Shanling M1 Mini Portable DSD HiFi Lossless Music Player (Black)

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Pros: 3 sizes, designs, and price ranges to cover all use cases from casual to hard-core. All are great sounding, with tons of features and good battery life.
Cons: Cases obstruct changing SD cards
only a single card slot even on high-end M3s model.


I would like to thank Shanling for setting up the review tour for their 3 most commonly seen DAP models and for including me on the tour. I have owned 2 of the three in the past but never had them all in hand at the same time.

First let’s take a moment to look at the things these models all have in common before delving into the unique qualities of each.

Construction is solid with metal sides and high gloss glass backs each opposite a full-sized display. The screen has an outer black bezel that frames it all the way round but does a good job of disappearing when the player is powered off on the M2 and M3s. On the m1, the frame is more easily seen. Some of the buttons are in the same place on all three models. On the left side, forward and reverse are present although they are separated by a play/pause on the M2s and M3s that is not present on the M1. The M1 also has a return button on the left above the forward/reverse buttons. All three have scroll wheels on the right with the M2s and M3s having the return button immediately below the wheel. The M1 has the power button below the wheel while the M2s and M3s have the power button on the top at the righthand side. The bottom of all the units have the 3.5mm port and the USB-C port. On the M1 the SD Card slot is at the bottom while the SD slot on the M2s and M3s is on the left-hand side about ¾ of the way toward the bottom of the player.


M3s Top (Same as M2s)
Bottom View (Blue M1, Silver M2s, Red M3s)
Left Side View
Right Side View


A couple of things I will note that I would like to see updated on future models.


1.) All of the cases obscure the SD card slot so it is impossible to change cards without removing the case. With only having a single slot, it would be nice to at least make the slot accessible without having to go remove the case.

2.) On the M1, pushing the wheel inward works as the play/pause function. Giving the user the option to set the push-in on the toggle wheel to be the play/pause function on the M2s and M3s would make pocket use much more feasible as the leather case obscures the actual play/pause button to a degree that makes pocket use more difficult. This is not really bad on the m2s although there is no tactile way to be certain which button you are pressing without finding the others to reference its position. The problem is particularly pronounced on the M3s where the case covers the buttons and removes nearly all tactile reference to which button is which.


And now for something completely different....

While the three DAPs share a similar physical construction and the same UI, they are really not targeted to the same audiences and the question of which is best is going to depend largely on use case.

The littlest Shanling (for now):

The M1 is the smallest, lightest DAP in the Shanling stable and is aimed at the ipod Nano/shuffle market of gym dwellers, runners, and hikers/outdoor types. The size and weight of this unit is roughly ½ that of the larger two players. It comes with a strap for wearing the unit on an arm and the case doubles as a belt clip. The shortcomings of the M1 are intended trade-offs in order to achieve this size/weight ratio. With all portable players, battery life is a key issue and the smaller the unit, the larger the issue becomes. The M1 sports a 950mAh battery which when measured on my discharge tester was nearly exactly as specified. With such a small power reserve to work from, the M1 must be as efficient as possible and does a good job of divvying out power in a way to make the unit last nearly 8 hours on a charge if the display is only used sporadically and Bluetooth is disabled. Using Bluetooth does decrease the longevity of the battery to closer to 7 hours which is still very good. Output is good with low impedance/high sensitivity earphones, but as impedance rises or efficiency drops, the M1 becomes less and less useful. The specs list output as 35mW@32ohm which means that anything over 32ohm is probably going to feel underpowered when run off the M1.

Use cases for the M1

Put simply, if you are looking for a DAP you can slip in a pocket and forget, the M1 is for you. If you are a backpacker or hiker and are concerned about weight but want to take your music with you, the M1 and a pair of iems makes for a ¼ pound combo.

Fir use at the Gym, while running, or while out pursuing other outdoor activities, the M1 is an extremely compact package that makes it nearly perfect.

If you intend to use Bluetooth headphones, the M1 also makes a great choice since it’s size and battery life make it fantastic for dropping in a pocket and heading out for the day.

