Shanling M0

Rating:
5/5,
Tags:
  1. ngoshawk
    Shanling M0-The little DAP that could
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Oct 19, 2018 at 3:05 PM
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Ultra-portable.
    AFFORDABLE.
    Touchscreen.
    UI-friendly, and simple.
    Good Shanling sound, slightly north of neutral.
    AFFORDABLE.
    Cons - Might be a bit small for some.
    Slippery if not in case.
    Lacks 2.5/4/4 jack (oh well...).
    Not enough power for some
    Shanling M0-the little DAP that could.



    Sometimes opportunity knocks on the door as they say. Other times it subtly stands by the side, expecting you to see, yet you walk right on by without site or thought. Lastly, sometimes opportunity comes at you like a freight train where you either grab hold or get run over. The opportunity to audition the M0 came at me the third way. I was honored to be considered by Shanling for a look, but cautious as well, because this is kind of a job interview of sorts. One can rightly assume that the reviewer-game is wrought with carnage of well-meaning people, who get run over. Or with “reviewers” who often create that carnage, and hence cautious approach by companies who value their product above all and not only want open honest reviews, but to protect their product as well. It is here, that I fully appreciate the company model in which Shanling espouses. Their products are good. Very, VERY good and I will openly admit I am already a fan. I own the M1, M3s and an older M5, which was my indoctrination into the “higher order” of DAPs. I use all of them, and they make it into my review queue as often as possible. The M3s is my go-to for working out. My M1, while deposed as the burner for IEM’s, also makes it in when comparing DAP’s of the “more economical” variety, because it is a standard by which I still judge others at that price point (personal opinion, so deal with it). Last, the M5…oh my, the M5. Simple, straightforward bearer of flagship moniker; my heart still flutters upon listen. I often squirrel off late at night under darkness to listen. I do this for fear of being found out, for I would have to explain to my love, why I love another so…quite embarrassing it would be.

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    So, you can see that I like the Shanling house sound. On the warmer side, with rich, detailed note, excellent battery and simplicity of use; the Shanling brand has taken me in, and grabbed me right before smashing me to bits, because they understand. They understand what it means to be in love with your music, and save you, lest you be flattened. And that would rightly be an embarrassing quandary to explain to my better half…



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    I wrote the above while Los Lonely Boys song Orale emanated from the M0 and the MEE Audio M6 Pro Generation 2. To say I was happy would be an understatement. The sound, which came forth was good and rich of detail. Deep of bass reach (not superbly deep, but for this price, excellent), present and tolerant treble note and mids, which are just forward enough to keep your interest. This was a good set up, especially when one notes it can be had for less than 2 Bens. I am amazed at what one can get for less and less these days. I am hooked, and it is a good thing.



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    Followed by Ziggy’s Make Some Music, and one could rightly claim you have reached what does not need to be crossed. You stand at that divide, but feel no need to cross, for you see the view presented, and are quite happy and satisfied to have reached this point. While others may go forth, and you do not fault them for this; you are quite satisfied to have reached here. You take in that intoxicating view, and it is good.


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    You also realize that while not powerful, the M0 has enough power to rattle your ears. Often many people are drawn into discussion regarding “how much power does it have?” And, I believe that is the wrong way to go about discussing this. By the specs, the M0 is almost anemic of power. But, once you hook in your favorite pair of IEMs’, there is sufficient power to drive most. I did run the testing on high-gain most of the time, and to reach sufficiently loud levels where it could hurt did take some effort, reaching 60 on the scale. That said, to me there was sufficient power for all but the hungriest.


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    I want to thank Frantesik and Shanling for the opportunity to review the M0. All that we agreed upon was that the review be open and honest. We would have this no other way. As this was a loaner to be forwarded to another, I did treat the M0 as if it was a gift; in fact, better than if the M0 was my own. Suffice to say I treated the red critter well, and careful.



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    Specs (from Musicteck):

    • Specification size: 40*135*45mm
    • Screen: 1.54 inch 240*240 high definition touch screen
    • Weight: about 33g
    • DAC model: ESS Sabre ES9218P
    • Endurance: about 15 hours (depending on the use)
    • Deep standby: about 30 days (depending on the situation)
    • Charging time: about 2 hours (depending on the use)
    • Battery capacity: 640mAH lithium battery
    • Storage: maximum support 512G TF Card (to buy)
    • Output port: headset output (3.5 mm)
    • Output power: 80mw@ 32 Europe
    • Output impedance: 0.16 Europe
    • Channel separation degree: 70dB
    • Recommended earphone impedance: 8-300 Europe
    • Frequency effect: 20HZ~20KHz (-0.5dB)
    • Distortion: 0.004% (A-Weighting, output 500mV)
    • Signal to noise ratio: 118dB (A-Weighting)
    • Bottom noise: <3uV (HIGH GAIN)
    You will notice that many of the above specs are based upon European measurements or specifications. That said, they do apply to the rest of the world as a guide.


    Songs used:

    Too bloody many to list all, but you want songs, so there you go:

    REM-Losing My Religion
    Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
    Coldplay-A Message
    Coldplay-White Shadows
    Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
    Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
    twenty one pilots-Trees
    twenty one pilots-Car Radio
    twenty one pilots-Heathens
    Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
    Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
    Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
    Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
    Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
    Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
    Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado


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    Comparison equipment:

    MEE M6 Pro Gen2
    UM Mentor V3
    Meze 11Neo
    64Audio U8
    Campfire Audio Jupiter
    KZ AS10

    Shanling M1
    Shanling M3s
    Shanling M5
    Questyle QP2R
    Aune M1s

    Unboxing:

    The Shanling M0 comes in a typical small box from Shanling, utilizing as much space as they could, while still being stylish. Included accessories are par for the course: USB-C cable, instruction manual, and warranty card. Also included in the loan unit were a plastic belt clip (held VERY well and a nice addition), and a KILLER red pleather case. The M0 does come in many colors, which is a nice departure from black, and ummm…black.


