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


Headphoneus Supremus
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.


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.


1000+ Head-Fier
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



-T1 second generation

-Amion Home


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).


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.


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.


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]).


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.


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Member of the Trade: Audio Excellence
Pros: great clarity and function
Cons: lacking in battery time



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.


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.


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


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: 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 !



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.


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.


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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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Size - Build Quality - Clarity of Sound
Cons: Bluetooth Quirks with Firmware Update 2.0

Today we are going to be checking out a compact but extremely feature rich little Digital Audio Player (DAP) from Shanling, the M1. Shanling isn't new to the audio world, releasing their first product in 1988. Their decades of expertise is readily apparent in the M1. It's a very versatile product that can act as a standalone DAP, amp, or even a Bluetooth receiver. Let's check it out in greater detail.


The M1 was initially sent to me as part of Shanling's M1 tour. Huge thanks to @joebloggs, @nmatheis, and Lily for the inclusion. There is no financial incentive for writing this review. The thoughts within are my own and do not represent Shanling or any other entity. Also keep in mind that I liked the M1 enough to purchase the review unit.

You can check out the M1 here on Shanling's site:

My Gear and I:

I'm a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.

Fast forward a couple years and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done and payment enough.

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Specifications and Features:

Dimension: 60mm × 50mm × 12.8mm

- Net weight: about 60g

- Screen: 2.35 inches TFT HD screen

- DSD playback: DSD64, DSD128

- DAC: supported up to 192kHz--24bit

- Bluetooth: 4.0 with APT-X

- D/A converter: AK4452

- Amplifier: MAX97220

- Gain: high gain/low gain

- Supporting format: APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, DSF, DIFF

- Sampling rate: 44.1kHz--192kHz

- Output: headphone output (3.5mm)

- Output power: 35mW @ 32ohm

- Frequency response: 20Hz--20kHz-0.5dB

- THD+N: 0.006%A-weighting, outputing 500mV

- SNR:>105dB(A-weighting)

- Dynamic range:>105dB

- Output impedance: 0.1Ω

- Channel separation:>70dB(32Ω,1kHz)

- Referenced clock jitter: 200 femtosecond

- External memory: supported up to 256G TF card

- Capacity: 950mAH lithium battery

- Playing hours: about 9-10 hours(3-4hours charging time)

- Supported OS: Windows XP, Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X10.7 and later versions

Unboxing and Accessories:

Shaning's subtle matte black packaging looks wonderful with a silver outline of the M1 on the front. Sliding off the lid reveals the M1 itself nestled into a felt-covered foam sheet. A small ribbon peeks out from beneath and is used to remove the M1. Lifting out the foam insert you find a small back cardboard box which contains the accessories;

- USB-c charging cable

- microSD card reader

- four screen protectors (2 front, 2 rear)

- warranty card

- Quick Reference guide

- instruction manual

Overall a nice little package. I especially appreciate the inclusion of multiple screen protectors.

Build Quality, Ergonomics, and UI:

The Shanling M1 is a very solidly built little device with a front glass panel and plastic rear panel, ringed by a durable aluminum shell. Let's put some emphasis on little. At only 60mm × 50mm × 12.8mm in size the M5 is pretty easily dwarfed by the palm of my hand. It's not much larger than the SanDisk Sansa Clip, pretty amazing considering the extensive feature list and functionality.

Other reviews have noted the outer shell is an all-plastic affair, but I'll have to respectfully disagree. It transfers heat like metal, and my tour unit arrived with a convenient chip in the paint that reveals the aluminum beneath. Fit and finish is immaculate with very low tolerance between the M1's individual parts. It's pretty impressive, even more so when compared to more expensive devices like the HTC One M8 or Apple iPod 4th Gen. I would like to see some strategically placed knurling added to the exterior shell to provide extra grip for those who use it while working out. With the rounded edges it gets a bit slippery.

The buttons and scroll wheel, also metal, depress and twist with a satisfying tactile response. Placement of this physical interface is also well-designed with the buttons and scroll wheel being equally easy to reach and use regardless of your hand dominance. As a lefty, I truly appreciated the ability to control the device with nothing more than my thumb and index finger. I never had to stretch to reach anything, or twist my fingers at an awkward angle. The scroll wheel was a little cumbersome to use at times, particularly when moving through the UI in small increments. I found myself routinely overshooting what I was looking for. I'd rather the M1 use buttons for navigation.

While I really like the UI, it could use a bit of polish. Not to make it easier to use, but to remove redundancies and odd quirks. The radial design of the opening menu and the menu titles all make sense and give you a clear indication of what to expect when you move further into the menus. The wasted space to the left showing off the Shanling logo and a record bothers me a bit. There's no valuable information there, and the the menus are forced far enough to the right for the need for 'File Browser' to scroll so you can read the entirety of the word Browser. Just move the menu a few pixels to the left and problem solved.

The 'Now Playing' and 'My Music' menu are completely redundant, containing the exact same menu options; recent play, open all, my favorites, album, genre, artist, and playlist. This redundancy is indirectly addressed by the player itself. When you enter then back out from the 'Now Playing' menu, it defaults you to 'My Music.'