For non-head-fi types, the M1 makes a good first dap as the limitations (lack of full DSD support, and limited output power) are not likely to come into play with most consumer level headphones or common mp3/Aac files.

If none of these options are your use-case, read on.


The other end of the Rainbow – The M3s.

If the M1 is a the cut all corners to save weight and cut size gym use model, the M3s is the no-holds barred audiophile model. Sporting dual DAC chips and OPamps, 32/384 resolution, DSD 256 support with an 11.2mhz clock for DSD, balanced output, and specs to be proud of for both distortion and SNR, the only things the M3s seems to have in common with the M0 are a similar set of physical controls, and a familiar UI. About the only feature distinctly lacking on the M3s is support for Dual micro-SD cards which is commonly found in players at this price point. (Even Shanling’s flagship M5 does not have dual card support and actually says it is limited to 128gb card size although personal experience suggests otherwise.)

The M3s aims squarely at the likes of the Opus #1s, the Fiio X7ii, the Cayin N5ii, Cowon Plenue P, the pioneer/Onkyo DAP, and the AK 70. To say the market is crowded at this price point is an understatement, so how does one compete? For some (Opus) the answer is to focus on one aspect and make it the best it can be. For most others, it is to pack absolutely as many features as possible into the box and hope that one of those features is the thing that tips the scale in their favor. The M3s takes the later road and packs, Bi-directional Bluetooth with all the bells and whistles (Apt-X), HibyLink so the player can be remotely controlled, USB DAC mode for use connected to a computer or phone, digital filters in addition to a customizable EQ, along with the previously mentioned dual mono signal paths and both single ended and balanced outputs.

In order to run all this circuitry, the M3s steps up to a 2600mAh battery which measures 2430mAh on my discharge test. This is enough to provide a full day’s use (12 hours on single ended, nearly 10 hours using Bluetooth, and 7.5 hours using balanced output). By all accounts, this is among the best in class as it outlasted the Plenue, Opus, and Cayin N5 on single ended playback and bettered the Opus and AK on balanced. The only players that bettered the battery life of the M3s in my tests were those with a single DAC chip and it certainly seems reasonable that when you have ½ the circuitry to power, you should be able to make the battery last longer.

The sound of the m3s is very good but shows some of the natural leanings of the DAC chip used. In recent years AK’s premium line has been called the “Velvet Sound” series and I think that is a good description of it. The AK4490 is very musical at the expense of masking some of the micro-detail. The M3s has good bass extension with slightly forward bass that extends into the mid-bass range, mids are thinner than the bass and highs are again slightly forward. Treble extension, while good, is not quite as well extended or controlled as the Opus #1s. The good news is the M3s is capable of excellent reproduction when fed good source material and still be forgiving of poor sources. Considering the fact that many will pair the M3s with streaming audio sources (Tidal, Spotify) this makes a good compromise. The downside of the M3s tuning is, smooth musical rendering can hide detail which is most evident in the already slightly thin mids.

The next thing to look at with the M3s is which earphones to pair it with. The Output power of the M3s is nearly 4x that of the M1 in singled ended mode (35mW vs 130mW) and nearly double that again when using balanced (230mW) (All of these ratings are at 32ohm). I had no trouble driving headphones up to 150ohm using the single ended output and was able to drive some 600ohm Beyer’s using the balanced out. At 600ohm, you are not going to get very much volume out of the M3s to be sure, but not many people use 600ohm headphones while on the go anyway. When paired with either iems or portable headphones, the m3s has no trouble getting volumes to realistic listening levels with plenty of headroom to really crank the volume for those who want to rock out.

Use Cases for the M3s:

1.) Looking for portable DAP for DSD (up to and including DSD256) or 32/384 playback, this is one of the few that has the specs to really handle it while still retaining enough output power to run larger headphones.

2.) If you are looking for a dap that offers the ability to tether your phone and stream music from your favorite services, the M3s offers both Bluetooth and wired options.

3.) If you want to be able to use your DAP as a transport for an external DAC (either Bluetooth or Line out) or if you want to do the opposite and use the M3s as a DAC for you USB capable source, you have both options.

