HiBy R3 II (GEN II) Digital Audio Player Review
HiBy is a well-known audio brand established in 2011 that is specialized in research, development, production and marketing of Portable HiFi Audio products such like DAP’s, USB & Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier’s, In-Ear Monitors and Accessories. Moreover, HiBy is also a highly experienced company in development of Software’s such like the HiBy Music application for Android & iOS devices and of course HiBy OS that is a widely used professional Portable Audio Operating Systems (OS).
The R3 II (GEN II) that I will now review for you is HiBy’s recently released Ultra Portable “Digital Audio Player” (DAP), which is the latest member of the R3 Series. It features two ES9219C chips and supports native DSD up to DSD256 and PCM 384 kHz/32bit audio formats. The device is equipped with a standard 3.5mm single-ended and a 4.4mm Balanced analog headphone interface that offers up to 380mW of output power. The R3 II comes with a 3.2-inch touch screen, running on HiBy OS, boasting an intuitive and user-friendly UI.
The HiBy R3 II is not just a Digital Audio Player; it’s more like an All in One device tanks to its very portable size that you can use as a Digital audio source, USB DAC, Bluetooth Adapter for your Computer, a Wireless Audio Source and as Bluetooth Receiver/Headphone Amplifier.
Price & Availability:
The MSRP price of the HiBy R3 II (GEN II) is $179.00 USD, which makes it to an Ultra Portable DAP with a decent value for your money considered to its built quality, design and features. More information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The HiBy R3 II came inside a square spade fancy looking black box with a relative small size that has an illustration of the device and some brandings on the top.
The box of the HiBy R3 II contains the following items;
- 1 x HiBy R3 II Digital Audio Player
- 1 x USB A to USB Type-C cable for file transfer and charging
- 1 x Silicone Case
- 1 x Screen Protector (beside 1 set was already pre-installed)
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 x Warranty card
Design & Build Quality:
The new R3 II is a very compact and easy to carry ultra portable Digital Audio Player that comes with a solid aluminum alloy body with a premium look and feel. The compact size and the weight of just 118g thanks to the use of lightweight aluminum material make the R3 II to a pocket-friendly solution on the go.
The HiBy R3 II is available in 3 different color options that are Red, Silver and Black one.
On the front of the device is a 3.2” touch screen with a resolution of 320×480 pixels that has a pre-installed screen protector on its surface, which is a nice addition. The screen is pretty bright and responsive, which makes it ideal for the use in outdoor conditions. What I really like about the screen is the “double tap to weak up” function that you can easily activate over the setting menu. This is a great option that you can normally get only with much more expensive device with Android OS.
Near the bottom right below the screen is the HiBy brand logo.
At the bottom of the device is the USB Type-C interface that supports USB DAC input/output and coaxial output.
Here are also the 3.5mm Single Ended and a 4.4mm Balanced headphone output. The R3 II is the first product of the R3 Series that features a 4.4mm balanced headphone port replacing the nowadays outdated 2.5mm Balanced output format. The 3.5mm headphone interface doubles as 3.5mm Line out (LO) output.
The right surface of the R3 II (GEN II) features a fancy looking RGB LED that lights up in different color to shows the player status (file format, power status, etc.) and 3 additional button which are the previous, play/pause and next buttons.
My only complaint about the buttons is the location of the previous track button that is separated. It would be better to use it as play button.
However, the most notable visible change made with the R3 II compared to previous models of the same series (R3, R3 Pro, R3 Pro Saber, etc.) is the addition of a new generation multi functional volume knob that is quite precise and responsive. I really like the design of the new volume button. The indentations around it can be seen as a good design example in terms of usability that gives a better grip, while the protruding structure and the lack of edge protection against impacts can be seen as a disadvantage.
The Left surface of the device features a MicroSD storage expansion slot that is protected with a rubbery plastic cover, which is another nice addition.
The rear surface of the R3 II has a glass surface panel with a protective film on the top. This area sports the HiBy branding, the Hi-Res & Hi-Res Audio Wireless logos and some technical information’s and industrial certifications.
