Hiby R8

Design.

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.

hiby-r8-31

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.

hiby-r8-34

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.

hiby-r8-33

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.

hiby-r8-32

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.

hiby-r8-18

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.

hiby-r8-19

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.

hiby-r8-20

Page 3 – Sound Analysis and Pair up.
Page 4 – Comparison, Wired/wireless connection, and Conclusion.

44 thoughts on “Hiby R8

      1. I think the pros are that both are neutral. The R8 pro is price . They both have speedy operating systems. The pro of the LPGT is that I think it is better with sensitive IEMs.

        Maybe the deciding factor is customer service of the respective companies. Maybe that is not a factor since they are sold by the same vendor,, Musicteck.

        I am not buying until November.

        Like

  1. Hi Alex,

    I’m currently using sp2000cu with elysium,odin and anole vx. I cant forget how good my wm1z but i am using tidal most of the time so I am looking for a warm dap with technicalities like wm1z. Is hiby r8 the right choice? Any other suggestions?

    Like

    1. R8 is not warm, more neutral and natural. For Tidal and steaming or running any other app R8 would be one of the best choices. And you can use its MSEB effects to fine tune the tonality.

      Like

      1. LP6k is warmer, smoother, with more elevated low end response, but technically (soundstage, dynamics, layering of sounds) R8 is on a higher level, similar to LPGT as I mentioned in the review, the same way how LPGT is technically superior to LP6k.

        Like

  2. For those of you coming from higher end dap’s this is not for you. However I’ve seen a number of posts where people were asking would it be worth doing this coming from for example the I Basso DX 160. I had the I Basso DX 160 and I loved it. Awesome sound for the price. However there were limitations especially with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance. Unfortunately for me I dropped it not from that high of a table onto a tile floor but it became unusable. So I really wanted the R8 for the 4G. So I was a little disappointed when that version was not available. Still as Twister said it checks all the other boxes so I pulled the trigger and I received it today. So obviously no 200 hours burn in time. I also have no experience with other Higher end dap’s. However I have also heard the FiiO X7 Mark II and the PLENUE R. Even after just a few hours I can easily tell you this player is heads and shoulders above those. If you’re coming from those types of players this gives you that Wow factor. Now I know it costs 4 to 5 times more money than those players. And no it’s not 5 times better. But it is twice as good. And I’m just talking about the sound right off the bat. When you add in the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which are equal to a smart phone it knocks it out the park. So if you’re on the fence jump over it. I will do a more extensive review of it later. Just want to give a big shout out to you Twister, you give us the knowledge we need to make good decisions thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Alex,

    Just tell me Hiby r8 is closer to tonality in Wm1z and let me buy it 🙂 , or else I will straight away buy the wm1z and leave the streaming be or use it as a dac live streaming with pc. Damn I can’t forget how good wm1z was.

    Like

    1. It will be closer, but of course, everything is pair up dependent. For example, I just did a/b comparison of WM1Z and R8 using EE Odin. With Turbo on, Odin sounds brighter and more revealing, but with Turbo off it is smoother, warmer and closer to pair up with WM1Z. Plus, keep in mind, R8 advantage is not only streaming and fast android performance. Sony DAPs are under powered, so you will also have the advantage of being able to drive more demanding headphones when using R8.

      Like

      1. I’m confused. I thought the R8 was neutral and that would make it pair great with Phantom. I always hear the WM1Z is awful with Phantom.

        Like

      2. nothing is 100% neutral. They are centered around neutral with variations toward warmer or brighter. And it will always depend on pair up and other factors, like Turbo more here with extra output voltage. That’s why I tried to brake it down in my Pair up analysis. Thus, for example, Odin will sound a little different with turbo on and off.

        Like

  4. I feel Odin is too much in your face compared to Ely or Anole with sp2000cu and hugo2. More or less we have the same iems. I decided to give R8 a try. Though 90% of my iems and cables are 2.5mm terminated. The 4.4 adapter is huge.

    Like

  5. Hope sp3000 will be 4.4 then I will replace all my cables once and for all. I already ordered the Cayin PH-4X adapter. Since it’s very short I hope it will have no effect on the tone.

    Like

  6. One more question. With an IEM like the Phantom that has thick mids, is the R8 mids transparent enough that it will not add to the thickness? I think the answer is yes, but want to confirm. The R8 is in my cart at Musicteck, but I want to be sure before I hit checkout.

    Like

    1. Mark, it is hard to tell, bud. Not sure if anybody will reply to your question in R8 thread, I have seen you posted it there as well. Without actual testing it will be only a speculation. I have seen in some iems switching to Turbo creates more transparent sound. But Phantom hisses, right? And that could make hissing a little stronger if you are listening to classical and other instrumental music.

