Hiby R8

Comparison.

In this test, I was using Meze Audio Empyrean and EE Odin to listen/compare DAPs. Each of these DAPs, besides a difference in tonality and pair up synergy, has their own Pros/Cons when it comes to features, all of which should be taken into consideration depending on your priorities if you need streaming or not, which balanced termination you prefer, how much output power do you need, battery, etc.

R8 vs iBasso MAX – I recently compared these two in my MAX review, but afterwards I put another 50+ hrs of playback time on R8 while running battery tests, thus any changes between these impressions are due to additional burn in time. R8 has a wide/deep soundstage expansion, but MAX is still a little wider. Bass response is very similar, once the turbo mode of R8 is enabled, perhaps with MAX being just a little faster in attack. Mids tonality is very similar too, though MAX has just a touch fuller body while R8 is a little more transparent and slightly more revealing. I hear treble to be similar as well. The vertical sound dynamics is close too, with MAX being a little more expanded in comparison to R8. If you are going to focus on sound performance alone, these are close enough in sound tonality with MAX having some advantage in technical performance. MAX also handles “quieter” very sensitive IEMs. But the gap widens by a lot when you compare Android performance where R8 is ahead by a noticeable margin (OS speed and Wifi/BT performance). Also, another advantage is R8 having dedicated hw playback buttons.

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R8 vs Lotoo PAW Gold Touch (LPGT) – In this comparison soundstage expansion is very similar, with both width and depth being close. Also, vertical dynamics expansion is close enough, thus both share a similar technical performance. But I do hear difference in tonality. The bass response of LPGT is softer, especially in mid-bass when compared to R8 which has a faster punch with IEMs/headphones I used in this comparison. Mids are very similar, being more transparent and closer to reference (more revealing) quality. With treble, again, I hear the difference where LPGT has a little brighter sparkle while R8 “sparkle” is a little smoother and more natural. So, for example, Odin mids with LPGT sounds more forward while with R8 the overall sound is more balanced. Of course, have to keep in mind, R8 is an open Android DAP while LPGT is audio playback only device.

R8 vs Sony WM1Z – A lot of similarities in this comparison. Both have a very similar soundstage expansion, perhaps with R8 being just a touch wider. And overall technical performance is very similar when it comes to dynamics and layering of the sounds. Bass rendering is slightly different in this comparison where 1Z has additional sub-bass weight with a slower mids-bass, while R8 bass has faster and more articulate punch. Mids/vocals presentation and tonality are similar when A/B comparing with the same pair of IEMs/headphones. Treble is similar as well; I just hear a little more sparkle/air in R8. And again, keep in mind that R8 is an open Android DAP while WM1Z is audio playback only. One interesting observation, after handling R8 and MAX, WM1Z no longer feels heavy.

R8 vs A&K SP2000 SS – Relative to IEMs/headphones used in comparison, I hear a very similar soundstage expansion, maybe with SP2k being just a little bit wider. Also, similar to MAX, the technical performance is close enough, but SP2k still has an edge when it comes to vertical dynamics and sound layering. They are close, but SP2k is a little better. With lows, both have a fast and articulate bass response, though R8 has a little stronger punch and a bit more sub-bass rumble. Mids are very similar, being closer to natural reference quality, with SP2k being a little brighter and dryer. I also hear similarities in treble, perhaps with SP2k being a touch brighter while R8 being a little more natural and smoother. Relative to their OS performance, R8 pulls ahead with a fully open and faster Android OS where you don’t have any limitation which app you can install.

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R8 vs R6 Pro – Last, but not least, I had a few people asking me how does R8 compares to its little brother R6 Pro. Of course, they are in a different category, but I’m sure some would like to know while considering the upgrade. Relative to full size headphones and IEMs, when going from R6 Pro to R8 (turbo on) I do hear a wider more expanded holographic soundstage and improvement in vertical dynamics where you can hear more air between the layers of the sound in R8. The extra voltage boost does make a difference in improvement of technical performance, while tonality difference is not exactly night and day. There are other subtle differences, for example, with R8 bass sounds more textured with dynamic drivers, noticeable in full size headphones and hybrid IEMs with DD bass. Also, a much faster Android performance (R8 has AnTuTu score 3x higher than R6Pro), more premium build quality, balanced Line Out, etc.

