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

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

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

HiBy R5
HiBy R5
Pardon the use of a meme here but the R5 is a bit of a pocket rocket and excellent value for $399. I am sure the competition will catch up but Android 8.1, HiBy MSEB, 0.5mW of output power, and a very low noise floor has got to tick plenty of boxes for the avid DAP user.
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And here it is, the latest DAP from HiBy, the R5. The numbering is a fairly logical giveaway here with the new R5 sitting neatly in-between the R3 and the R6 & R6 Pro with pricing to match at $399. That’s a bit cheaper than the FiiO M11 and $100 higher than the M9. From our pics below, however, I would say the FiiO M9 users should definitely take a second look at the R5 before they trade up.

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

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

HiBy R5

Tech Inside

It is clear from the outset that quite a lot of key R6 features are being trickled down to the R5. Open Android at $399 is the new battle place with the R5 leading the way and the soon to be released iBasso DX160 not far behind. More than that, some of that excellent hardware from the R6 has also trickled down into the R5.


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


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


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

HiBy R5


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

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

HiBy R5

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


Legibility is excellent from wide or extreme angles and the color saturation is very good. The R5 Dpi is lower than the R6 Pro at 240 compared to 320 which places it on the same level as the older X7 Mark II from FiiO (233dpi). However, the screen seems to have better saturation than the R6 Pro with whites looking whiter and generally nicer contrast.

My only minor concern with this screen is the combination of Android and the size for typing and easy touch control. For icon-based touch management, it is fine, no issues on scrolling and selecting tracks or apps. However, for typing, the keyboard characters are very close for me and the propensity to make a typo greatly enhanced.

HiBy R5


The control system, much like any other touch-based wireless DAP, falls into 3 areas; physical, touch and wireless.


The touch experience of the R5 is almost as good as the R6 save for the slightly smaller size consideration. It still feels responsive despite the drop in RAM from 3GB to 2GB with performance figures to match that of the R6 (see Page 2).

There is virtually no lag between executing a touch command and the DAP responding to it. Everything feels snappy including the obligatory pinch and zoom multi-touch features where applicable.

Aside from that, the touchscreen will do everything you need the R5 to do outside of initiating volume control, power on/off and LCD on/off. You can however increase or decrease volume control via the touchscreen once initiated via the physical dial. Unlike the PAW Gold Touch, you cannot double-tap from the screen off option so you have to do that one via the power button to the right side.


The right panel is pretty similar to the R6 layout with the power/LCD screen button complete with LED light for battery and charging status and playback controls just underneath. They have a decent rise above the housing and feel fairly secure so it is not too hard to find them unsighted. However, they do lack a little bit of physical indentation or “pimples” for a quick “which button is which” orientation.

The labeling on the buttons is also print-based rather than etched so time will tell how long those prints last before they get faded or chipped away.

HiBy R5

On the left panel, you have the two usual HiBy digital volume control buttons with 100 digital steps at 0.5dB per step to play with. These also feel pretty solid and accurate with no missed steps. You can short press for a single step or long-press for multiple-step increases.


The final way is via the R5’s in-app HiByLink service. This is only available if you have both the Android HiBy Music app on the R5 and your smartphone.

By setting up the R5 as a HiByLink Server and the Smartphone as HiBy Link client you can effectively control the R5 remotely (Bluetooth connection is automatically done during the setup process). This is ideal for those who have their hands constantly on their smartphones but want to control the R5 from a short distance on their desk or in their pocket if on the go.

During this setup, you can browse the R5’s media library, operate playback controls, adjust volume, and scan for media. You cannot operate the R5 settings or its DSP/EQ functionality.

Inputs & Outputs

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

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

HiBy R5

Both the 3.5mm TRS and 4.4mm TRRS jacks on either side of the USB-C input have dual functionality for both PO and LO duties. Unlike the FiiO M11 there is no 3rd 2.5mm TRRS jack but given the small size of the R5 that is not terribly surprising.



The R5 has 16GB of onboard memory but Oreo eats up a lot of that space with only 9.72GB of workable memory for storage. Considering that apps can run from 50MB upwards you might be better off using the internal memory for apps and grabbing an external microSD card for audio tracks.


