Excellent build quality, sound signature perfection, mediocre software experience
Reviewed in the United States on 2 April 2019
I've listened to a number of midfi DAPs over the years on both midfi and hifi headphones, but after some recent purchases, I am very satisfied with my R6 Pro purchase.
(UPDATE 4/4/2019: Battery life is fixed after clearing cache and performing a factory reset. Woo!
The R6 Pro offers much more over the original R6 to provide a far better listening experience. The $200 is not just for nothing, I can assure you. While I cannot compare to the original R6 sound, I have done research among various forums and the reports are significantly commending the improvements the Pro did over the original R6.
The R6 Pro's differences that you mainly need to know is the previous issues of not being able to drive certain low-impedance IEM's properly is no longer a concern, whereas the original R6 required an IEMatch cable to fix the low-z skew caused by pairing those IEM's with the R6. For the R6 Pro, HiBy has completely gutted the original amplifier circuit. Two QPA1612 low pass filter and two TPA6120A amplifier chips have been removed to make way for four Muses8920 amplifiers and two extra SSM6322 amplifer/low pass filter chips to remedy the issue entirely. The result is an output impedance of 0.24Ω on both balanced and unbalanced lines, and the Pro's output is still able to be more stable and more powerful than the original R6 to boot.
For my listening experience, I've listened with a couple various setups. The first being a Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro. This has been my home daily driver for a long while, with decent soundstage to be able to compare. I can immediately tell a difference between the R6 Pro and previous DAP's I have owned, such as the OPUS#1, and FiiO X3 Gen 1. My next and most recent headphone purchase is the Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote IEM's, which produce a very wide soundstage for an IEM, and has very good clarity in the bass, treble, and mids. It does have a V-shape compared to the warm but bright setup of the DT1990's, however it is not an offensive V-shape by any means, and the instrument separation is still fantastic.
The sound feels immediately improved compared to my previous DAP's.. but be aware that my repertoire is very limited compared to more experienced audiophiles.
Soundstage 10/10: Soundstage produced by the R6 Pro is incredible, separating instruments in the most natural way I've ever heard. Even on stereo speakers in my car, I can pick up on the instrument separation far better than most low-fi and mid-fi devices.
Bass 10/10: Bass is incredibly smooth and crisp, and allows the attached headphones to produce the sound intended by both the artist and the manufacturer of the headphones, without any added manipulation to the audio. It never overcrowds but you can always hear it distinctly from the rest of the audio.
Treble 10/10: Treble is highly detailed and inoffensive. I have tried multiple genres of all styles and have yet to find something that produces an unwanted sound.
Mids 10/10: Mids are detailed and perfectly clear among the bass and treble beside it. Vocals can be heard distinctly in any genre from progressive rock to electronic, drum and bass to country, and big band to rave.
Genre compatibility 10/10: I cannot find a genre this DAP cannot provide outstanding results. I have tried electronic, dubstep, drum & bass, hip-hop (including instrumental and rap), jazz-funk, big band, progressive rock, 70's rock, country, happy hardcore, j-core, j-pop, chiptune (both authentic and synthed), orchestral, electro-swing, glitch-hop, and all kinds of various video game soundtracks from Gareth Coker's Ori & the Blind Forest, Shoji Meguro's Persona series, and from Chrono Trigger composer Yasunori Mitsuda's Xenoblade Chronicles soundtracks to Hideki Naganuma's various video game and anime soundtracks such as Jet Set Radio, Sonic Rush, Ollie King, and Air Gear. Everything is produced emphatically better than any other DAP I've ever listened to.
Build quality 10/10: The product is very well made. The weight proves this to you when you hold it in your hand, at 285g, so this will definitely drop hard, but I doubt dropping this would damage it. The buttons feel perfect, and the design choices are spot on. For the accessories, the cables feel very well made with a nice and tight webbed sleeve over the cables, and very good feeling silicon case to protect from drops without hiding the sleek look of the R6 Pro.
Looks and presentation 8/10: I find the light on the side of the R6 Pro to be unnecessary and just a battery-drainer. It never turns off. The metal surface sadly easily scratches, which I suppose is to be expected, but the silicon case does not cover the front metal of the DAP, which leaves that susceptible to scuffs. The Hi-Res sticker started coming off on my DAP within weeks. This could have probably been prevented if it was covered by the silicon case, or if they used a nicer material for the sticker (or printed the logo for Hi-Res on the back along with the rest of the codec's listed. The 4.4 inch jack, I feel, is annoying. While I like the fact that they are wanting to future proof, I find that most people will have no need of a 4.4 inch balanced jack and that 2.5 inch would perfectly suffice. The box the R6 Pro came in felt cheap in comparison to the device itself. My initial impression might have been better if not for the basic cardboard boxes behind a cheap light felt coated foam piece holding the R6 Pro.
Software 6/10: This is where the review starts hurting. The HiBy Music app is horrible for sorting and finding music. The album view currently does not sort alphabetical properly with albums that have the same first word. I have heard from their tech support that they will work on this on the next update, but this really hurts the DAP currently, because I am forced to use folder browsing, which in some ways is worse because the filenames do not scroll left to right when they are too long. Instead they cut out the middle of the track so in the case of a track named like "A5 Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2).flac", it will be named "A5 Pink Floyd - An..art 2).flac". This is an absolutely horrible software design decision because I can never tell what track is what unless I know what track number it is. The music sounds amazing in the HiBy music app though, and unfortunately attempting to use any other music app fails to produce as good of a sound. I have even tried Poweramp Audio Player, and it cannot produce the same soundstage as the official HiBy Music app, even though I would much prefer the sorting on it. Attempting to use direct audio (experimental) to use the R6 Pro's OS sound system directly produces massive artifacts, which is very sad as better known DAPs support this feature.
Battery life 9/10: The DAP has extremely good battery life. But in my case it would eat it in standby over the course of the entire day until I was told about a fix.. Making sure I had up to date system software, going into recovery, wiping the cache (required), then performing a factory reset fixed my battery issues permanently.
Reported noise issues: I have not had any noise issues whatsoever with my Cayin 2.5 inch balance adapter. I have no issues having it next to my phone either.
Overall 9/10: I will definitely be keeping this DAP for the forseeable future. The sound is fantastic and will not let you down. Software updates may improve on the software issues. I sure hope they do.
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