Up for review today is the HiBy FC3. I really enjoy this USB C dongle when it works. Also, it's only $50, which is a fantastic price for something that can do MQA, sounds great, and doesn't use a ton of battery.
Here's where the majority of my gripes come from with this dongle. The USB C cable that plugs into the dongle isn't that great. I have to gingerly pick up my phone so that I don't lose connection any time I want to use it. Every time I lose connection, I have to unlock my phone, go to the Tidal app, accept the usage message for the FC3, and then hit play again. Even the slightest bump kills the connection and causes me to do this. Also, occasionally, the sound will skip or cut out for a second or the first part of a song will get cut off - not a big issue, just annoying. Overall, the FC3 is well made and tough with a cool light that shows the level of data transfer. The best part of this dongle though is that it just works - I can't say that about the other dongles I tried.
Ugh, this app caused so many issues. The HiBy app is required for 8x MQA unfold, it will only do 2x through the Tidal app natively (couldn't tell a difference.) The app also requires a subscription for MQA - luckily it includes it with the FC3. Unluckily, the HiBy app sucks. The HiBy app causes connection issues with the native Tidal app. It won't let the Tidal app play in my car when I connect it and it causes other issues with other methods of playing. You also can't stream to other devices through the HiBy app, it isn't good at shuffling, and you have to reselect your playlist every time you open the app. I gave up and uninstalled it after a few weeks of these issues.
The sound is really good and while other reviewers have broken down every single detail on here, with my Pixel 7 playing through Tidal, the FC3 sounds pretty comparable to my Burson Conductor 3XP. That said, I did notice decreased bass levels and muted treble - which was great for some headphones as it was less fatiguing than through my desktop DAC/AMP. The FC3 seems to present a pretty neutral soundscape though with a solid, if not inspiring, soundstage.
Conclusion: This is the best dongle in this price range - it works (most of the time) and it sounds good. That's really all you need for $50. I personally prefer my DAP, but the price difference is 8x as much for a cheap DAP. So, if you just want a cheap dongle, this is the one for you.
Wolfhawk's Rating: 7.5/10