Specification: Model: M2 Colour:Black Type:Portable HI-FI series Series:Low Level ...

SHANLING M2 HiFi Portable Lossless Musicl Player DSD Player

Average User Rating:
4.1875/5,
  • Specification:
    Model: M2
    Colour:Black
    Type:Portable HI-FI series
    Series:Low Level
    Display:2.35"TFT LCD screen(360x400)
    Format Supported: APE, FLAC,ALAC,WMA,AAC,OGG,MP3,WAV,AIFF, DSF, DIFF
    Sample rate: 44.1kHz - 192kHz
    Output Level: 1.3Vrms
    D/A converter: Cirrus Logic CS4398
    Low pass filtering: JRC MUSE8920
    DAC: supported up to 192KHZ/32BIT
    USB:USB Micro-B
    Output:headphone(3.5mm)/LO(3.5mm)

    Audio Performance
    Output power: 125mW @ 32 ohm/13mW @ 300 ohm
    Frequency response:20Hz~20KHz(-0.5dB)
    THD+N:102dB

    Clock Source
    Clock Jitter:30ps(Typ)
    Referenced clock jitter:200 femtosecond

    Battery:2200mAH lithium battery
    Memory:micro TD(Maximum 128G) System
    Supported: Windows XP, Windows7,8(32/64bit),MAC OS X 10.7 or upgrading ones
    Dimension: 11 x 5.3 x 1.4 cm

    Package:
    1 x M2 Player
    2 x Screen Protectors
    1 x Storage Pouch
    1 x Data Cable
    1 x Card Reader
    1 x User Manual
    1 x Coxial Cable
    1 x Warranty Card

Recent User Reviews

  1. PinkyPowers
    3.0/5,
    "A Floundering Semi-Triumph - A Review of the Shanling M2"
    Pros - Very capable sound. Great form-factor. Solid, intuitive UI.
    Cons - High output impedance. One card slot.
    M2IM03.jpg

    ::Disclaimer::
    The great and devious nmatheis conscripted poor Pinky into the US Tour for this Shanling DAP, the M2. I review it now, with no financial incentive or affiliation with the manufacturer. What follows are my impressions, which are as free from reason, rational thought, or objectivity as is possible in the human character.

    ::The Review::

    Shanling’s design work on this line is everything I want from artists. It’s bold, unique, and a little silly—especially the M3. I approve. Make it your own, I say!

    M2.jpg

    M2CFBack.jpg


    All the buttons are solid. The wheel wears many hats and is very accurate in navigation and selection. It turns with ease while avoiding a loose, ramshackle property. I’m reminded of Cayin’s N5 wheel, only not as hansom.

    I have some affection for the UI. It’s very easy and direct. The themes are a nice touch, and I found one that vibed with my disposition. That said, I feel the M2 resents me, employing its own form of passive-aggression in the hopes of breaking my spirit. Like when I’m listening to a song and decide to meander through the settings. I must keep moving, never pausing to contemplate a particular feature. If I do sit on a menu for an entire eight seconds, Miss Shanling will penalize this indecisiveness by throwing you back to the Now Playing screen, and be all like “What? You weren’t done?” “No B****, I wasn’t!”

    A fantastic deep Sleep Mode lets you keep this DAP turned on for days and days before the battery dies. It just hibernates forever, and then kicks back on in half a second when pressing the power button. Actually, the M2 was in Sleep Mode when the last reviewer shipped it, with plenty of battery left over when I received the package.

    That’s enough of all the boring stuff. I didn’t test USB DAC functionality, or whether it would float when dropped in a lake, thus proving it a witch. We know it’s a witch. No need to stand on ceremony.

    Time for… SssOUuunD!

    The Shanling M2 has a clean, neutral-warm sound that is laid back and very easy on the ears. I was impressed with the soundstage. A/B testing left me convinced it’s even wider than the X5 Classic. In fact, it’s overall signature and tone is frightfully close to that of the X5. I’d struggle to tell them apart in a blind test. The FiiO represents details better… maybe, but holy hell are they close.

    Digititis plagues the M2 in small, subtle ways. It’s like the rainbow shimmer in a pool of motor oil, spread out over the entire spectrum. It’s artificial and unhealthy. Your ears aren’t drenched in it, but you can hear it glistening on the edges of every note. This is common in the price range. You can’t expect that high-grade analogue quality of the TOTL players and it’s not so bad as to ruin the experience.

    Nothing too heavy was tested, but most of my efficient or small phones paired beautifully. The Audio Technica IM03 is my favorite. So full and natural with that “live in-concert” feel. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear is a close second. They render a wide, airy, reckless sound, yet the M2 smoothed them a little in a very pleasant manner. The Klipsch X7 is utterly at home with this DAP. They pull out every detail and revel in the width of the staging. I had forgotten just how capable the Klipsch are at such things.

    SennShanling.jpg

    Now… When I use a sensitive IEM with a multitude of Balanced Armatures, like the JH Audio Angie, an abundance of warmth descends upon your music. I’ve been told this is due to the moronically high output impedance, which plays havoc with IEMs of this category. It sounds flat-out dark. Everyone knows the X5 is warm, but next to this my FiiO felt airy and sharp. It feels like a blanket lay over the music. You can sense the air and upper registers muffle, the clarity goes away and many of the details dim out. I haven’t felt this suffocated since listening to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black on the ATH-IM04, sourced by the X5 Classic. Talk about dark on dark on dark. The Shanling does this to Angie of all phones, at only 2 o’clock on the bass pots, playing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. That’s beyond madness!

    M2Angie.jpg

    I dock them two stars for that alone, as an unforgivable sin.

    So be warned if you intent to ever own a sensitive IEM like so many of the top phones. The Shanling M2 is simply not meant for them.

    I don’t have a great deal more to say. During the week I had the tour unit, I didn’t manage too much time with it. Not being able to use my best IEMs with the M2 drove me into the wanton embrace of more desirable gear. So you could say I was a bit neglectful of my tour duties. Certainly take that into account as you meditate on my profound wisdom.

    Really, there’s only a few things that sets this DAP behind the X5: One card slot. Less driving power. Stupidly high output impedance. If I had to choose, I’d go with the X5. But when you compare the M2 to the X3ii (closer prices), now I see a much easier victory. I would absolutely take the Shanling.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-

    M2IM032.jpg
    flinkenick, JOKERez and xavitorres123 like this.
  2. originalsnuffy
    4.5/5,
    "Great value in high fidelity. Refined sound, great feel in a small package."
    Pros - Visible in daylight. Clear sound at moderate price point. Good as a DAC.
    Cons - ISO support for DSD/DSF playback would be nice. DAC driver not signed.

    I had an opportunity to spend some time with the Shanling M2.  I had some sense this was a popular machine from a less well known brand whose first product, the M3, was also well regarded.  What I was not expecting was how much I would enjoy this machine.
     
    First, a few thoughts on how I use portable players.  I typically listen to FLAC files, either redbook 16-44 or higher res.   I typically play music by folders, usually complete albums.  On my iphone I create playlists as that is pretty much the main way to get music onto the unit.  With hi res players, I tend to drag music into folders, and sometimes  number tracks to create a poor mans playlist.  So I did not check out playlist support on this unit.
     
    My reference points for this unit was ipods, iphones, modified ipods, and hi res players.  The hi res players that I have tested include the FIIO range (X1, X3 I and II, X5 I and II, and X7), and the Lotoo PAW5000.  Also recently tested was the Mojo DAC/AMP.  Until the Shanling, my favorite units were the FIIO X7 (for sound quality not user experience) and the Chord Mojo. My go to units are the FIIO X3 gen II and Gen I, which I do think are bargains for what they offer.
     
    But I was not expecting that very good things can come in small packages.  In my view, the Shanling M2 punched way above its weight.  I think its sound was in the hunt with the FIIO X7 and the Chord Mojo, which was completely not my expectation going into the test.  Now none of my IEM units really push a portable DAC/AMP very hard.  My most inefficient units are the Phonak PFE-022, and those went well with this unit in general, especially with classical music.  My regular IEM units, the relatively popular LZ-A2 unit, went well with this machine for rock and jazz.  I preferred the Phonak for classical. 
     
    What was truly sublime was using this unit with the FLC8S.   Together these sounded great, for all types of music.  Classical, rock, jazz, it was all there.  Now the FLC8S is a wonderful unit, and does sound good with the FIIO X3 Gen II.  But I kept marveling at the sound with the Shanling.   What an amazing $600 experience, the Shanling M2 and the FLC8S.
     
