Tonality9.2
Build & Functionality9.5
Software9
Matchability8.8
Value For Money9.6
9.2
Our Score

Disclaimer: The HiBy Music R6 sent to us uses the domestic market firmware. Some features that will be in the international version are missing on this unit at the time of review. As such we will revisit this review as and when those additional features are added and amend the review.

The $649 R6 is a big deal in terms of new digital media players. Primarily so because it is being launched by HiBy Music.

HiBy Music has been operating for over 10 years now with over 30 staff and has gained a reputation for some solid software and audio processing releases down through the years.

For those that may not be familiar with HiBy Music products chances are you already are but do not realize it. Do you own a Shanling M1, M2s, M3s, 2nd Gen FiiO X1, 3, X5 or Cayin i5/N3 DAP? Or maybe perhaps a desktop solution such as the Cayin iDAP-6?

Have a look at that software that all these audio units run on. That is right, it is a HiBy Music platform.

The omnipotence does not stop there. Are you using an Android or iOS Smartphone by any chance? Have a look at the Apps Store and you will find the HiBy Music app free to download and use.

Over half a million people are already using it over 90 countries and I am one of them for the last few years. It simply works and works very well indeed.

What Is The Pitch?

Dual DAC

From an audio perspective, the standout pESSitch is the dual Sabre ES9028Q2M, one for each channel. At this price point this is as advanced as it gets both in terms of material cost and performance potential.

Just before you get all too sweaty I do need to note that the Q2M version is not the same as the higher priced iBasso DX200 dual Es9028PRO design. These are the mobile chip versions rather than the full PRO versions and part of the reason why HiBy can get the R6 down to the seductive price point.

So what you get is a little less draw on power but you do get a competitive high-performance, 32-bit, Stereo audio D/A converter drawing a lot of features from the PRO line. You should also get excellent potential performance capability with none of the older ES9018K2M’s potential glare

The K2M chip was the chip of choice for years in portable audio gear. Some have diverged to the ES9028PRO but I think the Q2M mobile version will be the norm for future audio gear using ESS chips.

DTA Architecture

The R6 uses Android 6.1 which, alongside the DX200, makes it one of the most advanced in terms of software platforms for DAPs. However, the ability to bypass Android’s sample rate conversion (SRC) is tricky, especially on anything above 5.1. Usually, it was very app specific.

HiBy is pitching what they call, Direct Transport Audio or DTA. This is a technology that prevents all apps from having to go through the Android SRC and in doing so the R6 is capable of outputting BIT perfect audio on any app that doesn’t sample before output. As a hi-fi Android DAP, they claim that this is a first.

Powerful Processor

SnapdragonThe R6 is almost in smartphone territory with its use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 as its processor. No more Rockchip SOC’s which frankly are more suited to KitKat 4.X solutions than 5.1 upwards. Not only is this a thoroughly powerful and more advanced processor but HiBy has seen fit to work 3GB of RAM into the equation also. Note the DX200 has 2GB as well as the X7ii.

The pitch here is clear. For everyday use, the R6 performance could well be on par with many smartphones nevermind competing DAPs.

Competitive Price

HiBy is putting a lot out there in terms of technological capability and solid hardware. When I met the team at the GZ AV Show in Nov 2017 they made me guess the price. I mentioned around $800 given what I knew about it at the time. How wrong was I?

The price is SRP $649 and for those on the Indiegogo Campaign, it will go as low as $529 for the Stainless Steel body and $479 for the Aluminum body.  The SRP $649 for the stainless steel is a huge and very important pitch for HiBy.

First, it stays firmly in mid-fi pricing, if just a little bit higher than the FiiO X5iii and equivalents. Second, it squares off with the FiiO X7 Mark II at exactly the same price. Considering the tech inside the HiBy pitch is not just sonic excellence, but also a very high value to performance ratio.

Build

Form Factor

The review unit of this R6 is the stainless steel version and I have to say it is absolutely stunning to hold and look at. The chassis is carved out of a corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel block with some beautiful CNC curving. There is not a sharp point anywhere on this media player it is so smoothly finished. Outside of the Sony 1Z, I can’t think of a more finely finished DAP out there.