Overall the M1 is very well-built and feels like it could take a beating. Ergonomics are equally excellent regardless of your hand dominance. The UI is clean and well laid out in a manner such that I never found myself hunting down options, or struggling to figure out what a particular feature does, but it could use a touch more attention to reduce some unnecessary menus and layout quirks.


One of the more appealing features of the M1 for me is it's apt-X enabled, 4.0 Bluetooth support. While the more recent update to the 2.0 firmware has hindered functionality with some earphones, namely the ADVANCED Model 3, it's still more-or-less excellent.

The M1 locates and connects to Bluetooth devices with ease, and outputs a very clean signal. Even nicer is that the M1 can act as a Bluetooth receiver. I've had no issues with range or connectivity strength, able to leave the M1 on my desk and walk around my apartment worry free.

If you're looking for a durable, compact, light player with strong Bluetooth performance and a very crisp, clean sound signature, the M1 is well worth consideration.

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The M1 immediately impressed me on first listen with just how clear and crisp everything was. After pairing them with a wide variety of headphones and earphones from budget KZs to multi-driver hybrids like the FLC 8S, I hear this player as having a relatively neutral stock sound, with a mild treble emphasis and a note presentation leans towards the thin, analytic side with excellent extension. This is made more evident comparing the M1 to what has been my primary mobile driving force for a while now, an XDuoo X3 with Rockbox firmware installed. The X3 in comparison is much thicker sounding with a smaller soundstage, less pronounced detail, staging, and imaging qualities.

Given the M1's stock sound, I found it paired best with neutral or darker earphones and headphones with lesser treble prominence. Pairing it with the JVC HA-FXD60 and FXD80 somewhat exaggerated their thin, prickly signatures. On the other hand, pairing them with the more weighty and darker Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced or thinksound On2 was near perfect. It gave the Dubliz Enhanced a bit of additional upper end kick and mellowed out what could occasionally be an overbearing mid-bass presence (track dependent). The On2 just came across more open and somehow even clearer. I enjoy the M1 with the FLC 8S hybrid, but found myself moving to filters that tamed the treble a bit. They also came across a touch thin for my preferences when paired together.

Overall the M1 is a great sounding little player with few aural downfalls that I can think of. Thankfully it has a handy 10 band EQ which can be used to tweak the sound, optimizing their pairing capabilities. While I never found any need to use it, there is also a high gain setting to add a bit of extra driving power if necessary.

Final Thoughts:

The M1 is a great DAP, be it your first, second, or whatever. Want to use it as your primary player? It does that just fine with it's powerful sound, solid battery life, handy Bluetooth and DAC functions, and great build quality. Looking for something to keep you entertained while you exercise? It can do that too. It's small size and light weight ensures it stays out of the way and avoids taking up a ton of space in your pocket of gym bag. Plus, it's not so expensive that if you do happen to damage it you're not out what it would cost to replace, say, a cell phone.

You really can't go wrong with the M1. Great job Shanling. 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Thanks for reading.

- B9Scrambler


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Portable, excellent sound, easy EQ settings, simple to use, connectivity through Bluetooth is a breeze
Cons: UI showing its age, simplicity. Some will not like scroll wheel, nothing major...

In my excitement with this excellent little critter, I forgot to shoot some pictures! Apologies...
Yes, this is in fact the same introduction I used for the Aune S6, but I do believe it is pertinent and needed. That passionate searching for the devices of choice, lead us all down that same path, but with very different goals; very different outputs in mind. It is as if we are all on that same mountain trail, but we see very different beautiful flowers, and views, and animals, and trees; while searching for “our favorite view.” This to me is the essence of the journey, and no one can deny that from us, nor they should. Hence, the repeat of my pertinent experiences, findings and listening’s. I absolutely thank Shanling, and our small band of reviewers for this wonderful opportunity to review an “iPod alternative.” So much so, that I will probably purchase one for use in the gym, or wherever!
The most I can ask of a device, is that it functions without problem, without fuss, without drawing attention to itself, in the background. I was lucky enough to review the excellent ampsandsounds Kenzie amp, and I hold that amp in the highest regard, when it comes to my previous statement. It…just…worked…without fuss, without bother, without drawing attention to itself (except that it was beautiful to look at what with the tubes…), mostly. I was awed by it form, function and ability to melt into the background (when I would quit looking at it!). As I write this, I listen to an alternative device; which I am lucky enough to own, and have reviewed, but I believe this helps shed light onto how good the M1 really is. Everything I asked of the device, it did. Without fuss. Without pause. I did update to the latest firmware; which was a pain on my computer download. The actual update took all of two minutes. Download time? Don’t ask…Never drawing a fuss towards itself, the device in my background as I scribble fits my descriptive. In my review of said device, I described how I must save IT, so that all of you may see the device, sacrificing myself so that you, dear reader may have that glorious listen.
I would say the opposite of the M1…I didn’t want to give the darn thing back!...ever! NO, you cannot have this back!!! It is MINE, and you will have to pry it from my hot sweaty hands, after a long run, dripping with sweat, and road grime (not the device, mind you…); you will have to catch me, if you can…THAT defines my affinity with the M1. It filled a niche I did not know I needed filled…This to me is an underrated aspect of our equipment. It should never draw attention towards itself, unless it enhances the overall listening experience…OK, woody headphones, and tube amps do both quite well, and should be applauded, IF that beauty enhances the overall listen. Or as stated, the filling of a “gap” in our collective, which was not yet defined. I will state up front again, the M1 just worked. Never a glitch, never a fault. It functioned without fuss, and in the background, the way I asked it to…I was never worried about the Shanling, when using it. Never. Not on Bluetooth, as I controlled my music from my Garmin Vivoactive HR+, and Tidal through my iPhone 6+ and my Vibrto Labs Aria; nor when running solo with my FLC8S or thinksound ON2…it…just…worked…
A bit about me:

