HiBy R5 – First Contact

The HiBy R5 is the company’s new mid-range digital audio player featuring a dual CS43198 DAC implementation, Android Oreo, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor. It is priced at a competitive $399.

Disclaimer: The HiBy R5 was sent to us a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank HiBy Music for this opportunity. 

To learn more about HiBy reviews on Headfonics you can click here.

And here it is, the latest DAP from HiBy, the R5. The numbering is a fairly logical giveaway here with the new R5 sitting neatly in-between the R3 and the R6 & R6 Pro with pricing to match at $399. That’s a bit cheaper than the FiiO M11 and $100 higher than the M9. From our pics below, however, I would say the FiiO M9 users should definitely take a second look at the R5 before they trade up.

For those that are new to HiBy DAPs, your truly first met the team and heard the then-unknown, R6 at the Guangzhou AV Show back in 2017 and could not wait to break this to the readers when I got back. Since then the R6 Pro and R3 have come out with responsive OS, TIDAL access, beautiful touchscreens and of course, integrated Google Play. For freshmen, HiBy started like a Pro in many respects.

The only hiccups with the flagship DAPs were in the amping with that high output impedance, (R6) and high noise floor with the R6 Pro. The R3 had its own OS challenges but amping wise it was beautifully quiet with sensitive IEMs.

HiBy R5

Tech Inside

The R5, well out of the box that is, seems to have nailed both the noise floor and what OS to use right away. Believe me, with the CA Solaris, the R5 is super quiet and a totally open Android Oreo out of the box at $399 is a killer move.

That’s the beauty already from my testing with the R5. Quite a lot of R6 features have been carried over that I believe makes this a compelling DAP at $399.



Processor

HiBy R5Let us start with that sublime Snapdragon 425 CPU inside the R5. Yup, the same processor inside the R6 and R6 Pro now finds its way down into a $399 DAP. Scroll down and look at those AnTuTu scores, only the FiiO M11 is faster sub-$500. RAM drops to 2GB, however, so I am not expecting the same multi-tasking prowess as the flagship R6 Pro.

DTA

The R5 also does DTA or Direct Transport Architecture, much like the R6. That’s bit-perfect playback right across the software platform irrespective of the audio apps you use. We are seeing that feature appear everywhere these days in Cayin and iBasso but good to see it make its way into their mid-fi offerings.

OS

Of course, the platform is Android Oreo (8.1) so that means two-way Bluetooth, HiByLink with decoding up to LDAC as well as their own hi-res UAT or Ultra Audio Transmission codec for W5 users out there, (and N6ii customers if that link-up floats your boat).

Amping

This is very surprising for me. Normally I would expect moderate numbers for a DAP at this price point and size but HiBy seems to think differently. The R5 is capable of an excellent [email protected]Ω and 564mW+564mW on a 32Ω load as well as a 3.5mm line-out. That is up there with some of the higher-end players in terms of total output power with that kind of weighting.

I am not sure yet on the exact amplification stage and opamp flavoring inside the R5. I do hope to find out for the main review. I also have no clue on the impedance, (edit maybe <1Ω), or differing output numbers for balanced or unbalanced right now. However, I can tell you its a very quiet DAP in both balanced and unbalanced with the Solaris which is my most sensitive monitor.

HiBy R5

DAC

This is the big change from the R3 and R6 which use ES9028Q2M DAC implementations. The R5 uses a dual CS43198 chipset design which seems to be the flavor of the month because I believe iBasso and AK are using the same chips in the soon to be announced DX160 and the existing A&K SR15. I will be interested to see how they differ when that DX160 drops into the office.

There are no detailed specs out just yet on the R5 DAC performance but as far as I know, the CS43198 is capable of DSD over PCM (DSD DoP) up to DSD256 and PCM 32/384kHz. The chip makers also advertise a THD+N of around 115dB so it will be interesting to see if the R5 formal specs match that.

At the moment there is no MQA support on the R5 and I am not sure if, or when, that will be implemented but for now it is app-level decoding only.

HiBy R5

Unboxing

It is a fairly ‘plain Jane’ experience here but if you have seen the other R-series DAP boxes they are not actually that different in design. It is black, it is a box and that’s really about it save for the logo, strapline, and R5 branding.

Thankfully, the insides are nicely cushioned for transportation with a two-layer cushion and foam lid with the accessories neatly organized in their respective compartmental boxes under the main DAP layer.

HiBy R5

Accessories

Inside the accessories are a bit sparse but on par with the competition. You get a silicone protective case, microSD tray pin, manual and certificate cards, and that lovely nylon jacketed and HiBy branded USB-C to USB-A data and charging cable.

