Most of us are satisfied with listening to music on a smartphone, and for the average listener, a phone does the job perfectly. However, audiophiles and advanced users may not be happy with this option, especially considering that more and more smartphones are abandoning the 3.5mm jack. Most people agree that high-resolution audio can best be played with a pair of wired earphones or headphones.
High-resolution audio players such as the Shanling M0 are ideal for this. This palm-sized portable music player offers wireless and wired connectivity so you can use it with your best headphones or headphones. In addition, this "Chi-Fi" product costs only Rs. 8,999 – the ideal entry-level price range for anyone who wants to try out audiophile life. We check the Shanling M0 to find out whether it is suitable as the first high-resolution audio player.
Shanling M0 design and specifications
The most striking aspect of the Shanling M0's design is its size – this audio player is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Its size and shape, as well as the rotating dial on the side, make the M0 a smartwatch, even if it does not have a bracelet. However, the device is not very slim and a bit thicker than the average smartphone. However, it's still extremely handy and portable, and you won't have any trouble finding a place to put it, whether you use it or not.
The Shanling M0 has a metal unibody with a 1.54-inch touchscreen on the front. The only physical control of this audio player is the power button on the right side, which also serves as a rotary knob for adjusting the volume. The bottom of the audio player has the 3.5 mm socket and a USB Type-C port (for loading and transferring files), while the left side offers a slot for a microSD card. The slot is protected by a massive flap that was difficult to open.
The Shanling M0 has no internal storage, so you need a microSD card to use it. Up to 512 GB cards are supported and none is included in the retail package. However, you will receive a USB Type-C cable for charging. The device supports various file types, including compressed formats such as MP3 and WMA as well as high-resolution formats such as FLAC, WAV, DSD and M4A with a resolution of up to 32 bit / 384 kHz.
There are three ways to use the Shanling M0 – with wired headphones, with wireless headphones or as a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The device features a 32-bit Quad DAC ESS Saber ES9218P for use with wired headphones, while wireless headphones benefit from Bluetooth 4.1 and support for the LDAC and Qualcomm aptX codecs. The Shanling M0 has a 630 mAh battery that, in our experience, works for around 11 hours with a combination of wired and wireless connectivity.
The Shanling M0 runs on MTouch OS, a custom user interface optimized for the small 1.54-inch screen. The user interface is navigated with gestures – swiping and tapping are enough to get around. While it was initially confusing to navigate through the user interface, we finally got used to it and were able to get where we needed to be quickly. You can adjust various settings on the device, search your track list and even set the time with the built-in clock.
Shanling M0 performance
The Shanling M0's form factor is its biggest attraction and perhaps the main reason why many people would buy it through a competing high-definition audio player, but this device has more to offer. It serves as a capable player and covers the basics of connectivity and file format support. We mainly used the Shanling M0 with the Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 headphones and the Sennheiser Momentum on-ear headphones as well as the OnePlus Bullets wireless headphones to test the Bluetooth audio. We also used the Shanling M0 as a standalone DAC with a MacBook Air.
As expected from a decent audio player, the Shanling M0 does its job simply, well, doing its job. The audio player adds little taste to the sound, and we found that most of the features and characteristics of the headphones we used could show through. What the Shanling M0 does is add gain and volume with minimal distortion.
As expected, the best results were achieved with high-resolution audio tracks. We listened to how loud and responsive the Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 earphones sounded when the volume was set to 70 percent in FLAC format. The punchy tendencies of the earphones have been highlighted accurately, while maintaining the detail and openness of the track itself. If you increase the volume to over 70 percent, the sound will definitely be too loud, but surprisingly without audible distortion.
We then moved on to Pharrell Williams & # 39; Gust Of Wind, which we heard in both FLAC and MP3 file formats. There was an audible difference in quality when listening to the FLAC version, but the MP3 version didn't sound bad at all. Part of the credit for this is of course the excellent Sennheiser Momentum headphones that we used, but the Shanling M0 also does an excellent job of digital-to-analog conversion and can drive this headset to the best of its ability.
While the Shanling M0 didn't get as much out of these headphones as the more expensive Fiio M6, it certainly offered a significant improvement over the performance of the Apple iPad mini (2019), which usually serves as an everyday audio source device. The built-in DAC and amplification make the difference here, and the support for various file formats has also helped make this the ideal launch device for audiophiles.
We also tested the M0's wireless connectivity with the excellent OnePlus Bullets Wireless. While it is nice to have the ability to connect wirelessly, this is not the ideal use of the Shanling M0. The sound quality was largely comparable to that of our OnePlus 7 Pro (review). This goes a step further with the support of the Bluetooth codec aptX HD and the possibility to play music from streaming services. If anything, we found it easier and better to use our smartphone with wireless headphones and headphones than the Shanling M0, but the functionality is there for those who want it.
Finally, we used the Shanling M0 as a standalone DAC for our Apple MacBook Air, which we found very useful as an additional feature. Sound quality has been significantly improved thanks to the use of the better digital-to-analog converter on the device than the standard you get on the laptop. We found that the sound when using the M0 with the laptop was louder, cleaner, and more detailed, but again the differences weren't quite as big as the Fiio M6.
While the Shanling M0 is a decent audio player, its real unique selling points are its portability and price. It is suitable both as a starting device and as a practical option for experienced audiophiles who may also have better equipment on hand. It's easy to use, has a reasonable battery life for a product of this size, and does the job.
If you can comfortably listen to music on your smartphone with wireless headphones, the Shanling M0 is not for you. However, if you have good wired headphones and want to appreciate (or at least try out) the benefits of high definition audio, the M0 is the easiest and most pocket-friendly way to get started.
Price (MRP): Rs. 8,999
- Small and pluggable
- Touchscreen, simple user interface navigation
- Looks good, great build quality
- All common high-resolution file formats are supported
- USB Type-C charging and DAC functionality
- Decent performance and battery life
- No built-in memory and no microSD card included
Reviews (of 5)
- Design: 4.5
- Performance: 4
- Battery: 4
- Value for money: 4
- Total: 4