Shanling M6 Ultra Review

Power & Synergy

For hard-to-drive headphones/IEMs, the M6U is a DAP to be careful with. I recommend dynamic driver IEMs because of their presentation and easy driving. The BAL output is stronger than the SE one, as the specs suggest. This is indeed true.

If you want to drive a relatively high-impedance headphone/IEM, you should directly go with the BAL output. The SE is simply not that efficient. One should never hook up a headphone that is known to be hard to drive.

I recommend listening with headphones/IEMs that sound more analytical and have bright highs. Curiously, single dynamic monitors sound great with the M6 Ultra. Especially A8000, and IE 900 are great matches. IE900 might be the best match because of its analytical approach, which suits well with the M6U. On the contrary, Dita Perpetua and Oriolus Szalayi don’t match quite well, since they’re both warm IEMs so the presentation becomes a bit too fat and too smooth.


Shanling M8

The M8, as I’ve remarked in the article so far, is quite similar to the M6 Ultra. The difference lies in the technical performance. The M8 has more resolution and transparency. It also has better layering, a wider soundstage and better bass control. So the old flagship is still quite good. Yet, you can get the newer M6 Ultra for an updated and improved Android experience with a faster CPU. The sound is also reminiscent of the M8, albeit a bit worse in technicalities. It also has a smaller footprint.

Shanling M7

The presentation of the M6U is warmer and more euphonic than the M7. The M7 is more analytical and flat, but its technical performance is a notch better, as far as sheer resolution and transparency go. Especially when it comes to Classical for instance, where you need focus and sharpness, the M7 delivers quite well.

So between the two, I think it’s a matter of two things. One is the synergy with your IEMs/headphones. If you have warm-sounding gear without too much treble energy, the M7 would be a great choice. If you have flat, bright-sounding gear then the M6U would complete them well. The second thing is the higher RAM and battery capacity of the M7, together with the new generation design.

The performance of the M7, in its own price bracket, is simply very good. But in my case, I enjoyed the M6 Ultra more. M7 sometimes feels like it’s deliberately tuned to be analytical to compete with the big boys. That doesn’t happen with the M6U, as it stays faithful to the Shanling sound.


The most updated member of the Shanling M6 line is a very competitive and successful compact DAP. It’s a very dependable package whether you’re on a commute, on a walk or simply in your house trying to relax after work. You can stream with the best music apps, listen to your local files, or even watch a few videos online. It has a snappy performance, an ergonomic design and an enjoyable sound, with a lasting battery. 

Shanling priced this one very well when I look at the market today. It’s a good all-in-one package and it consequently ends up in our Best DAPs list. As we’re preparing the close the year as the HFN team, I wish all of you a good Christmas. 

Page 1: About the Brand and the Device
Page 2: User Experience
Page 3: Sound Quality
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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