Shanling M6 21 Review

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UI & Usage 

No surprise here, the Shanling M6 21 behaves exactly like the previous M6 and M6 Pro, which is a good thing!

Android 7.1(.1) + Shanling Music App

The Shanling M6 21 enjoys the full Android experience, topped with the brand’s latest software. 

Sure, Android 7.1.1 Nougat is a bit old now and some players, like the new iBasso DX300 already moved past Android 8.1, but for audio purposes, it doesn’t make a real difference. Thanks to the Google Play certification, you can install, almost, any app you like, through the classic Play Store, or APK Pure if you want to use an alternate marketplace. The M6 21 supports Spotify, Qobuz, Deezer, Amazon Music, Tune-in, etc…

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Boot up is marginally faster compared to the 1st gen M6, but that’s mostly thanks to the various software update. The experience is pretty seamless and thanks to Qualcomm’s CPU + 4GB of ram, everything feels buttery smooth.

The Shanling Music App didn’t change much too. It’s snappy and fast, displays the right amount of settings, and comes as a great stock player.  Swiping from top to bottom unveils the quick-access menu, where you can choose to :

  • switch on/off the WiFi
  • same for the Bluetooth
  • activate the line-out function or use the phone-out
  • enable the high-gain level, mid-gain, or low-gain
  • access various audio settings
  • enable the AirPlay playback function
  • toggle between Android and Pure Player mods
  • change the USB mode to storage or DAC
  • take a screenshot
  • turn down the screen

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Audio Setting menu

  • Select output: phone out (PO) / Line-out (LO)
  • Lowpass filter: Sharp Roll-Off / Slow Roll-Off / Short delay Sharp Roll-Off / Short delay Slow Roll-Off / Super Slow Roll-Off
  • Gain: Low / High / Turbo // Low for your IEM and sensitive headphones, High for the demanding one, Turbo for the VERY demanding one
  • Balance: Left -10-0 / Right -10-0 // if you have an auditive deficiency, this might help
  • Boot Volume: if you want your player to boot up at a specific volume level
  • Max Volume: for your satefy, cap the volume
  • Wireless playback quality: you can choose between LDAC (Adaptative/Standard/Sound quality first/Connection First) or aptX(HD) and SBC, depending of your headphone
  • AirPlay: with AirPlay playback, you can stream your music wirelessly from any iDevice, like a smartphone or a Mac
  • Vehicle mode: if you mostly use the DAP with your car, it can turn on and off automatically

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USB-C and SD Card

All Shanling players use the now common USB-C connector and the Shanling M6 26 makes no exception. The transfer rate is great and the DAP supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

The M6 21, like the M6, offers 32Gb of internal memory and relies on micro-SD cards for  additional storage. Every type and size are supported, from SDHC to SDXC up to 2TB, even if they are not available yet.

Again, the USB-C port supports two-way transfers and so, the Shanling M6 Pro can be used as a DAC on a computer, or a source once paired with a DAC.

Airplay / DNLA / Tidal

Good news, the Shanling M6 21 supports all major streaming providers!

You can download your favorite apps through APK Pure, or the Google Play Store. Then, all you have to do is sign in with your Google account, and download the apps you need.

The Shanling Music app supports DNLA and Synclink. All you have to do is click on “NAS” and scan for a nearby connection, then you’ll have access to all of your files, available on your local server. I never had any issues and was more than surprised by the steady connection. Once connected to your local hotspot, you can easily play music from every source to your DAP.

Airplay function remains flawless, and you can stream from your iPhone and iPad in just a nick of time. It’s flawless with the album cover displayed on the M6 Pro screen and all the playback control is left to the source.

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Battery Life and Charging

The Shanling M6 21 battery is rated at 4000mAh, the same as before.

Sadly, the new Sabre chips drain a little more power than before, so continuous playback can only reach up to 11h in single-ended mode and 8h in balanced mode. During my tests, I achieved those exact same values, which is correct, but a tad worse than before.

The player enjoys Qualcomm Fast Charge V3 but no USB-PD, so expect a moderately long charge time when using the adequate charger.

The deep sleep function works perfectly fine and if you just listen during your work commute, one charge could last one full week. 

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Bluetooth

Shanling was one of the first brands to add dual-way Bluetooth on its DAP. This mode allows the listener to connect a digital source to the player all wirelessly. Compared to DNLA and Airplay, this option trades quality (due to limited bandwidth) for versatility: almost everything has Bluetooth now.

Compatible with apt-X, AAC/SBC, and LDAC, the Shanling M6 21 supports apt-X HD. Also, if LDAC, AAC and SBC get bidirectional support, apt-X (HD) can only send music to a headphone/speakers, no reception. If your source supports LDAC, no worries, if not you’ll be stuck in AAC or SBC.

Apart from that, it works perfectly well, and it’s a great option if your smartphone doesn’t offer an headphone output anymore. Compared to Airplay/DNLA, you get controls directly on the player but lose album covers, your call.

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

Page 1: About the brand

Page 2: Design & Build Quality

Page 4: Specifications

Page 5: Sound performances

4.2/5 - (139 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.

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