Today we’re sharing with you the full review of the Shanling M8, the brand’s new flagship DAP which costs $1,659 USD.
Disclaimer: The Shanling M8 was sent us directly from Shanling. Big thanks to Shanling and the people who helped me to get this player after many problems with shipping and customs.
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 but recent reviews came from Nano mostly. He reviewed the M5S and IEMs like ME500 & ME700 – and the M6 Pro DAP, which is a recommended player on our site.
About Shanling M8
The Shanling M8 is a continuation of the M6 Pro with a similar design language with Android software. This is the flagship portable player from Shanling and since the upcoming modular M30 device is not really portable, I exclude that one from consideration here.
The device runs Android 7.1 with a Snapdragon 430 CPU with 4 gigs of RAM. The onboard storage is 64 GB, which I think should’ve been bigger but it’s still fairly good, considering that many people will use streaming instead of local files. The storage is also expandable with a MicroSD card.
The M8 uses the premium level DAC AKM AK4499EQ, which supports 32bit/768kHz with native DSD512 capability. And make no mistake, there are 2 DACs inside so this is a dual setup of course. The amplifier side is strong too; it gives 840mW@32 Ohms from Balanced output.
Speaking of outputs, Shanling decided to implement a completely new approach to it. You now have a replaceable headphone socket system that allows you to switch headphone sockets depending on your cable termination. I personally liked the idea since you don’t have to use adapters for your cables and connect every possible type of jack in there. I also liked it because it retains the player’s sleek look with only one output visible.
Some people didn’t quite like the idea and that’s OK. But I always appreciate companies that try something new. I showed how to remove and attach those sockets in the 2nd video below. Keep scrolling down and you’ll see the videos.
Do you want to know more specs? Well, here you go; Bluetooth 5.0 with every codec possible, 7000 mAh battery, graphite cooling design, 5-inch FHD screen, 3 gain settings for the amplifier stage, monoblock aluminum chassis, 5G Wi-Fi, DLNA, OTA updates, and more.
Overall Experience, Design, Build Quality and Software
For those topics, I shot 2 videos and it’s on our YouTube Channel. These were shot weeks ago and my experience with the player is still the same so no changes so far. Shanling released the V1.22 firmware recently and it’s very stable now.
The only thing I can add here is that the player runs quite hot when you play music for long periods of time. However, this is only normal simply because the chassis is designed to dissipate heat that way. So don’t worry if you feel warmth in your palm. That is an intended solution to keep the player cool since 2 flagship DAC chips produce a certain amount of heat for sure.
I’d like to also add that with the latest V1.22 release, Google Play Services work without any issue.
So without further fuss, I’m jumping straight to the sound department in this review. Enjoy the videos about the overall experience. You will see a first impression video about the sound on the 2nd page.
P.S: Sorry about the “W” pronunciation. These are not meant to be “YouTuber” or professional videos.
Part 1 – Opening the box and impressions about the overall experience, build, and software:
Part 2 – How to change the headphone sockets: