 supports USB OTG, extending to external DAC/AMPs. It provided enough current to power my Cozoy Takt Prowhich has no internal battery and draws around 200mAh. The R6 also supports Quick Charge 3.0 which is a little more efficient than 2.0. This enables users to top up its large cell in just over an hour and a half.

    [​IMG]
    Of course, DAPs were never intended for multitasking and games, but the R6’s 3GB of RAM, speedy quad-core processor and fast internal storage all ensure that the DAP never freezes as the 1GB Fiio X5 III and X7 could. It also keeps more services alive in the background, most noticeable when streaming music whilst browsing. Another notable aspect of the R6 comes in the form of connectivity, with support for dual-band WiFi and BT 4.0 with Apt-X. This resulted in tangibly faster streaming when compared to the competing models using single band solutions.

    [​IMG]
    Ultimately, I can’t say enough good things about the R6’s hardware and user experience. No, it’s not as fast as a flagship smartphone, but it never kept me waiting nor did I experience any instability or hiccups in its performance. That big, vibrant display makes everything pop and the R6’s excellent battery life and WiFi speed ensure a consistently strong experience. Not every DAP maker has the financial power to implement hardware like this so it’s truly remarkable that Hiby are offering such a device at just over $500 from their Indiegogo campaign.



    Software –

    The R6 runs Android 6.0 like most midrange DAPs on the market, though a few are still running 5.X ROMs. My unit is running firmware version 0.01G_Beta at the time of review so some of the following comments may be subject to change with future updates. Hiby’s ROM is clean with no bloatware, it’s essentially stock besides an included wallpaper, the Hiby music app and a few utilities. It should be noted that the R6 also runs a full version of Android complete with the play store and services where some DAPs require the user to sideload additional applications.

    [​IMG]
    Though immensely flexible with a huge variety of apps and deep customization, running Android does introduce several issues for dedicated audio payers. One notable example is Androids inbuilt sample rate conversion which processes music files and degrades audio quality. While some apps are able to bypass this, Hiby are the first to provide system-wide bit-perfect audio through the use of DTA, or direct transfer audio.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And, similar to Fiio, Hiby have baked audio settings into the native Android settings app providing greater convenience than DAPs that place the settings within a proprietary app. This grants users system-wide gain, channel balance and tone control in addition to some subtler DAC filters for fine-tuning to user preference. Hiby also offer some unique settings such as the ability to alter tonality through harmonics; offering the choice of a reference, warm and simulated tube-amp sound. The filter options aren’t as extensive as iBasso’s or Fiio’s, with the choice of minimum phase, fast and slow roll-off. I used the minimum phase setting during testing as it sounded a touch more precise to my ear.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Though the player works perfectly fine with other apps such as Poweramp, Spotify and Tidal due to DTA, the native Hiby Music app is very fully-featured. It has a swipe-based UI that feels most similar to iBasso’s music app, however, its animations are slicker and navigation is a lot faster. It has the usual features one would expect; replaygain, gapless, eQ, lyric support and online streaming. I personally appreciate the album art based library navigation and found each menu smooth and without stutter. Scanning for music is also incredibly fast, significantly quicker than any DAP I’ve previously had experience with.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    However, I feel that MageSound 8-ball will really win over fans. It functions similarly to an eQ, but manipulates frequency range by the intended effect rather than specific frequency ranges. For instance, the menu enables users to alter overall temperature, note thickness and vocal positioning all on variable sliders. It’s a really nifty utility for those unfamiliar with eQ and frequency ranges. Additionally, the R6 keeps the music player service alive in the background when the Hiby music app is closed, a small but easily appreciated feature.



    Sound –

    DAC –

    The R6 implements two ESS Saber ES9028Q2M Pro chips, one per channel. It’s a nice upgrade over the very popular 9018xxx, and one that has proven to be more balanced in the various implementations I’ve tested; lacking the glare associated with Saber’s previous generation chip. However, though the R6’s dual ES9028 setup may sound similar to the much pricier iBasso DX200, it should be noted that iBasso are using the Pro variant, as does the Fiio X7 MKII (but only one).