    I tried this unit in DAC mode.  It worked nicely with few hiccups as a computer DAC.  The Windows driver is unsigned, and appears to be the same source as the FIIO windows driver.  However, the FIIO driver does not work with the Shanling, and must be uninstalled.
     
    It was also tested as a DAC with the iphone using the camera connecting kit.  It worked, but in general I find the iphone a glitch ridden DAC source.  I get dropouts all the time with various TED podcasts no matter what DAC I am using, and that was true here.  No better, no worse than using the Chord Mojo.  I think the FIIO units are slightly more reliable as iphone DACs but in general I have diminished expectations for iphone DAC usage.
     
    I did test some DSD files.  I had on demo file that was part of a Meridien test suit for MQA, and it sounded great.   However, most of my DSD files are extracted from SACD ISO files using JRiver and other utilities.  For some unknown reason all my extractions have various pops and clicks in the files.  That is an issue with some of my extractions, not the Shanling.  Now the latest version of ISO2DSD is much better, so I need to go back and redo some of my extractions. 
     
    With the FIIO X3 Gen II I can play SACD iso files directly, and those sound great.  Unfortunately Shanling has indicated that this is not an option with this unit at a hardware level.   The unit did work as a DSD DAC, but again my source material is really the issue. 
     
    IMG_1788.jpg
     
    I understand an M5 is coming from Shanling.   Nevertheless, a small, amazing sounding and well priced unit ($250) has a place.  I highly enjoyed the experience and I ended up selling my original X3 as partial payment for this unit.
     
    Update:  Now that I have had the unit a while I would note that the upper end is stronger than on many other units.  So I found myself turning the treble down in my car a tad when using the line out.
     
    I tend to transfer files into the unit using usb from the primary pc.   Disconnections can go awry.  I have had to conduct a paper clip reset more than a few times.  So now I always check if the unit will boot after transferring files and taking the unit for portable use. 
     
    Also, the unit runs a bit hot.  I found the leather case (about $20)  helps out.
    sledgeharvy and jatergb like this.
  3. cleg
    4.5/5,
    "Good traveling companion"
    Pros - nice design, good UI, great controls, size, price, overall sound representation
    Cons - treble is a bit simplified
    1MainPic.jpg

    Well, Shanling M3 was really outstanding: lots of connectivity features, great sound, excellent design, affordable price, and so on, and so long… When Shanling decided to create less expensive model, they've really done a great job designing both interface and sound. That's how M2 was created, and I'd like to add my humble opinion to M2 reviews pool.

    Shanling targeted M2 to really competitive segment, it's recommended price is $240, there are few really nice DAPs in this niche, but M2 have unique features to stand out among them.

    4Acessories.jpg

    As usual, I don't want to spend a lot of time, describing everything not related to sound, there are lots of really great reviews from Head-Fiers, covering this , so just few my impressions. Box is nice and stylish, you'll have all necessary accessories (but I suggest you to buy leather case anyway, it's good). M2 is also greatly built, aluminium body with carbon insert looks stylish, and player is sturdy and handy. Actually, M2 has it's own face.

    I really liked control wheel, it reminds me my favourite Sony NEX. Combined with nice menu, it gives great interface that I like to use. I didn't experience any software issues or glitches. Firmware-wise, M2 have all features that we expect from modern DAP: tons of settings, media library, support of many formats, and so on.

    5FrontView.jpg

    So, I'll go straight to the sound. During the test I've used: Oppo PM-3, Titan 3 and Titan 5, Lear LHF-AE1d, Ambient Acoustics AM10, VE Monk and Asura v2, HiFiMan HE-400S

    Shanling engineers decided to make a nice, musical sound representation that reminds me a bit old vintage sounding of Hi-End gear of the past. It has energetic bass, lively mids and a bit rolled off treble.

    Lows are really balanced ("balance" is actually a codename of M2), they have enough power to create "body" of music, but they aren't too punchy, because it can be sometimes irritating. Just prefect average amounts, but with decent headphones it kicks nicely.

    6ControlWheel.jpg

    Mids are totally OK, I can't say much here. If we'll forget about price, I can say that M2 missing a bit micro details, but it's only in comparison with really expensive models. Price-wise M2 mids are great: small nuances, emotions, it has it all, and balanced bass does it's job, highlighting midrange. Stage is average in width and a bit less then average in depth. Instruments have normal separation.

    Highs are a bit simplified. Not so much to become a mess, but it's noticeable. Luckily, Shanling engineers decided to move treble a little back, so this problem isn't drag to many attention. Actually, treble in M2 is fairly OK to add necessary air and space to music. On the other hand, M2's sound isn't fatiguing even with bright earphones.

    7RearSide.jpg

    Few comparisons with DAPs of similar price range and/or form-factor. Please note, that this comparisons are subjective, and based on my personal preferences.

    iHiFi 800 Really good inexpensive player with "audiophiliac" neutral sound representation. It's better then M2 in detalisation and speed, but M2 offers more "musical" sound and more bass. So, IMHO, M2 is a better option for rock and other heavy music lovers.

    Fiio X3-2 Probably, the most popular DAP in this price range. Compared with M2, X3-2 have more accent on bass and treble, offering more "engaging" and "energetic sound", but it can be sometimes too fatigue, so M2's relaxed sound can be more preferable, if you like such representation.

    xDuoo X3 By price/quality relation, this player beats almost everything on market. But if we'll compare without price in mind, M2 offers more musical sound without distortion, caused by X3's "slow playback" issue.

    9RearBalanced.jpg

    Pairings

    Generally, M2 isn't the most universal player. It's not powerful enough to drive hungry big cans, so best headphones for it are IEMs. Also, M2 has pretty big output impedance that makes it not a good solution for multi-driver armatures and hybrids. So, best choice for M2 is a single-driver models with dynamic driver. Luckily, now we have a plenty of them. Especially I've liked M2 with Trinity Techne and Lear LHF-AE1d. Anyway, I've tried M2 with Dunu's hybrids and it was also pretty OK, but DN-2000J really needs higher level source.

    Style-wise, M2 is best suited for music that benefits from it's representation: non-brutal metal, classic rock, jazz. Also OK is orchestral classics (keep in mind not the biggest soundstage) and electronics. Brutal metal sounds a bit worse, but still is pretty OK.

    10StylishShot.jpg

    So, Shanling created really great DAP if you like to enjoy the music in general, without nuances neat-picking, without audiophile details attention, just nice music, relaxation and you. Add here affordable price, nice controls and good build quality, and you'll get a perfect travelling companion.

    I'd like to thank to Shanling for providing me with M2 review sample in exchange for my honest opinion, I've only had to pay import taxes (that cost me almost 50% of player's price :) )

    And a video, showing M2 "in real life"
  4. Army-Firedawg
    4.0/5,
    "Great, simple no frills consumer priced DAP "
    Pros - Very simple interface, great battery life, transparent sound
    Cons - Relatively low storage capacity, takes forever to scroll to songs you want if you've a large inventory.
    I must first and foremost give many thanks to both @Shanling for setting up this review tour and then also to my friend @nmatheis who invited me to take part. I am truly honored to be a part of such a community where we take care of our own and do our parts to better this field. But now the important part, the review of the Shanling M2
     
      20160120_220509.jpg   20160120_220517.jpg   20160120_220630.jpg
                   
     
    The Opening Experience
     
        The initial handshake to introduce me to Shanling was very firm and confident. The box was without any frills or unnecessary lettering but instead very simplistic and elegant. It gave me excitement to open it and unveil its contents. An experience that was very well done and continued into after the box was opened. Sitting completely centered was the Shanling M2 in very tightly engraved plastic holding it quite firmly. Under the plastic/cardboard was the instructions, charger and a nice carrying pouch.
     
         20160120_220012.jpg       20160120_220408.jpg
     
     
     
    Construction
     
        The build to the M2 is good but doesn't physically feel like the material it's made of. It has an aluminum front plate and wheel with a true carbon fiber back plate. These materials are very sturdy so the longevity of the DAP will certainly withhold, the only downside is, and it got even myself, is that it doesn't feel as premium but rather I originally believed that it was plastic but @Shanling and @nmatheis addressed this question. Though the brushed look to it really came to my liking. The volume knob moves effortlessly but stays put when you find that sweet spot in the volume. There’s very few buttons which is what was expected for more would be nothing but unnecessary and cluttering.
    A downside, as addressed above, and it’s just a personal one but the M2 feels like a toy in my hands. Many people would prefer the weightless feel to it but I find it makes it feel cheap and just a big empty box. This in turn makes me really baby it and worry about what would happen if I were to accidentally drop it. But as also addressed above the carbon fiber and aluminum materials will prevent much damage from occurring so one doesn't need to baby this too much.
     
    Functionality
     
        For the most part spot on. The M2 has everything very simple and straightforward. There’s an option for low and high gain for sensitive ciems such as my Empire Ears Hermes VI or as potential holding as my Sennheiser HD650. For those who EQ there’s a respectable selection to choose from as well as a customize setting as well. All the buttons and knobs are very responsive and require very little effort, and on the note of volume this little booger can be nit picked. There’s 120 volume ticks which is PERFECT for those like me who are sensitive to overly loud music and find it very hard to find a sweet spot on devices with only 10 or even 20 volume selection options. No more WISHING there was a volume less than 1 on my phone when I’m trying to go to bed listening to music. Even the battery life is outstanding overall this is a very well build DAP.
    However there is a downside to the layout and it’s one I do believe is an easy fix so hopefully an update will come. For those like me who have well over a thousand songs (or around 250 I had loaded on this specific micro SD card [Shanling states the M2 can handle up to a 64gb {however one user said he was able to use a 128gb without issue YMMV}]) having to scroll and scroll and scroll just to get to the specific song you want is rather annoying. A simple fix to this issue is to once you scroll fast enough it brings up scroll by letter vs scroll by song. This takes having to scroll a few hundred to 1 in 26.  
    Also another very small downside for me personally is the max storage size is only 64gb. This is very small for I’ve filled a 64gb a long time ago and am closing in on a 124. With sd cards becoming higher and higher in size and also getting cheaper and cheaper it really is a necessity for DAPs to swiftly follow suit. However with the very primitive scrolling and song selection option available this limiting factor may not be such a bad thing.
     
    Sound
     
        I was very interested in comparing this with my LG V10 since its big claim to fame (other than the camera) was the ESS Sabre DAC & amp. So how did it compare with the Shanling M2 which is solely built to play audio and nothing more? Well not well at all. The Shanling M2 is MUCH smoother and transparent with a embarrassingly more powerful amp. The dac I had known but was solidified after hearing the M2 that there’s a pretty notable brightness to the V10. The M2 is very transparent and clean with very little, if any, coloration.
        Another big issue for me which makes sending the M2 on to the next person even harder is all the hiss I get from the V10 while listening to my ciems. Now this is not a downfall of the V10 whereas the Hermes VI is just so ungodly hypersensitive the hiss though drastically reduces my musical enjoyment. When playing from the Shanling M2 there unfortunately is still notable hiss but it’s so minor that when music is playing unless I’m trying to listen for it I don’t hear it whatsoever.
     
                                                                                    20160120_215557.jpg
     
     
    Conclusion
     
        So to sum up the Shanling M2, it is a very convenient DAP. It’s incredibly simple to control and the audio is wonderful. The amp and gain settings allow one to use ciems that are HYPER sensitive but yet also higher impedance headphones such as the HD650 and have an enjoyable, non fatiguing audio experience throughout. I would honestly recommend this little guy to anyone wanting a high quality, no frills dap that has a respectable small budget minded.
     
    Till next time my friends. Also make sure you check out my unboxing and review videos as well!
  5. Dickymint
    4.5/5,
    "Very detailed and revealing DAP."
    Pros - Detail and clarity is superb, good size.
    Cons - Not sure I am that keen on the thumb wheel.
    Hello folks,
     
    I have been reading the various opinions expressed regarding the Shanling M2 and having seen the photo's, I was rather taken with this DAP. In the past I have looked at the wonderful CD and DVD players this company has made and I always fancied buying one but never really got around to it.
     
    Anyway, after reading what was available and seeing what looked like a sexy DAP, I bit the bullet and bought one from Eglobal in the UK for a pretty good price that pleased me no end!
     
    A bit of background on me, I have worked in industry all my life and so my hearing is rather limited at the top end, I tend to need either a bright top end DAP or the headphones need to have a clear treble. Hi-Fi has been part of my whole life from about 12 years old onwards, a lot of which has been valve amplification and vinyl until the dreaded CD came along and I made the big mistake of selling all my L P’s for Cd's, unforgivable! Portable music listening has taken over for me for the last five or so years, more so when I found out that serious headphone were now being made, ones that actually sounded good but didn't cost the earth.
     
    My gear; DAP's; Ibasso DX50, Hifiman HM601, Colorfly CK4+, Xduoo X2, Sansa Clip.
    Headphones; Trinity Delta's, Rockjaw Kommand, Shure SE215, Sennhieser HD598 and other assorted cheap and cheerful units.
    Amplifiers; Fiio E17, Cayon C5, Minibox-E and a Little Bear valve unit.
     
    To my meager review: I ordered this device and it was due for delivery on a Saturday, only I was out, you know how frustrating that can be but luckily due to the Christmas madness, the unit was delivered on the Sunday, wonderful! In some ways when I got the box out of the packaging, I was a little bit disappointed but I bought the DAP to listen to, not the box, so that is really irrelevant.
    The unit was fully charged on arrival and was ready to run, so in went a new 64gb card with a combination of MP3, OGG, WAV and FLAC files to try, and I must say my initial impressions were not good, this thing sounded bland and lifeless!
     
    My first listen was with the Rockjaw Kommands, there was no bass to talk of, the treble was weak and nothing seemed to gel at all, this was one of those moments where you think, looks like I need to box this back up and move it on, I was heart broken, especially as so many seemed to like this unit so much!
    Anyway, I left it until bed time, (that's when I get some peace to listen to my music, at least for a while,) and first tried the Trinity Delta headphones, all of a sudden something seemed to be working, this was good, I normally have a few songs I like to test things on, like “Camel”, A Nod and a Wink, the album was recorded in HDCD and personally this type of recording seems to have disappeared but what a loss, it just seemed to improve Cd's no end. In this instance though, I had opened ELP, In The Hot Seat, an album I know very well but to my amazement, the extra detail being delivered was astonishing. Not only was there more information being extracted but the music that was there was being cleared, the mush was being separated into individual notes and phrases, sounds that I had grown up with were totally different, some extra keys on the keyboard, a cymbal that was being hit repeatedly and not a long hit like it was originally. It's not very often I listen to this album, in the past maybe but not nowadays, that has changed, I can tell you. As an example, cymbals went from being “tussh, tussh, to tiissh, tiissh! Like a right loony, I am hearing voices now, voices I never heard before, they were a sound in the background but now they are backing singers, the clouds have parted.
    The next session, I tried the Sennheiser HD598's, it usually takes me a few minutes to dial into these over-the-ear devices but this time it just didn't work at all, I added the Cayon amplifier but still the “Emotion” was missing, I think I have found that I now prefer in-ear headphones rather than over-the-ear unit's but it is a personal preference, and unless I can find a good set of over-the-ear headphones, I will stick with the IEM's.
     
    The following night I went back to the Kommad's and this time they sounded much better, I like the bass drive of these headphones, the treble is clear and detailed but the bass kicks nicely for me. All that detail that was present with the Delta's was also there with the Kommand's as well, what happened the first time around, I have no idea, maybe it needs a bit of burn in to get running properly? Some different music, Ozric Tentagle this time, again, the detail retrieval was amazing, the drummer with Ozric is something else, that man is rhythmical!
     
    I seem to be jumping about a bit but most of this is how I find things, so please bear with me.
     
    The operation of the M2 is good but not brilliant, this again is a personal thing and I am not slating off this unit but for me I find it a bit difficult! As the unit came, it was strange to use, hard to put my finger on it and I have forgotten what the initial problems were, when I finally got it to update, things did improve but I still find it funny to use. The rotary wheel is a good idea, I find it a bit too small, one problem for me is that when trying to push the centre button, I tend to push the whole wheel and end up going back or changing track. As the wheel is quite small, scrolling up and down can be difficult, I know it is in proportion to the size of the DAP but I personally would have liked it a bit bigger. Another dislike is the default volume setting, it is in 20% increments and 40% is too low while 60% is too high, I prefer it to default to the previous volume setting and glad to see, this is an option on the settings.
    Another niggle is when trying to select artists or tracks, the wheel either goes too far up or too far back, saying that, I had a similar problem with the review sample of the Fiio X3 vii I had, so it may well just be me that is the problem. I am old fashioned, I prefer buttons to press rather than all this touch screen malarkey or scroll wheel selection, that will be the problem!
    Nearly all of my music listening life, I have refrained from using sound enhancements, and I still tend to steer away from it these days but I have given the various EQ settings a try and personally, I don't like any of them, I even tried to use the EQ custom but again I think the standard setting is just fabulous! So my listening is with no EQ changes from the standard.
     
