Picture Sunday – Shanling M2X

Today, we look at Shanling’s latest addition, the M2X. A lighter version of the Shanling M5S with all the good things we loved previously.

Shanling M2X – The design

“Big things come in small packages”

The Shanling M2X leans more toward the M5S than the M2S, it’s basically a M5S in a smaller box. The overall design is almost identical, which is a good thing since the M5S was faultless in this aspect. It’s got the same aluminium case, sandwiched between two glass panels, like an iPhone X and it even comes with the leatherette case EMBEDDED ! Not in a separate box.

The chassis is amazing, it gives the Shanling M2X a fantastic presence. Where the A&Norma SR15 plays it bold with asymmetrical design, the M2X does the opposite with accents on a more common style. The curve of the glas, combined with the perfect anodized aluminium, it looks and feels like a $1000+ player.

I received the Shanling M2X and the Cowon Plenue D2 almost at the same time, so it was hard not to compare them. If the Plenue D2 is lighter and hard-shaped, it’s sheer size made it easier to handle : it sits in the palm of the hand. The M2X is bulkier, but those smooth edges are really something and I’m pretty sure most of you would prefer the M2X on a daily basis.

“The devil is in the details”

Hi-Res Audio certified, the Shanling M2X displays the golden logo on its front side. But where most brands just put a sticker, Shanling takes it to the higher grounds. The logo was printed directly under the glass panel and strangely, it’s a very nice integration.

Another cool feature is the plastic lid protecting over the micro-SD slot. No annoying cart tray design and at the same time it gives the listener some peace of mind. USB-C because that’s mandatory now and you get both an unbalanced and a balanced output.

And let’s talk about the elephant in the room : the primary caveat in the M5S design was this massive area between the screen and the base of the player. This looks much better on the Shanling M2X with a tight gap between the screen and the base.

Shanling M2X – The specs

As a smaller M5S, the Shanling M2X shares a lot of features.

The number of DACs has been reduced to one instead of two, an AKM AK4490EN chip sustained by a Texas Instruments OPA1612 as low-pass filter. Shanling kept the dual amplification, to deliver a true balanced output, with a dual AD8397 op-amp. Output power is rated at 220mW @32ohms in balanced mode, not so bad !

If THD is almost identical, be it balanced and unbalanced (116-117dB), channel separation varies widely between the 3.5mm output and the 2.5mm output. The first one gives you 70dB of channel separation and the second a massive 107dB, a massive 37dB increase ! Not so far from the Shanling M5S.

Another great addition is a better use of the WiFi. MTouch 2.0 is finally compatible with music streaming, or at least Tidal (maybe some will come later, who knows). Sadly, offline mode isn’t supported yet, even with a micro-SD card. Airplay and DNLA is standard, so you can stream any music you want directly from you iPhone or iPad, very cool.

Finally, the Shanling M2X now works as a Bluetooth receiver and an emitter, from an USB source. If bluetooth 2-Way is becoming the norm, Bluetooth transmission from USB-DAC mode isn’t so common.

Price is still subject to some variation but the M2X should land around the 200$/€ in your usual store.

Review incoming soon !

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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 April 17, 2019

      Steve

      I believe the case was only included in review samples. And according to Shanling, Spotify is the one not working with them to get their service onto its OS, so doubtful that will change.

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