Sound Impressions


I always thought the original R3 was not the most neutral of sources, at least not as deathly analytical as the ES9028Q2M DAC implementation might have suggested. Well, with the switch to a dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 implementation, HiBy has tweaked the R3 Pro tuning to something I think is even more ‘musical’ than before.

Whether that is a change in the software algorithm or the DAC change allowing them to go in this direction I am not 100% sure. The net result, however, is a punchier sound with a slightly more natural overtone and a richer vocal delivery over the original R3.

You can also expect better PRaT on the R3 Pro than before. With any dynamic driver pairing, you can hear the difference right away.

The Tia Trio and Noble Khan pairings really showed up the more neutral R3 when compared to the R3 Pro on the low-end. The bass feels a little more physical, solid and better defined as a result. Sub-bass, in particular, seems to have more quantity which in turn teases out a better performance from these dynamic driver hybrids for bass responsiveness.


The instrumental and vocal timbre is a little richer and warmer on the R3 Pro when compared to the R3. The R3 comes across as perceptibly cleaner and brighter and also has a little less body. A lot of this seems to be connected to how the treble is delivered.

The Khan is treble sensitive and with the R3 the upper treble sounds a little thin and brittle, which in turn, leaves the timbre of percussion and higher-pitched synth sounds a shade spikey. It is not like the metallic overtone of the M9 treble but it sticks out more in its odd-harmonic overtones.

With the R3 Pro, I still get excellent articulation but the treble is a shade softer, wetter and with more body. I suspect the upper treble has a small amount of fade and lower treble response brought up a little more to fatten out the sound. It works much better for Khan’s upper mids and treble timbre which sounds more life-like and in turn, more listenable.


The R3 Pro improves on staging depth over the original R3 and generally has a more vivid or engaging staging quality, especially in the midrange where the R3 Pro’s vocals tend to stand out a little more.

Both have reasonably similar staging height but the perceived brighter treble on the R3 will give an added crispness and presence to percussion timbre. The R3 Pro tends to draw you more towards vocals and the stronger bass fundamental in lower-pitching instrumental notes. Hybrid IEM’s tended to exaggerate the differences a bit more than neutral IEMs such as the YB04 from Cayin.


With electrostatic hybrid monitors like the Jomo Audio Trinity and AAW’s Canary, there does seem to be a tendency to need a little more juice.

The Sonion stats drivers are not that efficient and whilst 60mW is more than enough current wise unbalanced I actually found the more powerful balanced output to produce better results. In fact, most dynamic driver hybrids sounded more impactful, (especially on the low-end) and responsive out of the balanced output of the R3 Pro.

The real beauty of the R3 Pro balanced output is the low noise floor. It is super quiet with a great black background, even for sensitive monitors.

HiBy R3 Pro WiFi

Wireless Performance

WiFi Performance

Honestly, at close range, both the R3 and R3 Pro performed at the same level for TIDAL streaming. The connection was strong and stable. This was about a 3m distance from the modem and there wasn’t too much happening with the modem at 3am in terms of data activity.

However, move away about 10m and stick 2 walls in-between the modem and both players then there was a definite difference. The R3 signal completely disappeared and the R3 Pro still showed 2 bars of signal. A bit too weak to stream TIDAL without the odd dropout but stronger than the R3 which would not play at all. The R3 Pro WiFi signal strength is a little closer now for me to the R5 than the R3 ever was.

HiBy R3 Pro Bluetooth

Bluetooth Performance


I had a mixed performance with the HiBy R3 Pro Bluetooth feature. Now in terms of connecting with a smartphone and using the HiByLink feature, I had zero issues. Everything worked as it should have.

More so, with the Samsung Note 9 and a Huawei P20 I got pretty good distance also. My house is only so long but I got right to the furthest wall in a straight line with one wooden door between the source and the R3 Pro using LDAC with no disruptions. That was about 15m. Dropping down to aptX produced the same performance and distance.


Now when I switched to DAPs as my source or transmitter I got a different story. This is more to do with the quality of BT chipset as a transmitter inside the DAPs than the R3 Pro chipset suddenly turning itself malfunctioning.

