Today we take the HiBy R5 Saber under our microscope with its full review, which is selling for 379$.
Disclaimer: I received the HiBy R5 Saber directly from HiBy Music. We don’t have any relation with HiBy, and this review reflects my honest opinion. This review shares similarities with the original R5 review since the “no sound” topics are exactly the same as this version.
About HiBy Music
HiBy Music specializes in the 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. But developing software and putting 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, better output impedance, and sound quality upgrades. Lieven has been quite fond of it but last year, HiBy Released the R6 2020 model. It was recommended by Yağız with a very positive review.
And then, there’s the High-End HiBy R8 which is one of Lieven’s favorite DAPs already and it’s another recommendation from the Headfonia team. As you can see, HiBy has made up some ground and they mean business in the market.
Their smaller yet very sexy R3 Pro DAP has also reached good popularity with its great form factor and eye-catching, thoughtful design. Not to mention the luxury to have streaming services on such a small device. The R3 Pro version was certainly an improvement as well. Although I don’t really like the fast product cycles in terms of DAPs, I think HiBy is making progress in every model they release. That’s what counts at the end of the day.
About HiBy R5 Saber
The R5 Saber is a fully packed, compact Android DAP with lots of features just like the previous models above. We all know the story. Once again we have a fast processor (for a DAP), DTA Architecture, Dual DACs, full Android app support, USB DAC feature, Hi-Res Bluetooth capability, and more. The device also sports a 4.4mm balanced connection just like the other releases. It’s good to see the 4.4mm appearing everywhere in the market nowadays.
With this player, HiBy also uses what they call an “Ultra Audio Transmission” codec, shortened as UAT, which allows transferring higher sample rates through Bluetooth. HiBy claims that this codec “might set the new wireless audio standards for the entire industry“, and it is “superior to all previous standards“. With UAT, 192KHz files would be streamed directly from the source to the headphones with no further down-sampling, says HiBy.
So what’s the difference between the standard R5 and the R5 Saber? Well, the whole design is exactly the same, except for the “S” logo on the right side. The difference is actually under the hood. The OPAMP module has received an overhaul. The OPAMPs are now upgraded from OPA1612 to OPA1642. The Low-Pass Filter is also improved.
The R5 came with a silicone case which to me was quite mediocre. This time HiBy decided to include a much much better leather case. I think this is just as important as the upgrade in the device itself. Nicely done.
There’s a USB-C charging cable and a microSD pin to open up the card reader. There are a few screen protectors as well, which is nice to have. Otherwise, there’s no other accessory to mention.
Design and Build Quality
HiBy follows a sleek design language with the R5 model and it’s identical to the R5 Saber. We all know that HiBy DAPs ooze “sexiness”, and this one is no different. The rounded edges, all-glass back, convenient button placement in a nice, compact package are all you need in this kind of player.
To me, the device looks really cool when the screen is off. My sample is all black so it’s quite integrated and slick. With the addition of this model, HiBy now has a very consistent and elegant design language from the R8 series to the R3 series. This is a very nice portfolio, appealing to different budget levels.
The build quality is quite good and there isn’t a bad surprise after HiBy’s already successful DAPs in this regard. I didn’t find any liability in terms of long-term usage.
I personally experienced the R6, R5, and R3 DAPs before this R5 Saber model. All of the HiBy players left good impressions on me in terms of design and usability. With its beautiful screen and compact structure, it’s a fabulous device to use. The HiBy Music brand now has established itself not only as a software company but also as a great DAP manufacturer among the audiophile community.