Hiby R2, FD1, and Beans

R2 DAP

($99, https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r2)

R2 Unboxing and Accessories.

Here you get a compact cardboard box with R2 securely wedged inside, and a few essential accessories, such as USB cable for data transfer, USB DAC operation and charging.  Also, instruction manual and warranty card were included.  Plus, a wrap-around plastic translucent case to protect the back and the sides from scratches, very similar to R3 Pro stock plastic case.

Two optional case are available.  One has a similar design as a stock plastic wrap-around case which snaps on R2 and has a cutout for buttons on each side and open top and bottom.  This case has a synthetic soft leather material on outside and soft lining on inside.  Another different optional case is made of a canvas style synthetic leather material with R2 sliding from the top, buttons covered on both sides, one of the mic pinholes in the lower right corner also covered, and a small metal ring in the upper left corner available so you can clip the case to a lanyard or a bag.

R2 Design and Under the hood.

While I consider smaller DAPs like Hiby R3 Pro and original Cayin N3 to fit mini-DAP category and an even smaller Shanling M0 to be micro-DAP, R2 is sized to be somewhere in between, probably suited to fit better “mini” category with its dimensions of 61mm x 61mm x 12mm and its weight of 85g.

R2 zinc alloy shiny reflective chassis are smooth to the touch, slightly rounded around edges with a signature (like in R3/pro and R6/pro) indent at the top and the bottom, and glass front panel and backplate, both covered with film screen protector. Its 2.45” touch display with 480×360 resolution is the focus of the front panel.  The left side has volume up/down buttons, the right side has 3 playback transport (play/pause and skip) buttons, all with a nice tactile response and surprisingly unmarked.

The top has a power button with a multi-function status LED around it, typical short press to turn display on/off and long press for boot up/down.  At the bottom you will find spring loaded micro-SD card slot, the only storage option allowing up to 2TB expansion, usb-C port for charging, data transfer, USB DAC, or SPDIF out when using R2 as a digital transport, and 3.5mm headphone jack.  There are also 2 mic pinholes, one at the top and one on the right side.

The lack of marking on volume/transport buttons bothered me at first until I started playing with settings and realized it was done on purpose, and a very smart feature!!!  R2 has an option to rotate screen 180 degrees.  Some people prefer headphone jack at the top, while others want it at the bottom.  So, when you rotate the screen and R2 180deg, the orientation of volume +/- and skip next/prev automatically flips with volume up and skip prev always staying at the top.

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Inside, R2 features a single ES9218 DAC, supporting 32bit/384kHz and native DSD128, along with all the popular lossy and lossless formats such as mp3, wav, ape, flac, dsf, dff, iso, cue, wma, ogg, aac, opus, and aiff.  For Tidal users, you also get hardware MQA decoding with 4x unfold to use when streaming Tidal from a built-in app or when using it as USB DAC.  And the latest fw update added Qobuz streaming as well, just like in R3 Pro.

R3 Pro vs R2

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So, in addition to E-Book functionality and Internet radio streaming, thanks to its dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) support you can use Wifi to stream Tidal and Qobuz directly to R2.  By default, you will see Tidal shortcut, but in Setting under streaming you can select Qobuz to be displayed instead.  And once you login, you will stay logged in without a need to do it every time you start the app, a benefit since R2 still uses a painful T9 keyboard layout due to its small display.  Keep in mind, R2 is built on Unix OS, not Android, and those are special app versions for streaming only, no off-line support.  It is a cutdown version allowing you to search and browse new and current releases and access your playlists and favorite songs/albums.

Furthermore, you have Bluetooth 5.0 which works as Tx to pair up with headphones and speakers or Rx to be used as a wireless BT receiver, and supports SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC, and UAT codecs in Tx and SBC, AAC, LDAC, and UAT codecs in Rx.  I tested BT with Hiby’s own WH3 using LDAC in open space up to 40ft away without a problem.  Also, its 1000mAh battery can provided up to 15hrs of continuous playback and 20-day standby.

