Welcome to HiBy World
- Use, handling and ergonomics.
- Reduced size and weight.
- Quality of the screen.
- Battery life.
- Connectivity and versatility.
- Some gesture could be added to quickly access some menus.
- Somewhat limited power, at low gain, for headphones from 32Ω, or lower.
Link to the Store
I’ve read a lot, about one of the most attractive brands in the DAPS world. First, because of its own operating system, the HiBy OS, exclusive for players: an alternative to the typical Android, that goes beyond the functionality, incorporating excellent features, such as MSEB Tuner, Two-way UAT, HiBy Link, High Speed Wi-Fi, DLNA, support for AirPlay, MQA playback, Bluetooth 5.0 (UAT, LDAC, aptX, AAC, SBC), etc..
Second, because of its technical characteristics, size, design and, of course, sound. All this and more, is what the HiBy R3 Pro has, powerful and attractive features, which made me choose it as my main player, for the day to day. It will be worth, very much, to describe all the qualities of this small great player.
- Operating System: HiBy OS
- Dimensions: 82x61x13mm
- Weight: 95g
- CPU: Ingenic X1000E
- DAC: Dual CS43131
- Battery capacity: 1600mAh
- Battery life (3.5mm):20 h
- Battery life (2.5mm): 16 h
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
- WiFi bands: 2.4GHz, 5GHz
- Output power 3.5mm: 60mW+60mW
- Output power 2.5mm: 210mW+210mW
- THD+N Output 3.5mm: 0.0007%
- THD+N Output 2.5mm: 0.0008%
- Storage expansion type: Micro SD card
- Maximum storage expansion: 2TB
- Maximum number of songs: 20000 songs
- Output voltage (32Ω) 3.5mm PO: 1.4Vrms
- Output voltage (32Ω) 2.5mm BAL: 2.6Vrms
- Output voltage (Line output) 3.5mm PO: 2Vrms
- Output voltage (Line output) 2.5mm BAL: 4Vrms
- Frequency response: 20Hz-90kHz
- Background noise 3.5mm PO: 1.2µV
- Background noise 2.5mm BAL: 1.2µV
- SNR 3.5mm PO: 120db
- SNR 2.5mm BAL: 124db
- Crosstalk rejection (32Ω loaded, @1kHz) 3.5mm PO: 73db
- Crosstalk rejection (32Ω loaded, @1kHz) 2.5mm BAL: 106db
The HiBy R3 PRO comes in a simple white box, which contains only black and gold letters. Very few words on its main side, apart from the model name, the brand logo, the slogan and a QR code. On the back side, there are some features and specifications, in English and Chinese. The dimensions of the packaging are 113x161x45mm. After removing the cardboard cover, a black box with a rough texture appears, with the model name inscribed in the middle. Under it, there is the DAP, wrapped in a light white plastic bag, protected, around it, by a thick mold of dense black foam. After lifting the mold, there is a black cardboard folder, inside which there are two small boxes, also made of black cardboard, as well as a plastic cover to protect the repro. Once all the boxes have been opened, the overall content of the packaging consists of
- HiBy R3 PRO
- Plastic cover for the protection of the DAP.
- 2 flexible screen protectors (one is already in place).
- 1 Rigid screen protector.
- Warranty certificate.
- USB cable.
The screen of the DAP is protected by a film, which also indicates what each button or connection is for. The back is also protected.
The presentation and content is what you expect, of a proportionate size, with all the minimum indispensable accessories, a couple of extra films, to protect the screen, as well as a plastic case, very useful, to preserve, in an essential way, our beloved DAP.
A leather case is also available, totally custom made.
Construction, Design and Comfort
The R3 Pro has a classic shape, within the HiBy catalogue, with fairly contained dimensions, somewhat larger than the palm of the hand. Its design is rather rectangular, which provides a fairly large screen size. The case has been manufactured in textured aluminium alloy, rounded, both on the sides, as in their corners. The upper and lower sides are slightly sunken, creating an uneven but very attractive and ergonomic shape. The back is made of tempered glass, with the brand logo in the center. The screen is touch-sensitive, perfect for exploiting the full potential of the HiBy OS. It is a 3.2″ IPS TFT panel, protected by a 2.5D glass. The performance and size of the screen is excellent, being highly readable. In addition, it has a high viewing angle; something that sets the R3 PRO apart from its competitors.
On the lower side, there is a slot for the Micro-SD memory card on the left and a USB C-type port on the right. On the right side, from top to bottom, you can see the power button, a small oval LED, a back button, a Play/Pause button and the forward button. The Play/Pause button has a mid-point for easy location. On the upper side, to the left, is the 3.5mm connector, which also serves as a line output. On the right is the balanced 2.5mm output. Both connections are gold-plated, with a thick and distinctive flange. On the left side, there is a double button, to control the volume.
All the buttons make a slight click when pressed, and their operation is smooth and effective.
The shape is different from other players, being wider than others I own. But, what is most striking is its weight; with 95gr, it feels especially light, as well as manageable, something that its good ergonomics and design, allow.