When it comes to the build quality of the device, I can easy say that it offers a solid craftsmanship especially compared to its price tag.
- Model : R3 II (aka R3 GEN2)
- Operating System : Hiby OS
- Screen : 3.2’’ Touch Screen (480×360pixel)
- DAC : Dual ES9219C
- CPU : Ingenic X1000E
- Wi-Fi Support : 2.4GHz with AirPlay, DLNA and Wireless Audio support
- Bluetooth : BT V5.1
- Bluetooth Codec Support : UAT, LDAC, aptX, SBC, AAC
- Phone Output : 3.5mm Single Ended
- Balanced Output : 4.4mm TRRRS
- USB In/Out : USB Type-C Charging / Data transfer / USB DAC / Coaxial
- SNR : 3.5mm SE – 119dB / 4.4mm Balanced – 119dB
- Min. THD : 3.5mm SE – 0.0005% / 4.4mm Balanced – 0.0005%
- Channel Separation : 3.5mm SE – 74dB / 4.4mm Balanced – 103dB
- Frequency Range : 20Hz – 90kHz (3.5mm SE & 4.4mm Balanced)
- Max Output Power @32Ω : 3.5mm SE – 112mW / 4.4mm Balanced – 380mW
- Storage : 1 x MicroSD Card Slot
- Battery Capacity : 2000mAH
- Dimensions : 86.9 x 60.6 x 14.5mm
- Weight : 118g
Hardware and Software Features:
The HiBy R3 II is an Ultra Portable Digital Audio Player that features some sophisticated hardware components and a mature Software thanks to the experience of the HiBy Design and Software Team.
Digital to Analog Converter “DAC”:
The HiBy R3 II comes with a Dual ES9219C 32-bit Stereo DAC Chipset that supports the company’s patented 32-bit “HyperStream” architecture that can support up to PCM up to 32-bit 384 kHz and Native DSD256.
The HiBy R3 II is capable to play a wide range of audio formats including MP3, FLAC, APE AIFF, WMA, WAV, ALAC (Apple Lossless). Moreover, it supports Native DSD up to DSD256.
Moreover, the R3 II supports the MQA Audio standard up to 16X unfold. MQA – short for “Master Quality Authenticated” is a new way to experience high-resolution audio.
Amplification & Connectivity:
The HiBy R3 II is equipped with both a 3.5mm Single Ended and finally with a True Balanced 4.4mm Balanced output, which is the new standard that has now replaced the outdated 2.5mm Balanced output format. The 4.4mm Balanced interface offers a output power of up to 380mW @ 32Ω, which is quite impressive for such a compact device.
The R3 II is a Digital Audio Player that supports an asynchronous USB DAC function that can be used with both Mac’s and Windows PC’s. In order to use the R3 II as USB DAC, you need to be set “USB mode” to “Audio” in the system settings and connect to your PC/MAC with the supplied USB Type-C to USB A data cable.
The HiBy R3 II (GEN II) supports the Bluetooth 5.1 standard that offers a decent performance in terms of connectivity and stability. The device supports “Bi-Direction Lossless Bluetooth Connectivity” that can be used to transmit or to receive music files from compatible device.
The R3 II supported Bluetooth Sound Codec’s such like LDAC, aptX, SBC, AAC and HiBy’s UAT. HiBy UAT is a high-resolution Bluetooth audio codec developed by HiBy Music, a company that specializes in portable music players and software. UAT stands for Ultra Audio Transmission, and it is designed to deliver superior sound quality over wireless connections. UAT supports a maximum sampling frequency of 192 kHz and a maximum bitrate of 1.2Mbps, which are higher than any other Bluetooth Audio Codec available
Another useful feature of the HiBy R3 II is Wireless Streaming via Wi-Fi. You can connect to your online Tidal and Qobuz music library via Wi-Fi, while any download option for offline storage is not supported. Other supported Wireless Streaming options are DLNA and Airplay.
