HiBy R5 Gen 2

Sound Analysis.

The sound analysis is based on my tests and experience with R5 Gen 2 compared to similar DAPs and multiple pair-ups of IEMs and headphones in my collection. Sound impressions with all the IEMs and headphones that were used for testing are in the ‘Pair-ups’ section.

R5 Gen 2’s Economy mode comes off very neutral and clean with a fairly well sized soundstage but it is the Class A mode that will impress most out of the two. Class A mode has a tiny volume boost compared to the Economy mode, so you need to subtract the perceived effect of the volume boost in order to judge the true sound differences between the two modes properly.

IMO, Class A is slightly punchier, richer, engaging and more musical. It has more bass punch and slam as well as has ever so slightly sparklier treble compared to the Economy mode. I also hear slightly better textured layering across the spectrum. Bass is slightly more upfront in Class A mode and the background depth seems darker and deeper, with reverb trails sounding clearer when fading away into the depth. It sounds more dynamic and vibrant compared to the Economy mode but it is the Economy mode that has quicker and more precise transient presentation, with Class A focusing more on musicality. Of course, all these differences are relatively minor. They are definitely noticeable but don’t expect there to be a night and day difference. R5 Gen 2 overall has pretty good resolution and clarity for its price segment – definitely a significant step up from your average smartphone’s DAC.

Driving Power – R5 Gen 2’s Balanced output figures are 475mW (Class A mode) and 320mW (Economy mode), with the SE figures being 150mW (Class A mode) and 110mW (Economy mode). Even though R5 Gen 2 might not seem as powerful as its older sibling R6 2020 from the specs, it has more than enough power to power high impedance headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX. HD6XX reaches loud levels at just 75/100 clicks of the volume with the 4.4mm BAL output in High Gain, in both Class A and Economy mode. So, don’t believe that it is more a DAP for IEMs and low impedance headphones. It has sufficient power to drive most things out there.

Noise levels – HiBy R5 Gen 2’s noise floor is pretty low with extremely low impedance IEMs like Andromeda, Fibae7 and Fibae7U. I found no major interference or hissing problems in my tests.

Hiby R5 Gen 2 Solo

Quick pair-up impressions with IEMs.

Note – All of these impressions are off the 4.4mm BAL output.

64 Audio U12t – Very neutral in the Economy mode. As expected, U12t sounds slightly fuller, with its bass becoming punchier, more upfront in the Class A mode. It also sounds more dynamic, has better 3D-ish imaging and more holographic layered depth in Class A.

CustomArt FIBAE 7U CIEM – Very wide soundstage. Excellent punch and slam in Class A mode. Class A again sounds more dynamic and more layered than Economy mode but adds on fullness to an already fuller sounding signature. Economy mode sounds snappier which is a good thing if you want less boom, cleaner signature and quicker transient presentation.

Softears RS10 CIEM – Very neutral sounding in Economy mode but pairs better with the more vibrant Class A mode that adds in a bit of spice and fun into an otherwise neutral signature. It sounds more dynamic and has better layered bass and lower-midrange in Class A mode. Soundstage sounds more holographic and has blacker background in Class A but wider width in Economy mode, with stronger imaging in Class A.

Lime Ears Anima – Soundstage is very wide with deeper depth and blacker background in the Class A mode. Anima is more sub-bass oriented in the Economy mode and gets a slight mid-bass boost in the Class A mode. Like the U12t, it sounds more dynamic and punchier in Class A mode. Economy mode comes off drier and simpler in comparison.

Quick pair-up impressions with Headphones.

Note – All of these impressions are off the 4.4mm BAL output.

Audeze LCD-X 2021 – R5 Gen 2 easily powers the LCD-X 2021. LCD-X 2021 has a more realistic, holographic soundstage and punchier signature in Class A mode. Imaging is also sharper and more precise in Class A. Economy mode sounds cleaner but also less dynamic.

Sennheiser HD6XX – Economy mode sounds cleaner but Class A adds a fun element into HD6XX with it sounding punchier and more dynamic with Class A. Class A also highlights a bit of sparkle up top. Soundstage depth is better layered in Class A.

Focal Elex – One of the first things that stood out in Elex was the quality rumble and punch with Class A mode. With Class A, midrange sounds more layered with better, stronger imaging. Elex in Economy mode sounds very clean and neutral but not as dynamically complex as the Class A.

Comparison to iBasso DX160.

