HiBy R8 Review

HiBy R8

Sound – Intro

The AK chip used in the R8 is quite popular and we of course know the typical sound of the AK4497 (Shanling M6 pro, Fiio M11 Pro (EQ), SMSL M300 MKii). The OPA used by the R8 for the amplification is the OPA1612.

As it is HiBy’s first higher-end DAP we all expect a lot from it. So far HiBy has always delivered great value for money, so we also want this from the R8.

Looking solely at the hardware inside the R8, there is nothing we can complain about for the price it is selling for. But of course there’s something more important than the hardware, and that is how it sounds.

Let’s get started.

Sound General

The tests for this chapter were done with a whole series of IEMs and headphones and in pure DAP mode, not looking at the other usage functions (see later).

The HiBy R8’s tuning is more to the warmer side of neutral but it can’t be called a warm sounding DAP. Don’t mistake the relaxed and effortlessness presentation with warmth, because that simply isn’t correct.

HiBy R8


From top to bottom the HiBy R8 has a good amount of body and fullness, but it’s never too much. It sits just right and it hits my personal sweet spot. The R8 is always perfectly in control, especially in the bass region and the overall prat, and speed are very good.

The R8 also has a lovely timbre and this comes out especially nice in the mid section. The level of separation, spaciousness and airiness –  just like the fullness – is just right and it makes it a very natural, pleasant and engaging sound. Even though the R8 sounds relaxed, it has a good amount of energy and clarity. The interaction between these is impressive.

Sound stage wise the R8 doesn’t disappoint either and it extends well in both width and depth. The depth and layering are good, but if you look at the SP2000 in example, you know it can be even better. The best parts for me are the bass (control) and the mids (gorgeous timbre and spaciousness). The treble section is nice too, but it sometimes misses a bit of energy on the very top end.

Looking at clarity and cleanness, the R8 also performs well, but compared to the Astell&Kern series, these are not as pronounced. It’s more on par with what we see from Sony and Lotoo. So that certainly isn’t bad at all.

The background is fairly black and in general the R8 is noiseless. With extremely sensitive monitors you can hear some noise at very low volumes, but at normal listening volumes, I never noticed it. On the very first day I listened to the R8, I heard some RF interference when streaming from Tidal but I have not managed to reproduce it ever since.

HiBy R8

Sound Classics

Bass has a good kick and punch and the R8 is always perfectly in control. The result is a powerful, tight and fast bass. It’s never too much in regards to body, and it’s never to little either. The bass detail is quite good but the sub rumble and layering could be further improved compared to the best DAPs on the market. Anyway, bass body is just right, it never runs into the mids and isn’t overpowering.

The R8’s mids are the most impressive to me, they’re relaxed, natural and have excellent timbre, air and decay. The mids are dynamic, musical and very engaging. The vocals also stand out here. I don’t mean they are upfront, but they’re just very well placed and realistic.

The treble section is good and extends well, but at he same time I do feel it could have used a bit of extra clarity and energy, to make things even more engaging, delivering the perfect contrast to the lower region. I’m being extra tough on the treble here though, and most of you, apart from perhaps the clarity, won’t miss anything in this treble presentation.

Bass, mids, treble: the HiBy R8 does it all so effortless and it results in a technically nice, musical and natural delivery.

HiBy R8

Single ended

In single ended mode you more or less the same characteristics but you get a lighter presentation overall, which is closer to neutral. This is still dynamic, musical and engaging, but it isn’t as lively and exciting as the balanced output. Depending on the music I’m listening to and the ear- and headphone in use I keep switching between both modes, but in all honesty it’s the balanced output which really shines imo.

Vs Competition

For this section I selected a number of DAPs from the same (price) segment, as well as the HiBy R6 Pro as this up to now was the highest level HiBy player. The comparison are mostly while using the balanced output.

Let’s start with the Astell&Kern KANN CUBE. Compared to the R8 it is lighter sounding, and it has less slam, body and bass impact. The KANN CUBE has a higher level of clarity and it sounds cleaner, faster, as well as more energetic. Some might call the KANN CUBE sharp sounding compared to the R8, and I can perfectly understand that. The KC is hyper compared the fuller, more relaxed R8. I have to say I prefer listening to the fuller, more engaging and softer R8.

Compared to the Lotoo PAW 6000, the R8 sounds more musical, and it has better extension and tonal decay. The mid timbre is also quite a lot better and the R8 is the most musical sounding of both. The PAW 6000 is a bit softer, more shy sounding, where the R8 takes the front stage with a bigger presentation. The vocals in the Lotoo are more in the back where they have better energy in the R8. The PAW 6000 is a great DAP (it won our 2019 award) but the R8 to my ears outperforms it.

HiBy R8

The Cayin Audio N6ii has the big advantage it can change the motherboards and you can swap between different amps and DACs. One of my favorite cards is the E02, but you can find our full motherboard comparison here. The N6ii – with the E02 – sounds pretty comparable to the R8, but the latter one has a bit more note extension and depth. Both DAPs sound energetic and the Cayin is perhaps a tiny bit sharper sounding on top where the R8 is softer. The R8 and N6ii’s body, decay and spaciousness are more or less the same though the R8 has better control over the bass.

