Review: Hiby R6 – Bliss

HiBy R6
Disclaimer: The HiBy R6 music player was sent us by Hiby Music and it doesn't have to be returned. The unit I received is the Stainless Steel version, which costs 529$ on Indiegogo. The MSRP will be higher: 649$ when they begin mass production.
  

While we are approaching the end of this year, I’m closing 2017 on Headfonia with a fresh digital audio player that could bring  a new breath to the market. I hope you guys will like this review, enjoy 2018.

INTRO

The reason behind the demand for Android music players is self evident: streaming. There are so many streaming services around (and I heard some rumors about YouTube joining the pack), and more and more people simply are into streaming now.

Certainly, we saw some very good Android DAPs before the HiBy R6. Our hardcore audiophile readers should remember the İbasso DX100. Yes, that was an Android player but long before any streaming service was around. It’s maybe an obsolete item at this time, but it was a pioneer type of DAP, because it started the TOTL player niche all along, together with the Hifiman HM-801.

Sony released the ZX1 roughly 4 years ago, returning to high end digital audio player business with Android. And they released the ZX2 in 2015 (which I still have in my inventory). In the meantime, FiiO came up with their X7, an assertive DAP that can do it all. Pioneer released the XDP-100R (which is almost the same as the Onkyo DP-X1). İbasso was in a longtime silence before the launch of the DX200 (which we still haven’t received for a review). FiiO renewed the X7 and made a Mk2 version and they also included the OS with the X5 Mk3.

My favorites of those are the ZX2 and DX200. I think they’re the best Android players in terms of pure sound quality (the A&K DAPs don’t count in my book because they’re heavily customized). I wonder how far manufacturers can go in terms of merging the Android OS with high quality components and power distribution.

Seeing more Android DAP offerings is always a great thing. Since streaming is the perfect thing for a music lover, I would like to have even more options in the market.

Hiby R6

Hiby R6

HIBY MUSIC

So who are these guys? Let’s give some background information and continue with the device:

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

All those DAPs I mentioned above have ups and downs. The ZX1 didn’t have a great sound in terms of naturalness. The ZX2 sounds great, but it has a slow processor so the UI experience is no way fluid and it has an ancient version of Android. The X7 had a serious hiss when the Wi-Fi was open (don’t know the Mk2). X5III doesn’t sound great to me, although being a very practical and easy to use DAP. Onkyo had the same Wi-Fi hiss problem, similar to X7 Mk1. DX200 is close to perfection in my opinion, as it sounds very very good and close to TOTL, but it also has some small dents when it comes to software and it’s not blazing fast. Yet, I think it’s one of the best sounding Android DAPs on the market.

The HiBy R6 on the other hand, is the new player in this market that aims to solve all these problems. Does it achieve that? No device is perfect of course, but I can say it performs really well in all aspects you expect of an Android DAP. I’ll surely mention those qualities as much as I can, so let’s get on with the “not sound” parts.

BUILD

This is easily one of the most solid DAPs around. Stainless steel is extremely good to hold and to shoot a glance. Together with the compact structure, HiBy R6 feels like a tank. In fact, the chassis is from a mono block steel which is really impressive. There’s no point that feels uncomfortable or edgy, as the body has smooth transition on the corners, including the 2.5D glass.

But be aware of the weight of this SS version. It’s 275g, which puts it the heaviest Android DAP as far as I know. Aluminum version weighs 190 grams (similar to X5III), which is very nice and that one should be very comfortable to hold.

According to Joe from HiBy, there’s no difference other than looks and weight between the two different body versions. They just wanted to offer two chassis options for users. To me SS is incredibly solid and fancy!

HiBy R6

DESIGN

The design is very effective and cool as a whole, with very thin bezels on the sides and on the top. The bottom bezel is also quite thin, especially if you compare with other Android players. Also, there are 2 small bumps each on the top and the bottom. This is wise thinking from HiBy, to protect the headphone jacks and the USB Type C port. To me, this is not a “me too” device in terms of design, as it seems they really thought of every aspect for the user. And although it’s not extremely original or distinctive, it still is a beauty to look at.

