Always wanted to have portable HiRes audio setup from a respected brand in which each of the components would be wisely designed and developed, fitting each other in the best possible way, while still staying perfectly usable in standalone applications. Having everything designed by a single brand usually means better integration of the most complicated functions, which creates a synergy that people would often call brand «ecosystem». HiBy has travelled a long way since creating very first parts of such synergy and can already bear some fruits by providing different hardware components run by HiBy OS, music application and with the help of HiBy protocols.
Today we would like to review the latest HiBy portable HiRes audio stack that consists of three perfectly fitting components (sold separately, should become available as a bundle later), at more than affordable price and featuring some groundbreaking functions out of the box.
- HiBy R2 — budget HiRes DAP with WiFi, Tidal (+Qobuz) (MQA support)
- HiBy FD1 — DAC& with SE & Balanced output, 2 USB modes
- HiBy BEANS — perfectly crafted, dynamic IEMs
So, this review would not be a regular one. Instead of splitting it to three parts, we would review the whole bundle, going through each device one by one.
HiBy R2 technical specifications:
- Operating System: HiBy OS
- SoC: Ingenic X1000E
- DAC: ES9218
- PCM: 32bit/384kHz / DSD: 128 (native)
- MSEB, HiBy Link support
- MQA support, 4x unfold, Tidal, Qobuz support
- Dual microphones for voice recording
- Ebook reader function
- Internet radio function
- Output power: 70mW+70mW
- THD+N: <0.001%
- Display size: 2.45”, IPS, touchscreen
- Display resolution: 480*360
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 (aptX, LDAC, UAT)
- WiFi bands: 2.4GHz, 5GHz
- Battery size: 1000mAh
- Storage: MicroSD card, up to 2TB
- USB Type-C USB2.0 port
- Play time: 15 hours continuous
- Standby: 20 days
- Dimensions: 61*61*12 mm
- Weight: 85g
HiBy FD1 technical specifications:
- Chipset: SA2000
- DAC: 2 X ES9118
- 2 X crystal oscillators (44.1 & 48)
- DSD decoding: Native (SA2000), 128
- Buttons: Play/pause, volume+, volume-
- Status display: Tri-colour LED
- USB port Type-C
- Single ended output: 3.5mm (supports wired remote)
- SE output power: 25mW + 25mW
- Balanced output: 2.5mm
- Balanced output power: 75mW + 75mW
- Dimensions: 61.5*61.5*9.5mm
- Weight: 71.5g
HiBy Beans technical specifications:
- Earphone type: In-ear monitors
- Diver type: dynamic driver with carbon nanotube (CNT) diaphragms
- Driver diameter: 10mm
- Frequency response: 20-20000Hz
- Sensitivity: 109dB
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Cable: silver-plated oxygen-free copper
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Connectors: 0.78mm, 2-pin connector (3.5mm terminated cable included)
Packaging and design:
This little DAP comes in a relatively small black box with colorful graphics, trademark information and company contacts. Box is pretty stiff, does a perfect job of protecting this gadget during the transportation. Inner compartment is split to three sections: top soft insert holds R2 at place, some accessories located underneath and one more little box contains USB cable. Full list of accessories is as following:
- R2 DAP
- plastic case
- USB type-C -> USB A cable
- user manual + leaflets
Moreover, R2 screen and back glass panel are both covered with a protective films out of the box. You would only need to peel off the extra protection layer.
This DAP is a small unit but still a little bit larger than its main rival — Hidizs AP80Pro. Chassis are made of zinc alloy with dark edge toning, beautiful glass back panel and large screen at the front.
Сontrol elements have сomfortable size, tight and well pronounced actuation. This, in overall, creates a feel of holding tough and durable device.
Two buttons (Volume + / -) are located at the left edge while three more buttons (Play/pause, Previous / Next) are placed on the opposite side. There is another beautifully designed element at the top — power button — that is encircled by the multicolor LED facing that shows different states and also synchronized to the sampling rate of the currently playing track.
