HiBy R2 Ultra-Portable HiFi Player Review
HiBy was established in 2011 and is specialized in research, development and sales of Hi-Fi grade portable audio products such like DAP’s, USB & BT DAC’s and earphones. HiBy has also an experienced software team that has developed HiBy OS which is also one of the most widely used professional portable audio Operating Systems (OS) on the market.
- HiBy Official Webpage: https://store.hiby.com/
The HiBy R2 is the new entry level Ultra Portable Digital Audio Player of the company and comes with a single ES9218 DAC Chip that supports PCM up to 32bit / 384kHz and Native DSD128.
I would like to thank HiBy for providing me the R2 as review sample. I am not affiliated with HiBy beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.
The actual price for the HiBy R2 is $99.00 USD, but HiBy offers an early bird promotion with a price of $89.00 USD that is valid until October 20, 2020.
- HiBy R2 Ultra-Portable Audio Player: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r2
Package and Accessories:
The HiBy R2 came in a relative small box that is in black color and has the product illustration and some brandings on the top.
The box of contains the following items;
- 1 x HiBy R2 Digital Audio Player
- 1 x USB A to USB Type-C cable for file transfer and charging
- 1 x Semi Transparent Protective Plastic Case
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 x Warranty card
Design, Buttons and Build Quality:
The HiBy R2 is a product with an impressive build quality for the price, same like all previous products of the company. The R2 comes with an all-new zinc alloy chassis in gunmetal color that looks very robust.
The HiBy R2 is an ultra-portable Digital Audio Player with fairly small dimensions. The outer size is 61x61mm and is pretty slim with a thickness of 12mm. The R2 is also a lightweight player that weights only 85grams.
On the front of the HiBy R2 is the 2.45” touch screen with a pixel density of 480*360. The touch screen is very responsive even with the pre-installed screen protector. The color reproduction is also ok for such a small device with a price below the 100 USD mark.
The glass of the screen has shows a nice 2.5D curved design that fits nice with the metal frame of the device.
On the top of the HiBy R2 is one of the two microphones and the power button that has a LED light indicator. This LED lights up in different color that gives information’s about the device working status (BT Codec, File Format, etc.)
At the left side of the R2 are the buttons for volume up & down.
On the left side of the R2 is the second microphone, the next, play/pause and the previous button.
At the bottom of the device is one (1) Micro SD card slot that supports cards up to 2TB. Here is also the multifunctional USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The rear side of the device has a glass surface that shows the product branding, the Hi-Res/Hi-Res Wireless logos and some industrial certifications, etc.
All buttons of the HiBy R2 are quite easy to use/navigate even if the player is in your pocket.
HiBy R2 Technical Specifications:
- Operating System : Hiby OS
- Screen : 2.5” Touch Screen (480×360pixel)
- DAC : Sabre ES9218
- CPU : Ingenic X1000E
- Expanded Memory : 1 x micro SD card slot up 2TB
- Wi-Fi Support : 2.4GHz + 5GHz
- Bluetooth : Bluetooth V5.0 with UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC, AAC support
- Phone Output : 3.5mm TRS
- THD+N : <0.001%
- USB In/Out : USB Type-C Charging / Data transfer / USB DAC
- Battery : 1000mAH
- USB Port : USB Type-C
- Size : 61x61x12mm
- Weight : 85 grams
Hardware and Software Features:
The HiBy R2 Digital Audio Player features some nice hardware specs for a device with such a reasonable price.
A. Processor & Storage:
The HiBy R2 comes with the same Ingenic X1000E CPU that is integrated to their bigger brothers, the HiBy R3 Series. The processor speed of X1000E is 1.0 GHz and offers an energy efficient MIPS32 XBurst RISC core with double precision hardware float point unit for low power consumption.
The performance of the X1000E is pretty good and offers a fluid operation of the R2.
The HiBy R2 doesn’t comes with an internal memory, which means that you will need storage card that you can put in to the MicroSD card slot in order to listen to your favorite songs. Micro SD card slot supports storage cards up to 2TB.
B. DAC / AMP Section:
The HiBy R2 comes with the ES9128 SABER HiFi SoC (System on a Chip). The ES9218 SABRE HiFi SoC is a 32-bit, 2-channel, parallel quad audio digital to analog converter integrated with headphone amplifiers, analog volume control. It supports PCM up to 32bit / 384kHz and up to DSD128 decoding.
The ES9128 SoC features an integrated amplifier with an output power of 70mW for each channel @ 32ohm.
Supported File Formats:
The HiBy R3 Pro Saber is capable to play a wide range of audio formats such like MP3, FLAC, APE AIFF, WMA, WAV, ALAC and supports also Native hardware DSD (Dsf, Dff, ISO) Decoding up to DSD128.