Physical dimensions are very nice too. It’s shorter than almost all Android DAPs you can pick, narrower than nearly all of them except the X5 III. It’s similar to the X5 III in size, so that could be a reference for you. All the others are either longer, wider or thicker so this one stands out from the crowd for compactness.

SCREEN & BUTTONS

Another praise goes to the screen. HiBy used a 4.2” LCD panel with an HD resolution. The colors are wonderful and you can look at the screen at any angle you want and you’ll still have a perfectly clear picture. The screen has similar specs to DX200’s screen so this is either better or at the same quality with all the Android DAPs you could find. Top stuff.

Side buttons serve you very well even though I don’t like having the volume buttons on the left. On the right you have the power button, which is nice having that on the side and not the top position which I totally hate. Besides the power button you have playback buttons to control the songs. Once you get used to them they’re very easy to reach and press, without checking with your eyes if it’s the correct one.

Click here for PAGE 2, for user experience and DSP features

Review: Hiby R6 – Bliss
3.7 (74.55%) 110 votes

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As a lover of personal audio, Berkhan always seeks perfection in his reviews. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to maintain his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes the photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Either way, he will always do his best.

32 Comments

  • Reply December 28, 2017

    yoketom

    Can you recommend one between Cayin N5II vs Hiby R6?

    • Reply December 28, 2017

      Berkhan

      I will experience the N5II soon, but I don’t have it at this moment to compare.

    • Reply March 28, 2018

      Darren Cotter

      Why did you use the discontinued FiiO X7 as a comparison?

      Wouldn’t it have been fairer to use the current X7ii against a DAP so new, it’s not even available in the UK via normal retailers?

      • Reply March 29, 2018

        Lieven

        Availability…

      • Reply March 29, 2018

        Berkhan

        We can’t have everything at hand at all times. I’ve never tried the X7 mk2, so I just included the X7 so that people can have some idea.

  • Reply December 28, 2017

    John Lee

    #sigh – there will be no difference between balanced and SE unless it has been dramatically retuned between the two outputs. The only difference is output volume, you know this! But still repeat myths about balanced being magic.
    Ridiculous and misleading.
    Ask Hawaiibadboy!

    • Reply December 28, 2017

      Lieven

      You’re cracking me up dear John. Thank’s for making me laugh this early in the morning.

    • Reply December 28, 2017

      Linus

      it all comes down to how well the implementation is in my opinion. There are some balanced outputs that sound better than single ended and some that sound worse. it is not about balanced being magical, it simply relies on the components used in the signal path of the output. some devices have much better balanced operation (think Sony WM1Z or ALO CDM) because they were made for that specific operation, single ended came second there.
      but yeah, this can lead to an endless discussion and has been the topic of heated conversations in the past, so let’s agree to disagree. You say nay, I say yay… 🙂

      • Reply January 2, 2018

        rob

        “some devices have much better balanced operation (think Sony WM1Z or ALO CDM) ”
        – I have the Sony and yes, there is a big, noticable difference between the BAL and SE outputs. I use the Campfire Lyra in balanced and have never wanted to go back to SE. I have not tried BAL with my Noble Encore.

        • Reply January 3, 2018

          Berkhan

          Thank you for this comment. Cheers.

    • Reply December 28, 2017

      Berkhan

      Have you listened to the device and compared SE – Balanced?

    • Reply December 28, 2017

      Joseph Yeung

      Hello John,

      Although I would love for Berkhan’s write up to be even more positive in every aspect (who wouldn’t in my position? 😀 ), I do agree that there are differences in the implementation of SE and balanced in Berkhan’s unit that may lead to the heard differences. Although the design is said to be pretty much final, there is one final touch we can put in the output stages that can make the SE and balanced outputs more… identical. We’re talking some very minor change here that won’t affect the production schedule at all 🙂

      Best regards,
      Joseph Yeung
      HiBy Music Product Manager

      • Reply January 19, 2018

        Loplop

        Joseph,

        Was this SE tweak implemented before units shipped?

