The R3 uses a single ES9028Q2M chipset, which at $229, is a really welcome development. True enough the downward pressure on the pricing point of these chipsets has escalated since we first started reviewing 9028/38 loaded devices. However, they have always sounded so much better than the older 9018 infused devices. Issues like glare, lack of body and generally a glassy signature are not present in the sound signatures of the likes of the DX200, R6 and Oppo Sonica DAC and so it is the case with the R3.

Q2M Focus

The Q2M range is still considered high fidelity but it is primarily focused on portable audio equipment as opposed to desktop solutions or solutions that can cope with high power consumption demands. As such the power consumption of this design is a little lower and ideally suited to the smaller battery capacity of the R3.

The key differences between the PRO and Q2M performance-wise are as follows. The Q2M is 2-channel as opposed to 8-channel in the Pro. The Pro draws up to a 500mW in terms of power consumption compared with the thriftier 82mW of the Q2M. In terms of quality output, they are in fact potentially the same at +129dB DNR and -120dB THD+N which is top drawer.

Codecs & Decoding

In terms of decoding prowess, the R3 is very competitive. The difference though with the R6 and its Snapdragon processor may well be the limits of the streaming buffer rates with its lower X1000 processor memory.  The full range is as good as any other DAP out there including native DSD256, DXD, and DSD ISO decoding.

It will also process most popular lossless codecs such as APE, ALAC, AIFF. FLAC, WAV, and WMA. Maximum conversion rates are 384kHz/32bit for most lossless files. The exceptions are APE extra high (192/24), APE Insane (96/24), WMA Lossless (96/24), DXD (which is by definition a 352.8kHz format), WAV (384/64).

Digital Filters

Like its big brother, the R3 also has a set amount of digital filters. In this edition, I see 2; sharp/late roll-off and slow/early roll-off. That is one less than the R6 and 7 less than the DX200’s ES9028PRO implementation.

Personally, I am not fussed on the digital filters and prefer the DSP embedded into the OS which has a more profound effect on the sound signature. Cutting down to just two is an indicator to me that HiBy does not see them as marquee features either.


The R3 uses an Ingenic X1000 SOC with an HBC3000 HiBy Music digital audio processor. This is the latest iteration of the custom FPGA from HiBy Music designed to handle the bitstream and reduce jitter before the signal enters the ES9028Q2M chip for decoding.

The X1000 SOC chip used in the R3 is from the same family of SOC chips used by Cayin in their N3 and FiiO’s X3iii though the clocking speed is much higher at 1Ghz compared to the older JZ4760B which had a max 600Mhz clock speed. In short, the X1000 XBurst1 is a good deal faster and more powerful. Combined with HiBy Music’s well-defined OS it will feel very snappy indeed.


The R3 uses a fairly low-powered amp stage but it is fine-tuned to less than 1Ω output impedance making it an ideal match for sensitive to medium efficiency IEMs and highly efficient portable headphones. Coming from 10Ω on the R6 this is a welcome relief both in testing and general day to day use.

Of course, there is a variation in maximum power handling between balanced and unbalanced outputs. Using single-ended you will receive 56+56mW @32Ω and going balanced more than doubles that to 112mW+112mW @32Ω.

SNR/THD+N Comparisons

The X3iii has a higher noise level and only the N3 compares with the R3 in terms of low output impedance and excellent noise control. The amp stage of the R3 also pulls ahead of those DAPs with a superior SNR of 116dB compared to the M2s and N3 which sit at 108dB. THD+N is the same performance level compared to the M2s and the N3 at 0.03% but slightly behind the X3iii which is rated at ≤ 0.002%.

HiBy Music R3



The OS of choice is HiBy Music’s own proprietary Linux-based platform. This should come as no surprise to longtime users of other DAPs that use the HiBy OS such as Cayin, Shanling and older generation editions of FiiO. The XBurst processor does a good job with this OS. It feels snappy, with minimal lag and quick media processing right up to DSD256.

It also had a high degree of familiarity. For longtime users, you should be able to pick this up right away with minimal reference to the supplied manual. For new users, trust me, it is one of the easier ones to learn.

If you have been using the HiBy Music Android app the experience will also look and feel very similar with its touch interface. HiBy Music has injected a number of very interesting features into the platform that I think brings this platform closer to the Android experience and further away from the more limiting non-touch licensed service to 3rd party vendors.