The HiBy R2 supports also the new MQA Audio standard (4x unfold supported). MQA – short for “Master Quality Authenticated” is a new way to experience high-resolution audio.
MQA encoding folds studio-quality audio into files that are small enough to stream (or store in large quantities on a portable device). But the encoding process doesn’t just make hi-res music files smaller. It makes them sound much better, too.
You can buy a limited selection of MQA downloads now. They play through any equipment that can decode lossless file formats (WAV, FLAC, and ALAC).
The HiBy R2 Digital Audio Player comes with an 3.5mm single ended (TRS) headphone output that delivers a output power of 70mW @32 ohm for each channel. The HiBy R2 can also be used as an asynchronous USB DAC with both Mac’s and Windows PC’s. To use the R3 Pro Saber as USB DAC, you need to be set “USB mode” to “USB Audio” in the system settings and connect to your PC/MAC with the supplied USB Type-C to USB A data cable.
For more information and driver download, you can use the link below;
- Download Link: https://store.hiby.com/apps/help-center
a) Bluetooth & Bi-Directional Connectivity:
The HiBy R2 comes with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard and supports also “Bi-Direction Lossless Bluetooth Connectivity” which can be used to transmit or to receive/stream your music from any compatible device.
The Bluetooth connectivity performance of the R2 was pretty stable connected to my Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus during my tests, without to show drops and noise issue from a distance up to 9-10 meters.
- Supported Bluetooth Codec’s are UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC, and AAC.
This is a nice feature if you want to stream songs from online music services such like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, etc. over Phone, Tablet or PC.
b) 5GHz High Speed WiFi:
Another nice feature of the HiBy R2 is the support of 5GHz WiFi streaming functionality for a high speed WiFi audio and data transmission / reception.
c) HiBy Link:
A very usable feature of the HiBy R2 is HiBy Link, which allows you to play Hi-Res music stored on the R2 via remote control on your Smartphone. In order to do this, you will need to install the HiBy app that you can easy download to your phone/tablet.
- I have tested only the Android version that you can download from the Google Play Store.
d) UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission) Support:
The UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission) is an all-new Bluetooth audio codec developed in-house at HiBy. Supporting an industry-highest sample rate of 192kHz at an industry-highest data bandwidth of 1.2Mbps, it can even adapt and optimize itself to different music genres.
D. Battery Life:
The HiBy R2 is an Ultra Portable Digital Audio Player that has an integrated 1000mAh battery that offers a pretty impressive performance thanks to the use of low power Chips like the Ingenic X1000E CPU and the ES9128 SABER DAC SoC.
I have tested the battery life of the HiBy R2 under the following condition and file formats.
- IEM’s : HiBy Beans, Meze Audio Ra Solo, BQEYZ Spring2
- Flac 16bit/44kHz : approx 14 hours (Volume 35 out of 100, Screen Off)
The standby time of the HiBy R2 is according to HiBy approx 20 Day that I couldn’t test but what I will update after some intensive use.
E. Extra Features:
- Dual microphones for high quality stereo audio recordings.
- MSEB “MageSound 8-ball” a sophisticated audio Remastering system developed in-house by HiBy.
- HiByLink (Operate your pocket R2 from your huge Smartphone screen).
- Built-in E-Book Function
- Internet Radio
F. The Software:
The HiBy R2 comes with an in house developed Operating System that the so-called HiBy OS, which is a Linux based software specially created for portable audio devices.
I do graphical user interface (GUI) is simple to use and very fluid in its overall response. It is also pretty easy to navigate thanks to the well implanted swipe gestures.
The Player shortcut links you to the player interface that is minimalistic but clean. Here are a number of swipe gestures you can do to open some new windows.
The HiBy R2 offers a 10 band Equalizer that can be manually fine-tuned, while you have also the option to select one of the presets like Rock, Pop, Dance Metal, etc. that is a quite common feature for many players on the market.
However, which makes the R2 special and superior compared to most players in the same price range is the MSEB (Mage Sound 8-Ball) that is developed by the HiBy software team.
MSEB is a combination of multiple algorithms based on parametric equalizer (PEQ) and sound field adjustment (in short a DSP tool) that works pretty good If you like to play/transform the sound of your device. I normally do not use any type of EQ settings on any of my devices but the MESB is one of the best solutions in this category.
Equipment’s used for this review:
- DAP’s : HiBy R2, FiiO M5, FiiO M3 Pro
- IEM’s : HiBy Beans, BQEYZ Sping2, Meze Audio Rai Solo
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
- Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Casey Abrams – Robot Lovers (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
The HiBy R2 is a Digital Audio Player with a pretty neutral and bright tonality, which offers a fairly good overall resolution and output performance for a Ultra Portable device with a price tag bellow the 100 USD range.