Dual Crystal Oscillators:
The HiBy R3 II is equipped with Dual Independent Active Crystal Oscillators at 45.1584 and 49.152MHz with low phase noise, in order to provide automatically highly accurate clocking for music sources of different sample rates, reducing jitter and effectively increasing accuracy.
The HiBy R3 II (GEN II) is equipped with a 2000mAH built in battery that is up to %25 larger than previous models of the R3 series. The device offers playback duration of up to 16 hours if you use it over the 3.5mm Single Ended output at Low Gain (Volume %55 – 60), which is pretty decent.
The HiBy R3 II comes with a redesigned User Interface (UI) that is based on HiBy OS. The result is a pretty fluid and lag free software experience tanks to the combination of the fairly capable Ingenic X1000E CPU and the knowledge of the HiBy software team.
The main screen gives you access to the following sections;
- Stream Media (Tidal, Qoubuz)
- Wireless (DLNA, Airplay)
- Books (E-Book Reader)
- System (System Settings)
The System menu gives you access to various setting from Language to Screen Time Out, from USB Output mode to the Theme Color.
The Main Player interface is has a pretty minimalistic but clean appearance, where you can use a number of swipe gestures in order to navigate between sub menus.
If you slide down the from the top of the screen, you will see some useful shortcut functions that gives you access to quick adjustments like screen brightness, volume, gain, Bluetooth on/off, DLNA, etc.
MSEB (aka Mage Sound 8-ball Tuning) is another feature that I really enjoy to use since the HiBy R3 II, which is a useful sound tuning plugging that has been create by the HiBy Software Team. MSEB is a combination of multiple algorithms based on parametric equalizer (PEQ) and sound filed adjustment that is quite effective in order to fine-tune the sound character of the device. I normally don’t use any type of EQ settings on any of my devices but the MESB is one of the best solutions in this category that I do prefer over the EQ settings of the device.
The R3 II supports the companies HiByLink application that allows wireless remote control of the device from your Smartphone or Tablet. This is a useful application if you want to keep the R3 II in your pocket while using your phone or if you have connected it to an external Sound System.
Equipment’s used for this review:
DAP’s : HiBy R3 II (GEN II), Hidizs AP80 Pro-X
IEM’s : Moondrop Blessing 3, QoA Margarita, FiiO FA7S, Westone Audio MACH10
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Dezzer HiFi)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- 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)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert & Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Metallica – Master of Puppets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The HiBy R3 II is an ultra compact Digital Audio Player that offers a mildly warm tonality, which impressed me with its pretty lush and musical overall sound presentation that surpassed my expectation from a device at this price level. The great thing about the RII is that you have always the option to fine tune the sound profile with the very effective MSEB (aka Mage Sound 8-ball) that differs significantly from conventional EQ settings.
The HiBy R3 II (GEN II) reviews has been written after a burn-in period of approx 80 hours and is mainly based on my sound experiences over the 4.4mm Balanced output, paired with IEM’s like the Moondrop Blessing3+ddHiFi Air NYX 4.4mm Balanced Cable, FiiO FA7S, Westone Audio MACH10 and QoA Margarita. No MSEB settings activated.
The HiBy R3 II shows a slightly amount of saturation/coloration in the lower frequency area that has a focal point located in the midbass region. The subbass region offers in general an decent level of depth and rumble while listen to songs like Lorde’s “Royals”, Daft Punk “Doin’ it Right”, Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici” and Massive Attack’s “Angle” especially when paired with the QoA Margarita over the 4.4mm Balanced output of the device.
The midbass region on the other hand shows a tad more intensity compared to the subbass area, which sound pretty rich in terms of impact and body, while it does that in a pretty controlled manner. Here are no negative conditions such like a midbass hump or muddiness with all IEM’s I have listened to it. The general bass response of the R3 II impressed me with its pretty textured, dynamic and rich that presentation.
The midrange is one of the highlights of the HiBy R3 II that is produced in a mildly warm, pretty lush and musical manner. The sense of transparency and airiness and level of resolution is pretty decent, especially with respect to the price of this Ultra Compact but highly entertaining sounding device.
