Introduction to the HiBy M300 review
A couple of years ago, I owned the LG Spirit, which was one of the very first phones to become my serious music player, since in the past I wasn’t too interested in owning actual music files. Once I got more into audio I started to research some of the gear products and stomped upon Digital Audio Players which caught my interest big time. Soon after, I was a proud owner of the XDuoo X3 II, and I loved that DAP to the fullest. Physical controls, snappy interface, great battery life, small form factor, no bothering notifications from my phone or draining its battery. I could easily go for a walk leaving my phone but my DAP was always with me no matter what.
Fast forward a couple of years, and when it was time to replace X3 II in favor of something newer, with more functionality and better sound quality, I noticed that this task couldn’t be any harder to fulfill. Sure, we have tons of DAP’s these days that pack lots of power and amazing sound performance, but they are also bulky, heavy, hot to the touch, and finicky to use, with a physical interface that seems like it’s only there to fill some requirements and that’s not enjoyable to use at all, not to mention software that most of the time is just poorly optimized or just crashes all the time. At the time, I owned a Sony ZX300, which I still consider to be one of the best DAPs in terms of usability, even when it didn’t have Android. The interface was very well designed, worked flawlessly every time, and the physical interface was just unbeatable, with different shapes of buttons, sizes, and even dimples on some of them. I tried so hard to find something to replace it once the Bluetooth module decided to give up, but I simply couldn’t, which got me to the revelation that I’ll probably be better off with a secondary phone as my DAP once again.
That was until this DAP came into my hands. It’s small and affordable; it’s got Android with the Play Store, great battery life, Bluetooth with LDAC, and a pretty decent physical interface. At first, I wanted to discard it immediately, but once I played with it a little bit, I really started to like it, so after this very long introduction and rant, I invite you to read my Hiby M300 review, a DAP, which might take me back once again.
Reviewed HiBy M300 comes in a nice eco-friendly package. I personally appreciate boxes like this because it shows the skill of the designer, and in this case, Hiby did a pretty good job. The box is very minimalistic and has very little branding, but thanks to the use of shapes that extend on multiple sides of the box, it gives a nice 3D effect. But of course, what we’re most interested in is the contents of this box.
Inside, we can find it’s pretty standard construction, where we get HiBy M300 displayed on top, and under it, we can find some documentation as well as a USB-A to USB-C cable. There is a little bit of plastic packaging inside, but not too much.
Overall, considering the price of the HiBy M300 I must admit that I couldn’t have expected anything more than I received. This is not a high-end device which you have to pay a monthly salary to buy, so as long as the box is okay, it’s good enough to say the least.
Here’s one of the first places where I’d like to praise the M300. First things first, it’s a very small and lightweight device, measuring 113x58x13mm and weighing just 136 grams. The body of the reviewed HiBy M300 is mostly made of metal, with only the bottom and top parts being plastic due to the Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth modules present in this device.
The sides aren’t exactly rounded, but they are not straight and sharp either, so the M300 is relatively comfortable to hold in hand without poking holes in your skin. On the back as well as the front, we are covered in glass. On the front, we can obviously find our touchscreen with the Hiby Digital logo at the top, and on the back, we have the reflective Hiby logo as well as the model number at the bottom, accompanied by our beloved Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless emblems.
On the left side of the device, we can find our physical buttons. They are quite tall and very clicky, and they are easy to feel in the pocket, which for me is always a plus. Although they are not the easiest to identify due to their similar shapes, you definitely won’t have a problem with accidentally pushing the power button while trying to change songs. After all, the majority of DAPs got us used to the exact same size and shape buttons for back, play, pause, and forward and called it a day. Compared to these, the M300’s physical interface is just great.
At closer inspection, we obviously have a power button, volume up and down, play pause, and next track button. Yes, we do not get a back button for our tracks, which is something that I’ve never seen before but also personally doesn’t bother me at all. At last, we also get an FN switch, which allows us to either lock the physical interface, record voice messages, flip the orientation of your screen, or mute the internal speaker. Yes, we’ll get to that.
Right above the power button, you can also find an LED that will notify you about what file formats are being played or simply the state of charging. The opposite side is rather empty, having just a microSD card slot as well as a keychain hole. I also have to praise the tested HiBy M300 for its tool-less microSD slot access as well as the rubber gasket, which means the card is very well protected from liquids.
Last but not least, in terms of ports, we have the bottom of the device, which gives us a USB-C port for charging and general OTG usage, as well as a 3.5mm jack and an internal speaker. Yes, that is the very first DAP I’ve seen that has an internal speaker. Since we mentioned it already, let me tell you that with this information, you decided to rush and purchase the HiBy M300 right away as your pocketable audio streamer and speaker. Let me calm you down. It’s honestly not that great or loud. The sound that it makes is, let’s say, very intimate, and even in a very quiet environment, it is very hard to listen to it and pick up any detail. I assume it exists mainly as audio output for playing voice memos on the go, which is cool if that’s something you would like to have in your DAP.
