Sound Impressions

Tonality & Presentation

The R3 delivers a musical and fun sounding tonality with a clean and clear presentation and a decent level of low-end warmth. Compared to other Sabre infused DAPs, the R3 inherits a little of the R6 bass weight and PRaT so it is not as linear or flat sounding using IEMS sub-500Hz.

There you can find a fuller response and a little more sub-bass presence than say the N5ii which, to my ears, is a little lighter and more restrained sounding. It also delivers a slightly better body than the Shanling M3s which also tends to sound a little thinner with more top-end emphasis than the R3.

Detail

Beyond that, the R3 delivers excellent levels of detail, above average instrumental separation and a timbre with a natural to slightly warm harmonic balance, especially in the lower mids. The ES9028Q2M also rarely exhibits the same level of treble glare as the older ES9018K2M chipsets so generally, it sounds much smoother in its vocals presence and top-end performance.

You will not find any X3iii type veil to the vocal performance of the R3 either though the positioning is a little more neutral compared to the bass and treble energy of the R3.

I want to emphasize I do not find the top-end in any way forced or harsh sounding to achieve a perceptible presence beyond 2-4k but it is slightly brighter and more energetic sounding than the R6 performance within a similar range.

I sort of expected that given the better setup on the R6, however, the difference is more nuanced than night and day. The R6 simply sounds the more natural of the two for percussion timbre and harmonic balance.

Soundstage

Staging wise the R3 has excellent depth and width with decent headroom and air in top-end. It is not quite as airy as the M3s or the R6 but nothing shelved down. There is a little forwardness in the upper mids to lower treble and again a bit more low-end presence in its presentation but it in no way affects the mids performance which is open sounding and delivering excellent width and imaging.

Single-Ended Versus Balanced

Balanced will deliver about 5 steps more volume (35 versus 40 steps using the Andromeda in low gain) and more output power than the single-ended output. Overall the tonal difference remains largely unchanged with perhaps a little more snap and definition in its bass response and slightly better instrumental separation.

You will most likely benefit from the balanced output with slightly more inefficient or higher ohm rated IEMs. Sensitive IEMs such as the Andromeda do not deliver any transformational performances using the balanced output.

HiBy Music R3

Matchability

Efficiency

The R3’s output rating at 56mW and 112mW into 32Ω (single-ended and balanced) is not the strongest in the market at this price point. In fact, compared to some of the competition it is the lowest-rated.

DAPs such as the X3iii start at 160mW single-ended into 32Ω and the more budget-orientated DAPs from Cayin and Shanling (N3 and M2s) have a rated 130mW into 32Ω. Only the AP60 II from Hidizs have similar or lower output ratings.

However, you have to balance that with the excellent SNR (4-8dB superior to all mentioned DAPs) and THD+N numbers from the R3. You also have to factor in the sub-1Ω output impedance on both jacks to understand that the R3 is very much geared for excellent performance with efficient IEMs. It is with IEMs that the R3 really shines and plays drives most IEMs (Bar RHA CL1) with reasonable ease.

Noise/Impedance

The noise floor on the R3 is very low indeed. In fact, with the Andromeda, I could only pick up the faintest of noise floors with the R3. All other IEMs played dead quiet with a satisfying black background. IEMs such as the Hum Pristine R, iBasso IT03, Noble’s Savanna and Sage all produced a very quiet performance.

Impedance is not a factor with the R3. Those who hesitated on the R6 due to its 10Ω output impedance will find no low-z skew with sensitive IEMs using the R3. It reproduces accurately so there is no need for impedance adapters.

Synergy

IEMs

With the musical and energetic signature, the R3 actually pairs pretty well with a wide range of my IEMs outside of the most power-hungry ones such as the CL750 and Cl1 from RHA. If I have to declare a personal preference I would pick a neutral to natural-sounding IEM that will not overemphasize any inherent warmth in the R3 or exaggerate any treble energy. However, I will acknowledge with budget entry colored IEMs the R3 sounded like a lot of fun.

As an example, I found the synergy with higher-end IEMs such as the Hum Pristine R to be excellent, smooth and very nicely balanced with next to no noise. However, v-shaped IEMs such as the excellent budget level IT01 also sounded punchy and vibrant when paired with the R3.

The Noble Savanna’s more neutral presentation didn’t quite gel as well with the R3 for regular rock and vocals but sounded great with modern R’n’B. Modern consumer music seems to be the forte of the R3.