Since R2 is capable of recording audio — it features two microphones that can do stereo recording and cancel out some significant noise. By the way, this function works perfectly, also allowing to choose the audio quality of the recording and the resulting file format.
Screen is definitely a virtue of R2 — 2.45 inches, IPS, vivid colors, good factory calibration, having snappy response and precise touch sensor positioning. Maximum brightness level is totally enough for outdoor use in a shade and little beat weak for sunny areas. Crispness and screen density are perfect for such physical size.
The only arguable part of this gorgeous screen is a quite large width of upper and lower frames. While it seems that frames are almost absent in power off state (borderless) — everything becomes clear when the screen becomes lit. Sides are almost touching the edges while upper and lower frames are unexpectedly wide.
Bottom edge contains USB type-C port, 3.5mm SE output and microSD card slot that supports up to 2TB capacity.
Semi transparent plastic case is a great accessory that protects R2 from physical damage. Moreover, it looks pretty elegant and gives an easy access to all control elements.
HiBy FD1 is shipped in a small white box with shiny silver device outlines and company data imprints. Box is not that thick and holds only 1 layer consisting of soft insert for FD1 and small compartment with the accessories below. Full list of accessories are:
- FD1 DAC&
- soft adhesive insert
- L-shaped USB type-C -> USB type-C cable
- straight short USB type-C -> USB type-C cable
- long USB type-C -> USB A cable
Logically for the bundle, HiBy FD1 DAC& has similar physical size and even the thickness comparing to R2. It resembles its shape but made of aluminum. One of the design elements is a beautiful recessed imprint of HiBy logo at the facing side.
Moreover, FD1 features its own controls — Play/Pause, Vol UP and DOWN buttons at the left edge, plus the additional USB 2.0 / USB 1.0 slider on the right that changes the connection mode and allows to run FD1 in Windows environment with or without a driver.
There is also a multi color LED that would show the running state and sampling rate of the track. Furthermore, when bundled together, R2 and FD1 LED colors would be synchronized.
Both 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm balanced output are located at the lower edge together with the USB type-C port.
FD1 is also equipped with small silicon standoffs at the bottom to make it less slippery on surface. Wise!
Even though R2 and FD1 are more complicated devices, true delight of design admiration comes from IEMs side…
Anyway, the design of the box reminds of R2, has similar matt black appearance with gold outlines and white imprints. When opened — huh, perfect first impression.
Not only BEeans catch a sight with its excellent gold/silver/black color combination but also the case looks very attractive. Perhaps, Beans are the best looking IEMs so far that have gone through my hands.
Full list of accessories:
- BEANS IEMs
- 2-pin, 0.78mm cable
- 3 pairs of memory foam eartips
Beans are made of two aluminum parts — silver body with perpendicular rough notches and top golden glossy cover, all formed to a bullet-like shape.
HiBy / Beans text is present in black color and cute font on both channels, as well as both channels have the corresponding indicators (left and right) represented by the blue and red dots on the transparent acrylic 2-pin cable connector bases. Output nozzles are protected with the aluminum grills.
Stock cable looks pretty good, declared to be OFC, features transparent resin connector housings with polarity indication, aluminum limiter and aluminum housing of the SE plug. Hopefully, HiBy would also include 2.5mm balanced cable version to Beans as an option and as a mandatory accessory when it would be sold with R2 + FD1 as a bundle. It would allow to disclose its full potential.
The case deserves some additional words regarding its design. The material chosen is great — feels like a fabric and looks expensive. The cover is securely held with the help of a magnet. Such case would not only fit IEMs, but also all of the accessories and couple of additional cables if necessary.
HiBy R2 in use:
Of course, R2 is a complete all-in-one DAP, packed with lots of modern features. When sold as a bundle with FD1 — it would only generate more power and allow 2.5mm balanced IEMs to be plugged in. The rest of the features are provided by R2 itself.
