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Shanling M0 - Nano size, touch screen, LDAC & aptX BT, USB DAC/transport and ESS Sabre ES9218P, FW 3.2

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Shanling, Mar 16, 2018.
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  1. csglinux
    @Shanling & fellow M0 fans - here are some comparative measurement results you might find interesting:


    Some comments:

    1) For sure, other devices do offer more power than the M0, so the rankings above wouldn't necessarily hold when driving power-hungry, high-impedance, full-sized cans. The above results are all driving 150 mV into a 32-Ohm resistive load (this was chosen because it's the maximum limit allowed in the EU and a more conservative level for real-life listening with IEMs).
    2) These measurements were made with the custom Vortex 2.3 firmware. We've not yet tested with any stock M0 firmware.

    I'll admit these results were a bit of a surprise - so much so that we initially held off publishing them. But we double-checked, and this is what we get with the M0. It seems the harmonic compensation in the ESS 9218P DAC really does a phenomenal job. Under these test conditions, the M0's SQ is surprisingly close to that of a Hugo 2. There are probably some more-expensive-DAP owners out there that are going to be in denial about all this, and will swear they can hear the improvement with their particular DAP. In anticipation of that, I'll just add 1) It's possible. There may be some aspect of the sound that has overwhelming importance for you. A single metric (i.e., diffrogram median) might not be the most relevant parameter for everybody in all situations. This is still research. However... 2) Are you sure? Are you sure you're sure? I've experienced placebo effects myself. Placebo can be very powerful and very convincing. While some of the DAPs listed have certain idiosyncrasies that I can easily identify (noise floor, pitch/intonation, etc.,), for the most part, discriminating between some of these modern DAPs can get pretty difficult once you properly match SPL (not always easy to do on account of the discrete digital volume steps) and then listen blind. Don't assume you can hear a difference unless you've done a proper SPL-matched blind A/B comparison. Your years of experience with audio and your electrical engineering degree are irrelevant here. Nobody is immune to the effects of placebo in sighted comparison tests.

    Corollary: If you're going to buy one of those Astell & Kern players, find the right reason to do so, i.e., because you need more power for full-sized cans and/or because you want a larger touch screen :wink:
    ticoss, SteveOliver, augustr and 9 others like this.
  2. endgame4
    Thanks for sharing that comparison @csglinux. It makes for an interesting read.

    I do not have any more high-end players than the M0 but I love my M0 for its lack of noise.

    The hardware seems really great but there are some things about the software that could easily be better (i.e. the way gapless playback works). It feels like the software is really holding back what could be a very good all-round portable player.
    keenids likes this.
  3. filbert
    I, too, love my M0 - but I don't get on well with the small screen. I wish they'd make a remote control app for a smartphone but I suppose it's unlikely, with the apparent move to Android based systems.
  4. keenids
    I cannot say it any better than Endgame. I have been wining about the firmware a lot here, but the reason I bought 2 M0's for myself and 2 more for friends is the sound.
    I love to stick my good old Beyerdynamic BT 880 right into the M0 and enjoy the definition, clarity and transparency in almost any kind of music, from AC/DC to Aphex Twin to Alban Berg.

    Personally, I can live with the tiny screen, although I have very big fingers. The M0 is extremely reasonably priced, so I do not feel that I can complain about everything. And the fact that it is so small also has advantages - it is never in the way when I am working or traveling.
    The software is unfortunately not matching the quality of the player itself, and when Shanling intends to use it for other players in the future, it really needs serious tweaking.
    Apart from the disfunctional gapless option, the M0 tends to freeze and crash, especially while disconnecting it from a computer or charger, and while navigating through large amounts of files.
    Since this little player sounds so unbelievably well (the phrase: "Df-mesurements of Shanling M0 were checked several times. No mistake." says it all) it would be a shame to let it live on with this software. It deserves better.
    That being said - an affordable awesomely good DAP with crappy software is still a lot better than a crappy sounding DAP with amazing software :smile_phones:
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  5. oldschool
    And ain't that a problem of all Chinese portable players...

