The tonality is pretty good with the R5 but the timbre leaves a few things on the table. To me it’s not critical though for this price bracket. The overall resolution is good, and I especially liked the mid range transparency. I found the separation to be very good as well, together with the dynamism, which again is very good particularly in the mid section. However these topics are not very good in the treble department as I partly mentioned above.
The sound stage is very very good although the depth is not the best. Yet the width is quite good and impressive. Overall control is nicely done, and the DAP sounds balanced with good coherency. Overall the HiBy R5 is a good performer from the technical standpoint.
In terms of output, the impedance is below 1 ohm, so it’s not like the original R6. That means you probably won’t have issues with sensitive or power hungry IEMs/headphones. The output is quite powerful too. I stayed around 25-30 volume levels at most with my IEMs (out of 100 – low gain), and I tested the Thieaudio Phantom headphone from the BAL output. It drove it to satisfying sound levels for good measure. But I still recommend rather easy to drive headphones (full-size), since the others require a full size amplifier to sound their best.
My tests with the original R6 was quite interesting in terms of BAL and SE outputs. I found out that the R6’s BAL output is clearly superior to the SE. However with the R5, the difference is almost non-existent except a little dynamism improvement and that’s it.
But it’s still great to have a 4.4mm output for a reliable connection and more power for full size headphones. So you don’t have to have a BAL connection with your IEMs in my opinion.
Here are the selected comparisons before the conclusion.
Unfortunately my old R6 sample took a nasty hit after falling from the 4th floor so it doesn’t work anymore. But I can make a comparison from my memory. The original R6 had a warm type of sound with good bass quantity, which the R5 doesn’t have. However as I remember, the R6 lacked some resolution and transparency in the mid section and that is the area that the R5 shines.
In terms of treble the R6 also didn’t have the best performance with undetailed highs and deficient extension. So they share the same faith in there. Overall I think the R5 is clearly the better value.
I found the M11 from FiiO very successful after hearing it on CanJam London a couple of months earlier. So again this is a comparison from my memory. I think the M11 has slightly better bass with a bit more tightness and texture. In the mid section they’re quite close, but the treble part is clearly better in the FiiO as I remember. FiiO also has a more 3-dimensional sound-stage.
It does have the similar features that the R5 offers so they’re both good in terms of Android and processor power. The R5 however has an advantage in terms of form factor. Do note that my sound impressions for this comparison is based on my memory.
The DX120 has a better and impactful bass response compared to the R5. However in the mids it doesn’t quite have the transparency and resolution that the R5 provides. For the treble, they both don’t really do it for me in terms of detail, transparency, sparkle and extension. However, I think the R5 is superior in every other aspect including dynamism, sound stage and balance.
The DX120 to me is built better with a more authentic design language, but otherwise to me there’s no reason to choose it over the R5.
The HiBy R5 is a wonderfully designed player that provides rich features in a complete and very compact package. You have streaming, advanced DSP settings, DTA, Hi-Res Bluetooth codecs, micro SD support, fast processor with a clean UI and both 4.4mm BAL and 3.5mm SE outputs.
Lieven was quite impressed with the R6 Pro and it will remain the only HiBy DAP in our portable player recommendation list for now, at least in the short term. But the R3 Pro is on the way to Headfonia HQ and we have high hopes for it. Stay tuned!