Shanling AE3 Review

shanling-ae3-headfonia

Sound performance

Associations

Shanling AE3 + Shanling M6 Pro: top choice. Obviously, the brand took special care to match its own products altogether. Details are crisp, soundstage amazing and when you push the volume it’s a real journey to nirvana. It’s a little overkill, but if you want the best source for your AE3, get the M6 Pro.

Shanling AE3 + EarMen Eagle: obvious choice. The Eagle is my new ‘“to-go” DAC, one you just leave in your pocket to enjoy good sound, whenever you are. Plugged to my iPhone with the CCK, it gave the AE3 a new dimension on my daily commute. Great soundstage, epic lows, and more power than I’ll ever need. If you were to pick one all-around combo, get this one.

Shanling AE3 + NuPrime Hi-mDAC: sure choice. The Hi-mDAC is my other “audio swiss-knife”. Compared to the Eagle, it tone-down the lows but gives crispier mids, so on sound alone, it all comes down to your taste. The DAC secret weapon? The volume button on the side, so much more convenient when you plug it to your computer!

shanling ae3 headfonia

Comparisons 

Want to compare with other hi-fi gear? Voilà:

FiiO FH3: the latest IEM from the brand seems like the ideal rival for the AE3. Same price range, the same number of drivers, opposite build. In terms of comfort, I preferred the Shanling, as the smaller shell fitted my ear wholesomely. Sound-wise, FiiO’s soundstage isn’t as wide as Shanling’s and I found the AE3 better on the lower range. But, on the other hand, the FH3 enjoys the distinctive FiiO mids, loved and praised by everyone. Your choice.  

AudioSense DT200: the DT200 and AE3 sounds awfully close, which is a good thing. Again, the differences come from the little things: deeper lows on the DT200, cleaner sound with better resolution on the AE3. Comfort is equally good as both IEM enjoys the same, astounding, built-quality. In the long run, I still prefer the DT200, but that’s because I’m a bass-head.

shanling ae3 headfonia

Conclusion

The Shanling AE3 is a great IEM, in every way.

Build quality is superb, comfort is excellent and, even if didn’t expect much from them at first, I became immediately hooked the moment I put them in my ears. The AE3 sound and feel like a top-tier IEM – clean mids, sharp highs, deep bass – for a quarter of the price.

Up to date, this is one of the best three-driver / dual-way IEMs I ever encountered, for now. And what’s even more surprising, is the fact that Shanling achieved this level of performance and production, at such a low price.

With the FiiO FH3 and AudioSense DT200, the AE3 proudly deserve to be on my recommendation list, as one of the best choices if you seek a sub-$200 IEM.

 

 

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

    2 Comments

    • Reply November 14, 2020

      Brian Becker

      Thanks for the write-up!

      As a lower-end FiiO guy with the EA1, EA3, and FH3, I’ll be looking to change things up, and the AE3 looks good and is priced right to compliment the FiiOs I have. Cheers!

    • Reply November 21, 2020

      Gordon Shen

      Great review!
      Can you do the detail comparison to FH3?
      Appreciate your help.

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