    The Pro was designed for desktop solutions, with a considerably higher power draw and extended features. In an optimal implementation, both can provide similar dynamic range and SNR (and both are excellent), and both chips boast wide file support outlined in further detail on Hiby’s website here.

    It goes without saying that this is easily among the best solutions available at present, and despite using the portable Q2M variant, Hiby’s implementation is clean and resolving. And like the other 9028 sources I’ve tested, the R6 lacks any middle-treble glare while upholding a high-level of detail retrieval and resolution. Moreover, it retains its technicalities despite lying on the musical side in signature.



    AMP –

    The R6 implements the 2x OPA1612 and 2x TPA1602A opamps, one per channel. It delivers a very potent 300mW RMS through its balanced output and a still very respectable 120mW RMS through its standard output, both into a 32ohm load. Its TRS output is roughly on par with Fiio’s AM3A, and though it does lack the ability to swap in a more powerful module, its balanced output is 50% more powerful than Fiio’s standard implementation.

    In use, the R6 has no issue driving IEMs and portable headphones to potential; it even does a fine job powering larger headphones like the HD6XX though they do miss some control when compared to more powerful solutions. Still, Volume is no issue and noise is practically imperceptible, even when listening through the ridiculously sensitive Campfire Jupiter. I did notice some interference when WiFi was active but it’s not hugely obtrusive, similar to the original Fiio X7. Still, it may bother sensitive IEM users who use a lot of music streaming services.

    This brings us to the main caveat of the Hiby R6, its output impedance. For those unaware, you can read nwavguy’s excellent write-up here, which details all the specifics. The main takeaway is the 1/8th rule which states that the player’s output impedance should be under an eighth of the attached earphone/headphone to avoid dampening issues and signature alteration. At 10 ohms, the R6 can and does have a significant effect on a lot of IEMs, the vast majority of which lie well below 80ohms in impedance. However, single driver earphones are mostly exempt from this rule as most have a flat impedance response.

    As a result, I found the R6 to perform best with single dynamic driver in-ears such as the Beyerdynamic Xelento and Sennheiser ie800S, in addition to cheaper offerings such as the TFZ King Pro. Its output impedance had minimal, if any effect on their signature and all were rewarded with a spacious, dynamic and well-controlled sound. The R6’s enhanced sub-bass and slight darkness isn’t always the best pair to the generally warmer tuning of these earphones, but it’s still a nicely transparent source aided by impressive resolution.

    All of the following comments will be using my Custom Art Fibae 2which also features a flat impedance response. This enables its signature to remain the same between sources of differing output impedance, allowing the individual characteristics of the source itself to shine through. As always, testing will be conducted through an inline switcher and by ear, with all sources mentioned in this review volume matched using an SPL meter.



    Tonality –

    At first, I didn’t find myself captivated by the Hiby R6. This was mainly because my earphone of choice was of a low-impedance, multi-driver design. However, beyond that, the R6 also wasn’t what I was expecting from a Saber 9028 device; it simply seemed to lack some vibrancy and clarity when coming from the Fiio X7 II and the iBasso DX200.

    However, further critical listening revealed that the R6 is a very resolving source. And though it is definitely more on the musical side of the spectrum, the R6 remains transparent enough to permit wide synergy (when disregarding its OI), the hallmark of a proficient source. To further clarify, the R6 delivers a full sound with a slightly darker high-end. Its sound is very well controlled and extension is up there with the best, delivering both high-resolution and a large soundstage. The R6 is also a little more aggressive in its detail presentation, granting a richly textured sound. Please take into account that, as this is a source device, these are small deviations from neutral that can’t be likened to those between headphones and earphones.