    The battery life may not be to every ones joy, I managed to use it for a week but only in the evenings when I go to bed, this equates to approximately 8 to 9 hours for the very first charge, I have fully charged it now and we will see how long it last this time, I find that new batteries gradually last longer after they have been exercised a few times anyway.
     
    When I had the Fiio X3vii, I compared it to my then current set-up, which was an Ibasso DX 50, the coax output went to a Fiio E17 as the DAC, this then fed from the headphone output into the Minibox-E+, the X3 replaced all three of these units with one that did the same job in one unit! But this M2 has a much better detailed output directly to the headphones without the need for an external DAC! Apart from adding more power, connecting the Cayon C5 amplifier to the line output has made very little difference, it has maybe even coloured the sound ever-so slightly and as long as the M2 can drive the headphones, I wouldn't even bother to make any changes. Unfortunately I have never had the option to try some of the high end DA P's like the Astell and Kern's but if this is what they sound like, I now understand why so many people believe in them and are willing to spend so much money on this sort of sound, it's fab-U-lous! With a headphone connection and a second connector that can be changed from “line out,” to “coax” and a nice neat little plug that you can move from one plug to the other depending on which connection you use, this opens up extra options for this as a transport but so far in my opinion this is a stand alone unit that needs nothing else unless you need to drive some difficult headphones. In my box I have a set of UE TF10's that I have not used in a while as I find them lacking in bass with a soft treble, connect these up to the M2 and bass is well controlled and digs deep, the treble is still slightly rolled off but now these headphones do the business, they are even a match for my favorite Kommands
     
    For me, though it may well be new toy syndrome, I think this device is superb, the extra detail retrieval is way beyond anything the DX50 is capable of, the expression and clarity that comes through gives you goosebumps at times and apart from one or two problems, like a short battery life and the scroll wheel that “I” personally find slightly difficult, this is a cracking unit. I was once told not to waste money on a source, get the best headphones (or speakers), you can afford as most source components sound the same but with this DAP, it has the ability to make some of my El-cheapo headphones sound wonderful!
     
    My biggest gripe, they have just announced that they are building them in Gray and Gold, I want a gold one!!!
    mgunin likes this.
  6. fleasbaby
    4.5/5,
    "The Left Hand Path"
    Pros - Closest I have come to analogue listening with a DAP.
    Cons - Right-centric build.
    A week ago I mailed off the Shanling M2 Tour review unit. As I walked out of the Post Office, I had a few interesting thoughts and observations. I chewed over them for a week. These are them post rumination.
     
    I had the Shanling M2 for about a week. During that time I listened to it extensively, primarily at my office. I did not use it as a DAC. I have a private space with a closing door. I use a variety of headphones (after all, variety is the spice of life…except when you are married…all wives reading this, put away your pitchforks please…). My most commonly used headphones are the HD600, some woodied Grado SR80 pinks, VE’s Zen earbuds and the VE Monk. Every once in a while I’ll whip out some Yamaha YH-1.
     
    I received no financial compensation for this review, conducted it using FLAC 16/44 files and some mp3 files at 320 CBR, and indulged in my usual favorite genres…some EDM along the lines of Flying Lotus, Four Tet and Boards of Canada, some Jazz (Miles Davis, Coltrane, the usual culprits) and some Blues (Muddy Waters, Mance Lipscombe, a few other guys). I think I hauled out some of the oddities I frequently enjoy as well and some more modern stuff…
     
    My primary source is my Pono player most often. Sometimes I’ll haul out my old iPod Touch 1G, or my Sansa Clip+.  My first thought when I first used the M2 was “…warm”. I worried a little about detail levels for a nanosecond, but was quickly placated by the player. Over the next few days I grew to really love it. It had the analogue feel of my Pono player, but none of the harsh edge I sometimes get from that unit.
     
    I love vinyl, its my primary physical medium at home, and I am one of those people who feel the difference when listening to anything else. The Pono and the Shanling have been the best DAPs so far at approximating the vinyl experience. Both feel limitless with regards to detail, both have that immersive “I’m in the studio” feeling, both have finicky interfaces that demand your attention.
     
    The Shanling is a right-handed-centric device. Its scroll wheel is in the upper right corner. If you’re a lefty, you’ll find yourself unable to see the screen while using it because this forces you to cover the screen with your palm in order to reach the scroll wheel with your thumb. Its micro-SD card slot is weirdly deep as well. I had to get a small screw driver to push my card in deep enough to have it seat. This is unnerving, but also a good thing. Once the card is in, its not going to accidentally pop out.
     
    All of this aside, it drove my HD600 on high gain without breaking a sweat. It also ran the VE Zen (version 1…I have a balanced pair of the V2 coming my way and am supremely excited…) with nary a pause for breath. It handled my Grados nicely with no hiss or background noise on low and high gain. In fact, it was a rather good match for their brightness, and suited their tuning towards acoustic and analogue music very well.
     
    I found the Shanling to be a fantastic little player, with a solid UI, extremely pleasing sound signature without any of the muddy compromises this usually demands, its only oddity was that lefty-hating scroll-wheel. Its worth a listen for anyone on the lookout for a quality DAP who just doesn’t feel like jumping on the FiiO bandwagon (and we all have those revolutionary, counter-cultural, “I am going to go this way damn you” streaks in us…we just all choose to express them at different times), or selling a kidney to get a A&K.
    mgunin and golov17 like this.
  7. HiFiChris
    4.0/5,
    "A truly good sounding DAP with an unconventional but very intuitive method of operation - great DAP for dynamic headphones"
    Pros - sound quality, user interface, intuitive operation, build quality, size, good balance between a balanced and analogue sound
    Cons - ~ 7 Ohms output impedance, rather hiss at low listening levels with sensitive IEMs, control dial could be crisper
    Preamble:

    Shanling Audio (http://shanling.com/en/default.html), which isn’t that well known in Europe and America, is a Chinese audio manufacturer which has got a quite high reputation in the Asian area and has specialised in making audio products and already exists since the 90s of the last century.
    Not long ago, the company began to release portable audio products as well, and is now currently offering a portable Bluetooth DAC, named H3, a small portable amplifier (H1), a DAP (M3) and its most recent product, the entry-level DAP, the M2, which retails for a MSRP of $250.
    And so, finally, I am thankful that Shanling Audio agreed to send me a sample of their M2 for a review tour which I am coordinating, with the friendly support of my co-organiser who is registered as “h1f1add1cted” on Head-Fi and as “AG1M” on the German HiFi-Forum, and we are looking forward to some impressions/reviews of the M2 from other German audio enthusiasts, but for now, here is my take on this neat little DAP.


    Technical Specifications:

    Display: 2.35” TFT LCD screen (360x400)
    Format Supported: APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, DSF, DIFF
    Sample rate: 44.1 kHz – 192 kHz
    Output Level: 1.3 Vrms
    DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398
    Low pass filtering: JRC MUSE8920
    DAC: supported up to 192 kHz/32 Bit
    Output: headphones (3.5mm)/combined LO and COAX out (3.5 mm)
    Output power: 125 mW @32 Ohm/13 mW @300 Ohm
    Frequency response: 20 Hz~20 kHz (-0.5 dB)
    THD+N: <0.004%
    SNR: >102dB
    Clock Jitter: 30ps (Typ)
    Referenced clock jitter: 200 femtoseconds
    Battery: 2200 mAH lithium battery


    Delivery Content:

    Besides the actual DAP, Shanling Audio included a brown leather case (which is no standard accessory and can be bought separately), which has got cut-outs for all relevant buttons, the operation elements and all connectors and not only protects the device, but also holds it tightly in place.
     

