UI & Usage
Shanling Mtouch 2.0 OS
With the M5S, Shanling displays their all new OS : Mtouch 2.0. Basically, the M0 and M5S needed a new system to suit the touchscreen.
Let’s start with the good points. The player boots up fast. If you don’t want to use the deep sleep function and prefer the classic turn on/off, the M5S should please you. The UI is snappy and even the file scan can be done in the blink of an eye, all good points. The menus are easy to understand, pictograms are simple but that’s how they should be.
My main concern comes from the screen itself : the resolution is too low ! Everything looks a bit blurry or pixelated, even the boot up logo looks like a gif… This might be one of the reasons why everything runs smoothly, but still, for me that’s a real deal-breaker. To be blunt, the resolution is as bad as the case is nice.
Last but not least, the translations can be a bit off and I think/hope this will be fixed with a software update. Updates can be done through OTA now, but you need to have a micro-SD card inserted, since the Shanling M5S doesn’t have any internal memory.
- Update library : choose if the player automatically searches for new songs or not. You can also manually scan the library
- Wireless setting: here you can change the settings of the WiFi and Bluetooth connections. There are various mode available: DLNA/Airplay and Bluetooth Quality
- Brightness : couldn’t be more explicit
- Idle : this parameters can help you to get a better battery life for your Shanling M5S. You can either activate the deep sleep mode, automatic power-off, etc…
- USB Mode : two modes are available here, USB for data transfers or DAC for music playback
- Clock : setup the time displayed on the M5S, no date
- Buttons lock : if you want your player buttons to not do anything when the screen is off, this is where you can get that done. You can lock the scrollwheel, the buttons or both at the same time
- DSP Output Mode : DOP or D2P, two options
- USB audio output : choose between fixed volume or variable volume, personally I always prefer fixed volume
- Output options : this setting allows you to get the M5S in line-out instead of classic phone-out
- Theme : three themes available, one colourful and two bleak ones
- Language : change the display language
- About M5S : displays all the information about your player (firmware / used-free space / serial number)
- Factory settings : as it says you get back to square one
- System update : you can either update the M5S through an SD-Card or through OTA directly, I chose the latter
USB-C and SD Card
All the Shanling players use the future-proof USB-C connector and the Shanling M5S makes no exception. Transfer rates are good but you can find better speed rates, the player seems not to support USB 3.1 and I capped at 15Mb/s during music transfer.
The DAP doesn’t have any accessible internal storage and relies solely on micro-SD cards. Every type and size are supported, from SDHC to SDXC up to 2TB, even if they are not available yet.
Airplay and DLNA
The Shanling M5S has got a Wifi connection but there is no streaming app support. That’s a bit sad as it would have made a perfect portable solution, like the FiiO M9.
Fortunately, the player supports DLNA and Airplay (no HiBy). Once connected to your local hotspot, you can easily play music from every source, to your DAP. I mostly used the Airplay function as my iPhone and iPad are always close to me. It’s flawless with the album cover displayed on the M5S screen and all the playback controls are left to the source.
DLNA works the same way, you just have to select the DAP in the list of receivers, depending of the app/source you use, click it : et voila !
Battery Life and Charging
The Shanling M5S has a massive 3400mAh battery. The brand announced up to 17h of continuous playback in single-ended and 10h in balanced mode, a big difference depending of how you intend to use this player.
During my review, I ended up around 8h while listening through the balanced output only. Airplay seemed to have a minimal impact on the battery life, in offline mode with the same playlist the M5S died after 8h30.
If battery life is one of your main concerns, you should stick to single-ended. Charging isn’t especially slow but it’s not super fast either, once the battery is depleted it takes around 1h30 to fully charge the M5S, with a 5V/2Ah power supply.
The deep sleep function works perfectly fine and if you just listen during your work commute, one charge could last one full week.
Shanling was one of the first brands to add dual-way Bluetooth on its DAP. This mode allows the listener to connect a digital source to the player all wirelessly. Compared to DLNA and Airplay, this option trades quality (due to the limited bandwidth) for versatility : almost everything has Bluetooth now.
Compatible with apt-X, AAC/SBC and LDAC, the Shanling M5S lacks apt-X HD support. Also, if LDAC and AAC get bidirectional support, apt-X can only send music to a headphone/speakers, no reception. If your source supports LDAC, no worries, if not you’ll be stuck to AAC or SBC.
Apart from that, it works perfectly well and it’s a great option if your smartphone doesn’t have a headphone output anymore. Compared to Airplay/DLNA, you get controls directly on the player but lose album covers, your call.
Compared to the FiiO M6 I carry around every day, the Shanling M5S felt like switching from the iPhone 4 to an XS Max. It takes a lot more space in my pocket but at the same time, you feel much more confident.
The Shanling M5S weighs 178g, not much compared to my phone, but it’s a bit thicker than your usual phone. The nearest player I could think about would be the A&Ultima SP1000M, in terms of handling. The Astell is a bit wider and heavier but in terms of finish, it’s hard to really favor one or the other
If I was more handy I would have kept the Shanling M5S without the case as I find it a bit more comfortable to use without.
The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.