Headphones

Outside of efficient IEMs, easy to drive headphones such as the Meze 99 Classic and Neo, the Sony MA900 and to a lesser extent, the Audeze SINE also sounded good when paired with the R3.

My personal preference was to use the 99 Neo with the R3 for dance and R’n’B genres due to the more aggressive bass from this pairing and keep the 99 Classic for more traditional rock and mid-centric music. The SINE will scale with more powerful DAPs and amp stages but it sounded ok to me on the R3. Quite smooth actually with the energetic lower treble bringing some life out of the darker top end of the SINE.

HiBy Music R3

Select Comparisons

Shanling M3s

$279

Technical

The M3s is Shanling’s mid-range DAP and it also uses a version of the HiBy Music OS as its core software platform. The M3s is a non-touch physical control only DAP so all of the navigation and confirmation is done through the use of buttons and a volume dial to the left and right. The software platform is a little more primitive than the R3 but fairly stable. It does not have WiFi or any streaming services but it does have Bluetooth, HiByLink, and bi-directional services.

Like the R3, the M3s has no onboard memory and accepts microSD officially up to 256GB in a single slot. It also has a balanced and unbalanced output capability as well as line out whereas the R3 uses its USB-C port for digital outputs and has no dedicated line-out. The M3s also has a USB-C output and will operate in USB-DAC and OTG digital audio mode as well as accepting OTG USB Storage expansion.

The M3s also has more power at 130mW into 32Ω single-ended and 230mW into 32Ω balanced. Both are very quiet performers with low noise levels so they are ideally suited to IEMs and efficient headphones.

Shanling M3s

Performance

The M3s tonally is a bit cleaner with slightly less body and not as much low-end warmth as the R3. This is a more neutral and linear presentation with less bass weight and aggression compared to the R3. The R3 also has slightly more vocal and lower-midrange instrumental presence whereas the M3s tends to sound a little thinner and cleaner.

The M3s is not brittle by the way, it is actually quite refined sound. Rather its emphasis is more mids to treble whereas the R3 tends to have a bass, vocal and lower treble emphasis in that order.

Despite the tuning bias of the M3s, I would not call the M3s a bright signature. Sure it has sparkle and good extension but it is quite smooth sounding to my ears but it is a tiny bit further forward sounding than the R3. This includes its upper treble which is a little airier and more open sounding.

Hifiman Supermini

$399 ($199 as of March 2018)

Technical

The Supermini is a slimmer volumetrically smaller DAP than the R3 with a floating price point these days between $199 and $399. Its own OS is far more primitive than the touch-capable HiBy Music OS with no connectivity functions such as Bluetooth and WiFi. All functionality is controlled through a series of slightly awkward physical button placement on its slimline chassis. Like the R3 it has no onboard memory requiring a microSD card and a FAT formatted one at that.

It does, however, have a much longer battery life at up to 20 hours and its power specs are much higher at 320mW into 32Ω compared to the 112mW into 32Ω of the R3 balanced. The Supermini is primarily pitched to handle much higher-powered headphones and IEMs than the R3.

The DAC inside the Supermini is not as advanced as the R3 in terms of decoding capability with a maximum output of DSD64 and 24BIT/192k PCM compared with the R3’s DSD256 and 32BIT/394k PCM. Its THD-N and SNR numbers are not as good as the R3’s numbers at 0.04% and 102dB respectively.

Hifiman Supermini

Performance

This is a very competitive matchup though both have a different tonal bias. The sound quality of the Supermini should not be underestimated even if its physical appearance is a bit limp in comparison to the R3. I will remark though you will not hear the best out of the Supermini with efficient IEMs. The noise floor is simply too high and the R3 is much better suited in this niche. The Supermini pulls away on balanced with more demanding headphones with more output power and better driving capability.

Efficient IEMs

On regular or low-efficiency IEMs both have good noise floors with the R3 just have that more aggressive and weighted low-end compared to the more controlled sounding Supermini. The Supermini does have a very slight mid-bass bump injecting a little warmth but it is not as much as the R3. the R3 is the better choice for low-end power. That theme continues into the mids with the R3 showing slightly better body and the Hifiman aiming for something more flowing and natural in its timbre.

The supermini treble performance is really excellent and if the R3 has the edge in low-end the Supermini has the edge in the high end. This is very articulate with plenty of sparkle and better air than the R3. The R3 does a great job also but just not quite the same headroom and openness as the Supermini.