Now let’s get into functionality, and even despite the price or size, there’s a lot featured in this DAP, so let’s get started. First and probably the most important thing is the fact that the Hiby M300 is an Android DAP that, at first, looks like it’s got a proprietary OS with an Android-like interface, but don’t worry. It features a fully accessible Android 13 that also has a native Play Store, which allows us to install pretty much any app we want. That’s a big plus for all streaming-prioritizing folks. First, let’s talk about non-music features. We have plenty of typical phone apps like Calendar, Calculator, Voice Memo, Browser Via, FM Radio (only works with headsets), Clock, Photo Gallery, and the Files app for managing our internal and external storage.
If we go into the Settings app, then we’ll find pretty much very stock-looking Android settings, so we’ll skip these.
Now onto the audio stuff. As our main app as well as hub, we get the good old Hiby Music app. Which has been adopted by many DAP manufacturers, and I personally really like it for how it handles my songs as well as its overall usability and functionality. Apart from obvious music scan and play, we get so much more, such as the ability to import music via WiFi, deep customization of skins, equalizer, parametric equalizer, sleep timer, setting up a HibyLink server, plenty of settings allowing for streaming from Tidal or Qobuz, downloading lyrics, pausing music while headphones are being unplugged, Gapless, ReplayGain, DSD modes, USB settings, and many, many, many more. Pretty much whatever you want to perform with your music, you can do that through the Hiby Music app; it’s simply great.
The last thing that Hiby is also very known for is the MSEB equalizer, which gives a much more beginner-friendly and straightforward description of our sound manipulations.
Now onto the hardware that the reviewed HiBy M300 possesses. First up, we have the screen. It’s a 4-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1280×640. In terms of SOC, we get a decently powerful Snapdragon 665. Paired with it, we have 3 GB of RAM as well as 32 GB of internal storage, which, of course, can be expanded up to 2 TB with a Micro SD Card slot.
The battery size is 2000 mAh, which the manufacturer states should last for about 29 hours. Personally, I wasn’t really able to measure such a long amount of time; if anything, I’ll say that I didn’t manage to discharge M300 throughout the entire week of using it daily. Charging time, on the other hand, gets from 0 to 100 in little more than 2 hours.
As mentioned previously, we can find Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz support as well as a Bluetooth module,where Bluetooth supports LDAC, AAC, and SBC, as well as all AptX codecs with the newest software update. Now onto the audio hardware, starting with a DAC. Hiby is known for using Cirrus Logic, and this model is no different, carrying CS43131 that can do up to 32-bit 768 kHz PCM and DSD256. THD+N is just 0.0001%, the dynamic range goes up to 119 dB, and the SNR measures at 120 dB.
In terms of power, we get 103 mW at 32 ohms through a single-ended 3.5mm jack. Some people might say that is not much and that they can get much more power out of much cheaper dongles. That is true, but on the other hand, that’s definitely not the point of this device. M300 is made with convenience at first; that’s why we get superb battery life for sensitive IEMs as well as Bluetooth playback, and in my humble opinion, this DAP simply shines the most when we pair it with TWS or our favorite IEMs on Bluetooth adapters such as the Fiio UTWS5 or iFi GoPod.
Besides, we have to keep in mind that such powerful dongles will destroy the battery life of your phones, so there is definitely a place for low-power DAPs such as the HiBy M300. Low power also means little to no background noise, which is also an obvious plus for this device.
Sound of the reviewed HiBy M300
Despite great functionality, at its core, the reviewed Hiby M300 is a digital audio player, so with that in mind, let’s talk about sound. M300’s signature is very slightly W-shaped, but it’s so minor that in many cases, with plenty of songs, it might just be described as basically neutral.
There are virtually no specific peaks, and it’s pretty smooth in general. You can definitely notice some bumps in the midsection, but they’re not overly present. In terms of bass, we don’t get the biggest extension into sub frequencies; however, it also doesn’t bleed into mids, and thanks to that, the presentation doesn’t show as bloaty or warm. Highs, on the other hand, are very rich and a bit thick-sounding, although not to the point of calling them muffled at all.
In terms of staging, the M300’s soundstage is present, although not the largest, but on the other hand, quite detailed in positioning. Layering is very much present, and instruments can be very easily separated from each other in terms of position, which is something I didn’t expect from such an affordable DAP, although with very complex orchestral pieces you might start to hear the limitations, which is more than enough in this price range.