    IMG_0415.jpg   IMG_0417.jpg
    IMG_0444.jpg   IMG_0445.jpg

     
    The M2 comes in a white outer packaging which has got a large picture of the DAP on its front. Opening its lid, one can pull out the actual black package with the help of a red loop, which contains the DAP and its accessories. After taking off the lid which features a silver Shanling logo, the M2 gets revealed along with its accessories, which are: a quick-start guide, a warranty card, a USB cable for charging, data transfer and use as a USB DAC with a PC, a coaxial cable for connecting the DAP to an external DAC, two screen protectors, a micro SD to USB adapter as well as a velvet carrying pouch.
     

    IMG_0420.jpg   IMG_0422.jpg
    IMG_0423.jpg   IMG_0428.jpg
    IMG_0430.jpg



    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The M2 has got an enclosure which is entirely made of black aluminium and real carbon fibre. The sides are slightly rough, the front is brushed and the rear is made of carbon fibre and has got a silky matte sealing/finish.
     

    IMG_0432.jpg   IMG_0434.jpg
    IMG_0438.jpg   IMG_0440.jpg

     ​
     
    On the bottom, one can find a micro USB port which can be used for charging, file transfer as well as for using the M2 as a USB DAC with a PC. On the lower left side is the micro SD slot, on the upper left is a silver aluminium button for powering on/off and locking/unlocking the screen, as well as a small hole which has got a reset button behind it.
    On the top side are two connectors, of which the left one it the headphone output and the right one acts as combined Line Out/Digital Out jack.
    On the front’s centre is the 2.35” TFT LCD screen located, which has got a resolution of 360x400 pixels – it may appear not much for today’s standards, but the display is surprisingly clean and crisp and has got good colours. In the upper right corner is the M2’s unique core feature, a dial with integrated D-Pad, which intentionally looks like a DSLR’s operationelements. Its D-Pad has got five buttons which are used for playback controls and for going back and forth in the menus. Unfortunately, I have to say that it only visually looks like if it was taken from a DSLR, but doesn’t really feel like one (e.g. like the one on the Canon EOS 60D I once used to own). The turning resistance is quite low and the tactile and audible notches are rather undefined and a bit too weak. The D-Pad however is quite good (although its centre button is a bit hard to press), but it took me a while to figure out that the pressure points of the buttons are located on the outside, just underneath the scroll dial.
     

    IMG_0436.jpg

     ​

    The haptics turn out to be very good and due to the rather compact size (the M2 is a bit shorter and narrower than an iPhone 4), it lies comfortably in my hand and is easy to operate. Build quality is flawless as well.


    Operation, User Interface:

    The impressions of the User Interface were written based on the FW version 1.01. As soon as the M2 is returned to me after the tour, I will add impressions of future FW versions and include them to my reviews.

    Operation and input of the M2 are made with the scroll dial and its D-Pad with five buttons (by the way, the dial as well as all buttons are entirely made of metal). The upper button acts as play/pause button, the left and right ones for skipping and winding tracks and the lower button acts as back/return button. Finally, the centre button acts as selector.
    The scroll dial is used for navigation in the menus and for volume control on the playing screen. Volume control covers 60 steps (+ mute), which is less fine-grained than on other DAPs, but it is said that the upcoming FW is going to add more steps.
    Practically, in the settings, one can select whether the scroll wheel and the D-Pad remain active and usable when the display is turned off or not.
    Control with the scroll dial and the D-Pad is by the way pretty precise and most importantly, intuitive and in my humble opinion a good alternative over the “classical” operation methods, although it would be handy if the scroll speed was automatically increased on long lists when scrolling for a certain time, such as it is the case on the iPod Classic.
     

    IMG_0448.jpg   IMG_0480.jpg


    The main menu consists of five sub-menus, namely the playing screen, a music database (which unfortunately doesn’t sort the files after the “Album Artist” tag), a file browser, the playback settings and last but not least the general system settings. On the left side, the cover art of the currently playing song is being displayed; the status bar on the top contains information like the current menu one is in, the volume level and a percentual as well as graphical battery level indicator.
    In the system and playback settings, there are many options like a wide variety of different languages, three different themes, an option which lets you choose between Line Out and Coaxial Out, the way the M2 is being recognised when it is plugged into a computer (charge only, DAC, file browser) as well as many screen settings and a good equaliser which has got 10 bands with fine adjustment range and many pre-sets. The gain can be chosen as well, just like “folder play”.
     

    IMG_0450.jpg   IMG_0452.jpg
    IMG_0454.jpg   IMG_0456.jpg
    IMG_0458.jpg   IMG_0459.jpg
    IMG_0462.jpg   IMG_0463.jpg
     ​
    IMG_0466.jpg   IMG_0468.jpg
    IMG_0470.jpg   IMG_0472.jpg


    The playing screen displays an album art (if existing) in the centre and shows information like the bitrate, a time line and some track information below. Unfortunately, a track counter is missing.
    A short press of the centre button opens the currently played folder/album; a long press opens quick settings like the playback mode, the ability to add the file to a playlist, the ability to search for the artist or album as well as the ability to delete the current file.
    A short press on the back button switches back into the directly previous menu layer; a long press brings you back to the home screen.
     

    IMG_0473.jpg   IMG_0476.jpg
    IMG_0478.jpg

     ​
    The menu and user interface together with the operation are logically structured, and in my opinion, there is not much that could be improved. Solely a track counter on the playing screen, an increasing scroll speed and a finer-grained volume control would be desirable.

    The Shanling M2 supports gapless playback, which works perfectly with FLAC files. With MP3 files, there is sometimes a short gap between files that blend into each other (e.g. most live recordings).

    By the way, the DAP recognises when the headphones are disconnected and automatically pauses playback.


    Battery Life:

    The battery life was determined by playing FLAC files (16 bit, 44.1 kHz and 24 Bit, 192 kHz) the whole time and turning the screen on every once in a while and navigating in the menus. I used the Superlux HD681 as load at 25 out of 60 volume steps at low gain.

    Shanling Audio states about 9 hours of battery life; I reached about 9 hours and 15 minutes with the above mentioned test environment.


    Sound:

    The sound was evaluated with a wide variety of my in-ears and full-sized headphones . Music was stored as FLAC and MP3 files.

    Frequency Response, Output Impedance:

    With in-ears that have got a flat impedance response, the M2’s output frequency response is commendably flat:

    Shanling_dynamicdriver.jpg
     

    In-ears that have got a varying impedance response (i.e. all multi-driver in-ears) require a source device with a low output impedance, else their frequency response gets altered (depending on the IEM’s impedance response and the source’s output impedance). As it seems, the M2’s output impedance is a bit higher (it should be around 7 Ohms if I don’t have an error in calculation), wherefore it alters the frequency response of multi-driver BA in-ears, and it can be heard.
    With the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 (left) and UERM (right), you can see the effects of the rather high output impedance:

    M2_Triple-Fi10.jpg   Shanling_UERM.jpg
     

    The deviation from an ideal frequency response output is around 4.4 dB with the Triple.Fi 10. This can be bypassed by connecting a low-impedance headphone amplifier, like the Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII in my case, wherefore the M2 also has got dedicated Line Out with fixed level.

    Hiss:

    With very sensitive in-ears like the Shure SE846 or Ostry KC06A, there is some audible ground noise, and it is quite a bit higher than just “quiet” and about on the same level as the HiFiMe 9018d or BlackBerry Q10 (and only a tad quieter than both), and therefore higher than the iPhone 4’s noise floor.
    With less sensitive in-ears like the Sennheiser IE 800 or Etymotic ER-4S, hiss is inaudible (and logically also inaudible with full-sized headphones).

    Resolution, Precision, Soundstage:

    Now to the more subjective part of my review. My opinion and experience regarding the sound signature of source devices and amplifiers goes like this: there is an existing audible difference between various devices, but it shouldn’t be overrated – as the basic character of a headphone won’t be completely changed (if the circuit follows a clean design philosophy), but sometimes rather “shaped” a bit and in many cases is rather subtle.
    Now to my subjective impressions:

    Beforehand, let me say that the M2 has got enough power for in-ears and also for full-sized headphones, but I consider myself as someone who listens to music at rather low levels, so your mileage may vary.

    From what I perceive, I would say that the M2 sounds neutral. Compared to the FiiO X3 (first generation), which I perceive as rather warm and “analogue” sounding and the iBasso DX90 which I perceive as rather analytical and “digital” with some minor treble harshness at times, I would say that the Shanling M2 has got a good balance between an analytic and analogue sound with a tendency to a digital sound character.
    Personally, I perceive the soundstage as quite spacious and about as wide as the DX90’s (which is from my perception wider than average), but with more spatial depth. Layering and separation are excellent as well.
    Regarding lows plus general control and resolution, I find that the M2 is a superb and sonically valuable DAP which has got an arid bass without softness and a very clean instrument separation.