As a side note, we used two firmware during the review process, the 0.2 BETA, and the 0.25 BETA. The pictures below are predominantly the initial 0.2 beta firmware with one or two 0.25 firmware pictures highlighting new features. Not all features are operational at this stage. Once they are we would invite you to comment on them as you use them.



Until now the stock OS has touted bidirectional Bluetooth along with HiByLink as the major connectivity feature. Now we have WiFi, and more than that, key streaming services including DLNA, Airplay, and TIDAL baked in.

The R3 also allows you to connect to seen and hidden networks including manual SSID configuration. You can even send individual tracks via WiFi via a dedicated HTTP IP4 and port address to the R3. Over the coming months, I would expect more streaming services such as Spotify to become available as the firmware progresses.

HiBy Music R3
HiBy Music R3




To log into TIDAL you need to have a WiFi connection and an active account. The feature set is by no means as expansive as you will get in a TIDAL app or main desktop player. You cannot see bitrates, unfold MQA and browse that extensively on the current firmware. HiBy Music has informed me that may change with future firmware updates. You can select and browse new tracks, playlist, and albums. However, you cannot access TIDAL Rising, Masters, Genres, video content. You can also access your own stored collection using the same headings.

HiBy Music R3


The final feature is a search feature that I find pretty useful though a bit slow given the T9 keyboard restrictions on the R3. I was able to find pretty much anything available on TIDAL and play it back on the R3 without any buffer issues. You can add it to your collection or a playlist or simply look at the info on the track by long-pressing the tracklisting in the R3 TIDAL window.

HiBy Music R3

Download to MicroSD

One thing to note is the automatic insertion of a TIDAL folder on your microSD card when powering up the TIDAL service so it does look likely that you can save to your microSD card. Mind you there is nowhere else you can download anyhow on the R3.

I must note however, our current firmware TIDAL API will not allow us to fully test TIDAL downloads so sadly we have to wait for the final launch firmware to play with it like you guys!



In all phones but my LG G6 I could pair with no issues whatsoever. This is a continual problem with my G6 and certain devices using the HiBy OS Bluetooth. 3rd Party vendor devices are good with the G6 such as the N3 and M2s and all FiiO. The R3 is excellent with aptX paired with my old BB Passport and Axon 7 also. I simply cannot figure out why the G6 is invisible to this version of the HiBy OS.


Once paired, the R3 has as much range and reliability as your typical smartphone BT receiver with about 10m distance and reduced to 6-7 when presented with physical barriers such as walls. I did not experience any dropout either and was able to easily stream Spotify Premium from my Passport to the R3 without any buffering issues.


Bi-directional worked a charm also if you are using the Android app and pairing with the R3 using aptX and HiByLink. This gives you the ability to remote control the R3 right from your smartphone. If you want to tap into the smartphone’s own storage and streaming capability just turn off HiByLink and return to regular aptX enabled BT and stream right to the R3.


Setting up Airplay is pretty simple with my iTouch 6th Gen. First, create a mobile hotspot or join the same network as the R3 with your iOS device so the Airplay service can find the R3. Next, turn on WiFi and Airplay services in the Wireless settings in the R3 and join the same network as the iOS device.

From there select the R3 as your airplay target device on the iOS, confirm and then press play on the iTouch. The iOS device will have some pre-amp capability with its own volume control which you can then combine with the R3 volume to fine-tune. There is some minor lag time in the R3 buffer before the track loads and starts, maybe up to 1-2 seconds and about 1 second during pause and then play again.


BubbleUPnP users should be happy to know that the R3 works just fine with its DLNA service though it is slightly limited. With both on the same network, BubbleUPnP picked up the R3 just fine as the local rendering device. Remember to turn off MIMEcheck in its settings and then simply press play from your BubbleUPnP app and the R3 will pick it up and play. I cannot, however, see or select individual tracks via the R3, you have to revert to control and selection on your source device.

I was also able to use my BubbleUPnP app on my smartphone to tap into Dropbox and stream a hi-res 24BIT/192k Flac file direct to the R3 as the local renderer without any buffering issues.


Just simply plug and play if you have the latest edition of Windows 10 or a Mac. It is that simple with the new universal driver 2.0 rolling out as soon as you connect it to your PC. Open up something like JRiver or Foobar and select the R3 as your source and you can immediately playback up to DSD128 (WASAPI/DoP) without any issues. That is how things should work in 2018. To get DSD256 I think we will require an ASIO specific driver from HiBy Music.