With the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch, FiiO M11 and iBasso’s DX160 I was barely getting a few meters before I turned a corner and the signal died. This was using LDAC so there is some mitigation in the reduced stability due to the high data rate transfer. However, it is pretty short and shorter than what I am used to.

What I am deducing from this is that the R3 Pro BT performance from a good smartphone will not pose an issue because the phone’s transmitting BT chipset and design is strong in its own right. However, once you water that down to a DAP where BT chipsets might be weaker or secondary to the analog performance then you might have an issue.

HiBy R3 Pro


Efficiency & Noise

A wonderfully silent black background is what you get with the R3 Pro. Granted at 60mW into a 32Ω load the noise floor is never going to be that pervasive but this is a solid improvement over the already decent original R3 performance.

We tested with 3 IEMs, ranging from the most sensitive, the Solaris and Hum’s Dolores to the least, the Jomo Audio Trinity and RHA’s CL1 The Solaris performed like a trooper on the R3 Pro sounding incredibly quiet as well as producing a lack of audible channel imbalance at low volume. The digital volume on the R3 Pro is very steady throughout. We got the exact same results, if not better, for the Hum Dolores also which I rate as a fairly sensitive monitor.

I was presuming the large jump in output power for balanced might have some noise levels as a consequence but here also HiBy has engineered the R3 Pro to cope remarkably well, as good as unbalanced. The Solaris was quiet and so also the Pristine. Again, a much-improved noise floor compared to the R3.

AAW Canary


On the flip side, the R3 Pro can’t deal with the RHA CL1 but then again this is 150Ω and 89dB and most regular DAPs will be taxed by this special monitor. You do need a dedicated amp to get the dynamic range right and with the R3 Pro, even in balanced, the high is too brittle for me.

Less efficient electrostatic hybrids such as the Jomo Audio Trinity and AAW’s Canary sounds more dynamic jacked out of the R3 Pro’s balanced output. There is enough current for them to get plenty loud on low-gain unbalanced but for me, the dynamic range and punchiness on the R3 Pro’s balanced output are more satisfying. You also get a little more current headroom.

I wouldn’t push the R3 Pro that far with headphones unless you are going portable with a 32Ω load on a dynamic driver. Something like the Campfire Audio Cascade sounded just fine balanced low-gain with more than enough headroom and current to drive them. I would go high gain unbalanced however if you are using the Cascade just so you are not pushing the volume too hard.

Cayin YB04


Synergy is more about power or efficiency matching than outright tonal pairing. The R3 Pro is not a bass-heavy source though I do find it punchier and tighter than the original. Its tuning is more on the slightly neutral to mid-centric side with a relatively wet vocal reproduction.

Whilst on the technical side it is not as resolving as the R6 Pro or some of the flagships out there it does pair very well in its stock tuning with vocal-centric monitors or IEMs that might require careful mids to treble matching.


Monitors such as the FiiO FH7 and Cayin’s YB04 perform exceptionally well from the R3 Pro. With the FH7, that slightly softer top-end doesn’t overexcite the FiiO flagship’s elevated upper-mids so it is not as edgy as with their own M9 which tends to have an edgier treble signature. The YB04 is very balanced sounding with a slight mic-centric push which is just perfect for the R3 Pro’s controlled stock signature.

On the higher end of things, the Tia Trio and the Noble Khan had a similar positive response with a more liquid-like treble. Not that its overly relaxed but the attack has a softer edge to it than the M9 but still more presence than the original R3 so it sounds smooth but accurate.

The Elysium I slightly less fond of for this pairing. I felt the mids and treble to be a little closed in and not as vibrant as they can be with more neutral and very resolving DAPs. Unless you start using MSEB, which I highly recommend you do for warm and relaxed signatures, the R3 Pro works very well with cleaner monitors for my tastes.

Click On Page 4 below for Comparisons & Verdict

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49 Responses

  1. Jacky

    Just own the R3 Pro today! What a stupid machine! if your language is not English then you cannot see Tidal for login!

