Shanling M6 Ultra Review

Sound Quality Overall

As mentioned, Shanling returned to their AKM house sound with the M6 Ultra. And they’ve done it with a lower price than the M7, which makes this one a good alternative below 1000 $ range. Let’s talk about the overall sound of the M6 Ultra then.

The M6 Ultra is a smooth and warm-sounding DAP that takes a different route than the M7. It basically follows the footsteps of the M8. With the effect of AKM and the tuning, we have a player that plays smoothly and softly, with an effortless presentation with a tamed-down treble. It is a very good compact player that ticks lots of boxes for an audiophile in terms of balance, separation, power, background and imaging, as well as a romantic tuning.

While not much has been compromised on resolution and transparency, one should not expect M8-M9 type of success in terms of technicalities. It would make sense to consider this player to be a small version of the M8 in general.

Sound Quality Details

The bass quality is again noticeable just like the other players of the Shanling. It very much resembles the M8 here, with a warm mid-bass that provides a good body for the overall sound and the mid-range in particular. The pace of the bass is not spectacular, but it’s quite good for the price. It has a bit more rumble and punch than the M7, which is quite a neutral-sounding player with a quicker bass.

I think for the price the bass performance is very nice. The dynamism could’ve been better, but it’s on the same level -if not better- with similarly priced DAPs so no complaints here. The extension and depth are very good, and the bass has enough control to maintain the coherency.

A Musical Mid-Range

The mid-range is a bit elevated and it’s in front of the stage. The vocals and instruments sound engaging with great dynamism. This area is also very clean and crisp, although to a lesser degree than the M7. The resolution is a click below the M7, but still competitive for the price.

This I think is the best section of the M6 Ultra, especially when paired with clean-sounding IEMs with high transparency. It sounds very smooth and musical in the mid-range with good tonality and balance. It doesn’t have the micro-detail and transparency level of the M7, 8, and 9, but it lives up to its own price bracket with a creamy and smooth mid-range with excellent dynamics.

Extra Smooth Treble

The M6 Ultra returns to the ultra-smooth territory with its new AKM chips, just like what M8 possessed. The treble is tamed down in terms of brightness and crispness. The M7 for instance has a brighter and sharper treble response, and it requires a good synergy. M6 Ultra doesn’t really need to have the perfect synergy, it just plays effortlessly and smoothly with almost every piece of equipment. 

And yet, treble lovers would need more energy and bite here with more dynamism. The M6 Ultra doesn’t give you that. It stays in its comfortable territory where you don’t have any peaks, brightness or a very definitive approach. 

If you’re sensitive to treble, you’re in great hands. However, the transparency and the overall resolution in this area aren’t spectacular. The bigger brothers of M6 Ultra do a better job there.

A Compact Device with a Smooth Sound

The sound stage and separation are good, especially the separation side of things. The M6 Ultra has very good imaging capabilities with good focus. The background blackness helps hugely in that regard. You have a fairly large soundstage, especially in terms of overall depth. I mentioned the mid-range is in front so the width is not incredible, and the focus is usually on the instruments and vocals.

The imaging and separation, together with transparency and resolution are very good. The layering performance is not flagship level of course, nor is the overall texture. However, you get excellent timbre and fullness in the mids, with very good dynamic range and definition.

Page 1: About the Brand and the Device
Page 2: User Experience
Page 4: Power & Synergy, Comparisons, Conclusion
4.4/5 - (97 votes)

A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.


  • Reply December 19, 2022


    Nice review how die it compare to ak se180 with sen4 dual ak4493seq and how is user experience astell kern against m6 ultra
    Cheers Jonathan

    • Reply December 19, 2022


      SE180’s user experience is pretty weak when compared to Shanling. M6 Ultra is much faster with much more freedom in the OS.

      Sound-wise I would also prefer the M6 Ultra simply because it’s cheaper. AK brings a bit more refinement and layering, but I like it more with the SEM3 module.

      • Reply December 19, 2022


        Ok I will get se180 soon with sem1 2 and 4 and then listeb to it maybe I get then m6 ultra.
        Cheaper and faster. I didn’t like m6 21 editions because of ess dac because I prefer akm.
        Maybe next time.
        Nice reviews
        Cheers Jonathan
        And sorry for the double posting

  • Reply December 19, 2022


    How does it sound compared to ak se180 with sem4.
    And how is ui usage and speed
    Cheers Jonathan

  • Reply February 20, 2023


    How does this Player compare to the ibasso dx240 with amp 1mk3 and amp8 mkii

  • Reply December 29, 2023


    How about the astell n kern se180 sem1 at a discounted price of 999 and the Shanling m6 ultra at regular price, around 999?

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