I am older. I am happy that I have rediscovered the joy of music, through personal listening devices. Through this opportunity, I have become exposed to some wonderful kit. Much I now own, much I covet. Much I would never purchase, for various reasons.
My listening style has changed somewhat over the years…from old time Rock-n-Roll to the Blues to Reggae, to Bluegrass. I cut my teeth on Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, The Who, Santana, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd. But the music I hold dearest and nearest my soul, is Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was lucky enough to see him perform four times…twice in open air venues, followed by (that evening each time!!!) smoky blues bars, where intimate would be an understatement. Each holds a very special place in my psyche, and I can almost remember the whole of each concert in their entirety…
I enjoy a warmer signature in my equipment, and listening, with a good bass line (but not basshead), complimented by outstanding vocals. Combine the sweetness of SRV’s guitar and Billy Holiday’s voice, and you get my musical genre.
Through too much hearing loss of high end (loud car stereo as a teenager with a car…), I cannot quite fathom the differences of sound that those experts on Head-Fi do. So, I try to accommodate with subtle differences…detailed differences wrought from my days banding birds, and working bird surveys where it was imperative that I separate what kind of Warbler, or Flycatcher, or Sparrow that was, and from what direction and elevation change the song originated. I used my deficiencies of treble-loss to my benefit; searching for that sound, which was not there a moment before. I got pretty darn good at it. And, I TRY to use that same methodology to separate details enough to offer a modicum of differentiation in the product at hand. I like to think I’m doing OK. But can always improve…
Size: 60mm * 50mm * 13mm.
Net weight: about 60g.
Screen: 2.35-inch TFT high-definition display (360 * 400)
DSD playback: support DSD64, DSD128.
Decoding: support to 192kHZ-24bit.
Bluetooth: 4.0 supports APT-X.
D / A conversion chip: AK4452.
Amp chip: MAX97220.
Gain selection: low gain, high gain.
Sampling rate: 44.1kHz-192kHz.
Output: Headphone output (3.5 mm)
Output power: 35mW @ 32ohm.
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz (-0.5dB)
Distortion: 0.006% (A-weighting, output 500mV)
Signal to noise ratio:> 105dB (A-weighting)
Dynamic range:> 105dB.
Output impedance: 0.1 ohm.
Channel separation:> 70dB (32ohms, 1kHz)
Time jitter: 30ps (Typ)
Reference clock jitter: 200 seconds.
External storage: support to 256G TF card.
USB interface: Type-c (USB2.0)
Capacity: 950mAH lithium battery.
Life time: about 9-10 hours (charging time 3-4 hours)
Support system: Windows XP, Windows 7, 8, 10 (32 / 64bit), MACOSX10.1 or update
And from the Penon audio site (
Equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, support APTX protocol to ensure Hifi sound quality.
Support Bluetooth bi-directional transmission.
Bluetooth can be used as a mobile phone and computer-decoding amp. Bluetooth headset can also be connected to the Bluetooth speaker for wireless playback Clock function.
Use the Type-C USB connector.
USB bidirectional transmission.
Can be connected to a computer and mobile phone as an external decoding amp, USB decoder can also be connected as a digital dial (support WIN and MAC systems, and some with OTG-enabled Android mobile phone)
Up to 8 days deep standby.
No need to set the depth of standby, without shutting down after the use of equipment, just pause for one minute will automatically enter the standby, which means that other power consumption (such as decoding, amp chip power supply, etc.), only to retain the wake-up mechanism, a greater reduction in consumption. To achieve long standby, press the power button to about 1 second before listen to the music, convenient and quick.
I will say, that in my time, I only charged the device twice. The unit came with about 50% charge. I had the device for approximately 8.5 days, and used it approximately 2-3 hours every day. Some days it was more like 6-8 hours. Back calculating, I get on average about 9-10.5 hours of usage. Pretty decent, I say.
The M1 is an all-plastic micro DAP, with a matte-like back panel. A nice change to the shiny sides and front. Unfortunately, it is also a fingerprint hoarder! I cleaned the device almost constantly as a result of the finish. But if this were your throw-and-go device, you would not really care. You plug your phones in, push play and go…A minor annoyance in my book….A device such as this, is meant to be used, not oogled over. And it works. I will say that the current iteration of the M1 seems to have more rounded edges, and a curved attached back cover. I like it either way.
Gear used/compared:
FLC8S-main user IEM, used for workouts, and general listening. Yes, I know...a $300 workout pair of IEM's...and they did just fine, thank you very much...
thinksound ON2-a nice change, while being completely portable. Wonderful results.
Vibro Labs Aria-my go to IEM for comparisons. While it worked, I preferred the FLC8S and the synergy the pairing provided.
iPhone 6+ used separately for comparison, streaming Tidal and using Bluetooth connectivity.
Shanling M5-a comparison with the Big Brother, was a MUST.
FiiO x5iii-kind of along for the ride…background noise, mostly…
Garmin Vivoactive HR+ used while working out, to fully test the Bluetooth aspect.
FiiO A5-to drive the M1 with harder-to-drive headphones.