Rockchip Octa-core SoC | 2GB RAM/32GB ROM | Dual CS43198 DAC | 3200mAh battery

Hardware specifications comparison – DX160 has a better, almost bezel-less 5.0″ 1080p screen whereas R5 Gen2 has a 4.7″ 720p screen with more bezel in comparison. DX160 has 32GB of ROM whereas R5 Gen 2 has only 16GB. R5 Gen 2 has a faster SoC and is much faster in comparison. DX160’s UI seems sluggish in comparison. R5 Gen 2 also has a bigger 4500mAh battery with an excellent 35 hour battery life in Economy mode. R5 Gen 2 also has a 2.5mm BAL out along with 4.4mm BAL, whereas DX160 only has a 4.4mm BAL out.

Sound comparison – DX160 was quite popular as one of the best performers in the sub-$500 segment. R5 Gen 2 now offers strong competition, offering a slightly different flavour. DX160 is brighter in comparison with a more forward presentation and airier upper-end. R5 Gen 2 is slightly warmer and more neutral in comparison, with its bass punch and slam being stronger and even more upfront in the Class A mode. Soundstage width is similar but since DX160’s upper-midrange comes across a bit more prominently, R5 Gen 2’s stage sounds slightly further away in comparison. DX160 comes across a bit more resolving with better detail retrieval as a result of its neutral-bright character. R5 Gen 2 is no slouch in that category but focuses more on a punchy sound presentation with its Class A mode.

Conclusion.

Priced at $449, R5 Gen 2 is quite an attractive proposition not only because of its neutral sound signature, all the 3 popular types of outputs on offer (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm BAL and 4.4mm BAL), swift user interface, excellent ergonomics and easy to love, well executed HiBy OS but also because it offers 2 separate Amp modes that actually sound different and an excellent 35 hour battery life in Economy mode, which is almost unheard of with Android DAPs. It is fairly easy and safe to recommend the R5 Gen 2 as an overall package, especially if you’re looking for a good sounding, easy to live with DAP in the sub-$500 range.


Gear used for testing and review.

  • IEMs – 64 Audio U12t, Lime Ears Anima, Custom Art FIBAE 7U & 7, Softears RS10 & RSV, Moondrop S8.
  • Headphones – Audeze LCD-X 2021, Focal Elex, Sennheiser HD 6XX.

Reference Songs list.

  • Foo Fighters – The Pretender, Best of you, Everlong & Sonic Highway album
  • Coldplay – Paradise, Up in flames & Everglow + Everyday Life Album
  • Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings & Ellipsis albums
  • Ed Sheeran – Thinking out loud, Bloodstream & Galway Girl
  • Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow album
  • Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia album
  • Chainsmokers – Somebody, Sickboy, This Feeling & Closer
  • John Mayer – Slow dancing in a burning room, Stop this Train, Say & A Face to Call Home
  • Gavin James – Always & Hearts on fire
  • Switchfoot – Meant to live & Dare you to move
  • Porcupine Tree – Sound of Muzak, Blackest Eyes & .3
  • Our Lady Peace – Do You Like It & Innocent
  • Linkin Park – Papercut, Somewhere I belong & Talking to myself
  • Maroon 5 – She will be loved, Payphone & Lost stars
  • Lifehouse – All in all & Come back down
  • Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
  • Karnivool – Simple boy & Goliath
  • Dead Letter Circus – Real you
  • I Am Giant – Purple heart, City limits & Transmission
  • Muse – Panic station
  • James Bay – Hold back the river
  • Zedd – Clarity album

3 thoughts on “HiBy R5 Gen 2

    1. Hey! The 6 out of stock DAPs you are referring to are the older versions of the current model DAPs that are all in stock. The older ones had been discontinued in favour of the new updated models. They just haven’t taken them off their website, probably so that everyone can compare the differences in hardware, looks and components of the different models and versions. Cheers!

      Like

  1. I would really appreciate your thoughts between the Hiby R5 gen. 2 (in class A mode—I don’t really care about battery endurance) and the iBasso DX170. They are the same price. At home I have a Hugo 2, but I am looking for something that is easily pocketable and has a quick UI—I often find that when I am out walking the dog etc, its nice to quickly try another downloaded playlist from Qobuz, etc. Sound quality is also fundamental and would probably lean towards a warmer sound. One issue is my Audeze LCD-i3 need a bit of equalization. I thought that perhaps the R5 might have presets? Thanks so much!

    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 )

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