Features & Control
The device can be controlled via the volume knob a.k.a. the multifunctional button. Of course, you have the option to control the device via the Shanling Controller app. The app is very nice. You have a lot of options to meddle with and it is quite easy to use. Let me go over what you can change via the app. You can toggle on or off the auto-charge feature, you can select one or multiple Bluetooth codecs and force the device to use them, you can toggle on the car-mode, change the default volume, change the prompt tone, switch USB type from UAC 1.0 to 2.0 or vice-versa, adjust display brightness, adjust screen-off-timer, adjust channel balance, toggle on or off dual-DAC mode, change the gain setting and switch between 2 DAC filters. Additionally, the app comes with a 10-band EQ support but there are better EQ apps available on Android. One important feature that is missing in the app is the OTA firmware update support. Unfortunately, you have to have a windows machine to update UP5’s firmware.
As I mentioned, you can also control the device via the integrated volume knob, however, I found it a little hard compared to using the app. The full list of device controls can be found here. Furthermore, I can’t say I liked the volume knob’s accuracy, my unit skips a few volume steps at times. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s an issue specific to my device or not. (UPDATE ON THE ISSUE: Shanling has released a firmware update regarding this issue, kudos!)
Shanling lets you turn on and off the automatic charging feature and it’s quite useful if you intend to use the device wired. Apart from that, if you want to use the device with older devices or devices with locked operation systems, such as PS5 or Nintendo Switch, you can switch to the USB 1.0 interface for driverless operation. It is a nice feature that Shanling included to increase the compatibility of the UP5. The new BTR5 2021 had the same feature, it’s quite useful.
The Shanling UP5 comes with an integrated NFC module located on the front glass panel. You can pair your NFC-enabled smartphone with the UP5 seamlessly within seconds. It is a nice-to-have feature. Additionally, the UP5 can stay paired with 2 devices, simultaneously.
The UP5 offers media controls via buttons. You can pause and resume the music playback, skip to the next or previous song and activate your preferred assistant.
Let’s talk about MQA for a bit. It is quite popular among audiophiles, some love it, some hate it. If you want to use it with the UP5 on a windows machine, you will need to download and install drivers from Shanling for full utilization of the device. If you’re a MAC user, you don’t have to install any drivers. The OLED display will let you know when the device fully utilizes MQA.
Lastly, the UP5 features Knowles’ Si-Sonic omnidirectional microphone. It is located on the top side of the device and picks up my voice quite well. It handles crowded environments without major issues and successfully transmits my voice. I have conducted several tests and the UP5 did a good job of picking up my voice through the chatter.
Power & Stability
The UP5 offers plenty of power and can dish out 112mW into 32Ω load via single-ended output. Going balanced provides extra oomph and bumps up the power to 240mW. This means that you will need to use 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced outputs for maximum power. Whether you need this extra power or not is completely dependent on the IEMs you’ll pair the device with. For most of the IEMs on the market, no, you don’t need to go that extra mile of purchasing balanced cables, especially if you are majorly planning to use the device wirelessly.
If you’re after every single bit of the dynamic range, I would of course recommend you to get a balanced cable and I would also recommend Android users to get acquainted with the UAPP. The UAPP lets us use USB DACs in bit-perfect mode and also provides us with several tweaks to meddle with. Of course, the tricks I have mentioned are only valid when you use the device wired.
Shanling’s UP2 and UP4 used Qualcomm’s CSR8675 premium-tier chipset. I don’t know why Shanling decided to switch to Qualcomm’s new premium line (5xxx) chipset series this year but this chipset surprised me with its stable performance. I haven’t had any connectivity problems during my time with the UP5 and that’s quite positive. I haven’t noticed any improvement or regression in the operation range either.
The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 1: Shanling, Shanling UP5, Packaging & Accessories, Design & Build Quality
Page 2: Features & Control, Power & Stability
Page 3: Battery, Sound Performance, Wired Performance, vs. Shanling UP4, vs. FiiO BTR5, Last Words