    Line Out, Digital Out, USB-DAC:

    The output level of the Line Out is fixed and from what I perceive, the sound benefits from the use of an external amplifier and can be improved even a bit, which is audible in better dynamics (volume matched but also at lower listening levels).

    The Line Out can be switched to a coaxial output in the system settings, but only works with the included 4-pin cable.

    After installing the drivers (http://www.shanling.com/Source/20151010103853_7311.rar), the M2 can be used as an external USB DAC with a Windows computer. In my case, that worked very fast and well and without any problems. By the way, the volume control on the M2 then still works, which is quite nice, but the volume can also be controlled in the Windows Sound Mixer.
     

    IMG_0542.jpg



    Conclusion:

    The Shanling M2 is an inexpensive DAP that offers a good value. It features an unconventional operation method with the scroll dial that resembles the one of a DSLR on purpose, but it is very intuitive and works very well, although the notches could be better tactile.
    User Interface and menu design are logically constructed and there are many useful settings like Folder Play and an automatic Hold Mode that deactivates the buttons and dial upon locking the screen. The M2 doesn’t support sorting by the “Album Artist” tag, but many other players don’t either, wherefore I backed on a good folder structure some time ago – and folder browsing is very well supported by this DAP, although I’d like to see an increase of the scroll speed in longer lists.
    Regarding the looks and haptics, there is nothing I could criticise about the Shanling M2, as build quality is flawless and every part of the enclosure (the buttons and scroll dial as well) are made of metal and the back is made of carbon fibre.
    Sonically, Shanling Audio’s entry-level DAP is sublime and on a high level, with a very well made and spacious soundstage and proper control and resolution as well as a nice balance between an analogue and digital signature with a tendency to the digital side – but there are two drawbacks: the output impedance is not the best match for an unaltered frequency response of multi-driver in-ears and the hiss is a bit high with very sensitive IEMs than I’d like to. For sensitive multi-driver in-ears, the use of a hiss-free low-impedance external amplifier is recommended.

    All in all, I personally find the M2 very good, but not as independent stand-alone DAP for sensitive multi-driver in-ears, wherefore I give it 3.75 out of 5 stars or 75% (-0.5 stars for the hiss, -0.5 for the output impedance and -0.25 for small things like the lack of a track counter on the playing screen, the sorting by the “Tack Artist” tag in the database and the slightly undefined scroll-wheel).

    On the contrary, with in-ears that have got a flat impedance response as well as with full-sized headphones or in combination with a low-impedance and hiss-free headphone amplifier, I can fully recommend the M2 without many restrictions.
  8. nmatheis
    4.5/5,
    "Shanling M2: The Smooth Operator"
    Pros - Smooth sound. Good build and aesthetics. Surprisingly effective user interface. Small.
    Cons - Soundstage could be wider. Can't adjust volume in menus. Center button could be larger. Controls could be more leftie-friendly. High output impedance.
    IMG_0191.jpg
     
    Photo courtesy of Shanling
     
    INTRODUCTION

    Shanling is a relative newcomer to the portable audio market. Prior to the M2, they only recently released the H1 and H3 portable amps and the M3 DAP. I've had the pleasure of reviewing the H3 (LINK) and M3 (LINK) and enjoyed both of them. The M3 quickly became a favorite despite some quirks discussed in my review. After the reviews, I sent the H3 and M3 out on tour in the Head-Fi community, letting others get a taste of these hidden gems. Skip forward a few months, and Shanling announced the new M2 DAP. From the teaser campaign, it looked like Shanling was learning quickly. Not only were they engaging the Head-Fi community with a slow but steady trickle of beautiful pictures and specifications, the DAP itself looked like a highly evolved little brother to the M3. I was intrigued and reached out to Shanling to see if I could secure an M2 for review and tour in the US & Canada. They went above and beyond my expectations and provided an M2 for me to review and tour in the US and an M2 for @hakushondaimao to review and tour in Canada. I've been using the M2 as my daily driver DAP for awhile now, so it's time for me to let you know what I think of it before sending it on its way to Head-Fi'ers across the US.
     
    Before we start, here's a bit of information about Shanling from the About Us section on their recently revamped website:
     
    About Shanling
     
    Shenzhen Shanling Digital Technology Development Co., Ltd. is a joint-venture high-tech enterprise specializing in research and development, manufacture, marketing and sales of audio products.
     
    Began as a developer of audio products in 1988,Shanling produced its 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.
     
    In 2002  joint-venture enterprise Shenzhen Shanling Digital Technology Development Co., Ltd. was established,.Importing advanced electronic measuring instruments and high level metal ware processing equipment, Shanling was then able to started comprehensive cooperation with both domestic and foreign audio manufacturers and suppliers.
     
    The year 2004 witnessed the founding of a new Shanling factory at No. 10 Chiwan 1st Road, Shekou, Shenzhen. 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. 
     
    I usually point readers to reviews that caught my attention, but I can't find any for the M2. It's very new, so I guess this isn't surprising. So it looks like I'll be the trailblazer for English language reviews for the M2. I hope I do it justice!
     
    LINK to Shanling's website.
    LINK to the dedicated Shanling M2 thread.
     
     
    DISCLAIMER

    I was provided the M2 as a review sample as part of a US tour I'm coordinating. There is no financial incentive from Shanling in writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with Shanling, and this is my honest opinion of the M2.  I would like to thank @Shanling for helping me give several Head-Fi community members a chance to test drive the M2!
     
     
    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  From electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush), I listen to a wide variety of genres and artists. 
     
    My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. 
     
    I typically listen with IEMs from my ever-growing collection from budget to mid-fi. Less often, I grab a pair of full-size cans.  Recently, I've been listening a lot with my AKG K553 and HiFiMan HE400, as well as the Alpha & Delta AD01 and RHA T20 IEM I had in for testing.  I do have a lot of other gear, though.  You can always check my profile for a reasonably up to date gear list. 
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which often affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear. I just wanted to be transparent up front. 
     
     
    SPECIFICATIONS

    1. Supported Formats: APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, DSF, DIFF
    2. Supported Sample Rates: up to 192kHz / 32-bit
    3. Output Level: 1.3Vrms
    4. D/A converter: Cirrus Logic CS4398
    5. Low pass filtering: JRC MUSE8920
    6. Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz (+/- 0.5dB)
    7. THD+N: 102dB
    8. Clock Jitter: 30ps (Typ)
    9. Referenced Clock Jitter: 200 femtoseconds
    10. Output: 3.5mm HO + combined 3.5mm COAX / LO
    11. Output Power: 125mW @ 32 ohm / 13mW @ 300 ohm
    12. Output Impedance: 12 ohm
    13. Display: 360x400 2.35" TFT LCD
    14. Battery: 2200mAH lithium battery
    15. Memory: micro SD (Maximum 128G)
    16. USB: USB Micro-B
    17. Dimension: 11 x 5.3 x 1.4 cm
    18. System Supported: Windows XP, Windows 7, 8 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 or greater 
    19. MSRP: $250
     
     
    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES

    The packaging is pretty self-explanatory, so I'll just cover it in pictorial format below.
     
    Front
    ShanlingM2-12.jpg
     
     
    Rear
    ShanlingM2-11.jpg
     
     
    Inner box
    ShanlingM2-10.jpg
     
     
    M2
    ShanlingM2-9.jpg
     
     
    Literature (with English translation) + Accessories (USB cable, COAX cable, mSD card reader)
    ShanlingM2-3.jpg
     
     
    Storage pouch with M2 inside (not going to protect M2 from getting crushed, but it's better than nothing)
    ShanlingM2-2.jpg
     
     
    It would be nice if Shanling provided a silicon case, but alas they don't. If you're interested in a case for your new M2, they do sell an aftermarket case as shown below.
     
