HiBy R6 digital audio player reviewed: A smooth operator
Smooth Operator - The HiBy R6 reviewed
The HiBy R6 made waves when it first launched on Indiegogo, promising 32bit/384kHz audio from dual ESS ES9028Q2M DACs back in December 2017. Made by Hong Kong-based HiBy Music, the HiBy R6 is an Android-based audio player that is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC with 3G RAM, and a Quad-core 64-bit Cortex A53 processor. It runs on Android 6.0.1 with custom direct transport audio architecture so you can get bit-perfect non-resampled output from your music player app (save what the app itself applies).
It comes with 32GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 2TB in capacity. That’s certainly a good amount of storage, and we like that HiBy has chosen to use a SIM-card like slot to store the microSD rather than the spring-loaded input many other DAPs (digital audio player) use. This method is much easier to use, and you don’t bear the risk of your microSD card flying across the room when you’re trying to eject it.
The HiBy R6 comes with a 4000mAh internal battery that is said to give it up to 12 hours of playback time using the single-ended output, or 7 hours if you’re using the balanced output. HiBy has added a Type-C USB 2.0 port for both transfer and charging needs. The DAP also has support for QC3.0 quick charge capabilities, so you can get a full charge in about 140 minutes, and 70% charge in about 70 minutes which makes it easy enough to keep the HiBy R6 charged and ready to go.
Design and features
The HiBy R6 measures just 116 x 66 x 15mm and weighs around 275g, so while it’s probably a little too thick to comfortably stuff into your pocket, it’s certainly small enough to carry around with you all day.
It’s built of 316L high-impact stainless steel with a nice brushed metal finish to it, while the body is CNC curved to fit nicely in your hand. The large metal buttons on each side offer nice response so you can probably operate them without looking after you get used to the functions. Volume controls lie on the left of the player, while playback (ie- forward, rewind, play/pause) are on the right.
The front of the R6 is dominated by a 4.2-inch, 1,280 x 768 pixels multi-touch screen that can render 16.8 million colors at 300ppi resolution. (For reference, the iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch, 1,334 x 750 pixels screen with 326ppi resolution, while the FiiO X7 Mark II has a 3.97-inch, 480 x 800 pixels screen with 16.7 million colors output at 233ppi.) It also comes with dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies so you can connect to your music streaming services with ease.
To add music to the player, all you have to do is to connect the player to your computer and swipe down on the player's screen to get the USB options. Select “File Transfers” and you’re good to go. This is also where you can go if you want to use the R6 purely as a USB DAC.
We do like that the R6 offers the option of a 2.5mm balanced headphone jack alongside the regular 3.5m one, as that gives you more options to pair with your ideal headphone. Of course, Bluetooth is available too, so you can use your wireless speakers/headphones with the player if you so wish.
The R6 also comes with its own music playing app, offering you a simple way to access your music. View all files in Folder mode, or go through your music via categories like album or artist. A total of six categories are available, though you can easily disable any of the categories at any time. Once you’ve found your desired track, simply tap to start or pause playback. You can also easily add tracks to a playlist by tapping and holding to bring up a separate menu. It’s simple and easy, so props to HiBy for the quality app.
In terms of audio, the HiBy R6 proved itself to be more than just a capable performer from the get-go. We started testing with a recording of Take Five by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Joe Dodge on drums, Bob Bates on double bass, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, and of course, Dave Brubeck himself on piano.
There’s a delicate balance between Brubeck’s piano work and Bate’s double bass in this piece, and the R6 renders that perfectly, showing its great imaging abilities. Needless to say, the acoustic instruments also showed off the R6’s ability to carry audio pieces with good naturalness.
Moving on to Doin’ It Right by Daft Punk gave us a better gauge of the R6’s bass capabilities. The bass line from this player tends to be a little lean and doesn’t extend very low. So, you’ll feel the bass if you push the volume up, but it won’t move you like some other players will, nor will you get a warm decay.
Ending our testing with Queen’s I want to Break Free, we felt the R6 displayed great imaging capability once more. Rendering both vocals and instruments so well, you get a good sense of where all the audio elements were meant to be positioned. The electric guitar, in particular, was rendered with good detail, showing that the mid-notes are its strength.
For a compact DAP that costs S$999, the HiBy R6 is certainly impressive. It’s got one of the nicest displays we’ve seen on a DAP, and is certainly one of the most responsive too. You get full touch controls so you can operate the R6 like you would with your smartphone, and the default HiBy audio player app is nicely designed and intuitive to use.
In a word, “smooth” is what we’d describe using the R6, as there’s hardly any lag at all when running apps or playing music. Audio quality is certainly good too, as the player showed good naturalness and decent detail in our testing. We thought it could have done a bit better in the lower ranges, but overall we’d say it performed well enough to justify the price tag.