Shanling M6 21 Review


Design & Build Quality


“Same player shoot again”

Like the M6 Pro, the Shanling M6 21 is another copy/paste of the classic M6. And that’s a good thing.

An unibody case, made of CNC-milled aluminum, brushed and anodized, sandwiched by two glasses, front and back. Add bonded glasses, that follow the edges of the player, and it really feels premium from top to bottom.


No frosted glass this time, and the M6 displays the same sleek panel found on the first-generation player, covering Shanling’s logo and the Hi-Res Audio logos. It feels very Apple-Esque and every detail seems to add up – the curved glasses, hidden screws, smooth touch from touch to bottom – so you can enjoy one of the best experiences, at this price range.


The screen ratio remains the same, and we still have those annoying bars in the upper and bottom part, but now I don’t see that as an issue anymore. Over time, it grew on me and I accepted it.

There is no gap or flaw on any part of the player, the M6 21 feels premium, thanks to its hefty weight and, obviously, gorgeous design. Even if the player looks astounding without the case, I prefer to keep it covered. Again, the leather case is provided separately, but at least, it’s available. As it should be!


The Shanling M6 21 gets the exact same layout as previously seen on the M6

The multi-function scroll wheel, slightly recessed into the case to avoid any misclick, is provided by ALPS. It can move back and forth, and remains clickable, allowing you to raise or lower the volume, and turn on/off the player. But, for the first time, the wheel doesn’t match the body color. Instead, the brand gave it a golden tone, to differentiate the new model, from the previous one.


On the left side, you have the usual three buttons, for playback control: play/pause, next song, previous song. A small but nice difference is how those buttons slightly stick out from the player. This makes the player a little easier to control in blind mode, as Sony did with its latest players, which is not a bad case in my opinion.

You also have the mandatory micro-SD port, sealed with a rubber plug to avoid dust and particle penetration. 

All the outputs/inputs are found on the bottom side of the M6 Pro:

  • an USB Type-C port, dual-way to connect the Shanling to a computer and use it as a DAC/Amp, or to a DAP to make it the source.
  • 1x single-ended 3.5mm TRS headphone output to connect your usual headphones
  • 1x balanced 2.5mm TRRS headphone output
  • 1x balanced 4.4mm Pentaconn headphone output, hurray!



Like before, the Shanling M6 21 screen is absolutely gorgeous.

A vivid, sharp 4.7” 720×1280 IPS screen combined with a full Android experience, that behaves like a smartphone 90% of the time. Album covers aren’t pixelated anymore, responsiveness is top-notch and contrast looks very good too. Maximum brightness isn’t amazing, so if you’re the type of person that uses his player under direct sunlight, you may have a hard time. But for regular people, this won’t be an issue, especially if you’re stuck at home.

The screen/size ratio isn’t as good as Android or iOS flagship’s, but it’s a DAP so no one will really complain. At the end of the day, it’s still a very good screen and the M6 21 gets a bonus point for the bonded glasses.


Everyday carry

On a day-to-day basis, the Shanling M6 21 is very pleasant to use, even if a bit too big sometimes.

It’s a bit thick and even if it’s not as long as my iPhone, the thickness can be an issue when you put it in your pocket. This can be even more problematic once the M6 21 wears its leather pouch. Apart from that, there is no real drawback.

The scroll wheel remains a pleasure to use, it’s accurate and allows you to finely tune the listening volume. Add direct access buttons, for playback control, and you’ll never have to worry about anything, even in blind mode, when it’s deep in your pocket.

Number? The Shanling M6 21 weighs 233g for 133,5mm x 71mm x 17.5mm and the case adds up roughly 1cm overall.

The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Page 1: About the brand

Page 3: UI & Usage

Page 4: Specifications

Page 5: Sound performances

4.2/5 - (139 votes)


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.

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