HiBy Music R3


With OTG it is a different story at this stage of the firmware development of the R3 OS. For flash drives, via OTG it works perfectly in both loading and recognizing audio files stored. Flash drives up to 64Gb were tried (my own personal buying limit) though I am fairly sure this can go a lot higher.

OTG Digital Audio is also fully functional with the R3. Using Shanling’s USB-C to MicroUSB short cable I was able to get a signal out to the Mojo, Hugo 2 and the RHA L1 DACamp without any issues. It also stacks really nicely on top of the Mojo for those interested. An almost perfect fit!

Media Management

If you have used the HiBy Music app or previous HiBy powered 3rd party DAPs then all of the local media management services on the R3 are very familiar. After loading a microSD card with your stored files it will either automatically update or you can manually do it yourself depending on the default option you set up in the system settings.


Media scanning is fast, on par with most X1000 powered devices with about 25 seconds for 900 FLAC 16BIT/44.1k tracks. Tagging accuracy is very good though once you start working your way through DSD it is more haphazard due to DSF and DFF tagging issues. This is a common problem on all devices by the way and not just the R3.

Accessing Your Music

Once loaded you can access your music via the top row categories be it manual file navigation or by meta tag including album, artist, song, and genre. You also have the option to navigate via your favorites and playlists. You can create playlists on the go via the playback screen or once you drill down into the individual song list in any other category. The genre category is still too flat going from genre to song file list without any artist and album organization. I sound like a stuck record for the last 5 years on that issue.

Playback Screen

You also have a number of options available to you on the playback screen including playlist management, dropping right into the EQ controls and out again, viewing the album list during playback and the song metadata info. You can also click to view any lyrics if available.

Settings Control

In the HiBy Music OS you get two types of settings; those that are specific to the OS and those more focused on audio playback. The environmental settings are listed in the main slide-out menu under wireless and system settings. Settings management on the R3 also includes file scanning and library building, and a 10-band equalizer. The equalizer has 8 genre presets,  and one of which is flat.

With the current firmware, you can also access all wireless connections from the playback screen by pulling down an icon-based taskbar. You can bring up some rudimentary environmental controls from the playback screen by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

Swipe Down

The top swipe down is excellent and it includes 2 rows of controls. The first includes access to WiFi, BT, DLNA, and Airplay. The second is for gain, replay gain, coaxial and line out on and off. Once turned on all the top row connectivity icons will default to either an active pairing or the last known available WiFi/network streaming option that is also active.

Swipe Up

I like the swipe down icons more than I like the swipe up functions. Some of the swipe up functions are duplications of the physical control such as playback and volume and these are more deftly managed by the physical buttons on the side.

The LCD brightness option is useful and saves having to drill down into the main system settings to adjust it. The volume slider is too limiting and crude and could lead to accidentally pushing it too loud or too quiet.

To swipe up, I would prefer DSP controls that are not duplicated by the physical buttons such as MSEB, EQ, Gain and Replay Gain. These are the quick settings I would most likely use. Others may differ so even having the ability to user define the controls would be the end game for this functionality.

System Settings

Since there is no Android system setting backbone you get a wider choice of system settings in the options tray. You can control the language, whether to update the music database automatically or manually and whether to bring up the battery indicator % level in the top taskbar or not. The battery indicator for me should stay on. It is pretty important and relatively accurate also.

Further environmental controls include clock settings, lock screen on and off and whether to load a USB connection as mount/charge or charge/DAC to your PC or MAC.

HiBy Play Settings

Deeper in you also have the HiBy Music app’s own settings which go a lot deeper into customizing the playback performance and environment. It is pretty comprehensive and almost on par with the R6 level of control

HiBy Music R3


If you are coming from R6 then you should know what MSEB is all about it. It actually stands for MageSound Eight Ball. This is HiBy Music’s own unique DSP mixer that tweaks areas using words that audiophiles love to think about. MSEB is also more involving than the standard EQ that HiBy also provides as an option on the R3.

How do you like your sound? Warm or cold, bright or dark? Do you wish your bass to be deep, light, thick or thin? Would you prefer your vocals forward or recessed? How about some additional air and crispness to your treble? You can change and tweak all of that inside MSEB with a slider that lets you adjust it incrementally.

On the R3 MSEB may be deactivated on some ultra-high-res tracks or CPU-intensive compressed format like APE. On the other hand, it is usable on top of Tidal.