You also get a couple of screen protectors though I do not think they are tempered glass. Given the curved 2.5D glass being used tempered is an issue for most DAP companies. One of the screen protectors is pre-applied to the R5 screen out of the box so you just have to peel the top layer off and you are good to go. The back also has a protective thin film which can be simply peeled off.

HiBy R5

Design

The R5 design is relatively compact measuring in at 107.7 x 61.2 x 15.6mm. In fact, we found the dimensions quite similar to the FiiO M9 though the design is a little more refined on initial impression. The corning is a touch smoother and symmetrical on both sides with a glossy glass panel to the rear and a matte black anodized finish on tan aluminum chassis. It feels solid and weighs in at around 160g or around 30g more than the M9.



HiBy R5

The R5 will come in 3 different colors with this black one, plus also gray and champagne or gold edition. I much prefer the black simply because of the way HiBy do their LCD screens with an almost borderless design. This 4″ IPS 540*1080 screen is not quite as expansive by the looks of it but it does dominate the front panel and is much more impressive than the M9 screen (see pic below).

HiBy R5

Black minimizes the effect of bezels much better than gray or gold IMHO. The 2.5D glass is still in effect and it does go right to the edges of the front panel. However, the 4″ screen is a tiny bit smaller so not quite as “wow” as the R6 Pro screen dimensions.

Features

You won’t find anything on the top panel of the R5. All inputs and outputs are either on the sides for the physical controls or on the bottom for digital and analog.

HiBy R5

The bottom panel houses both analog outputs and digital IO in the form of a USB-C slot in the middle. Digital audio (OTG) works out of the box also on the R5 with a successful connection to a Hugo 2. OTG flash memory loading also works with a 64GB SanDisk drive loading just fine.

Both the 3.5mm TRS and 4.4mm TRRS jacks have shared line-outs so I will check in the main review if the balanced is a true LO or not but my guess is unlikely. Rather the 3.5mm LO is likely to be a true line-out if the R5 has one.

HiBy R5

The right panel is pretty similar to the R6 layout with the power/LCD screen button complete with LED light for battery and charging status and playback controls just underneath. They have a decent rise above the housing so its not hard to find them unsighted.

HiBy R5

On the left panel, you have the two usual HiBy volume control buttons with 100 digital steps at 0.5dB per step to play with. The memory card slot is housed on the left panel just below the volume buttons.

The slot is a pin tray with a supplied pin pusher key much like the R6 memory card slot. It is officially listed at being capable up to 512GB but I suspect it should be able to handle the latest 1TB cards.  I only use 64GB cards for security and cost reasons and they work just fine so far.

HiBy R5

OS Performance

We will talk about the ins and outs of the OS performance and functionality in the main review but for now, we can tell you that it is a complete open Android Oreo 8.1 platform with Google Play Store integration out of the box (international edition).

I had no issues loading TIDAL, Spotify, and Audiomack and I would advise grabbing Chrome as the Via browser that comes with the R5 pre-installed is a touch tricky to use due to the heavy integration of Chinese into the OS.

I did have a few initial bumps in the road with the HiBy Music player which was unusual with a few crashes and a slow media scan. I hope that’s just a firmware thing and can be improved as the performance on the R3 and R6 versions were very good. Once scanned and sorted I have not had an issue with HiBy Music and yes, MSEB is there and works just as you would expect so thumbs up for me on that.

HiBy R5 AnTuTu Score

R5 AnTuTu Score

HiBy R6

R6 AnTuTu Score

AnTuTu Numbers

The Snapdragon 425 is just as effective on the R5 as it is on the R6 by the looks of it. Again, we will talk about this in the main review but the numbers above suggest the performance is excellent out of the box already. Granted, not an M11 level of performance and there is 2GB less than the R6 Pro for multitasking but given the price point, 2GB is reasonably fair.

HiBy R5

Initial Sound Impressions

It is quite early to form a definitive impression of the R5 sound signature because much of this will be quite contextual in terms of comparison to other DAPs and monitors/headphones used.

What I can say right away though is that the noise floor is superbly low, much lower than the R6 Pro with near silence on the Campfire Audio Solaris in both unbalanced and balanced low gain output. It really does make the R6 Pro sound rather noisy. I cannot foresee you needing any iFi IEMatch cables for this one if you are using efficient monitors.

In so far as being compared to the R6 Pro it is more neutral on initial impression with not quite as much low-end weight and a little bit more treble presence. It has less of that natural roll-off that the R6 Pro was tuned in mind with.

Bass weight is not as fulsome, more linear and neutral sounding but still pretty punchy using the CA Solaris and Hum Delores as the two initial tested IEMs. I actually ended up using the DUNU DK-4001 for the majority of the subsequent initial testing as that warmer full-bodied sound of the DK-4001 gelled quite well with the R5. It remains to be seen if that will be my top choice thus far for pairings and synergy.