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    Build quality/UI:

    Finish on the red version looks almost rough metallic. That is until you feel the unit, then it is smooth. With an almost industrial-like look, the critter is pretty simple. A scroll wheel on the right, which operates on/off by long presses and rotates for volume (most of the time 2-numbers at a time). The top is rounded more on the right side, ala other Shanling DAPs. A nice touch to the past. The left side is dominated by a plastic cover over the single micro SD slot. A bit hard to unseat (good!), the top side of that plastic cover rotates to reveal the SD slot. Simple and straightforward. The bottom has the micro-USB port and single 3.5mm jack. That’s it. Simple and easy to operate. I like it. Plus, a single push of the scroll wheel wakes the unit for further instructions.

    Once turned on and in operational mode, the menus remind me of a simpler inexpensive DAP. Basic to a fault, but functional well beyond those looks. Once inside each menu though, there is a plethora of options. About the only thing lacking is a customizable EQ setting. There are enough to satisfy most wants, though. And if not, then maybe you should re-evaluate your listening preferences. Plus, when the screen is off, you can set a function of double-press the wheel and play/pause of the song results. Very handy when you need to talk or answer your phone. This can be done successfully from one’s pocket. Nifty, indeed but not novel.

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    I found the UI to function smoothly, with little lag and there was good ease of operation. A feature I really like is a long press on the top of the screen from pretty much any mode. By doing so, you return to the “front page” where you can access all features. A long press there takes you back from whence you came as well. At least back to the “play” widget, with but one more touch that returns you to the current song playing. Swiping to the right, will also return you one screen back at a time. A nice feature. For the price, this is a highly functional unit, with many features you may not expect, such as the long press and other options. And yes, I do know that most DAP’s today have a long press, which returns you to the home area, or close. Again, for the price it works, and it is functional. Typical Shanling in my book, it simply works.

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    As others have described the functions of the various screens and features, I shan’t bore you with a regurgitation of the various options. I will provide a video link, below for my “multi-faceted” video, which goes over such features in detail.



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    Initial listen:


    Suffice to say, that upon arrival the M0 vaulted to my DAP of choice while reviewing other items. As such, I was struck immediately at how small it truly is. For comparison, see the side by side with the GIGANTIC M1s, and HUMONGOUS M3s. While I jest a bit, the M0 is truly pocketable and extremely functional within its shell. I was mightily impressed. It also looks devilishly wonderful in red. And I do mean, RED. The pleather case, which came with it is even red. Also included is a belt clip for use on runs or walking much like a pedometer. Very nice, indeed.

    But the sound! You all shout. Get to the good stuff, you dolt!!! Well, all righty, then! Be polite.

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    Let me say this up front. I went in expecting that typical warm Shanling sound, and I was not disappointed. Having preconceptions here does not taint what I heard, it confirms it. And I’m OK with that. Make no mistake, though. It is a good solid sound belying the price range. So many DAP’s of today espouse a “good” sound, but when compared to items within their same range, fall short or more aptly flat on their face. The M0 does not. It can justify its place in the sub-$120 range, pushing wannabes out of the way with the politeness of a Kingsman. Polite, but with a purpose. One might say I was impressed, and one would be right.

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    Delving deeper:

    Knowing what you might get beforehand can be a good or a bad thing. Good because you know of the virtues presented, since you may have prior experience with the company. Bad, because you may have certain expectations, which might not be met. That familiarity can breed doubt and despair by the readers. Doubt that the reviewer might simply be a fanboy. Despair, because the pocketbook of our readers IS dependent upon what we write sometimes. Throw in the companies stake, and we are under pressure.

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    Well…you need not worry. At all. The Shanling sound is there. The Shanling reliability is there. The Shanling build is there. And, the Shanling passes. With flying colors. Actually, it comes in some flying colors as well. So, what makes the Shanling so good, and full of those luscious colors? That Shanling house sound.

    Some prefer a more analytical sound, or more neutral in other words. Sometimes those are thrown around together, and here in the description I am thinking of, that would be apt. Think FiiO x5iii, and that would be somewhat analytical and neutral to me. At least in comparison to my Shanling collection. Those would all have a warmer signature, and the M0 does as well. Just not as much as the others. It is a bit more mainstream to me, but still good. Oh, so good. To me, I think Shanling wanted to appeal to a broader base of listeners, as they had their hardcore fans covered with the other models.

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    There is adequate power for most IEM’s, though it may be a bit short for those hard to drive units. I found the M0 to have plenty of power for those with which I paired. I did have to raise the volume when plugging in the AAW-Shozy Hibiki Mk2, but not the KZ-AS10. Nor with the MEE M6 Pro, Gen2. So, for most the M0 is plenty adequate power-wise.

    And what might that power provide? A good reach of bass on songs such as Damian Marley’s Everybody Wants To Be Somebody. There is plenty there, and it reaches pretty deep. Again, this would be IEM-dependent, but fair to say that the M0 provides a good part of that.

    A nice feature, which I turned on immediately was the double click on the scroll wheel. This allowed the user to play/pause as mentioned so that one could hear a conversation or answer your phone, etc. A nice touch, and yes available on other DAP’s as well. What is nice here though, is that the scroll wheel protrudes, making the function of the play/pause even easier.

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    Detail of song is present in most song offerings. Using Damian Marley’s Living It Up, you can clearly hear the layers of music, separated quite well. This is a good song with which to differentiate layering, detail, bass and any possible congestion. The M0 came through the car-wash test with flying colors. You can clearly hear the percussion support instruments while the bass guitar dominates the sub-bass line. Throw in Damian’s penetrating voice and the lounge-like support of keyboard, and you have a thoroughly happy nod-your-head song. One aspect, which could be a bit better would be the separation of vocals, when singing the support line. I had a harder time differentiating individual singers, but this could be down to my upper end loss of hearing. It is still quite good.

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    This is furthered by Annie Lennox’s sumptuous voice on Love Is A Stranger. Talk about obsession…oh my goodness. The range of her voice is an excellent “tool” for discerning female vocal and the critter being tested. Again, the M0/M6 Pro G2 combo exonerated itself quite well. Her voice, though…oh my. Throughout the test, I found the M0 to represent vocals honestly and without artificiality. I currently have another unit on hand, and I cannot say the same of it. So, for the price, the M0 does an admirable job, indeed.