4.) If you are looking for a DAP with balanced output to offer additional power to higher impedance or lower sensitivity earphones that need that bit of extra push the M3s offers balanced output with enough power to run hungry cans and enough battery to last a full workday.

Middle Ground – the M2s

Some people will have read to this point and realized that at different times of day, they fit into both the M1 and the M3s use case. While you could always purchase both if your budget will allow, there is another option that while a compromise, gives you most of the features of both the m1 and the M3s in a single device.


The M2s is exactly in between the M1 and M3s in dimensions and very close to the midway point in weight although it leans more toward the m3s in feature set and battery capacity. The M2s uses the same chip as the M3s but instead of using one per channel, the M2s uses a single 4490 to handle both channels thus saving 50% of the circuitry. This allows for a 1800mAh battery while maintaining an 8-hour battery life. The M2s shares the ability to use it as a DAC with your USB source, or as a source for your USB DAC. It will also tether to a phone via Bluetooth and allow the use of your favorite streaming sources. Output power is the same as the Single-ended output of the m3s. The M2s does not have the balanced output of its bigger brother but for many that will be a non-event as most headphones come wired for single-ended. The M2s has more than enough output power for most in-ears and portable headphones up to 150ohm. Above 150ohm, the output begins to drop in volume and while still usable, it will be limited. Above 300ohms, the m2s begins to struggle to produce enough volume to be listenable. A lot will depend on how efficient the headphone or earphone used is, but it is worth noting that for high impedance/low sensitivity cans, one should try the m2s first before assuming it will have adequate power to run your cans at a comfortable listening level.

Use Cases for the M2:

1.) If you have a need for a DAP with good sound quality for use with Single Ended earphones.

2.) If you want to stream media from your phone and let the DAP do the work of decoding and save your phones battery.

3.) If you want a DAP you can use as a source with USB DACs or if you want to use your DAP as the USB DAC with another USB source.

Conclusions:

I had mixed emotions about the M2s as this was the one of the three players I hadn’t owned previously. My thinking going into this review was: I questioned whether the $79 price difference between the M2s and M3s was enough to be worth losing the 2nd DAC and the balanced output. After using both players for 10 days, I can say conclusively that I made the right decision for me by purchasing the M3s. On the other hand, if you have a limited budget, the M2s makes a very good all-around player with a lot of capability and premium build quality. The $200 DAP market has gotten very competitive and while I can’t say the m2s is the only player one should consider, I can certainly say it deserves a spot amongst the top 3 I have had the opportunity to try at or near the $200 price point.

I could find a reason to buy all three of the Shanling Players and actually have purchased 2 of the 3 already. The M1 is about perfect for a pocket player when combined with any easy to drive IEM. For a combined price of sub-$200 for the M1, the case and something like the KZ-Zsr it would make a good gift idea for those new to audio. This combination may well end up in a few stockings come this winter. For my office DAP, I could be happy with either of the larger two depending on budget constraints. At the top end, the M3s is competitive with the sound quality of the likes of the Opus #1s, the AK70, and the Cowon Plenue which puts it in very good company.

While the three players may not be interchangeable and some fit specific uses better than others, it is hard to imagine a use case for which one of the three is not a top-flight competitor. Knowing that even as I type this Shanling has introduced and even smaller and touch screen M0, I can only surmise that the next generation of DAPs from Shanling will likely all incorporate the changes found in the M0 in the next generation of their higher-end products and continue to improve an already very solid line. If you haven’t yet, you should check out Shanling, chances are pretty good they build something that will make you smile.



CHIPS and DIP (Sockets that is). (Notes an DAC Families)


I spent some time AB testing the M3s vs some other DAPs in the same general price range. It seems that three chip families define the market at this price point; The Sabre series (9018/9023/9028), the Cirrus Logic (4398 and 43198), and the AK (4490,4490EQ,4495). All three families are very capable and while I think that implementation is far more important in the overall sound produced by the DAP than which chip is used, chip families due tend to have a house sound or tuning that tends to be visible in most of the products sporting the chip. I want to admit right up front, input quality, input processing, clock quality, and analog stages have a lot to do with sound and implementation is more critical than which chip is used in creating a quality product. Those other components may either enhance or mask the natural tendencies of the DAC making it harder to pick out which family is in use but with more samples of products with each chip, certain qualities do begin to show through.