      Like

      1. So maybe I should go with the LPGT. I am pretty sure is is quiet based on your and other reviews. It also floats to my top two every time I narrow down the choice.

        I will just have to wait until Black Friday or December so I can save more versus buying the R8 now.

        Like

      2. I read in your review comparison with the LPGT the following:

        “Mids are very similar, being more transparent and closer to reference (more revealing) quality. ”

        If that is the case, the R8 should pair with the Phantom just fine.

        Like

  7. Hi Alex,

    R8 is already on the way, thanks for the help but still I can’t forget how lovely wm1z was, what do you say for wm1z vs n8? Wondering the warmth of those tubes as well vs the warmth of Sony. Also I’m pretty sure you had your hands on the new n3pro. Is it a viable alternative or nothing close to N8 and Wm1z?

    Like

    1. My best suggestion to you since R8 is on its way, stop driving yourself crazy, wait for your new toy, and enjoy it with your favorite iems and headphones. Yes, I have N3 Pro, will be working on the review next, but like I said – you will drive yourself crazy with second guessing or buyers remorse because every few months there is a new release. Also, keep in mind, Andy (Cayin rep) mentioned a few months ago that Cayin might be working on a portable tube amp, so hopefully that will be a future option to “warm up” the sound of a solid dap.

      Like

  8. Yeah I will enjoy R8 very much but still I have one more bullet to shoot, do you think n8 is worth the extra premium for the tube sound or n3pro is more or less closer to n8 with a very good price. Just help me one more time and let me complete my final purchase in peace 🙂

    Like

    1. I only had N8 for a month 2 years ago when I wrote the review. I don’t even remember how it sounds, and the reason why it was never mentioned in any of my latest reviews since I can’t compare it by memory 😦 Tbh, N3 Pro tube output is really good, has a very detailed dynamic sound and smooth tonality, it’s Solid State output is just ok, but tube output is better. There are portable tube amps that cost more than N3 Pro itself. So you can enjoy R8 and treat yourself to N3 Pro when you don’t need streaming or don’t need a very powerful output or don’t move around too much (keep in mind, when you shake N3 Pro, tubes have some ringing). And also, it is always about the synergy where some iems will pair up great with one DAP vs the other.

      Like

    1. bud, you have a lot of questions not related to R8 here 😉 Can you ping me on FB in a messenger or on Head-fi in PM instead? Just don’t want to go off topic since this is R8 review comments.

      Like

  9. Hi Alex,

    Got my R8 and something seems to be off, it seems like it plays the music at 1.25x speed and the vocals seem to be out of phase, very tiny like the chipmunks are singing all the songs.

    Like

  10. Hi Ilker

    Sorry you’re having problems. So far been lucky absolutely nothing wrong with my R8. What is the source that you’re using are you using a micro card or are you streaming? If you’re getting it from both streaming and your micro card then you might have an issue with your unit. But make sure you’re getting it from both sources. It might just be a micro card they can go bad really quickly. Hope your issue gets resolved quickly so you can enjoy your unit

    Like

  11. Hi Raymond,

    Tried internal storage and tidal both. Seems like there is some fr filter or some digitizer applied. Might be a broken cap or something. Tuning is very much off, it’s like a higher octave tuned guitar.

    Like

    1. hang on, broken hardware like a shorted cap will smoke your DAP, it’s not going to play audio at faster speed or change the pitch of the sound. Do a full factory reset and then update fw to 1.2 through OTA.

      Like

  12. Did factory reset from android settings, 1.20 was already installed, still the same , it is very annoying, Freddy Mercury sounds like Alvin Simon, Theodore :))) It’s as if there is no decay in the sound, notes come and go very fast no decay. Gods are cursing me for trying to doubt if Sp2000k is the best.

    Like

    1. Have you tried to download another app to test playback or maybe free Spotify? Curios if this is only these two apps. Tried with wifi and Bluetooth off, for local playback? Never heard anything like this before, pitched up playback? Holy crap! You hit the jackpot! 😀

      Like

  13. For local didn’t try with wifi off, bluetooth was always off anyways, tired Spotify its same and I am very sure its a software problem and may gods burn me if I use anything other than ak or Sony from now on. I already texted Andrew also lets see what Hiby has to say. Tried all the dac filters nothing changes.

    Like

  14. It applies some stupid upsampling or something, 48khz doesn’t have the issue, 44,1khz and multiples up to 705.6 kHz have the pitch shift. YouTube is 48khz. no issues, Spotify is 44.1 kHz with same issue. I don’t know how to fix this.

    Like

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