As a conclusion, both the design, shape, controls and screen, are combined in harmony, to maximize the virtues of this small DAP, getting a high degree of satisfaction, to have it in our hands.
Use and Handling
The use of gestures, complete and with one hand, is at the limit of operability. Most functions can be performed with one hand, either by using the buttons or the touch screen. The small size, allows such performance. However, due to the width of the device, it may be necessary to use both hands to safely perform all functions of the device. This feeling is an appreciation, based on my own lack of skill, which is not necessarily the same for other users. I understand that younger people who are adapted to using smartphones will have better skills in this respect than I do.
Entering the HiBy OS, your proposal is very simple and quite basic. The main playback screen shows the cover completely and in big size. In the upper part, you can see the volume, the output icon, the playback status, the time and the battery status, in percentage and in icon. Clicking on the cover page will display the lyrics of the songs, if any. In the lower part, from left to right, you can see the title of the song, the group (not complete if it is long), a heart icon, to add to favorites and, finally, the bitrate and the type of file. Under this information, you will find the playback time bar, whose access allows you to jump to any point of the song. Below the bar, there is the current playback time on the left and the total duration of the song on the right. Finally, at the bottom, you can choose the playback mode, there are the back, play/pause and forward buttons, as well as a shortcut to activate other functions (song list, add to playlist, equalizer, view album, properties or delete).
From the playback screen, sliding your finger up displays another menu, which allows access to functions such as Bluetooth, volume, WiFi, line-out, Air-play, etc.
Sliding your finger to the right from the playback screen displays the list of songs or folders, depending on how the played song was reached. By repeating the same gesture, you can go to the screen where you can choose between SD-Card or USB-Storage, navigate through folders, albums, artists or genres. You can also choose to browse your own lists, favourites, recent songs or songs recently added to the DAP. You can also access the Air-Play list, in case WiFi is activated, or search for songs by name. To do this, a simplified keyboard with keys containing several letters will be used, in the style of old mobile phones. Finally, there is also an icon, formed by vertical bars, in movement, through which you can return to the playback screen.
The last and most complete menu can also be accessed by sliding your finger repeatedly to the right until you reach it. From here, you can update the song database, import music via WiFi, enter the MSEB, the equalizer, the E-book function, the pedometer, the Wireless Playback Settings menu (Bluetooth, WiFi, DLNA, AirPlay, HiBy Link), the playback settings (mode, gain, balance, filters, etc), the system settings (many functions…) and finally the About From screen.
Almost all functions can be reached in one way or another, through shortcuts or, via the menu on the left. The only bad thing is that to get to the left menu, you have to make several gestures. I think you could have enabled one gesture to the left for this and another one down to complete the whole catalogue of functions by means of icons.
Another negative point is that there are some icons whose meaning is not clear, nor explained in the manual, so it is necessary to «play with them» to know their effect or function.
To finish with this section, the handling comes, clearly, from the apps of the Smartphones. This way, the use is very simple, fast and intuitive. Although, it is not completely perfect.
These are the measurements, in Vrms, for the 3.5mm output, using a 100Hz sine wave, amplitude 1.
Gain Low Gain High Gain
No-Load 1.014 2.01
32 0.942 1.73
100 0.990 1.953
240 1.004 1.99
320 1.006 1.99
620 1.00 2.00
It seems that with low impedances, there is a power limitation, because, with hard to move IEMS, it is easy to get to use, a high volume position (in low gain), to obtain a medium-high sound pressure. With higher impedances, the volume is not limited and the output impedance can be perceived as very low, lower than 1Ω. I have not been able to make measurements on the balanced output, due to the lack of the corresponding accessories. But, it is something that I will solve in the near future.
I find the HiBy R3 PRO quite neutral. I don’t think it has a clear tendency towards warmth or a more analytical side; it generally looks very natural, showing a remarkable degree of refinement.
The lower area is clearly linear. Its execution is quite smooth, not in the sense of little or low power and/or presence, but in its texture. The reproduction of the low zone has a quality that allows it to develop the bass in a deep, powerful, with good punch, but without sounding violent, or hard, or raw. It is true that it can suffer from a certain viscerality, in favour of a greater musicality, definition and more refined texture. But this implies that it possesses diverse virtues, better technicalities, greater capacity to represent planes, better representation of details, a fast and precise strike, greater width and depth, as well as a notable sensation of amplitude and cleanliness. The result is a very airy area, without congestion, which, a priori, deceives, because of that false sensation of less force. But in reality, it is a great improvement in the resolution of the bass, without losing any power in the whole segment. As a result of all this, the HiBy R3 Pro becomes a great ally of electronic music, because, in the long run, its qualities are appreciated in the long listener. But, above all, other more delicate genres will also benefit from the remarkable delicacy with which this small DAP attacks the low notes.
The central range of the HiBy gathers the fruits of its technical capacity and embraces naturalness as its form of reproduction. In this way, its midrange sounds very organic and realistic, with a neutral tone, without being either cold or analytical or warm. The details are reinforced by his, more than remarkable, feeling of openness and his appreciated silence in the background. All this generates a clear sensation of expansion, in which both instruments and voices are reproduced, very well articulated and defined, with a very precise and high resolution drawing. The neutrality of its profile, however, provides a large dose of musicality. It is not a player that impresses, at first sight, but comparatively speaking, it destroys the rest of the DAPS I own because, simply, it makes everything better. And the big difference is perceived in the central range, combining a great scene, rich tonality, details, natural nuances, remarkable texture and its excellent musicality. Without being a mid-central DAP, the mids takes the lead.