Initial impressions:
I read the comments on our private reviewer thread, and also the comments on the Head-Fi thread about how small this device was…I wondered if it was too small, as some stated. One actually stated, that they were glad it was not a touch screen, because they would have run into problems tactically. A criticism I read, and after seeing the device for the first time, I agreed with…it WAS small…BUT I would have welcomed a touchscreen. Manipulation of the menu, via the scroll wheel, while functional, was tedious. Shanling is behind in this regard, in my opinion. That said, I do believe they are working on that.
As a result, I mainly used this in shuffle mode, not even bothering to test album view, artist view, or playlists. I just used it, and trusted Shanling’s random generator to choose foe me. I will say, in that regard the M1 had an uncanny ability to match songs quite well…it almost thought for me…Kind of odd. Or just pure dumb luck. No comment, please…
What I can verify, is that the little critter could…and did function flawlessly. No lags, no hiccups, no burps, farts, flatulence noises at all. I asked the M1 to play, and it did. With a wonderful Shanling house sound, I might add. What might that be, you ask? TO ME, that would be a full, slightly warm sound that does not mask or hide any range. Highs are represented as true. Mids are slightly forward (which I do not mind under the right guise), and adequate bass to be had. I have always admired Shanling’s ability to quickly change EQ settings between many in-device EQ’s, and a custom one (which I matched to my M5 setting). Sometimes, simplicity of change is good, and allows one to get back to the music much more quickly.
I can understand both sides here…The want to fine tune every song, for that perfection of choice. But, I do also appreciate the ability to set based upon included settings and a choice of custom…Set and go. That is what I did with the M1. I listened, more than fiddled.
Running the M1 through its paces, I found the device came quietly along for the ride. No fuss, no bother, playing what I wanted, when I wanted. As stated, in shuffle-mode, the shanling had an almost uncanny ability to decipher my tastes, and match songs like a good DJ would. I very much appreciated that ability, if in fact it was by design…As for the sound coming out, I would say, that the M1 provided an excellent clear, mostly crisp sound. Neither too analytical or too warm, the sound reminded me of an M5-lite….somewhat. Stating the sound signature that way, seems to be an insult to the M1; and it is not meant to be. As a stand alone device, it is superb, with enough power to adequately drive my devices. I will say that when running the ON2’s or my Nightowls (please go try them, they are wonderful!), more power was needed. As such, I hooked the M1 up to my FiiO A5, and had no problem, adding that much needed power to drive the headphones in question.
No matter what I threw at the M1, it played without fuss, and quite nicely. Sound stage is smaller than my other DAP’s, but when you shove all that technology into such a small device, something had to give. I found myself appreciating the smaller, more intimate atmosphere provided by that stage. During my runs, this actually allowed me to focus more on the task at hand, without bother. I did not miss the wider sound stage presented by the big brother M5, nor the x5iii. Sometimes choice is good.
Mids are a tad more forward on the M1, than the M5, and some may not like that. My feeling is that this was done, knowing the situations, in which the M1 would be used…commuting, working out, yard work, shorter listening sessions, which require portability or anything such as that. As stated, I did not miss the width or depth of my other devices.
Adequate bass, gives the sense depth to counter the sound stage. Whether by design, or not I appreciated the added slight push of the bass. I rarely turned the EQ on, but when I did, I found that in my custom M5 EQ mode, the result was to my liking. Added bass punch, and upper mids, while drawing down the treble a smidge. Said differently, I could easily attain the sound signature, which I liked. I even liked some of the pre-installed EQ settings on various songs. Again, personal choice, so I do not feel it warranted to comment on all…Adequate to say, that there is a good chance you will find a comfortable listening “setting” on the M1.
I will say that my favorite pairing was with the FLC8S. Running black/red/gunmetal (out to in), I found that the added bass from the FLC’s enhanced what was missing from the M1. I do like a good bass thump, but I would not call myself a basshead, much like @Hawaiibadboy. It is said that the trio of filter I use, actually enhances the mids into the treble range, giving a “false sense” (somewhat) of added treble. I know that when I used the gold filter, the treble was too hot for me, hence the change to gunmetal. Whatever this added to the midrange, from what I read on the FLC8S thread, I appreciated it. I see no need to play with the filters. Paring with the M1, I had found my go-to set up for working out. Yes, using a $300+ IEM is probably not the smartest thing to do, but I was very careful. Plus, for the used price in which I purchased the FLC, I could have a sub-$350 portable rig, and be COMPLETELY satisfied. A huge compliment to the ability of both to be paired like that. I found myself working out longer, with better results, because of the synergy provided by both. Excellent on the fitness push, and listening push!

