Disclaimer: The Hiby Music R3 was sent to us and Headfonics.com free of charge in exchange for this review. Hiby is not related to Headfonia in any other way. We were selected to do the pre-market tests for this DAP using engineering samples on Beta firmware. It’s important to know that our unit and the beta firmware on it will most likely be different from the ones that you will receive after ordering.
Hiby Music already was pretty famous when it came to building software to playback music on your phone and on dedicated portable audio players. And then a few months back, they released their own R6 portable player and it hit the market big, with excellent comments all over the web.
In case you completely missed that, I’ll repeat what Berkhan had to say about Hiby when he reviewed the R6 DAP:
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 have partnerships with brands like Cayin, Shanling and Questyle. As far as I know they make the software of those devices or at least give software support to them.
HiBy Music’s mottos are “Make Music More Musical” & “Ease of Use is not Optional”
Also, their HiBy Music application for smartphones has more than 500K users around. I’ve never used it since I don’t listen to music from my phone, but it’s not hard to see they have a good reputation and know-how about audio processing and software integration.
The Hiby R6
The Hiby R6 was launched late last year but as said, it received only positive comments and to many people it was the DAP of the year 2017. Our own Berkhan also loved it:
All I can do in the end, is simply congratulate the guys at HiBy Music for creating such a great Android player. It has tremendous build quality, a fantastic and eye catching design with a great screen. A very fast processor, a clean OS for efficiency and stable software are other crucial factors, especially with the DTA Architecture, which is maybe the most important thing.
The sound from the balanced output is wonderful to listen to. The single ended output, while still being very nice, is not an option for me after experiencing the balanced sound from the R6. I don’t think I’ll ever return to single ended mode.
I think it’s one of the best Android players you can buy in terms of pure sound, and it’s maybe the best in terms of speed and UI.
Now Hiby is back with the R3, the R6’s little brother, and because of the R6’s excellent performance we and everyone in to portable players, expect a lot from it.
The Hiby R3 was only announced a few weeks ago, and it was launched on the Kickstarter platform (27 March!). Right now the R3 is available from the Hiby shop here: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r3 for $183USD. The sample that we received is an engineering sample. That means our R3 (Headfonics and Headfonia) is not fully working just yet and it still shows some minor issues. These of course will be ironed out before the production version is sent out. Marcus and myself have been testing the R3 for a few weeks already and we have been giving the Hiby team feedback about the things to address. I also want to take the opportunity to thank Joe for the support he gave during this process. Right now you find the info on the R3 on the Hiby website and there’s this thread on Head-fi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-hiby-r3-is-coming-soon-a-new-little-brother-to-the-r6.872288/ .
You might be surprised about this but we actually don’t have all the R3’s specs yet. At this stage we do know that the DAC-chip used in the Hiby R3 is the ESS Sabre ES9028Q2M, this is the exact same chip that was used in a double configuration in their R6 DAP. You can find out all about this chip right here: http://www.esstech.com/index.php/en/products/sabre-digital-analog-converters/sabre-hifi-mobile-dacs/sabre-hifi-stereo-dacs/es9028q2m/ The DAC-chip does up to 64bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 native decoding and you don’t need to install a driver in Windows to get it to work. The R3 uses dual crystal oscillators at 45.1584MHz, 49.152MHz.
The small R3 measures 82x61x13mm and weighs only 95gr. It has a 3.2″ screen with a resolution of 480x360px. It of course is a full touchscreen but it does have physical transport and volume buttons as well. The R3 has the usual features such as Wifi, DLNA, Airplay and Bluetooth (APTX) and it is equipped with a USB-C port. This port is used for charging, DAC-connection and serves as the coaxial digital output as well. To use this feature you need an OTG USB-C to Micro USB cable or a USB-C to 3.5mm Coax cable. You can use a Micro-USB OTG cable as well, but then you need to be sure your Micro to USB-C adapter is OTG as well. In all honesty, I didn’t get it to work as my usual cables and adapters don’t seem to work on the R3. Marcus however did find a cable it works with just fine.
The Line-Out function is available via the 3.5mm output, but it’s no real LO. The R3 according to Hiby is ideal for head- and earphones between 8 & 150Ohm. The power output of the 3.5mm output is: 56+56mW @32Ω and the balanced 2.5mm output is rated at 112mW+112mW @32Ω. The R3 will have less than 1 Ohm output impedance.
Price & Accessories
The official retail price was only confirmed last week and it is set at $229 USD (EDIT December 12: $183USD). The engineering sample of the R3 came in a basic box but I do think this is the final retail box. The Hiby R3 comes with a white USB/USB-C data/charging cable, a user guide, warranty card, QC certificate and 3 screen protectors (one pre-applied on the screen).
The engineering sample didn’t have a screen protector, so if the R3 in the pics looks a bit beat up, it’s because of that. For the price is a nice and complete package, the only thing that’s missing is a pouch or (leather) case to protect the DAP.
The review continues on Page two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below