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

You can, of course, expand via the R5’s USB-C OTG capability with any size powered HDD or flash drive really. Our 64GB SanDisk drive worked perfectly fine for tracks loading and HiBy Music will scan it and integrate it right into your main library for ease of management.

Battery Life

The R5 comes packed with a 3500mAh Li-polymer using Quick Charge 3.0 (QC3.0) technology with a full charge possible in around 2 hours and up to 80% within 30 mins.

The battery life specs on paper are very impressive for a DAP of this output power and decoding capability. On paper, you can get up to 11 hours runtime on 4.4mm balanced and 18 hours runtime on 3.5mm single-ended.

I have to presume this is the best-case scenario testing with MP3 level decoding, all wireless switched off and the screen turned off also. These are normal test conditions for specs like this. However, compared to similarly-sized DAPs such as FiiO’s M9 which uses a 2350mAh Li-polymer battery the battery is bigger and a better performer. The FiiO M9 tops out at 9-10 hours max and has a much lower output rating also.

Of course, it is so difficult to tell how accurate that really is with an Android platform because everyone has their own usage pattern. I burned through almost 15% in an hour with WiFi on, FLAC decoding, transfer of 8GB of files, DLNA, TIDAL (including downloads) and plenty of menu/app poking. That was using the unbalanced output with a 12Ω load. I suspect I could get it down to zero percent in under 10 hours or less with heavy usage.

Temperature-wise the R5 battery does get fairly warm, especially when WiFi is on. The AnTuTu historical battery temperature reading was 8-degree Celsius higher on average compared to the R6 Pro’s reading at 47.3c average compared to 38.8c (measured over a 3-hour period). When idle, the R5 reading can drop down to around a relatively mild 32c compared to the 28c of the R6 Pro’s idle temperature reading.

HiBy R5

Accessories & Packaging

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

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

HiBy R5

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

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


Click On Page 2 below for Hardware & Software Impressions

Click On Page 3 below for Sound Impressions & Matchability

Click On Page 4 below for Comparisons & Verdict

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52 Responses

  1. Michel

    Hello Marcus,

    Thanks for this great and detailed review. Which IEM under $200 would pair nicely with the R5? Or is an IEM under $200 not worth it?

    • Marcus

      Any IEM is worth it if you enjoy the sound signature regardless of price. Do not be afraid to hit the MSEB DSP option in the HiBy app either to give it some personal tweaking.

  2. Daniel Church

    Not sure if I understand headphone impedance correctly, My Fostek is rated 24 ohms. Is the R5 able to drive them effectively?


    Excellent review! Im about to buy the R5 but just one final question: his Android 8.1 can run third party apps made to listen chiptune music and .mod tracks like Droidsound, Modo, ZXTune, etc?

  4. Dan

    Hi, and thanks for this nice review.

    Do you know what it is “worth” used like network streamer (player) (USB audio to external DAC (active speakers) / Coax out), in a home instalation, replacing something like Cayin iDap-6 or an Raspi Allo Signature USB Bridge or blue node 2 and so on ?

    HiByLink allow us handling any application installed from google play store? Like Tidal or Qobuz or BubleUPNP …? HiByLink is like a mirroring screen system ?
    Or HiByLink on my android phone it’s limited to HiBy Music and generaly to HiBy OS ?


    • Marcus

      Hi, HibyLink as you pointed out is seamless for the iDAP-6 however, for anything else you are not limited to the HiBy app since it is Android 8. You can download and use any DLNA or airplay compatible streaming remote control and core module for BT or WiFi. HiByLink is just a feature of their own app, all other apps have their integration features so it will depend on your gear. I use Bubbleupnp, PLEX and HifiCast personally

  5. Stacy Fx

    Please help, today I received my new R5 and I want to transfer my playlist from the Widows media player (.wpl file). I open Windows Media Player and click the “Sync” button (Widows Media Player sees the player and the SD card). I start “Sync” playlist, click the sync button. As a result, the player have songs, but do not see the playlist. I saw that the player requires M3U file, I converted my .WPL file to M3U and tried the same way to throw it on the player, same palyer not see the playlist. I threw the converted M3U file playlist files into the folder in the player, now player see it but say that there were no songs in it. I try with Music Bee program and no result. Maybe you have any ideas?