R2 uses X1000E CPU which is familiar from the previous experience with Hidizs AP80 family products. HiBy OS and UI are running smooth with no UI freezes or visible glitches. Touch screen is responsive, interaction feels linear and adequate. Screen size is completely enough for the DAP in all applications except such a rudiment function as E-reader which is present here on board. The text in this application is very small that limits its use.
Despite being positioned as entry-level DAP and priced so low, R2 still inherits some outstanding HiBy functions initially presented in their flagship / middle segment models:
- MSEB (MageSound 8ball, equalizer for the true audiophiles)
- HiBy Link (full remote control from a smartphone over Bluetooth)
- UAT (supreme Bluetooth codec, better than LDAC quality)
Besides that, R2also features:
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Bluetooth audio: SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC, UAT
- Dual band WiFi: 2.4/5.0Ghz
- Paired mic with noise cancelling function
- Dedicated application to record stereo sound (only from inbuilt microphones, no support for external mic)
- Streaming audio: Tidal application (Qobuz should come to R2 a bit later)
- MQA 4x unfold (2x unfold when FD1 is connected)
- USB DAC
- Bluetooth Bi-directional DAC
- HiRes + HiRes Wireless standards approval
Pretty damn full-packed tiny little monster. What other entry-level DAP would feature and offer that much for the price? None…
Let’s get back to the user experience. R2 accepts up to 2TB microSD card and doesn’t have any storage on board. For those who already owned other HiBy players or even DAPs from Hidizs or other vendors that use HiBy OS — most of the UI functions and logics would be very familiar. Home screen consists of the application icons, controlled with slide gestures and has a couple of additional function to quickly go to playing now screen or see wireless connection toggles, time and state. Full application/shortcuts list is as following:
- Music (HiBy Music app)
- Recorder (sound recording)
- HiBy Link (remote control setup)
- Import music via WiFi
- Update database
- Wireless settings
- Play settings
- System settings
Settings worth to be mentioned here:
- Import music via WiFi
- opens the web access to this DAP over WiFi (shows IP address and port) to transfer songs from other devices
- Wireless settings
- toggles Bluetooth and allows to search and pair with other devices. Also gives the possibility to control which audio codec is used
- toggles WiFi and allows to search and connect to WiFi networks. Also gives the possibility to check network state, current IP and setup DNS
- just a toggle. Probably should be used to connect to DLNA server or setup DLNA server. Couldn’t find more information yet and hope that this function would be finalized in the nearest updates.
The rest of the settings are self-explanatory, all vital and regular functions are provided.
The only not very user-friendly UI function is a keyboard that pops up when there is a prompt option. Virtual keyboard buttons are very small and sometimes it gets quite hard to press it.
Main application is HiBy Music that handles all types of LQ and HQ audio formats, sorts files by favorites, recent, albums, artists, genres, formats and file names. It also supports playlists and can do the search. Main player screen shows album art, audio format, track time, amount of songs in current list, file properties, lyrics, gives the access to EQ and provides such functions as: seeking through track, adding to favorites, adding to playlist, deleting the file and changing play mode (shuffle, all, repeat 1, repeat all). Unlike in Android version, audio settings on R2 are called not directly from HiBy Music app but are represented by a separate Audio settings shortcut from one of the main screens.
Audio streaming is provided by Tidal application which requires WiFi internet connection and asks for the login and password right after the initial launch. HiBy has announced adding Qobuz a bit later. My personal preference is Deezer which would probably not appear on this device. Nevertheless, Tidal HIFI account now acts as MQA provider for R2 which can do 4X unfold on its turn. What is peculiar, that even when connected to FD1, R2 would still support MQA unfold but would be limited to 2X only. Still its a good news for the fans who want to have HiRes sandwich and use Tidal or Qobuz applications. BTW, WiFi reception is quite strong and no interference coming in to the sound.
