HiBy R2 Review: The Next-Level /Entry-Level Portable Audio Player

HiBy R2, a new entry-level HiFi digital audio player is “jet black and stacked, stacked, stacked“.

Today we delve into HiBy’s new R2 Digital Audio Player

The popularity of dedicated portable mp3 players is on the rise again, except, now don’t call them mp3 players or your age (and knowledge) will be showing. Geekily, but more accurately, they are referred to as a DAP (or digital audio players) because strictly speaking they do more than play MP3s: FLAC, AAC, OGG, WAV, as well as old faithful, the MP3 file. But more than that, they may have features like: expandable hard drive space via swappable TS/micro SD cards; digital streaming via wifi; bluetooth to send signal to devices; and like the unit we are looking at today, a DAC (digital audio converter) to turn your player into an audio output for your computer, stereo or tv.

Yes, portable digital audio players have come along way since my last purchases, the Fiio M3 from 2015 and the Apple iPod Nano 4th Generation from 2009. For many, these types of players offered very little from what the almighty cellphone could accomplish. Now, however, with expandable SD card memory beginning to disappear from cellphones, as well as no analog 3.5mm headphone output, music lovers are beginning to recognize the advantage of a dedicated portable unit for strictly music.

My little HiBy R2 unit is a “bad motivator”(Star Wars Joke) to take on the go.

There are many different DAPs to suit everyone’s needs. I wanted an under $200 (CAD) player that had: good sound, expandable memory, Bluetooth, decent battery life, a touch screen, good UI for navigating large libraries, and flexible playback options (e.g. random play, playlists) in that order. I considered the Fiio’s M3 pro (no bluetooth), Hidizs AP80 (very close 2nd but more expensive, older bluetooth and I heard the rotary volume knob can be hard to adjust with one hand), Shanling M0 (lacks physical buttons, only expandable to 512GB and older bluetooth). In the end I decided to go with the HiBy R2 Pro.

The HiBy R2 Pro boasts:

  • Expandable TC/Micro SD card memory (up to 2 TB)
  • Bluetooth 5.0 (with UAT, LDAC, aptX, AAC and SBC transmission)
  • plays mp3, wav, ape, flac, dsf, dff, iso, cue, wma, ogg, aac, opus, aiff and more
  • USB DAC (connect it to a computer to use it as an audio output)
  • Bluetooth Bi-directional DAC (send sound to or receive sound from devices)
  • Dual band WiFi: 2.4/5.0Ghz
  • Tidal streaming app
  • Sabre es9218 chip that can handle 32-Bit / 384kHz and DSD128
  • Built in mic with noise cancelling function
  • HiByLink (use your cellphone to navigate the R2)

First Impressions

The box and offerings therein was extremely…minimal with not much to offer but brisk instructions and the smallest usb-c cord known to humanity. However, they did include a plastic protective case for the HiBy.

The R2 unit itself was impressive: dark silver metal edges (more silver than black), black high-gloss backing and glass touch screen. The R2 was a perfect size at 61x61x12mm. Substantial enough with a decent weight at 85g, but small enough to be cradle in your hand.

The R2’s only design flaw (IMO): is it’s rectangular screen on its appealing square form.

The screen has ok resolution at 480×360. My only complaint is that the screen doesn’t extend to the full height of the unit, which would have made full use of the R2’s square form and, more precisely, most albums cover’s square format. Instead, the album covers are cut off or appear in their smaller form. With its perfectly square design it would have been nice to see the cover fill the entire front of the device. Probably my biggest complaint.

Like many have remarked, the plastic film that it comes with (as seen throughout) is cheap and thick, meant mostly for transport. It hinders the look, feel and functionality of the touchscreen and I recommend you get a new thinner one. HiBy should probably just pay whatever the cost is and get better quality screen protector. However, there are so many types of screen protectors (blue light, privacy ones) and maybe they thought the choice was best left with the consumer and perhaps some don’t even want it.