Decoding & Gain Control

You also have the ability to turn on or off the SPDIF functionality from the USB-C port as well as control features such as DSD coding via DoP, PCM or Native. You will also have the ability to turn on and off gapless playback, play through folders, replay gain (by track and album), and adjust those two digital filters. The channel balance can be adjusted between left and right and you can introduce a crossfade control into playback.


Click below for Page 3: Sound Quality and Comparisons


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107 Responses

  1. Marcos

    Hey Marcus,

    Does the HiBy R3 also receive LDAC or does it only send LDAC?

    I’m just curious if I could use it to receive music from my phone via Bluetooth with a good quality.


  2. Juan Luis Quiroz Guevara

    Hi Marcus,

    Would the Hiby R3 represent a worthwhile update on the cayin n3? My current headphones are the Meze 99 Neo and Dunu Falcon C. I am also interested in knowing if the balanced output is well implemented, since I plan to update the cables of my headphones.

    Juan Luis.

  3. Siddharth Parmar

    hmm ok. i am almost set on buying this. Wish it had tunein radio or some sort of audiobook support.
    Most of my music that i will listen on it will be in FLAC…but will be nice to have some streaming options at times.

    noob question- what would be best way to output music from my mobile phone to this DAC. i will use a sony 1000 mx2 headphone for bluetooth listening( mainly podcasts and audiobooks) and the Shure 425 for music

  4. Headfonics

    I would get the R3 personally due to the form factor and MSEB DSP options. The recent additional of LDAC and MQA make it a super sweet deal. Balanced has better output power rating and since the 425 has a detachable cable you can opt to buy a balanced 2.5mm cable for the 425 to work just fine with the R3.

  5. Headfonics

    A lot of people are enjoying the iBasso DX120 though this is on sound and power, you do not get wifi or BT

  6. Headfonics

    The R3 sound signature is shaped by DSP meaning the DAC itself is not so much the major influence on the sound. In its own right the ES9028Q2M should be clean, neutral and very detailed and the X5iii dual AK4490 is more musical, little warmer and more aggressive in the low-end, vocals and lower treble. HiBy have done a little DSP shaping on their DAC to make the output signal a little more musical also with more low-end body as far as I can tell.

  7. Indrajit

    Hey, Mr. Marcus how does the R3 compare with the Fiio X5iii only on sound quality? I only use sennehiser HD 598 and also will buy an external amp like A5 in future. So I am curious how does the dac in R3 compare with dual dacs in X5iii in all purity? Amp is not an issue as I will buy an amp anyways for either.

  8. Headfonics

    That depends on you more than me. For instance you have iems or a headphone? WHat type of sound do you like?

    The M3s has more power and will drive headphones and demanding IEMs better. You like a clean sound or a more impactful low-end? The R3 is the latter, the M3s is the former. Some people’s water is another people’s poison.

  9. Headfonics

    Depends on what you define as an improvement? Certainly the menu system, Wifi and touchscreen design is a setup on the R3.

  10. Arvin Noble

    Could You suggest me a good that is best DAP for IEM use only cause im not fond of headphones?

  11. Headfonics

    Tis a strange one as i can’t replicate the issue you are having today and mine is an old engineering sample I have upgraded to 1.14 a few weeks ago. TIDAL no issues though did have issues on the earlier beta firmware because HibY and TIDAL had integration issues before the mass rollout. Hope they solve it for you.

  12. JAK9

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I am not comfortable rolling back to firmware (that did not work previously), against HiBy’s recommendation. I do appreciate your help, but this highlights the root of the problem…which is that HiBy does not seem to have a product in the R3 that is ready for prime time. I wanted plug and play and have received nothing of the sort. I am hoping that HiBy is interested in resolving this situation and not looking to continue to use me as their beta tester.

  13. Headfonics

    I would go back to 1.14 and see what happens. I didnt jump on the 1.15 bandwagon yet despite the warning, lack of available sd cards and slow OTA lol, maybe thats why mine works. Strange stuff indeed.

  14. JAK9

    Sorry – meant to say upgraded and running latest Firmware v 1.15 per HiBy’s suggestion.

