Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Organic sound; superb haptic and build; great value.
Cons: Upper-midrange glare.

I don't want to double up on packaging and physicals, and focus on sound.
You find the rest at

Equipment used: Macbook Air/iPhone SE first generation; Sennheiser HD 600 & HD 25; Sennheiser IE 400 PRO, JVC HA-FDX1, TRI I3 Pro.

The Shanling UA1 features the ESS ES9218P (dac + amp), a “System-on-Chip” (SoC) that leaves the audio engineer little room for tweaking, it comes down to mainly filtering. This means devices with this SoC will actually sound alike or very close.

The UA1 is close to neutral, but has a faint tone colour with a slightly boosted bass, but also with an elevated upper midrange/lower treble, which adds some grain to the top end top-end that can be fatiguing to some in the long run – and that’s the UA1’s only downside. There is a companion app for Android phones that allows filtering which may mitigate the issue, but it does not work with a computer or iPhone.

Presentation is leaner compared to a $100+ dongle, but not in a bad way. Staging is fine. Midrange is clear and clean, and resolution is pretty good. Nothing sterile or analytical. I also did not record any hiss.

It drives my 300 ohm Sennheiser HD 600 with some pain but any iems, including the power-hungry planar-magnetic TRI I3 Pro earphones with ease.

The $99 Helm Bolt and Shanling UA1have a very similar general sound signature (and even a very similar build; the Bolt decodes MQA, the Shanling does not). The Bolt has less bass, which is a tad tighter and cleaner, it sounds more open and the vocals are more up front because of it, and it is a bit more dynamic. The UA1 has more low-end rumble whereas the Bolt is more composed and “sweeter” at the top end. These differences are not earth shattering but the Bolt appears o be better balanced by more sophisticated filtering.

When going up the ladder, the $85 Shanling UA2 has a richer, bassier sound, better staging, better 3D rendering, more punch, and the corners are smoother.

At $45, the Shanling UA1 is an impressive performer with a warm-bright, organic signature, good staging, dynamics, and resolution that does justice even to $200-300 iems (I have not tested any higher-priced ones as I don’t have any). The only polarizing feature may be its hot upper midrange/lower treble glare, other than that it plays one league higher than its price and comes close to the $99 Helm Bolt that shows a few better rounded corners. However, the Shanling’s lively top end will bring some life to iems with an early treble rolloff.

I am a particular fan of the great haptic and build of Shanling’s UA1 (and also the UA2) that compare even to the most expensive models.


The Shanling UA1 was included with the UA2 and ME80 in a review package from the manufacturer. I thank them for that. I sent the UA1 to Biodegraded for a second opinion.

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Shanling UA1 Dongle DAC - Rhombus Sounds
Pros: + Clarity
+ Detail
+ DSD decoding abilities
+ Fairly fun to use
+ Good price
Cons: - Non detachable cable that can peel
- Not that much power for driving harder headphones and difficult IEMs
- Inline remote does not work for IEMs
- Is better than most competition at the exact price, but if you invest a bit more, there's more to be found
Shanling UA1 Dongle DAC - Rhombus Sounds


We're having a look at Shanling UA1, a dongle USB DAC priced at 45 USD, making it one of the most affordable DAC/AMPs, so today's mini review will focus on the sound of UA1, as within this price point there are far too few competitors capable of the same feats as UA1.


Shanling is a large company from China, and while their experience with high-end desktop systems is undeniable, they want to offer some of that to us entry-level, budget product lovers. You can expect great service from them, but if you purchase their products from Amazon, and other websites that offer direct warranty, you're better covered, as for entry-level products, sometimes you'll end up thinking that it would have been cheaper to get a new product than ship a defective one back to China, where they are produced.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Shanling. I'd like to thank Shanling for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with Shanling UA1. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Shanling UA1 find their next music companion.


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:



The package for Ua1 is rather simple; it comes with the DAC/AMp and a Type-A to Type-C adapter too.

