HiBy Digital M300 Review

HiBy Digital M300 review featured

In this article, I’m reviewing the new HiBy Digital M300 Digital Audio Player (DAP). The M300 is an Android 13-based device and features a SnapDragon 665 SOC along with a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chip. It’s priced at $199.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by HiBy for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

HiBy Digital M300 Review
Verdict
HiBy M300: A Versatile device with Audio Limits
Add your rating here!2 Votes
Pros
System feels snappy and responsive
Android 13
Rich variety of available apps to install
Smooth, organic sound signature
Cons
No balanced headphone output
Low quality built-in speaker
No included protective case
4
Our Score

HiBy Digital M300

Design

The M300 is available in white, black and blue. Its aluminium chassis is 113*58*13mm and has glass front and back faces. It has a 4″ hi-res 5-point multitouch IPS display with a resolution of 1280×640. I found the display bright and clear and visible even in direct sunlight.

The top of the device has dual built-in microphones that can be used for voice notes and interviews. On the bottom is the 3.5mm headphone output, a USB-C port and the built-in speaker. There’s a Micro SD card slot on the left side that supports up to 2TB of storage.

The power button and playback controls are located on the right side of the M300, in addition to a customizable function switch that can be used for one-touch recording, buttons lock, loudspeaker mute and screen flip. More functions will be added to this switch in future OTA firmware updates.

Internals & Hardware

At the heart of the M300 is a SnapDragon 665 SOC powering the Android 13 operating system. In charge of decoding duties is a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chip. The CS43131 supports up to PCM 32-bit/768kHz and native DSD256. There is 3GB of system memory and 32GB of flash memory built-in to the device.

The device provides up to 103mW of output power from the 3.5mm headphone out. This is enough to drive efficient IEMs and some headphones but frankly, it’s quite disappointing; even most contemporary dongle DACs provide significantly more power and it’s the weakest aspect of the M300, in my opinion. It’s enough to drive any IEMs and more efficient full-size headphones but it should be noted that to achieve the maximum output potential, users need to dive into the system settings and adjust the ‘Media Volume’.

The device is powered by a built-in 2000mAh battery that provides up to 29+ hours of uptime and over 15 days of standby time.

For wireless connectivity, the M300 has dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. It supports LDAC, AAC and SBC and will receive aptX support via a future firmware update. I found the connectivity to be stable and reliable during testing.

Lastly, the M300 comes with an FM radio as well so users can tune in to their favourite radio stations for music and news. It’s even possible to record radio directly into the device at the touch of a button.

User Interface and Features

Anyone who has used a smartphone before, whether it’s Android or iOS will be familiar with the user interface. The home screen has a colourful default background and a bunch of icons for apps and settings. Users can navigate the system with swipes and pinches just like you would with a smartphone.

The OS feels snappy and responsive and there’s even enough power to play games and watch videos on the device. The M300 comes with a few useful apps pre-installed including a Sound Recorder, file manager, FM radio and of course, the HiByMusic app. Furthermore, it comes with Play Store, so you can easily install any other apps of your choosing, including Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz.

Built-in Microphone and Speaker

The dual microphones work surprisingly well and I was very satisfied with the quality when I tested with the Voice Recorder. The recording comes through loud and clear without artifacts or compression.

The built-in speaker, on the other hand, is a poor addition to the device. It sounds thin and tinny and rather unpleasant overall. Moreover, it’s not very loud so I can’t imagine anyone using it to share music with friends. Most budget smartphone speakers sound better. I can see it being useful to check or playback recorded audio from the voice recorder but apart from that, it seems mostly useless.

M300 home 2

Sound

The M300 has a warm tonality, a common characteristic of the CS43131 DAC chip and its easygoing treble presentation. It creates a coherent and smooth sound, shifting focus towards the lower frequencies.

The midrange takes centre stage here, offering a forward and organic presentation, creating a vivid and intimate experience with vocals and instruments. The linear midrange ensures accuracy and clarity without excessive colouration.

The overall presentation of this DAC is easygoing and non-fatiguing, inviting extended listening sessions. Despite the slightly enhanced bass, the soundstage maintains an average depth, but with good layering that allows for discernible instrument separation. The stage position is slightly forward, enhancing the immersive quality, especially for vocals, while maintaining a balanced representation of the music.

In essence, this DAC embodies a harmonious blend of warmth, forward mids, and an engaging, easygoing sound signature, making it appealing for prolonged listening sessions across various music genres.

HiBy Digital M300 in the hand

Verdict

The HiBy Digital M300 DAP walks a fine line between a DAP and a smartphone, yet doesn’t quite hit the heights of either. Its shortcomings, like the dismal built-in speaker and relatively low headphone output power, hinder its performance in the audio realm.

On the upside, the device impresses with a responsive user interface driven by a commendable SOC, while handling video and gaming tasks competently. The clear, bright display adds to its allure, accompanied by a decent battery life.

Where it shines is in its versatile range of available apps, making it a handy companion for ebook reading and podcast listening. Although it delivers good sound quality, some users will lament the lack of a balanced headphone output.

Priced attractively at $199, the M300 shows promise but leaves room for improvement. Its true potential could be unlocked by eliminating the underperforming speaker and adding a balanced headphone output. In spite of some shortcomings, the device’s affordability paves the way for curiosity about future iterations and enhancements. Despite my misgivings, I’m eager to see what HiBy Digital can do moving forward.

M300 specs

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