Hiby R8 is a BIG dap, but unlike MAX I recently reviewed, R8 still falls into portable category. With dimensions of 143mm x 81mm x 20mm and weighting at 426g (466g with a case), R8 is almost the same weight as SP2000 SS, just a little bit thicker and taller in size. On the other hand, while MAX is thicker and a little bit taller than R8, with a weight of 700g it is considered to be transportable. I think what keeps R8 in a portable category is not necessary its size, but its weight, right at the borderline along with SP2k SS/CU and WM1Z DAPs.
While the chassis around the top, bottom, and sides are aluminum alloy black, the front and the back are glass. The focus of R8 front is a big 5.5” IPS 1080p HD display. While a film screen protector is already applied, and a bonus one included with accessories, the glass itself is 5th gen corning gorilla, so we are talking about a scratch resistant high-end glass display. The touch screen supports multi-finger gesture and my favorite – double-tap to wake up the display.
While it is a basic rectangular shape DAP with a glass touch screen dominating the front, Hiby tried to add custom design touches to give it some personality. The sides have an angular facet cut so it is not flat, and even with a leather case on you can still feel the unique shape of the sides. There, on the left side you will find a tray for micro SD card (up to 2TB) which you open by using a provided pinhole-push tool to eject the tray, a mechanism typical of smartphones and the same as in R5 and R6 Pro. With leather case on, micro SD card is covered. The 4G LTE model will have sim card tray next to micro SD as well.
On the right side, you have evenly spaced power button at the top (long press for power on/off with on-screen confirmation, short-press for screen on/off), LED multi-functional status light, and Play/Pause and Skip buttons. All buttons have a nice tactile response. Power button is a little bigger, while playback buttons are narrower, but still big enough and spaced far apart to press without worrying of hitting button next to it. Buttons have a very interesting angled design to complement the shape of R8 chassis with one side sticking up a little bit higher.
The LED light is RGB and indicates not just when power is on (pale blue) or when charging (pulsating red, with faster pulsating when quick charging and slower pulsating for regular charging), but also format of the audio playback with blue (48kHz and under), green (64k-192kHz), orange (over 192kHz), and white (DSD files). At the top in the upper right corner you have Alps digital encoder volume knob with a diamond cut pattern around it for a secure grip when turning, click action as you turn it, and guards on each side to keep the knob recessed with a top edge of the DAP. With leather case on, the top of the volume knob also gets covered.
At the bottom you have 4.4mm BAL (0.8ohm, 5.9Vrms, 1088mW @32ohm) and 3.5mm SE (0.4ohm, 3.1Vrms, 300mW @32ohm) headphone ports to the left, and 4.4mm BAL and 3.5mm SE Line Out ports to the right. Each port has a dedicated functionality without a need to switch between HO/LO. In the middle at the bottom you have USB-C multi-function port for charging, data transfer, USB DAC in and Digital Out, and also Coax Out with included custom cable. This USB port is reinforced with a gold-plated framing around the inner edges.
Under the hood.
R8 packs a lot of goodies inside under the hood. To start off, it features a fast Snapdragon 660 SoC 8-core processor running at max 2.2GHz clock rate, with 8x Qualcomm Kryo 260 Gold/Silver architecture and Adreno 512 GPU. The non-SIM version I receive comes with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 64GB internal storage, and micro SD card expansion up to 2TB. The SIM card 4G LTE version of R8 has more RAM and double the storage required to accommodate more advance functionality of that SS version of the DAP.
The spec looks very impressive, considering my 2yr old Galaxy S9, which I find to be pretty fast, has Snapdragon 845 and both have similar CPU benchmark scores. My Galaxy phone just has a more powerful GPU, but overall, I find R8 to be even faster and more responsive than my Galaxy S9 because R8 Android 9 OS is more optimized without all the junk running in the background like on my phone. Oh, and to put it into a better perspective, AnTuTu 3D benchmark overall score for Hiby R8 was almost 75% higher than FiiO M15, and 3x higher than its R6 Pro little brother.