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    :heart:

    Comparo dujour:

    When one compares anything to another of the same ilk, you are walking a fine tightrope to begin. There will always be those that defend their choices like an affront to their family heritage. While others will look on quizzically at the choices you make. Yet others will nod in agreement or with the understanding that by comparing we are doing a service. A service so that you may make that informed choice. That said, if one does not like what we recommend that is life. Personal choices abound and doing one’s own research is tantamount to a solid purchase. Here is where my hope is that some small part can be the result of the verbiage listed below.

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    Shanling M0 ($109) v Shanling M1 ($129):

    A natural comparison to the older brother begets many similarities of family lineage. Both share that squat squarish, roundy-edge shape, which has become synonymous with Shanling’s offerings. Little brother has one big advantage though…a touchscreen. Plus, the scroll wheel has been redesigned on the M0 as well. It is now more rotating knob as opposed to wheel. Still Shanling, but less so in my humble opinion. There were early issues with that rotating wheel on the M1 as well, which were taken care of by Shanling, so good for them.

    When it comes to sound, the M1 moves a bit up the food chain as one would expect. With a tighter, deeper reach of bass we begin to fully experience the Shanling house sound. Luscious mids come through such as on Lyle Lovett’s Bears, one of my all-time favorite songs. His voice and that wonderful Mandolin run the trifecta with the National steel guitar perfectly. A taught drum sound finishes the deal. This song is good no matter what. And here, the M1 provides more depth and fuller sound. Where the M0 is a fun almost energetic sound, the M1 defines the beginnings of maturity.

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    Shanling M0 ($109) v Shanling M3s ($279):

    To some, the M3s was what started the resurgence or revolution at Shanling. The fine M2s came before, but the M3s raised the bar for the entry-level-mid-fi range. I can remember listening to both the M2s (borrowed) and the M3s (tour model, then I purchased one) side-by-side. Even with my ears, I could feel a better sense of detail from the M3s, and more warmth. To me this was as close to the M5 as Shanling had come. It is still my go-to workout DAP, fitting perfectly into a Smartphone arm band. With good power, and good battery life, I happily use it to judge others at this price. Through in single-end and balanced-end outputs and you have a killer DAP for less than $300. I absolutely love the warmth that emanates from the M3s. I was sold the minute I heard it. I was lucky enough to have another brand on hand during that tour, at a higher price point, and kept coming back to the M3s. With 2-way BT and HiBy on deck, you could feed through your Smartphone using the excellent DAC portion of the M3s. A nice feature, which is carried over into the M0. Again, using Bears, that maturity further develops. There is an almost thumping quality of bass in the M3s.This is one of the facets, which drew me into the purchase of the M3s. That good reach of bass, while also defining what a Shanling would sound like at the upper end of what I might call the “low-fi” price. Low-fi in price only, certainly not quality of sound. Where the M3s provide succulent treble and the “S’s” of Lyle’s voice sound sweet and sublime; on the M0 there is a bit of sibilance. Not sibilance really, but an overly brilliant sound. Enough to where I listened again and again to define that sound. I do believe that is a result of where the M0 might be utilized…on the go, where outside noise could drown out the upper end. Maybe I don’t know of what I am talking about, either. A distinct possibility, but I hear what I hear.

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    Shanling M0 ($109) v Aune M1s ($240ish):

    A pure music player, which I had previously auditioned (at the M1-level), I found myself on the receiving end of a winner. The Aune came my way by a giveaway, but knowing how much I liked a borrowed M1, I anticipated it for the simple fact that the Aune does one thing and one thing well…play music. Don’t go looking for WIFI, or BT, or dual micro-SD slots. Don’t go looking for a UI, which is state of the art Linux or Android. No, the Aune is meant for one thing…to play your music. And in this regard when considering music alone, bests even the M3s in my humble opinion. More detail than a critter has a right to promote at this price, the M1s is one fine player, which fell upon hard times due to the steamrolling of features that other better-known players and companies crammed into their DAP’s. You want BT? SURE! WIFI? YOU BET! Touchscreen/scrolling screen/wheels? DARN STRAIGHT! No, this might be the forgotten DAP of our time, and that is a shame for based upon pure sound, I rate it near the top in this price. And yes, that would be in my limited experience but enough to warrant a good judge of abilities/sounds.

    The Aune has a more analytical sound, without the bass reach of the aforementioned Shanling’s. And you know what? That is OK. Dare I say “reference,” lest I get hammered; but an apt description might be pure and clean. There is a cleanliness to the sound, which smacks of wide open spaces on a crystal-clear blue-sky day. Nary a cloud in sight, your view is unencumbered. And that is well and good. With less sibilance up top, the upper frequencies ring truer through the M1s than the M0. And it should. Especially when one notes the challenger is a dedicated music player.

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    Finale:

    There really isn’t much more that can be said about this wonderful little critter (especially on the back of existing reviews). Finishing with Bob and Bad Card seems appropriate, since there really isn’t a bad card involved with the Shanling M0. Suffice to say, if I was in the market for a small portable DAP, which can be used not only at the gym, or out in active situations, but at home relaxing as well; this would be at the top of my want list. Especially for the price.

    Yes, I am a fan of Shanling already. I stated that above…many times. To me that does not allow blind obsession and accolades for anything thrown my way. Indeed, I consider it just the opposite. As Ziggy sang the live version of ABC from his wonderful Live From Soho album), I tapped the keys. I tapped my feet. I nodded my head and scribbled some more. As such, knowing what Shanling has wrought or rung from its other DAP’s, my expectations were most likely higher than those who have not the experience. And as such I was not disappointed. This is a very fine little DAP that should take serious consideration when looking at the ultra-portable DAP segment. Especially with a good functional touchscreen. I can find little to fault, except maybe it is TOO small, and not quite powerful enough. Turning Joe Satriani’s excellent Goodbye Supernova to 70/100 on high gain, was plenty adequate for me. That said if one wants to drive your headphones to ear-shattering volumes, you are probably not looking at this type of critter anyway. It can get plenty loud, but some always want more…

    I want to thank Shanling for the loan of this excellent little critter known as the M0. It met my expectations and is the next logical successor to the M1 at this highly-affordable price point. Were I in the market for replacing my smallest portable, this would be on the way to me right now. That is the highest regard I can personally give…spending my own hard-earned dollars on it.



