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.

hiby-r5-29

Comparison.

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.

44 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!

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    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.

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      1. May I ask how does R5 compare with X5iii(line out) only? I mean I use X5iii with Fiio A5 so is the X5iii(line out+amp) as good as a standalone R5?

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  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

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    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.

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      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..

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  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?

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    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.

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

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  4. Hi there, which iem / cable would you match up with the R5 for classical music to provide depth, clarity but keeping some warmth? Someone else recommend the DX160 & Oriveti OH500 or 300 but I the combination is a bit our of my budget. As the R5 is cheap currently I thought getting a decent IEM & cable to improve the sound would be a better move. Would appreciate your thoughts, thanks.

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  5. Thanks for a great review. I’ve only recently located this review site and very much appreciate the quality of these reviews. They’re incredibly helpful for those new to the DAP/IEM hobby! Keep up the great work! The R5 appears to spell great value for my application at $299. I’ve been concerned about the inability to access Google Play, etc. and just wanted to make certain that the R5 has the ability to install “Tidal” before I purchase one. Thanks in advance for your response.

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      1. Thank you. I guess I can “stream” as well? Last question – any thoughts on vendors, MusicTek or direct from Hiby? I’ve never purchased from either and am worried about customer service but am also concerned with speed of delivery – I’d like to have it soon!

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      2. If you are in US contact Musicteck for availability, they are Hiby’s official US distributor. Very well known and highly respected retailer.

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  6. I see that you have used R5 LO with Fiio E12A amp? Did this improve the sound a lot and definitely a clear improvement over R5 Sound? I’m satisfied with the way R5 sounds and volume is also good, I’m just thinking would an amp would improve clarity and vocals on my HD650 ? Thank you

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  7. Well done Twister. As I sit and listen to my R5 4.4 Balanced Out with KZ IEM’s, I can wholeheartedly say “yes”. Spot on. The R5is a fantastic little DAP that outperforms more expensive brethren. I have done some comparisons and find at the current”sale” price at MusicTek, a resounding YES. To not purchase this DAP at that price would nothing less than foolish. I do not need to power huge planars, only be happy with intimate IEM’s. Thank you…

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  8. Yes Tidal is surely a good thing supporting MQA playback, Amazon HD and Pandora too. I’m subscribed to all 3 and just cannot drop any.

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  9. By the way Twister… I have the urge to use my new iFi Hip DAC/Amp with the R5 DAP.
    My question is that being too redundant or can it be effective? Not even the DAC so much (Burr Brown candy) but the additional amp power to utilize harder to drive headphones such as The Hifiman Planar Magnetic (so fine) HE4XX? What’s your take on this please?

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    1. Not familiar with Hip, but my gut feeling it would be redundant since it was designed to be used with laptop or a smart phone instead of another dap. Micro iDSD is a different story, but I was under impressions Hip was for portable use, like you would use R5 as your USB dac.

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      1. Hip DAC is just a newer product from IFI. Similar to IFI’s Micro iDSD or xDSD. Thank you anyway. I intend to try using the amp portion only from the HIP DAC for driving harder to use full size headphones. Thank you so much Twister and please Stay Well!

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      2. You can’t use ifi hip dac only as an amp. You can only connect via USB ….it will act as dac amp .

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    1. No. It does not . Unless u wanna use hip dac as a dac and amp , and double decode to analog. You can use ifi xcan amp with R5. If you want bass boost options and more power 💪 from R5.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok it’s all figured out. I understand. So just let me as a new age question. R5 DAP or Note 9 and ifi hip DAC? Your thoughts and opinion please.

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    1. Ya Hip Dac Will work with R5 through USB. You are using R5 just as a digital pass-through and all decoding and amping are done in ifi hip DAC. R5 is redundant and ur not using anything in R5 Other than as a digital source.

      R5 as a dap is better than “Note 9+ Hip Dac” in terms of convenience and sound quality too. You can also send audio via Bluetooth to R5 from Note9 and completely use ur Note 9 for media consumption.

      If you have R5, there’s no reason to have Hip Dac. Unless you want to experience Burr brown dac and amp from ifi hip Dac. But In terms of sound quality, R5 is superior, in detail, clarity, and overall separation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great explanation! Thank you Lenin. Although these questions are probably asked all the time, you took the time to explain this in a very straightforward way. I do have both R3 and hip dac. I will be using each device separately to enjoy sound signatures from different headphones and sources. Again, as a lover of all things audio, I thank you!

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  10. I own R5 since September and I like it, but I’d like a better sound.
    I’d like to improve body sound and better performances at all.
    I thought Cayin N6ii T01 would be a good choice or A&K SA700, I prefer open android Dap and with good drive, even better than R5 (I know it is not easy).
    Can you suggest me some products?

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    1. no familiar with SA700. But I have reviewed N6ii with all of its dac/amp cards in separate reviews. Please look it up on my site, it will give you more details.

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  11. I’m looking for a player that can support over 50,000 songs (Sony NW-40 tapped out at 50,000 even though I have more songs than then that on the SD card). What is the limit on either the R5 or R6. I saw that the R3 had a limit of 20,000. If not these, can you suggest one with a high or limitless song list (only limited by storage space). I want to put my entire library on a unit and I’m over 50,000 songs and growing.

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    1. Just got this answer straight from Hiby. When it comes to scanning/indexing songs, R3 Pro has limit of 15k because it’s not android DAP. But R5 and R6 Pro don’t have a song limit due to these being Android daps, running HibyMusic app (the same way as you would on your smartphone).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi I talked to Hiby they told me that the R8 Stainless steel version with 4G will not be sold in the United States anytime soon if ever. So that was the big selling point for me. So my question the aluminum version of the R8. Which will be for sale in the United States. Is it a lot better than the DX 160 or just a little bit better. Is the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth a lot better or little bit better. So trying to decide since the main selling point for me is not going to be there. So there is obviously a lot more competition now with no 4G. So would you recommend the R8 over let’s say the M15. Or one of the cheaper models of the Astell&Kern.I really like the DX 160. So I was thinking of doing the 220 Max. But it’s too big I want something that’s really portable not just transportable. So hope you get the R8 soon and look forward to a review

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    1. I already posted on FB 2+ wks ago pictures of R8 when I received it. Still have dozens of products to get to so review will take a while. R8 4G sim version only works with 4G in China, thus they are not even sending those review unit to anybody outside. And it is on the level of performance of A&K, Sony, Lotoo, Cayin high end flagships. Plus, it is the fastest Android dap available on the market, based on running benchmark tests it is a lot faster than even M15. Sound performance closer to MAX level, still need to do more testing. Keep in mind, R8 is as big as MAX, just thinner, also cost about $1.9k. It makes no sense to compare high end flagship to entry level daps. Regarding BT/Wi-Fi, Dx160 performance is not that great, you known it, their focus was more on audio quality. And MAX bt/wifi is good, but not stellar, identical to original DX220. Regarding sound comparison, I have people arguing with me all the time they hear their iPhone or SanDisk clip+ mp3 player sound better than $3k daps. So it’s all relative to people’s ears and very subjective. Plus, depends what you are planning to drive. It is easier to convince our mind that easy to drive iems sound similar on various audio players, while the real test is when you are driving more advanced hybrids/tribrids or hard to drive demanding headphones. Like, R8 has a boost Turbo mode that doubles output voltage. Just read more about it on Hiby site.

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      1. Thank you so much for your reply. Well it turns out circumstances kinda force my hand. I have had the Plenue R for a couple years now dropped at least a dozen times a couple of those were really hard drops from a good height. One little scratch that’s all it’s on the body and everything else works perfectly. The I Basso DX 160 had it on a counter it fell about 2 feet to a tile floor total loss nothing works. I couldn’t believe it. Kept trying to restart it rebooted. It’s totally dead. When I hold it I can hear parts moving around inside so it’s totally dead. So that was a deal breaker for me I love the sound of that machine as you said I probably have to spend twice the money to get the same sound. Some of the firmware was a little iffy and there were some other problems but overall I really love the machine. However the build quality was not as I expected it to be especially compared to the R. So I went ahead and pulled the trigger and ordered the R8 I’ll receive it sometime mid September. However I don’t want to just run around with a $2000 machine in my pocket all the time sometimes yes but not all the time especially if I’m doing some hard work or play. So I also on your recommendation bought the Hidizs AP 80 Pro. That should be here by the end of the week. That will keep me going till I get the new R8. So thank you so much for all of your help. It helps us amateurs to have really competent professionals like yourself to help us navigate all of the options out here. So I will definitely be letting you know what I think of both machines once I have a chance to really work with them. Thanks again be in touch soon.

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