Hiby Digital M300 Android DAP – New Pocketable Music Flavour
Hiby Digital M300 is a $199 USD DAP made by the Hiby Digital Sub brand belonging to the parent brand Hiby, and it is a DAP designed for those who want more of that Android experience on their DAPs, and it is the first player released in years that comes with speakers, designed to be ultraportable, and it comes with the famous Hiby Music app at its core. Today we will take a deep dive into the sound and ergonomics of the M300, and review it, also comparing it to other high-quality DAPs from the entry-level range including Hiby R3 II (179 USD), HIDIZS AP80 PRO X (199 USD), Shanling M1S (229 USD), and HIFI Walker H2 Touch (129 USD).
Hiby Digital is a new sub brand of the parent company Hiby, and it will mainly focus on entry-level, modern lifestyle products, and you can think of it as a similar brand to what Jade Audio is to FiiO. The new company will still be managed mostly by Hiby which means that you can expect the same level of customer satisfaction, quick answers and exceptional warranty, plus since Hiby now has extensive experience with all audio products, they will surely be able to offer some of the best quality for the new DAPs. You can purchase the new Hiby Digital DAPs from either Hiby or Amazon, both places being fully recommended. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases, and using the purchase links in my reviews helps me maintain this website and youtube channel.
I’d like to thank Hiby for providing the sample for this review, in exchange for my honest opinion. We are not receiving any incentive for this review and Audiophile-Heaven has no affiliation with Hiby beyond this review.
You can grab one from Hiby here – https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-digital-m300
As most DAPs released today are all about the sound, and usually this means that they sacrifice the operating system and software support, Hiby saw an opportunity to develop something slightly different, something that reminds me more of Cowon J3 than of Hiby’s own line of DAPs like R6 III. The new M300 is based on Android 13, offering the most modern Android version available at the moment, and it is using a Snapdragon 665 CPU, better than half of the mid range smartphones available on the market today.
The display is rather small and at 4″ you won’t be watching movies on it, but this is coming from someone using a 65″ as a PC monitor so I may not be the best to talk to about display size. The display has good colors, very strong max brightness, and can easily be seen in both full sunlight, and have a comfortable minimum brightness to use in a dimmer environment. This display is based on the IPS LCD tech, and has high viewing angles too, having a 1280 x 640 resolution.
The on-board memory is quite high, and the M300 has 3GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory for listening to music. The chassis is made of Aluminum, and the battery offers a playtime of over 29 hours. The battery itself is not large, but as we will explore down below, the DAP doesn’t have a high driving power either, and it makes sense that a 2000 mAh battery can juice it for so long.
The headphone output has a max voltage swing of 1.81 Vrms, and a rated voltage swing of 1.4 Vrms, which is one of the lowest I’ve seen in a long time. The max output power is also low at 103mW, but the distortion is kept very low at 0.001%, the dynamic range is very high at 119 dB, and the noise floor is very low at 1 uV, with a respectable SNR of 120dB. All of this indicates that M300 is designed to be used with IEMs and portables, and the low voltage swing and driving power doesn’t mean it will sound bad, but it does mean that it needs a sensitive partner to fully bloom.
We have support for high-resolution files, including DSD up to DSD 256, we also have loudspeakers, and dual microphones, if you want to take voice notes or use any app that needs voice input. There is FM radio implemented in the M300, and we have Wifi with both 2.4 GHz, and 5.0 GHz. There is Bluetooth 5.0 support with support for LDAC, AAC, SBC, and with promised future support to be added for aptX. There is one microSD card slot, which supports cards up to 2TB, and you should be able to manage a huge library with no problems.
The unit itself is very small, having a 113x58x13 mm size, which is smaller than any smartphone on the market available today. The weight is also kept very low at 136 grams, and in hand it feels like a sturdy but small DAP. The white color that I have looks good in photos but I am always concerned about scratching it. There is no cae included or designed for the M300 as far as I can tell. There is a glass face, and a glass back, but there is no word about any kind of special scratch protection so I would be careful with the M300.
The number of buttons on the M300 is high, we have a power button, volume buttons, and backward / forward buttons. There is an FN button that you can assign to any function you desire, and there is one mono speaker at the bottom of the unit. By default there is just one forward button, and the backwards acts as a play / pause button. Physically using the M300 makes me feel a lot like a guy in one of those iPod Ads from years ago, it is that small and convenient, I can’t really feel it and it is lovely to take with me for a DAP.
Under The Hood / Functionality / Software
Knowing that we have a strong CPU, and a smartphone-level general firmware, it is interesting to see that the device itself is as snappy as possible, that it does run all of the apps any Android based device would, and that it is just like a mini smartphone. Spotify and Tidal works flawlessly, there is no delay and no hiccups during playback and the Wifi network is very fast.