AK (4490) – Good bass extension but slightly forward bass that extends into the mid-bass range, thinner mids, followed by slightly forward highs. Treble extension, while good, is not quite as well extended or controlled as the Sabre line. AK calls the line the Velvet Sound and I think this is a good description as when I think of velvet, I think smooth. The AKM series in general produces a very musical signature and is more forgiving of source material than either of the other families. The downside of the AKM tuning is, smooth musical rendering can hide detail and does especially when it is combined with the slightly thinned mids. For me, as a devote of blues-rock, guitar detail is all important and the AKM can sometimes mask it.

Sabre (9023) – Very accurate and clinical at the expense of being the most digital sounding of the three. If AK went for the “Velvet” signature, Sabre went with “technical”. Where AK went with natural, almost tube sounding filters, the Sabre series went for absolute precision sometimes at the expense of musicality. The Sabre series tends to have the brightest sound of the three families partially because it also has the best treble extension of the three (at times by a pronounced margin). The lows and mids of the Sabre series tend to be closer to neutral than the AKM series and slightly thinner.


Cirrus Logic (43198) – The CS chips tend to be a little closer to the Sabre than the AK in that they are slightly bass light with neutral mids and well extended highs. They are a bit thicker and fuller than the Sabre while still maintaining a clean sound and more detail than present in the AK chip. The CS provides a balance between the other two chips that offers some of the technical micro-detail of the Sabre while maintaining some of the musicality and natural tonality of the AK.


Again, these are the ramblings of an old fool so your mileage may vary.
Pros: Pleasantly warm sound signature, battery life, storage capacity, type c charger, can utilize a combi unit.
Cons: Lack of ability to quickly scroll to different letters. Must manually ensure dap has switched to LO mode after unplugging a combi unit.

The littlest of the 3 M models sent to me to review. At a very respectable $150(ish) I’ve a lot of high hopes for this to be a great entry point for those just starting out getting into audiophilia or the audio hobby. But of course I must give a heartfelt thank you to Shanling to approving me to be a part of this tour. I really enjoyed my time with these units and am glad to be able to share my opinions with others who’ll give me their time.


A little about me

I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.

I'm a 26 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord, North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.

My interests/hobbies are powerlifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.

Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.

My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

Equipment used at least some point during the review

-Headphones

-Beyerdynamic

-T1 second generation

-Amion Home

Disclaimer

I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.

The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.



The Opening Experience



Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience

Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.

As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’

This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?



Again, Shanling continues their simplistic unboxing experience by making the consumer anxious to open and experience the product for themselves. The outer box, like its M2s brother, only has an outline of the dap laying inside. The sides only show the Shanling name and logo, and the back does have some writing about the features present on the M1 but with respect to the M1’s price I can most certainly look past it. In this price point there’s a LOT of competition and Shanling having the confidence in its M1 to only put a sentence or two on the box to describe it (albeit in multiple different languages), to me, says a lot.

As you open the box you’re greeted by a brief manual of what the buttons do, but directly under it lies the well placed and framed Shanling M1 sitting centered and recessed in its cut out foam housing. Laying underneath the M1 housing is where you’ll find the type C charging cable, warranty and instruction manual, and a screen protector. So I feel that Shanling did gave a great presentation and a firm handshake with their M1 dap. Truthfully I was expecting a lot of clear, cheap, plastic with this product but Shanling gave it the same level of care as their other, more expensive, dap offerings (that I’ve been able to review).


Construction



The build quality of the Shanling M1 is something that I personally was very impressed by. Again, the M1 goes for roughly $150 and from experience products of this price rarely uphold any premium features to them. They traditionally are to introduce consumers to their brand and give them a taste of what they could have with more money. Shanling I’m proud to say did their customers right. The M1 is made with the same aluminum and glass body that their more expensive M2s and M3s brothers are. The M1 is very light weight and very compact, this for most is a very convenient thing, but I honestly like my products to have a little weight and size to them. But this little guy can very easily fit into just about any pocket you’d want it to.