        Also: any comment on the Tidal issue? Tidal is mostly my use case for this unit, and I’d be disappointed if it was worse than my ZX2, which was poor (sluggish, lots of stops/dropouts). My AK Kann works perfectly with Tidal, but is a bit dry sounding. I’m hoping this HiBy will be the best balance of SQ and features for me 🙂

        • Reply January 19, 2018

          Berkhan

          If you have a 5ghz network, it’s not a problem.

  • Reply January 5, 2018

    John

    Hello thanks for the review.

    In your opinion wich one would be best paired to a paire of Isine 20 :

    The Chord Mojo or the Hiby R6.

    Thank you.

    • Reply January 7, 2018

      Berkhan

      You’re welcome.

      I don’t know to be honest. Never listened to the Audeze.

      Mojo has a narrower and congested sound stage, but it has great mids and treble. R6 has much wider stage IMO. But Mojo should be superior from Single Ended. R6 has a great balanced sound though.

      So in the end it depends if you prefer to stack with your smartphone go for Mojo. But if you like standalone DAP like me, I suggest the R6 (balanced out).

      • Reply January 8, 2018

        John

        Thank you very much, I will go for the R6 with the balanced output !

  • Reply January 5, 2018

    S

    Would love to see some more comparisons, say with the Sony NW-ZX300, or even the WM1A!

    • Reply January 7, 2018

      Berkhan

      WM1A is on a higher level so I didn’t include. ZX300? Not yet listened.

  • Reply January 7, 2018

    Dhofi

    Hello, could you confirm if the SE jack could respond to button or mic?

    • Reply January 7, 2018

      Berkhan

      Just tried it, and no, cable buttons don’t work.

  • Reply January 10, 2018

    Slowpork

    Hi,

    You mentioned R6 lacks treble airness, which earphones you used to test?

    May you comment briefly more about R6’s output impedance and earphone impedance you used?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Reply January 11, 2018

      Berkhan

      Hi,

      Oriolus MKII
      InEarz Nirvana
      CTM VS3
      FiiO F9 Pro

      were used mostly.

      The treble air is not much of a problem from the balanced output though.

  • Reply January 15, 2018

    Amin Mohamad

    Hi,
    Which one would be best paired to hiby R6: Fiio F9 pro or Nuforce HEM8 ?
    Thank You

    • Reply January 15, 2018

      Berkhan

      The F9 Pro is indeed a very nice pair, especially when you take the balanced cable into account. So I recommend it.

      As for the NuForce, I’ve never listened to it.

  • Reply January 19, 2018

    Loplop

    Thank you for the thorough review! I think this player might be my replacement for my ZX2; I rarely use IEMs, and the ZX2 just can’t drive most headphones properly. I bought an AK Kann, which certainly has the driving power, but is a bit dry when matched with my Focal Clear’s (better with T1p, OK with LCDX). I tried the SP1000Cu, which was lush, but too laid back. I’m hoping this one has enough power to drive the Clear’s well.

    Thanks for the thorough review, and for calling out the Tidal issue. I hope this has been improved by now, or will be shortly. I listen to a lot of Tidal…

    • Reply January 19, 2018

      Berkhan

      For sound quality alone, the R6 wouldn’t satisfy your needs because you’ve already tried top notch DAPs.

      It sure is quite powerful from balanced. But not sure if it’s more powerful than the SP1000cu.

  • Reply February 5, 2018

    Dilpal Singh

    How is the pairing with oriolus mk2 and flc8s. Both are low impedance iems. Do they behave badly with Hiby r6?

    • Reply February 5, 2018

      Berkhan

      Oriolus MK2 sounds pretty good, I didn’t have any issues with it. Don’t know about the FLC. But as I stated in the review, in my case there wasn’t an issue with the output impedance.

      But then again, I fully recommend to use this DAP with the balanced output.

  • Reply February 18, 2018

    Norman James Roa

    How would these pair with the CA Vega??:)

    • Reply February 18, 2018

      Norman James Roa

      *this

      • Reply February 18, 2018

        Berkhan

        No idea. If the Vega is open and a little bright sounding, than it would be a nice pair.

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