Shanling H5 Review

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UI & Usage

Everyday carry

Shorter, the Shanling H5 is a lot easier to carry on a daily basis than its sibling, but its width doesn’t make it really practical either. There are worse options of course, and compared to the FiiO Q7 or even the H7, its smaller footprint and reduced weight made a big difference in the long run, especially once paired with my iPhone. 

Obviously, this combo won’t fit in your trousers’ pocket, will hinder your every move if you put it in your jacket, and create a considerable bulge in your bag, but that was expected. Once more, my salvation came from ddHiFi’s C2022 audiophile carrying case, which swallowed the whole setup all at once.

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But, once settled, there was a lot to love about this new DAC/AMP. The digital volume control was perfectly sized, with perfectly matched digital volume steps and, finding the right volume was always simple and easy. I know that ALPS potentiometers can sometimes be overlooked, but even to this day, they still remain king in their domain, in my opinion.

Top that with a really cool screen that indicates volume, gain level, and balance – plus many other features – plus a second knob to access all those settings, and you might be surprised by how handy the H5 is on a daily basis. Menus are fast and simple to navigate into, and if a wired connection isn’t to your taste, Bluetooth is there to save your day.

Desktop mode

If the Shanling H5 remains a portable DAC/AMP at core, it also comes with the same desktop features found on the H7, that make it an ideal desktop audiophile bridge.

While the USB-C port remains the almighty solution today, thanks to its versatility and the ability to be used with almost any digital source, the H5 also comes with a mini-Toslink input that doubles as a coaxial one. And, while the 3.5mm Coaxial format isn’t quite popular, Shanling graciously bundles the DAC with a Jack-to-Cinch adapter that will allow you to plug your old CD Transport, or even your old computer, as a source.

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But, the big feats here remain the RCA line-out, something that no other portable DAC offers in this price range. And while you’ll have to sacrifice your headphone jack to connect another amp with the FiiO Q5-TC, on the H5 you get a fully dedicated line-out port on the back and two dedicated headphones upfront.  In my case, that allowed me to connect my speakers on one side, and my headphones on the other, without the hassle of getting another adapter or plug/unplug all my devices every time. Moreover, the fact that the line-out and headphones out sit on opposite sides feels a lot more natural in terms of ergonomics.

Plugged into my computer, all I had to do was select USB on the H5 and it was immediately recognized by my MacBook, or even my PS4/Xbox after switching back to the legacy UAC1 USB Mode. Next, all I had to do was plug a headphone/IEM into one of the TRS/TRRS jack, “et voila”.

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Battery Life and Charging

Shorter, the new Shanling H5 obviously comes with a smaller battery. You still get high-capacity batteries, getting you no less than 3500mAh of capacity – 3300mAh less than the H7 and 6300mAh less than the FiiO Q7.

To my surprise, once more Shanling didn’t get USB-PD compliance for its H5 and stuck to Qualcomm QC3.0 Fast-Charge, which – thankfully – remains faster than your usual 10W charge. That said, the DAC/AMP will still need up to 2.5h to completely charge! 

Meanwhile, Shanling advertises 12.5 hours of continuous playback in single-ended mode and 10h in balanced – conservative numbers that I successfully reached during my test. 

The article continues on Page Three, after the click here

Page 1: about Shanling, casing, construction
Page 2: UI & Usage, Bundle
Page 3: Specifications
Page 4: sound & conclusion

4.6/5 - (108 votes)
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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.

1 Comment

  • Reply November 16, 2023

    Gilles Vandermeer

    Is the sound quality on par with something like the Chord Mojo 2?

    I like the portability of both but also want to add it in my hifi system (setup: Wiim pro + Mojo 2 or only Shanling H5 as all in one device)

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