I will say however that the button layout through me off some. Due to the M1’s smaller size the button layout had to be reworked a little bit. The top of the dap instead of a power button holds the selector wheel (that I personally like better than the other models use). This is the main thing that through me off because you have to actually push in on the side of the wheel in order to make your selection to whatever it is you’re wanting the M1 to do. And that’s also kind of a bad thing as well. More times than I would’ve understood, when I went to select something, do to the nature of the button, the M1 would scroll to another option as I’m pushing in on the button which caused me to have to go back and try and reselect the desited option again. After a while I got used to it but it still irritated me when it happened.

The left side of the M1, going from the top down, is where you’ll find the go back, track previous, and track forward buttons. The right side of the M1 is where the power button is. And finally the bottom is where you’ll find the up to 256gb microSD card slot, type C charging port, and the 3.5mm aux port.


Features


The M1 features the exact same features as its two more expensive brothers. That being the bluetooth 4 with AptX and HiBy wireless connection so you can control your M1 via your phone (app download required). Like I’ve said in the other 2 reviews, I can see this as a cool feature and may be beneficial in certain circumstances but, to me, I can just as easily pull out the M1 to change tracks etc… as I can my phone. But the feature that I really enjoyed is the ability to connect a combi unit (amp/dac) via the usb port and have the M1 be an interface.


Sound



The sound is something that while listening to it I actually looked at others reviews to see if I was hearing what I was hearing. What I mean by this is that both the M2s and M3s models presented a very neutral sound that, to my ears, didn’t offer any coloration to the sound. But with the M1, the sound is notably warmer and thus, to my personal tastes, more musical. Thankfully it seems others shared my findings as well so I wasn’t losing my mind. But as I said the music through the M1 was given a pleasant amount of warmth to it which I personally rather enjoy. The detail of the tracks still shown through surprisingly clearer than what I would’ve thought on a model of this price point. On mobile friendly headphones, I don’t think any detail would’ve been missed and users would enjoy being treated to small nicks of audio they’ve never heard before (on power hungry headphones like the T1 etc… not so much).

My issue still remains with having to scroll through SEVERAL pages of items to get to the artist, song, folder, etc… that I’m wanting to get to. There has to be a way for more optimal shortcuts to be added in.

But overall I am EXTREMELY satisfied with what Shanling did with their M1 dap. For only $150(ish) the sound quality is fantastic and rivals that of several products costing much more. On a personal note, the sound of the M1 was my personal favorite of the 3 models I’ve tried (if only it had a balanced output [but now I’m asking WAY too much for this price]).





Conclusion




My overall thoughts on the Shanling M1 is that it’s pretty much exactly what I look for in a true introductory product. It maintains the lion's share of what makes their higher end product great but is no lightweight itself. I’m able to listen to any, reasonable, headphone respectably with the M1 and though there’s a definite loss of potential when being used with higher power needs headphones the M1 still does a fantastic job. I’d strongly recommend the Shanling M1 to those who’re wanting to dip their toes into the audio hobby and are skittish about spending a lot of money.






Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.

Attachments

Pros: great clarity and function
Cons: lacking in battery time



INTRODUCTION

Recently I reviewed the Fiio x1, the entry level DAP. Now I’ve got my hands on the Shanling m1. Have you ever heard the term, don’t judge things by its size? Despite its minimalistic design and extremely small size, if you are coming from an entry level DAP like the Fiio x1 or a cell phone, I can confirm that this is an upgrade.

ABOUT SHANLING

Shanling Began as a developer of audio products in 1988 and produced their first Hi-Fi stereo power amplifier. In 1990 an audio equipment factory within Jieyang Television University was founded, preliminarily defining Shanling’s direction of development. In 1996 Shanling moved to Shenzhen and was renamed Shanling Electronic Co., Ltd. With effective management and scientific cultivation to the employees, Shanling managed to produce devices with ideal high quality. Through internal integration and equipment upgrade, Shanling has become one of the several enterprises in China that was capable of independent developing and manufacturing high-end audio products.