I would say though that the inspiration of the design choice may come from the Sony flagship but given the price point, the cutting lines are a touch more traditional and wisely so. Fewer contours less possible production line mistakes to iron out. As such it has a slightly more traditional rectangular shape with concaved accents top and bottom to protect the sockets.

Dimensions

The R6 is surprisingly compact. The closest in terms of form factor is the X5 3rd gen. Sitting side by side to the X7ii and DX200 it is measurably smaller at 116 X 66 X 15 mm. Compare this to the DX200 at 128.5mm x 69mm x 19.5mm and 240g as well as the X7ii at 128.7mm x 67.2mm x 15.5mm and 210g and you should get a picture of a much more hand-friendly digital media player.

 HeightWidthDepthWeight
HiBy R6 SS116mm66mm15mm275g
HiBy R6 Al116mm66mm15mm190g
FiiO X7 Mark II128.7mm67.2mm15.5mm210g
FiiO X7 Mark 1130mm64mm16.6mm220g
iBasso DX200128.5mm69mm19.5mm240g
Opus#3117mm74mm18mm220g

Note also the weight. It is the heaviest out of all the DAPs measured and compared to. It is a little chunky monkey in some ways given the dimension to weight ratio but if SS doesn’t float your boat grab the Aluminum version which comes in at just 190g making it one of the lightest.

R6

Screen

The R6 uses a capacitive 4.2″ IPS TFT screen with a 350dpi 16m color 1280 x 768 px resolution. This is a bigger and better performing LCD screen than the X7ii and on par with the more expensive DX200 which also uses a 4.2″ IPS 1280 x 76 px touchscreen. The X7ii lags behind with a smaller 3.7″ IPS TFT screen with just a 233dpi and 800×480 px resolution.

The viewing angle on the R6 is immense and I mean viewable from a virtually horizontal position. The color saturation is gorgeous and seems to have super backlighting to the DX200. The touch response also seems a bit snappier. It is probably the best sub-$1k touch screen I have used to date on any DAP.

Bordering

What also sets the R6 screen apart from both of them is the finishing and bezel dimensions. The bezel dimensions on the R6 are among the thinnest I have seen on a DAP. In doing so the R6 almost looks borderless top and sides. We see this a lot on laptop designs and it is certainly an attractive feature. The bezel is slightly thicker at the bottom with an SS finish to accommodate the amp.

R6

2.5D Glass

The second key feature is the use of 2-D glass on the LCD. This is an approach used by Shanling on the M2s and something I praised them highly for.

If you look closely at the screen design you will notice a smooth curvature on the edge of the glass display known as a contoured edge. Basically, this bucks the old school design of a slightly raised bezel design with the glass sitting on top of the body creating a more seamless edge.

This is quite a high-profile design edge used now by a number of smartphone manufacturers such as Google and even Apple. Samsung’s curved glass is technically “3D” glass because of their bendable substrates and electronics whereas the R6 screen has none of that.

Memory Capacity

The R6 has 32Gb onboard memory and a single micro SD tray slot which can hold up to 256GB. I am told all sizes are supported so the brand new ones pushing 400GB should not be an issue either. Personally, I cannot test that, I tend to keep 64GB size only. I tend to find the lifespan of micro SD cards to vary and 64Gb is a more acceptable loss than 400GB if they decide to die.

R6

Give & Take

I would have liked to have seen a dual micro SD slot given the rather small onboard memory size. Granted the price point and some physical and software limitations maybe have been a factor in the memory limitation. Perhaps other areas such as the screen have gobbled up the bill of materials (BOPM) costing a bit more.

FiiO’s X7II does have an inferior screen but they also have onb0ard 64GB and dual slots. The DX200 only has 1 slot, similar screen quality but 64GB onboard. The Opus#3 also only has a single slot. Somewhere in the final BOM, someone must have made the decision that OTG combined with onboard and a single slot is enough. Your mileage may vary on that one.

OTG / Memory by Proxy

Yes, the R6 does OTG just like most other Android devices so you will get additional TB memory storage via the USB-C connection. Combined with the duplex Bluetooth HiBy Link software service plus DLNA capabilities on WiFi you do also get a greatly expanded memory by proxy service also. The limit is defined by whatever storage device/server you connect it to.