The upper zone reflects the power of resolution of the R3 Pro and its double DAC, providing refined, smooth, but not dulled, or trimmed treble, the result of its great flat response. HiBy has matured the sound of this new Pro version, achieving that the high zone, maintains the naturalness required to preserve the homogeneity of the whole. As a good gentle DAP, the treble is represented very nice, with a fair weight, without being thin, sharp, nor, much less, hurtful. Their balance remains neutral, without any reduction in extension, as their response remains flat up to 45kHz. With these specifications, the amount of air is totally palpable. In addition, the good level of definition, provides a large dose of realism, detail and nuances, demonstrating its excellent technical level, given its price range.
The step forward, which I have achieved after acquiring this DAP, is distinguished by these parameters. The generated scene feels wider, more vivid and dynamic, with more height and three-dimensional feeling. The silence and the greater separation are also virtues assumed in this DAP, revealing a higher quality sound, a very clean, clear, pleasant and deep reproduction. The level of resolution demonstrated, allows the definition of the notes, is drawn with very good accuracy, great respect for the timbre and weight of the notes, reserving space and distance for each of them, generating a scene and instrumental recreation, totally desirable and enjoyable. For this alone, the price paid, justifies its purchase.
sound. However, as much as I was looking forward to this little R3 Pro, I was clear about all this. We’ll see the differences:
The xDuoo has more power, the rest of the technical features are less. It doesn’t have a balanced output either and its interface is simpler. Its screen is not touchable, it’s smaller. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi and it doesn’t have the streaming possibilities of the HiBy either. The R3 Pro is a more versatile player than the X3II, also newer and more expensive.
In terms of sound, the xDuoo has more presence in the lower zone, its texture is rougher and has more impact. But, the recreation of this band, is perceived more blunt, compared to a greater clarity, better cleanliness and a superior expansive capacity in the R3 Pro. The bass of the HiBy is reproduced in a smoother and more exquisite way, its refinement is evident and the higher resolution offers better naturalness, neutrality, as well as more and better sound planes, and a realistic and precise decay.
In the mids, the differences prove to be greater. This is where the X3II succumbs to the R3 Pro’s good work. The xDuoo’s midrange is narrower, even dark, too smooth. In the R3 Pro, the midrange offers a musical widening, more spaciousness, where you can perceive a darker and quieter background, more separation, clarity, cleanliness, brightness, nuance and detail. It is a different segment, richer, more mature, harmonious and musical, which gives it a more pleasant and complete sound, as well as open and with greater resolution. In the xDuoo, you feel that the mids does not have so much extension, even, you perceive some limitation, greater narrowness and less brightness. Also, it sounds more raw, less refined, but with more violence, for better or for worse, it is something you can notice in the lows, in the high mids and first highs.
The treble of the xDuoo suffers from the refinement of the R3 Pro, showing that impetus, which makes the high zone, present with greater harshness. However, the detail does not benefit from this harshness, because, at the resolution level, it does not have the technical capacity of its rival. There is a good amount of air in both DAPS, but the better dynamics of the HiBy play a decisive role here too.
The size of the scene clearly benefits from the best parameters offered by the HiBy. Its size is wider, higher and deeper. The three-dimensionality is more easily noticed and the separation is superior, showing a more dynamic sound, with less background noise and a more perceptible silence. Instrumental recreation looks more natural, as opposed to the narrower focus of the xDuoo.
Both have a flat response and their output impedance is around 1Ω or lower.
The battery life is longer in the HiBy, achieving 20 hours, because of its 3.5mm output; while the xDuoo reaches 13h.
Maybe the DAPS is my fetish device. But, instead of having an expensive, good one, I have a few more affordable ones. The HiBy R3 Pro is not the first $200 player I have bought, but it is the first one that has managed to convince me, because it has everything and practically everything does well. Its size, ergonomics and use are special: light, very comfortable to use and totally logical. This makes it a very attractive device. On the other hand, its connectivity capabilities and versatility, destroy the rest of DAPS I own. Besides, its battery life makes it an ideal DAP to be used every day without worrying about this aspect. Finally and most importantly for me, there is the sound: the R3 Pro presents a true high-resolution sound, neutral, musical, harmonious, extensive and pleasant. It is true that it is not spectacular, but it is good, very good. To such an extent that it has managed to calm my critical sense, towards the device, concentrating only on the music, so that I can finally enjoy it. And this, is a lot. Welcome home, little HiBy R3 PRO!
Headphones Used During Analysis
- BGVP ArtMagic DH3.
- Ikko OH10.
- ISN H40.
- BGVP ArtMagic VG4.
- Shozy Neo BG.
- Smabat ST-10S
- BLON BL-03
- KBEAR KB04
- SoundMagic HP150