  15. JAK9

    Yes – this was one of the first things done also. I am running Firmware 1.14 and Tidal Streaming is still not operational. HiBy has communicated a similar response which caused me to take pause that this incompatibility could be an ongoing issue if Tidal makes changes in the future that HiBy has not updated for…anyhow, my problem is simply getting the Tidal streaming function to work as advertised. It has been several weeks of back an forth over e-mail with HiBy in broken English and still no resolution. This combined with a number of past and current issues I see posted (see HiBy Facebook page) made me question if anyone successfully got Tidal streaming on the R3. Maybe I have a defective unit, but it is a shame that such a highly rated unit seems to be unprepared for a global market and lacks such basic documentation. Thanks again.

  16. Headfonics

    I am not sure its an OS specific thing, might be more due to how HiBy is working with Tidal API and integrating. I remember the beta firmware had tons of issues we fed back to them on and the first was the lack of functioning TIDAL and I was told its a licensing and approving issue on the TIDAL side. It should work though because it works for me on 1.14 – are you on hat firmware?

  17. JAK9

    Headfonics – thanks for your suggestion. It is one of the 1st things I did. The subscription is active and I have not maxed out devices. …having stated this, I will take your suggestion to log out and in (yet again) to see if the magic of reseting might work. If any other suggestions, please let me know. I have seen others with this problem listed on forums and HiBy is happy to have me troubleshoot for many weeks, which has become tiresome. We have other units streaming in our enironment successfully. Could this possibly be a lack of a true Android OpSys in the R3?

  18. Headfonics

    OK so a few interesting things when I checked your issue. I originally got a #5003 error even though logged in all tracks. Once I researched I realized that my subscription had expired. When I renewed and logged back in I can stream without issue. So first of all check your account permissions and if its expired or not and then log out and log back in and see what happens.

  19. JAK9

    Have others been able to get Tidal streaming to work on the HiBy R3? After almost a month, I am going back and forth with HiBy over e-mail and on yet another error log file they want me to run to determine the problem. This seems much more like a ‘beta’ version than a general release.

  20. Headfonics

    Hi Jack, depends on what is motivating you to move away from the AK70 MK1 in the first place. What do you like and do not like about it?

  21. Headfonics

    For the latest firmware (1.14) – sort is alphabetical by name of album and you can add to the playlist during playback with a drop down arrow to the right side of the name of the album. I am not seeing a “recent albums” list on my version.

  22. Superdoody

    Quick questions:
    – What are the sorting and display options for album view?
    – Can you queue an album to play after the end of the current list?
    – Is the a limit to the ‘recent albums’ list?

  23. Headfonics

    Hi Jose! Thanks for the comment.

    Well 0.3 difference is actually a very big difference to us at the top end of the scale. Its one of those things – you can move up from 8.0 8.4 much easier than 9 to 9.3.

    Having said that no other DAP at this price point is using an ES9028Q2M DAC implementation which we think is worth a lot. It is however really an IEM DAP not a headphone DAP and also MSEB, their DSP machine is very powerful and fun to play with for sound configuration.

  24. Jose Manuel

    Hello Marcus!

    The analysis of R3 is very interesting.
    I’m surprised at the high note that you put on sound quality. Practically
    on par with some of the best Daps like the iBasso DX200.
    Does that little one really sound so good?
    A cordial greeting.

  25. Michael Piskor

    Hopefully, you aren’t taking my publications as law and me forcing my will and opinion as absolute fact. Objectively, the R3 has a better system inside. The AP80 is a little more powerful. Are you willing to link me to the other reviewer so I can read their thoughts and address your concerns? You’ve said they thought the AP80 was superior, but have not told me yet what that person feels made it superior.

  26. Headfonics

    Kenny he gave you a short comparison and your opening gambit was “this is not true” implying factual error. My response was too highlight the flaw in that opening statement because its all opinion. Not sure where you are going with this “paradox” angle. If another reviewer contradicts then that is different to being “wrong”. Mike called it as he saw it for the R3 in response to someone else’s question, not sure what the problem is there.

  27. kenny sughiarto

    Well, exactly, why I said more compariosn is needed?? My argument is based on Michale reply regarding his statement, which is also a paradox to what you have said.It’s all just opinions and what I am trying to imply is the other reviewer opinion is contradicting to his statement.

  28. Headfonics

    The purpose is to provide an opinion not a fact. Its just opinions. You decide which is best for you. There is no black and white in this. You are supposed to balance the opinions and weigh them against your own needs. PS Some of us live in what the first world considers the 3rd world Kenny, dont make presumptions.