FiiO X3 Mark III

$199.99

Technical

The X3 Mark III is FiiO’s latest iteration of its X3 line priced at $199. It comes with its own Linux in-house software on a slightly slower Ingencics processor and is non-touch based. The X3iii is much slower than the R3 and FiiO do have some way to go before their own OS is really up to speed with HiBy Music’s own OS. It does not have WiFi but it does have Bluetooth though it does not have the aptX protocol which the R3 has.

The X3iii comes loaded with a dual TI’s PCM5242 chipset for its DAC implementation. However, the decoding rates are a little disappointing compared to the R3 with a max DSD64 and 24BIT/192k PCM. I presume this is more of a limitation of the processor and software setup as the TI chipset can decode higher if required.

Performance numbers on signal output vary. The X3iii has more power in both single-ended and balanced. However, the R3 benefits from much better SNR numbers by up to 4-5dB (SNR) and a better dynamic range performance from the ES9028Q2M by up to 10dB.

FiiO X3 Mark III

Performance

First up noise. The noise level on the X3 Mark II with sensitive IEMs is higher than the R3. The X3iii will exhibit moderate levels of background hiss with IEMs such as Shure SE846 and the Andromeda. For higher ohm rated IEMs and less efficient ones both will be silent with good black backgrounds.

Tonally both are warm to natural-sounding and fairly musical however the R3 is more aggressive in its presentation than the X3iii’s laid-back approach. The X3iii has warmth but its sub-bass presence is looser with less presence. That means a punchier and more weighted R3 low-end, thicker lower-midrange and slightly meatier instrumental timbre.

Vocals are also slightly further forward on the R3 and “bigger sounding” than the X3iii.  The X3iii vocals and upper mids are positioned a little further back than the R3 and have slightly less impact and focus. Lower-treble on the X3iii is also more laid back with less slightly less energy though both seem to have similar levels of presence and detail in the final octave.

Our Verdict

Potential

At such an early stage the R3 shows plenty of promise and a very rewarding sound signature. It is by far the most advanced non-Android based ‘entry-to-mid-fi’ DAP at this price point. It also allows HiBy Music to show off their technical ability in how they have expanded the OS into a touch-capable connected OS that can run really well on a fairly modest processor.

Aesthetics

It is also perhaps one of the nicest looking DAPs sub $500 and really bucks the elongated rectangular or traditional design trend of many of its competitors. Perhaps only Shanling are thinking in the same direction with their new S series designs such as the M1s.

Performance

In terms of sound quality well its slightly musical and more aggressive “fun” presentation is very enjoyable to listen to with just about any IEM you can throw at it. It may not have the power to really get to grips with most headphones but its low noise floor, excellent volume micro-control make it pitch-perfect for efficient gear. And no impedance monkey business! Bliss.

What Is Missing?

Of course, it is early days yet and certain things are missing either because it’s beta firmware or something I wish it had. If there are screen protectors and protective cases in the final product that be a good start as the R3 is rather naked without them. It is also a shame there is no dedicated line-out rather than pass through the internal amp at a fixed 1.1V.

On the OS side, TIDAL integration is good but a few more category features from their main software platform such as TIDAL Rising might enhance the experience. The ‘slide up’ toolbar on the playback screen does not really add much to the experience. In fact, it directly duplicates the layer below it. I also feel that the physical buttons are more accurate and intuitive and pretty much do the same job.

Now and Future

I may change the score based on the final firmware release to reflect any new features and some bug fixes. However, given the existing score on page 1 that is only going to be a positive value-adding experience because the R3 is already one heck of a bang-for-buck product. Right now, this is the best HiBy Music OS experience to date on any platform with a highly competitive and mature sound quality to match.

R3 Technical Specifications

To read up on the R3 specifications click here.

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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.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  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.

    Regards,
    Juan Luis.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  9. Headfonics

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

    Reply
  10. Arvin Noble

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  14. JAK9

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  29. kenny sughiarto

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

    Reply
  30. Michael Piskor

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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 :(

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  39. Tim

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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,
    Krisztian

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  45. Dragomir Petrov

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

    Reply
    • Marcus

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

      Reply
  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 :)

    Reply
      • 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  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 :)

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
      • 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.

        Cheers!

  52. ALBERTO MARTINEZ

    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

    Reply
      • ALBERTO MARTINEZ

        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!

    Reply
    • Hans

      Hi Marcus,

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

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • Hans

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

      Reply
  54. tashikoma

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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 :)

      Reply
  57. gtj

    Hi Marcus,

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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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