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Functionality

We're having a look at one of those DAC/AMP units with a tail, where the Type-C cable is connected to the main DAC/AMP, so happy thoughts and feelings for all of us who want it to be tailed. The advantage of those, versus those like those made by ddHifi is that they place slightly less strain on the Type-C connector of your smartphone. The disadvantage is that the Type-C cable is generally the first thing to break, rendering the entire unit useless. If you abuse them, every type of Type-C DAC will eventually break though, so as long as you use them carefully all will survive equally well.


Ua1 is a low power, low cost option from Shanling, and it features 80mW of power at 32 OHMs, being one of the highest power portable DAC/AMps you can get for such a low cost, but the Channel separation is about 77dB at 32 OHMs. We have a low output impedance of 0.5 OHMs, so Ua1 is well suited for usage with low impedance IEMs, and won't induce hissing or noise to them. The extremely low weighty of 8.3 grams makes Ua1 one of the smallest tail-style DAC/AMPs you can find out there.

The thing with today's review is whether getting Ua1 will improve the quality of your listening experience compared to the default DAC/AMP that comes with your smartphone, or using your smartphone's Audio Jack. Since it uses an ESS ES9218P as a DAC, we can expect good things, this DAC being used in some pricey configurations too. We have support for hi-res, including 384kHz, and DSD256. The cable is shielded as well, so Ua1 is fit for more serious listeners on a budget too.

Inline controls of IEMs and remotes do not work with Ua1, and it can get rather warm during usage, eating a bit more power from a smartphone than most DAC/AMPs. Even though I call it low power, the driving ability is better than most DAC/AMPs in this price range.

Sound Quality

For the sound quality part of today's review, I have experimented with IEMs mostly, like Tin Audio T5, Campfire Holocene, Master & Dynamic ME05, Queen Of Audio Adonis, and even Moondrop Illumination. Generally, Ua1 is able to drive all of them very well, with minimal noise, and minimal trouble, and it works alright even for easier to handle headphones too, like Valco VMK20. The general signature can be described as wide, slightly forward in the mids, but with open highs, zero roll-off, and a slightly thinner, yet clean bass.


The bass would be the least interesting part of Ua1's sound, as it is slightly lower in power and output than Ua2, and iBasso DC01. On songs like Panic! At The Disco - Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time, the bass guitars are not very present, but the voices are slightly forward, while the cymbals are airy and bright. The soundstage is wide, and the entire sound is generally clean and open.

The midrange of Ua1 is clearly its central element, and while I can't call it bright, it has a thinner presentation thanks to its lower bass quantity. Instrument separation is fair. There's a slightly sweet resonance to all instruments, and even on songs like Gorillaz - Rhinestone Eyes, the voices are slightly pushed forward, while instruments are placed behind, and on a wider plane.

The treble of UA1 is surprisingly not rolled off, which I enjoy, and it is able to render some cymbal crashes where they're called for. UA1 is also able to play well with technical music, like technical death metal, but its general speed is medium, with a good amount of detail for the 45 USD paid.

Value and Conclusion

Priced at 45 USD, Shanling Ua1 is great value, and I urge you to find something that's better in raw value, or something that can deliver a better overall clarity and detail for the same price right now. Because I want to know what can be better to recommend to all my friends reading audiophile-heaven. As things stand, and based on my experience, Shanling Ua1 is a safe option if the 80mW of power is enough for you, and if you mainly use IEMs.


The overall sound will be better when using Shanling UA1 rather than using your smartphone, or the default Type-C adapter dongle that came with it. This includes the Huawei basic Type-C USB DACs that have a smoother, but rolled off sound that's thicker but with less resolution than Shanling UA1. Most dongles in this price range will have even lower power output than Ua1, and worse support for hi-resolution files.


At the end of the day, if you're looking for a high quality dongle, with a clean, well extended sound, and with good overall ergonomics, an ESS chip, and 80mW of power, Shanling Ua1 is recommended at its 45 USD price point.