    Bass –

    The R6 diverges from the analytical sound expected from Saber sources, delivering a robust low-end with a focus on depth and impact. This stems from well-extended and slightly elevated sub-bass that heightens slam, a good match for balanced armature in-ears. In addition, as mid-bass is fairly neutral, the R6’s low-end still sounds nicely transparent and its tone remains neutral; thereby avoiding muddiness and bloat. This style of tuning also grants the R6 a natural bass note size that contributes to its well-separated presentation despite deeper emphasis.

    The R6 also excels through its tightness and control, producing defined and focused notes. Though decay is a touch longer than more analytical sources, the R6 is impressively dynamic, exceeding most similarly priced DAPs. This is imbued through a combination of its aforementioned enhanced impact, in addition to great separation on account of the Hiby’s excellent mid-bass control and clean presentation. It isn’t a reference source in the same sense as the iBasso DX200, but it’s only a little more sculpted than sources like the Fiio X7 II, which bodes well for the versatility of its synergy.



    Mids –

    The R6 has a slightly darker midrange with a more laid-back vocal reconstruction. This character can be primarily attributed to two factors; a bolstered lower-midrange that creates a full-bodied presentation, and a slightly attenuated upper-midrange that creates smoother, cleaner vocals. By contrast, the R6’s centre midrange remains fairly neutral in quantity if not very slightly elevated, thereby maintaining pleasing vocal presence. Its slight upper-midrange dip can make female vocals and instruments such as strings sound a little distant though, it isn’t sculpted to the extent of thickness or congestion.

    As a result, the R6 doesn’t excel with clarity, but it also never sounds veiled due to its higher resolution combined with great space and separation. This also grants the R6 with nice background detail retrieval, so it’s one of the more resolving sources I’ve heard around this price despite not being especially bright or analytical in any way. This style of tuning works in conjunction with a slight lower-treble lift that serves to increase articulation, helping to prevent overshadowing of upper-midrange elements. The product is a source that excels with timbre, sounding very smooth and natural but not explicitly warm. And though the R6 doesn’t bring fine details to the fore like some others, its sound is clean, nuanced and doesn’t grate on the ear over time.



    Treble –

    The R6’s high-end is well coordinated with its midrange, maintaining a slightly more laid-back presentation prioritising cleanliness over clarity. That said, lower-treble has slight emphasis imbuing energy and articulation into its high-end. And, in addition to being slightly more aggressive in its treble attack, the R6 also retrieves a great amount of detail. Its emphasis is also gradual enough to maintain realistic instrument timbre; guitar strums sound crisp yet richly bodied and strings are delivered with accurate texture. Treble gently falls off above, before extending linearly into the highest registers.

    This dip into the middle-treble results in a more laid-back presentation, especially with regards to strings. However, it also grants the R6 with a dark background that strongly contributes to its overall sense of cleanliness. Still, the R6 has audibly muted sparkle and shimmer which may not please lovers of Japanese or Korean music. That said, the R6’s excellent extension contributes to its high resolution, and the Hiby is ultimately a very composed and well organise DAP; excelling with all levels of mastering quality through a combination of excellent detailing, resolution and control.



    Soundstage –

    The R6 has a spacious stage with especially impressive width. It’s clearly more open and layered than the Fiio X7 II but lacks a little depth compared to the pricier iBasso DX200 w/AMP5. This can partly be attributed to its laid-back high-end that emphasizes its sense of space, though its fullness also provides density to its layers. As such, I find the R6 to provide very convincing imaging; its natural body and expansive stage dimensions working in unison to provide coherence while maintaining separation. Separation, in particular, is quite standout as the R6 has zero glare and well-considered tone throughout. Combined with its cleanliness, every frequency range remains well-delineated and defined.



    Balanced –

    The balanced output has two and a half times the output power of the regular TRS output but drops runtimes from 12hrs down to 7hrs. It’s using the same amp chips as the regular output so don’t expect huge changes apart from a slight increase in volume. I used an SPL meter to ensure both outputs were as similar in volume as possible when ABing, and subjectively hear some differences between the two. Through balanced, I experienced a slightly deeper bass response with greater impact. It also has a different soundstage presentation that sounds larger, most notably with regards to width in addition to increased separation. That said, I don’t feel that its presence hasn’t compromised the quality of the regular TRS output.



