Review: Shanling M0 – Hello Beastie

Shanling M0

We finally take a look at Shanling’s most popular toy recently, the Shanling M0. Check out how this little monster performs.

Disclaimer: We received the Shanling M0 directly from Shanling for the purpose of this review. I posted my initial impressions of it in the Picture Sunday post HERE. The Shanling M0 goes for 109$.

INTRO

Shanling has been making very impressive and sexy looking DAPs recently, yet this tiny monster is something else. We reviewed the Shanling M2s and M3s before, and the latter made it to our Portable Player Recommendations. They certainly know how a DAP should perform, but the M0 definitely is another thing of beauty.

An extremely popular device at the moment, the Shanling M0 is the company’s answer to those who look for an ultraportable audiophile solution. We would’ve liked to publish this review earlier, but we’re very full with all kinds of gear all the time, so it’s not easy to make a publishing plan in a short period.

By now I think everyone has an idea about Shanling already, about what they do and what they’re all about. They’re also going to release their new high end M5s DAP soon, with the additions of 2 In Ear Monitors, which might be a surprise for some. We will get these new toys from Shanling eventually and you’ll find their reviews on Headfonia as well.

THE BEASTIE

This is an extremely small, lightweight and super pocketable device. It shares the same design characteristics of the previous models, yet it has an additional touchscreen feature. I suggested Shanling to go with touchscreens in my review of the M3S, and I guess they were already thinking about it beforehand. The wheel operation wasn’t the most ideal solution, because the wheels are somewhat prone to fail over time, especially if you use your device very often.

Shanling M0

Shanling M0

That’s not it though. The Shanling M0 also has great features for its tiny size: It plays DSD (even native for 64!) and all type of files you put into it. You can use it as a USB DAC. You can also use it almost like a “bluetooth module” as I prefer to call it because of its size. What I mean is that you can connect your smartphone wirelessly to use your streaming applications. Speaking of bluetooth, it has LDAC and aptX as well. So it’s a very very feature packed device for its size & price level.

DESIGN

The DAPs I reviewed recently from Shanling have good build quality levels, especially for the price. This is not much different from previous ones, but has important improvements nonetheless. First of all this is a refreshing design with a 1.54 inch touch screen. That means you no longer need to worry about the volume wheel’s lifetime.

Another difference is that it doesn’t have a glass back, which I think is better from the reliability standpoint. The screen itself is very nice and has good color range, more than enough for this kind of a player.

I must say the player also is very eye catching with its design and small form factor. I received some questions from my colleagues in the office and people at home, questions like “what’s this thing? It looks cool”. I said it was a DAP and they were quite surprised how small it was.

BUILD

The device has a robust, monoblock chassis that is made from aluminum, which is great. It also doesn’t get scratched easily. The volume pot is thinner now and that makes it less vulnerable to knocks & blows. It also serves as a power button, which makes the DAP easy to use. The screen has curved glass on the sides, so it feels very smooth and beautiful in hand. Looks-wise I think it’s stellar and sweet. The purple one that I received is very hot looking. Even though I didn’t ask for any specific color, I really like it.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can ask for more in terms of overall build and design.

Shanling M0

Shanling M0

SOFTWARE

Small screens usually aren’t good for simple usage, but Shanling has managed to load beautiful software to this device. The user interface is well thought of, very compatible with the size limitation of the screen. Swipe left & right for easily navigating between menus, touch the big icons in the main menu, swipe right for going back in any screen. You can also tap and hold anywhere on the screen to go back to main menu. Very simple, easy and smooth. I also noticed that the device boots and shuts down pretty fast.

Speaking of smoothness, you need to update your device to the newest version of software. Right now it’s 2.1, but the biggest difference was with the 2.0 update. With 2.0 software the device is much faster and smoother in terms of UI animations and overall navigation. 2.1 version fixed some small bugs after the essential 2.0 version. Updating the device is quite easy as well. Just put the file on your SD Card (FAT32) and go to update, inside the settings.

USAGE

If you have big hands this is not the easiest device to work with, since it’s very small. To be honest it took some time for me to adjust as well. Nevertheless, I’m sure after some time of getting used to it, you’re going to be just fine. Especially if you do sports or go to the gym and listen to music during those kind of activities, this is the perfect device. I did some walking in the park with it, and I have to say, using this device is a joyful experience.

One thing which is really nice is the double tap feature on the wheel. You can assign three modes to it, which are next, previous and play/pause. So if you want to skip a song, just press the power/volume button two times and you’re good. You don’t have to take your device out of your pocket.

Overall the experience is quite nice, but it takes some time to adjust. The size of the device makes the whole package very attractive, but at the same time things are not so straightforward. You need to spend time with the player to be comfortable with its UI and physical shape. Tapping on a small screen, using a very thin volume knob and etc., all requires some getting used to. The bigger your hands are, the more difficulty you’ll have. Yet I think this is quite normal.

Shanling M0

Shanling M0

SETTINGS & BATTERY

Settings-wise you have channel balance, gain setting, max & default volume settings, gapless playback, skipping between folders, playing modes like shuffle  and several filter options for sound. There’s no manual EQ, which is understandable since it would be very hard to set with a tiny screen. There are some presets instead.

Battery life is pretty good too, even though I didn’t measure it in detail. It’s very efficient on stand by as well. I mistakenly left the device open for a week, and when I got back to it, there wasn’t a significant battery drain. That means it preserves the battery on stand by quite well.

The review continues on page 2 with sound impressions HERE.

Review: Shanling M0 – Hello Beastie
4.4 (88.75%) 16 votes

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As a lover of personal audio, Berkhan always seeks perfection in his reviews. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to maintain his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes the photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Either way, he will always do his best.

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