HiBy W5 BT DAC/AMP 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/AMP’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 W5 is a Bluetooth DAC/AMP with some interesting features like ES9218P DAC Soc, UAT (for BT Sampling Rates Up to 192 kHz), IPX67 Certification, Qualcomm CSR8675 BT SoC with Bluetooth 5.0 and many more.
I would like to thank HiBy for providing me the W5 BT DAC/AMP 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 fro the HiBy W5 BT DAC/AMP is $109.00 USD and can be purchased under the link bellow;
- HiBy W5 BT DAC/AMP: https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-w5
Package and Accessories:
The HiBy W5 came in transparent plastic case that sports some product brandings and information’s about the product.
It contains the following items/accessories;
- 1 x HiBy W5 Ultra Portable Bluetooth DAC & Amplifier
- 1 x Charging Case
- 1 x USB Type-C to USB A Cable
- 1 x Silicone Case (came pre-installed)
- 1 x Quick Start Guide, etc.
Design & Build Quality:
HiBy offers with the W5 a different design language compared to other ultra portable Bluetooth DAC/AMP’s on the market. It looks like a Zeppelin with its oval shape and is an object that feels compact and nice to hold in your hands. The HiBy W5 is available in two color options which are black and the white variant like those of my review unit.
The dimensions of this ultra portable BT DAC/AMP are about 61.7mm*21mm*17.6mm and it weights only 19.5grams. The HiBy W5 shows a minimalistic design and has no physical or mechanical buttons. The shell is a combination of glossy plastic material and stainless steel.
On the top of the device is a multifunctional touch sensitive surface to power on/off the device or for actions like play/pause etc.
Here is also a small opening for the built-in microphone that supports the 8th generation cVc (Clear Voice Capture) Technology and a LED light that is only visible if you charge the device or power it on.
The bottom of the HiBy W5 has stainless steel housing with exception of the charging port. Here is also a plastic shirt clip that is removable.
On the front of the W5 is the 3.5mm headphone jack (unbalanced TRS) that offers a tight connection.
HiBy W5 is IP67 certified which is resistant to water and dust, while the overall built quality is top notch same like other HiBy products that I have used before.
The Battery Case:
The HiBy W5 comes with a small battery case unlike other Ultra Portable BT DAC/AMP’s on the market that does charge via USB Type-C or Micro USB.
The battery case has dimensions of 69.6mm*37.5mm*37.6mm and weights around 57.1grams. The built-in Li-Polymer battery has a capacity of 1000mAH and offers up to 20 hours of playback time for the W5 (with the AAC BT codec).
The battery case is also made of the same white plastic material and has a nice glossy surface. The top of the device is black and doesn’t show any brandings, etc.
At the bottom of the battery case are some technical specifications, industrial certification/standards of the device and two rubber pads.
On the rear surface is a small notch of the hinge mechanism.
At the left side is the USB Type-C charging port.
On the front of the battery case are 3 LED indicators that light up in blue color while charging.
When you open the case you will see the seat for the W5. This seat has a magnetic surface to ensure a tight/save connection for the charging process and to avoid any drop out of the device.
The battery case came with a silicone case that was pre-installed which is a nice addition!
- Model : HiBy W5
- BT Version : Bluetooth 5.0
- Supported Codec’s : UAT/LDAC/apt-X/apt-X HD/apt-X Low Latency/SBC/AAC
- Bluetooth chip : Qualcomm CR8675
- DAC : ES9218P
- AMP : onboard Amplifier included in ES9218P
- Output Power : 80mW + 80mW @ 32 Ohm
- Sampling Frequency : up to 192 kHz
- Bit Rate : up to 1.2Mbps
- THD+N : -103dB (Measured on UAT Mode)
- SNR : 118dB
- Crosstalk : 72dB
- Output : 3.5mm Single Ended
- Drivability : 8~300 Ω
- Battery (Li-Polymer) : 150mAH (Device) / 1000mAH (Battery Case)
- Plat Time : ≥20 hours (including the battery case)
- Standby : ≥100 hours
- Charging Time : ≤1.5 h (5V/1A)
- Size Device : 61.7mm*21mm*17.6mm (incl. back clip)
- Size Battery Case : 69.6mm*37.5mm*37.6mm
- Weight : 19.5 g (Device Only) / 57.1g (Battery Case)
Hardware and Functionality:
The HiBy W5 features some nice hardware specs like the Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth SoC and an ESS Technology 9218P DAC Chip with build in amplifier. Now, I want to give you more information’s about the hardware and functionality’s of the HiBy W5.