Me "working out"...

When settled for the night, I would pair the M1 with my excellent Aria’s, unfortunately with results not up to the FLC/M1 pairing. I’m not sure what it was, but my inkling is that the lack of power needed to drive the Aria (funny, because it is quite easy to drive) was the culprit. As a result, I used the FiiO A5/M1 pairing with the Aria. This trio, evened the playing field, and I was very satisfied with the sound. Deep rich bass (from the bass switch on the A5), on high gain, and no EQ made the Aria sing the way I was used to in my other devices. If one was to look at this rig, you would be well north of $500 (+/-$750, actually). While separately, I did not like the set up, when pairing the trio, I did find that this provided more depth to the signature. There was greater “grab” from the bass,” while providing more detail from the mids. Instrument separation became quite good, with the ability to pick out specific places on stage, where the instruments were located. Call it the “Concert Hall” effect, versus the “street/nightclub” effect of the FLC/M1.
An ability to change with the setting is a definite positive of the M1. As shown above in just two set ups, the M1 did not shy away from a challenge, and with the proper gear, would be quite adequate. I could see this as an excellent entry DAP for those looking at more than a Smartphone to listen. And one, that after you “step up” would gladly keep for the gym, or to use when you need that quick portable device. I found myself smiling knowingly at that prospect. Even as I write this, I smile remembering how adaptable the M1 is…almost saying, “Sure, whatever you need, I can do that.” And doing it in a manner, which would be quite adequate for your intended purposes…
I found the M1 saying to me no matter what: Need a portable rig for the gym? Let’s go workout! Need to pair me with a better amp/headphone? No problem, I don’t mind that you needed to “enhance” my experience with you... I’m here for you to use, and it is not insulting to me that you added gear to help you with that experience. The M1 is that friend, who is always there, but does not make a fuss about anything. While not completely subservient to the others, that friend will most definitely provide an opinion, but do so respectfully, and with thought of all involved. That friend who happily goes along with all you do, but provides that stability you rely upon for decisions. Not compliant, but additive to your relationship.
iPhone 6+/FLC8S/M1/Garmin combo:
I happened to notice some talk on the Head-Fi thread regarding the use of Bluetooth, whether that be in a vehicle or with wireless headphones. I then thought of a possibility I could try while on my daily walk/run. Turning Bluetooth on all three devices, I was able to successfully stream Tidal from my 6+, through the M1’s DAC, controlled by my Garmin. A nice touch for the Vivoactive is that I can not only control Fast Forward and Reverse, but also Play/Pause and Volume control. I am happy to note that the connection was completely seamless, and worked flawlessly. The only glitch was had when my coverage dropped out. This would momentarily pause Tidal. Not the fault of any unit, but my carrier, and the area in which I was running the test. As a further test, I switched to the Onkyo HF music program I use on my 6+. The trio (quad) still performed flawlessly. I had complete control.
I mention this because I have not had so many devices connect together in that manner. I am a seasoned veteran of audio, but still fairly new to the multi-connectivity of many devices. I am happy to note, that while I found this all novel; the music provided was of quite good quality. Certainly higher than one need for working out, or in an outdoor situation. Happy I was!
Big brothers ALWAYS help...

