HiBy W5 
- Wireless BT receiver Headphone dac/amp

Now on Kickstarter:

HiBy W5 information:


Precise, energetic, neutral-ish, innovative & streamlined.



A stylist piece of kit to be sure. The BT amp, a charging case and a USB-C to USB-A cable.




I got sent The HiBy W5 for my impressions and a possible review. here we go.

To paraphrase from another of my earlier HP reviews:

 "The xxx is the latest in a series of products from this company. Largely through Kickstarter campaigns and the like they have a history of delivering their products as a bit of short research will prove. 
Although all this is true I do have a reluctance in trumpeting any crowd funding products as they usually have yet to be produced and anything can happen - timeline wise or after the fact.
Fortunately xxx has a good track record on completing the fulfilling of orders side of things so my anxiety is somewhat abated..."

The HiBy R6 I had a short listen to at a show and enjoyed, it was somewhat made lame by a high output impedance as a low OI is the general industry standard and is expected these days, the excellent snappy UI made up for this. HiBy also had a few issues with delivery of units at the time. This OI issue was resolved in the R6 Pro and HiBy also added a 4.4mm for good measure.
I also had a quick listen to the HiBy R3 and it is a little power horse with a variety of functions to please most audiophiles and casual users..

Onwards to the HiBy W5.



Packaging encases netherworld intriguing spaceship: HiBy W5 Bluetooth dac/amp





A wide range of Bluetooth codecs, slim form and battery charging case make the HiBy W5 an attractive option for most audiophiles of all persuasions, experienced/new, interested social and casual users.



Functions and directions

*I found the voice prompts to be very useful and helpful.










The HiBy W5 is definitely innovative, lines, dark, oh so smooth a finish and solid build.





Battery and life






*HiBy W5 will support both high and low gain modes. Currently the default is high gain. 
The duration for single machine is about 3.5 hours under high gain, while the duration is about 4.5~5 hour under low gain.


Doubtless its long duration of battery use via the carry case makes it a versatile and practical multi day use piece of audio gear. One charge in the case for 20 hours of reuse.



How to use:

Step 1: Plug the headphone to the 3.5mm output.

Step 2: Tap the device for 2 seconds.

Step 3: Short tap the device to start pairing your smartphone or Hi-Fi player.

Step 4: Enjoy Hi-Fi wireless sound.


General overall impressions and sound.

Well in all honesty I am kinda dac/amp`d out. Cabled out and dap`d out. So many products of great to excellent quality coming out here and there in all shapes, sizes and prices. Where does a reviewer draw the line on what to review when balancing life, family, work, hobbies, school, free time and all sorts of other essentials and past times. It is not easy at times, some audio gear gets the go ahead, others sent to contributors and some having to be turned down due to time constraints or other reasons.

The HiBy W5 piqued my interest most of all because I saw the opportunity of making dildo and other inappropriate jokes about its suggestive form. But this being the vanilla review site of Head pie and not the Hell zone that is Head pie Facebook I shall refrain from such comparisons.

Looking at the beta packing and the item did not give me any initial excitement. The packaging being simple and not sexy and the lack of being able to make rude jokes dampened my enthusiasm at the first encounter. Later upon listening did the romance blossom.

Recently I published a review which one commentator said it was "It is 90% screen-shots of the product page, a copy and paste of the items specs and then only a few lines of your own actual text describing your experience with the product". Quite true it was indeed, that particular item required no more.
These days audio websites containing detailed specifications and descriptions and glossy pictures about functions some what lessens and diminishes the reviewers work to an extent. Long gone are the days when information was either scant or closely guarded by the companies.

So I make use of what is there. Reusing information in its purest form. Sure I could pad out the build, copy and paste specs in a way that looks like I hand typed it myself along with other information. But whats the point?

Also once one has been reviewing for a while the same questions come up...build, prices, where to buy?, specifications, sound etc....and so on. Sure a quick Google search will render these answers but usually people in this on demand age for consumers want everything in one place.

Therefore I contain as much information as possible and with links to the original sites for those who want to check out the item further. bearing in mind that the companies send me these items for review and would love for you to be a closer click away from buying, but many will not unless they all the information they need before they look deeper in a possible purchase.

I myself always research solidly before making any purchase and like to provide my readers with the same.

Copy and paste into text, or diagrams and pretty specification charts? I`d rather see the latter than wade through a wall of text.