500+ Head-Fier
Shanling's UA1 and UA2 write-up — Smol & gooood
Pros: UA2:

Small and slim form factor
Removable cable
Balanced 2.5mm output
Build quality
DSD512 and 32bit/768kHz decoding capability
Compatibility (Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, portable consoles like the Nintendo Switch)


Small form factor
Build quality
Recessed USB-C port which allows for a flush insertion of a USB-C cable
Cons: UA2:

Both the adaptor and the UA2 do not feature a recessed USB-C port, which leads to a rather unpleasant looking connection where the USB-C connectors stick out.
RFI/EMI noise present when directly on the phone

Non-removable cable
Depending on what format of music you listen to, the DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz decoding capability of the UA1 can be seen as a limitation.
No iOS support

High operating temperatures
Though many stopped caring about MQA, it is worth noting that neither of these devices have support for MQA. I know that this is a pro for the majority because they do not want to support the company (MQA).
No support for the use of in-line controls

iBasso SR2 paired with the UA2

While most known for it’s portable audio line-up (DAPs, IEMs, DACs, Amps), Shanling is also a manufacturer of serious pieces of audio gear (desktop DACs, full-sized Amps, CD Players, and also a number of tube audio equipment). Also, many might get tricked into thinking that Shanling is a recently founded company, when in reality it was founded all the way back in 1988.

The UA line-up, consisting of the UA1 and the UA2, was announced in late 2020 and released around the same time. In this article I will be discussing both products and comparing them, addressing their differences and similarities.

Unboxing Experience








Both devices share very similar packaging. In fact, the dimensions are the exact same. The visible difference is in the design, or to be more exact, the visual illustrations that are present on the front of the packaging. I must say that the unboxing experience was fairly pleasing and perhaps rewarding. This is mainly because of the flap system and the neatly thought out packaging. The flap system is similar to a wedding ring box or to the famous Pulp Fiction mystery briefcase (crazy reference, but I just cannot forget the fabulous nature of the briefcase when it was opened in the movie).

Once you open the flap, you will be met with hard foam that houses the UA1/UA2 and the USB-C to USB-A adaptor(s). Below the foam, you will find the Quick Start Guide and a Warranty Card. Unlike the UA1, which features a fixed cable, the UA2 has a USB-C to USB-C cable included in the packaging. I also received a USB-C to Lightning cable in a separate metal case.

Overall, a very satisfying experience for a package that only houses a portable AMP/DAC and an adaptor.



While the UA2 is the bigger brother in size, it features a more minimalist design. Unlike the UA1, the body is stadium shaped — the shape and the form factor heavily resembles a slim Bic lighter.

Speaking of the body, both the UA1 and the UA2 share a similar visual design. Both devices feature the company’s logo, device name, bit depth/sample rate/DSD decoding capability, and a Hi-Res logo. However, there are some subtle difference in the arrangement of how these are printed and featured.

The UA1 features the company’s logo centered on the upper part, while on the bottom part the device name (UA1), bit depth/sample rate/DSD decoding capability are left-aligned and printed with the same technique and color as the logo. Also on the bottom part is the Hi-Res logo which is also printed in the same white color as the rest of the visual illustrations.

On the other hand, the UA2 looks cleaner due to its flat surface. On the left side is the print of the company’s logo, in the middle is print of the device name and the bit depth/sample rate/DSD decoding capability. Instead of a print, the UA2 features the famous gold metallic Hi-Res sticker.

And that about sums it up when it comes to visual differences. Obviously, the UA2 has the Balanced 2.5mm output on the front, next to the SE 3.5mm output. Another difference is that the UA2 has a dedicated "Mode" button which specifically allows it to be used on the Nintendo Switch.

There are three main technical differences that make the UA2 superior:
1. 2.5mm balanced output
2. Removable cable
3. Support for portable consoles like the Nintendo Switch

Build Quality

There is not much to say about the build quality except that both the UA1 and the UA2 are made of high-quality aluminum. The build quality is superb and I wouldn’t be concerned to carry either of the devices in my pocket.

The UA1 has a built-in cable, but it matches the cable quality of the separate cable that is included with the UA2. Both the UA1 and the UA2 feature a thick strain relief on either sides of the cable. It is also worth of mentioning that the housings on the cable and the adaptors are made of the same aluminum as their bodies.

Another visual difference is that UA2’s included cable & the USB-A adaptor feature the company logo on the aluminum housing. UA2’s adaptor also has a rounded design of the USB-A adaptor, unlike the rectangular design of UA1’s adaptor.

