In the following earphones/headphones pair up test I was using W5 connected to Galaxy S9 w/LDAC, playing the selection of songs as mentioned in my Sound analysis section.
Campfire Audio Solaris (low impedance, hybrid iem, higher sensitivity) – a bit of static during playback (but not when idle). Once music starts playing, I can still hear a little bit of static, but not as noticeable. The sound is very expanded in soundstage. Signature is balanced, tonality is warmer, more organic, very natural and detailed. Mids and vocals presentation is very soulful. Treble is smoother too, but still has a good extension. Bass has a very authoritative slam here, but not overwhelming.
Campfire Audio Andromeda (low impedance, multi-BA iem, higher sensitivity) – the same low level of static, which is less noticeable once music playback starts. Very wide soundstage expansion. Balanced signature with a more natural tonality, even reminds me of Solaris a bit, but with a more laid back bass and a little brighter upper mids/treble.
Solaris/Andro pairs up good here, but surprisingly, instead of a typical expected hissing with these IEMs, I hear a little bit of static. Maybe the combination of their metal shells and cables becomes like an antenna, picking up some EMI.
64 Audio U18t (low impedance, multi-BA iem) – very spacious soundstage expansion, balanced natural tonality, deep bass, organic detailed mids, crisp controlled treble without any harsh peaks. No hissing. A very enjoyable playback.
iBasso IT01s (single DD iem) – very spacious soundstage expansion. Balanced signature with a more natural revealing tonality, punchy fast bass, natural revealing mids, crisp airy treble. Very quiet background, great pair up.
Empire Ears Legend X (lower impedance/sensitivity, hybrid iem) – wide/deep soundstage. L-shaped signature with a very deep visceral bass impact, bass is well controlled, not bleeding into mids, mids are natural and very detailed, despite deep bass impact – there is a good separation between the bass and the mids. Treble is crisp, airy, non-fatigue. I still prefer to drop about 5-6dB around 60Hz, but this is one great pair up as well.
MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 (50 ohm, low sensitivity, single DD iem) – wide/deep soundstage expansion. Still a mid-forward signature with more energy in upper mids/treble, but mids and treble here sound more natural, less harsh. Bass is closer to neutral, but with a good extension. Lower mids are neutral, while upper mids are revealing but not as bright as in some other pair ups, and treble is crisp but not sibilant. Certainly, another example of a good pair up. Also, despite higher impedance of P1, I didn’t have to push volume too high.
VE Zen Omega Edition ZOE (320 ohm, single DD earbuds) – wide open soundstage, drives these 320 ohm earbuds without a problem, and I don’t even have to push volume too high. In this pair-up I hear a smoother natural laid back tonality, deep sub-bass rumble, slower mids bass, fuller body natural organic detailed mids, and nice treble definition without any extra sparkle.
Westone W80 (low impedance, multi-BA iem) – very wide/deep soundstage (pure holographic experience). Very balanced natural detailed sound. Nice laidback layered bass, fuller body lower mids, clear detailed natural upper mids, crisp treble with a controlled level of airiness. Even so these are 5 ohm iems, the pair up is still good.
HiFiMan RE2000 Gold (60 ohm, lower sensitivity, single DD iem) – very spacious wide/deep soundstage. W-shaped signature with a deep sub-bass rumble, punchy mid-bass, leaner lower mids, brighter more revealing upper mids, and crisp airy treble. Upper mids/treble are not harsh, well controlled.
Audeze EL8C (full size, planar magnetic) – wide soundstage expansion with sound being more out of your head. The signature is closer to neutral with a brighter more revealing natural tonality. Again, natural tonality is not something I say often when describing EL8C, yet mids here are lean but not as bright or analytical, bass is more neutral and lean as well, but still has a good extension, down to a noticeable neutral level sub-bass rumble. Treble is crisp, a little on a brighter side, but there is no metallic sheen. This was another surprisingly good pair up.
Oppo PM3 (full size, planar magnetic) – very wide soundstage expansion. The sound has a balanced signature with a natural tonality and excellent retrieval of details. Bass extends deep and surprisingly well controlled, mids are natural, detailed, treble is well defined as well. PM3 pair up is tricky, and in many cases could get warm and muddy, here it sounded great.
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x (full size, open back, 470 ohm) – 470ohm impedance cans? not a problem! Still very open holographic soundstage, natural revealing tonality, more neutral-balanced signature, nice low end extension, natural detailed mids, well controlled treble. W5 was driving these rather efficiently.
W5 gives you access to every Bluetooth codec, including the upcoming UAT with a super low compression at 1.2Mbps bit rate. Paired up using LDAC codec, the sound quality was so impressive that I almost forgot it was a wireless connection. It’s a similar experience when using some of today’s DAPs paired up wireless with your smartphone to stream from audio apps while enjoying the benefits of their high end DACs and powerful built-in amps. Except, with Hiby W5 you don’t need to carry another big heavy DAP, you just clip a small 18g capsule to your shirt and off you go!
If you are planning to use W5 while exercising or other outdoor activities or just as an adapter to convert any headphone or speaker to wireless – it does its job great. For me personally, I would have preferred a device with a physical multi-function button and a dedicated volume control. As is, W5 design is super minimalistic so you don’t have to worry about anything else, just clip it to your shirt or your pants, and touch the “invisible” key to play/pause. If you are constantly skipping songs, adjusting volume, or expecting to carry W5 in your hand, it could get a bit frustrating during everyday use.
But if you are OK with these limitations, the audio performance of W5 is VERY rewarding for such a tiny wireless device! Regardless, if you pair it up with 5 ohm iems or 320 ohm earbuds, I was able to drive everything without a problem, enhancing my listening experience with a very wide soundstage expansion, a natural detailed tonality, and a reasonable sound transparency. It felt like listening to a regular DAP, even though the audio was transmitted wireless from my phone. I just hope that Hiby will consider a Pro version of W5 with hardware playback/volume controls in a future.