a) Bluetooth Chip:
The Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth chip used in the HiBy W5 is a premium low-power solution designed for enhanced audio applications with support for 24-bit transmission and processing, thanks to its 120MHz DSP. This chip is also much more stable in signal strength than other competing chips, especially in situations with lots of interference.
b) DAC and AMP Section:
The HiBy W5 features ESS Technology’s ES9218P DAC Chip that comes with a build in headphone amplifier for portable audio products. It has some nice specs such as -103dB THD+N and signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 118dB.
The build-in amplifier offers a pretty powerful output power of 80mW + 80mW @ 32 Ohm, which is quite impressive for such a small device.
The pairing process of the HiBy W5 is quite easy and pretty stabile; you only need to turn on the device for the first time and press the multifunctional touch button for 5 seconds to enter into the pairing mode. The device will reconnect with your source automatically.
d) Battery Life:
The HiBy W5 comes with a 150 mAH built-in Li-Polymer battery that can be charged with the battery case that is included to the package. A single charge takes about 1.5 hours and offers a playback time of around 4 – 4.5 hours in Low Gain and about 3 hours in High Gain mode that can be adjusted with the HiBy Blue Application.
* Please note that the playback times above are tested with the AAC codec volume at 50% with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.
The sound of the HiBy W5 over the 3.5mm headphone jack is very clean with nearly zero hissing and a very clean/dark background, which is a pretty good performance for a BT DAC/AMP device.
d) Firmware Update:
The Firmware update is quite simple, you only need to download and install the HiBy Blue Application that is only available for Android devices since you need the Google Play service.
The update process is like below;
- Press the touch button to power on. Hold down the touch button until the voice prompt says “enter pairing mode”
- Enable the Bluetooth on your Android Smartphone/Tablet. Pair your Smartphone/Tablet with the HiBy W5 and connect it via Bluetooth.
- Run the HiBy Blue app, select 【HiBy W5
- Select 【Update】-> 【OTA update】.
Supported BT Audio Codec’s:
The HiBy W5 is capable of reproducing major Bluetooth transmission formats including UAT, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL, SBC and AAC. The UAT (Ultra Audio Transmission) codec is a new audio coding method based on DCT supports sampling frequencies up to 192kHZ and a bit rate up to 1.2Mbps.
The UAT audio codec is compatible with Android mobile phones, and Hi-Fi DAP’s, all HiBy players, Hidizs AP80, Cayin N8 and other HiBy OS devices.
Equipments used for this review:
- BT DAC/AMP’s : HiBy W5, FiiO BTR3
- Sources : HiBy R3 Pro Saber, Samsung Galaxy S9+, iPad Air2
- Headphones & IEM’s : Akoustyx R220, FiiO FH3, iBasso IT00, SIVGA Phoenix
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Spotify)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Spotify)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
- Leonard Cohen – You Wnt it Darker (Spotify)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- 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 (Spotify)
- Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
The HiBy W5 is an ultra portable BT DAC/AMP with a fairly natural tonality that shows a touch of warmness. The bass and the treble range are slightly more highlighted compared to the midrange that is otherwise fairly transparent and detailed for a small BT DAC/AMP.
The HiBy W5 is pretty successful in terms of subbass depth and extension, while the general intensity and rumble is pretty good especially with IEM’s like the iBasso IT00 and FiiO FD1. From electronic music to fast genres like metal music, the existing subbass reproduction is quite satisfying and in general pleasant to listen to.
The midbass area shows in general an average amount of intensity and offers a sufficient level of depth and extension. The midbass area is impactful and pronounced with IEM’s like the FiiO FD1 or iBasso IT00 while the Akoustyx R-220 shows a more linear response with a fat and tight presentation.