All in all, the build quality is more than pleasing at either of these price points.


SIVGA P-II paired with the UA1 (connected to Samsung S8)


Before I jump into the sound performance, I want to cover some details regarding the user experience you get from either of these devices. I mainly used both of these on through USB-A adaptor > MacBook Pro (Early 2015). Neither the UA1 nor the UA2 required any drivers. It was a plug & play experience. However, the UA2 is superior to the UA1 because it is immediately recognized by the system, whereas the UA1 requires you to plug in an audio device in its 3.5mm output in order for it to be recognized. If you plan to own only one of these, then it is not a big deal. However, as a reviewer, it is something that got in my way, especially when it came to A/B tests.

Unplugging my headphones from the UA1 and plugging them into the UA2 resulted in no latency. When I switched to the UA2 the audio playback was immediate. However, when doing the opposite, I had to wait for ~4 seconds until the audio playback started playing. This goes back to the fact that UA2 is immediately recognized by the system, while the UA1 probably has the latency because of the time it takes the system to load it up as an output device.

A possible turn-off for some people is that both the UA1 and the UA2 get quite hot, around 40˚C - 55˚C (104˚F - 131˚F). I first thought that this is overheating and that it is an issue. However, when I contacted Shanling, Mr. Frankie reassured me that the high operating temperatures are normal. Either way, this is something everyone should be aware of. I should also clear up that the high temperatures aren’t regular. The heating is irregular.

I am yet to test the UA1 (will update the review once I do so), but the UA2 definitely has some RMI/EFI noise. It can be as mild as some noise and crackling, but can also be extreme, to the point where there are loud pops and crackling. The worst thing that happened to me was when I was biking, the UA2 and the phone were in my front pocket, and the playback suddenly stopped and there were repeating beeping sounds — almost like the sticky notes sound on Windows. Once I took my phone out of my pocket, I found the playback fully stopped, so I had to go back to my music player and press play. I am yet to come across a dongle DAC/Amp combo which doesn't suffer from similar problems. I cannot give suggestions as to how to solve this, but I know that some people who had RMI/EFI noise issues on the EarMen Sparrow, they fixed it by buying a high-quality cable. I should say that I didn't encounter any of these issues when I was using the UA2 on my laptop.

Sound Performance

The table below represents the volume needed to power the following headphones on the same (subjective to my ears) volume level as on the iBasso DX300 digital-audio-player with the stock AMP11 MK1 module. The volume values below are for the UA2. The UA1 is roughly 0.5-1 MacBook volume bars quieter than the UA2, so you can subtract the below-shown values by that amount to get an idea of the volume levels on the UA1.

MacBook has 16 volume bars. When holding alt + shift, you can adjust the volume with micro bars. There are 4 micro adjustments, meaning that, in total, you can adjust the sound with 64 micro bars. When you see 0.5 (e.g. 1.5, 5.5, etc.), it represent 2 micro bars (4 micro bars are equal to 1 bar).


MacBook volume bars
Jade Audio EA31.5
HiFiMan Deva5.5
Dekoni Audio Blue7
iBasso SR23


The balanced output is roughly 1-2 micro bars louder than the Single-Ended output. I don't recall hearing any noise when using it.

After dozens of A/B tests, I came to several conclusions and findings. One of the good things is that the UA1 and the UA2 sound just about the same, so switching between them should be a smooth experience. However, for some reason, there is a problem when pairing the UA2 with the HiFiMan Deva. The only other time I faced this issue was when pairing the Deva with some of the budget Tempotec amplifiers. The problem occurs in the sub-bass regions, and it is distinct on tracks like Hans Zimmer’s “Why So Serious?” and MOON’s “Hydrogen”. It is also present on just about any track that has a lot of lower frequencies. What happens is that there is a distortion on the right driver on the headphone, this distortion sounds like a rattle — a very unpleasing sound — but the same distortion is not present at extreme volume on the UA1 or other amplifiers. This leaves me at a dead end. It leaver me wondering why it is happening. It is also worth of mentioning that this distortion is not present on other planar-magnetic headphones like the Dekoni Audio Blue or the SIVGA P-II. I want to repeat that this problem only occurs at extreme volumes (>75%) and is only present with the HiFIMan Deva.