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3.5mm headphone output provides plenty of power for IEMs, about 70mW @ 32ohms, and can also be switched to work as Line Out.  And as already mentioned, USB can be used as DAC in, and USB Audio out (SPDIF) to use as a transport to drive external DAC/amp.  Or, for example, you can add wireless LDAC Bluetooth to your laptop if you connect R2 as USB DAC and use wireless headphones paired up with R2 – this way you can play any music on your laptop and stream it wireless to your headphones using hi-res LDAC codec.

As expected, you also get HibyLink to control R2 remotely when paired up from your smartphone.  Plus, access to MSEB sound shaping digital effects.  But one new feature, dual-mic recording is definitely interesting.  For example, you can record notes or quick reminders straight to micro-SD card.

R2 Interface.

Non-Android Hiby DAPs are Linux-based and feature their own custom HibyOS based on HibyMusic player.  I’m sure many are already familiar with this interface found in R3 Pro or even in AP80 Pro.  That is what I expected as well when I powered up R2, but instead found an all-new colorful interface which is a lot easier to navigate and more consumer friendly.

Once powered up, you are greeted with the Main screen interface displaying currently playing song and playback touch controls at the top and shortcuts to various R2 functions below it, revealing all of them when swiping display up.  In there you will find Music, which takes you to Play all or when you tap on the “note” icon it will display more colorful shortcuts to browse files by folder, album, artists, genres, or format.  You can also access your favorite tagged songs or type to search.  All the way in upper right corner the shortcut will take you to the Playback screen where you can see embedded artwork, name and format of the song, tag as favorite, touch playback controls as well as touch-scroll bar, change playback mode, and 3-dot menu to add to playlist, bring up EQ, view album, view properties, or delete the file.

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Recorder will bring up interface to record audio from the mic.  Then you have shortcut to Tidal or Qobuz, depending on what you select in Settings as default streaming app.  There is also a shortcut to read digital e-books, including being able to set bookmarks.  Another shortcut for Hiby Link, MSEB, EQ, and import music via Wifi.  You also have option to update database with all the songs.  Plus, you have shortcut to Wireless Settings, Play Settings, and System settings.  In theory, R3 Pro has all of this too, except for audio recorder, but in R3 Pro it is part of the HibyMusic interface designed for bigger displays.   Here, it is optimized for a smaller display with colorful and easy to read icons and more logical interface for easier access.

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I’m sure many already familiar with MSEB effects and how they shape the sound, and 10-band EQ is also common along with 8 genre specific editable presets or your own custom preset.  Wireless setting will get you to Bluetooth, Wifi, and DLNA.  Play setting has everything from play mode, output selection (headphone or LO), DSD output mode, resume play option, gapless payback, all kinds of volume settings, crossfade, gain (low/high), replay gain, balance, digital filter, and play through folder or album.  System setting has language, database update, brightness, backlight, theme color, font size, usb mode, even usb current limit (to control the drain), button operation when screen is off, time setting, idle and sleep timer, enable to use cables with in-line remote, status led enable, screensaver setting, screen rotation (love it!!!), and of course the usual Restore factory setting, firmware update, and About.

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The level of configuration and all the options are just mind blowing.  And btw, if screensaver is enabled, either featuring album cover or dynamic cover based on your own cover photos, when you turn the display off/on or if it times out and you turn it on, you will be greeted with that cover art during playback, along with a current time.  Also, notification bar at the top is visible in the main screen where you can see volume setting, connection type, play/pause status, time in the middle, and battery status and percentage in the right corner.  And you can always swipe down notification bar to access shortcut to Wifi, Bluetooth, and HibyLink.  Plus, in that swiped-down view you can see magnified volume setting, connection type, play/pause status, battery, time and date.

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Page 4 – R2 sound analysis, comparison, and Conclusion.

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