I’m still a fan of HiBy’s own R6 Pro player even though it isn’t as technically strong as the R8. It’s more intimate, less spacious, less refined. The R8’s timbre, extension, depth, precision and dynamics are all at a higher level. At the same time though you can hear these are from the same family, the R8 is simply a level up from the R6 Pro in all regards. The R6 Pro is still an excellent player with a high value, but it’s no longer the best of the HiBy family. The r8 is better, makes it sound more easy.

The big question now of course is if I feel the R8 can take on the really big guns such as the Astell&Kern SP2000, the L&P (L)P6 and the Sony WM1Z. Well in my opinion the AK’s and LP’s still are quite a bit ahead compared to the R8, especially in precision, clarity and transparency. I do feel the R8 is closer to the Sony WM1Z already but aren’t we all waiting for Sony to update that one?

The comparison to the Fiio M15 will be added later as this player is with Nano in France for the moment. From memory (but I don’t like doing that) I feel the R8 has the upper hand when it comes to sound and technicalities. It was hard for me to get motivated to listen to the M15, but I’m gladly picking up the R8 to listen to it. Unfortunately we didn’t receive the iBasso DX220 MAX for review, so we can’t compare it to that one. Take it up with iBasso if you’re not happy with that ;-).

Synergy and much more on the next page. Click here.

4.1/5 - (124 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.


  • Reply August 18, 2020

    Tyrell Dixon

    Considering sp2000 and Sony flagships are $2,000 (aud ) more i guess it makes sense that it’s not as good.But still seems to offer good value for money and pretty much no competition when it comes to full android.

    • Reply August 18, 2020


      That’s the good summary

  • Reply August 18, 2020


    Nice review but your page is clottered of ads and banners making the reading experience less peasant.

    • Reply August 18, 2020


      Thanks. It’s a new media provider so we’re still fine tuning this. It does seem like the side ad for resolution 1024 and under is causing issues. Good thing is you can close the add of course. thanks for the feedback

  • Reply August 18, 2020


    The constant page refresh (to load even more ads?) makes it very annoying to read Headphonia. This used to one of my favorite sites (:

    • Reply August 19, 2020


      There shouldn’t be any page refreshes. The ads might reload but you should stay in the exact same position you were reading. What device/resolution is this happening with? Thanks

  • Reply August 20, 2020


    Thanks for your review. However I expected the 4g network feature as other webzine’s review, but your review seems to have removed it from the manufacturer even higher price ($1819 -> 1899). I’m a little disappointed with Hiby.

    • Reply August 20, 2020


      Our worldwide version didn’t have the 4G feature, so we can’t report about it

  • Reply August 24, 2020


    Any thoughts on how the HiBy R8 stacks up against the AK SE200? Right now I’m debating between the Cayin N6ii w/ E02, AK SE200 and HiBy R8 to pair up with a Solaris SE.

    • Reply August 24, 2020


      The SE200 hasn’t arrived yet and it’s going to Matty in Australia. So it will be hard comparing these two. But the Cayin N6ii/E02 and the R8 are both excellent.

  • Reply September 3, 2020


    Without a doubt, even if it is something old, I go for the Sony, a guarantee of quality. all these chinese daps are unstable and have a lot of bugs. I don’t understand how in these reviews they never talk about those problems

  • Reply September 5, 2020


    Not a single bug, crash or hang up was experienced so far….

  • Reply September 11, 2020


    Why no comparison to Sony 507?

    Banner ad placement (too many) and auto-rotation of the side banners makes reading here unbearable.

    • Reply September 12, 2020


      Cause there are no Sony samples available

  • Reply September 13, 2020


    I don’t know why you hate the M15.
    I have the SE100, P2mkii and Qp2r, and the M15 is better in musicality.

    • Reply September 13, 2020


      I have never said I hated the M15, to me it’s just could have been better. like the R8.

  • Reply September 16, 2020

    Mark H

    Do you think the R8 would pair well with an IEM that has thick mids like the Empire Ears Phantom?

  • Reply December 21, 2020


    Would you consider this an upgrade from DX220+AMP9 ?
    currently using UM MEST / U18T.

    Awesome review by the way =)

  • Reply October 20, 2021


    I have se180 sem1 and seems kinda lack bit of body using 64 audio nio.

    Im thinking of changing to R6 2020 or R8 since it has smoother operational OS, but kinda mixed feelings if i just buy a sem2 for my se180.
    I feel hiby r8 much more transportable kind of smaller and less weight.

    Nobody sells a case for Se180 in here, and even with case i still feel se180 is too heavy for me and withouth a case it fckin scary to bring se180 to office and other place.

    Does r8 plays good anisong, jpop, and kpop? I love bass punchier and bodler mid body.
    Which one should i get? N6ii e02 / R6 2020 / R8 / sem2?

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