Hiby R5

Sound analysis.

I analyzed R5 sound with U18t while playing a variety of my favorite test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ariana Grande “Break up with your girlfriend”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Robin Schultz “Oh child”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”.  Prior to staring my sound analysis, I let R5 play in a loop for 4-5 days.

R5 DAP has a more neutral natural tonality.  The sound has good dynamics, with a decent vertical expansion of the peaks and a good layering and separation of sounds, though don’t expect too much airiness between layers.  It’s not on the same level as some high-end flagships, but the performance is solid.

Thanks to a black background, the transient response of notes on/off has a clean transition, and I was also very pleased to hear no hissing (or just a very minimum) with a number of sensitive low impedance IEMs.  Considering its high output power, R5 was tuned to keep the hissing low even in high gain on 4.4mm BAL output.

The soundstage has a little more intimacy because I hear the sound being more spacious in depth (more out of your head feeling) rather than width.   Soundstage width is above average, just not as wide as in some other DAPs.  But that doesn’t stop R5 from having accurate imaging with a good precision in placement of instruments and vocals.

3.5mm vs 4.4mm output.

The change in the sound going from SE to BAL is not too drastic.  Besides the obvious difference in power where I have to raise the volume up with 3.5mm to match the same level with 4.4mm, I do hear BAL (4.4mm) to have a little more transparency (3.5mm is a little warmer in comparison) and to be a touch wider in soundstage.



Using 64 Audio U18t as my IEMs, I volume matched in each comparison and noted the following changes while testing each DAP pair.  Please keep in mind, I’m describing the sound relative to U18t.

R5 (4.4mm) vs FiiO M11 (4.4mm) – Didn’t know what to expect in this comparison, considering these should be in the same price and performance category.  To my HUGE surprise, they sound very close.  From nearly the same soundstage expansion in both width and depth, to a very similar dynamics expansion and layering of the sounds.  Even tonality is nearly the same.  The only giveaway when doing A/B comparison was when I pause/idle, I can hear M11 slight hissing while R5 was nearly dead quiet.  While M11 has a bigger display and dual micro SD (though with high capacity flash card, that’s no longer relevant), R5 is smaller, lighter, more compact, hiss-free with sensitive IEMs, has Google Play (while M11 doesn’t), and even cheaper in price, while sounding nearly the same.

R5 (4.4mm) vs Cayin N5iiS (2.5mm) – Both have a similar soundstage expansion in depth, with N5iiS being just a touch wider.  Also, have a similar technical performance, though I do hear N5iiS having some improvement in dynamics and layering of the sound, with a little more air between the layers.  The overall tonality is very similar, especially in mids where it’s nearly identical, but with bass N5iiS has a little more slam, especially in mid-bass.  Also, N5iiS treble is just a little brighter, crisper.  Overall, both are compact DAPs, but R5 has fully open Android and a much faster interface, while N5iiS has a more high-res fun tuning.

R5 (4.4mm) vs Shanling M5s (2.5mm) – Starting with a soundstage, these are very similar, just with M5s having a touch more width, while depth is the same.  Technical performance is also very similar when it comes to vertical dynamics of the sound expansion, along with layering and separation of the sounds.  But the difference in tonality is quite noticeable.  M5s has a warm tonality with a sound being more colored while in comparison R5 is more neutral and more transparent.  Also, relative to using U18t in sound analysis, M5s has more bass slam, with both sub-bass and mid-bass being more elevated in comparison to a more neutral R5.  Of course, in general, R5 is Android based with Google play and access to apps, while M5s is lacking all that.

R5 (4.4mm) vs theBit Opus#1S (2.5mm) – Starting with a soundstage, these are very similar, though I do hear #1S having a touch more width, while depth is the same.  Technical performance is also very close, I hear a similar vertical dynamics expansion, and a similar layering and separation of the sound.  The tonality is where I hear some difference, but relatively to U18t, most of the difference is in mids/vocals where #1S sounds brighter and dryer, not as refined, while R5 has a richer, more natural tonality.  I was curious about this comparison because both use a dual CS43198 DAC.  While there are similarities in sound, I find R5 mids to be more refined and more natural.  Plus, R5 is a fully open Android DAP with Google Play access.