The only part that feels a bit sluggish is the display, which is just 60Hz, and although this is more than enough for music playback and some video watching, when coming from smartphones and monitors that are 120 Hz and above, it feels slower than those do. This being said, there is no lag and no general hiccup, the OS is stable and runs very smoothly, everything feels top notch. There is no delay between audio and video if you’re watching a video, but the display is really small for this.
There is no USB DAC function, so you will have to use it as a DAP, but the Bluetooth connection is very strong, and I have a generally pleasing experience with M300. Having just one 3.5mm headphone output is a bit of a drawback since most of the products I test nowadays are 4.4mm balanced and I had to open the package of most IEMs to get the alternative 3.5mm cable, or use an aftermarket cable with the 3.5mm SE connector. By default, the FN button will disallow song changing with the backwards / forward button.
We already know that the driving power is on the low side, so I have tried pairing M300 with both entry-level and flagship IEMs and earphones, and the list includes FiiO FH11, Soundz Avant, ThieAudio Hype2, Sennheiser IE900, Letshuoer Cadenza 12, IKKO OH10S, and Ambient Acoustics MAD16. Generally speaking, M300 can drive all of those rather well, there is no hissing and background noise that I can hear, and the sound is plenty powerful with IEMs. I listen fairly loud, and I don’t max out on the volume with the M300, but I am not far from it either, so this is strictly a DAP made for portables and IEMs.
There are three sounds with M300, and getting the first two out of the way helps a lot, so Bluetooth sounds really nice, it has a powerful antennae, and this can influence the sound with IEMS greatly. For example, across all the devices I tested, Motorola Edge 30 Ultra had a good codec support, but poor bluetooth quality, because the antenna was weak, Asus ROG 7 has good codec support and a good antenna for bluetooth, but the sound is below Samsung S23 Ultra, which has a strong bluetooth antenna, but codec support, yet it has one of the best sounds over bluetooth. M300 is somewhere near S23 Ultra, a good sound, but with good codec support, at least promised, because right now it has about the same codec support as S23 Ultra, SBC and LDAC. The speakers sound quite bright, with no bass, and no presence of a low end below about 120 Hz, it is a high pitched sound that’s low even at maximum volume. The speaker is mono and there is just one at the bottom, you’re better off purchasing a Cleer Scene speaker if you need a speaker, it is a larger speaker, but I could get it so loud that I can party with 5 other people with just one bluetooth speaker in the entry-level if we’re in a smaller room.
The sound of the headphone output is fairly natural, with a smooth tuning that brings details forward, creates the feeling of soundstage really well, wth excellent dynamics and clarity. I had to double check the price of M300, because the sound is really capable for the 200 USD price tag it carries, it is a really clean sounding DAP that pairs extremely well with dark, smooth, or otherwise bassy sounding IEMs, like Soundz Avant, Ambient Acoustics MAD16 or FiiO FH11. I would not pair it with bright sounding IEMs like Final Audio A8000, or with IEMS that are not warm / thick / smooth sounding, so I would stay away from Kiwi Ears Quintet, Moondrop Blessing 3, or HIFIMAN Svanar. This being said, Svanar Wireless works well over the Bluetooth connection. There is the Hiby 8-Ball Magic sound, so you can EQ the sound pretty heavily if you want to get a different tuning, but the headroom is not high, since it has a driving power enough for IEMs, and even there, if you use EQ, you may run out of volume before reaching the ideal sound, so for this one I will stick to the default tuning for the signature.
The bass is actually strong and doesn’t roll off, as M300 creates a convincing deep and lush bass with excellent depth. The bass extension and presence, impact and punch is higher for IEMS than it is with most of the competition in the entry-level range, and it is a super satisfying experience with metal, EDM, rock, and even classical. Having the sub bass extension done right is important to get a healthy, clean sound. The bass character is smooth, with a fluid presentation, and transients are smooth and clean. The upper bass is not super strong, and it stays controlled, this helps clean up IEMs that are a bit too strong in that range, but takes away some of the extra body for IEMs that are already neutral sounding. This being said, it is still a bit warm compared to the most neutral and flat sounding sources out there.
The midrange is clean, has outstanding detail, and relies a lot on the drums to create impact, the midrange being laid back, somewhat relaxed in character and allowing instruments to breathe for bands like Dance Gavin Dance, or Alesana. Soundstage is presented really nicely, with a wide and holographic sound compared to most of the competition. Desktop sources like JDS Labs Element III MK2 can still sound wider, but most of the direct competition sounds narrower and more intimate. The resolution is good, transients are soft and mellow, but present, which creates that feeling of a laid back sound but with textures.