    Match-ability –

    Although the R6 is undoubtedly a very nice sounding DAP within its tier, its output impedance does create inconsistency between earphones. As the effects can vary on a case by case basis, I’ll provide comments on the Hiby’s output impedance using a variety of driver types and impedances. Comments will be relative to the Fiio X7 MKII (OI <1.2ohms) with which I am most familiar.

    Beyerdynamic Xelento (16ohm, dynamic): The Xelento is a resolving low-impedance dynamic driver earphone. It has excellent synergy with the R6, benefitting from strong dynamics and a spacious, separated stage. Actually sounds a little more balanced due to improved control, especially with regards to bass. More transparent midrange.

    TFZ King Pro (55ohm, dynamic): Not overly affected, slightly darker and fuller in line with impressions through the Fibae 2. Nice synergy, a little more bass depth, clear mids, a little more natural. High-end is very detailed, nice shimmer and extension. Spacious stage.

    Noble Audio Katana (~20ohms, 9-driver BA): Potentially terrible pairing given the Katana’s driver count. However, its slightly higher impedance lends it well towards the Hiby as does its brighter signature (subjectively). Bass lacks a touch of extension but the R6’s sub-bass lift well compensates. Upper-mids become notably more laid-back as do highs. Still plenty of crispness, even sounds a bit cleaner due to smoother middle-treble. Similar resolution and larger stage dimensions.

    64Audio U6 (22ohm, 6-driver BA): I experienced similar signature changes to the Katana; noticeable, but not destructive. Most notable was the R6’s more laid-back female vocals, slightly more aggressive lower-treble and cleaner background. Resolution remained high as did bass control. I did miss a little air and clarity up top, but the R6 sounded appreciably more spacious due to its more laid-back presentation and equally strong extension.

    Hyla CE-5 (8.9ohm, 4-driver hybrid): The Hyla is very source sensitive, providing a worst case scenario. Immediately skewed signature, considerably darker and more veiled. Bass is dominant and bloated, lacking control. Mids are smooth but more recessed and highs sound very muted and distant. Notable drop in volume. The CE-5 was unlistenable from the Hiby.



    Comparisons –

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    Shozy Alien+ ($450): The Alien+ represents the complete opposite of the R6. Its UI is completely archaic with just the bare essentials, especially when compared to the slick, fully-featured Hiby. And though navigation is quick on the Shozy, its very limited file support makes it feel like a DAC/AMP with inbuilt GUI over a DAP; and using the Alien+ as a USB DAC does mitigate most of its functional shortcomings. Physically, the Alien+ is basic and with sharp edges, but there’s a nostalgic beauty in its simplicity. It’s as compact as the R6, but its control scheme requires some practice. The Alien+ has a very short battery life of 6hrs, just half that of the R6. This is because the Alien+ delivers 24V to its audio hardware intended for desktop designs.

    As such, it’s in listening that the Alien+ excels. It has a similar signature to the R6 but is a little more subtle in its sculpting, providing greater balance and transparency. The R6 has slightly more sub-bass slam while the Alien+, though still slightly more impactful, is more neutral in its low-end, sounding cleaner as a result. Both DAPs are slightly laid-back in their midrange presentation, the Alien+ less so. I also found the Alien+ to provide a touch more clarity and it’s more neutrally bodied than the R6. The Alien+ is also slightly more aggressive in its lower-treble, but it’s more detailed than the Hiby. Both extend very well, the Alien+ provides a touch more resolution than the R6. The R6 has a larger soundstage, and its more laid-back midrange and high-end contribute to this. I find the Alien+ to image better where the R6 can push vocals too far to the side. The Alien+ has greater separation due to its greater overall balance.