R6

This is something I picked up on the N3 from Cayin we reviewed last year and still holds true today. Cloud services greatly expand beyond the physical limitations of the onboard memory but even where WiFi is not possible the bi-directional Bluetooth services inside HiBy Link will allow you to tap the R6 storage and transmit via Bluetooth to other playback sources.

Physical Controls

The R6 physical controls are like a cross between Sony’s latest and the older FiiO style rounded buttons. The primary interface is the capacitive touchscreen but to the left and right you do get both volume and playback controls. The buttons are fairly flush to concaved against the SS panels but are spaced widely enough for you to be able to work with them without having to look down all the time.

Left Side

On the left side is purely volume control although with Android a combination of power and lower volume will allow you to do screenshots. The buttons are easy to manage and fairly responsive in terms of potential lag between action and screen response.

R6

Right side

On the right side, you have a slightly larger power button at the top which also doubles up as an LCD screen ‘off and on’ button.

The button also holds a nifty little blue LED light which acts as a power-on indicator. To the best of my knowledge, there is no link between battery life and the LED color. In power of and charging mode, the LED light does not come on.

Below the power button, you have three slightly smaller buttons, similar in form factor to the power button. They are your primary playback control buttons and will operate with the screen on or off.

Inputs & Outputs

The R6 has inputs and outputs on the top and bottom panel. On the bottom panel, HiBy has opted with a USB-C connection which is starting to become the norm for Android platforms in the last year or so. The USB-C connection will provide for a future USB-DAC out function with PC/Macs as well as any OTG services you wish to use and charging the battery.

R6

On the top panel, you have a mix of digital and analog outputs. To the far left, (as shown in the picture above), you have a 2.5mm TRSS balanced output. Out towards the left, you have a single 3.5mm stereo jack for unbalanced. The final connection is a dual fixed/variable voltage 3.5mm analog line out and digital coaxial output.

All top panel sockets apart from the 2.5mm TRSS are finished in gold plated contact rings. The 2.5mm TRSS uses a rubber ring.

Accessories & Packaging

I have to commend HiBy for some of the included accessories. Now in the edition that I have there is no leather case which is something being offered as a perk with the Indiegogo Campaign. I highly advise you get one simply because I have been babying the R6 for the entire time it has been with me. You will get some screen protectors though as standard and well worth putting them on that lush screen ASAP.

R6

The specific accessories that are praiseworthy are the supplied connector cables. One is a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and the other is a beautifully finished coaxial output cable. In fact, both are well finished it is just the coaxial nylon and thick jack barrels finish stands out a bit more.

Note the USB cable has a HiBY’s own logo which I think is a nice touch, makes it stand out a bit and ensures you will not mix it up in a box of similar cables.

R6

All of this comes packaged in a well presented if slightly understated black retail box with a dual foam layer system. The R6 is housed in the top foam layer with the accessories, manual and warranty card just below on the second layer.

Page 2: Hardware & Software Impressions

68 Responses

  1. Hans

    Hi Marcus,

    Hi, another reviewer found that the R3:
    “R6 is slightly bassier than R3 and better 3D. R3 is more balanced”

    Is this similar to what you found, as I think you mentioned the R3 is a bit warmer and forward?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Balanced doesn’t mean neutral, it just means nothing is out of sync. Linear and flat would be the terms the person is trying to use if they think its neutral. What I found is the R3 is musical sounding compared to similar priced DAPs such as the M3s with a beefier low-end. I am not sure why people are comparing the R6 to the R3 since one is double the price. Maybe it is all they have to compare with?

      Reply
  2. Kai

    Hi Marcus

    Have you tried Campfire Polaris with the Hiby R6? I’m wondering if this pairing is good?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Actually, I have not, will give it a spin after Canjam this weekend and post some impressions in this comment thread. I suspect with the impedance at 16.8ohms it might need an IEMatch cable.