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      hqssui and B9Scrambler like this.
  2. ustinj
    Shanling M0: Between Quality and Convenience
    Written by ustinj
    Published Aug 7, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - sound quality, clean output, design, value, USB-C, easy-to-learn UI, firmware updates (so far), features, portability
    Cons - UI could use some minor improvements, lack of BT playback control, tiny size could be an issue for some
    Preface

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    Confession: I use my phone as a source for my portable listening purposes. A handful of people out there are probably disgusted by my mindset -- I’d spend over $1,000 on quality IEMs, only to waste their potential by driving them through a cellphone? But this one is for those out there in the same boat, those who struggle with the dilemma of balancing the two attributes of portable audio -- quality and convenience.

    I’d say I’m very much focused on the convenience side of things; I do enjoy higher quality audio (who doesn’t?), but not when it comes at the expense of the overall experience.

    When I got into the world of portable audio, I decided I needed to pick up a quality source to pair with my new chi-fi IEMs and OnePlus One. In came the JDS Labs C5D, my first portable DAC/AMP. It sounded “less bad” than my OnePlus One, but let’s just say I never brought it outside the house.

    It was clear that I was not willing to:

    1. Carry another device around.
    2. Bear the responsibility of charging it.
    3. Tether it to my phone using additional, bulky cables.
    And I’ve stood by this ideology for a long time. Most of my portable listening is done on the go; whether I’m walking around outside, studying quietly in the comfort of my home, or in the gym, I want to make my experience as convenient and streamlined as possible.

    But then the Shanling M0 comes along, and checks enough boxes to push me back to the dark side.

    Shanling M0

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    When the Shanling M0 was announced, I was instantly enamoured with the idea. Ultra-portable, stylish in design, feature-packed, and boasting impressive sound -- all at an unexpectedly low price point of $99. Now, since then the price has been tweaked a bit up towards $109, but read on to find out why I still think the M0 is totally a bargain.

    Now having had the Shanling M0 for roughly 1.5 months, I think I'm confident enough to post some solid impressions on it. Big thanks to Andrew over at Musicteck.com for offering the M0 at a discounted rate for me to share my thoughts and impressions on the device. You can purchase the M0 for $109 through the following links:

    Shanling M0 @ MusicTeck

    MusicTeck @ Amazon

    I won’t be able to offer detailed comparisons to the other DAPs I’ve tried in the past, as I don’t have them in hand. As mentioned earlier, I consider myself a casual ‘audiophile’ by the general definition of the word, but ultimately a consumer beneath the surface. For that reason, I hope this review reaches people just like me -- I’ll be comparing the M0 against one of the current “best” portable audio phone sources on the market, the LG V20.

    Design

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    On a design note, the M0 is a tiny, portable DAP reminiscent to that of the Apple Watch. I ended up picking out the Titanium color, which is an ultra-premium pearl / champagne colored metal. The frontside is almost entirely covered in a curved “2.5D” black glass, with the display a bit smaller than that. Directly in contact with the display is the aluminum body of the player, cut with a great variety of smooth and slightly more aggressive edges. The physical volume knob is milled with rivets along its outer edges with some pretty close attention to detail. It’s a great looking device, and definitely a player that could be turning heads in public (if they notice it despite its tiny size!).

    Usability
    The learning curve of the Shanling M0 is fairly low, and very simple to pick up. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, through the primary touch commands of single-taps and swipe-lefts to return to the previous page. The features are basic but convenient enough to provide the necessities of a DAP.

    There is no on-board storage for the Shanling M0 -- a micro SD card is required to play tracks locally (bluetooth / DAC features are still operable).

    The overall fluidity of using the M0 can be described as “mostly quick”. Animations while navigating through menus are smooth, but not quite on par with something buttery smooth like an android-based DAP. There are small quirks with the touch sensitivity, notably two that come to mind:

    • When scrolling down lists, touching an item at the bottom of the screen will not yield a response from the player (usually ends with accidentally selecting the item above it)
    • The M0 has a feature to return to the home screen from any given screen by touching and holding for a short period of time. Sometimes (an unfortunately high percentage of times), tapping and holding will not return to the home screen and I would have to try again.
    There is one physical button on the M0, built directly into the volume control (pressing downwards on the knob). As far as I’ve found, the button is only used for powering the device on/off, locking/unlocking the screen, and can be assigned one function activated by double tapping the button. This means that for users who like to control playback using hardware buttons without turning on the device screen, the M0 will be limited to only one control (unfortunately).

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    On the bright side, this knob is very tactile and responsive to use. It reverberates with a soft, blunt clicking on rotation, and a solid click when pressed.



    Volume Control
    Volume control is performed exclusively by rotating the knob, and can be done with both the screen on and screen off. The speed of volume control feels perfect, neither too slow nor too fast. However, when the screen is ON, changing the volume via knob opens up a small bar at the top of the screen that displays the current volume on a scale of 0-100. There have been several times where my finger touched the bar slightly, and the player would jump to max volume (touching the top-right of the screen). Extremely terrifying with sensitive IEMs, at very dangerous levels of exposure. I noticed that others have had this issue on Head-Fi.org as well -- I personally don’t think touch volume are necessary, and the knob itself should be enough for safety reasons.

    Playback
    The playback interface of the M0 seems to be slightly choppier, and less fluidly animated than the rest of the user interface. Panning between playback menus (playback control / equalizer + info / lyrics) seems to move a bit slower than optimal, with noticeable gaps between each animation frame.

    However, there are plenty of features at your disposal in the playback screen. It is complete with playback method (shuffle / repeat one / repeat all), "favorite", playlist control, file info, equalizer access, track scanning, and lyric info all on top of the album art.