    • b

      There are more stupid things about this device. Like… It doesn’t work.
      Mine keeps CRASHING and STUTTERS on just playback. All these reviews.. ( got the Saber version) seem to be waay more positive than the actual device i got.
      And it’s probably the saber version, but half the notes sounds like a bag of crisps being opened. or like continuously unplugging the cable during playback. Nothing analytical, just ruined the sound. It’s so useless i’m gonna try to return or just throw it away and take the 200 as a loss.

      • Marcus

        SOrry not heard the sabre version but for the crashing and stutters, if this local playback or streaming? Generally, I find a reset or flash the firmware solves some initial issues.

  2. Ricardo

    Hi… I have a Fiio X3MKII and looking to upgrade. Looking at the Hidizs AP80 Pro and R3 Pro… any thoughts? (FYI: Usinh Bose QC35II ou Senheiser Momentum over eyer)

    • Marcus

      The R3 is not as powerful as the X3MK2 but light years ahead in terms of system stability and resolution. Also, smaller which can help :) The AP80 is good for the price, however. Depends on your budget but for a few bucks more I would pick the HiBy R5, especially if you are using headphones.

      • Ricardo Ribeiro

        Why is the R5 a verter choice for headphone users? (Sorry of this is a basic question…)

  3. Mario

    Hello! I just read your review and it is great. I am thinking of getting the R3 pro. I only have the Sennheiser 599 and usually use them with my iPhone. Will the R3 pro make any difference in my listening experience?
    Thank you!

    • Mario

      Additionally. I would use it mainly for FLAC files and my increasng my collection of 24 bit files.

    • Marcus

      Yes at a high level it will. However, for the Senn 599 I suggest a little more and getting their R5 instead. It is vastly more powerful which the 599 will enjoy. Also, you get the full Android experience.

      • Mario

        Thanks for q the quick respoke! I just read the R5 review and it definetly is the one to go! Already ordered. Thank you very much again!

  4. Terry Thorman

    Hi there

    Just bought the R3 Pro – could you recommend a decent pair of not too expensive IEMs to go with it – I have been looking at the KZ ZS10 Pro? Posted again as a typo in first post.


    • Marcus

      Sorry, no experience with KZ and I was going to recommend the Creative Aurvana Trio but that might be above your budget.

    • ZolaIII

      FiiO FH1s are great EMI’s around 70$, from cheap one’s Blon B03 or a Tin T2 (both are bit lazy but good tuned to Harman MSEB helps speeding them up). More than anything above I would recommend you Creative Aurvana Air which aren’t EMI’s but earbuds 65$ currently. But it all really depends up on your personal preferences for me Aurvana Air is still the best.

      I must say Marcus still has great hearing.

  5. Marcos

    Hi Marcus, great review as always!

    Quick question, related to sound quality, how is the r3 pro different from the Fiio BTR5?

    I ask that because all of my music is in my phone and I generally use it through LDAC in my shanling m0. So I’d probably use the r3 pro as a bluetooth receiver most of the time. The outputs generally are a TinHifi P1, a Sen hd600 or a Ruark MR1 mk2.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Marcus

      Gosh I don’t have the BTR5 but I don’t think the HD600 will be powered adequately from the R3 Pro, I would go with the R5 for that one.

      • Marcos

        Thanks for the reply! I think maybe if in balanced it could, right? My shanling m0 with 80mw @30 Ohms kind of powers it fairly well.

        What about regarding the dac, should there be much difference between the m0 and the btr5? I thought about the hiby R5, but I just think it’ll too big for my taste, I just want something light and small that allows me to take together with my big note9 and my wallet in my jeans pockets

      • Marcus

        well, balanced output is better but still, the price difference right now between the R3 and R5 would make me want the additional quality power for an HD600/650. Still, if the size is what matters then I guess its the R3.

  6. Radovan

    Hi there,

    thanks for the great review. As explained in your review, TIDAL Masters are not visible via the TIDAL integration. Would that mean the masters albums stored in my personal collection are not visible either?
    Also considering an USB DAC setup sourced from e.g. TIDAL or Audirvana on Mac, do I assume correctly the R3Pro will render MQA (including TIDAL content) accordingly, but not show any format information?