Besides this issue, the sound performance on both the UA1 and the UA2 is quite pleasant and free of problems (based on my usage on my laptop).



I think that both the UA1 and UA2 offer an exceptional performance for the price. They are of great value and do their job.

I’m assuming that you want to know whether the UA2 is worth extra $40. To answer this question, you must make some things clear to yourself:

Do you need a balanced output? Do you care about and/or need a removable cable? Do you want a blacker background (lower noise floor)? Do you need the DSD512 and 32bit/768kHz decoding capability as opposed to the inferior DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz on the UA1? Do you need 125mW (3.5mm SE) and 195mW (2.5mm balanced) output power as opposed to UA1’s SE 85mW max. output power?

These are the questions you need to answer to yourself to pick one of these two. Both are excellent, but one is more versatile and powerful than the other.

As humans, we always want more. We want more even when we don’t need it. With this being said, if you are not using power-hungry or high-sensitivity headphones/IEMs, you will be happy with the UA1. However, if you want one or more of the benefits that the UA2 offers, you will not regret paying the extra 40 bucks. The flagship ES9038Q2M is the same DAC chip used in the EarMen’s $250 TR-Amp, which I also loved.

If you are looking for a small DAC/AMP that doesn't break the bank, I can recommend either of these two devices.

Explanation for the rating: I believe that both devices deserve a firm 4.0 rating. Lack of MQA and in-line controls support is not a turn-off for me, but considering that people will most likely use either of these devices on the go, lack of in-line controls negatively affected the rating by 0.5. While the UA1 had the recessed USB-C ports, I had to remove another 0.5 rating points for the UA2, resulting in a final 4.0 rating. The UA1 was also affected by the lack of in-line controls, but I couldn't give it a rating of 4.5 considering it's not compatible with iOS devices.


Reviewer at hxosplus
Powerful and Affordable
Pros: - Sounds good
- Crystal clear
- More powerful than the competition
- DSD256 and PCM 32bit/384KHz.
- Very affordable
- Small size
- Low power consumption
- Good build quality
- Configurable gain and low pass filter
Cons: - A touch forward
- Cable fabric prone to fray
- No lighting edition
The UA1 was kindly provided by Shanling free of charge.
Shanling never asked for a favorable review and this is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.
The retail price is $45.

Technical and physical specifications

The Shanling UA1 is a small USB type C DAC/amp adapter with an embedded cable.
It is powered by an ESS 9281P chip and supports DSD256 and PCM up to 32bit/384KHz.
It is compatible with Android , Windows and Mac but sadly it doesn't support iOS.
A small USB - A adapter is included to connect with a standard USB port.


The power output is rated at 1.6V/32Ω that translates into 80mW/32Ω and the output impedance is as low as 0.5Ω.
The specifications are quite impressive for such a tiny USB adapter with THD - 0.001% , Dynamic range - 119dB and SNR - 119dB.

The DAC chip is housed inside a small rectangle body which is made from aluminum and measures 15x39mm with a total length of 115mm including the cable while total weight is a mere 8.3gr.


The main body is connected to the industrial quality USB type C plug with a Hi - Fi grade high purity copper wire and both inputs are reinforced with a molded plastic strain relief.

Overall build quality is very good and the UA1 seems to be quite durable although the cable outer fabric is prone to fray.

The UA1 uses an additional cotton shielding to prevent any interferences from wireless networks that are coming from surroundings or the phone itself.


Set up

The Shanling UA1 is plug and play with Android and Mac but we need to install drivers for Windows PC.
Unless a headphone is plugged in , the UA1 will remain into sleep state in order not to consume power.

One special feature that most competitive adapters don't offer is the accompanying Shanling music app which is available for Android and allows the user to customize the UA1.



We can choose between the eighth available low pass filters , select the gain between low and high and adjust the channel balance.
The Shanling music app is a full featured music player but the user is not obliged to continuously use it as all the adjustments are stored permanently into the UA1 memory.

Sound impressions

In order to evaluate the UA1 we have used various entry level to mid price iems like the Moondrop Aria , FiiO FH3 , Meze Audio 12 Classics V2 and iBasso IT01X.