But here’s the big elephant in the room of this DAP, and that’s, of course, the previously mentioned MSEB. Even if you are a big enemy of any sort of equalization, give this feature a chance, because with it, the M300 changes drastically while not losing its stock performance. This feature alone can make it go from okay-ish to actually great, and that one setting reminds me very much of the Sony ZX300, which was very well known for its custom software, Walkman One, which, in my opinion, changes its sound performance from $400 DAP up to around $1000.
With MSEB, I managed to boost the main advantages of my IEMs and make it such a great pairing. Of course, there are still things that cannot be fixed, like the bass extension, but keep in mind that we are still talking about a $200 DAP that not only makes sound but also has full Android, Bluetooth with LDAC, Wi-Fi, almost 30 hours of battery life, is very compact, fun to use, and is simply a very versatile small audio tool for streaming, EQ’ing, and in general, customizing your sound listening experience.
You see, while reviewing every audio product, you simply have to have its price in mind. Here, the M300 absolutely shines, as it offers so much for so little. While I wasn’t entirely sold on the budget-oriented DAP at first when I’ve heard about it, now I absolutely get it. More so, the tested HiBy M300 became one of the most used audio gear I use on a regular basis, as it’s just so easy and comfortable to use.
The battery life further extends on the M300’s great value. Most of current DAPs nowadays offer 10-12h of battery life, which is less than a half of the HiBy M300. The difference is substantial to say the least.
To this day, it is one of my favorite DAPs. If I’d compare it to the stock OS of the ZX300, then actually these two DAP’s would be pretty comparable in terms of performance; maybe the ZX300 would be a touch shoutier; unfortunately, if you buy the ZX300, you also instantly mod it with Walkman One software. Once you do that, the M300 does not really stand in the same tier anymore due to a lack of dynamic range and staging. However, to change the sound signature in the ZX300, you have to reflash OS multiple times, which takes an awful amount of time, while with the M300, you can do that thanks to MSEB sliders. Not to mention the used ZX300 currently costs about twice as much as the M300 brand new.
These are two completely different beasts. Cayin’s strength was always sound performance over usability. Thanks to internal tubes as well as solid state and tube hybrid modes, we got quite a roster of different signature tastes, but at a cost of rather bulky design, higher temperatures, and not as well executed software optimization. It also costs much more than the M300, and it does not feature Android, let alone any streaming services or Wi-Fi.
When it comes entirely to the sound performance, I have to give the edge to Cayin. It offers a bigger, more colorful, and a more detailed sound overall. The M300 sounds more neutral, but also less powerful, so it’ll come down to your IEMs of choice whether it is important for you.
However, when it comes to the value and overall functionality, the HiBy M300 takes the cake and offers a lot more than its much more expensive rival.
Nightjar Acoustics Singularity
In terms of power, the M300 gets singularity with just a decent amount of volume. It sounds quite plain with stock settings, but once MSEB is turned on, I could change it to make the experience quite dynamic and overall good. However, the strong point of singularity is the amazing separation between a huge amount of bass and vocals, which we cannot deliver on the M300 due to a lack of bass extension.
This setup does sound good, but it’s not even close to make the most out the Singularity. This IEM scales like crazy and the M300, while a good middle-ground, is definitely not a device that unleashes its full potential.
However, it’s great when on-the-go, when achieving the full potential of the Singularity isn’t really the most important. The M300 gives me a good sound overall while lasting for ages and offering a lot of different functionalities.
I only tried them with the M300 on UTWS5 Bluetooth adapters, and that’s exactly what made me conclude that this DAP is great for Bluetooth-focused users. With stock settings on Bluetooth, listening to S12 is already a decent experience, and the fact that the M300 doesn’t try to amplify the rather problematic highs of these IEMs is very appreciated. In general, that pairing was the one I’ve put most hours into the M300 during testing.
Being able to listen to high-quality TWS IEMs while not worrying about your phone’s battery is something I’ve missed for years now. Also, the M300 proved to be a great companion at the gym or doing any physical activities. To say that it gets the job done would be an understatement.
HiBy M300 Review – Summary
The Hiby M300 won’t win any awards for sound performance or power. There are many other DAPs, or even premium dongles, that can outperform it. Where it excels is the ultimate convenience.
Full Android support, small size, lightweight, decent physical interface, tons of functionality, superb battery life, access to streaming, and one of the greatest pairings for Bluetooth-focused listeners. If you are tired of bulky, heavy, and user-unfriendly devices that take up so much more space in your pocket than your own phone, then give the M300 a chance.
It’s such a great device if, apart from sound performance, you also care about user experience, because that’s the part where the M300 shines. It might not be for everyone, but if, just like me, you specifically look for upgrading your convenience in physicality games, this DAP comes
Founder of Ear Fidelity. I’ve been into audio for many years, working in production, distribution, retail, and marketing throughout my career. Now trying to revolutionize the art of reviewing audio gear, but one thing will never change: Music is the most important.