Design & Build
As I mentioned earlier, the R6 2020 shares the same language with its big brother, the flagship R8. They both have this edgy, sharp design and in my opinion, they both look very elegant and professional. The R6 2020 is smaller and lighter in comparison. It weighs about 230 grams which is identical to smartphones of today. It looks gorgeous in black color and feels rigid in hand. All sockets and jacks feel firm and tight.
The aluminum construction feels durable and the button layout is easy to memorize. We have 4 buttons in total, from top to bottom layout is as follows; power button, previous track, play/pause, next track. The buttons feel stiff and there is no wobble at all. HiBy placed a color-coded LED under the power button to let you know about the sample rate of the track that you’re playing right now. I should probably mention to you that the screen looks very very vivid and sharp. It has a pixel density of 443 PPI, which is really high for a hi-fi player and it is much appreciated!
The album covers and Tidal videos look astounding. HiBy chose to use a Japanese ALPS rotary encoder as the volume pot and it is very accurate. It has 100-steps and the player has 3 gain stages so you can adjust it just the way you want it. Screen to body ratio is brilliant and being a front & back glass device, it looks very aesthetic. I don’t think you’re going to have trouble carrying it around as it is not a big player. In fact, it fits right into a Pelican 1020 case with enough space to store your favorite earphones.
Interface & User Experience
The HiBy R6 2020 features HiBy’s own OS, based on Android 9. What is so special about that you may ask and I will explain.
Android has put audiophiles in some trouble at its early stages where it did some kind of resampling that applied to all apps, so you could not benefit from the DACs fully. Android phones had DACs that were limited to 48khz or 96 at most, so that was not a problem for the daily user but of course we, audiophile bunch suffered from this. Native and bit-perfect playback was necessary to increase the dynamic range of Android-based players and most importantly, apps. Tidal and similar high fidelity focused apps needed to utilize DACs to their full extent. HiByOS, a custom android rebuilt and in-house developed by HiBy, optimized for bit-perfect audio, completely bypasses the Android’s limitations and SRC thanks to their Direct Transport Audio Architecture. Of course, this means that any app that you could go for would benefit from the integrated DACs to full extent. This also means that you could enjoy Tidal as you would do it in exclusive mode on PC. That’s awesome.
The R6 2020’s SoC, the snapdragon 660, has enough processing power to support 16x MQA unfolding, which is really high for a mobile player. You get to enjoy masters quality authenticated tracks to their maximum. HiBy combined the SD660 with 4 gigabytes of RAM, which is a lot, for a player. I haven’t had any stutters or freezes during my time with it. For example, the iBasso DX200 was somewhat sluggish when it comes to browsing Tidal and I put the R6 2020 in all kinds of tortures with my fast fingers but everything was fluid at all times. As for the interface, Android 9 is really simple and dynamic. It is effortless to navigate and it is very easy to use. The R6 2020 has full Google Play support so you can just go ahead and download any app that you want.
I remember the days where we had to download APK files and transfer them via PC to install on our players… Man, I am glad that technology is advancing. Kudos to HiBy for this amazing OS experience. Another cool thing is that you can see the sample rate, right side on the notification bar which stays on top at all times. For example, if you’re enjoying Art Blakey’s Just Coolin’ MQA album, the top SR indicator states 768K and the LED under the power button is orange. I will go ahead and tell you this, the UI experience, navigating, installing, and all that is on par with my smartphone which has a Snapdragon 865. That’s some engineering right there, folks.
OTA Firmware Updates
The HiBy R6 2020 supports OTA (Over-the-Air) firmware updates and it is quite easy to update the device this way. Just go into the updater app and let it sit on the desk for about 6-10 min. Voila, you have successfully updated your R6 2020. You can get firmware updates here, too. https://store.hiby.com/apps/help-center HiBy is known for their long-firmware support so I think you and I are in good hands when it comes to device support longevity.
Just like the big brother the R8, the R6 2020 features 16x MQA unfolding capability. What so what is MQA and what is this -unfolding-?
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) is an audio codec that lets you stream songs in master/hifi quality. After capturing and recording the performance, MQA folds the file to make it small enough to stream or download. They call this -Music Origami-.
Products with a full MQA decoder unfold the file to deliver the highest possible rate for you to enjoy. There are many different decoders 4x 8x 16x etc. Currently, as far as my research goes, the highest supported decoding rate is 16x. HiBy R6 2020 comes with this feature and lets you decode/listen MQA tracks via Tidal. 16x support is quite scarce right now and I do not know any other players that can do this other than the R8. Go ahead and listen to Art Blakey’s Just Coolin’ MQA album at 32bit/768k via R6 2020. It’s delightful.
The HiBy R6 2020 is a feature packed device. It has DLNA & AirPlay support and on top of that, you can control the HiBy Music App wirelessly via your phone so you don’t have to actually put it out of your pocket. This could be useful during public transportation but well, that’s out of equation for a while due to coronavirus. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 and high fidelity codecs such as the LDAC. Of course, HiBy’s own codec, UAT is also supported by the R6 2020. UAT stands for Ultra Audio Transmission and it is a codec researched and developed by HiBy Music. It is implemented in many HiBy DAPs, allowing the user to transmit data at 1200kbps.
One other thing to note here is that many audiophile DAPs do not have a great Bluetooth coverage range but the R6 2020 provided me excellent connection stability and 9m range with my Shanling MW200 (LDAC) so I am quite happy with that!
You can use the the R6 2020 as a USB-DAC as well, it works really well with JRiver Media Player for example.
HiBy’s in-house research sound effect module MSEB (Mage Sound 8-ball Tuning) is also available on the R6 2020. It is based on a parametric equalizer and it can be used to fine-tune certain aspects of the sound signature. It is a really powerful tool that could save you when you already love your current gear but you could’ve really tune those hi-hats down half a notch. It happened to every member of this society, you find an awesome piece of gear, you love nearly every part of it, emphasis on nearly, so you just want that really small thing gone. Haha!
The HiBy R6 2020 comes with 64 gigabytes of internal storage and an up-to 2 TB micro-SD card support. If any other Tidal freaks want to load their offline tracks into the micro-SD card, they can. The device supports it fully, just like a smartphone. You can just go ahead and download everything into SD card and enjoy. I also transferred files directly from my portable SSD to R6 2020 via OTG. Go nuts!
The Snapdragon 660 SoC has good power efficiency so seeing the posted numbers is easy. I listened to Tidal for 7.5h in one continuous session so the battery life is quite good. I believe I can easily see 8h or more via the HiBy Music app. This is for balanced of course. Going SE will add 2 more hours to the total playback.
The R6 2020 has a 4500mAh battery, which is quite large and that’s great. You get to have plenty of fun before the juice depletes. The device will warn you on the 20% and 10% battery mark. Charging the device via my 25W fast charger takes about 1h 15m. Quick charging capability is really nice.
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