Hiby company claimed its hifi music player Hiby R6, the world’s most advanced hifi android audio player, is it really works as its claim? Xtenik collect all the reviews here, so it is much easier for you to find that if it is worthing to buy.
Well, without wasting your time, let’s jump on it.
Quite a few things actually though the basic form factor and platform remain the same on a macro level.
New Amp stage
The first is that output impedance on both its 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm unbalanced jacks. This was a polarizing topic the minute the 10Ω spec sheet was released for the original R6.
Low impedance IEMs would have to be jacked via an iFi IEMatch cable (an accidental hero, much to iFi’s delight I am sure) to prevent what we call low-z skew. This is basically where the frequency tuning takes a turn away from what you expect, such as a darker tone or less bass. It seemed to have an effect on very sensitive IEMs, particularly BA designs.
The R6 Pro remedies this with a complete amp stage overhaul. Out goes the TI dual TPA6120A and OPA1612 amp stage and in comes four Muses8920 and an SSM6322 from Analog Devices.
Not only will this reduce the impedance level to less than 0.5Ω for both balanced and unbalanced to match better with sensitive IEMs but will also change the tonal balance and maximum power output rating. In short, the R6 Pro output is more stable and much more powerful than the older R6.
The final part of the amp stage overhaul is the jack configuration. Out goes the older 2.5mm balanced jack output and in comes the more modern Japanese NIPPON DICS 4.4mm pentaconn balanced format to match the likes of iBasso, FiiO, Cayin and of course Sony.
The second change is the software platform, moving from Android 6 to Android 8, or Oreo. Why is this important? Quite apart from the “keeping up with the Jones’es” element in 2019 it also brings in a few new features as well as allowing HiBy to retain their bit-perfect DTA Architecture.
The key new feature for me is the ability to transmit BT LDAC (and HWA) out of the box which Android 6 did not offer. Ironically, this brings the stock R6 Pro up to par with their junior R3 which is also now LDAC capable.
They would be mad to ditch the ‘baby with the bathwater’ in terms of what people loved about the R6. Thankfully HiBy thinks the same way.
So that means the same 3GB RAM and fast Snapdragon 425 SoC experience. The lovely 2.5D Glass small bezel IPS screen and the stainless-steel body (no aluminum at the time of writing) stays. It also means a return of the ESS ES9028Q2M dual DAC implementation and the brilliant MSEB DSP software.
THE HIBY R6
All those DAPs I mentioned above have ups and downs. The ZX1 didn’t have a great sound in terms of naturalness. The ZX2 sounds great, but it has a slow processor so the UI experience is no way fluid and it has an ancient version of Android. The X7 had a serious hiss when the Wi-Fi was open (don’t know the Mk2). X5III doesn’t sound great to me, although being a very practical and easy to use DAP. Onkyo had the same Wi-Fi hiss problem, similar to X7 Mk1. DX200 is close to perfection in my opinion, as it sounds very very good and close to TOTL, but it also has some small dents when it comes to software and it’s not blazing fast. Yet, I think it’s one of the best sounding Android DAPs on the market.
The HiBy R6 on the other hand, is the new player in this market that aims to solve all these problems. Does it achieve that? No device is perfect of course, but I can say it performs really well in all aspects you expect of an Android DAP. I’ll surely mention those qualities as much as I can, so let’s get on with the “not sound” parts.
This is easily one of the most solid DAPs around. Stainless steel is extremely good to hold and to shoot a glance. Together with the compact structure, HiBy R6 feels like a tank. In fact, the chassis is from a mono block steel which is really impressive. There’s no point that feels uncomfortable or edgy, as the body has smooth transition on the corners, including the 2.5D glass.
But be aware of the weight of this SS version. It’s 275g, which puts it the heaviest Android DAP as far as I know. Aluminum version weighs 190 grams (similar to X5III), which is very nice and that one should be very comfortable to hold.
According to Joe from HiBy, there’s no difference other than looks and weight between the two different body versions. They just wanted to offer two chassis options for users. To me SS is incredibly solid and fancy!
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.
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.
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.
After powering it up, the first thing that jumps out to you is the screen, it has good brightness, and punchy colors, probably one of the best I’ve seen on a DAP.
The second thing that jumped out to me was the feel, touch navigation and responsiveness in Android surpassed my expectations there isn’t any perceptible stutter or lag, you touch, swipe and it follows.
Popped in some music, set up the Hiby music app, whatever IEMs I had and just gave it some casual listening, early signs are positive, a very dark background devoid of hiss, and it sounds good. The Hiby seems to be leaning towards a neutral tonality as the IEMs I have tried it with keep their general signature(Multi BA low impedance models notwithstanding) staging and details seem good as well.
It gets plenty loud on either single ended or balanced. The Hiby Music app is essentially the same one you can get at the play store with some special features packed in. I haven’t done my usual battery of err… battery tests but I’ve never needed to charge more than once a day and it will usually last me at least two days. I’ve also tried the Bluetooth connection with our cars, and it had no trouble linking with any of the 3 different cars, and the Wi-Fi is stable, though it doesn’t seem to have the same reach as the phones.