Also, something to consider there is no on-board memory. For that, you need to get a Micro SD card but the R2 can handle cards up to 2TB! Which is more than enough for most music fans even with larger files.

Functionality

The buttons for basic player operation are located on the unit and can be easily accessed and identified by feel, especially if the R2 is in your pocket. On the top is the On/Off button that changes with colour depending on the file being played (e.g. Blue for 16-bit, Green for 24-bit…). Probably unnecessary but appealing. On the left side of the HiBy R2 are the up and down volume buttons. I found the volume gets really loud even on low output setting but you can set the ‘max volume’ in the menu (under ‘play settings’). On the right side: the top button is the rewind, the middle is pause, and bottom button is fast forward. The buttons feel pretty solid, some people complained of wiggly buttons but it feels fine to me, perhaps if you are coming down from a more expensive player.

At the bottom is 3.5mm headphone out jack, the Micro SD card slot and the USB-C input. Another design consideration, the USB-C input is slightly off kilter, so if you put it on a Usb stand it is little more to the left (not a big deal). If you want the cord at the top it has ‘screen rotation’ function to do that.

The music menu system on the HiBy R2 DAP.

The HiBy uses a propriety-Linux based system that is mostly thought out, although I did find at first I would get lost swiping through menus sometimes. I found the software to be a little sluggish at first but I found the update did help (store.hiby.com/apps/help-center#hc-r2-firmware-v11-update) . As others have mentioned, navigating songs (and in some cases albums) is a little bit cumbersome. You can scroll down the right side in song mode and it will shuffle through the alphabet (rolodex style) but found because of its relatively small screen there were misfires opening up other functions on the screen. This may be a deal breaker depending on your playing habits. Usually, I prefer to listen to my entire library at random, unless I am in a mood for something specific in my library.

So, for the sole purpose of this review, I thought I would try the HiBy Link feature, which allows you to control most of the functionality of your HiBy on your phone or tablet. It’s available for free as the HiByMusic app (available for IOS and Android). Here, I tried it on my old iPhone SE, unbelievably it worked! And more than that it was actually quite enjoyable using it. Which opens up lots of different possibilities (e.g. you could plug your HiBy directly to a speaker through the 3.5 mm port, then use your phone to skip tracks or create a cue up a couple songs). The experience is similar but bit more slicker on the phone.

One problem, I have had is connectivity problems sometimes with older Bluetooth devices. These things are hard to gauge when it comes to who the real culprit is, but sometimes I found it difficult to get a good connection to my gf’s Toyoto Yaris 2018 with speed ups and drops (where cellphones had no problems). However, the HiBy connected to my newly purchased Wonderboom 2 speaker’s 5.0 bluetooth quickly and flawlessly.

Final Thoughts

The HiBy R2 is a remarkably full-featured entry/level DAP at a good price. Although, this is my first plunge into a player of this type, its hard to imagine wanting much more out of your DAP. It sounds good. Furthermore, its up to 2TB expandability makes it a little more future proof.

Paired with free music library software, MusicBee, I have been really happy with the results and it has worked out better than any Apple set up I have had previously. I think in the long term a dedicated audio unit like the HiBy R2 will workout better than any cellphone dedicated to a music library that will eventually (by fate or design) become a brick (I find my old cellphones barely turn on or function).

Again, I am constantly amazed by the sound. I was listening to Aphex Twin’s “Phloam” from Classics, which is a combination hard techno beats, distorted high-hats and lush synth pads. It was amazing how not-harsh the high hats were despite the heavy distortion. Every element fitting in the right place sonically. Likewise, switching over to a Doobie Brother’s “Me and The Captain” 24-Bit Flac had lots of detail (e.g. acoustic guitar strings shimmering). The HiBy was able to handle everything and make it sound good (without any EQ changes) and on different headphones (from Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones to my Pioneer HDJ-X7-K). Maybe its time for new headphones too?

Pros:

Quality DAP with so many features it’s staggering.