    Case.jpg
     
     
    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    The Shanling M3 is known for its unique command wheel, which some felt made it look like a giant Zippo lighter. One Head-Fi'er I introduced the M3 to remarked that it was "one manly piece of audio gear". The M2 takes that design and refines it. I'll go over that in the pictures below, but first here's a picture courtesy of Shanling that shows the M3 and M2 side by side so you can get a basic idea of how they compare.
    ShanlingM2M3-1.jpg
     
    Photo courtesy of Shanling
     
     
    Front
    ShanlingM2-8.jpg
     
    Here we can see several features of the M2's physical user interface. Centered along the bottom edge is the micro USB port for charging and data transfer to mSD cards or as a DAC. Along the left side, there's the sole micro SD slot near the bottom and the silver power/screen on/off button along the top. Along the top edge (but not pictured here) are the HO and shared COAX + LO jacks. On the front face, we see the display and the controls. The display is fairly centered, which is unusual. DAPs usually have the display at the top. While this seems odd, there's a good reason for it. Holding the M2 in my right hand, my thumb is positioned right at command central and my middle finger is positioned at the power button. This allows me to quickly and easily use any of the controls without blocking the display. It might not look like it, but trust me it works and it works surprisingly well. If you're left-handed, it's not quite as easy but it's not bad. You have a couple options, the first is to reach your left thumb across the top bezel to the command dial. This does block the upper left corner of the screen a bit, but most of the screen is still visible. Your other option is to use it two-handed, holding it in your left hand while using your right thumb on the command dial. I'll go over the command dial in more detail below.
     
     
    Command dial
    ShanlingM2-6.jpg
     
    There's the little guy in all his glory. The scroll wheel and central button are metal with a plastic ring between. 
    1. The scroll wheel serves two purposes. 
      1. On the Now Playing screen and while the display is off, it's used for volume adjustment. 
      2. While in the menus and music collection, it's used for scrolling through lists. 
      3. I found scrolling to be most responsive when I maintained a bit of pressure on the outer edge of the wheel, which is what you'd naturally be doing with one-handed operation. 
    2. The scroll wheel also functions as a 4-way D-pad with obvious and intuitive icons. 
      1. Click the top for Play/Pause. 
      2. Click left to skip back or hold down to scroll back through a song. 
      3. Click right to skip forward or hold down to scroll forward through a song. 
        1. Unlike some other DAPs, these functions work while you're in the menu structure. So no matter where you're at in the M2's GUI, you can Play/Pause or Skip through songs. 
      4. Click the bottom to go back a level or hold down to return to the Main Menu. 
        1. Clicking while in the Now Playing screen will back you through your folder hierarchy. 
        2. Holding while in the Now Playing screen will return you to the top of the Main Menu.
        3. Holding while in the Main Menu will take you to the Now Playing choice at the top of the Main Menu.
        4. Clicking in the sub-menus will take you back to the Main Menu.
      5. Clicking the center button is like hitting enter/return.
        1. Click while navigating through your music collection to select the next level in the hierarchy.
        2. Click while in the Main Menu to enter the sub-menus.
        3. Click while in the sub-menus to toggle settings.
        4. Click while on the Now Playing screen to display the current song list.
        5. Hold while in the Now Playing screen to activate the Quick Menu to set play mode, add the current song to your playlist, jump to artist or album lists, or delete the current song. 
     
    Ok, that's a lot of power packed into a tiny space, all controllable with one of your thumbs. Shanling uses the analogy of a DSLR command dial, and I think it's a pretty good one. The M2's command dial allows you to do just about everything you need to do in one centralized location. I love it.  It clearly draws inspiration from the M3's command dial but takes it to a higher level of functionality and ease of use.  After using the M2 for a couple days, it was hard to transition to other DAPs with what now felt like sprawling, decentralized controls.
     
     
    Rear
    ShanlingM2-7.jpg
     
    Yes, that's a genuine carbon fiber back plate. It helps keep the weight down while maintaining strength. Full transparency, there is minor flex when I push hard with my thumbs but that isn't something you're going to do, right? At least I hope not!
     
     
    Here are some comparison pic with my other DAPs to give you a good idea of relative height, thickness, and width.
     
    L-R: Shanling M3, Fiio X5, Cayin N5, iBasso DX90, Shanling M2, Fiio X3
    DAPlineup-1.jpg
    DAPlineup-2.jpg
     
     
    Here it is in my (relatively small) hands. By the way, the screen is plenty bright enough to operate outdoors on sunny days.
    image.jpg
     
    TO SUM UP
    The M2's design pushes a lot of the right buttons for what I want from a DAP's hardware user interface. The controls are centralized, allowing for easy one-handed operation. The beveled edges on either side of the display allow for a comfortable grip. It feels solid, with the only flex coming if I pressed pretty hard in the center of the carbon fiber back panel. The display is crisp and bright enough for my nearly 44 year-old eyes to use, even in direct sunlight. The text might be a bit small for some of you older Head-Fi'ers, though. And like most of the DAPs I've used, you can't adjust font size, so if you have problems reading smaller font sizes, this might not be the DAP for you. Likewise, I found it to be a great user experience as a right-handed person. For you lefties, it won't be quite as optimal, but then again I expect you're used to most user interfaces being right-hander centric and have learned to adapt. Icing on the cake is the small, pocketable size and light weight.
     
    I do have a few nitpicks that, if solved, would make the M2 more ideal for my use case. The first would be adding an additional card slot. I prefer to keep my music collection in FLAC format, but with affordable 256Gb cards on the horizon, this shouldn't be an issue for me for long. The other is that I wished the central command dial button was just a bit larger in diameter. While I didn't have many mispresses with the M2, when I did it was most often due to my finger slipping off the center button and clicking on one of the D-pad's options. Okay, if I'm being honest, I wish the scroll wheel responded a bit better when a lighter touch was used. However, in comparison to the scroll wheels I've used on other DAPs, it pretty darn good. Perhaps a firmware update can fine-tune sensitivity as FiiO's last update for the X5 Classic did. Final nitpick is that I wish Shanling (and every other DAP manufacturer) would pre-install screen protectors on their DAPs. FiiO's been doing this for awhile, and I can tell you it buys a lot of goodwill from customers. Just do it @Shanling!
     
     
    GUI / FIRMWARE

    I'm a firm believer that user interface can make or break your experience with any piece of technology. Like its big brother the Shanling M3, the M2 makes a pretty radical departure from the physical interface most of us are used. I hope I convinced you in the section above that the M2's hardware user interface works well. I'm certainly sold on it. But having the best hardware user interface in the world won't help if the graphic user interface (GUI) isn't any good. Well, I'm glad to report that I also found the M2's GUI a very pleasant experience. If you're familiar with the GUI on DAPs from Cayin and FiiO, you're going to feel right at home. They all share a common firmware base, so there's a lot of overlap, and I do mean a lot! I'll walk you through the GUI in pictorial format below.
     
     
    Main Menu + Themes
    ShanlingM2Themes.jpg
     
    So we've got all the usual players in the Main Menu: Playing, my music, File Browser, Play setting, and System setting. Again, if you're familiar with Cayin and FiiO DAPs, these will look very familiar. Slightly different terminology, but you get the picture. You also notice that there are some odd capitalization and pluralization choices. This is a common theme throughout the GUI, and @hakushondaimao and I have already submitted a list of corrected terminology that should make its way into the next firmware release which should come out within a couple weeks of this review. Three cheers for Shanling for working with users to make their experience better!!!
     
    To get back on track... From this screen, you simply scroll through menu choices and click the center button to enter your selection. Once you're in any of the menus, just click return to go back up a level or hold it down to get all the way back to the Main Menu. Easy peasy!
     
     
    My Music + File Browsing
    ShanlingM2MusicFileBrowsing.jpg
     
    Here are some examples of the My Music and File Browsing sections. It's all pretty straightforward stuff. Genres are handled correctly as far as I can tell, with no weird Genres like "24" like I find on my FiiO DAPs. There are My Favorites and Playlist options. My Favorites only allows a single list, whereas you can maintain more than one playlist. I'm not a playlist guy, so my explanation of playlist functionality ends there, dear readers. I typically use File Browsing and have everything well-organized on my daily driver cards. The card pictured here is for testing, which is why it's organized by resolution. Again, you simply scroll through the lists and use the center button to make your selection. Be forewarned, like many of the other DAPs, including those from Cayin and FiiO, if you have a lot of music and want to use Tag-based browsing in My Music, you're in for a lot of scrolling! And I mean a lot of scrolling!!! As with most of these non-iDevice DAPs, file browsing with a highly-organized folder structure is your friend!!!
     
    I typically use the following format, although others have their own favorites: A-C -> Artist -> Year Album -> ## Track. This way, top-level folders break artists down into separate folders like A-C, D-F, etc. This makes it so you don't have to scroll too much to get to any of your artists. Artists are in alphabetical order inside the top-level folders. Albums are ordered by year of release. Songs are ordered by track number. It works very, very well for me, but I'm an album guy so your needs may differ from mine.
     