Right from the beginning it became pretty obvious that the UA1 sounds balanced and enjoyable with some extra energy into the treble.

Let's start with the frequency response which is as flat as it gets and extends to the extremes of the audible band without rolling off.

Then let's talk the noise floor which is as low as it gets and the UA1 is silent without any audible hiss.
Clean and clear the UA1 is one of the best dongles regarding internal noise and is able to resolve good detail for the category without becoming analytical.


The sound projection is quite spacious and favors an open wide soundstage with precise positioning and good cues of reverb and echo.

Bass is textured and full bodied , well controlled and tight with satisfying dynamics.
Mids and highs are clear and present with good layering and separation so everything sounds well defined without missing a single note.

Mid to high register vocals and instruments are weighty enough to keep up with the base foundation but reaching higher there is a certain loss in body weight.

The decay becomes a little rushed and some digital artifacts creep in so the UA1 will sound a little bit forward and lean with a touch extra energy but never harsh or etched.

So some users might think of it as overly energetic or aggressive but mind you that we are talking texture quality and timbre characteristics here and not frequency response which is flat without accentuating the treble.


Power output is higher than the competition and the UA1 is one of the most powerful dongles for the category and the size.
It was able to drive every iem we have tested with surplus of headroom and also yielded satisfying performance with easy to drive headphones like the HD660S.

A brief comparison against the Rhodium and the A30

Two of the best entry level budget USB dongles is the Periodic Audio Rhodium (review) ($49) and the SoundMAGIC A30 (review) ($59).

The first one is tiny with a minimal footprint and low power consumption but it's power output is limited to 1 Vrms.
The other one is a little bulkier but it has physical control buttons and a water resistant design while it can do a full scale 2 Vrms output.

That translates into 31mW(32Ω) / 25mW(16Ω) for the Rhodium and 31mW(32Ω) / 62mW(16Ω) for the A30 so compared the Shanling UA1 is definitely the most powerful of the three but the SoundMAGIC is the only one to double at 16Ω.


Sound wise , all of them are balanced and enjoyable with a touch of different flavor to the overall sound signature as a result of the DAC chips that are used.

The Shanling UA1 is more resolving and fast paced , with extra energy at the treble and sounds more forward than the other two who are more relaxed and analogue regarding the overall timbre texture.

Bass is tighter with greater layering and dynamics on the UA1 but with the downside of being leaner and less full bodied.
The Rhodium and especially the A30 feature fuller sounding mids and treble with better decay characteristics on the latter so the overall presentation is more natural and smooth.

Not surprisingly the Rhodium with the carefully implemented power filtering components is the cleaner of the three.

All three are highly recommended and they feature different physical and sound characteristics to fit successfully different use cases.

At the end

The Shanling UA1 is an excellent budget USB dongle that is going to significantly upgrade your everyday listening experience without breaking the bank.
If you seek extra power and you favor a crystal clean , spacious and somewhat forward presentation then this is the one to get.

Test playlist

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Build quality and compact design
Good cable
Sound quality for the price (not far from the M0 and Q1 players)
Cons: No volume or playback controls
Only Type-C. No iOS version yet.
(Not meant for power demanding headphones)

ua1 (1).jpg

Website – Shanling Audio

Price: U$D 45.

Official UA1 page.

The Shanling UA1 demo unit here was provided directly by Shanling company.

ua1 (2).jpg

ua1 (3).jpg


The UA1 design is very simple with a very solid build quality. The main body is made of good machined aluminum with a smooth finish in complete black color. It has a less standard, diamond/rhombus shape with rounded borders. The cable is thick enough with an outer cotton shielding that gives a softer touch; inner wire material is copper. Right out of the box, the cable keeps some of its bended shape, but it fades out after a short time of use. The USB Type-C plug is well covered by metal, and the strain relief on both sides looks strong enough. There is a tiny LED light next to the 3.5mm socket that turns green once the UA1 is connected.

ua1 (4).jpg

Upon connecting the UA1 to either a notebook or Android device it was recognized immediately as an USB Audio source; however, some sources may need to install the extra driver. The volume will depend on the playing source. If using the Shanling Music player App, there is now an option to control the UA1 DAC and set up a few things: the digital filters supported by the ES9218P DAC chip, volume control (up to 64 steps), change the gain to low or high and channel balance.