      Reply
      • Kai

        Looking forward to your impressions! Hope you enjoy Canjam :)

  3. Long time listener

    I appreciate your reviews. They could sometimes be clearer though. You say “the R6 delivers a bit more bass impact and a slightly more euphoric timbre …”

    I think you mean “euphonic,” i.e. “pleasing or agreeable sound.” “Euphoric” means “blissfully or manically happy.”

    Cheers

    Reply
  4. Ravinder

    Great review. I want to try a DAP as music source in my car which has Helix P six DSP with optical input and slot for Helix USB HD Audio card with USB in. Using DAP in car is better idea these days as DAPs are coming with more memory slots and OTG support. I have about 600GB of music with 90% CD quality and only 10% is 24bit.
    I have shortlisted AK 70mk2, Hiby R6 and Cowon Plenue R. Former two come with coax ouput so I would need to convert to optical with $10-20 converters which will be one more link in chain and that can be problematic in car. So that means only Cowon PR is left as only choice.
    Out of all these which one would you recommend (supposing coax-optical converter doesn’t degrade audio quality) in car and is there any better option with digital out put?
    And sorry for long question but need your advise badly.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      If you want to stick with optical then AK DAPs are just fine, I see no issue with that as they are digital outputs and the OS is snappy enough to use in transit. If you throw in a coaxial converter than the R6 is miles ahead in terms of usage potential due to its Android platform, 3GB of RAM and super fast performance.

      Reply
      • Ravinder

        Thanks for quick reply and pointing that 70MKii has optical output. I wish if Kann has optical output too as it can take in huge memory.

        So now the other DAPs are out of list the simple question is out of AK70 MKii (with optical to optical cable) and R6 ( with coaxial coverter) which has better SQ. Both will be used as digital transport to Helix DAC.

        Also do both have OTG support for external storage and can they both access music stored on wifi HDD?

      • Ravinder

        I’m buying either Kann or 70mkii very soon. Thanks Marcus

    • Ravinder

      BTW I also have cayin N5ii in my list as it not only has coax ouput but also USB-coax cable as accessory. And its cheapest of all.

      Reply
      • Marcus

        That one is fine also but has more limited Android app capability due to the rockbox processor chip and 1Gb of RAM.

      • Ravinder

        Thanks. I’m not looking beyond using it as DAP, not even DAC. All I want in my first DAC,in order of preference, are best SQ under $1000, digital output (preferably optical), OTG/wifi HDD support and UI if that matters. Everything else is bonus.

      • Marcus

        I know the R6 has full OTG support, not sure on AK though their previous ones seem to be fine.

      • Ravinder

        This is what I got from their official website…..

        ” The type of OTG cable to connect the AK70 MKII with a portable amp differs depending on the specs of the amp. An OTG cable is not included in the AK70 MKⅡ package.”

        Not sure what to make of it?

  5. Michele

    Dear Marcus,
    first of all thanks for this great review and your clear words on all these questions!
    It really inspired me to change from Fiio X5ii to HiBy R6 and to go balanced
    (which hopefully will work with my Meze 99 Classic!);so one question remains:
    Is the output-power of the R6 bigger than X5ii?
    Sometimes I’m missing a bit more power on the way!

    Thanks & greetings fromGermany by Michele!!!

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Hi Michele

      Here is a simple comparison on paper between the two DAPs using the latest firmware:

      X5iii – ≥240 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) balanced (latest turbo firmware option increased this to 740mW according to the spec sheet of the Fw1.1.9
      – ≥250 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1% unbalanced

      R6 – 120mW (RMS) @ 32Ω unbalanced
      – 300mW (RMS) @ 32Ω balanced.

      Reply
      • Michele

        Dear Marcus,
        we have a misunderstanding here,sorry:
        I spoke about the Fiio X5 2nd Gen. and if the
        R6 could be or is an upgrade here.

        Thanks again;Michele!!