  29. kenny sughiarto

    That is not true, one of the other review who owns both says that, ap80 sounds better, more comparison is needed

  30. Michael Piskor

    Hiby R3 is capable of better fidelity and purity across the board.

  31. Headfonics

    Also just a word of caution on the qdc Neptune cable – its 2-pin yes but reverse polarity meaning the cable pins are the other way around form normal 2-pin configs. It is worth investigating some BT cable boutique companies such as PlusSound and asking if they can make one specifically for it.

  32. ms

    Can you recommend a good pair of IEMs to match with the R3? I’ve been looking at a few reviews on here that do mention the R3, but looking for some more specific feedback.

    what are your thoughts on the westone wx and shure 215? They seem underwhelming in terms of sound quality.

    Requirements include:
    – detachable cable, preferably MMCX vs 2-pin since i’d like to have the option to pair with a BT cable like from Westone or Shure
    – well balanced presentation for mixed music usage, and a wide / airy sound
    – preferably under $200
    – good noise isolation but with some of the support falling to the rest of the ear, not just the canal. The best fit i’ve ever had is from the bose QC30 ear tips, for reference.

  33. ms

    turns out, there are some good 2-pin BT cables that support apt-x:

    does that change the suggestion at all? Worth noting, I cant seem to find the Neptunes at the price mentioned, at least not without $120 in shipping :(

  34. ms

    Either I missed that, or totally forgot sicne i’ve been reading so much. I’m also starting to look into the fiio f5 as a cheaper option, so i’ll be looking for your reviews there as well. Thanks again!

  35. ms

    Thanks for your help! I was considering exactly those two as well. I’ll have to do some digging to see if there any bluetooth cables for the 2pin set-up, and perhaps give the Neptunes a go. One last question – which do you find is better for noise isolation? I gather the comets are very tip-dependent, where as the Neptunes are easier to fit, but may not offer as much isolation?

  36. Headfonics

    Hi Ms, well there have been a fair few single BA driver IEMs out of late and the best of them is the Comet from Campfire Audio which is MMCX and one of the better ones for staging.

    I would have suggested the Neptune from QDC but its a weird reverse 2-pins so doesn’t fit into your cabling needs. The FiiO FH5 is excellent though a touch beyond your budget at $269.

    The nice thing with the R3 is that MSEB DSP functionality so you can fine tune the presentation of almost any IEM.

    I find quite a lot of sub $200 IEMs veers to one form of coloration or another to mask slight deficiencies in cheaper driver sets such as V-shaped curves which I do not find terribly balanced.

    Sorry not experience with the Wx or Shure 215.

  37. Headfonics

    Hey Tim sorry for the delay, out of the country for a while and missed this comment. I spoke with Joe at HiBy a few days after your initial request and the answer does not seem to be clear. The official response is yes but the feedback is not quite as clearcut. People are reporting microstutter between tracks. I tried an mp3 gapless and it seems ok but HiBy has not said which formats would be immune to the microstutter.

  38. Tim

    Hi – any info on whether the gapless is implemented correctly on the Hiby R3 is and actually seamless would be really greatly appreciated – can anyone help?

  39. Tim

    Thanks – I look forward to your findings. Hope it will be good news

  40. Headfonics

    Thanks Tim. I actually have very little if any gapless in my collection but I see where you are coming from so I will give this a whirl tomorrow night and let you know my findings.

  41. Headfonics

    Sadly I am not sure Kriztian. My guess is hifiheadphones or Advanced MP3 players stores in the UK but just a wild guess.

  42. Tim

    Hi there,

    Thanks for this great review. Would you say that gapless playback is implemented perfectly? I use FLAC/ALAC and APE – and listen mainly to classical and concert recordings – so gapless which is not seamless would be a dealbreaker for me.

  43. Krisztian

    Hi Marcus,

    Thank you for the great review!
    I would like to ask,where can I buy this item in the Europian Union?I found a dealer/distributor in USA (musicteck),but I wouldn’t like to order from them,because I have to pay high custom fee.That’s why I like to buy within Europe.
    Thanks in advance for the answer!

    Best Regards,

  44. Jeff

    Glad to hear that, I really like the sound out of my AP200, but I’m tired of the slow and buggy interface, as well as the continued Beta firmware releases that don’t really seem to improve anything. (to the point I can’t use the newer releases because it makes the DAP not see music on my SD card when in Android mode)

    Gonna sell my AP200 (hopefully) and pick up an R3 when they’re available for retail I think.