Sounds great with plenty of options to shape the sound (EQ and their to the speaker or headphones.

Expandable Memory: can use micro SD cards up to 2TB.

-Pretty decent battery life boasting 15 hours (depending on file size), I would say it is a little lower than that (12-13) which is still pretty decent and is on par with better bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth 5.0: means longer range and it can transmit Hi-Res Audio

-2.45” Touchscreen display

DAC capability

Hi-res audio streaming from Tidal. (with Qobuz)

Dual microphone

3.5 mm headphone jack (for those of us who are still plugged in)

Cons:



-The screen doesn’t extended all the way to the top, making full use of the unit’s surface and making full use of the covers.

-Wish it started with any song in random mode. You have to pick a first song, then after that it’s in random. I want to turn it on, hit play and boom we are playing.

-As many have indicated scrolling through songs and albums is pretty painful and my fingers aren’t that big.

-The telephone style keypad for typing is slow

-Wish it had an album cover swiping mode. They have an album category (of course) but you just scroll alphabetically.

-Some bluetooth connectivity issues to older devices.

Just in time for Summer… New DJ Mix ‘CABIN FEVER’! — Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

The walls are closing in, the temperature is rising and a bear is drinking all the beer. This is definitely a case of full blown Saturday night live cabin fever. Here at cottagemixtape.com, we have you covered. In the tradition of the Cottage Country Mix series, Dougie Boom has put together a mix of Rock […]

Just in time for Summer… New DJ Mix ‘CABIN FEVER’! — Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

Chilliwack – Crazy Talk (Diggy and Dougie’s Talking Crazy Edit) from Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

For the first time EVER, we decided to release our old edit of Chilliwack’s classic tune, “Crazy Talk“. With a little added drums and a whole lot of trippy lake echo, the “Diggy & Dougie Talking Crazy Edit” first appeared on Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix Vol. 5 and is available for the first time […]

Chilliwack – Crazy Talk (Diggy and Dougie’s Talking Crazy Edit) — Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

TBT: Rosalie And Trevor’s Wedding @ Toronto Reference Library

More than words: Rosalie and Trevor looking lovely on their wedding I had the pleasure of DJing. photo by BKH Photo.

Throwing back to one of my favourite weddings I had the pleasure of playing in last year 2019. My longtime friend Trevor, who was a big early supporter of my DJ career, and his beloved Rosalie asked me to play their wedding and I was so humbled I had to say yes (“I dooooooo!”) The whole event was covered in Toronto Life and (your truly, Dougie Boom) was mentioned in the credits.

Trevor and Rosalie’s wedding was “real” fun. Read about it at TorontoLife.com.
Looking up to see the bride you got an appreciation of the size of the space.

It was a glamorous affair, Rosalie looked lovely in her dress and Trevor (not being totally outdone) looked sharp as well. What was great and unusual was the space, the wedding took place at the Bloor and Yonge Toronto Reference Library. It was my first time playing there and I was very impressed. The ceremony took place on the ground floor foyer and the bride made her dramatic entrance by taking the glass elevator down to her eagerly awaiting husband to be. The entrance music, a string version of Toto’s “Africa” by Vyne String Quartet, and the elevator were perfectly timed, giving the couple ample time to collect their thoughts before the proceedings got underway.

Trevor & Rosalie making memories with friends on the dance floor. Photo by BKH Photo from TorontoLife.com .

The guest and family were all in good spirits throughout the dinner with speeches that segued into a great evening of dancing. The floor never ceased with one couple telling me that if they hadn’t already been married, they would want me to play their wedding. Well there is always the anniversary party. I will play yours too, Trevor and Rosalie 😉

Dougie Boom in Hamilton at 1101 CafeBar February 7th

Playing an all 45/ 7″ set at 1101 Cafebar Feb. 7 (osten1101.com)

Very excited to announce I will be playing in Hamilton at 1101 CafeBar on Friday Feb 7th. Playing an all 45 set but not before eating and drinking next door at Osten Beerhall. 1101 and Osten is the new spot brought to you by homies Mark (ex-Royale’s Luncheonette) and Robert (Block Univers, Sixtoo, Megasoid) .

