Hiby R3-II vs Hiby M300 Digital Audio Player Review Shoot-Out

The Hiby M300 and the Hiby R3-II (2nd Generation) are two of the newest digital audio players from the growing brand Hiby, makers of Hiby OS, Hiby Player, and Hiby DAPs and in-ear monitors. Both of these are their entry level audio players and are two of the smallest ones you can buy on the market, regardless of manufacturer.

I bought both of these myself from Hiby via Hiby directly and on their Amazon storefront. The R3-II retails for approximately $179, while the M300 at $199. 

The key differences between the two units is pretty simple: The R3-II uses the latest iteration of Hiby OS, a fully customized operating system dedicated to music by Hiby, and the M300 uses a Hiby-customized Android 13 OS, which comes with Google Play Store.

That said, the R3-II does still have Wifi capabilities and has a customized Tidal and Qobuz application that Hiby created for their OS, and works decently well. You won't get all the bells and whistles of the real application, but it works well enough for streaming.

Both of these players have very small footprints, and can easily fit in the palm of your hands and in your smallest pockets. They are both lightweight, attractive, and have outstanding battery life for a digital audio player, with both lasting much longer than my other Android DAPs, nearly 20 hours each, if not more.

The R3-II also features both 4.4mm balanced and a standard 3.5mm output, while the M300 will only take 3.5mm jacks. 

With some of the basic differences out of the way, let's just talk about both players individually.

The R3-II

The R3-II is a nice little DAP that packs a lot of features in a small package. As mentioned before, it has balanced 4.4mm output, and can also be used as a USB DAC, two-way Bluetooth DAC, and while it runs its own Hiby OS, it still has wifi capabilities with Hiby's own Tidal and Qobuz custom applications for streaming audio.

The Hiby R3 II is a warm-sounding player that isn't as warm as some of Hiby's older models, including their previous R3 series, but still is not quite as incisive and neutral as the M300. The player also features system-wide audio tweaking via the Hiby MSEB software that allows users to tweak a multitude of options to get the sound how they like. I've played around quite a bit with this tool and customize it for my liking.

The volume knob on the R3 II sticks out quite a bit and some may find it a bit of a visual eye sore. It does, however, serve its purpose and is easy to adjust with. The knob is also the power and display off button for the device. The track and play buttons are also just below the knob and are easily manipulated.

All in all, I really appreciate the R3-II quite a bit as it has a good sound, and a lot of features and is so small, I barely realize its in my pockets. I've primarily used it for traveling as it works great as a wired player for my CIEMs on airplanes, as well as a bluetooth player to pair with my Sennheiser Momentum 4 over-ear wireless noise-canceling headphones -- it's a perfect trio for a long airplane flight.

The M300

The M300 is Hiby's answer to the original Apple iPod Touch and the Sony digital Walkman series (NW-A3X/4X/5X and the NW-A105/NW-A305 series). It has the same small candy-bar style design with buttons on the side, and a 4 inch touch screen that matches the size of the iPod Touch and the newer Walkman android-based series. The small bezels make this unit smaller than a normal iPod and older iPhones, and makes it very comfortable to hold.

The M300 also features an updated Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC which helps improve speed and battery life, and it shows. Going around the OS is fast and I had no issues with any of the music apps I downloaded and used, including Roon/Roon Arc, Tidal, Qobuz, and Poweramp.

The buttons on the side do have a small quirk. There is no previous track button. While this is a very, very minor thing, it is something that is normally present on most all DAPs with hardware keys.

Another thing to point out is that this is a very basic player. It does not have any sampling overrides, so every audio track you use, no matter the app, goes through the built-in Android resampler. While in practice, the audible differences are little to none, this is a basic feature that is in most audio players these days that use Android OS.

That said, the Hiby is geared towards a non-audiophile nitpicky crowd. They have released it under a different line of products, "Hiby Digital." This series is gear they brand and market towards "Gen-Z", whatever that really means. I guess I'm a Gen X/Millennial tweener (born in '82), so I don't really get it. 

The M300 has a very neutral and punch sound. I'd almost call it V-shaped. It does not come off as dead nor missing dynamics at all. In fact, it is kind of a fun listen, and does lean a tad bright at times due to the neutral and nearly flat signature. That said, there is a lot of bass thump and air here, and I dig it for the most part.

Which Do I Prefer?

I like both! Actually, I decided to keep the Hiby R3-II. This came down to the following reasons though, I would recommend both.

1. The R3-II is a tad smaller, and takes up slightly less space for airplane travel, which is my primary purpose for this small device.

2. The R3-II, while does not have Android app support, still can access streaming via the two subscription services I actually already use: Tidal and Qobuz. It also can be an Airplay Receiver for my in-home Roon use, and can also receive Bluetooth audio as well.

3. The R3-II has a more mature and refined and smooth sound, which I do tend to like more now with my growing age. 

4. Battery life is slightly better.

5. While it's not the best volume control there is, and it could be a lot better, it still has a volume knob, and I dig knobs.

View the product ratings on Antdroid's IEM Ranking List and/or Antdroid's Headphone Ranking List