PS: The review is written after a burn-in for about 50 hours and is based on my sound experiences with the HiBy Beans, BQEYZ Spring2 and Meze Audio Rai Solo In-Ear Monitors.
Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage:
The subbass region of the R2 shows a sufficient level of depth and extension. It’s sounds quite controlled and is showing a moderate amount of intensity and rumble.
The midbass area on the other hand has a touch more boost compared to the subbass region, but still sound pretty neutral especially when paired with the BQEYZ Spirng2.
The overall bass extension and speed is quite good for an ultra portable DAP in this price category and doesn’t have shown any negative situations like a midbass hump or mixings thanks to the fairly neutral tuning.
The midrange of the HiBy R2 sounds fairly clean and offers also a surprisingly good level of detail retrieval when paired with Meze Rai Solo or BQEYZ Spring2. The general presentation in the midrange is transparent with a slightly boost in the lower and upper midrange area to obtain better level of dynamic in this area.
Both male and female vocals do sound quite natural & realistic, while male vocals have shown an average depth and female vocals are fairly clear and transparent in presentation, especially when paired with the Hybrid Spring2 In-Ear Monitor.
The upper midrange of the device sounds slightly more highlighted compared to the lower midrange region. The upper midrange character offers nice level airiness and transparency when paired with the HiBy Beans.
The treble range on the other hand has a moderate level of extension and detail retrieval, which is quite acceptable for such an entry-level device. The lower treble shows a sufficient amount of clarity, while the upper treble area offers an average level of sparkle and airiness.
The HiBy R2 offers a fairly precise placement and sufficient separation of instruments and vocals. The soundstage shows an average level of expansion with good enough depth for an entry-level device. There air between the instruments is on a moderate level.
HiBy R2 versus FiiO M3 Pro:
The FiiO M3 Pro is a tad warmer in tonality and shows a slightly more rounded, softer/smoother overall presentation. The subbass and midbass region regions of both devices are quite similar in terms of response, while the M3K shows slightly more midbass depth when paired with the BQEYZ Sping2. Both devices are quite successful in terms of bass control and detail retrieval.
The midrange of the HiBy R2 sounds slightly more neutral and transparent compared to the M3 Pro that has a smoother and slightly more entertaining tonality. The upper midrange and treble region of the HiBy R2 sounds a bit more pronounced and detail, with better level of extension, while the difference is quite small. The M3 Pro offers a slightly smoother presentation in the upper midrange and treble region.
The soundstage of both devices performs pretty well in terms of separation and placement f instruments and vocals, especially for devices at this price level. The HiBy R2 has the upper hand in terms of soundstage wideness, while the M3 Pro has a slightly advantage when it comes to the depth.
HiBy R2 versus FiiO M5:
The HiBy R2 has a slightly warmer tonality compared to the FiiO M5 that is a bit more neutral in direct comparison.
The subbass and midbass region of the R2 shows slightly more depth and extension while both do offer a sufficient level of layering. The R2 shows bit more subbas rumble and intensity compared to the M5 when paired with the HiBy Beans IEM.
The midrange of both devices offers a decent amount of clarity and detail retrieval with all three IEM’s I have listen to it. The lower midrange of the HiBy R2 sounds slightly fuller and musical, while the FiiO M5 is a bit more transparent in this area.
The upper midrange and treble presentation of both devices is successful in terms of overall resolution end extension, while the HiBy R2 has a an slightly advantage in the upper treble region that makes it a bit more detailed while listen to instruments like pianos and cymbals.
The soundstage of both the HiBy R2and the FiO M5 is quite close in performance in terms of separation and placement of vocals and or instruments. The soundstage of the HiBy R2 shows slightly more depth, while both are successful in terms of soundstage wideness.
The HiBy R2 is the entry-level HiFi player of the company that offers a decent sound quality, great battery life and many features like Two-way LDAC, USB DAC, MESB Parametric EQ, Voice Recorder, E-Book Reader, etc. and a fluid UI. All those abilities are integrated in to an Ultra-Portable device with a very robust all zinc-alloy chassis that offers also a quite responsive touch screen.
Pros and Cons:
- + Decent Sound Performance for an Entry Level Device
- + Ultra-Portable design & Solid Build Quality
- + Good Battery Life
- + Two-way LDAC & DLNA/Air Play & USB DAC
- + MESB Parametric EQ
- – The Zinc Alloy Chassis is a fingerprint magnet
- – No Internal Memory
- – Couldn’t find any other remarkable negatives for a device at this price level
Thank you for the Read!