Expect to hear a little of everything: disco, house, hip hop, funk, electro, industrial all on 45. Small records big sound!

So if you were thinking of making the pilgrimage or are living Hamilton come through!

Dougie Boom @ 1101 Cafebar
Friday, February 7th, 2020
1101 Cannon St E,
Hamilton. Ontario

dougieboom.com

Step Into The New Year! with a New Jack Swing Mix by Dougie Boom

Happy New Year everybody! Now, between making plans for a new Cottage Country mix series and locking down dates for the rest of the new year. I thought I would put this mix together before the hits of 2020 start rolling and rewind it a bit. So let’s go back…back into time…back to the late 80’s early 90′ for this. I always wanted to do an ALL 45 / 7″ New Jack Swing mix.

What is New Jack Swing? New Jack Swing is a style of music that existed from about 1986 to 1992 that blended black R&B, pop and Hip Hop (with its origins in groups like New Edition and songs like Doug E Fresh’s “The Show” & Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”). The name ‘New Jack Swing’ was chosen because the beats characteristically swung with almost a DC Go-Go feel (another musical form at the time). The sound became hugely popular with songs like “Poison” by Bel Biv Devoe and Boys II Men “Motownphilly” (which starts this mix) crossing over to broader audiences. Even across the world the sound was popular, in fact a lot of the 45s used in this mix were from Europe. In fact, a lot of New Jack Swing 45s are European only releases (as the US market began to move towards digital media).

Some of the defining producers of the genre are Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (particularly early on) and of course super producer Teddy Riley, who would eventually come “full swing” and define 90’s hip hop (pushing that genre into the pop stratosphere). So, whether you like it or not, we live in a post -New Jack Swing world (at least in terms of pop music and culture). Gangster rap would turn out to dominate New Jack Swing as hip hop’s wimpier cousin but pop music has never quite gotten over New Jack Swing. You can hear it into the late 90’s with “Backstreet’s Back” sounding exactly like Prince’s “My Name Is Prince” and more obviously Britney Spears’ 2004 cover of “My Prerogative”. I can remember Bobby Brown’s original being a favourite of my older sister and, in contrast, my Dad thinking it was hilarious (a sort of generational cry for independence).

So here it is Dougie Boom X New Jack Swing X 45s vinyl = NEW JACK SCHWING!

New Jack Schwing Mix by Dougie Boom

Tracklisting:

Boys II Men – Motownphilly
Another Bad Creation – Iesha
Joe Public – Live & Learn
TLC ‎– What About Your Friends
Wrecks-N-Effect ‎– New Jack Swing
Bel Biv Devoe – Do Me!
Redhead Kingpin And The F.B.I. ‎– Do The Right Thing
Bobby Brown ‎– My Prerogative
Father MC – Lisa Baby
Janet Jackson – Nasty Boys
Levert – Pull Over
Johnny Gill ‎– Rub You The Right Way
Tony! Toni! Toné! ‎– Feels Good
Jane Child ‎– Don’t Wanna Fall In Love
Cameo – Candy

New Dougie Boom Megamix Names Names…His-self


Recently, I celebrated my birthday and thought it would be a good time to invite all my friends: DMX, Will Smith, Shaggy, etc and make a mix with my name all over it. I also added some classic movie clips with “Doug”: 21 Jump Street, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Hangover, etc. Hear the results at here at dougieboom.com .