So..."build, prices, where to buy?, specifications, sound etc..." what is left out of these for the reviewer which is not objective information but veers more into the subject, gear used, ear shape, hearing ability, music chosen etc?

we are left with build (which may change after extended use and a review is usually written between one week to several months depending on the reviewer) and build may be solid for a long time, or may falter perhaps within the review time or after. So on can only by the present impressions for build.

Sound, sound, SOUND. That is what we are left with in the end? How does it sound? warm, neutral, bright being terms an international audience can understand.

Then there is the issue of it being a dac/amp. preferably to my preferences it should be largely neutral, as a dap often is these days. Sometimes these on the go devices (or earphones) are tweaked a bit to lend a V shape to the sound which survives the chaos and noise of commuting well.

Dac/amps and daps are at the mercy of the earphones/headphones in many a review. Some parts should be separate, whilst others cross over.

It can be a battle getting to heart of the matter at times, peeling back the onion layers to get a true sense of performance.

Sometimes items require a long write up of analysis or the process to describe this, even a bit of word salad on or off topic to pad it out, but often for the seasoned reviewer a short summary of their extensive testing is enough to describe each item. But of course many readers want more and thankfully there is a sea of reviewers out these days to cater to all tastes and to fill the gaps in each other reviews.

so onwards to the HiBy W5.

What do we have?...


Even in the wettest and dampest of places the HiBy W5 endures and survives.

Price

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/844915658/hiby-w5-the-most-powerful-bluetooth-hifi-amp-for-a?ref=62yot7
A Kickstarter campaign for a device ranging from US$59 - $89 depending on how early you get in.



*(see the HiBy W5 Kickstarter page for options in price and perks).

Build

The build is great, solid and sleek. And dare I say smexy.
You can see in the many photos the attention to detail and smooth, slim corner less form that will fit so easily into a pocket or elsewhere without a painful experience (as many of these devices have sharp corners).
It is light weight.

 *You can see below the HiBy W5 size when placed between the iBasso DX200 and Hidizs AP80.



Charging case

The charge case is a nice touch, but a simple cable port in its end would have been also useful for case less times. The charging case can can charge on the go which is great and still double as carrying case also.

Battery life seems to be 4-5 hours and the Charging case extends that to 20 hours.


Sound.

Well this is what most came for, and many just skip to the sound section. I know I and others do for sure.

Definitely it lends dulcet overtones upon pleasurable yearning overtures utilizing realtime and sonic simplicity.

As mentioned earlier describing a dac/amp or daps sound signature can be difficult because it is of course the earphones we are listening with/ to the music. So one must possess a fairly reference earphone that one is very familiar with as a baseline to see if there are deviations from the norm.

It used to be a an easy bet Wolfson warm/ Cirrus bright then later AKM warm/ ESS bright to simplify things. Nowadays the gap between the AKM and ESS dacs has lessened and many of the recent models have similar characteristics.

The reviewer now has to put in more time, take more notes to deliver a short, coherent, accurate and understandable summary for the reader.

I can happily say I quite enjoy using the HiBy W5, it has connected easily to most most the devices I tried, android daps, iphone, FiiO X7ii, iBasso DX200 (The OREO is a sonic plus), Opus#3, Hidizs AP80. I do not have a HiBy dap to experiment with.  Sometimes pairing was instant, other times it took a few tries.
It is recommended to use the Hiby music app (which I did not).
I did notice a few sonic differences depending on what I used as the source and which Codec they were sending out to the HiBy W5.

Noise floor is good, no hiss to my ears with the various devices I paired it with.
I also placed it on my iphone and between the router and laptop simultaneously to check for interference and found none.

The overall signature is one of expansion - width and depth, sound stage being the domain of the earphones used and I did not found the HiBy W5 to impact the earphones sound stage unduly. No choking of the earphones performance.
Placement of instruments seems fairly accurate.

Bass and treble seem to be prominent with a soft V shape being the dominant feature and vocals nested between them. Mids takes the second place award in this arrangement. A fairly suitable agreement between bass, mids, treble due to the probable use of such a dac/amp being aimed more at the mobile types.

The bass is reasonably quick, thick and moves fast and is energetic, the treble is awfully clean and pleasing to the ear, vocals are realistic and smooth. Mids while present are not a main focus as already mentioned but are featured enough to be noticeable, it is not a desert as far as the mids are concerned.

Whilst 2018 seemed to be the year of small daps, 2019 is looking to be the year of small Bluetooth dac/amps.

The HiBy W5 performed well with the Daps etc it paired with. There were a few sonic differences at times in terms of depth, separation, layer, timbre etc but nothing largely significant.