ua1 (5).jpg

Sound Quality

The UA1 implements the Sabre ES9218P DAC chip, a very popular one found on already many audio devices, and a few even using a dual configuration for balanced output. If not wrong, it is the 5th product from Shanling using this DAC, from the M0 and next Q1 small players, and Bluetooth receivers UP2 and UP4 (dual DAC). I haven’t tried any of the BT UP line yet, but had the Q1 and M0, as well as a variety of other devices with the same DAC.

The tuning of each differs from the other, and within the Shanling product line, I found the sound presentation of the UA1 to share something between the M0 and Q1, which is not too surprising. I think the Q1 still rates higher in pure SQ. Depending on the source connected to, the volume level may vary, but in terms of power it is about the same as the Q1, meaning it will be capable of handling sensitive earphones (like IEMs) or easy to drive portable headphones to a comfortable listening level and decent audio quality. There was no background noise or hiss with any of the usual most sensitive IEMs I tried, but none of them showed any issue with other devices either.

The sound out of the UA1 shows a very decent overall balance, not too colored but it is not to what I’d consider neutral either. There is a little extra boost on the low-end, giving a slightly warmer tonality that also adds some body and fullness to the bass and midrange. Mid-bass is more elevated and punchy, adding a bit more fun factor; it works well on neutral headphones but also with warmer ones, while won’t ruin those with a more heavy-bass tuning. The extension is limited and the sub-bass cannot reach too deep. Control is good, speed and resolution are decent for the price, if a bit compressed in terms of dynamics.

Midrange is clear, fairly transparent with just a touch of warmth added, more noticed on the lower mids, giving a little extra weight to male vocals and instruments at that range. It remains neutral, not pushing anything more forward or laid-back. There is a good sense of space and resolution and does not give up in detail, at least for such little device and price. Treble as well, maintains a similar linearity to the mids, neutral with the right amount of sparkle and energy. I can prefer the treble on the UA1 over the M0 which I found kind of artificial; the UA1 is a bit more laid-back, so sounds smoother (though nothing as smooth as the Hiby R2 with the same DAC). The Q1 is still better in treble quality and extension, more refined and extended, but can be a little sizzling, whereas the UA1 is more forgiving.


Hiby FD1

The FD1 is a much larger and heavier device and it features dedicated volume and play/pause buttons. Unlike the UA1 that works as a simple adapter, the FD1 is meant to be attached or bundled to a phone or another player, or simply be used as a compact desktop Amp/DAC alternative. In terms of sound quality, the FD1 is neutral and very linear from bass to mids with a little extra elevation at the highs. The bass is tight and doesn’t show any boost, with a leaner low midrange and slight gain at the upper-mids. The treble is a bit more artificial than the UA1, while overall detail retrieval is close.

Hidizs S8

The S8 is just a little larger than the UA1 and features volume controls, but the volume steps are very limited to make it worth the extra feature. The S8 is more forward on the midrange and very light in the lows, and much more aggressive on the highs to the point of being sibilant and harsh, while the UA1 is more forgiving and balanced with a smoother and richer tonality.

As for value, the UA1 is pretty good for the sub $50 price. Solid build quality, compact design and simple to use. Sure, there are some good BT amp/dac options out there, but for those who prefer a direct wired connection to a phone or a budget USB DAC for a notebook or tablet may find the UA1 a good alternative that won’t drain the battery so fast. The Sabre DAC chip inside is well implemented too in terms of sound quality matching the capabilities of the previous Shanling players.
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Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Shanling UA1
Pros: Affordable
Comfortable to use
Well built
Sounds good
Plug and play
Cons: Doesn't sound exceptional, but more than fair for the price.
Shanling UA1 is a USB-C dongle with an ES9218P chip in a compact body. It is priced at 45 USD.


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Pretty simple.

It's a 45 USD device, so don't expect anything extraordinary when it comes to the packaging. It is pretty simple and get's the job done. Essentially, you're getting the UA1, a USB-A adapter, and paperology. Absolutely nothing to complain about, the box looks modern, it's small and secure enough.

