Today we review Hiby R3 Pro DAP which goes for $199.
Disclaimer: The Hiby R3 Pro was sent to me directly by HiBy Music. This review reflects my sincere opinions as always. ItsFit Lab Fusion, Kinera Nanna, Fearless Roland and P-EAR-S SH3 were used for the sound evaluation.
About Hiby Music
HiBy music specializes in research, development and sales of high quality portable audio products. They have professional R&D staff and they also have quite a good history in the portable audio field. They’re also pretty famous when it comes to building software to playback music on your phone and on dedicated portable audio players.
When they released the original R6 DAP it was quite a big hit to the market. But developing software and producing a complete music playback device are two different things. So of course the first R6 had some small dents like the output impedance, general software and UI stability and overall sound quality. After some time, they decided to release the Pro version of the R6 which was also reviewed on Headfonia. The Pro has a 4.4m BAL output, a better output impedance and sound quality upgrades.
Their smaller R3 DAP has also become popular with its great form factor and eye catching, thoughtful design. Not to mention the luxury to have streaming in such a small device. I already have the original version with me to compare the sound in this review. However don’t miss out Lieven’s review about the R3 below, because it tells so much about the original R3 which are also applicable for the R3 Pro except for the sound and battery life.
I recently reviewed their R5 model as well. It’s a very impressive DAP in terms of operation and overall user experience. Although I’m not a fan of it sound-wise, I’m sure a lot of people are quite happy with it.
About Hiby R3 Pro
The R3 Pro is a super-compact DAP with good features just like the previous R3 model. We have the same UI and OS here with the streaming capability through Tidal once again, the same size and form factor, and the same design. In fact, it is not possible to distinguish the R3 Pro from the R3 on first sight if they have the same color. For indication, you need to check the back of the player to see the R3 Pro text.
However, there are some important developments under the hood. The DAC chip is changed from ES9028Q2M to CS43131. That’s not it though, the new Pro model has double DACs, so it’s a dual DAC circuitry which in theory improves the separation and sound-stage.
The amplifying section had some overhaul as well. Now both the 3.5mm and 2.5mm have more power. To be exact, the 3.5mm output has %14 more power, and the 2.5mm has %47. The player now has a better noise floor too. So you will get a better performance with your low impedance monitors.
The battery run time is also better with the Pro version. HiBy claims a 20 and 16 hours of listening from SE and BAL outputs respectively. The claimed figures were 11 and 9 hours in the original model. This is a very nice addition for a better experience in the long run.
The R3 Pro continues with the classy HiBy Music design that we’re all used to. This again is a boxy design with smoothed out sides and edges. Lieven calls it “sexy” and I myself call this design “sleek and elegant”. The screen bezels are small, the size is extremely compact and the side buttons are just where you want them to be.
HiBy Music now has a very consistent and cool design language from R6 series and all the way to the R3 series. This is a very nice portfolio, appealing to different budget levels. There’s not much more to say about the design really, as it’s identical to the standard R3 model. You can find much more details about the design in the original R3 Review.
To me, the R3 Pro doesn’t feel so premium in the hand compared to its brothers. That’s because it’s very very light and feels somewhat hollow. The lightness of the body doesn’t play well for an elegant and quality feeling. Of course it’s an advantage for usage on the go, but I simply think that it feels “too light”. Yet, I think these are necessary design and material choices to make this player smaller, pocket-friendly and also budget-friendly.
Is it OK for a 199 $ player? I say yes, especially with the aluminum sides. Maybe they will release a whole new super-pocketable model in the future and maybe they’re saving more body improvements for that model. But for this R3 Pro, just know that it doesn’t feel that much premium like the R5 and R6 series. And again; everything is the same with the standard R3. So don’t expect any exterior improvement with the R3 Pro.
However I couldn’t find an obvious problem or flaw with its build, as everything is as expected from the headphone jacks to the screen and the buttons.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.