Big Brother comes knocking:
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tie to big brother…no, not THAT big brother, the Shanling M5. The connections between the two are quite noticeable. From the multi-function scroll wheel, to the easy to use, but slightly outdated UI, there is the family resemblance.
The biggest difference (besides size, duh) is what the scroll wheel can do…on the M5, it is menu-driven, with four distinct functions. Not bad, and fairly intuitive, once one gets used to that architecture. On the M1 though, the scroll wheel provide movement, and volume only. There is a click (down to the bottom left, from the top right), think 45 degree SW angle; which activates functions. In menus, when you would like to make a choice, you “click” the scroll wheel at that 45-degree angle to activate your selection.
If one wants to “go back” on the M1, there is a third button, above the FF/REW buttons on the side; which drives you back a menu at a time. On the M5, the bottom of the scroll wheel serves this same purpose. I am reminded of my old Blackberry 33xx-something with which I traveled to England using. While efficient in action, and menu; it was arcane making me think of how obtuse old Windows computers used to be (to me)….For the same function on an older PC, which took 5-7 steps, I could do the same on my Mac in two. While the PC was certainly orderly, it was TOO orderly; much like the Shanling UI architecture. I like Macs, and I like a more updated architecture.
Mind you, I gladly accept that limitation on both Shanling’s because the sound is so darn good! My hope is that when Shanling joins the Android-based architecture; it functions as flawlessly as this straightforward UI does. Me thinks this is why Shanling is waiting to deliver a touchscrees/Android system. Me hopes so…
Sound-wise, the big brother provides a more full, robust (don’t think ROBUST, think robust) sound, belying the different inner-workings. The M5 is more neutral than the M1 (to me), which allows those who EQ to have their way. Shanling did a fantastic job with the M5, providing a nice fairly wide sound stage, with good depth and height. Instrument separation is better than the M1, too. Musically, right where they need to be, the instruments are…This is one reason, I set a custom EQ setting on the M5…to give that slight gain in bass, that I like. Taming the mids a bit provides me with my favored sound signature.
On the M1, I didn’t need to do that…what with the slightly better bass (or more of it, actually…), I don’t need the custom EQ, I run the M1 naked to the world, and the little bugger is proud of it...running around naked as a Jaybird. A more “fun” sound would be a way to describe the M1. More “mature” would be a statement regarding the M5. Mind you, I do enjoy BOTH.
FiiO x5iii vs M1:
Meh, never mind. PM me, if needed. I want the M1 to stand on its own merits, here.
Finale (similar to my Aune S6, with pertinent additions):
Set to the listening of twenty one pilots “Guns For Hands”:
There has been a fair bit of “noise” on several Head-Fi threads recently about “defining” and “subjective v objective” and “feel/emotion”…and rightly so. Often lately peeps will put their “opinion” out there without defining it…This would be the subjective part…Well, while that is all fine and dandy; it is doing a tremendous disservice to those of “us” (not me, completely yet…) who also think on the Scientific side of things…I will be the first to admit that I will probably never be as Scientifically-sound as @Brooko or @Tyll Hertsens or @nmatheis (much less supported on here in my minds, and he should be listened to…), but I do know a fair bit about Science, since I am a Wildlife Biologist/Science Teacher by trade.
THIS to me is the root core of what can define how we look at gear…can we get across the cold analytical side, while emoting our visceral response to said gear? My hope is to reach that level…As for what this has to do with the Shanling M1 will become abundantly clear…
It is one thing to be able to describe the flow of microbial bacteria up the root hairs of that beautiful prairie plant, Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), and through the Xylem to all parts of a plant, defining the glucose molecules, which aid in cellular growth…that would be the Scientific side…and the likes of those mentioned above, have no peer on this site in my mind. Then there is the Emotive side (such as myself, unfortunately) who become part of the process, flowing with that bacteria into the plant to all parts, and using our energies to make the plant grow…
It is that wedding, that melding of BOTH sides, which is where we all strive to end up…that Scientific backing, which allows us to understand WHY we chose the item we did…but it is another thing altogether to understand why we chose that item because of the way it makes us feel…And this is where I have the current problem with the noise on the Head-Fi threads…Too often peeps simply state A is better than B, just because….because of WHAT?! Help us understand what drives you to like that item. Help us understand what makes you hear that while others do not…and this is the journey I undertake with my “new” reviews, such as this…
I am writing my review, as I finished the audition of the Aune S6, and I can honestly state, that the M1 would be an end point for me in the portable market…often peeps state, “oh you need to try this,” or “you need to try that, it is better.” Well, according to whom? Who has the right to define WHAT is better or right for each of us? We must decide for ourselves. In that, I have reached my “end game” (a term, which I do believe is an insult, and I hate, to all of the fine companies who provide us the listening pleasure their devices provide…), my listening “moment” instead, where I can say that I am completely satisfied. I am completely enamored with the M1. It is simply a pleasure to run and use. Simple, easy to operate (mostly), it works for me in the situations I would use. I see no reason to try other devices (for purchasing mind you…To test? Heck ya, I will continue!)
It is that satisfaction, which allows us the basis of comparison we strive to objectively provide in reviews. When we have our baseline gear, we naturally compare our test devices to that. And while that is not incorrect, it is not complete. We do still compare the units on the singular basis. And this is how I judge the M1…alone, on its own merit, first. Then in comparison to other similar devices.
To be able to be satisfied with the gear we choose, we must understand completely why we do. We must become that Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis)
Mimosa family (Mimosaceae), from both the inside AND the outside. We must allow part of us to travel through those root hairs, with the bacteria as our guide and ride, then up the Xylem tubes, to all parts of the plant, where we see the inner workings of the Bundleflower. We must let go parts of us, which will help us understand the inner workings of that wonderful prairie plant, while also not losing site of the sheer beauty of its outsides (the way the plant/gear works from our vantage point). To travel into the organelles, and eventually back out the Stomatal openings as Oxygen to not only gives the plant growth and life, but as we breathe back in that part we let go, we become whole again…We understand the WHOLE of the item in which we write…We understand the inner “mechanical workings,” which the company infused, so that we may understand completely the whole of the item. Once we are satisfied with that result, we share that with you, dear reader…and without recourse, we do so, and consequently that you may make that informed decision. I may never purchase some of this gear, but that journey, has led me down the path of growth so that I can be thoroughly satisfied with the gear I DO choose. Hence using that gear as my baseline for comparison as mentioned above…And that is gear, as stated in my previous reviews, which allow me to reach that point where I am satisfied, and I have no need to proceed further, but with the reviewing process…why?
Because…it…just…works…and with that I highly recommend a listen of the Shanling M1. It will be worth it.
I thank @nmatheis for the loaning of his M1. I am extremely lucky and grateful that I had the time with the unit.Thank you, Nik! It is a worthy addition to the micro-portable market; and one, which is easily an fine alternative to the iPod.
I have one on the way, now! I just couldn't resist...
Nice review.
I did not even know there was an M1 tour.  But it did not matter since I purchased one when it first came out. 
I do not think it is so unusual to pair it with the FLC8S; I pair most everything with the FLC8S.  Even the movies on airplanes.  When the airlines aren't busy dragging me off of course.
I do wonder how you viewed this versus the X5III.  Different animals for sure.
This is  great super portable unit.   I love it at the gym and for skiing.
@originalsnuffy: Thanks for catching my haste, I forgot to change the end from the standard tour thank yous...There wasn't a tour, I borrowed Nik's...Sheesh...that's what happens when I get in a hurry!
As for the x5iii v M1, the FiiO provides a more open, clear sound signature. Micro-details are much better on the x5iii. I can pinpoint a specific instrument easier on the FiiO, than on the Shanling. That said, the M1 is not that far behind, and does a marvelous job at keeping the sound presentable and listenable.
If I am home listening, it would be the x5iii, and to travel. If I am working out, or mowing, then it would be the M1. also, for quick listens while I grade papers at school, the M1 is much quicker to spool up, so I would lean that way, too.
All that said, I liked the M1 so much, I have already found one used here on Head-Fi and will have it by the end of the week.
Thanks for catching my mistake, be careful in those "friendly skies" and great listening!