In the audio-heart of the device you will find two AKM AK4497 DACs, which enable support of all common and popular lossy and lossless file formats, up to 32bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512. Plus, R8 supports MQA hardware rendering up to 16x to future proof the DAP for use with hi-res Tidal masters whenever those become available. I’m a little surprised Hiby didn’t go for the latest AK4499 DAC, but nevertheless, 4497 is still a very powerful flagship quality DAC. Plus, you have other top-grade components, including audiophile quality OPA1612 and OPA1622 opamps, MUSES8920 opamps, and even some custom OP02 opamps (per Hiby’s own spec). Furthermore, it has dozens of audiophile quality capacitors, including 4 ELNA SILMIC II 47uF large audio capacitors.
As already mentioned, R8 features a big 5.5” IPS display with a 5th gen corning gorilla glass. It’s a beautiful 1080p HD display with 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and 400ppi high resolution pixel density – definitely a high-end display spec. Plus, it features oleophobic coating, and implements a sensor under the display to detect double-tapping to wake up the screen. It is a great feature where you turn the display on by double-tapping on it, so you don’t have to constantly look to press power button.
Other listed features are dual-band WiFi with a support of 2.4GHz and 5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 with a support of all hi-res codecs, including aptX HD, LDAC, and UAT, two-way Bluetooth to pair up with wireless headphones/speakers and to be able to pair up with your smartphone as a receiver to function like a wireless BT DAC/amp. Also, as already mentioned, USB-C port is multi-functional for charging, data copying, USB DAC functionality, Digital out, and SPDIF output to bring out Coax signal with the included custom cable.
And speaking of charging, R8 features a big custom 38Wh battery, 10000mAh/3.8V, and support of Quick Charging QC4.0 standard. I was definitely able to notice a lot faster charging while using my laptop USB-C PD charger. The internal ckt is partitioned and independently filtered into 4 power supply sections for Digital, DAC, Pre-amp, and Amplifier circuits. Plus, you have a separate control to enable Turbo Mode which boosts the voltage of amplifier power rail, enabling the output of over 1W from the balanced headphone port. In my battery test with the best-case scenario using average sensitivity IEMs in med gain from BAL output with WiFi/BT off, and display mostly off while paying a mix of mp3/flac files, I was able to get 11hr 40min of playback time with Turbo boost on and 12hr 40min with Turbo boost off. Of course, once you enable Wifi/BT, spend more time navigating display, and use more demanding headphones at higher volume level, the time will go down.
OS / GUI.
I usually spend a little too much time talking about details of GUI, while here we are dealing with a popular HibyMusic app which many are already familiar with. Thus, no need to repeat myself. All Hiby Android DAPs come preloaded with HibyMusic app, regular version of which you can download and install on any smartphone or tablet device for free. Of course, being the open Android DAP with preinstalled Google Play, you can also install any app as long as you can find it in Play store. Though, you have to be aware that some devices or geographic locations have limitations set by Google of what you can download and install. If you ran into such problem, you can always use APKPure to download and sideload apps.
But there are some exception. For example, Netflix was not available when I searched Google Play (US) from R8. Then, I found and installed a version from APKPure, but it still failed to start due to device access error. Otherwise, I had no issues downloading and installing Qobuz, YouTube, and found no issues on Google Play to be able to locate Spotify, Tidal, Amazon HD, etc. Actually, the HibyMusic which comes pre-installed with R8 is not just a regular free version, but their Professional Edition version.
Relative to Android Settings, straight from the pulldown Notification bar you have access to Audio Settings menu shortcut where you can change Digital Filter (7 filter types), Enable/Disable Turbo mode (to boost amplifier voltage), change the Gain (Low, Middle, High), Select plugins (those have to be downloaded), access global MSEB (MageSound 8-ball DSP sound effects – very effective for sound shaping), select DSD gain compensation, Channel balance adjustment, and Max volume cap setting. All these settings are system wide and should work with any audio application. Meaning, for example, you can apply MSEB dsp sound effects to any audio app.
There are a few other interesting things which some might not be familiar with. For example, under Battery setting there is Idle Shutdown feature where you can set a timeout to shut down the DAP after idling for predefined period of time. Hiby has it in their other Android DAPs as well, but not everybody remembers to enable it which comes in handy when we treat the DAP like a smartphone and forget to turn it off. Also, when you long press the Power button, you have option for Power Off, Restart, or to take a Screenshot which some might find useful as well.