    • Marcus

      Hi Jeff, welcome to Headfonics. I did not personally experience the AP200, Mike reviewed it long before all the issues piled up. I am not sure what the story is now with the R3 post campaign, I think they are still fulfilling pre-orders from the campaign so yes, the best advice is to wait until that is done and it is in a retail outlet.

  45. Dragomir Petrov

    Hello .Screen mentioned ones as oled and other time as lcd ips,
    so which ones is actually ?

    • Marcus

      The chassis and backplate is grey, the front is dominated by the LCD screen so when off it is black.

  46. Hans

    Hi Marcus, you mentioned that 9028 SABRE DAC seems to have less treble glare than some 9018 models you heard. Do you have any examples to share? Thanks :)

      • VintageFlanker

        Oppo Sonica has a E9038 PRO inside, not a 9028QC.

      • Marcus

        Correct which is why I wrote 9028/38 devices in the review since it was me who reviewed the Sonica DAC last year. I tend to find both 28/38 to deliver the same style of treble and both smoother than the 18.

  47. Yalcin Inel

    Hello Marcus,

    Thanks for the wonderful review. How would you compare the R3 with an iphone? Or a ZX300?

    • Marcus

      Smaller, cheaper, shorter battery life, all touch sensitive, better sound quality than an iPhone, not sure about the ZX300 but then it is more expensive. Better wireless options than a ZX300.

  48. Dilpal

    Hi..Nice review. I have very peculiar need. I want to stream Spotify or other Indian music streaming services on my smartphone through LDAC to hiby R3 for my wired earphones. Can hiby R3 do it?

    • Marcus

      As per my review currently its TIDAL but it does not mean it “can’t do” Spotify. It is possible HiBy may introduce a Spotify option in a later firmware. You have to remember this is not an Android platform. The BT specs are at the bottom of page 3 by the way for codecs.

  49. superuser1

    Hey Marcus!
    Thanks for the review.. good in-depth one. Would you be able to comment on the R3 being used as a transport to a Micro iDSD BL? Thanks

  50. Hans

    Hi Marcus, I just stumbled upon similarly-priced (for now) Onkyo DP-S1 and Cowon Plenue D. Do you have any advice on choosing between them?

    I listen to only FLAC through unbalanced DSD, so connectivity, UI, DSD support etc is not important, just sound :)


    • Marcus

      I have not heard the Onkyo DP-S1 and been too long since I heard the Cowon to give you any advice on either.

  51. Hans

    Hi Marcus, thanks for the great review!

    I was wondering if you can share your thoughts on 3 questions:
    1) Are there gain settings to deal with the slightly lower output power? My V20 drives Pinnacle PX (same as P1) fine as well as HD600 but I’m wondering if the R3 will work out.

    2) Did you notice any difference between the 2 digital filters?

    3) For sound, do you have any favourites at this price range? I’m looking for an all rounder that I can still come back to, even when I upgrade later on. My V20 drives easily, but while detailed and resolving is a little cold. Also, both separation and soundstage aren’t the greatest. For example, would a Shanling M3S work better? Interface and wireless aren’t important to me as I usually listen on the commute using shuffle, so 3.5 unbalanced is what matters for me.

    I listen to anything from classical orchestral works (timbre matters), jazz (bass matters), EDM and Rock (details and congestion), and vocals (separation matters), so I unfortunately need to find a jack of all trades.

    Thanks and cheers!

    • Marcus

      Hi Hans

      Thanks for the compliment, appreciate your input and thank you for visiting.

      1. There is high and low gain in the play settings.
      2. Not so much for me to be like an EQ or MSEB, MSEB is really going to be where you will really work the sound signature to your liking on the R3.
      3. M3s I think I already compared to the R3 but at this price range, you start with the Cayin N3, HiBy R3 and the Colorfly C10 (with IEMatch 3.5mm cable) as my own personal choices.

      Let me know what you decide to go for!

      • Hans

        Hi Marcus,

        Thanks for the comments! You can delete my duplicate one further down the page if needed :)

        I think I will leave EQ and MSEB off although MSEB sounds very interesting. I saw there is a separate Digital Filter setting: “Slow Descent” or “Sharp Drop”. Are you able to try that out? I think it is similar to the Digital Filters on Shanling models and other DAPs.