    Firmware
    My M0 unit shipped with the V1.5 firmware. Updating to the V2.0 firmware increased the interface fluidity noticeably; animations were quicker and crisper, and the UI felt more responsive overall. However, FW2.0 caused the bluetooth receiver feature to stop functioning properly when connected to my LG V20 (served as a bit of a roadblock in finishing up my post). Shanling has been fairly quick to put out software for the M0, as the recent FW2.1 has seemingly fixed bluetooth issues caused by the previous software.

    Carry
    The Shanling M0, as mentioned, is very pocketable and portable. It's very lightweight and does not create a noticeable burden in your pocket (unless you dedicate the entire pocket to it, to prevent scratches!). I especially like that I can often go through multiple days of use before having to think about charging it. I would estimate the battery life lasts me an average of 12 hours playback time. And when it does come down to having to refuel, I'm happy that it uses USB Type-C for charging and data transfer, as I no longer use any devices that have the old micro USB standard (reason I didn't charge my previous DAP/DACs).

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    Its tiny form factor can cause issues for those with larger hands. For me (slightly below average hand size), navigating menus and accessing the volume knob on a daily basis feels fairly natural. However, I have not figured a way to navigate both the menus and control the knob consecutively without re-positioning the device in my hand. Regardless of its small size, I often find myself using the M0 with two hands anyway.

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    Sound Impressions
    In my opinion, source changes will never be as drastic and noticeable as actual IEM differences. The Shanling M0 sounds to have a slight but noticeable lift in the sub-bass region, as well as a fairly linear sound into the upper midrange. Background is very clean and dark, with very little noise or ringing. Detail retrieval seems to be completely adequate, though I wouldn't say that it poses a particular emphasis on putting microdetail at the forefront of its presentation.

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    Campfire Audio Andromeda

    The Andromeda is known to be a very source-sensitive IEM, with its sound signature varying wildly with different output impedance matchups. It’s also quite infamous for picking up hiss from unclean sources, as a result of a high noise floor.

    When I first tested out the LG V20, I was fairly impressed that the Andromeda exhibited very little to no hissing. Listening to the Andromeda through the Shanling M0 has been a bit eye opening to say the least. There is absolutely no hissing or stray noise picked up by the Andromeda, and the background is cleaner than the V20 (ignorance is bliss). I thought the V20 was already quiet with the Andromedas, but the M0 takes it a step further and introduces a seemingly black, empty background for the music to play over. Both seem to be similarly capable in terms of resolution, but the M0’s cleaner presentation and decay give it the perceived edge in leisurely listening. Tonally, the Andromeda paired with the M0 has a greater lift in the sub-bass region, while the V20 has a noticeably emphasized sharpness (in a negative connotation) to upper midrange notes. As a result, it the M0 seemingly has greater depth with a fuller, thicker tone with the Andromedas, while the V20 seems flatter and more compressed. I would tend to carry a UE Buffer Jack on hand with this combo, to produce an airier, more spacious sound signature.

    Tin Audio T2

    More in line with the budget offerings, the Tin Audio T2 has definitely secured in a spot in my IEM arsenal for being a well-built IEM with balanced tonality. Its primary downfall is that it has a noticeable subbass roll off, making the sound a bit lean and weak in the lower registers. The Tin Audio T2 is a perfect match with the Shanling M0 -- it mostly alleviates the T2 of its achilles heel, providing a gentle boost to the subbass. If anything, the T2 sounds impressively flat to my ears through the Shanling M0. I would say this is a stellar combination for those looking for a balanced, quality sound in an ultra-portable and affordable package. In terms of stray noise and cleanliness, the M0’s strength over the V20 are not as emphasized on the T2 as they were when using the Andromedas.

    [​IMG]

    Acoustune HS1551

    This has proven to be a very fun combination. The Acoustune HS1551 is a very unique-sounding IEM, with exquisite bass texturing and resolution, paired with a sweet, resolving midrange. Through the LG V20, the HS1551 can occasionally (rarely) reveal a slightly metallic, sharp tinge to upper midrange vocal notes. Pairing with the M0 has overall been a more pleasurable listen -- bass is slightly more emphasized, highlighting the properties of the HS1551’s low end. Another notable pairing aspect is that the HS1551’s upper midrange is seemingly never an issue through the M0, alluding to the idea that the sharpness lies within the LG V20. The M0 also doesn’t seem to direct any highlight or attention onto the treble, which in my opinion works well with the 1551’s particular sound signature.

    Bluetooth Receiver

    For me, one of the biggest selling features of the Shanling M0 was that it could function as a bluetooth receiver. As an owner of the Fiio BTR1, I was not completely satisfied with the battery life I was getting out of it. The Shanling M0 appeals to me as it not only has bluetooth receiver functionality, but also comes with fully decked-out DAP functionality, greater battery life, all while retaining a slick portable form factor.

    [​IMG]

    I had no issues setting up and pairing my devices with the M0. I can say that with the latest V2.1 firmware update, bluetooth is working as expected, only with the occasional hiccup in sound. Now that BT seems to be working properly, I can comfortably say that the M0 continues to display excellence in low noise floor with a cleaner, darker background when paired with my LG V20 using AAC codec. While connected via Bluetooth, the M0’s screen shows a large bluetooth logo along with the codec being used. Only volume control is functional while connected via BT.

    There is a very brief delay in pause / playing of audio, though not drastic enough to make watching videos startlingly desynchronized. I hear a thinner, less full-bodied tone listening to the same track over BT versus directly through SD card. Subbass is definitely more rolled off and dynamics seem lacking in comparison. However, most of the M0’s sonic characters seem intact apart from these glaringly obvious changes.

    The Fiio BTR1 has a weaker battery life, as well as significantly noisier processing unit (various electronic signals / stray sounds during quiet passages of music). It also sounded warmer overall, with less apparent sub bass roll-off. However, the BTR1 has one large advantage over the M0 -- it has hardware buttons, allowing for direct playback control. If you don’t have access to your source device while using the M0, you will not be able to play / pause / change tracks.