    Though not stated on Shozy’s website, I estimate the Alien+ to have a very high output impedance. It actually sounded less balanced than the R6 when listening through the Hyla CE-5 (my most source sensitive IEM). Apart from this, its amplifier is the best I’ve heard from a DAP; with 5 gain levels, zero background hiss and terrific control. The R6 lacks the same power, but surprisingly, it’s actually more consistent between earphones and almost as clean when WiFi is off. So though the Alien+ is undoubtedly a terrific sounding DAP, it’s also fairly inconsistent with multi-driver IEMs and its UI is generations behind the R6. That said, its exceptionally powerful amplifier makes it the clear choice for headphone users.

    Echobox Explorer ($599): The Explorer’s very traditional wood flask design is hardly sleek but fits very comfortably in the hand due to its very rounded back. It runs Android 6.0.1 but, despite being considerably thicker than the R6 and similarly sized, it has a much smaller 3.5” display that can feel a little cramped. Still, its touchscreen is responsive as is its UI, though it still doesn’t feel nearly as slick as the R6 despite being functionally gimped with no play store or services. Finally, it has a very tactile top-mounted volume wheel which doubles as a power button in addition to a beefy 4000mah battery. The R6 still manages considerably better battery life at 12hrs as opposed to 7-8 in my uses.

    Like, the Alien+, its sound does a lot to redeem its functional shortcomings. It’s also a more musical sounding source that lies on the slightly fuller, more engaging side. The Explorer has a light bump in its sub-bass, though it produces a touch less impact than the similarly sub-bass emphasized R6. Bass is otherwise slightly more articulate on the Explorer due to its more aggressive lower-treble. Mids are slightly laid-back on the Explorer but more balanced than the darker R6. Its female vocals are a little more forward with slightly greater clarity. The Explorer has a more aggressive lower-treble, it’s very detailed and brings those details to the fore more than most DAPs. The R6 sounds smoother and more refined as a result while the Explorer is more articulate. The Explorer images quite well though its stage is smaller than the R6’s. Both are well separated.

    The Explorer is another DAP that I would surmise to be better suited for headphones over IEMs. It has a very powerful amplifier, outputting as much current through its 3.5mm out as the R6 through its balanced output (though the Explorer has no balanced output). However, it also has a high noise floor, with immediately audible hiss on all of my in-ears. It also appears to have a higher output impedance, in fact, it’s very possible that both DAPs are using the TPA6120 (10ohm OI), something that has been confirmed on various Japanese forums online. As a result, both tend to have a considerable impact on low impedance multi-driver in-ears.

    Fiio X7 MKII ($650): The R6 is considerably smaller despite having a larger battery and screen. It’s more rounded design is more comfortable to hold but also a little slippery. The R6’s UI is much faster and its screen looks a lot better, it’s also running Android 6.0 as opposed to 5.1.1. I appreciate the move to USB Type-C on the Hiby and it offer 50% longer runtimes on each charge. The main advantage of the X7 MKII is its dual micro-sd card slots and some may prefer its volume wheel over separate volume buttons. The X7 II also has swappable amp modules which enable more flexible driving power and noise though at an additional cost.

    Sonically, the DAPs are more quite matched. The R6 has greater sub-bass impact while the X7 II is a hair fuller in its mid-bass. As such, the R6 sounds a bit cleaner and more defined within its low-end despite being more impactful. The R6 has a darker midrange with a more laid-back presentation while the X7 II has greater clarity and transparency. The X7 II and R6 most diverge in their higher frequencies, the X7 II has greater air and sparkle while the R6 is a little more aggressively detailed before gently sloping off. As such, the R6 sounds cleaner but also less immediately revealing. Still, both extend well, producing similarly high levels of resolution. The R6 actually has a slightly larger stage which is compounded upon by its more laid-back presentation. The R6 has a more separated low-end due to its cleaner mid-bass and its high-end sounds more composed. It images better than the X7 MKII.