This DAP is able to work in USB DAC mode with either native Windows 10 driver or with the dedicated ASIO driver that would hopefully be released soon by HiBy. One of the drawback of Windows native driver is the maximum of 24bit/48kHz that it can process. Again, hopefully, dedicated ASIO driver would handle all modes in future.
One more strong side of R2 is its battery. Continuous play consisting mostly of the HiRes formats can reach 12-13 hours which is much longer compared to middle and upper class DAPs based on Android OS. Of course, using WiFi, streaming services and Bluetooth would put much more load on the battery. R2 would also get a bit warmer under such circumstances.
Our device is running on 1.0 FW version and there were no FW updates yet for this DAP. There are two option to update: using microSD card or doing OTA update over WiFi.
Anyway, as a summary: even though there are a couple of negative points in R2 user experience (control buttons rattle a bit, couple of functions are not yet fully developed) — it is a strong performer with groundbreaking functionality. UI is fluid, interactions are logic and smooth, battery is long lasting. Plenty of features packed into such a small device.
HiBy FD1 in use:
First of all, FD1 is designed to be used with any source, not only R2 DAP. It perfectly functions when connected to either PC or a smartphone. But concerning its physical shape and software capabilities — R2 seems to be the best pair for this DAC&. We assume that the main idea was to allow R2 users to expand the functionality of their DAPs by adding balanced circuit and squeezing out more power for the end gear…
Since FD1 is not equipped with its own battery — it fully relies on USB power and drains the battery of the source. Ideal situation when you don’t have to worry about the battery level but the drawback is a limited output power. For instance, R2 produces 70mW/channel on its own, while FD1 would produce just a fraction more — 75mW/channel on balanced terminal. SE output is limited to 25mW/channel which is almost similar to any regular smartphone. Despite that, FD1, as a stack component, is able to improve the sound is many aspects which we would review in sound quality section.
FD1 doesn’t get hot during operation and the only sign of life is represented by LED light. Since the shape is similar to R2 — it perfectly fits this DAP underneath and the provided soft adhesive layer does the job in sandwich construction. Unfortunately, HiBy has not provided rubber bands or special plastic case to hold both devices together. Hopefully, they got the point of this complaint and would develop such accessory in future.
On the other hand, HiBy included three types of cables that would make the life easier. L-shaped type-C -> type-C cable perfectly fits sandwich setup, whereas other two straight cables are better to be used for smartphone or PC. All cables have aluminum connector housings and all seems to be durable. This is important because all cables have host and slave side and couldn’t be easily exchanged if lost or damaged.
FD1 is also equipped with its own Play|Pause, Vol UP / DOWN buttons that allows to avoid waking up the screen of a smartphone or DAP.
The situation with the drivers is similar to R2 — native driver support in Windows environment can be expanded to Windows 7/8/10 by switching to USB 1.0 using a special slider button. Although, to be able to play DSD — USB should be set to 2.0 and special driver is required. This driver has not yet been released.
Tested with Xiaomi Redmi Note 8Pro, Lenovo Y500, Hidizs Seeds SE and Hidizs Seeds Balanced versions of IEMs.
HiBy R2 sound makes the impression of a pretty neutral DAP with a slight tendency towards the warmth. Lows, mids and highs, in overall, are in a good balance making this DAP universal for any kind of music genres.
Midbass is powerful, fast and punchy, its expression and dynamics are impressive. Lows are well pronounced, moderately outlined and have a slight touch of lift that adds a bit of warmth and some extra body to the sound.
Clarity and crispness on higher frequencies are moderate, their presence is not overwhelming or irritating. Just enough for a good balance and shows good amount of micro details. Mids are naturally sounding with reach vocals and weighted presence in the entire mix. Female vocals are neither screaming, nor too thin.