  6. Felipe Cowley
    Sennheiser momentum 3

    Tengo unos audífonos sennheiser momentum 3 cual me recomendaria

    Leave A Review

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  7. Alfred

    Hi Marcus great review! I want r6 Pro but since I have limited budget, I’m looking at this hiby r5. My question is I have hifiman he 4xx planar and I have Sony nw zx300. The Sony I felt is not enough to drive the he 4xx more. Will the r5 hiby drive better than zx300? I know r6 Pro can but its kinda more expensive. Thanks for the advise!

    • Marcus

      Oh easily better than the ZX300. WHat Sony likes to do is bury the output power ratings which are not that high. The ZX300 is rated at 200 mW + 200 mW (High Gain) balanced into a very weak 16-ohm load. Compared that to the R5 which is capable of 564mW+564mW on a bigger 32Ω load balanced.

      • Alfredo Reyes II

        Really?! I did not know that. Kinda new in measuring power in this audiophile life. haha But thanks very much for this Marcus. I believe I made my choice. R5 is enough to drive the he 4xx. That’s why my planar is a bit low volume in ZX300. I really like the sound on it in balanced but it’s just not enough. This is the reason why. thanks!!!

  8. Parag Patel

    Please help! I just ordered my second Hiby R5 from Amazon assuming the first one was defective but both are doing the same thing. Anytime a song is playing on Bluetooth and I touch the top inch with any slight pressure on the screen, or on the back, the sound gets very staticy and distorted until I stop applying pressure. I love this player and hope this goes away and don’t have to return.. please help with suggestions

    • Marcus

      I need to test that but if its the top area it may be that you are somehow covering the BT receiver with your hand and interfering with the signal. Lots of variables and unusual you have it with both units.

  9. Stuart Malcolm

    Thanks for the review. I too am new to the DAP world so a lot of it is double dutch to me. I am looking to move over from my 160GB ipod, which is now over-full. So, I’m looking for something that can take 256-512GB. I don’t think I need bluetooth and I’m not sure about streaming/wifi so I don’t know if I should go for something like the R5 or something simpler?

    One question I do have though is about transferring over from itunes to a new music management system. Do you know how easy it is to maintain all the playlists, playcounts and sorting?


  10. Kiss László

    Hi, a bit off topic, reflecting on your R3 Pro comment in the review 😉, does the R3 Pro support Spotify playback?

    • Marcus

      Hi Lacas

      Too early to say as they have not launched it yet but a recent FB post on their page lists this on the R3 Pro

      ✅Dual CS43131
      ✅Bluetooth 5.0
      ✅5G Wi-Fi
      ✅MageSound 8-Ball Audio Remastering Platform
      ✅MQA certified
      ✅Two-way LDAC
      ✅HiRes certifications
      ✅2.5mm balanced output
      ✅Native hardware DSD256 decoding
      ✅Custom themes
      ✅Web radio
      ✅20 hours single-ended, 16 hours balanced
      ✅50 days standby

      • Kiss László

        Thx Marcus, seems promising. I will wait for your review 😊 Lacas

  11. Ronald

    You mentioned that as a transport any cheap dap with digital out would be fine unless you wanted bit perfect out.
    Can you recomend a cheap dap with bit perfect out? (to a IDSD Black label)

  12. Dan

    I just purchased the Hiby R5 to upgrade from my Irulu F20. I should be considered a newbie when it comes to High Res players, so forgive me if this question just reiterates that status. I find that these players have a distinctive “pop” when initially playing tracks. I’m comparing to playing music from my iPhone, which must preload or buffer with silence before the music track starts. Is there a setting I’m missing? All of my music is on a Sandisk 400GB micro SD card, not sure if the external drive has an influence. I remember the first generation iPods had the same problem, so must have been addressed with a firmware update. Would appreciate any input you could provide on the subject. Many thanks

      • Dan

        I’m using a set of Bose QC-25 headphones using the 3.5mm headphone output. Gain is set to high, as suggested by Bose.

      • Marcus

        Try low-gain also and see what happens. Sometimes a pop is a mute relay kicking in and an overly sensitive headphone with a high gain setting might pick it up more.