    The R6 produces less background hiss than the X7 II but produces slightly less volume through its unbalanced output. On the contrary, the R6 suffers from some interference when WiFi is active while the X7 MKII has none. Of course, the X7 II is a lot more consistent due to its vastly lower output impedance.

    iBasso DX200 ($870): On a hardware level, the R6 feels appreciably more refined. Though both have the same screen size, the R6 occupies a far smaller footprint. And, despite the DX200 using an octa-core processor and a stripped down version of Android 6.0.1 with no play store or services, the R6 feels more responsive; possibly due to the rather insensitive digitizer on the iBasso. The R6 also has a far better screen and its battery life is slightly longer. I appreciate the move to USB-C on both, interestingly, the DX200 has a top facing port. The DX200 has fairly tactile controls and a nice clicky volume wheel that some may prefer.

    The DX200 uses 2 ES9028 Pro chips as opposed to the Q2M variant on the Hiby. Despite this, the difference in sound quality between the two isn’t enormous though the DX200 is more akin to the X7 MKII in signature than the musical R6. The DX200 has a more linear low-end, the R6 producing slightly more sub-bass by comparison. It sound has a hair more texture and definition but isn’t quite as separated. The DX200 has a fairly neutral midrange too, with just a slight bump in lower-mids using the AMP5 module. By comparison, the R6 is more laid-back. The DX200 is slightly more detailed though its treble has slightly less attack than the Hiby. The DX200 is also more balanced within its high-end, producing more air, though it also doesn’t sound as clean as the R6. In terms of soundstage, the DX200 has more space and images slightly better with greater detail in its outer layers. That said, the R6 does sound more separated and its cleaner background is easy to appreciate.

    Like the X7 MKII, the DX200 has swappable amp modules, providing more flexible driving power with different gear. It produces impressive output power for a DAP; though it should be noted that my unit came equipped with the AMP5, not the stock AMP1 module. Neither produce much background noise, though the DX200 doesn’t have any interference with WiFi activity.



    Verdict –

    The R6 has been one of the most difficult products I’ve ever evaluated. I’m absolutely smitten by its sleek, ergonomic design, its vibrant display and most of all, its smartphone-like responsiveness. In terms of user experience, the R6 feels a generation or two ahead of current DAPs and this is only compounded upon by its very respectable battery life and Hiby’s terrifically designed music app. I also appreciate the smaller details such as dual-band WiFi and especially fast internal storage. On the contrary, I can’t help but feel that the R6’s sound won’t be as universally adored; it’s high output impedance introducing inconsistency into an otherwise very well-tuned signature.

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    This isn’t an issue specific to the R6, Hiby have just been transparent about it; though that still doesn’t exempt the R6 when similarly priced DAPs like Fiio’s X7 MKII offer a far more versatile 1ohm output impedance. Of course, it doesn’t affect all gear, and not all changes are necessarily negative; OI issues are also easily alleviated using iFi’s IEMatch or Earbuddy. Still, this is a blemish on an otherwise fairly immaculate canvas. Because, beyond its polarising synergy, the R6 is musical, natural in timbre and spacious. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that Hiby have created something wonderful; a surprisingly uncompromised convergence between smart tech and traditional audio, all at a modest midrange price.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please see my website for more just like it!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. gemmoglock
      Hi Ryan, could you elaborate a bit more on the "previous gen" sabre glare? I'm actually comparing the smaller R3 with the same DAC to an Onkyo DP-S1 with dual 9018C2M. Thanks!
      gemmoglock, Apr 6, 2018
    3. ryanjsoo
      @gemmoglock A lot of the earlier 9018 sources had some extra presence around 8KHz that could overshadow instrument detail. That said, it's case by case, the Fiio X7 doesn't have the same issue for instance, so it's very possible Hiby have addressed this on the R3.
      ryanjsoo, Apr 6, 2018
      gemmoglock likes this.
    4. gemmoglock
      Thanks @ryanjsoo. Just wondering did you install the tempered glass directly on the screen or on top of the factory film screen protector?
      gemmoglock, Apr 6, 2018