The treble has a fairly clean presentation with a soft roll off effect, and a soft presentation, once again M300 having softer transients that help build that laid back and relaxed sound I keep talking about. M300 is all about the smoothness, lushness and relaxation, and I think it works super nicely with most pop, punk, emo, rock and edm music. Toning down in the transients has the effect of making all music easily listenable, but it can be undesirable for orchestral and classical, where certain instruments only make sense with more aggressive transients, otherwise sounding too full or relaxed and getting lost in the mix. All in all, M300 is a really pleasing sounding DAP, and I can confidently say it beats the older Cowon J3 or older iPods, being in line with what you’d expect a high-quality current audiophile DAP to sound like, if you’re ready for it to drive mainly IEMs.
Hiby Digital M300 vs HIFI Walker H2 Touch (199 USD vs 129 USD) – It is interesting that H2 Touch is a direct competitor that everyone wanted to know how it compares to M300. The baseline for the device is that they are similar in shape and size, but M300 has much better firmware, it works better for streaming, bluetooth, Wifi and Tidal / Spotify. On the other hand, when it comes to the sound, H2 touch has a higher driving power, but more background noise, it has a warmer sound but less smooth sound. M300 sounds less powerful, due to its lower driving power, but it sounds smoother, more musical, more laid back and more pleasing / more musical. Both are compelling and both are good offers, M300 is more complete and sounds better overall, despite having a slightly lower driving power.
Hiby Digital M300 vs Shanling M1S (199 USD vs 229 USD) – Hiby and Shanling have a similar house sound here, and while M300 is better for streaming, bluetooth, wifi and Android features, M1S is better at driving headphones and IEMs, has a higher driving power and is generally more punchy, handling harder to drive headphones too. The sound is warmer, smoother, and relaxed with both, although the higher driving power of M1S grants it higher impact. IF you’re comparing them side by side, if you’re using IEMs, the signature is similar enough that I would recommend M1S if you don’t need Android and streaming, and I would recommend M300 if you need Android, apps and streaming. M1S has a USB DAC function while M300 does not, but the background noise level is lower on M300.
Hiby Digital M300 vs HIDIZS AP80 PRO X (199 USD vs 199 USD) – The shape of AP80 PRO-X is smaller, it is even lighter, and it is even easier to lose, while M300 is like a smaller smartphone, making it a pretty practical device. Both have a low driving power, but M300 has a slightly higher driving power, and a more pleasing sound signature, it sounds fuller, deeper, more lush and more relaxed, where AP80 PRO-x is more neutral, it pairs well with smoother and warmer sounding IEMs too, bu makes them neutral, while M300 kind of allows them to reach a more pleasing tonality, without making things too smooth. Both are good DAPs, but M300 has better support for streaming, Bluetooth, and even for IEMs and when having to drive them, it feels a bit better, although having Android is not for everyone and granted it doesn’t directly devour AP80PROX, rather it is a warmer, smoother sounding competitor, while AP80 PRO X remains the more neutral, sharper sounding one. AP80 PRO X has a higher noise floor, but has USB DAC, and M300 has a lower background noise and hissing level, but no USB DAC function.
Hiby Digital M300 vs Hiby R3 II (199 USD vs 179 USD) – This is Hiby vs Hiby, and it is evident how the price can influence a DAP and the components inside. R3 II is far more spartan in the OS and what it can do at a software level, but it has a far more powerful sound, with better driving power, better dynamics, a punchier sound and it can drive a big part of larger headphones. M300, on the other hand is far better for the app integration, it is a better streaming DAP and if you’re mainly using 3.5mm single ended IEMs, it will be a more pleasing music companion than R3 II which is better for a diehard audiophile who isn’t into streaming as much. We have a USB DAC for R3 II, but it has a higher noise floor, so for IEMs, M300 has a lower noise floor, but it lacks a USB DAC function.
Value and Conclusion
As is the situation usually in the entry-level range, M300 has outstanding price / performance ratio, it is quite good at browsing a folder, browsing a music playlist, it has support for most Android apps, it has a quick and snappy CPU, support from Hiby, Tidal works well, Spotify works well, and Bluetooth works well, all in all being a solid, and high quality DAP, totally worth the 199 USD price tag.
At the end of the day if you’re looking for a new DAP but if you want it to feel as responsive as your smartphone and if you’re mainly using IEMs, if you’re prepared to have a smooth and relaxing experience, listening to warm and natural tunes, if you want the sound to be pleasing at all times with a fatigue-free presentation, Hiby Digital M300 is a great choice and a DAP I like a lot.
You can grab one from Hiby here – https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-digital-m300
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!
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