Shanling M6 Andriod Player Review | Hifigo
The Chinese audio world has exploded over the past decade. One thing the country is particularly good at is creating great digital audio players. Shanling is a company specializing in just that, and they are absolutely crushing it. In this review, we break down the sound, design, packaging and accessories, specs and more of the Shanling M6 player. To see how it stacks up, check out our list of the best DAPs.
Full Open Andriod OS
Gorgeous metal and glass body
Wi-Fi and two-way Bluetooth
Snappy, responsive user interface with Qualcomm CPU
Protective case not included in the package
Micro-SD card slot can be difficult to open
Build Quality and Design
Shanling’s M6 player looks fantastic but it’s the way it feels in your hand that sets it apart from other mid-tier DAPs in terms of physical build. It’s so well-made. The build-quality matches Astell&Kern, and that’s also true for the bundle. Weighing in at 200 g and crafted from CNC aluminum, the unit has a satisfying heft and solidity when you pick it up.
Unfortunately, like an iPhone, the Shanling M6 is one of those players you HAVE to protect with a case. Unless you’re one of those crazy/handy people who’s convinced they will never drop their phone/DAP, but better be safe than sorry.
The2.5D curved glass panels really do the tricks. And if you’re no familiar with Shanling name, I’m pretty sure you could tell your friends the M6 cost twice more than its retail price. The fact that the player had absolutely no visible screws is the cherry on top. It features a nice 4.7-inch IPS HD display from Sharp with high resolution at 720*1280.In this price range, I think you can’t find a player with a better finish than the Shanling M6.
Inside the box
The Shanling M5S bundle is a bit… dire, inside the box you get :
the Shanling M6
a USB-C cable
a quick-start manual
The nice leather case has to be ordered separately though, although we don’t know the price.
Controls are minimal and work well. The knurled volume knob is easy to find without looking, and doubles as a screen on/off button, which brings the operating system to life instantly. Unfortunately, the tolerances on the wheel may be too sensitive. On the other side of the player, you’ll find a play/pause button and two-track skip buttons. It’s the kind of setup that doesn’t require an instruction manual to operate – even a chimp could do it. We do love it when a pricey audio gear is simple and efficient.
The Battery Life
Thankfully, the M6 is USB-C and quick charge3.0 compatible. The battery is about 4000mAh and claims 12 hours of usage, which I find a fair spec listing by the company. My tests with non DSD/FLAC track types granted me more than 13 hours with the screen off. Beyond that, the charge time is 2 hours which seems extremely fast by comparison to 3-4 hours of M5S. The 4000mha battery is significantly less powerful but still lasts a very, very long time too. Tossing everything under the sun at it, I played a loop of DSD tracks with the screen on the brightest setting and connected to a home set of speakers all while in High Gain mode. The result was about 5.5 hours of playback time, which is very good considering everything that was active at once.
Outputs/inputs of M6
All the outputs/inputs are found at the bottom of the M6 :
a USB Type-C port, dual-way to connect the Shanling to a computer and use it as a DAC/Amp, or to a DAP to make it the source.
1x single-ended 3.5mm TRS headphone output to connect your usual headphones
1x balanced 2.5mm TRRS headphone output
1x balanced 4.4mm TRRRS headphone output
The first generation of Shanling players almost had too much out/inputs (coaxial input, for real) and in M5s, they remove the 4.4mm output, but fortunately, we have it again in M6.
Wireless Features and DAC
The M6 has a slew of great features for only $499. If you like wireless, this is a great DAP to opt for. WiFi, DLNA, dual directional Bluetooth, meaning it streams and accepts BT signals in and out of the player you can’t really go wrong here. I love pairing the M6 with my Bluetooth speakers and headphones, I’ve never had a single issue with pairing, frequent disconnects, and battery life drain problems, thankfully. Or you can use Shanling M6 in Bluetooth receiver mode, just pair it with your phone or tablet and enjoy your music, movies, Spotify, Tidal or even Youtube with top-quality sound. Receiver mode limited to SBC, AAC, and LDAC codec.
The M6 has dual AKM AK 4495S EQ DACs embedded in its circuits. These DACs are in charge of file handling, and in this area, the M6 more than holds its own. It’s compatible with audio files up to 32 bit / 768kHz, and DSD files up to DSD256. That’s more than enough to handle just about any file you throw at it and competes well with other DAPs in this price range. For comparison, the latest mid-end player Ibasso dx160 ($469 versus $499 for the M6) can only go up to 384kHz.
There’s also the option of wireless audio transmission. We’ll go into the ins and outs of this in more detail below, but in terms of sound quality, Bluetooth audio transmission works exceptionally well. The M6 is capable of handling a wide range of Bluetooth codecs, including LDAC, aptX, and AAC. We did find that a wired connection was a tad better than Bluetooth transmission, but the difference was barely noticeable. For the most part, you can use Bluetooth with confidence here.
User Interface and Functionality
The M6 is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 430 SoC and is paired with a 4GB of memory. There is a 32GB of storage (usable capacity is expected to be lower), but there is a single microSD card slot for the main storage. It is based on full open Android OS, allowing the installation of any third party APP. Customized Android, avoiding any problems and sound degradation caused by Android's SRC. It functions much like a modern smartphone with Android-based. It only takes about 7 seconds to boot the system and land on the home screen.
The UI is fast and responsive, gapless playback works perfectly and during testing, I didn’t find anything lacking whatsoever.
I tested the M6 using a variety of headphones and in-ear monitors ranging from entry-level to high-tier items. Both single-ended and balanced outputs were tested along with my regular test tracks as well as my current music library which covers multiple styles and genres.
To my ears, the Shanling M6 has a sound signature that is close to neutral in tonality but is far from being flat or boring. On the contrary, there’s a musicality to the sound and fullness which contradicts the DAPs superb resolution and detail. M6 feels enjoyable in a physical quantity sense but lacking a harsh bite.
The sound is very natural and dynamic, bass notes are tight and full of texture. Try a mixture of different headphones with this DAP and you’ll be delighted to hear how it sculpts the bass uniquely with each one.
Excellent timbre and linear tuning make the midrange really shine. Although it doesn’t add colour the mids have an almost tangible body but the spacing between elements stays clear at all times. The treble is a real delight too, it falls into the airy category that is smooth but never sacrifices note density. Details are abundant as is the level of the treble extension with superb layering and accuracy.
Comparing to M5s and M3s, the sound signature of Shanling M6 tends to M3s a little for mids and highs that are rich, enchanting and warm. M6 is more reference sounding with a bit more treble extension and air and accurate instrumental timbre and with much better instrumental separation.
Shanling M6 Soundstage
The Shanling M6’s wider feel to the image pairs much better than with the m3s and AP80. The air factor from left to right and the separation of instruments is very, very good. The instrumentation on our test tracks of M5s never felt as wide or as far-reaching, But Shanling does improve this much on M6.
The M6 performs well with about any headphones you plug into it, offering 330 milliwatts at 32 ohms. We found that connecting it to a pair of headphones with a great soundstage, like the AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon. If you enjoy live content, this is a great DAP to purchase and pair with a wide sounding monitor.
Shanling did an excellent job with this DAP! The pricing is fantastic for the quality received and it is punching way above the list price. The battery life is very good and the Andriod UI and Qualcomm CPU for smooth operation is very good for me. I was expecting a much more middling performance from this mid-tier player but it is rock solid, not only in build quality but also in the quality of its sound.
The only lacking aspect is Protective case not included in package and Micro-SD card slot can be difficult to open Beyond that, the M6 is a fantastic mid-tier DAP. I will certainly be recommending it to enthusiasts looking for something in the $500 range.