When it comes to sound, the new M1s has the classic Shanling house sound with a good body, dynamism, warmth and musical tone. The power output is pretty good for most portable gear and some headphones out there. The noise floor is superb for its competition level, and the amplifier stage is surprisingly powerful.
The M1s, just like the M0 Pro, is a clean, warm and smooth-sounding DAP with an easy-to-like sound presentation. It has good-quality bass and very definitive mids, and an energetic, well-extended treble.
The overall presentation is on the warmer side as usual with Shanling, which gives the DAP good musicality. To be honest, it performs quite well for the money. Shanling house sound is pretty much present, so this is a consistent performance when compared with the whole portfolio.
The Shanling M1s has a warm and full bass, more so than the M0 Pro. There’s a good mid-bass presence, with good texture and impact. This gives the M1s a nice, full-bodied presentation. The bass is a bit deeper to me compared to the M0 Pro. Even with leaner-sounding IEMs, the bass is very satisfying and fun.
Overall layering and texture are very nice, and the control on the mid-bass part is very nice. Separation from the mids is good, so it’s not that dominating in the mid-bass, it keeps it under control. But still, the M1s’ bass is mid-bass oriented. So rumble, in terms of sub-bass, is not particularly impressive.
However, bass might be a bit overwhelming when you try some hard-hitting, very bassy IEMs. So you should pair the M1s with leaner-sounding gear in my opinion. If you find the perfect match, you’re going to have a great time listening to RnB and Pop tracks.
The M1s has great mids, particularly for its realistic and organic timbre. I would even say that it’s a mid-centric DAP. This is the focal point in the M1s, and to me, it’s the most impressive side of this player. The vocals are particularly forward sounding, with great definition, presence and realism.
Mids sound full, nicely bodied and musical. However, this forward approach makes the overall presentation a bit in-your-face type, so it is to better to match it with a wide, spacious-sounding IEM.
The overall warmth of the M0 Pro is felt quite substantially here, with good note thickness and full approach. So I wouldn’t say it’s neutral in mids, I would say quite warm instead. The tonality is very nice here, with a meaty and full delivery. A leaner-sounding IEM works well in particular. That way, the new M1s is very likeable and musical.
I found the highs of the M0 quite smooth and highly forgiving, but the M1s takes a different approach. Despite the overall warmth and full sound, the treble is very breathy, a bit bright and nicely extended. There’s good micro detail performance, and the articulation is very well. So I think this is one of the clear advantages of the M1s over the M0 Pro.
The sparkle and fine detail is not on the same level as mid-fi and high-end DAPs of course. However, it’s quite better than the M0 Pro in that regard, with noticeably better micro detail performance. Another positive side is that there’s no harshness or peaks, just like the rest of the spectrum. Overall a very nice treble performance.
Of course, it’s not fair to expect a high-end presentation here, but still, the M1s Pro is an improvement over the M0 Pro. It has more detail and extension in the treble. The highs sound clean thanks to the good background blackness, and they sound separated from the mids.