  13. Jon W

    Nice review!
    I am looking at the Hiby R5 or the upcoming Fiio M11 pro for portable use and also would like to use the DAP to send a digital audio signal to a Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC which has inputs for USB, coaxial, or spdif signals.
    Can you recommend the best cable type to transfer the digital signal from the R5 to the Gungnir? You mention the R5 has a USB type C digital out which I am not familiar with for high quality audio use.

    • Marcus

      If you are looking for a transport I would say any cheap DAP would be fine unless you need Android bit-perfect output or streaming. Now as to whether the Gungnir is compatible I can’t say for sure as I do not have one to test so best reach out to Schiit and ask will it receive a digital audio signal over OTG on Android DAPs via USB.

  14. Alberto

    Great Review!
    I’m looking for a DAP and my short list was: A&K SR-15, Fiio M11, iBasso DX160.
    Anyway when i read Hiby R5 review i understood that maybe it will be a good partner of IMR R1 Zenit!
    Maybe i’ll plug also Focal Clear and Final PAndora Hope VI but IMR mainly!

    Could be a great combo?

  15. Avi

    Iam torn between R5 and M11…This would be my first DAP…I mostly listen to classic rock,funk and metal…it would be a great help if you could help me in choosing between these two based on the genres I mentioned …btw great and detailed review…

    • Marcus

      Oh for sure if rock and metal its the R5. I find the M11 doesn’t deliver enough bass authority for driving thrash rhythm guitar work. The R5 delivers more low-end weight, especially with MSEB DSP applied.

      • Kevin

        And what about the iBasso DX160?
        I mostly listen to rock and metal too, and I am choosing between R5 or DX160.

      • Marcus

        It depends really on how you like your metal served. If you are after super tight shredding, searing guitar solos with excellent tapping precisions I would get the DX160. If you prefer the Les Paul sound with some meat on the rhythm guitar section or something like Bay area thrash chugging sound I would grab the R5.

      • zdzisuaf

        Hi! What about band Tool? Which DAP would be better? R5 or DX-160?

      • Marcus

        Personally, I would be using an R5 for low-end weight to match those heavy guitar riffs but the DX160 adds a bit of air up top so it’s kind of down to you on what you prefer.

  16. HiFiGo

    Like your review, about the music player, I love the shanling M6 and iBasso DX160 better, can you make a comparison for these player

    • Marcus

      I cannot because A. we have not got an M6 and if we do, it will be with a different reviewer and second, the DX160 review will have the comparison at a later stage with the R5. If you like them better perhaps you should explain why to allow our readers to form an early opinion below. thanks

      • Alberto

        Shanling M6 has great specs:
        Snapdagron 430
        4GB Ram
        32GB ROM (expand 2TB)
        AK4495SEQ Chip DAC
        SE3.5 and 2.5+4.4 Balanced outs
        4.7″ display
        4000mA Battery

        I’m waiting heafonics review but right now Shanling M6, Hiby R5, iBasso DX160 are in my short list

  17. Allen J. Feinberg

    Thank you for the excellent review. My eyes have been on the R5 and the M11. If I was going to purchase one, it would be the R5. You provided some great insight, just the information I need to make the decision for my purposes.

      • Allen J. Feinberg

        I got the R5 and also the R6 Pro. I have the same feelings about the two. The R5 is brighter, the R6 Pro is so perfectly clear, the music effortlessly gets to where its going! I broke down and purchased both. I know that there will always be more players coming, like the iBasso DX160 and Shanling M6 Android, but I am done purchasing DAPS with these two purchases. I am crazy about the HiBy DAPs. The R6 Pro is a dream, and the R5 is a great player as well.

        I had first purchased the R6 in Stainless before the Pro was released. I must have had a defective player because at the time, I could not get the R6 to read my FLAC card and it caused all kinds of problems with my laptop. So I bought the Shanling M5s which has OTA updates and I only want the player any way. The M5s sounds super as well. Very musically satisfied with it.

        I am beside myself admiring the R6 Pro now that I have it working. What beautiful players HiBy has produced!

  18. RA

    Love your review. I’m just confused on the impedance thing or maybe i’m reading it wrong. On their website it says headphone impedance range 16 to 300, does it mean that this DAP is only recommended for iems with 16 output impedance and above? HiBy confirmed that the OI of R5 is <1 ohm iem has 10 OI and i'm afraid it has hissing sound


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