Unboxing & Accessories
The HiBy R6 Pro comes in a black package with the brand logo printed on the front and the words “MAKE MUSIC MORE MUSICAL” are printed below it. After opening the package, there are HiBy R6 Pro, clear protective case, screen protectors, Hi-Res logo stickers, USB-Type C cable, coaxial cable, instruction manual, certification guide & eject pin.
DAP Build & Design
The R6 Pro has a rectangular design and the body is made of stainless steel. On the front, there is the touchscreen (Sharp 4.2″ high resolution IPS screen). There are the Hi-Res logo sticker and brand logo on the surface below the touchscreen. At the top of the R6 Pro, there are the line out/coaxial output, 3.5mm standard headphone output jack and 4.4mm balanced headphone output jack. At the left side, there are volume up/down buttons and Micro SD slot. At the right side, there are switch on/off button, play/pause button, back and next buttons. At the bottom of the R6 Pro, there is the USB Type C charging port. The back of the R6 Pro sports the brand logo and some specifications.
The Great Sound Generator
The Hiby R6 is the world’s most advanced HiFi music player, it comes with not one, but dual ES9028Q2M DAC chips, coupled with a HiFi discrete amplification architecture after the dual DACs comprising 5 separate chips, including high quality OPA1612 LPF and TPA6120 amplification chips for high power output (up to 300mW under a 32Ω）
R6 supports all high-resolution audio formats, equipped with WiFi and DNLA Bluetooth 4.0 aptX, ensuring flawless wireless communication.
Externally the fit and finish is perfect. While it lacks some of the nicer features of other DAPs, such as a volume wheel, there are some nice touches, such as the rounded corners and the power indicator light on the power button changing colour depending on the resolution of the music being played.
The overall size is about the same as a FiiO X7 with the AM0 (ampless) module. The screen is bright and crisp and the sockets look to be quality items.
Functionality-wise the R6 is your typical player. Insert a micro-SD card of your choice (it supports up to 2TB, even if a card this large doesn’t exist yet), start up the Hiby Music Player, sync your music, plug in headphones or IEMs (balanced 2.5mm or 3.5mm single-ended) and control playback and volume using the side buttons.
On the good side, it has a USB C port which has Qualcomm Quickcharge support, allowing you to charge the battery faster than other players. It also has a line out socket that also supports coaxial digital output, using the same, slightly annoying pinout as FiiO does, where the sleeve of the plug is positive.
In the box, the R6 comes with a very nice gold-plated USB C cable with a quality cable tie and rubber case. For extra, it is possible to order a leather case, which was sent with mine for the review.
An equally high-quality digital coaxial cable is also included so that the R6 can be used as a transport to a regular DAC.
To complete the picture, as well as the attached screen protector, a spare one is included in the box.
One negative is that the headphone sockets have a 10 Ohm output impedance. While this reduces noise, it will have some effects on IEMs that use multiple balanced armatures and subsequently don’t have a flat impedance curve. The lack of a wheeled volume may also be less than ideal for some people.
Unlike other DAPs, the R6 only comes with a single micro SD card slot. If you want to carry more than 256 GB of music (plus the 32 GB of internal storage) you’re out of luck.
However where it really shines is that it runs as fast as a modern smart phone. After using the R6 for a couple of weeks, my original FiiO X7 seems incredibly slow and frustrating.
My first impression when listening to HiBy R6 is that it is a clean-sounding player capable of revealing the audio flaws from compressed files. The usual tracks that sound a little crowded or warm in normal DAPs becomes clearer, more roomy, more apparent musical details. The details, as always, are more apparent when listening over the 2.5mm balanced connection, and anyone who buys a DAP with 2.5mm port should listen through this. While the R6 played over standard 3.5mm audio is already better than most consumer players, the 2.5mm delivers even better dynamics and details, imagine that.
When comparing to the LG G7+ ThinQ (using Sennheiser HD 650 over 3.5mm port), the R6 delivers a lot more clarity and precision, the sound staging is slightly more dimensional and open. Even when playing YouTube tracks like Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love”, the R6 feels like it remastered the track, yet the treble clarity contains little harshness nor sibilant. Switching back the G7+, it felt warmer, fuller bass with longer decay.
While the R6 mids and bass do not sound as warm, this allows me to enjoy more tonality that are easily hidden beneath the bloom. Because of this, I find it complements neutral headphones like the Sennheiser HD 650 (which tend to sound a little warm) very well.
Many audiophile reviewers highlighted that the 10-ohm output impedance on the R6 could cause some performance inconsistencies when listening to low-ohm earphones. In short, if your headphone collection are consumer-grade, the R6 might not be ideal. In any case, I strongly advise you to head over to Zeppelin & Co. audio café to spend quality time to try the R6 with your gear before deciding. I do find the Klipsch X12i does not deliver optimal audio results, somewhat sounding less focused and lacks clear sound staging. On the other hand, the Creative Aurvana Trio delivers hair-raising clarity, mid-treble fullness with hairline sibilance, and firm bass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87rOCVVUes8 ( Porta.fi, 17K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wJQfOACnJk (Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews,13K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkBeuFEcyxc (Currawong, 10K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJTFkdpXzeE (Aornic, 4K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7FURUEEMxA ( Techgum, less than 1K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKZ9_nsIVx0 ( Hiby R6 vs iBasso DX150 vs FiiO X7 Mk2 comparison, Porta.fi, 17K followers)