I do prefer the tuning compared to the FiiO M9, however. Timbre seems smoother, not as hard-edged with a bit more body. Vocals also seem to display a little less sibilance on the R5. It makes the M9 seem a little hollow-sounding on guitar and percussion work.

Stay Tuned!

So far, the R5 seems to have a lot to offer for the price. I am impressed with the speed, the app compatibility and definitely the low noise floor is a big bonus for sensitive IEMs. The tuning does seem to be more neutral compared to the R6 Pro and also a little smoother and less edgy compared to the FiiO M9.

No question the build quality is very good and I do love its ‘pacute’ sizing. Makes it very easy to work within one hand. However, much to be done here for sure in terms of the main review and my initial sound impressions could change the more I mix and match.

Do not ask me yet how it compares to X, Y, Z as what you get above is all I have for now. The main review will give you most everything you need to know so stay tuned for that!

HiBy R5 Specifications

Operating System Android 8.1
SoC Snapdragon 425
No. of CPU Cores 4
CPU Max Frequency 1.4GHz
DAC CS43198 x 2
Input Method Touchscreen
WIFI 5GHz/2.4GHz supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n protocols
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.2
USB TypeC (USB2.0 data rate)
Display Size 4.0 inches
Colors 16 million colors
Topology IPS
Resolution 540*1080
PPI 300
Touchscreen Multitouch
RAM 2GB
Internal Storage 16GB
External Storage Up to 512GB + via 1 micro SD card
Buttons 6 physical buttons
Buttons Definitions Power/Previous/Pause/Next/Volume Up/Volume Down
Headphone Out 3.5mm
Balanced Headphone Out 4.4mm
Line Out 3.5mm LO
Balanced Out 4.4mm LO
Digital Out SPDIF (USB out)
USB USB storage, USB DAC IN/OUT
Colors Black/Gray/Gold
Dimensions 107.7*61.2*15.6mm
Headphone Impedance Range 16~300Ω
EQ Adjustments 10 bands (±12dB)
Channel Balance L 10dB to R 10dB
Gain Level Low / High
USB DAC PCM/DoP/Native
Power Supply 9V/1.5A
Battery 3500mAh
Charge Time 2H
Charge Protocol QC3.0
Firmware Update Over-the-air update
Text Size Adjustable
3rd Party Apps Unrestricted access via Google Play and apk download

 

 

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21 Responses

  1. Ram

    As per HiBy’s confirmation via Messenger, the output impedance of HiBy R5 is less than 1Ω. I’m excited about your full review (overall score and SQ comparison with other DAPs especially with HiBy R3/R6 Pro).

    Reply
  2. lee

    Thank you for your review. Has the 4.4mm plug propagation noise shown in r6 pro improved at r5?

    Reply
  3. Andriy

    Hi! One review claims that the housing is overheated – a constant temperature of 35-40 degrees Celsius. Is that so?

    Reply
    • Marcus

      How was the result obtained and what is the benchmark for something to be too hot? We can give you actual cpu core temp of several daps with android in our main review to allow you to make a reasoned judgment.

      Reply
    • David

      I stopped reading immediately after the reviewer stated no MQA support. Bye Bye. I believe MQA is great now and will only get better in the future. Bad move Hiby!

      Reply
  4. Kalle

    Hello,

    In your opinion, would it be worth ponying up another 100$ to get the R6?
    Also, will the R5 do Tidal offline?

    Reply
  5. A.A

    for 1K $$ you can buy a galaxy 10 top of the line device which has a ton of more complex processing going inside than any dap. this rocks latest 8xx Snapdragon SOC.

    but in dap world they sell you for 1K $$ a Hiby R6 Pro with a 4xx snapdragon, or even worse some rockchip soc in ibasso….

    user’s ignorance is a bliss for the audiophile industry….

    Reply
  6. Slava

    Hi Marcus,
    Thanks for the review waiting for a “full-length” version, as I am thinking to change my R3 (I like sound tuning very much, but want Spotify off line…). Will be interesting to know your opinion how Sony MDR1-AM2 will sound with the item.

    Reply
  7. Florian

    Hello,

    The features seem almost “perfect” to me as a hybrid between a standard DAP and a smartphone; versatility, choice of the UI (App), and audio quality.
    The icing on the cake could be the battery life. I’ve been awaiting for such DAP with reasonnable battery life, say more than 15 hours initially, because I want to use it for many years, and it drops after some 2-3 years…
    I was not prepared to pay around 400€ for a player, but the android platform + SQ + possible battery life could make my decision. I was considering the R3, but the battery life was too critical for me…
    So please include real life testing or the battery for the average user, Thanks !

    Cheers from France…

    Reply

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