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All you need, and it ain't much.

Build quality

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It's compact and well-made.

In terms of the build quality, there's nothing to nitpick either. The DAC section is made of aluminum, the cable feels playable and sturdy simultaneously, and the USB C plug is stiff and holds onto the phone with ease.

Thanks to that, it's pretty comfortable and secure, as you simply plug it into your smartphone, put it into your pants, and you're good to go. I haven't had a single problem with the connection, and I've used this little bud for quite some time on the go.

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Not a single problem while using it for 2 weeks now.


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Small and convenient.

The UA1 is equipped with the Sabre ES9218P chip, and it supports up to PCM 32/384 and DSD256.
It's a plug-and-play type of device, both with Android and Windows. Just plug this bad boi into whatever you want and enjoy - I truly believe it's how it's supposed to be.


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You might want to use it with more fun sounding IEMs than the Ara shown above.

Rating this kind of device's sound quality is tricky, as there's not much you can compare it to actually. We're living in an era of jack-less smartphones, and that kind of dongle is pretty much necessary to enjoy any music on our IEMs.

Regardless, we can judge it somehow, the most important being - does it actually sound better than a jack output in my Poco X3? does. Much, much better.
Ever since I switched from my Galaxy S8+ to Poco X3, I was sentenced for its underwhelming audio quality.
Usually, I use my Cayin N3Pro on the go and one of my many stationary devices while in-home, but since it's been freezing for the last couple of weeks here in Poland, I prefer to just use my phone and IEMs of choice.
Shanling UA1 has been truly salutary during this time. Its sound quality exceeds the jack output of my Poco X3 by miles, providing much fuller and better-controlled bass, more natural midrange, and shiny treble, while the X3 sounded...well, pretty much dead.

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It is suprisingly pocket-friendly.

The bass is pretty neutral, well-controlled, and not boosted. It didn't pair exceptionally well with my Lime Ears Aether R or the CFA Ara since their bass is pretty much neutral and could lack fun...which it did with the UA1. Luckily, while I'm outside, I mainly use the Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 with that marvelous bass response, and the result was spot-on. While taking public transportation, I tend to listen to more modern stuff - Juice Wrld, Post Malone, or some metal like Sylosis. UA1 gave me a full-bodied, linear, and controlled bass, which was fun and well-articulated.

The midrange is neutral, simple as that. It's not warm, but it doesn't sound artificial and cold at the same time. Vocals have a decent body and extension, but the timbre is a bit lacking. Nonetheless, for its size and low price, it's more than acceptable. Listening to Mariusz Duda from Lunatic Sould, I could hear a slight discoloration of his voice, lacking sweetness and warmth.

Treble is always a tough job for such a budget, portable DAC. I'm yet to hear the quality treble response in this kind of a device. Shanling UA1 is not ground-breaking in this regard, but it ain't bad. It provides a decent amount of air and details, but it tends to sound a little harsh due to the lack of control of multi-ba drivers, I suppose. Anyhow, it was still miles ahead of my Poco X3, which was just harsh and bad. In that comparison, the UA1 sounded well-defined, slightly rounded, and the resolution was pretty good.

Overall, it's not a good pair for my Campfire Audio Ara, as they need more body and refinement to sound their best. Lime Ears Aether R was better, but definitely with the bass-switch turned on, as it gave me a little bit more rumble in the bass. Campfire Dorado 2020 and Vega 2020 sounded great with the UA1, as the IEMs themselves are very fun and forward sounding, and Shanling just gave them a pretty good signal, and it hasn't interrupted, which is the most important in this kind of device.


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It's a great little device and it'll take no-space to carry around with you - what's not to like?

If you're looking for a USB type C dongle that is well-made, comfortable, and sounds good on a budget, then the Shanling UA1 is a great choice. If your smartphone jack output is bad, or it simply doesn't have it, think no more - it's a very good audio buddy for you to carry around.


Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:

  • Headphones – Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020, Ara, Lime Ears Aether R
  • Sources– Poco X3
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I notice you said it’s fully compatible with Android and Windows. How about iOS?