R5 (4.4mm) vs Hiby R6Pro (4.4mm) – Last, but not least, is R5 big brother – R6Pro.  Starting with a soundstage, while R5 is above average in width and deepth, R6Pro soundstage stretches even wider when comparing their balanced outputs.  Both have a similar quality imaging.  In terms of a technical performance, R6Pro has an edge, as it should, with the sound being more dynamic and layered, but R5 is not too far behind.  In tonality, I hear a difference with R6Pro having a little more impact in bass, slamming a little harder while both have a fast and articulate low end response.  Mids sounds brighter and more revealing in R6Pro while R5 mids are smoother and a little more musical. Treble response is nearly the same.  In terms of technical performance, R6Pro still has the upper flagship hand, but at nearly half the price, smaller, and lighter R5 has a very decent mid-fi level performance and also nearly dead quiet balanced output while R6Pro has some hissing with sensitive low impedance iems.

Page 3 – Pair up, Wired/wireless connection, and Conclusion.

8 thoughts on “Hiby R5

  1. Hi, I bought a R5 and iBasso IEMs based on your excellent reviews. I am really enjoying the the combination. I am a neophyte and have a question. I bought an iBasso CA02 adapter because I Ineeded a 4.4mm termination for the R5. However, get no sound from the R5 using the balanced jack. I set the R5’s outputs to both “line out” and “phono out”, but no joy. Am I missing something?
    Thanks a lot!


    1. Definitely not missing anything. I assume you pushed it all the way in? Sometimes you think it’s in, but turns out not to be pushed all the way. And the same with your 2.5mm cable plug, pushed all the way in? I assume the bundled 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter that comes with ibasso (IT01s or IT04?) working OK plugged into 3.5mm jack, and nothing is wrong with a cable. So, if everything else is working and all plugged in firmly, your adapter must be defective. Ask for replacement, ibasso is good with support.


  2. which one would you recommend, R5 or R6 or R6 Pro?
    for the price may have little difference in some areas that both R6 and R6 Pro are on sales, but their larger size seems less convenient than R5
    is R5 equipped with bluetooth 5.0? do you find any difference for bluetooth 4.2 vs 5.0? as I need that to pair with bluetooth adaptor or earphones


    1. In terms of BT 5.0 vs 4.2, there is no difference with headphones I’m using. There could be some with the latest headphones, but still, sound should be similar. R6 has high output impedance, so I would skip it. Then, decide which sound sig you prefer, more revealing brighter R6Pro or smoother R5. Then, consider the size difference, which also going to affect display size. And see how much power you need, since R5 is better for iems and less demanding full size, while R6Pro will have more power for demanding headphones.


      1. Thanks for your advice!
        Have to look for sites with demo to explore on the sound signature.

        You have reminded me on the issue of screen display size, hmm..


  3. Twister,
    you mentioned that R5 is not on the same level as some high-end flagships.
    I read your comparison: R5 to Fiio M11 and Dethonray DTR1 to Fiio M11. If I got the impression that R5 sounds similar to M11 (even a tad better on few aspects), while DTR1 is seems little bit better than M11. Can I say that R5 is not too far from DTR1 while DTR1 sounds like flagship; with very limited features being a pure DAP only?


    1. It’s a little tricky because it will depend on which earphone or headphone you are pairing it with. R5 is better for iems, dtr1 is a killer with full size demanding headphones and less sensitive iems. So, I would get dtr1 in addition to R5, not instead of it.


      1. Thanks… for mobility with common IEM it seems R5 seems better choice for then… the sale price really draw my interest


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s