Novice Viewpoint: Shanling M0

 

Introducing the newest addition to the Bus Ride Impression, “Novice Viewpoint”. This features impressions and feedback from the point of view of a neophyte in this hobby. This aims to present newbie friendly reviews and a much fun oriented discussion.

Disclaimer:

The Shanling M0 unit for this review did not come from the manufacturer. The written review is impartial and has no connections with the company. However I wish to thank Shanling for manufacturing these great budgets DAP (Digital Audio Player). Please bear with me as this is my “first review”.

INTRODUCTION

Since there are a lot of contenders on the budget friendly DAPs category, it is really hard to enter on this side of the portable audio scene.

However, Shanling thought of a way to have a DAP that’s jam-packed with features. With the success story starting with their line-up starting from the M1, we now take a look on their newest budget DAP model, the tiny Shanling M0.

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BUILD QUALITY & USABILITY

http://www.shanling.com/ 

Technical specifications :

  • Main features:
  • Dimension 45 x 40 x 13.5 mm, 38% smaller than M1
  • Weight just 38g
  • 54 inch touch screen
  • ESS ES9218p audio chip
  • 15 hour battery life, 30 day deep sleep mode, 630 mAH battery
  • Micro SD card up to 512 GB, no on-board memory
  • Bidirectional USB-C connector (M0 can serve as USB DAC with PC, also as USB transport for other DACs)
  • aptX and LDAC support
  • Two way Bluetooth (in receiver mode limited to SBC, AAC, LDAC codec, coming in future updates)
  • Support DSD(64 native, 128 D2P) and PCM up to 32/384
  • 80 mW into 32 ohm
  • Output impedance 0.16 ohm?

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Shanling M0 has a pretty decent and straight forward packaging. Inside the box is the Unit itself, USB-C Cable connector and the Manual.

Housing an aluminium body with a 1.54” LG Screen, the M0 doesn’t feel like 109$ (SRP) DAP,  it is dense and quite heavy enough to have that premium feel although it may be seem tiny for some. Considering that it is about the size of a watch (or an Apple watch in particular), it’s quite the right size for my use.

The minimalistic feel of the DAP makes it look more premium. The M0 doesn’t have much of the gimmicks nor the unusual and unnecessary features on the build which makes it an “on the go” DAP.

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The aluminum power button doubles as a volume wheel. Shanling did a great job integrating the power button and the volume in this tiny DAP. The power button functions as a control for the playback by double clicking but is limited to one function at a time only (alternately functions as either Next, Previous, Play/Pause); some may see it as a downside since the volume wheel is too small and may wear off the paint faster since it serves both functionality and the power button.

For the volume wheel’s longer life span, you could minimize its use with the adjacent touch screen function and slider that appears on the screen.

User interface is clean and straightforward, there is a bunch of themes you can choose from. I prefer the black ones as this also saves power.

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What makes the M0 a convenient DAP is its UI (User Interface) that offers both speed and responsiveness. Incorporated as well due to the lack of physical buttons is its very useful gesture control.

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The gesture control is very simple and easy to use. By choosing something on the screen you just have to swipe left to go back to the previous screen. The response is fast and easy.  Revealing text that does not fit the screen is done by swiping right on the chosen text/track.

The Shanling M0 is like a stripped down Android OS system with the gesture control. One of the things I could suggest is the Font size. Shanling could add a menu option to change font sizes.

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Another feature of the M0 is the USB DAC function. You may need to install the required and correct PC (OS Dependent) drivers to use it on your desktop. In my experience the DAC performs really well and is easy to connect.  I’ve tried different tracks on my PC as well as FLAC 24/48 tracks.

The M0 also features a lineout function that you can use to pair with portable amplifiers. The two way Bluetooth function of the M0 also performs well. I tested my Samsung J7 pro and it connects easily to the M0 functioning as a receiver although a playback control may be also considered on the future updates so that you may play/pause or change tracks on the M0 directly.

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I tested my Advanced EVO-X via Bluetooth which connected easily. What I like about the M0 is that you can take it to the gym with your wireless IEM. M0 is so bite sized that you can just put it in your pocket or your shirt’s pocket, too bad I didn’t have the time to get the Clip Case for the M0 which is also available on the market.

A strap case may also be good for the M0 so that you can use it while running or doing exercise.

BATTERY LIFE

With the size of the M0 some may expect it has a short battery life. Well in my case, Battery life lasts for about 12 to 15 hours depending on the tracks. In my case, I often play 16 bit FLACs and a bunch of 24/48 FLACs. As the size of the M0 it is really surprising to have at least 10 hrs of battery life considering that the battery of M0 is only 630 mAH.  Charging time for the M0 is atleast 1 and half hour to 2 hours. Standby mode is stated 30 days. In my own experience, I used the M0 on my daily commute for at least 3-4 hours a day. Surprisingly it can last up to 4 to 5 days which is great for a daily commuter like me.

M0’s UI and other features are easy to navigate and is convenient to use.  With the bunch of the included features such as the two-way Bluetooth as well as the Line Out and USBDAC/USBOUT. The M0 doesn’t feel like a $109 DAP.

It amazes me that this tiny dap can incorporate so much features as well as the lengthy battery life.

 

Sound

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In my opinion, M0’s sound quality leans a bit on the Balanced to Neutral SQ (at least on my ears) but still produces sufficient body on the low ends while delivering the right clarity and polished highs. Mids are not that recessed. Definitely not dark sounding. Soundstage was wider compared to my Sony NW-A35. Imaging is fair as well as the details. I’ll put emphasis on the soundstage as this was the most noticeable change in my opinion. Live tracks was clean and well presented, I tested this with the Sara Bareilles: Brave Enough Live at the Variety Playhouse. M0 satisfied my cravings for a well presented live performance as well as the details that is adequate.

M0 also has a high gain mode for items/HP that is harder to drive. Although EQ lacks customization but also has a variety of options to choose from as well as filters that can be located on the playback menu.

Surprisingly enough the M0 packs a quite power and punch. I can use my Advanced S2000 & Model at 50 to 60 percent of the volume. What more with headphones right?

 

Verdict

My verdict for the Shanling M0 is 8.5/10. With the jam-packed features included in this tiny DAP as well as the decent sound quality. The Shanling M0 is really full package. No wonder this can beat other entry level DAPs currently in the market. Although improvements on the FW is still needed, Shanling is really working on the updates as they’ve already released the FW v2.1 . once the FW is fully optimized.  I can really say that this will satisfy a person’s hunger for a great DAP as well as those who are new to the hobby and will be a great companion also for those who are already on the hobby who is looking for an On the Go DAP for their commutes. As M0 can also function as a transport DAP, this can really work well for those who use Headphones as well as external DAC/AMPs. I can say that this tiny DAP is packed with huge features you can use on different moods.

Overall, I was satisfied with the features as well as the balanced sound of the Shanling M0! If you’re looking for a DAP with huge features inside without compromising sound quality, I am confident that $109 is worth it. keep posted on the upcoming products of Shanling!

 

 

More Photos Below :

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