Dougie Boom MEgamix

John Lee Hooker – “Boom Boom”
Lil’ Will – “My Dougie”
Young Problemz & Mike Jones – “Boi!”
General Degree –  “Boom Boom”
Spice – “So Mi Like It”
DMX feat. Mr. Vegas & Sean Paul – “Top Shotter”
P.O.D. “Boom”
Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew – “The Show”
LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out”
Shaquille O’Neal – “Boom!”
Fresh Prince – “Boom! Shake The Room”
Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”
Snoop Dogg feat. T-Pain – “Boom”
L’Trimm – “Cars That Go Boom”
The Egyptian Lover – “And My Beat Goes Boom”
Soundmaster T – “2 Much Booty In The Pants (Boom Shaka Mix)”
The Outhere Brothers x Kastra x Martin Garrix – “Boom Boom Proxy (Kastra Bootleg)”
Paul Lekakis – “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)”
Just A Band & Octa Push – “Boom Boom Boom”
The Boys From The Bottom – “Boom I Got Your Girlfriend”
California Swag District – “Teach Me How To Dougie (Promo Only Clean Edit)”
SBTRKT – “Ready Set Loop”
Addison Groove – “I Go Boom (DJ Rashad Remix)”
Shaggy – “Mr. Boombastic”
Prince – “Musicology”

Battle of The Bags: QSC’s CP8 Tote vs Gator GPA-TOTE8 for the QSC CP8 Speaker

Gator-QSC-CP8ppp
Side by side: The Gator GPA-TOTE8 & the QSC’s CP8 Tote for the CP8 Speaker

After my favourable review of the QSC CP8 speaker, I thought I would go one further and compare two options of tote bags to carry and protect the CP8 speaker. Since, the speaker is made of polypropylene (a hard plastic) and of some considerable weight, it is important to protect your QSC CP8 during transportation. The two most readily available options available to me (there are probably other options outside Canada) were: QSC’s own brand of tote bag, the QSC CP8 Tote (CP8Tote) or Gator’s Heavy Duty Speaker Tote for 8 inch speakers (GPA-TOTE8). So, does it make sense to buy the more expensive $100 (CAD) QSC CP8 Tote bag for your $600 CP8 speaker or will the $75 CAD Gator GPA-TOTE8 suffice?


More DJ Equipment Reviews:
• REVIEW: QSC CP8 SPEAKER – A DJ’S LIL BEST BUD?
• PRESONUS ERIS E3.5 SPEAKERS FOR A HOME DJ SET UP (REVIEW)
•  YOUR VINYL RECORDS ARE FILTHY. REVIEW OF THE RECORD DOCTOR VI 20TH ANNIVERSARY VACUUM RECORD CLEANER


QSC CP8 Tote

When I originally purchased the CP8 speaker, QSC’s own tote bag was my first choice of bag purchased. Functionally, it provided everything I needed in a tote bag. It was modelled for the QSC CP8, so the fit is snug. So snug, in fact, that it takes a little finessing to get it in. The outside of the bag is made of heavy-duty nylon / Cordura, which makes the bag light-weight but durable. The inside of the bag is covered with a soft lined PE foam padding which adds protection and is soft enough that it won’t scratch your speaker. The additional velcro pocket on the side provides enough room for the 9-foot power cable that the CP8 comes with, plus a little additional room (I was able to add an additional 6-foot TRS cable). The stitching is solid with straps that seem to take the weight of CP8, no problem. It has a convenient velcro flap on top to access the CP8’s top handle (as seen above).

QSC-CP8TOTE-side-pocket
The QSC CP8 Tote bag could fit the original 9-foot power cable for the CP8, plus a 6-foot TRS cable.

Gator GPA-TOTE8

Gator-GPATOTE8-side-pocket
The Gator GPA-TOTE8 could only fit the only fit the original power cable.

I was so impressed the CP8 speaker I purchased another. So, this time, I decided to instead purchase the Gator brand of 8 inch speaker bag to compare. The design is much the same as CP8 at a fraction of the cost (at a relative 3/4 the cost). It includes (like the QSC CP9-Tote): two straps, a side pocket, with access to the top handle of the speaker so it can be carried two ways (as a bag or by carrying the handle of the speaker itself). However, they differ slightly. The Gator is bigger in size and offers a little more room for the speaker, arguably this extra space could be to accommodate other models of 8 inch speaker. This extra space could be used to accommodate more chords perhaps, however this means that it’s not fitted specifically to the CP8 speaker, so its a little less secure with about an inch of space around the cabinet. Contrarily, the side pocket on the Gator is smaller. I was only able to fit just the 6 foot power chord (no additional chords).