        I tried the N3 but didn’t find a big difference from my V20. M3S was maybe slightly better but I didn’t spend a lot of time, and it costs more than the R3. Looks like it will be the R3 (unless you know how the Sony NZ-A35/45 compares)? The C10 looks a little too large though.



    Excellent review Marcus!
    I am looking really for a transport, I mean, a device with wifi and Tidal able to store downloaded Tidal tracks/albums/playlists into the mSD card (as bigger as possible), with a decent 3.5mm jack output to pair with Etymotic ER4PT and with and USB-C or SPDIF or coax aoutput to pair with Mojo.
    Is HiBy R3 the wanted transport?
    If not, which one?


        Thanks for quick answer, but is it sure Tidal downloads will be stored in the mSD card?
        Which USB C OTG cable do you recommend?

  53. Hans

    Hi Marcus, thanks for the review.

    I was wondering if you can share your thoughts on 2 questions:
    1) Are there gain settings to deal with the slightly lower output power? My V20 drives Pinnacle PX (same as P1) fine as well as HD600 but I’m wondering if the R3 will work out.

    2) For sound, are there any other DAPs to consider at this price range? I’m looking for an all rounder that I can still come back to, even when I upgrade later on. My V20 drives anything easily, but the SABRE implementation while detailed and resolving is a little cold. Also, both separation and soundstage aren’t the greatest. For example, would going with a X3 III or Shanling M3S work out better? Interface and wireless aren’t important to me as I usually listen on the commute using shuffle, so 3.5 unbalanced is what matters for me.

    I listen to anything from classical orchestral works (timbre matters), jazz (bass matters), EDM and Rock (details and congestion), and vocals (separation matters), so I unfortunately need to find a jack of all trades.

    Thanks and cheers!

    • Hans

      Hi Marcus,

      In addition how do you find the 2 digital filters in comparison to each other?


    • Hans

      Hi Marcus, in addition can you share the difference between the 2 digital filters? Thank you :)

  54. tashikoma

    Will this device receive other streaming apps like Spotify or Qobuz ?

    • Marcus

      As per my review comments, its too early to tell if HiBy Will do that but I do not see why not at a later stage with a firmware upgrade.

  55. Ryan

    Would you be able to compare this to the Cowon Plenue D? I am looking for something that is very portable but still sounds good and is musical. I was less than impressed with the Hidizs AP200. Nice clean sound, but poor UI. I listen to most genres but probably listen to rock and classical/movie soundtrack the most. My primary headphones are ThinkSound ms02, Primo8, and HD6XX (don’t expect to use these on portable), and ThinkSound ON2.

    • Marcus

      I cannot compare to the D sadly as I do not have on hand to say much about it. That being said it does come packed with a heck of a lot more features than the D and much more fluid and easier to use than the AP200. I don’t see any issues driving your list outside of the HD6XX. Its rated power is fairly small and more suited to IEMs and portable cans.

  56. Mitch

    Hi Marcus,

    You did mention testing the R3 with the Andromedas – does it turn the Andros into a warm, soppy mess, like most other sub 1-ohm output DAPs? I still find that the ZX2 pairs best, with the ZX300 and X5iii on high gain close seconds, all on SE.

    • Marcus

      I never liked the ZX2 with the Andromeda, to be honest, it is a bit dark sounding with a higher noise floor. That being said I never felt the Andromeda go to mush on the R3. High gain? lol. oh man, the Andromeda on low gain is plenty :)

  57. gtj

    Hi Marcus,

    How would you compare it with X5iii soundwise?
    They seem to be comparable from what I read.

  58. Juan Luis

    Hi Marcus,

    How does it compare to the cayin n3 that I have? As it describes it, it would seem to share a similar sound signature.

  59. Loganaden Balakrishna VEERAPEN

    Big thanks Marcus for the review (reviews which I always very much enjoy btw). In terms of sound quality alone how would you rate the R3 against the iBasso DX50?

    • Marcus

      It has been a very long time since I heard the DX50 so take this with a pinch of salt but I would certainly say the R3 is more resolving for a start. The WM8740 chip was a fav of mine but it won’t upsample or natively decode to the same extent as the R3.

      • Loganaden Balakrishna VEERAPEN

        Thanks Markus. I am really looking for an upgrade rather than a sidegrade. Plus the R3 brings back memories of my beloved D2 with its form factor and the Mage 8 ball (akin to Jet Effect).

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