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Size, sound, fast UI
Cons: Sensitivity of control wheel, hiss with some earphones
Thanks to Czech dealer I got a chance to give a try to new DAP Shanling M1. I got lend it for free in exchange of honnest opinion and sound impression. From opening of box I got very strange feeling. How such a little matchbox can sound? I never hold player of that size since iPod shuffle. Because player has USB type C, which is not common yet, producer put in to box few different combination of cables to allow user connect M1 to computer or other devices. Only for connectivity with Chord Mojo must user get some aftermarket cable. Top of this cable set, you will get card reader and protection shield for screen. Protection case is available, but need to be purchased separately. Battery should give around 10hours, I did not test it, can not confirm.
M1 body have rectangular shape with rounded top corner on right side where is volume and control wheel. Below wheel on the right side is button for on/off and off screen. On the left side are three buttons. Top one is for return in menu and two below are forward and backward buttons. On the bottom side is slot for memory card ( micro SD ), USB connection and 3,5mm headphone output. Through USB you can charge player or use it as digital in/out. So M1 can be used as external DAC. All buttons are well made and they do resist enough to avoid accidental push. Only control wheel is a bit less sensitive and sometimes its reaction takes second or two. Wheel do control volume and moves in menu, which need to be confirmed with push on wheel in diagonal direction. According to me is UI simple and quick. DAP is working after start in roughly 4 seconds and after that is UI fluent and I did not found any issues with it, except control wheel which take sometimes a second to react. Be careful on default volume setup. I got 60 from 100 on M1 when I try it first time and that can be really big hit for your ears. Normally I do listen on 25 to 30 from 100 with gain set on low. DAP have gapless which is working good. You can set play mode, timer, balance, equalizer ( 10 bands ), resume, etc.
I tried M1 with my earphones from Empire Ears – Spartan IV ( universal ) and Athena VIII ( custom ). Unfortunately on both my earphones I got noticeable hiss. EE are sensitive and so fare I got silent only from just a few DAPs. M1 is running on some Hiby mutation and is equipped with AK4452 chip + MAX97220 amplification. All this together is great mix I can ensure you. M1 is new fish in pond and for its competitors such as Cowon Plenue D or FiiO X3ii it is really strong rival. It is unbelievable how huge sound you can get from so tinny package. General character is a bit midcentric, bass is firm with strong impact, mids are transparent and gives to sound clarity and plenty of details. Highs are not that airy as some other rivals get, but still very good, only on some tracks a bit to sharp with tendency to be sibilant. Sound stage is wide, wider than many other even pricier players. Overall M1 sound is way above its price bracket. M1 is big surprise and in comparison with my other players ( AK70 and DX80 ) differences in sound are not aligned with differences in prices. From that perspective is M1 winner of contest. Only noticeable difference are on trebles, which are on AK70 or DX80 less synthetic, more natural and airy. In other sound aspects M1 challenge its rivals with high level of confidence.
M1 will be great backup on the go player for those who like to spare their expensive DAPs just for home listening, it will be ideal DAP for jogging, every day use on the road, for those who like to get great sound comparable with higher players, but budget not allow them to buy one. It is simply big sound in small package.
hi there, great review, Im having hard time to decide which one to buy, fiio x3 2nd gen or M1 shangling. I only concerned about sound quality. From your opinion, which one is better? thanks
Hi and thank you. Between those two I would take M1. In my opinion it is much bigger package for lower money.
After purchasing the M1 I sold my X3 II. Slightly smoother sound and way more portable. Plus M1 has OTG; X3II sort of has OTG if you stick with firmware 1.4.


