HiBy has been on a roll lately. In the past year or so, the Dongguan-based company has released full-featured audio players in almost every price tier, each with their own design language and differentiators. Their latest player, R4, is not only the first of the new 4-series of R-series DAPs, but also heralds a departure from HiBy’s generally sleek and conservative styling. 

Perhaps R4’s most impressive aspect, however, is its price. For $250, here’s a player that basically mimics the full user experience of HiBy’s class-leading HiBy OS Android platform, shared by the multi-kilobuck flagship players no less. 

Sure, corners had to be cut to hit that price – a lower-resolution screen, less RAM and built-in storage, and a budget DAC – but for all intents and purposes, once in use, it looks, feels and performs quite consistently with the majority of HiBy’s higher-priced DAP family.

That makes it the perfect entry to HiBy’s ecosystem for anyone looking for a first digital audio player, which could explain why HiBy styled it to catch the eye of the younger-generation gamer and Tik-Tok crowd. Still, this is a fully-fledged DAP, with relatively advanced audio hardware, so it doesn’t really fit in to the HiBy Digital ‘Gen-Z-focused’ sub-brand like the entry-level M300 player, and I’ll be comparing the two later in this review to make that point. 

Speaking of which, much of the software side has already been covered in depth in my other HiBy R-series reviews, including R6 Pro II and R6 III, though I’ll point out anything that’s new to HiBy OS since those reviews were published. I’m also including a section on HiBy’s latest IEM, Project Ace, a $250 single dynamic driver collaboration with FAudio that HiBy launched at the same time, and also bundles together with R4.  

Continue to packaging and accessories…