    Conclusion

    The Shanling M0 is a complete package, offering excellent sound and a multitude of features at an incredible price. On top of that, it is an elegantly designed and truly portable device. At $109, I doubt many other devices can compete in terms of absolute sonic value, as it already puts the highly-praised LG V20 to shame in terms of cleanliness while edging it out in dynamics. It does have a few nitpicks, such as some touch input issues and lack of bluetooth playback control, but these fail to bring it down from what it really is -- a DAP that manages to blur the once solid lines between quality, value, convenience, and style.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for reading, I will be posting future reviews on HF as well as grouping them on Wordpress.
      ngoshawk, snellemin, scott1 and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. wolfjeanne
      Looks like it could be something for me too as I hardly ever bother to use anything other than my phone when I am on the go. I worry though that scrolling through my 120+ GB music library might take ages on this thing... Could you comment on that perhaps @ustinj or perhaps @ExpatinJapan ?
      wolfjeanne, Aug 12, 2018
    3. scott1
      Great review. I was kinda on the fence about buying the M0 and I think you just convinced me to pull the trigger!
      scott1, Aug 14, 2018
    4. jithu215
      Are you using v20 on normal mode or external audio mode(medium gain mode)? I was waiting for a review comparing v20.nice review
      jithu215, Aug 17, 2018
  3. ExpatinJapan
    Shanling m0 - A wee beastie!
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Jun 17, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Small size, easy UI, versatile, low price, great sound
    Cons - Some connection problems to Sony daps, EQ not customizable
    Shanling M0 Dap - Not A Review...Review
    - Expatinjapan

    [​IMG]
    Shanling M0 and Campfire Audio Comet

    http://www.shanling.com/Product/Detail?id=f009f9f9c6304359a99bc7d0d51a7d46
    Full description and specifications in detail: Follow the link above.


    The Shanling M0, M Zero? M oh! I'll leave it up to your geographical position on the globe.
    I was going to write this earlier having been enamored by this diminutive but beastly player at an initial stage. I had already reviewed the Shanling M3s https://www.headpie.net/2018/02/shanling-m3s-review-expatinjapan.html also a player with a lot of balls, and was impressed.
    I was expecting a big jump down the food chain with the m0 being more than half the size or the last player released by Shanling in keeping with common practices of companies general releases. I had not reviewed the M1 or had much time with it, although Mimouille did post his initial impressions https://www.headpie.net/2016/10/shanling-m1-unboxing-and-first-thoughts.html and Ta-ke reviewed it for Head pie https://www.headpie.net/2017/01/shanling-m1-review-very-functional.html
    So I had a few ideas before setting forth, knowing it was well received as transport by quite a few in the portable audio community. I was contacted by Frankie of Shanling whether I was interested in reviewing the Shanling m0 and after enjoying the M3s I said a define yes. We met up at the Fujiya Avic Headphone Show in Tokyo and the m0 changed hands at the local Starbucks.

    With so much to do and so little time I regretfully had to reserve my listening for after the chaos of the headphone show.

    But color me intrigued.

    [​IMG]
    Shanling Mo and Campfire Audio Atlas

    User manual
    Why not just stick this here at the start. It may serve as an immediate troubleshooter for those who already have the Shanling M0 and for expectant buyers can hopefully answer your many questions.
    This version from June 15th, 2018.
    "Since M0 is first portable music player for many users, I felt need to create some little bit deeper manual. Found some spare time this week and put this first version together.
    Here you can download rough version, missing guide to some additional features and troubleshooting, but explaining core functions and all menu items. I'm sure it will be useful to some."
    -Shanling.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/18zS5nrnF1ibbi2F9gTi28j0ESWKRVHPj/view

    Unboxing

    Whats in the box?

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    Various colors to choose from are shown on the box

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    USB C to USB-A cable

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    On/off, volume wheel that can double as play/pause via the settings.
    100 volume steps

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    USB C for charging or use as a DAC. headphone port.

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    Micro SD slot, covered and protected.
    The Shanling m0 has no internal memory.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]





    Shanling basic tutorial video
    Many basics explained.



    Shanling M0 UI and Menus
    A nice walk through the various offerings within the menus of the m0, not entirely complete as there are more subfolders etc. But it is enough to give a general over view without sending you into scroll down Hell for eternity.

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    In between DSD Mode and Theme is now Output PhO/LineOut

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    From Resume Mode you get these options.

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    Plus Frequent and Recent

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    Now playing take you to the Album cover of the last song (see settings)

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    A hard 2-3 second press of the above or below screen will take you to the Settings / Playback /
    My music / Now Playing / Folders main menu.

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    Touch the screen to bring up the options.

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    Swipe leftwards (for the screen coming from the right hand side) for options (yes you can scrub/FF), one more swipe takes you to a lyrics screen.

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    Swiping right aways, (the screen coming from the left), brings up the tracks (not shown) and then another swipe brings you to the albums (shown).

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    Folders take you easily into your Micro SD card to navigate through and choose albums.
    Another way to access apart from the play menu.

    Shanling scrolling, speed and navigation of the menus

    This is a short UI video I made that mostly shows the speed and response of the Shanling m0.



    Video blurb:
    Shanling m0 before the next update (said to make interface more speedy).
    Seems speedy enough. I random swiped.
    Excuse my bad filming, I had an ipod touch held in one hand- whilst operating the Shanling m0 with the other hand.
    Close enough... and featuring Campfire Audio Atlas (i dont know why its in the comedy category. Youtube noob)
    Video shows Firmware version V1.0
    (Shanling m0 is now on Firmware V2).


    Specifications


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Size
    One can carry this any where. The size is small and the sound is big.

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    iBasso DX200 with Shanling m0


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    The Shanling line up. On the right we see the new m0, then on its left the Shanling m1.

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    Banana for scale!

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    Sansa Clip and Shanling m0.


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    A pretty picnic. the Shanling M0 plus a couple of your favorite earphones
    fits easily into the hard shell Shozy Zero case.

    Price
    The Shanling m0 is US $109.

    Wha, wha whaaaa!?!! Yes.


    Functions (Does it work?)
    Spoiler alert! Yes, it does

    Connect over Bluetooth to an external dac, or headphones.
    Or connect to the M0 (as receiver).
    Connect via cable using one such as the Shanling L2
    Use as a dac for your computer.