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: everything
Cons: micro details.
PINOYMAN / MBC's impression on
Credit to: @christopher gatchalian for lending me his unit for the purpose of this review
All parts are made of plastic. Back is reflective. Not a touchscreen dap, but it looks like one. 
Two hand operation. Even its small. Your fingers cannot press a button without the other hand supporting the dap.
Navigation is done by buttons on side: 
(left)back, forward and back 
(right) scroll wheel and power
Neat operational buttons ala AK daps.
The multipurpose scroll wheel acts as:
-volume adjustment
-browsing menu
The unit is very lightweight. Twice the weight of ipod shuffle 4th gen.
Adjusting volume will give you a bit of delay, due to the processing power. .
I wish its made of aluminu like that from apple, ill then consider this excellent on this department.
Touchscreen also will be a plus. But, not necessary.
The provided UI Is intelligent. 
It knows exactly what function to work from where it is.
Its well thought. 
The fonts are small but it is well spaced and easy to read. 
On playback, using scrollwheel will increase/decrease volume.
On menu, navigation of ups and downs for choices.
There is no delay in UI. Fast. Accurate and smooth. It reminds me a bit of FIIO's UI. 
I love how they designed the screen, the cover art filled and fits nicely on the screen. Its like you are browsing by coverart ala walkman here.
Pushing back button twice will bring you to NOW PLAYING screen. 
Overall. Shanling M1 is miles ahead. Better than that of AIGO and XDUOO combined. It will put both to shame. 
Theres so much to tell on this part:
4 provided themes.
Volume gains.
EQ with presets.
Folder browsing.
Music organizer.
Chanel balance.
Gapless playback.
Bluetooth in hd.
The list goes on... 

It offers more than what other competitors lack.
Let me tell you. 
This is the most excellent dap in terms of features and UI. Its a breeze to use and not confusing to operate. Pretty straightforward and no useless nonsense.

INEAR Stagediver Sd2

By The Corrs 
MTV Unplugged Album
Seperation / Panning of left and right part is excellent. One part of the phone is blank, while the other part plays the guitar. When Andrea's cue came, she sang at the middle of my head... this plays till 1:20 before the left part of my phone entered a sound of drums mildly and faintly. I tried pushing the volume by going to HIGH GAIN. Aside from volume increase, the sound remains clean, no distortion but better in push.
On my Genesis by FLIPEARS. I can clearly hear my own iem's signature without not much additional coloration to the signature. From my review, the Genesis is somewhat lacking in sparkle and energy in treble. Dry. Good midbass. The FLIPEARS signature is very transparent in this dap. I really like how it shows my iems character. It makes me enjoy more of my iem's own signature.
On TOSS THE FEATHER track of this album, using my CIEM, real sounds of instruments shined with organic timbre. A distanf Whistled in the audience heard clearly from the background. Each breath of the flutist is heard with clarity.
By Nina
NINA Live! Album
Background claps are faintly presented. Theres not much command and definition, Its there but the details focused more on whats upfront only- instruments and vocals. 
There is no coloration in the signature. Its not as sweet and thick as the Xduoo which I personally prefer as my signature, which could have made Nina's voice to be more expressive and inviting. The treble part and upper mids have no harshness. Stringed instruments and Nina's voice is presented with right amount of sparkle. 
Spaces is good. Though not as excellent as that of the XDUOO's, which is wider. Depth and layers is somewhat limited compared to AUNE M2s.
Volume push is not be as poweful and fuller like the AIGO 105. Micro details is ok. It lacks some small details which is present on the excellent sounding dac amp like MOJO and and my ADR. 
Micro details is somewhat faint. Though it may lack on micro details, it is not a hindrance to the overall performance of the player. Its still enjoyable for me.
Guitars sounds excellent. Rightly tuned without harshness in treble. In AIGO, much treble is present which might be good for trebleheads. Also aigo is picky in gears compared to SHANLING.
By Michael Bublé
I really like this dap. My INEAR stagediver is warm  and detailed. SHANLING M1 as DAP let enjoyed most of the signature of my iem. 
This is a Neutral dap. 
Its not leaning on warm or bright signature. Its not bias on slow or fast phased music. 
Midbass of my FLIPEARS CIEM is truly a joy to my ears. With Michael's melodic vocals along with defined presence of pianos in the background, all i can say is WOW. I can listen to this all day or all night l, without the borebom of too much smoothness and warmth of lets say the XDUOO, or getting fatigue from AIGO with the element of its harsh energetic attack.
Well. This dap is a wake up call.
Hoping companies will learn from the likes of SHANLING.
SHANLING is the most excellent dap i have tried in its price range.
Excellent UI and Features. Great build. Good battery life. Giving you about 10hours.
I wish the micro details is more present. Even small claps will get my attention to the music. So that i could  fully enjoy whats in there in my music.
Petite. Cute. Small.  A Very beautiful dap indeed. I think everyone will agree.  Navigating coverart photos. Holding it in your hand. Who did that? No one but SHANLING.
Its cheap. But the performance is more worth than its asking price.
Anyone who needs a dose of music enjoyment without additional nonsense of bells and whistles will probably pick SHANLING M1. Specially when youre on the go. 
It doesnt add much flavor to the signature to your iem. It does well at what it is. 
A Dap. Neutral. Flavorless.
Its an honor as a reviewer like me to experience something like this. Thank you SHANLING. This dap proves that there are still companies that listens to the needs people who love music and have passion for it,

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How does it sound paired with Chord MOJO does it have the good SQ  DAP like AKXXX
That thing is so darn cute!  I want one!  
Excellent review, thanks.