For the price it is an excellent piece of gear and I am constantly astounded these days at the quality of portable gear and its acceleration in terms of price/performance.

Overall

The HiBy W5 is a decent dac/amp, quiet back ground, well built and light weight, the sound is very clean and retains the sound signature of the earphone used with slightly recessed mids and emphasized bass and treble, vocals are smooth for both female and male, sound stage is also retained as far as the earphones are able to perform, - no choking, separation of instruments is clean and coherent.

Smooth, understated, clean, coherent, musical, an impressively blissful and life like sonic spaceship.




More information via the HiBy W5 Kickstarter page:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/844915658/hiby-w5-the-most-powerful-bluetooth-hifi-amp-for-a?ref=62yot7


UAT

"UAT is a new audio coding method based on DCT. First, it can quickly identify the type of signal and select the appropriate encoding mode through intelligent analysis. Then do quantization according to the specified bitrate. The trebles are preserved as much as possible in the process of quantization. 

There is a dynamic transmission optimization can be performed for different genres and more bandwidth resources are allocated to some specific frequency bands to get more detail.  

Entropy coding is performed after the quantization and then pack the code and side information to one stream for transmission. In addition, UAT also has a noise level detector which can effectively remove the noise existing in the original audio, making the transmission more efficient. "






Thank you for sending Head pie the HiBy W5 for review.

Greetings!

Today we're checking out the latest entry into Astrotec's lineup of premium ear buds, the Lyra Nature.

Astrotec’s lineup of Lyra earbuds dates back a few years and was recently reinvigorated by the release of three models; the Classic, the Lyra Collection 32 ohm, and the Lyra Collection 150 ohm. The DNA making up these three ear buds can be found throughout the Nature, from the general shape to the distinctive copper ball filter found on the rear. Where the Nature moves things forward is in the addition of removable cables thanks to a tidy MMCX setup. This is something fans have wanted for a while now, and it was great to see Astrotec was listening.

The Lyra Nature slots into the lineup just above the Classic with a price of 169.00 USD. Is MMCX worth the extra 30 USD, or is there more to the Nature than just removable cables? Let's find out.


Disclaimer:

Thanks to Astrotec for arranging a sample of the Nature for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on time spent listening to the Nature. They do not represent Astrotec or any other entity. At the time of writing the Lyra Nature was retailing for 169.00 USD. You can check it out here on their Facebook page.

(This review was originally posted to The Contraptionist and Head-fi.org on 03-mar-2019)

Sources:

The Lyra Nature is pretty easy to drive but I found it sounded best when amped by my TEAC HA-501 with a ZiShan DSD acting on source duty. Running it unamped though the Shanling M0 was still a good experience, though at higher volumes it started to sound congested. Bringing the Auglamour GR-1 into the chain helped reduce this. Amping isn't necessarily needed, but I will recommend it.

Personal Preferences:

I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

Specifications:
  • Driver Unit: 15mm Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 40,000Hz
  • Driver Impedance: 32 ohm
  • Sensitivity:110dB/1mw (S.P.Lat 1KHz)
  • Cable: Silver Plated OFC Cable
  • Rated Power: 5m
  • Max Power: 20mW



Packaging and Accessories:

Like the Lyra models before it, the Lyra Nature arrives in some pretty nice packaging. The grey exterior sheath is adorned with silver stars meant to evoke thoughts of constellations. Along with this visual flourish is the usual branding and models information, as well as a Hi-Res Audio logo tucked into the bottom right corner. On the back your find a feature list along with specifications and contact information for Astrotec.

Slipping off the sheath reveals a textured grey cardboard box with Astrotec printed in silver foil. Outside of a security seal holding the magnetically sealed flap shut, the remainder of the box is free of accents. Cutting the seal and opening the lid you're greeted to a slender cardboard printed with the Astrotec brand and slogan, “Explore Real Music”, as well as a statement thanking you for choosing Astrotec. Lifting this out you find the ear pieces nestled in a foam insert with the remainder of the package taken up but the leatherette carrying case and a smaller cardboard insert containing the cable. In all you get:
  • Lyra Nature ear buds
  • Carrying case
  • MMCX Silver Plated OFC Cable
  • Silicone ear hooks (m/l)
  • Silicone ear guides
  • Cleaning tool
  • Donut foams x3
The carrying case is made from a very soft, smooth faux-leather that feels fantastic in the hand. The magnets that seal the lid shut are quite strong as well, so it's unlikely to open unexpectedly. The silicone ear guides aren't particularly useful with the stock cable because it already contains pre-formed ear guides, but if you swap to a third party cable without them the guides are nice to have. Plus the silicone used is super flexible and tacky and clings to the ear amazingly well. The ear hooks are useful with any cable and help get a more secure fit if you're having issues, or add additional stability of you decide to take the Lyra Nature out for a run. The silicone is plenty flexible too, so it won't cause discomfort. Lastly, the cleaning tool is something Lyra fans will be pleased to see. One thing people in the Head-fi forums always seemed to question was how to clean the back filter should it get dirty. Now Astrotec provides the solution. Good on them for addressing another concern potential customers had. Overall I think this is a fantastic accessory kit and a step up from the previous Lyra models.




Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

The Lyra Nature features all-metal shells with a classic design carried over from the Lyra Collection and Classic models. With a grey colouring and gold accent bands wrapping around the top and middle of the earphone, they certainly have a premium look to go along with the high quality feel. The Lyra Nature's design doesn't do much to restrain the driver thanks to a series of large vents around the base, and their patented micro-pore, copper ball filter at the back which gives the Lyra models their distinctive design. The protrusion where the cables entered on the older Lyra models has been enlarged on the Nature, necessary to be able to accommodate the new MMCX ports which are flawlessly integrated. Astrotec's Lyra design seems like it was always meant to have removable cables, and I'm so glad they've embraced them with the Nature. Overall the build of the ear pieces is about as good as it gets with materials that feel expensive and perfect fit and finish. Astrotec was really on their game when making the Nature.

Since the cable provided with the Lyra Nature is the same as the one Astrotec included with the BX70, I'll carry over those comments with some light editing. This cable is quite reminiscent of one of my favorite cables which you can find on the Light T2 and Penon BS1 Experience, both of which are now discontinued products. Within a very clear and dense sheath are four cores made up of a ton of individual strands. The metal 90 degree angled jack has a long, flexible strain relief and is very well tapered so it should slot in well to cell-phone and DAP cases. The Astrotec branded y-split is also metal but completely unrelieved. Normally I'd be against this, but given the similarity in construction to the other cable mentioned previously, I'm not worried. Astrotec's version is actually a touch thicker and more flexible, so I have no doubt it will be just as durable, if not more so. Sitting just above the y-split is a clear plastic chin cinch. It slides along the cable with less resistance than I prefer, but works well enough once in place. As you move further up the cable you find some performed ear guides that hold the cable securely behind the ear. They're plenty flexible though and as such do not cause any issues with comfort. Lastly, the MMCX plugs are also metal with colour coded bands, blue for left, red for right. I can't deny that I really like this cable. It looks nice, feels tough, is flexible, has low memory for bends/kinks, and is quiet when in use.

While the fit comfort of the Lyra Nature are good, they fall a small step behind the previous models for my ears, at least when worn the way Astrotec intends out of the box; cable-up. Since the previous variants were free of ear guides (unless you wanted to use them) I wore them cable down. Ear buds worn cable up simply aren't stable thanks to the shape of my ears resulting in constant adjustments to retrieve the excellent bass the Lyra Nature can output. I also experience a hot spot on my left ear after a brief period of listening. Using the included foams almost completely negates this though. Swapping over to a third party cable that allows me to wear the Nature cable down, all these issues go away and it's just as pleasant to wear as it's predecessors.

Isolation is more or less non-existent as is expected from 1. an earbud and 2. one that is as open as the Lyra Nature. If you're buying an ear bud for isolation, I'm sorry but you'll be sorely disappointed. Might want to check out iems for that.




Sound:

Foams: Without foams in place, the Lyra Nature still managed to provide deeper, more impactful bass than most other ear buds I've tried. That said, I usually ran them with the included donut foams which did little to affect the sound but made the Nature more comfortable to wear. Full foams made the sound a bit thick for my preference, but I tend to like a bud that trends towards a lean presentation anyway so be sure to play around with different foams to see what works best for you and your preferences.

The Nature is one of the few ear buds I've tried that provides a satisfying bass response without resorting to foams. It is well-balanced between lower-, mid-, and upper-bass avoiding mid-bass bleed and any feelings of bloat. It also has really impressive extension and provides a satisfying visceral punch on tracks that demand it, like Massive Attack's “Teardrop” and The Prodigy's “Thunder”. It is smooth but not lacking in texture and as such is well-suited to the lo-fi beats provided by Tobacco on his joint album with Aesop Rock, Malibu Ken. While not as bassy as the HE 150Po, the Lyra Nature is no less satisfying in the low end.