Shanling has a wide range of product line – SACD/CD player, high fidelity solid-state and vacuum tube amplifier, advanced mini music center, tuner, audio/video amplifier, etc. Besides, being a DVD, SACD, CD licensee,

Shanling is also qualified for adopting many patented technologies such as Microsoft HDCD, Dolby Digital, DTS, etc. Currently Shanling has established close partnership with many leading high-end suppliers and became one of the most reputable manufacturers of the industry.

DISCLAIMER

This unit was lent to me for review purposes by Shanling. As usual my reviews contain no bias.

SPECS

Dimensions: 60mm x 50mm x 12.8mm

Weight: 60g

Display: 2.35″ TFT (360×400)

DSD: Supported, converted to PCM by software

Bluetooth Version: 4.0 and APT-X

D/A Chip: AK4452

USB: Type-C

Headphone Amp Chip: MAX97220

Gain: 2 levels

Supported formats: APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, DSF, DFF

Sampling rate: 44.1-192 kHz

Outputs: 3.5mm Heaphone Out

Power: 35mW @ 32Ω

FR: 20Hz to 20kHz (-0.5dB)

Distortion: 0.006% (A-weighting, 500mV output)

S/N: > 105dB (A-weighting)

Dynamic Range: > 105dB

Output Z: 0.1Ω

Stereo Seperation: >70dB (1 kHz)

Jitter: 30ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 200 femtoseconds

Card Slot: 1 TF (up to 200GB)

Battery: 950mAH, 9-10 hours playback, 3-4 hours of charging time

OS: Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 (32/64 bit), Mac OS X 10.7 or above

BUILD QUALITY / FUNCTIONS

Build quality: M1 is made out of plastic so the Fiio x1 wins here with its aluminum body BUT because Shanling m1 is very small, it has many different cases from leather to arm bands, so there is not much to worry about in terms of breaking the product.

EQ functionality: just like the Fiio x1, it has the EQ functionality, which definitely a plus at this price point



Standby mode: on standby mode, the device only uses the dac/amp when used to listen to music to save battery. It lasts 8 days on standby mode !

Line output: The DAC inside the Shanling M1 can be used externally by going to settings and turning the function to “DAC” mode.



Micro SD card slot: supports up to 256 GB SD card, which is more than enough to go crazy with all your high-quality music files.

Gain control: It also has gain control, low gain for sensitive IEMs and high gain for more power demanding headphones



Controls Buttons: extremely easy side buttons for back, last song, next song (from top to bottom in order).

The scroll button: Feels more solid than the rubberized one on the fiio x 1. And you can push on the scroll button for enter or play/pause which is much more convent than the fiio x1’s huge center button.

Bluetooth: Also has 4.0 Bluetooth !



PRACTIALLY

This player wins the award for practically if anything because of how small it is and how well the buttons were positioned for easy control in your pocket. Not to mention, having the variety of cases for sale (not included with the dap) for extra protection or activities/ workouts.

NEGATIVES / THINGS TO IMPROVE ON

The battery life can be short for some people that forget to charge their device overnight. Also, Shanling m1 does not have the strongest amplification to power “demanding headphones.” But again, from such a small DAP at this price range, you would be getting these for practically and great sound “on the go,” not to drive the most power hungry headphones commonly used on desktops.

SOUND QUALITY

I auditioned many different IEMS/headphones across over 100s of different test tracks in lossless flac files. (some include, noble x / LZ A4 / IE80 / HD598cs / m40x / re400 / he400i / hd650 ETC)

Shanling M1 is very similar to Fiio x1 in sound signature but not in quality. Shanling M1 also has that overall warm sounding signature while extending to the highs much more clearly than the Fiio x1. The M1 also provides more clarity in the vocals and cleans up all details through excellent separations. Overall, whereas I would call the Fiio x1 a power monster, Shanling m1 was more of a mature higher end DAP in comparison.
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