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Other Wired/Wireless connections.

In this section of the review I will go over various wired and wireless connections I tested and verified with R8.

Digital usb-c out

Here, it is an easy plug’n’play functionality with everything working as is. First, I used Lotoo S1 and it was recognized without a problem. I was able to control the volume from S1 and R8. The sound was a typical S1 signature with a fuller body more natural tonality. Then, I connected micro iDSD BL which got recognized without a problem using a cheap USB-C OTG adapter. Volume can be controlled both from iDSD and R8. The sound is a typical iDSD sig with a more natural musical tonality.

Coax out

With a provided micro USB to coax cable, you just plug it in, connect, and it works as is. I was using micro iDSD BL and everything was recognized without a problem. Actually, the sound was much better with Coax vs Digital out, having a wider soundstage, better dynamics, and even improved retrieval of details.

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Line Out

This connection was tested with Romi Audio BX2 amplifier. Looks like Line Out output of R8 is not fixed, and you do need to adjust R8 volume to raise the “pre-gain” input level going into BX2. BX2 tonality is super transparent, and as I result, I can hear R8 DAC output (LO) being a little more revealing and a touch brighter in tonality. This suggests that R8 own internal amp adds a little more body to the sound, but still not a lot of coloring. Also, with R8 + BX2 the output has a super black background, even with ultra-sensitive IEMs. This is an ULTIMATE desktop quality setup which can drive even my most demanding oBravo HAM Signature headphones (full size hybrid 40mm AMT + 57mm DD) to its full potential.

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USB DAC

Using my ThinkPad T480s w/Win10Pro, I didn’t have to install any drivers, R8 was recognized right away. If you are still on Win7/XP, Hiby will provides drivers to support it. While connected, volume can be adjusted either from my laptop or from R8. Also, USB DAC screen on R8 has shortcut to access Audio Settings so you can change the digital filter, turbo mode on/off, gain change, and enable MSEB dsp effects while using R8 as USB DAC. Also, you have shortcut to Bluetooth to pair up with R8 wireless while it is connected as USB DAC. This can give your laptop the ability to use high res wireless codecs through R8, such as aptX, LDAC, or UAT. Regarding the sound quality, as USB DAC or directly from R8, it sounds very similar when playing the same song with the same pair of IEMs or headphones.

Bluetooth Wireless

I was able to connect easily with any wireless pair of earphones and headphones I have access to. Highest supported codec was always selected by default. The connection was good over 50ft away from R8 in open area, and I was able to control playback from wireless earphones/headphones. This was also a great opportunity to test Hiby latest WH3 TWS earphones. Solid connection at 55ft away from R8, remote playback control is effortless, and I was using HibyBlue app loaded on R8 to adjust crossover in order to fine tune the WH3 sound.

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Conclusion.

I mentioned a few times in the intro of the review about R8 being able to tick all the boxes. Of course, we all have different requirements with different set of “boxes” to “tick”. Some want the best audio performance, while others willing to compromise in favor of faster system performance. Some want a source optimized for IEMs, while others desire power for full size more demanding headphones. Some want a bigger display, while others prefer optimized WiFi/BT performance. Some care about local files audio playback, while others need reliable streaming and Google Play support out of the box. It is hard to make everybody happy, to have one device to satisfy all the needs, but Hiby did push the envelope with R8 to get closer without cutting too many corners.

Hiby R8 is super-fast, and not just per my subjective option, but based on benchmark scores of being the fastest Android DAP at the current moment. It can handle not just IEMs but also some demanding headphones using its turbo-charged (literally) balanced output which can deliver up to 1W of power. It runs optimized Android 9 OS, has system wide MSEB dsp effects, supports DSD512, future proofed with MQA 16x, has a solid WiFi and hi-res BT. It is designed with high quality audio components, has a big display, solid build, and very unique packaging and accessories. In my opinion, R8 did not earn its flagship status just because it is the most expensive DAP in Hiby’s lineup. I see it as a flagship because it can challenge other big-name summit-fi audio players.

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.

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  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?

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    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.

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      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.

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  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.

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  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.

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    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.

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      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.

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      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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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    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.

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      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.

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      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.

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  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?

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    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.

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  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 🙂

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    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.

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    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.

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  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.

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  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

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  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.

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    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.

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  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.

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    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! 😀

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  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.

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  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.

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