      • Michele

        Dear Marcus,
        it’s a pity,that you didn’t answer my last question from the 21st:

        ..”we have a misunderstanding here,sorry:
        I spoke about the Fiio X5 2nd Gen. and if the
        R6 could be or is an upgrade here.”
        I’m trying one more time,hoping for an answer!
        Thanks;Michele

      • Marcus

        It’s more or less the same answer as per our X5ii review page 2 tech specs:

        Output Power 1 – >245 mW(32Ω//THD+N<1%)

      • Michele

        thanks Marcus for your answer of the 27th;so does that really mean
        the Fiios has double volume over the R6 by listening not on paper?
        Sorry,man for being a pain…but it’s really important for me
        to know if it’s gonna be an upgrade in this case.
        I really want to hear/read your opinion!
        Regards;Michele

      • Marcus

        On paper, it seems to be the case and it does go louder than before. I just think the R6 is more resolving and a better Android experience.

  6. Ramon yap

    Hi Marcus, do you think the hibyr6 is a good pair with the CA Vega?or you’d still go for the dx200 with the Vega?:)

    Reply
    • Marcus

      The Vega has no output impedance issues and sounds excellent with either with the Vega so it just comes down to your preferences. I think the R6 will give you the best bass performance and the DX200 might be more balanced but also it depends on the amp card you are using.

      Reply
  7. Cristian

    Hey. Really great review. I’m a new audiophile and I’ll need some advice. I own a pair of oppo pm-3 paird with ha-2 se and iphone x. They sound great. But i don’t really like to use an amp and a phone. So the question is: is the r6 capable enough to handle my headphones without an amp? If not, is there any other dap around 500£ capable to offer me what ha-2 se does? Thank you and sorry if my question sounds silly.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      The short answer is yes it will. The other ones capable that I like to use are the Shozy alien plus and Ibasso DX200 though Ibasso is over your budget.

      Reply
  8. Wonder

    How about the tonality only as compared to ifi Micro BL? Have a Fiio X5iii but thinking of an upgrade. Portability is less of a concern.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Honestly couldn’t tell you as we do not have a Micro BL to compare with. We will, however, be shortly reviewing the Nano BL which has an IEMatch built into it which I find quite interesting.

      Reply
  9. Dilpal

    Nice review. It looks like a perfect DAP except from the high output impedance. I have flc8s and planning to buy the Oriolus mk2; both are low impedance IEMs. Will they behave poorly with R6? If ifi IEmatch can solve these problems, I will be more than happy.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Yup, the IEMatch will be just fine with the R6. The 8s is 11 ohms and the Oriolus MK2 I have not tried before but rated at 16 ohms. Both will be balanced out with the IEMatch.

      Reply
  10. Matthew Wingert

    Hi Marcus,

    Always enjoy reading your reviews!

    Can the R6 be used as a source connected to a desktop DAC? Maybe through the USB-C jack? I did not see this option mentioned on the Indiegogo campaign page. The only configuration I see mentioned is connecting the line out of the R6 to desktop amp.

    Reply
  11. Amin Mohamad

    Hi,
    Which one would be best paired to hiby R6: Fiio F9 pro , Nuforce HEM6 , or Nuforce HEM8 ?
    Thank You

    Reply
  12. Pierre

    Hi Marcus, many thanks for this great review!
    Do you think the R6 will pair well with my He400i or would I need a portable Amp?
    I am also considering the N5ii, any thoughts on this model?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Marcus

      It will do ok but personally, I use a desktop setup for the HE400i. I do not think DAPs are an endgame with planars of this type.

      Reply
  13. Dhofi

    Hi, great review really. Could you confirm if the SE jack could respond to button or mic? As this is a very important aspect for me.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Sadly the short answer is … no.

      I tested it with FiiO, Aedle and Ultrasone remote inline and nothing worked either on Android or in the HiBy Music app.

      Now my firmware is pre-launch so I checked with HiBy if this is a feature in future firmware and they will get back to me if this will happen.

      Reply
      • Dhofi

        Well, thats unfortunate. Just curious if this is hardware limitation or software. If it is software, I hope they can support inline button via software update, just like FiiO X5ii.
        Please update us if Hiby have an answer regarding this matter. Thank you very much.

  14. John

    Hello thanks for the review.

    In your opinion which one would be best paired with a paire of Isine 20 :
    The chord mojo or the hiby r6 ?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Both are fine but one is a dap and one is a dac and amp. If you want to use your phone then Mojo hut if you don’t need it for audio then R6 is fast and the first dap that feels as fast as a phone.

