Efficiency & Noise Floor
Oh wow, what a low noise floor from such a powerful little DAP. I am very impressed by the hiss performance of the R5 with sensitive IEMs such as the Solaris, Andromeda and the Empire Ears Phantom. It is not a totally black background but then you would be hard-pressed to find any DAP analog amp stage with a pitch-black performance.
Put it this way, it makes the R6 Pro hiss very noticeable on both unbalanced and balanced and its sub-1Ω output rating means no low-Z impedance skew either from the original R6. HiBy is learning here and the R5 represents their best effort to date to accommodate sensitive monitor users.
We tested the R5 against the iBasso DX150 and FiiO’s M11 and for both outputs, the M11 was by far the noisier amp stage. The DX150 with AMP6, (stock amp card), had a very slight edge going unbalanced for noise floors but with balanced the R5 edged ahead and it is supposed to be the more powerful balanced DAP amp.
(Picture credit : Headfonics)
This is where you have to take note. For a DAP at this price point to be able to churn out 0.5W into a 32Ω load makes this a viable contender for planar headphone users. We had no problems driving the likes of the Meze Empyrean, SendyAudio Aiva, the Ananda and even the HE1000 V2 gave a good account of itself on high gain 4.4mm.
I still give the edge to the R6 Pro on account of its higher 750mW 4.4mm output rating and you can hear that difference using the HE1000 V2 with its better dynamic range and fuller sound which works well with Hifiman’s former flagship headphones.
Design and Build Quality
HiBy once again follows a sleek design language with the R5. We all know that HiBy DAPs ooze “sexiness”, and this one is no different. The rounded edges, all glass back, convenient button placement in a nice, compact package is all you need in this kind of a player.
To me the device looks really cool when the screen is off. My sample is all black so it’s quite integrated and slick. With the addition of this model, HiBy now has a very consistent and elegant design language from R6 series to the R3 series. This is a very nice portfolio, appealing to different budget levels.
(Image Credit: Headfonia)
The build quality is quite good and there isn’t a bad surprise after HiBy’s already successful DAPs in this regard. However I found the backside somewhat weak. When I tap onto it with my fingers, the sound feedback is not very ideal to me. I suggest there’s nothing else on the other side since it feels “empty” when I tap. Otherwise I didn’t find any liability in terms of long-term usage.
I personally experienced the R6 and R3 DAPs before this R5 model. All of the HiBy players left good impressions on me in terms of design and usability. With its beautiful screen and compact structure, it’s a fabulous device to use. The HiBy Music brand now has established itself not only as a software company, but also as a great DAP manufacturer among the audiophile community.
Twister 6 Review
I analyzed R5 sound with U18t while playing a variety of my favorite test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ariana Grande “Break up with your girlfriend”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Robin Schultz “Oh child”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. Prior to staring my sound analysis, I let R5 play in a loop for 4-5 days.
R5 DAP has a more neutral natural tonality. The sound has good dynamics, with a decent vertical expansion of the peaks and a good layering and separation of sounds, though don’t expect too much airiness between layers. It’s not on the same level as some high-end flagships, but the performance is solid.
( Image Credit: Twister6)
Thanks to a black background, the transient response of notes on/off has a clean transition, and I was also very pleased to hear no hissing (or just a very minimum) with a number of sensitive low impedance IEMs. Considering its high output power, R5 was tuned to keep the hissing low even in high gain on 4.4mm BAL output.
The soundstage has a little more intimacy because I hear the sound being more spacious in depth (more out of your head feeling) rather than width. Soundstage width is above average, just not as wide as in some other DAPs. But that doesn’t stop R5 from having accurate imaging with a good precision in placement of instruments and vocals.
3.5mm vs 4.4mm output.
The change in the sound going from SE to BAL is not too drastic. Besides the obvious difference in power where I have to raise the volume up with 3.5mm to match the same level with 4.4mm, I do hear BAL (4.4mm) to have a little more transparency (3.5mm is a little warmer in comparison) and to be a touch wider in soundstage.
HiBy R5 vs HiBy R3
The R5 has slightly more sub-bass quantity than the R3 and the extension is better on the R5.
The sub-bass reproduction on the R5 delivers an impactful rumble.
The mid-bass on the R3 has additional body which presents the slam with a heavier feeling. The presentation on the R5 is tighter and punchier. The bass texture on the R5 is rendered more smoothly than the R3. The bass decay on the R5 is quicker with an agile expression. Each bass note on the R5 is articulated with precision and impact.
The midrange on the R5 has higher level of musicality than the R3 and vocals are presented with better clarity. The lower midrange on the R3 has slightly more body but the R5 presents male vocals with better clarity. The upper midrange on the R5 is boosted with additional forwardness and the greater emphasis creates a more intimate female vocals presentation.
(Image Credit: Audio123review)
The R5 has a more detailed midrange display. Next, the treble on the R5 has greater extension. The R5 has more body than the R3 and the presentation is smoother. There is a controlled showing on the R5.
There is greater amount of air rendered on the R5. The R3 has a slightly brighter expression. The crisp on the R5 has better definition. There is a little more sparkle on the R3. Lastly, the R5 has a more natural expansion in its soundstage. There is greater width magnitude on the R5. The depth of the R3 is more closed in.
Of course, for a qualified and even excellent HIFI player, it’s for the ear to speak. The DAC CS43198 has always been described as “pleasantly, comfortable and analog”. And it’s proven by R5’s sound, which is gentle and smooth. There is a certain analog taste. Treble, middle and bass are balanced and there is no obvious bias. Its emotion feels real and natural. The atmosphere is also very strong.
The headset paired here is Astrotec’s Delphinus 5 and the tracks are mainly vocal pops and classical strings.
(Image Credit: Musicplayerreview)
Bass: The volume is moderate. Compared with the powerful bass which gives people a roaring impact, its bass is more focused on emotion and atmosphere creation. The transient response is very fast. There is a certain cohesion and texture. Clarity and transient performance is also quite brilliant and relaxed. The dive and elasticity can be described as “just right”. At first the sound will not be totally amazing, but after patient and careful taste, you will find that the warmth underneath is more real and more moving.
Vocal: The sound is full of color and the base is warm and pure. Sound figure is sharp and thick, rich in detail. The sense of layer is obvious. The vocal position is slightly closer to the ears. But there is no tooth tone. The separation from the background instrument is good. Its sound is like crystal jade and smooth silk.
Treble: The treble is clear and bright, without any sharp felling. The extension and resolution are in the good end. The density is well controlled. The overtones are excellent and the amount of information is great. Sound field is wide and natural and you will not feel crowded. Vertical or horizontal, the distribution is even.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZEFG11q7n8 （Full review of HiBy R5 digital audio player, by Porta.fi. Leave a comment there if you have any questions)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_yxH9QKcjw (Unbox Hiby R5 Hires Android DAP By Soundproofbros)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp3W3TQ72r0 (HiBy R5 Unboxing & First Impressions – The Armchair Audiophile)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XJzwvFVGmY (HiBy R5 | Der Android Music-Player Alleskönner?)