Although HiBy started as a software company, it is more on the hardware side of things that HiBy has been particularly successful. Since the release of their R6, a plethora of DAPs followed although their flagship — the R6 Pro — caught most of the attention. While their R3 and R3 Pro propose more mainstream alternatives, the recently released R5 boasts amazing features in a package which will fit most hands like a glove.
HiBy R5 / Firmware: R5Int_1.7G_20191209_1627 – Audio effects: none / Music app used: HiBy Music 1.4.5Beta – Official site
Campfire Audio Andromeda Special Edition: Gold (silicone tips, medium) with stock Smoky Litz Cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended
Dunu Titan 6 (balanced (blue) tips, medium) with stock cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Never Going Back Again / Quality: 24-Bit 96.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Iron Maiden, Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark / Quality: 24-Bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Joni Mitchell, Blue, California / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Nina Simone, Pastel Blues, Sinnerman (Live In New York/1965) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here / Quality: DSD / SACD
Plüm, You’re the one, You’re the one / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Anji / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, Superstition (Album Version) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Various Artists, Atlantic Jazz: Soul, Comin’ Home Baby (LP Version) / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
8 hours / No improvement noticed
The R5 is a lush and smooth DAP with excellent soundstage as well as bass. The mids and highs are both there and share the same smoothness as the overall presentation. Unless you’re into analytical, clinical or neutral sound, there is really nothing not to like. The R5 is also a powerful little thing with little to no trade-offs with sensitive IEMs as its noise floor is ridiculously low.
Build quality is surprisingly excellent — the stock pictures really do not do it justice. The design is good. Buttons are pressed with ease but not so easily as to be pressed accidentally in your pocket — particularly when using a leather case such as the one from Dignis. That being said, the fact that the volume buttons are on the other side of the Forward – Play/Pause – Back buttons can lead you to accidentally press buttons you did not intend to.
The Operating System (OS) used is Android 8.1 which is annoying to use on a screen this size and greatly limits the user experience. Does it work? Yes, although the touchscreen quality could be better in terms of reactivity/sensitivity.
The HiBy music app is passable. Issues I have with it are: a lack of reactivity compared to other apps; micro-seconds lost at the beginning of some tracks; as well as, when one changes the volume with the volume buttons, the ability to change the volume via the touchscreen which will make the volume jump to painful levels while you simply wanted to tap on the screen to do anything but this. Some users have and will literally suffer from this — albeit just for a few seconds depending on your reaction time (YMMV 😏). Again: does it work? Yes, but it should be better, particularly coming from an (ex?) software company.
Last but not least, in terms of connectivity, while I didn’t test the Bluetooth, the Wi-Fi connection worked although it seemed to sometimes struggle.
COMPARED WITH THE SONY NW-ZX300
Sound-wise, both DAPs are close — really close. Here are the main differences I noticed:
· A tiny bit less bass
· Mids a bit more present
· Perhaps more controlled?
· A bit more bass
· Mids a little less present
· Clearly more powerful
From a purely sonic and hardware perspective, the R5 is a great little player which deserves a solid 4/5. However, the experience is hindered by its software (just look at the firmware and software version numbers); a paradox and shame given that HiBy started as a software company. In a day and age when Apple taught everyone that Hardware + Software = 1, such mistakes should not happen, regardless of the price paid. As far as I am concerned, I will not touch another DAP with streaming capabilities unless it is deeply and properly customized. To each his/her own I guess.