      Reply
      • John

        I was wondering about the ISINE 20 scaling with strong AMP since the mojo has a stronger amp than the R6.

        Do you think this could result in better sound with the mojo ?

      • John

        I forgot to tell you that I plan on using it as replacement of my Ibasso dx80 as a DAC via USB with my computer at home.

        I’m only looking at pure sound quality over everything else.

        Thank you.

      • Marcus

        What you will get is the Mojo sound. I suggest if you want the Mojo use your Phone and a good audio app.

      • John

        Thank you for your opinion I think I will go for the mojo with my phone, what app would you recommend exaclty ?

  15. Richard

    How does the bass compare to the cayin i5 on both normal impedance and low impedance iem’s?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Fatter with normal and leaner with low impedance – though note my list of low-z cans is not neverending and some IEMS have been known to get darker on the M2s which had a 4.8ohm rating.

      Reply
      • Richard

        Thanks for your reply. I’m wondering if you still have the campfire audio Dorado’s to test with the Hiby R6 and what your impressions are with those IEMs.

      • Marcus

        I do have them actually and we did a full review of the Dorado last year, quite a musical IEM. I will give them a go this weekend on the R6 an diet you know.

  16. s4tch

    great review, thanks, Marcus! i see from the screenshots that you did try to connect to dlna servers with the default hiby app. could you please check whether the files in dlna folders are sorted by their track title or their track number? i stopped using hiby on android because the files were sorted by their title, so i could basically never see the intended track order in any album. thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Marcus

      It depends on the server you connect with, to be honest. The two I use are oShare and Serviio. oShare is simple for, it just lists it by File and folder. Serviio is more complex and will gather various categories.

      Reply
  17. scottm_dj

    The main problem with the AP200 is the ancient version of Hidzs (HiBy) music they put on (a beta no less)–and doesn’t appear to be upgradeable. Among other things, that old version doesn’t recognize OTG drives, which is a real nail in the coffin for sure.

    What i *REALLY* want to see compared is this R6 vs the Snapdragon-driven ESS equipped LG V30, which I am close to jumping to for maximum efficiency. Other than the Android SRC issue of the V30 (except for stock music app), it really is supposed to hold it’s own with the big boys–do you guys have one of these around to run a test comparison with?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      We used a G6. Honestly pretty much all flagship smartphones will have a faster UX. The problem starts as you have mentioned with SRC combined with a much weaker amplification stage. Buy a Mojo though and your problems are sorted if you want to stick to smartphones.

      Reply
  18. Adam Lukacs

    Hi,
    Nice review.
    I actually intend to use the r6 as a streamer and dac in my home system (use it as a headless dap controlled through hiby link and stream from a nas).

    Right now I’m using my old macbook pro with jriver for the same purpose.

    As I have lots of Sacd ISO files, I see two options: 1. Buy the r6 and use it as the player and dac in one 2. Keep my ifi micro idsd and buy a nuc and continue with jriver.

    Could you, by any chance, compare the sound quality of the r6 to the ifi micro idsd?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Sadly I do not have an iDSD to compare but looking at the specs the iDSD is a nice powerful output option for full-size headphones using the R6 as a good source.

      Reply
  19. amigozzz

    So with MEZE 99C you liked more FIIO X7 MK2 or HIBY R6? Which you prefered one of them?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      There is a case for both. I think with the Magesound 8-Ball DSP of the R6 it has the edge in texturing and coloring the sound to just how you like it.

      Reply
  20. koaly

    Hi! Interesting review.
    How does it go vs the FiiO x7ii sonically?
    I have read on Head-fi about the output Impedance, which is reported as 10 Ohm. Could you check how low-ohm hybrid IEMs behave? E.g. Dunu 2002 or Fiio f9?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      Did you click on page 3? There is an entire section there explaining the low-z impedance factor and about 500 words on how it compares to the X7ii.

      Reply
  21. Tibor

    Hello
    Great,thanks for the review.
    Could you also compare it to the Hidizs AP200 soundwise please?
    I know it is not in the same price bracket,but want to know,if it is worth it.
    Thank you

    Reply

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