    If you do choose the Tag-based browsing path, also be forewarned that like the other DAPs the M2's Genres just contain massive song lists with no organization. This is meant primarily for shuffle play and isn't an effective way to browse Artists & Albums by Genre like you would with an iDevice.
     
     
    Play Settings + EQ
    ShanlingM2PlaySettingsEQ.jpg
     
    Again, no surprises here. Basically the same choices you get with other DAPs. I'd like to point out that the Gapless setting works flawlessly (and I do mean flawlessly) with FLAC files. With the same files transcoded to LAME MP3 v0 files, I sometimes heard the briefest tick between tracks. It wasn't between every track, but it was consistently the same tracks every time with the briefest of ticks. Same thing with 256kbps constrained vbr AAC files, although the tick was slightly longer than with the MP3 versions. By brief ticks, I don't mean that there is a gap per se. I just mean I notice that something is out of sorts at the song to song junction. It's not that bothersome, and I notice the same thing on the Cayin and FiiO DAPs I've tried. So it's not like it's a Shanling issue, it's more of a common issue across these DAPs.
     
    You get several 10-band EQ choices, and each of them are customizable like DAPs from FiiO. Also like DAPs from FiiO, you get a pre-gain volume cut when activating the EQ so be prepared to crank the volume up a bit when you activate the EQ. Unlike the M3, there are no hardware tone controls with the M2. As of right now, I don't see any option to reset the EQ presets once you've customized them. I'd suggest @Shanling implement that if it's not just an option I somehow overlooked.
     
     
     
    System Settings
    ShanlingM2SystemSettings.jpg

    All the usual suspects are here, and again remember any odd terminology, capitalization, etc. should be fixed in the next firmware release. 
     
     
    Now Playing
    ShanlingM2Playing.jpg

    Okay, here's something new. The Main Menu has a nice bit of album art displayed over on the left, and when you pause the music the album art grays out a bit and the play icon is displayed onscreen. That's pretty cool and a better use of that space than some odd wheel or gear graphic, in my opinion. The same basic thing happens in the actual Now Playing screen, as shown at the bottom.
     
     
     
    Quick Menu + Volume
    ShanlingM2QuickMenuVolume.jpg

    Whew, we made it. These are the last GUI pics! Holding down the center button while in the Now Playing screen pops up a Quick Menu at the bottom of the screen. Here you can change Play Mode, jump back to Artist or Album categories, add the current track to a Playlist, and Delete the current track. So many choices!
     
    A limitation of the M2 is that since the scroll wheel is used for navigating through lists, volume can only be changed in the Now Playing screen. @Shanling, volume buttons alongside the Power button would be valuable for users, allowing volume control at any time! Just like the other DAPs, when the volume is being changed an overlay pops up. On the M2, it blurs out the background, which looks attractive and makes the volume adjustments easy to see. Once you settle on a volume setting, the overlay disappears in a second or two.
     
     
    TO SUM UP
    So that's it. You're now a Shanling M2 ninja! If you're anything like me, it's a very intuitive GUI and doesn't take long to learn. I felt the same way with the M3. Both clicked pretty quickly with me. That said, I know it won't be for everyone, and this is such an integral part of the user experience that I wanted to make sure I covered HW & FW UI pretty thoroughly. Hopefully I explained things well enough for you. If not, the M2 will be going on tour in the US & Canada, so there will be others who might be able to explain things better than me. Don't hesitate to ask questions in the M2 thread I started if you have any questions!
     
     

    BATTERY LIFE

    I got ~8.5 hours at volume 20 hi-res 24/192 FLAC files and ~9 hours with 16/44 lossy + lossless files. There was minimal interaction with the M2 during these tests.
     
     

    DAC

    This isn't a feature I see myself using, as I typically just buy large capacity cards and listen straight out of my DAPs.  I gave it a spin for the review and found it to work flawlessly with my MacBook Pro running El Capitan, easily connecting to my Mac for use as a DAC at up to 192/24 resolution.  Easy-peasy!
     
     
     

    SOUND

    During my time with the M2, I used for my TITAN SHOOTOUT, comparing the DUNU TITAN 3 (LINK to review), TITAN 5 (LINK to review), and FiiO EX1 (LINK to review). After that wrapped-up, I started using the highly-tuneable and highly-awesome FLC 8S (review coming soon for these bad boys!). I also gave them some time with my HiFiMan HE400. IEM were on Low Gain, HE400 on High Gain. I listened to a wide variety of music in mostly AAC and FLAC formats. At the end of my time with the M2, I gave it a listen versus some of the other DAPs I had on hand and have some brief listening notes below. This listening was volume matched, and the same songs were queued up on all the DAPs which were connected to my switcher.
     
    Before I start, I want to say that I find the differences between these DAPs pretty subtle. They're there, but as @Brooko would be quick to point out, you need to volume match to make sure you're not just hearing volume-related differences. And using a switcher to A/B the sources while they're playing the same song in parallel helps immensely. One thing that struck me was that the Shanling DAPs stuck out as being different than the others. I'll try my best to elaborate below. If this doesn't adequately describe things for you, rest assured that @hakushondaimao will be reviewing the M2 soon, and he is great at describing sound. Okay, on with the show!
     
    When the M2 arrived, I started using it as my sole DAP to become acclimated. I clicked with the sound pretty quickly, finding it to share a similar sound with... You guessed it, the Shanling M3. They both sound quite neutral and have a more laid-back "audience perspective" presentation than other DAPs I've used. Between the two, the M3 sounds fuller with a smoother upper end not lacking in detail, whereas the M2 sounds a bit brighter, making it sound a bit more open and airy. Out of those two, if my headphone of choice was a little on the bright side, the obvious choice for synergy would be the M3. If my headphones were a little in the dark side, the M2 would be my choice. Another factor to consider between these two is that the M3 is more powerful, so you'll have more fine-grained control over volume with the M2. This is important for me. Both have 60 volume steps, which I find limiting with IEM. Shanling has communicated in the M2 and M3 threads that volume control will switch to 120 steps during the next firmware releases for M2 & M3. Nice!
     
    VS FiiO X3: The X3 sounds like it has a bit of a mid-bass bump that makes it a bit punchier, the X3’s upper mids veer off into sibilant territory faster, and the X3's treble sounds splashier. Overall, the M2 sounds tighter and more controlled with a deeper but less wide soundstage.

    VS Cayin N5: The N5 sounds warmer and fuller. To me, the N5 sounds like Cayin's C5 and N6 had a love child. It sounds good but more colored than the M2. The N5's sound is more of an "I'm in the band" presentation, more engaging. M2's sound is more an "in the audience" presentation, which is more relaxing.

    VS FiiO X5 Classic: Similar to the N5 but a bit darker and more closed in. X5 Classic makes the M2 sound a bit on the bright side, more open and airy.
     
    VS iBasso DX90: Again, similar to N5 but with more low end control and a bit of upper end glare to contend with. Emphasizes the M2's relaxed nature.
     
     
    DRIVING POWER
    Just for reference, here are the volume settings I used when volume matched at ~80dB with a 1kHz test tone.
    1. Cayin N5 - 14/100
    2. FiiO X3 - 28/120
    3. FiiO X5 - 28/120
    4. iBasso DX90 - 164/255
    5. Shanling M2 - 14/60
    6. Shanling M3 - 10/60
     
     

    SUMMARY

    I found a lot to like in the Shanling M2. Words like attractive, small, light, solid, ergonomic, intuitive, neutral, and relaxed come to mind when describing my experience using it. It's nice when a manufacturer puts out a product that I feel really takes that next step. The FiiO X5 was one of those products. It took FiiO in a new direction with their DAPs, and it worked well. All of FiiO's non-touchscreen DAPs share that common lineage. The Shanling M2 has that kind of feel to it. The hardware and software feel more mature than the M3, yet it retains a similar sound to the M3's, which I found so appealing. This feels like just the DAP Shanling needed to release at this point in time. Sure, there are things that could be improved, but for me the M2 strikes just the right balance between hardware, software, and sonic user experience, making it a very competitive DAP at its price point.
     
    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if there's something I didn't address, shoot me a PM or bring it up in the M2 thread. 
     
    And finally, a big thanks to @Shanling for providing a review / tour M2 for the Head-Fi community, and be on the lookout for more M2 reviews coming soon!

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