The mid-range on the Lyra Nature is forward and lush with a bit more meat to it than the other Lyra buds which run a bit lean in comparison. You can thicken things further with full foams, though it's a bit much for me so my thoughts are based on use of the included donut foams. Vocals here are light and nimble with impressive articulation and clarity. There is a fair of warmth present so it's not like the Nature is cold and clinical. Quite the opposite actually. Degs on Etherwood (feat. Anile) x Degs' “Bear’s Breeches (New Lanes Sprayout)” shows this off with his smooth, engaging vocals. Acoustic guitars also benefit from this sound as heard on Porcupine Tree's “Baby Dream in Cellophane” where they are light and textures but still have the appropriate bite at the start of each strum.

The Nature's treble extends well into useful ranges with a dip after 14k, though I can still barely hear it up to my limit of 17k. I'm sure it will reach the advertised 40,000Hz, though whether it does or not really shouldn't matter since humans aren't capable of hearing anything up there. Otherwise, most of the emphasis seems to lay in the presence region which gives the Nature it's excellent clarity. There is enough emphasis in the brilliance region to give chimes and cymbals an adequate amount of lustre without being peaky and uncomfortable, as heard on “Pure Narcotic” by Porcupine Tree. It also gives the Nature solid air and spaciousness between notes.

Sound stage on the Nature is about as good as you'd expect from an open-backed ear bud. It reminds me of a pair of full-sized closed backs like the AKG 553 Pro in the way vocals sit in a slightly more forward position with everything else spreading out behind it. A number of times while listening to music I've had to pause thinking I heard the cat nearby jumping up onto the table or knocking something over, only for it to have been an affect within the track. Sirens are particularly deceptive since they often sound like they're coming from outside. Imaging is spot on without any vagueness crossing over centre or at the very edges. Layering and separation are quite good, though if you crank the volume congestion starts to seep in. Running the Lyra Nature through a clean amp prevents this for the most part. Given the volumes at which I listen, not an issue, but if you like to crank it through an unamped source you might want to stick with tracks that aren't packed with layers and technical challenges.

Select Comparisons:

Lyra Classic (139.00 USD): The Lyra Classic is lighter and leaner sounding than the Nature with a cooler tonality. It places more emphasis in the upper treble giving it a more airy, vibrant signature than the Nature, though clarity is similar. The Lyra Nature's mid-range is warmer and more dense with a smoother presentation, yet clarity and detail is just as good, if not slightly better. Any mild sibilance heard on the Classic is gone in the Nature. Bass quantity is similar between the two and while the Classic digs deeper than a number of buds in my collection, it can't reach the same depths as the Nature and as such lacks the same visceral feel. Sound stage on the Lyra Classic is similar in size but feels wider thanks to the thinner note presentation, though channel to channel movement is more linear and natural on the Nature. The Nature's sound stage also displays more depth and as such I found it easier to pick apart tracks layers and separate congested sections.

Rose Mojito (259.00 USD): While it's getting a little long in the tooth, Rose's flagship dual driver, the Mojito, is still an impressive performer. Treble on the Nature is more energetic top to bottom with the Mojito providing a more balanced upper and lower performance that doesn't quite excite like the Nature. Personally I find the Nature's presentation a bit more realistic since the Mojito takes the edge of things when they should be harsh and aggressive. I also find it tighter and more precise. The Mojito's mid-range is more forward and warmer. I find vocals sound just that much more natural through the Mojito, and even more detailed. This really is the Mojito's bread-and-butter and what separates it from less expensive offerings. As impressive as the Nature's bass is, the Mojito takes it another step by offering even better extension, though texturing and speed is similar. The Mojito's low end is a bit more full though giving notes additional impact and weight. Both the Nature and Mojito have amazing sound stage presentations, though I'll have to give the Mojito the edge since it shows even greater depth, but similar width. Imaging is somehow even sharper on the Mojito.

Final Thoughts:

The Lyra Nature shows that Astrotec has been listening to feedback from their customers. What makes me say that? MMCX removable cables, a warmer sound, and a more useful and complete accessory kit. Was an airplane adapter really a necessary inclusion with the previous Lyras which isolate just as minimally? Definitely not, but a cleaning brush for that porous filter in the back certainly is. This is a quality product with a great sound that should appeal to ear bud fans around the world. If you like buds and want something a little more premium than your generic MX500 shelled model, you'd be doing yourself a favour by auditioning the Lyra Nature.
Thanks for reading!

- B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Some Test Tunes:

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)

Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)