Review: Shanling M2S – Tiny Musical Wonder

Disclaimer: The Shanling M2S was sent me directly by Shanling for this review. The price is 199 USD and it has 3 color options; black, blue and red. I compared the M2S with Cayin N3 many times in the text. You can check out Lieven’s review on N3 to have some idea about these 2 entry-level players.

INTRO

Shanling has become quite renowned as of late and we see their audio players on Head-Fi and other platforms. Their DAPs receive praises all over the forums and here we go with their latest player, Shanling M2S.

Shanling also have some mid to high-end DACs and amplifiers so you might want to check out their website HERE.

SHANLING M2S – Design, Build and Usage

This little player is the newest addition to Shanling’s lineup and it has 1.45cm thickness, 100g weight and 3inch retina screen. Both front and back glasses are 2.5D, so it feels very comfortable in hand. This is a pocketable and very easy to use player with nice ergonomics, and it reminds me the form factor of AK100. I absolutely loved using the player throughout this testing time I had.

Build quality is quite nice too. It comes with an aluminum body and the finish of it looks very cool. It feels sturdy and compact in hand, especially those 2.5D glasses give an impressive look and feel to the device. General usage is satisfying with this DAP but you need to get used to the wheel navigation system. No worries though as it’s very simple to get used to it.

You can see how tiny it is in this photo:

What if they used a touchscreen? The screen is 3 inches so maybe it wouldn’t be very comfortable to use like that in a small size. Anyway, the wheel on the right side is easy to use once you feel comfortable with it. It has 2 functions, scrolling up and down, and entering by pushing it as a button. And of course on the playback screen, you set the volume with it. I think this is a reasonable solution by Shanling for this size. In comparison with Cayin N3, I found this one more practical. By the way, there is a back button right below the wheel so you use that one for going back.

On the left side you have 3 buttons, which stand for play/pause, forwards and backwards. On right side of the top you have the power button. When you open the screen with it you face with an additional lock screen which is a little unnecessary to me. It acts like a lock screen on a smartphone with clock and battery info. But you need to press the power button once more to reach the interface. There’s no option to remove that lock screen by the way. Maybe with a software update they can add the option. (Update: After the review people told me that you can get rid of that screen with disabling the clock on settings. Nevertheless, I think that setting could’ve been more clear) On the bottom you have 3.5mm standard jack and USB Type-C port. Note that 3.5mm output also works as Line-Out.

The UI is pretty and polished overall and the screen has very nice colours with good brightness. I didn’t face a problem or an annoying bug with the UI. It took around 35 seconds to update the library of around 1000 songs. Quite fast. And the overall experience is very fluid too. Just like the build and design, the software is smooth and solid. It has every kind of feature you can ask for in todays standards. In addition to the form factor and beautiful UI, it can act as a USB DAC, has good amount of power to drive many phones, has a microSD slot that can take up to 256GB and it has a Native DSD playback!

You also get a nice case inside the package, as in the photo. Not very practical to me but still good.

For stream users, there’s an excellent Bluetooth feature. Just like we’ve seen from Cayin N3 it works like a Bluetooth DAC. The feature is very convenient, especially controlling your music from the smartphone is fast when compared to DAPs of course. And not having a cable attached to your smartphone is another plus in my book. On the other hand, when I used TIDAL I heard some cracks and pops sometimes over the Bluetooth connection. Spotify was better, probably because it’s MP3 and there’s less data to transfer compared to Lossless TIDAL. Even so, I really liked this feature and I think there may be many people around who’ll buy this DAP just for this.

To summarize, this is one of the best tiny DAPs I’ve seen -if not the best- in terms of user experience and design.

Click HERE for the next page, or use the page numbers below.

Review: Shanling M2S – Tiny Musical Wonder
4.3 (86.3%) 54 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.

18 Comments

  • Reply August 4, 2017

    Eli Segal

    Is there a player that can reasonably drive the hd650?

    • Reply August 4, 2017

      dale thorn

      Looking at the specs, I see this:

      Output power: 130mw @ 32Ω / 112mw @ 300Ω

      What’s interesting about this power spec (if true) is the output power doesn’t drop a lot even when the impedance goes 10 times higher. If it’s true, then when the 650’s impedance peaks in the bass, it should have plenty of spare power. If it’s true of course.

      • Reply August 5, 2017

        Shanling Audio

        On our official webpage we list it as 12 mw @300Ω, probably website you found it made mistake when putting in specifications.

        • Reply August 5, 2017

          dale thorn

          OK – then not a good match for Senn HD650.

  • Reply August 30, 2017

    zoro

    m2s va cayin n3 ?

    • Reply September 1, 2017

      Berkhan

      I mentioned N3 in the context many times.

  • Reply October 9, 2017

    Fabian

    If streaming FLACS from my Xperia Z5 via Bluetooth and Aptx to this M2s and connected Audio Technica EC700 will It receive the bluetooth data with aptx from my Xperia or without it,just simple Bluetooth ?

  • Reply October 9, 2017

    Berkhan

    If the phone has the AptX support, than it will be AptX connection.

  • Reply October 18, 2017

    Salman Saeed

    M2s vs N3
    In Overall comparison.

  • Reply October 31, 2017

    Alex

    Hi! I need your help., Shanling M2s vs Cayin N3, i listen jazz & vocal., which player beter for musically & width audio range..? Many thanks!!

    • Reply October 31, 2017

      Berkhan

      What’s your headphone?

      • Reply August 22, 2018

        Ade

        Which player better, n3 or m2s for
        my ATH-AR 3BT ? Thanks..

  • Reply May 23, 2018

    Klaus E. Werner

    Hi Berkhan,

    I’m in search of a good driver for my Fiio F9 Pro – which are a bit on the brighter side in the treble department.

    From your description it sounds that the M2s might pair very well with the Fiio F9, right? The slight weekness of the M2s (too melodic/warm) might soften the harsh 8kHz peak of the F9.

    Background: My Xduuo X3 died on me last night, and anyway the combo was too harsh for some pieces like eg Chester’s voice in Linking Park’s Crawling.

    • Reply May 23, 2018

      Berkhan

      Hi,

      Yes, it’s a good match with the F9 but I recommend to upgrade a better IEM then F9 firstly.

  • Reply May 24, 2018

    Klaus E. Werner

    Sorry,

    my fault mixing them up: I meant the F9 Pro.

    Initially I was drawn to the Fiio X3 MkIII, which is supposed to be an ideal pairing for the F9 Pro, but the laggy software/interface did not convince me.

    Thanks for your patience!

    • Reply May 24, 2018

      Berkhan

      Would be very nice with the F9 Pro.

      But I’d recommended you to go for the M3s instead. Much better player.

      • Reply May 24, 2018

        Klaus E. Werner

        Now that I’ve read your review of the M3s, it definitely seems the better offering.

        Thanks for your advice!

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