For the purpose of this review, I used the Shanling ME700 for IEM testing and the Meze Empyrean for headphone comparison. All files were streamed from Qobuz in Hi-Res, when available, Spotify and my own catalog.
The Shanling M6 Pro is exactly as you would expect: same player, more refined.
Like all Shanling players, the sound signature is flat but never dull, thanks to the wide dynamic range. Last time, I said that the M6 was a: real “tour de force” […] elevated at a whole new dimension, and that’s still true with the M6 Pro. But even better.
Dynamics are top-notch, layering is razor-sharp and the sound stage pinpoints accurate. Head to head, the M6 Pro falls short when plugged in through the balanced output, especially when you use big headphones like the Audeze or cans like Meze Empyrean.
Voices effects coming from the back of you head? It’s here.
Pitch black background? Oh yeah.
Excellent dynamic range? Yes, yes, yes.
Shanling players have always been linear, flat as monitor speakers but neither boring. This is still true with the M6 Pro. If Cowon always boasts how good their player can be for music recorders, I think Shanling could give them a run for the money.
Every nuance, every sensation is there, heightened by the dryness of the sound. Yet, this is not the same one found in the earlier models, the upper-highs feels much more potent. It’s still dry – much more than FiiO – but clearly Shanling perfected its score and sweetened the whole set.
Instruments are even more defined, transients are faster and the longer you listen the more get accustomed to those uncanny moments where the voice seems to slip right behind your head. The Farewell Courtyard from Feynman, was the perfect test-track to magnifies the main sound differences between the regular and the Pro version.
The output power has been massively improved. With the new Turbo Gain, I had no issue driving the Sennheiser HD800S, the Audeze LCD-3 or even the Meze Empyrean. If you intend to rock your big headphones, the M6 Pro will be able to do so. Again, stick with the balanced output, as power falls short once you get back in SE mode, even more in single-DAC mode.
All in all, this is – now – the best Shanling player the brand ever released. It pushes further than the previous M6, that I already loved, by polishing every good trait. It’s also the best choice for those who like dry sound, in the opposite of the mellow one you get with FiiO, or the high-pitched signature from Astell&Kern.
Highs: airy and flat. Surprise surprise, the Shanling M6 Pro sounds… even sharper. With a good IEM, the result is nothing short of amazing, notably if you love female voices. Clearly, there aren’t many players that could match this DAP, even at higher price points. You’ll hear details unheard before, period. As usual classical music and jazz is bliss, but that’s also true with electro tracks (my favorite genre)
Mids: deliciously linear. Voices aren’t uncanny anymore, and if the sound stage is wider, it’s also more acute. A definitive upgrade compared to the previous model, even if this new DAP is even more linear. The difference isn’t subtle anymore, and the more I listen, the more I’m convinced by Shanling’s sound choice.
Lows: more power, lower lows. The bass of the M6 Pro reached abyssal levels, much more that I’d expect! Paired with the Audeze LCD-3, I could hear the rumble of the bass, even at (very) low volume level. The player really punched me in the guts, and for once, I can advise a Shanling player… for the bass!
Noise: the Shanling M6 Pro is absolutely dead silent in any conditions. Even when I used Spotify or took the player as a Bluetooth amp, I didn’t hear any hiss or hum. Great!
It comes at no surprise, the Shanling M6 Pro is an exceptional player. The brand simply took the regular M6, and push everything to the max: more power, various software upgrades, better sound quality, and the same, exquisite build quality.
In one sentence: this is the best player from Shanling, at the moment. But, the real question would be: should you get the M6 Pro or the Fiio M11 Pro? To me, the M6 Pro offers better lows while the M11 Pro, exhibits finer mids but a more narrow sound stage.
So yeah, the Shanling M6 Pro goes directly to our recommendation list and replaces the previous M6. My new daily driver, obviously.