    [​IMG]

    Shanling M0 used as a transport to the iFi xDSD via Bluetooth (Featuring Campfire Audio Atlas).

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    ipod Touch 6G streaming music to the Shanling m0 via Bluetooth. FW 1.0
    *Shows (after 2.0 FW) SBC, AAC and LDAC as receiver.

    [​IMG]
    with Campfire Audio Orion.

    *I had read of volume jumping, and recommendations to set the OS device to 0,
    but I had no such problems myself.
    *There have been reports of difficulty connecting to Sony Dap devices.



    Sound

    Well all daps sound the same, some say, then they say well this one sounds different! Confused? You're not alone. (Gives virtual hug).

    So what does the Shanling m0 offer? We have seen earlier above the User Interface screens, the Manual, the Specifications and Features, Two videos: Shanlings quick guide and my Speedy Gonzales vid showing the UI response and a couple of photos showing the use of the Shanling m0 as a source and as a receiver...not to mention simply as a stand alone dap/player.

    So what more can I say?

    There is a dedicated thread on Head-fi where people are discussing their various successes (mostly) and a few difficulties with pairing of phones etc.

    There have already been a couple of reviews released Twister6 and Headfonics and an accurate, short and sweet write up of the m0 by Ryan of THL on Facebook (couldn't avoid reading it as it was on FB) so far. I look forward to reading the other reviews once this is finished. Like many other reviewers I try to avoid reading reviews before I have written mine so as not to color my judgement or cloud my thoughts.

    So once again onwards.

    I reviewed the Shanling M3s earlier this year:
    https://www.headpie.net/2018/02/shanling-m3s-review-expatinjapan.html
    and thought it a splendid dap. It doesn't have a touchscreen but that did not deter me me from trying to use it as one on many forgetful occasions. *Facepalm.

    [​IMG]
    Shanling M3s with Jomo 6R and a Double Helix Cable

    The Shanling m0 was handed to me as I mentioned earlier in the introduction. It was small as expected and as I didn't have a ready SD Card at the time so it was safely put in a hard shell earphone case for later inspection.

    It was small, as I expected, as I hadn't fully demoed to my knowledge or memory the Shanling m1, though I had definitely seen it in the flesh I wasn't too sure of what to expect size wise. (TWSS!).
    I had seen some pictures but it was a mystery.

    Above in the size section there are several comparisons. Yes, it is tiny...miniscule. "I lost it already" you may be forgiven for saying.

    But is the sound as small as the dap? Well I expect to read eventually in the reviews already published when I finish this that they say it is a wee beastie, whose small stature belies the power within.

    Such flowery language! Such a shameless hussy of a shill you say!
    Well yes and no? yes! no? Shillin like a villain, or an idiot without a village. Regardless I generally do like reviewing gear that I enjoy, that makes life easier for sure. Why waste time on rubbish?
    Well what about protecting the poor gormless uninformed public against the faceless mechanisms of the grinding forces of the audiophile factory machine!
    Well there are plenty of blogs and sites that deal in the lower end of things, forums to peruse and the ever present court of audio law that is the Facebook comments section where one may delve for truth.

    Its a lot less energy and stress spent reviewing an item one likes because generally it is made well and performs well. I don't reject samples I am offered to keep things on a level playing field, I do keep an open mind for all and dedicate as much time to a $50 product as a $1000 product. I am fortunate that the good that arrives on my doorstep outweighs the mediocre at the best of times. It just makes writing easier.

    I'm lazy. Spoilt....and a tired parent. Forgive me.

    Before I was even reviewing back in the days of the horse and cart one person at a show remarked on a well known personality and said 'He never gives anything a bad review'. 'A person nearby who knew the fellow in question rather well mentioned in response 'Well he never reviews anything that he does not like' - it seemed like a fail safe plan,...great work...If you can get it.
    We here in the salt mines of Head pie must deal with the cards we are given comrades!

    *'Whips crack'

    Luckily the Shanling m0 (As well as other products recently reviewed on Head pie) thankfully falls in the category of being a great product. Build, price, style, UI, form and sound.

    Shouts from the two old guys (Staler and Waldorf) on the stage left balcony box of The Muppet Show...

    "Waldorf: There've been wars started over less then that.
    Staler: You're wrong. Nothing's less then that."



    You dear reader are probably thinking: "Who cares, get on with it!"

    [​IMG]

    To be honest even after being impressed with the Shanling M3s I initially did not have such high expectations for the Shanling m0. Well its smaller isn't it? So therefore on the law of big being better (in Texas anyway) the Shanling m0 should be a direct step down, or a few steps down. to my surprise it wasn't.

    The Shanling m0 provides a satisfying sonic experience. I even found myself putting aside the other more high end daps in my audio arsenal to listen to the m0 at times on the go. But don't read into this that it measures up with the iBasso DX200 or Opus#2 for example. But it could definitely take on some daps in the $200-$300 range.

    In short it is generally transparent, with a slight warmth at the lower end that comes across as giving more body to the sound, smooth and even mids, it has enough space and sound stage to retrieve details well and a treble that extends far enough without getting peaky or sibilant.

    Controlled, consistant and coherent.

    It scores well on the recently formulated system for categorizing audio components in a testing condition formulated by Nor. UA. S. (North University for the study of Audio (State).
    DKBT or Dynamics, Kinetics, Balance, Transparency.

    I thought the CA Comet plus The Shanling m0 would make a good starter pack recommendation at one stage.
    I also found that that it performed well with higher end IEMs such as the Campfire Atlas and Andromeda. Quite attractive to my ears. And with no hiss.
    With headphones it played well with the middle range (Meze Classic, ATH-ESW9), and even drove the Campfire Audio Cascades well on Low Gain, High Gain proved more pleasurable. Although I expect that with some harder to drive headphones it may not enough to please.

    Sound stage is a nice sphere just outside ones skull. Great height and a nearly equal width and depth.

    There isn't a super strong bass for extreme bass lovers, mids are pleasing and natural to my ears but not a prominent feature, but overall the treble shines and could be one of the factors which gives the sense of so much space.

    It is a relaxing and smooth dap, it has a quiet dynamism to it.