The general bass presentation of the HiBy W5 is fast and controlled when paired with the R-220 and doesn’t show any unnecessary remarkable muddiness and mixings, even in songs with pretty complex bass notes like Megadeth’s Sweating Bullets or Gogo Penguin’s “Raven”.
The midrange of the HiBy W5 shows a good level of clarity and detail retrieval, while I need to say that it is less pronounced compared to the lower and upper frequency regions. The general tonality of the midrange is warmish that was influenced by the lower midrange area which shows a nice amount of depth and intensity.
Male vocals do have a good amount of body and depth paired with the FiiO FH3 and do sound lively and clear. Vocals like Leonard Cohen, Dave Gahan or Eric Clapton do sound pretty detailed and emotional.
Female vocals do sound pretty lively and vivid with all IEM’s I have listen to the HiBy W5, while they do sound a bit recessed due to the midrange tuning. Female vocals like Edith Piaf, Sertap Erener and Diana Krall do sound quite transparent, airy and detailed, especially with the Akoustyx R-220 that offers a good synergy.
Instruments on the other hand do have a slightly warmer than neutral and do sound fairly transparent and detailed with moderate level of extension. The pianos are slightly bright, pounced and lifelike, while acoustic guitars are transparent and musical to listen too.
Upper Midrange and Treble:
The HiBy W5 has an upper midrange presentation that sounds pretty controlled, airy and fairly detailed for an ultra portable BT DAC/AMP. The upper treble transitions are in general quite controlled paired with the iBasso IT00 and Akoustyx R-220 and did not show any unwanted sibilance and sharpness even with the FiiO FH3 that sound fairly bright.
The lower treble region of the HiBy W5 is fairly bright and extends pretty well that adds additional energy and dynamism to this area. The emphasis of the lower treble is greater than the upper treble while the emphasis from the lower treble to the upper treble decreases in a controlled manner.
Instruments like hi-hats in metal music do come slightly from the background, while the hits are quite pronounced and slightly bolder in tonality. Other treble intensive instruments like crash cymbals do have a good level of extension with both the FH3 and R220 IEM’s, while the IT00 shows a shorter extension.
All in all, the overall treble performance of the HiBy W5 is quite good with exception of a slightly roll-off in the upper treble register.
The HiBy W5 shows a good performance in terms of separation and accurate placement of instruments and vocals thanks to its pretty wide airy and spacious soundstage tuning. The soundstage shows an above average performance in terms of wideness, while the depth of the stage is on a moderate level.
HiBy W5 versus FiiO BTR3:
Both the FiiO BTR3 and HiBy W5 are very successful products in the BT DAC/AMP category and do offer a great price to performance ratio.
The subbass region of the HiBy W5 shows slightly more depth and a better level of extension, while both are pretty controlled in this frequency region. The midbass region of the FiiO BTR3 has more intensity and depth compared to the HiBy W5, which has the upper hand in terms of control and tightness.
The midrange of both devices offers a good amount of clarity and airiness while the W5 sounds more lively and transparent compared to the FiiO BTR3 which has a warmer tonality due to the lower midrange tuning.
Both devices are successful in terms of male vocals while the BTR3 offers more body & depth and the W5 more clarity. The upper midrange of the W5 is more highlighted and shows a better level of extension which makes it more successful with female vocals or instruments like electric guitars.
The most noticeable difference is in treble range where the HiBy W5 shows more presence, sparkle and extension. The BTR3 has a more linear treble response with average level of extension.
The HiByW5 has the upper hand in terms soundstage wideness and offers also a more spacious overall presentation. The soundstage depth on the other hand is pretty similar with both devices.
HiBy offers you with the W5 an ultra portable Bluetooth DAC & Amplifier with a compact and futuristic design which shows a dynamic, lively and pretty detailed presentation. It has some remarkable features like the Ultra Audio Transmission (UAT) Codec, HiBy Blue support and comes also with IP67 Certification and a battery case that gives is extra juice for on the go.
Pros and Cons:
- + Lively & Dynamic Presentation
- + General Timbre
- + Battery Case for Extra Juice on the Go
- + BT 5.0 & UAT Bluetooth Codec Support
- – No USB DAC function
- – Some may Prefer Physical Buttons