    For the record, my unit experiences the occassional volume shifts, mutes, song restarts and adding to favourites. Also, after charging it seems the clock get screwed and often shifts by many minutes or even hours
  6. Tiax
  7. TSch
    My understanding is that these are signal/noise ratios comparing the initial signal to the residual signal defined as the difference between the digital input and analog output on a 32 ohm resistive load.

    Essentially, the higher the numbers the better as this means the residual becomes increasingly negligible.
  8. Devh
    These results are not surprising to me and I mentioned this much earlier in this thread. A friend and I tested his Mojo against the M0 doing several back to back tests and found that it had the same sound signature. The only thing it was lacking was power and some micro refinement in the details. We were in such disbelief that we thought maybe all DAPs sound alike and it is hard to distinguish them but that is not true as we have gone head to head with other daps like my DX90 and various amp combos and found the Mojo clearly superior by a big margin.
    The M0 I think is an accidental mistake that shouldn't exist at its price point and size.

    Now that I own an M5s I can say its very different than the M0. I think the M5s sounds better but I no longer have a M0 to test against but I plan to go head to head with the Mojo tomorrow. If it is better than the Mojo It could mean that many of these newer DAPs have made major improvements in SQ.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  9. filbert
    I'm wondering whether folks tend to use the M0 as a DAC from a smartphone (with Foobar2000, for example). That helps with getting round the small display.
  10. riverred105
    That is certainly...interesting(?) I’m not familiar with this testing methodology. before making judgement about sound quality, did the evaluator listen to these daps, or was this done solely by measuring instrument? Was the shanling m2x also evaluated? I’m curious if you view the m0 as “anomalous” or if the sonic benefits extend up the line.

    My assumption is subjective evaluator impressions from listening does not play a role in your sound quality conclusions. Having the shanling m0, m2x, AP80, fiio m5, and the Hugo 2, I wouldn’t vote for the M0 being even (close to) second best, much less first. I’m not trying to debate placebo effect (or feel the need to defend a personal preference established by extensive listening and comparison). I’m legitimately curious regarding the school of thought that sound quality can be assessed without listening to the item being evaluated, as it is completely foreign to me.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  11. endgame4
  12. Tiax
    How would you rate them (for sound only)?
    I have both Fiio M6 and Shanling M0, and while i thought m6 sounds better initially, i actually prefer m0 now, at least it sounds more exiting to me, with a bit more sparkle

    I remember similar discussion years ago about Sansa Clip.
    It measured well as well, so there were people claiming that there is no need to buy anything more expensive, and it can not sound any better :)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
    augustr likes this.
  13. riverred105
    I haven’t sat down and compared all 5 at once. I purchased them over the course of months and compared the new item with the preferred older one (I.e., B>A, purchase C and decide B>C....new item D>B....E>D....and so on).

    I was not terribly concerned with evaluating which is the 4th or 5th place item, but if I had to rank them it would be something like Hugo 2, AP80, mx2, m0, m5 (or something similar to that). The concept of evaluating sound quality without listening to the item evaluated strains credulity in the same manner as determining the best performing luxury sports car for an individual without driving anything.
    Tiax likes this.
  14. endgame4
    I have been using Sansa players (those with the AMS chip) for ages and together with Rockbox firmware they have been brilliant.

    However, when I got my M0 I was absolutely amazed by how clean the sound was. Sansa are very noisy by comparison.

    An M0 with the software flexibility of a Rockboxed Sansa would be a dream.

    I still use my Sansa's, for audiobooks and podcasts but no longer for music.
  15. augustr
    Wow, this is truly mesmerising.
    I had to double or even triple check my head if I wasn't fooling myself when using it in favour of my G7, because I seriously thought it always sounded way better for me. This seems to agree with that feeling, which is awesome, makes me love my little device even more now. Personally, I've never had an issue with the small screen, if anything, it was one of the major selling points for me, since I wanted something portable and easy to use, with good sound quality, now this seems to have great sound quality, which is even better. Thanks for the measurements @csglinux
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