    [​IMG]


    Music
    In my mind - Amanda Palmer
    Dreaming my dreams with you - Cowboy Junkies
    Something good - Alt-J
    Changes - David Bowie
    Everything's not lost - Coldplay
    Do you believe - The Cardigans
    All is full of love - Bjork
    All over the world - The Pixies
    All the young dudes - David Bowie
    All your sisters - Mazzy Star
    Ask - The Smiths
    Who cares? - Gnarls Barkley
    Where is my mind? - The Pixies
    Wide open - The Chemical brothers
    Untogether - Belly
    Unwashed and slightly dazed - David Bowie
    Something must break - Joy Division
    Surrender - The Chemical Brothers
    True love waits - Radiohead
    Come as you are - Nirvana
    Some might say - Oasis
    Be thankful for what you've got - Massive Attack
    Don't look back in anger - Oasis
    Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins
    Come on - The Verve
    Start - The Throwing Muses
    Something good - Bic Runga
    Today - The Smashing Pumpkins
    Stop whispering - Radiohead
    Under pressure - David Bowie with Queen
    Stay free - The Clash
    Misguided Angel - Cowboy Junkies
    Lovely Creature - Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
    Come away with me - Norah Jones
    Hey boy, Hey girl - The Chemical Brothers
    Its in our hands - Bjork
    I'll be your mirror - The Velvet Underground
    This time - The Verve
    This is love - PJ Harvey


    [​IMG]
    Ghost in the dap shell

    Overall
    The Shanling m0 is a treat. Like an ice cream on a summers day, or a Lego Millennium Falcon.
    Well perhaps one could buy several Lego MF for the price.

    The price is the first thing one may notice. its cheap. Just over US $100.

    Touchscreen! And a responsive one too after the recent update of 2.0

    Size, small and light enough for anything!

    The sound is surprisingly good for what at first glance looks like something that can't go toe to toe with anything larger. Don't judge a book by its cover they say. the sound is transparent with enough detail to please, and slight warmth at the low end which comes across as it having a bit of body to the sound, smooth slightly recessed mids and shimmering treble.

    With Radioheads OK Computer I could not detect any hiss whilst the player was stopped or playing when using the Campfire Audio Andromeda.

    Battery life can be from 8 - 15 hours depending on usage.

    The EQ settings are all presets, no adjustable EQ. (A custom EQ is in the works I read).

    No built in memory, so have a micro SD Card handy.

    The low output impedance makes it IEM friendly for even the most sensitive IEMs.

    It can be used as a plug and play dap, a plug and play source, or bluetooth source, a receiver for a phone or as a DAC with a computer.
    For wired connection to an external dac the Shanling L2 cable should be fine.

    After 2.0 FW exfat, FAT32 and NTFS are ok for micro SD card format. FAT32 for any updates before.

    Cases are available for your Daps protection.

    The Shanling m0 is no brainer for those entering into the audio world, or for the casual user.

    It is easy to use and sounds great. I love it and carry it with me as well as a TOTL dap for my days when I commute by train.

    I have been listening for a good hour happily with the Campfire Audio Andromeda without complaint in ears, mind or spirit whilst I finish up the last parts of this review.

    A literal David amongst Goliaths in the highly populated modern world of daps.


    [​IMG]
    Frankie goes to Holywood


    [​IMG]


    Thank you to Shanling for Sending Head pie the Shanling M0 for review






    Shanling M0 V2.0 firmware update
    Download from Google drive:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/101OpR2iCtQ5eRaUQ37-6O-BSuP9ifoV-/view
    New functions:
    1. Support of LDAC codec added to Bluetooth receiver mode.
    2. Support of AAC codec added to Bluetooth receiver mode.
    Note: Volume of M0 will be controlled by connected iOS device.
    3. If Bluetooth headphones/speakers are connected to M0 over LDAC codec, M0 will automatically change quality setting depending on the strength of signal.
    Changes and fixes
    1. Optimization of touch sensitivity and system speed.
    2. Optimization of quality of Bluetooth connection.
    3. Optimization of battery indicator.
    4. Fixed the problem of Bluetooth connecting while charging.
    5. Fixed the problem of card reading error after waking up from standby mode.
    6. Fixed the problem of “Add to my favourite” symbol not changing colour properly.
    7. Fixed the problem of some album covers not displaying.
    8. Fixed the problem of stopping playback while using USB digital output.
    9. Fixed other small problems.
    How to update:
    1. Make sure that M0 is fully charged.
    2. Unzip the file and copy “update.bin” file into root folder of micro SD card. Card must be formatted to FAT32.
    3. Choose “System Update” in system settings and wait until system restarts.
    4. Check in settings “About M0” to be sure new firmware was installed.





    Unnecessary fluff


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    Random schtick - Head pie memes
    https://www.headpie.net/2018/05/head-pie-super-meme-magic.html


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    Well how was that Head pie review?
    W: That was wonderful!
    S: Bravo!
    W: I loved it!
    S: That was great!
    W: Well, it was pretty good.
    S: Well, It wasn't bad.
    W: There were parts that weren't pretty good, though.
    S: It could've been a lot better.
    W: I didn't really like it.
    S: It was pretty terrible.
    W: It was bad.
    S: It was awful!
    S & W: Terrible! Eh, boo!
      ngoshawk, funnyjoke and dabotsonline like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. doboo57
      Excellent review! Is it a major downgrade from M3s in terms of sound quality, soundstage, etc.? I've paired M3s with MEE Pinnacle P1 in SE output (which is sounding great IMO), but I wonder if I will note any significant difference using the M0...
      doboo57, Jul 6, 2018
    3. ExpatinJapan
      No significant downgrade imho. its a surprising lil beastie
      ExpatinJapan, Jul 6, 2018
      doboo57 likes this.
    4. mwillis
      Are there any other DAPs you would recommend over this for under ~$200 USD? This thing checks all my boxes but I just want to make sure I'm getting the biggest bang for my buck. It will be driving primarily Massdrop+ UIEMs, so output impedance <1 ohm is absolutely the biggest requirement.
      mwillis, Aug 9, 2018
      negramurcia and ExpatinJapan like this.