In this article, we review the new Shanling M6 Ultra DAP which costs $919 USD.
Disclaimer: The Shanling M6 Ultra was sent to us directly from Shanling. The review reflects my honest opinion as always.
Founded in 1988, Shanling has been developing Hi-Fi products for more than 30 years now. From high-end CD players to classy tube amps, the brand made a name thanks to great craftsmanship and top-of-the-line performance.
Shanling also developed a complete range of players and IEMs. We reviewed almost all of their portable products, including the Shanling M9 flagship DAP, and the more portable M7, and both deserved a recommendation from us, rightfully so. Nano also reviewed lots of Shanling products as well as Yagiz. You can check them out here.
Shanling M6 Ultra
The Shanling M6 Ultra is simply an updated member of the M6 model family. The first M6 model came out in 2020, then we saw the M6 Pro, M6 21 and M6 Pro 21. Quite the resume. Now we have the newest M6 Ultra in our hands.
Shanling likes to upgrade its devices according to new available tech and components. And of course, there was the AKM factory fire in 2020. After using ESS DACs for a while, Shanling returned to the AKM solution, this time with the new 4493SEQ. This represents the return of the Shanling house sound that we know of, especially starting with the M8 former flagship. The device has a quad 4493SEQ setup.
“Amplifier design was further adjusted for this Quad-DACs array, allowing for a higher power output than was possible on our previous AKM-based M6 models. Offering up to 720 mW @ 32 Ohm output.”
The new device has Snapdragon 665, Android 10 OS, 5” 1080p screen, coming in -now a Shanling classic- aluminium/glass compact sandwich design. RAM however is only 4GB compared to 5 from the M7. The battery has a 5650 mAh capacity which is very good for a compact device, and you get 64GB of internal storage, supported by a single MicroSD card slot.
Shanling M6 Ultra follows the sleek design introduced with the M8. With curved lines and a minimalistic look, Shanling manages to separate its DAPs from the crowd.
The chassis is made of one solid block of aluminium, CNC-milled, brushed and anodized, magnified by the two glasses, front and back. The front glass follows the edges of the player, bonded to ensure a seamless experience. With the curved glasses, hidden screws, and smooth touch from top to bottom, it’s one of the best experiences you can get and that makes a huge difference on a daily basis.
There is no gap or flaw on any part of the player. Overall I think the M6 looks great since it is very compact and sleek.
There’s a protective case, and a USB Type C cable inside a nice premium box. You also have a screen protector film, one pre-applied and one spare. The case that comes with the M6 Ultra is similar to the M7. There are also two spare MicroSD covers, which is nice.
The M6 Ultra, just like the other Shanling DAPs, feels great in the hand, and the aluminium chassis has good weight and toughness. The premium feeling is close to the A&K and Sony players. The sides of the player feel great in particular when holding the device. This is one of the best portable compact players I’ve held in terms of overall feeling and quality. It even gives a better feeling than the flagship M9 with its compact body. That M9 is massive.
My comments about the volume dials of these players still stand though. I don’t quite like this volume dial. The dial wobbles around a bit and it doesn’t look quite as luxurious as the rest of the players. This dial also acts as a power button so it’s frequently used. It has good ergonomics, but I think should have a better and more robust design, something to note about.