    Thanks a lot

    • Marcus

      I don’t remember seeing any format flag on TIDAL via the R3 Pro though there is an info section. When you say store do you mean offline content or your own MQA collection? There is no TIDAL offline on the R3 Pro.

      • Radovan

        Thanks for the reply. I meant my Tidal MQA albums stored in my personal favourites, not the offline content (such as this is apparently not supported). I basically looking for info if there is any option to stream Tidal MQA and then if the R3Pro supports rendering Tidal MQA in the USB DAC setup when sourced from other an other device (such as Tidal on Mac or iPhone).

  7. John Kiew

    Thanks for the great review, am comparing M9, R3 Pro and M2X. What is your thoughts?

    • Marcus

      I have not heard the M2X but if you need power and full android then R5. R3 Pro is only relevant if you prefer the sound signature and using very sensitive monitors. M9 for me is a no compared to the R5.

    • Marcus

      That Gear Patrol was written in March 2018 when the R3 was just launched and a statement that HiBy hoped it would be having TIDAL offline. Sadly, they could not get TIDAL offline due to the way TIDAL does encryption for offline playback. Pity.

      • Peter

        To bad! Have you compared this to the Fiio M6? That one does Tidal offline, so might be an option. Or the Onkyo DP-X1?

  8. Kerry Maxwell

    Thanks for the info, it appears mostly what the Pro has over my R3 is virtually useless for my purposes! An e-reader and pedometer?! Ha! The increased output section is nice, but not worth an upgrade for that alone.

  9. Alex

    Hello! Thank you for the review.

    Does R3 pro have enough power to drive a full-size 18ohm headphones (over-ear momentums) using 3.5mm port?

  10. SJ

    How does the R3 Pro compare to the Cowon D2? They both use the same DAC’s and the Hiby is $100 cheaper than the Cowon.

  11. Spritz

    Hey! Thanks much for the great review.
    I’m entirely new to this audiophile world, and I need some help :)
    I’m looking for a replacement for my laggy fiio x1 ii, and thinking about purchasing hiby r3 pro. My headphones are Whizzer Kylin a-he03, and I can’t check DAPs myself before buying. Will it be a good match, or if otherwise, what DAP would you suggest?

    • Marcus

      For the basis of good matches always look to power and sensitivity matching before tonal since most DAPs these days have excellent DSP to fine-tune. However, if no dynamic range then it is not worth it.

      I have not heard the Whizzer but at 28 ohms and 98dB SPL I can’t see an issue with the pairing and should have plenty of headroom.

      • blazer39

        that’s good to know, however would like to know in terms of sound quality/tonality…is R5 200$+ better than r3 pro?

        btw, good review as always :)

      • Marcus

        Off the top of my head a bit more body on the low-end, a bit more intimate and bigger vocal presence on the R5.

  12. George Lai

    Hi, I’m a bit confused by your comments on the BT performance so I hope you can elaborate. I’d like to also use this as a transmitter of, say, FLAC files stored on its mSD card, to BT5.0-capable TWS (True Wireless Stereo) earbuds. Are you saying the BT performance is not very good? Thanks.

    • Marcus

      Hi George

      Long-time no chat! :)

      Actually what I am saying is that performance will ultimately be a sum of 2 parts – the transmitter and receiver. I suspect the BT chipset inside the R3 Pro is ok but not as strong as a regular smartphone chipset. The stability and distance will ultimately depend on your TWS and how good the chipset is inside that. If that is ok then it should be stable enough with the R3 Pro.

      • George Lai

        Hi Marcus,

        Yes it’s been a while.

        Thanks for the clarification. Have a Merry Christmas. Thank you for a year of great reviews and here’s to an even greater 2020.

  13. Steve


    Great review!
    I have the R3 Pro, and the Campfire Cascades, .. so I have a pretty specific question for you! :) Whilst the R3P can drive the cascades no issue, … how does the sound change when you use an amp..? Was thinking of maybe getting the Monoprice THX portable.

    Have you tried connecting it with an amp? What were your thoughts?


    • Marcus

      Hi Steve

      Thanks for the positive feedback and glad you enjoyed it. The Cascade will sound punchier with more power but then a good amp will do that 9 out of 10 times.


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