PROS: very compact design, fast OS and GUI, open Android w/Google Play store, natural neutral tonality, 3.5mm/4mm HO and LO, MQA (to be enabled soon).
CONS: soundstage just above average (feels more intimate), included screen protectors.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
It probably sounds strange, but I feel bad for anybody who is in the market looking for a new DAP, especially if you are after more affordable mid-fi level audio players. When it comes to high end summit-fi flagship DAPs, the choices are more manageable, and entry level market is less busy with some turning their attention to small Bluetooth receivers instead. But mid-fi DAP market is starting to get flooded with feature-packed affordable DAPs.
Some of these mid-fi DAPs packing too much under the hood, and some are getting too big in size. It’s a good strategy to capture attention of audio enthusiasts on a budget who are looking for the best price/performance ratio. But there are others in search of mid-fi DAPs as an alternative to their big and heavy flagship players they would rather keep at home, and instead get something more compact and still powerful enough on the go.
And that’s exactly what Hiby delivered in their new R5 release – Mini-Me scaled down version of their flagship R6Pro DAP. I enjoyed spending the last few weeks with R5 and now would like to share with you about this latest release from Hiby.
Unboxing and Accessories.
R5 arrived in all black nice compact packaging box. The cover of the box had a soft foam inner lining to protect the DAP wedged inside of a foam tray cutout. Other accessories could be found at the bottom in two storage boxes. Overall, the packaging is very straight forward, nothing fancy.
Accessories included a tempered glass protector for the front and film protector for the back, push-pin tool to eject micro SD card tray, a premium usb-c charging and data cable, a clear transparent TPU case, and a manual. One film screen protector was already applied to a display, but I found it to be sticky and rubbery, and I removed it right away to improve touch sensitivity of the screen. The same material film protector was intended for the back, and I didn’t bother with it. The front tempered glass looked too small for the display, probably intentionally since the display screen has curved edges and tempered glass usually won’t stick to the edges.
R5 TPU clear case is very good, similar to the one included with R6Pro. I like this kind of cases because they let you see the design details of the DAP without covering it up, and at the same time enhance the grip and protect from minor bumps. I don’t know if it will turn yellowish or discolored down the road, only time will tell. But so far R6Pro case is still clear. The only thing I don’t like about it the glass back of R5 sticking to the case, creating a visual “splatters”, but it’s really just a nitpicking.
After dealing with so many larger size DAPs, it feels good to hold a small compact player in my hand. With dimensions of 107.7 x 61.2 x 15.6 (mm) and weight of about 158g, it easily fits in a palm of my hand and allows touch screen navigation with just a thumb. It’s light, but has a little heft to it, and with a clear TPU case the grip feels secure.
The front of R5 is filled with 4” touch screen, a good viewing angle thanks to IPS display, and a decent resolution for this size, 540×1080. The bezel around the display is thin. Left and right sides are smooth and rounded, the only metal (aluminum) sides of the DAP. The top, the bottom, and the back are all glass, more reasons to keep R5 in a case. The display itself is bright and has rich colors, very similar to R6 and R6Pro.
The right side of the DAP has a power button at the top with a built-in LED, the same as R6/R6Pro where the light changes depending on the playback format or when charging. Below it you have hw playback buttons with a slightly larger Play/Pause in the middle and skip buttons on each side. The left side has volume up/down buttons and micro SD card tray. The TPU case has cutouts for all the buttons, so they are easy to access, except for flash memory which is covered. At the bottom in the middle you have USB-C port (for charging, data transfer, Digital Out/SPDIF, and DAC functionality), and symmetrically on each side a single ended 3.5mm HO/LO on the left and a balanced 4.4mm HO/LO on the right. Btw, balanced output is very powerful, supporting 564mW @ 32ohm load. Both SE and BAL ports could be switched between Low and High gain.
Under the hood.
In the heart of R5 you will find a dual Cirrus Logic MasterHiFi series CS43198 DAC. This is a relatively new DAC, released in 2017. I saw it being featured in a few other DAPs after its introduction, but surprisingly not as widespread as I would expect it to be. I think it’s getting a second wind with this R5 release and I’m aware of another DAP release around the corner using the same chipset.
To keep it running fast, Hiby used the same Snapdragon 425 processor as R6Pro, even at the same max clock speed of 1.4GHz, and without surprises the AnTuTu 3D benchmark score of R5 is nearly the same as R6Pro. The internal storage is only 16GB, but with micro SD card you can expand it to 512GB, or perhaps higher in the future.
It features a decent size 3500 mAh battery, with 18hrs (in SE) and 11hrs (in BAL) play time. The charging supports QC3.0 standard, including use of USB-C power supply of 9V/1.5A for a fast charging. Other notable features are Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX/HD, LDAC, and even the new high bandwidth UAT codec support. Two-way Bluetooth (Rx/Tx) is supported as well, so you can use R5 as a wireless BT DAC.
Just like its big brother, expect a fully open Android 8.1 OS with Google Play store and Direct Transport Architecture with Android SRC (sample rate conversion) bypass to support all lossy and lossless formats (up to DSD256). With a dual channel WiFi and Google Play, you are not limited to internal storage playback, and can stream using any of the popular apps. And for internal playback, you can download any app you desire, or use already pre-installed HibyMusic which is a very capable audio player.