The Hiby Crystal 6 is a new 6 balanced armature earphone (per side) that comes in with an RRP under $500. Thus, it enters the market at one of the most competitive price points for high-end earphones. Hiby is perhaps best to know for their high-end audio players like the R3, which have gained a big following in the past few years for being great value for money compared to more established HiFi brands. Can this new IEM compete with whats currently on the market and is it worth buying?
The packaging for the Crystal 6 is simple but nice. A small high-quality cardboard box with a stylish iridescent styling and good graphics. It’s compact and provides both good protection in transit and a pleasant unboxing experience. Inside everything is well laid out.
In the box you get a comprehensive tip selection that offers varying tip sizes as well as the ability to “tune” the earphones. They promise vocal or bass emphasis but in practice only the foam tips offered any distinguishable difference in the tuning (in this case the highs were slightly less forward). You also get a compact leather style carry case with the Hiby logo.
The cable is, at first appearance, nice, but upon closer inspection, we found it to be sub-par when compared to a lot of the competition at this price point. For example, the Dunu ESTe costs roughly the same money yet has a fantastic performing cable and has the jack switching trick that Dunu is now famous for. Similarly, the cable on the Oracle, Monarch, and Excalibur which cost slightly more are all a more premium option.
The cable isn’t bad per see but it’s just the competition is very good. It performs well and has solid construction and metal hardware but it does retain some memory letting it get out of control when kept in storage for a long time. The good news is they give you two cables with standard and balanced connectors but the truth is this is a far more crude solution than Dunu or Fiiio as strain when changing cables is put on the earphone side.
The earphones themselves are fairly well made. However, the resin shell thing is getting a bit played out and with the Hiby Crystal 6, they do feel a bit cheap when compared to the Dunu and Thieaudio models. A hint at the OEM factory for these might lie in the hooded connectors that are similar to KZ and CCA earphones. That’s not a bad thing as I like either a hood or recess on two-pin earphones but I would still far prefer an MMCX connection point.
Insertion depth is medium shallow, and isolation is fairly decent, meaning they will suit commuting.
The sound quality is very good offering balanced and accurate tuning with no real emphasis on one frequency band over another. A slight hint of warmth over the top makes them more engaging and less of a working earphone, and more of a pleasure listening IEM.
The highs are crisp and clear with good air to them that sounds open and spacey. There is no sibilance or harshness in the top en,d but they do extend very well and accurately portray a wide variety of music.
The midrange is very slightly warm and because of that it presents itself with a certain smoothness whilst retaining lots of detail. Overall the sound is neutral here, and it’s refreshing to see an earphone come out in 2021 where the highs and lows don’t dominate the midrange. Vocals sound fantastic, with a leaning towards better performance in female vocals. This same effect means that high-strung instruments and even wind instruments sound great. Finally, there is no sibilance or heat in the upper midrange to speak of.
The lows are characteristically in the style of a balanced armature. They carry good detail and speed but lack the overall impact of a dynamic driver, which often produces higher quantity sub-bass due to the large diaphragm moving massive volumes of air into your ear canals. Still, it’s a good performer and tonally accurate for a BA despite having a lack of impact.
Conclusion: Hiby Crystal 6 Review
The Crystal 6 impressed me with its performance, but unfortunately, it falls very short on its price point. It is set to retail a bit under $500, and that is just way too much to ask when we look at the competition. Thieaudio, Dunu, Fiio, Fearless, and others will always be a better buy in this range, so I would have to see at least $100 or more dropped the price tag to see the Crystal 6 as a good buy. That aside, Hiby is still relatively new, and they have managed to get the tuning right and show they can produce a good quality all BA earphone. Had this been 5 years ago, I maybe would be raving about this one, but as it stands with the state of the market in 2021, it’s just not quite there.