Again, R2 signature is a bit on the darker side by very slightly emphasizing lows, no tube-like performance, no cattle effect. Do not forget about MSEB feature that gives the additional control over such aspects of the sound as:
- sound temperature
- bass extension
- bass texture
- note thickness
- female overtones
- sibilance LF
- sibilance HF
- impulse response
Channel separation and entire scene are moderate, neither revealing, nor disappointing. Let’s say that it is pretty similar to other entry-level DAPs.
Further sound improvement is achieved when FD1 is connected to R2. And here we have some contradictory feelings. As a matter of fact, we did like SE output of R2 more than when paired to FD1 and its SE output is used. R2 SE output seems to be more detailed, clean (regarding mixing of instruments), highs have better extension and resolution. Sound is more balanced. FD1 SE output makes the sound brighter, puts an accent on highs and sound less intimate and holistic. But this is the case of direct comparison. By itself, FD1 SE output stays significantly better than a regular smartphone or laptop sound in terms of overall dynamics, resolution, instrument separation and power output.
In contrary to FD1 SE output, when Balanced port is used — sound improves in many aspects, leaving R2 behind. First, the signature looses aforemended warmth and becomes a bit brighter but with no further negative effect. Other aspects affected: textures and details get more evident, midbass gets more dynamics and drive, highs are treated better as well — more extended and accurate. Stage also spreads to sides and creates a feeling of larger room.
R2 V/S Hidizs AP80Pro:
For us, the main competitor in terms of audio quality as well as the functionality is the latest Hidizs DAP — AP80Pro. It has quite different philosophy, shows some pros and cons in the direct comparison but stays close to R2 in its nature. R2 is packed with lots of features unavailable for AP80Pro but requires the additional device to manage balanced output. Whereas AP80Pro is not that sophisticated in terms of function list but has balanced circuit on board that is able to drive higher loads due to more output power (190mW/channel).
Concerning the sound — R2 and AP80Pro are pretty close with SE outputs. The slight difference is obvious in the signatures — R2 sounds bit more warm and thick, while AP80Pro doesn’t make any accent on lows. This difference is only fractional, gets evident during A/B tests. The rest of the sound characteristics feel to be similar. AP80Pro Balanced V/S R2 + FD1 Balanced output literally removes the difference even in signatures and the devices get even closer (still AP80Pro balanced output is much more powerful). Therefore, AP80Pro is the main rival indeed, but the decision would be tough since the usage scenarios and philosophy are completely different.
Similar to the first positive impression about Beans design, sound quality is most revealing out of three components of this HiBy bundle. Being priced as low as $59 — Beans are the best bullet-like shaped dynamic IEMs so far. Slight and engaging V-tuning serves a good role here, instead of irritating with overly bright highs and overemphasized lows. Everything is smooth, accurate and delightful. Good extensions on both extremes, impressive clarity of highs for single dynamic model, excellent control with clear instrument outlines, more than moderate texturing and resolution.
Beans can easily compete with more expensive dynamic IEMs from Periodic Audio, DUNU, TFZ and other brands. Furthermore, the fit is surprisingly comfortable as for the bullet-like IEMs. Achieved by the combination of weight and stock memory foam tips.
One recommendation: if you like R2 + FD1 + Beans bundle — consider getting 2.5mm balanced cable for Beans. This would significantly improve sound quality resulting from FD1.
HiBy released three HiRes components at once, each one represents a great performer, either used as a bundle or separately. R2 is a groundbreaking entry level DAP, packed with lots of modern functions typical for flagship models and delivers audiophile-grade sound quality. FD1 is handy little DAC& that equally improves the sound from a smartphone, PC or even R2 DAP while expanding the functionality by adding balanced output. Beans IEMs make a perfect match to this capable bundle, especially with 2.5mm balanced connection. All three are underpriced judging by the offered features and performance level in comparison to the corresponding rivals. Therefore, this HiRes sandwich or its separate ingredients are all tasty and highly recommended.
HiBy R2 official store and page: LINK
HiBy FD1 official store and page: LINK
HiBy Beans official store and page: LINK
Thank you for reading.
Stay tuned, more reviews to come!