The lower midrange is reproduced with good grade of depth and fullness when I do listen to male voices like Dave Gahan, Isaac Hayes, Eric Clapton and Sting or to instruments such like acoustic guitars and violas, when paired with IEM’s like the QoA Margarita or FiiO FA7S.
The upper midrange on the other hand is mildly highlighted and shows in general a pretty good performance in terms of clarity and resolution. It has a smooth and nicely controlled nature, with efficient grade of extension and brightness when I do listen to female vocals like Adel, Diana Krall, Aretha Franklin or Sertap Erener. Instruments on the other hand, from cellos to side flutes, from violins to pianos are reproduced in a pretty musical and controlled manner. The HiBy RII shows a great synergy with IEM’s that do have a relative bright upper midrange register such like the Moondrop Blessing3.
The HiBy R3 II shows a mildly bright treble presentation that is able to create an efficient grade of information, brightness and resolution with all IEM’s I have paired with it. The sense of controlled and extension is pretty decent for a Digital Audio Player at this size and price level. The general treble character of the R3 II can be described as silky smooth and relaxed.
The level of air that is produced in this area is on an efficient level, which is pretty enough for a relative clean and lively presentation. The lower treble area is shown with a good grade of presence, clarity and definition when I do listen to soprano voices or to instrument like hi-hats or snare drums. The upper treble region on the other hand is able to produce an adequate sense of sparkle while listen to percussions such like such like crash cymbals or snare drums. The HiBy RII pairs extremely well with IEM’s like the Moondrop Blessing3 and Westone MACH10 that do have a relative highlighted treble tuning.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The HiBy R3 II offers a fairly suitable soundstage atmosphere for a precise separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The device shows a good sense of wideness, while the depth and height of the stage is on a sufficient level for a product at this price range.
HiBy R3 II versus Hidizs AP80 Pro:
The HiBy R3 II shows a tad warmer tonality and a smoother more musical overall character compared to the Hidizs AP80 Pro. The subbass region of both devices is pretty similar in terms of depth and extension, while the midbass area of the R3 II shows a more natural and musical sense of presentation.
The overall midrange presentation of the Hidizs AP80 Pro is slightly brighter in tonality, while it sounds a bit digital and dry to my ears when I do compare it with the HiBy R3 II, which offers a more natural, lush and rich presentation in this area. The lower midrange of the R3 II sounds a bit fuller, musical and organic while listen to male voices or to instruments such like an acoustic guitars or pianos.
The upper midrange of both devices is pretty equal when it comes to the presence and resolution. However, the HiBy R3 II is the device with a more natural timbre that was quite audible while listen to female voices or to instruments such like violins, flutes and cellos.
Treble region of the Hidizs AP80 Pro sounds slightly more highlighted and energetic compared to those of the HiBy R3 II. The R3 II on the other side offers a more relaxed treble tuning with better sense of contol and authority.
Both the HiBy R3 II and the Hidizs AP80 Pro do show a pretty equal performance in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage of the R3 II is slightly wider, while the depth of the stage is relative similar.
The HiBy R3 II is a very versatile device with an ultra compact size that offers an excellent value for your money, both in terms of sonic and hardware performance. This is not just a Digital Audio Player; the R3 II is more like an “All-in-One” device that will enhance your audio experience in various ways. You can use it as a Digital Audio Source, Headphone AMP, USB DAC, Bluetooth Adapter/Receiver and Wireless Audio Source with your Smartphone, Tablet or PC. All this abilities makes the R3 II to a device that I can Highly Recommend!
Pros & Cons:
- + Overall Sonic Performance
- + Fluid & Mature UI
- + Compact Size & Excellent Build Quality
- + Various Connectivity Options
- + MSEB-MAGESOUND 8-BALL
- + Decent Battery Life
- + Great Value for you Money
- – No Internal Memory
- – No need for an E-Book reader
- – 4.4mm Balanced Output sounds noticeably better compared to the 3.5mm Interface