Gator-GPATOTE8-handle
Getting a handle on what is the better bag for the QSC CP8 Speaker: the QSC CP8 TOTE (on the left) or the Gator GPA-TOTE8 (on the right).

Other physical differences, the flap to access the speaker handle on the Gator is a different design. Instead of a dedicated flap (like the one on the QSC bag), on the Gator, you need to unzip the bag’s main zippers a bit to access the top handle of your speaker. This may be an annoyance to some. As far as the construction, the Gator does not feel as sturdy. The slightly thinner carrying straps combined with the weight of CP8, make it feel not as stable as the QSC bag when you pick it up. Finally, the foam inside feels cheaper and is not as thick and protective as the QSC’s foam.

QSC CP8 Tote vs Gator GPA-TOTE8 – Conclusion

CP8-tote-bag-open
The Gator is more “accommodating” but is an inch of space (front, back and side) around the speaker too much?

So, does it make sense to buy the $100 (CAD) QSC CP8 Tote bag for the $600 CP8 speaker or does the $75 Gator GPA-TOTE8 suffice? In my opinion, I am going with the QSC’s own brand of tote, the CP8Tote, on this one. The Gator does not feel as “heavy duty” as its title proclaims (especially for the CP8 speaker). If maybe you aren’t going to move your speakers all that much and you want to keep them mostly dust free this may be your option. However, if you are like me and want (and plan) to move them often or as much as you like, I would say go with the QSC’s tote bag. It’s emblematic of the QSC which is a little overpriced but indispensable. Furthermore, the price is almost negligible compared to keeping and preserving your investment. Between the Gator and the QSC speaker tote you can feel the difference in cost and it may make the difference. I had high hopes for the Gator as I have one of their other bags (The G-MIXERBAG-0909) and it’s great. This one, however, falls a bit short as a bag for the QSC CP8 speaker.

QSC CP8 Tote

Pros:

  • Made specifically for the QSC CP8 speaker so it’s a perfect fit.
  • Better quality build and materials (zipper, foam, nylon exterior).
  • Bigger side pocket.
  • More sturdy.
  • Better access to top handle of speaker.

CONS:

  • Such a tight fit, it takes a bit of finessing.
  • Side pocket (although bigger than the Gator) could be even bigger
  • More expensive

Gator GPA-TOTE8

Pros

  • Slightly larger interior, will fit more brands of speaker or more cables.
  • Costs less than QSC Tote

Cons

  • Padding is thinner, less protective.
  • CP8 speakers sits more loosely in the bag with about an inch of space on the side, top, and front, less secure.
  • To access handle of your speaker, you more or less open the bag.
  • Construction is cheaper.
  • Materials are cheaper (foam, nylon shell, zippers, velcro)

New Cottage Country Mix Vol 22 for 2019! — Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

Here we are in our eleventh year, 93.5 Loon, and we proudly present Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Vol. 22. Dropping the double deuce on ya. Tonight we going to party like it was last night, Tonight we are going to party like it is the last night. cottagemixtape.com

via New Cottage Country Mix Vol 22 for 2019! — Dougie Boom’s Cottage Country Mix

Rihanna – James Joint (420 Remix by Dougie Boom)

https://dougieboom.bandcamp.com/track/james-joint-420-remix-by-dougie-boom

Happy 420!

To celebrate I made a little remix of Rihanna’s “James Joint” (420 Remix by Dougie Boom). Available for free until I workout the kinks:

https://dougieboom.bandcamp.com/track/james-joint-420-remix-by-dougie-boom

All to celebrate tonight’s festivities at:


Stuck On Stupid 4/20
w/ The FranDiscos! + Fase & Dougie Boom
At The Drake Hotel
April 20, 2019