The Shanling M6 Pro is the new flagship DAP from a company that has quickly gained a reputation for providing exceptional sounding audio products. You might not be familiar with Shanling, but they are now known as one of the leading high-resolution audio player, DAC, and Amp manufacturers in the audiophile community.
We reviewed the M6 earlier this year and were impressed at the performance level, especially when comparing the value against other brands such as Astel & Kern and Sony. The new Pro version looks to build upon the M6’s success and refine the experience.
Where to buy the Shanling M6 Pro
There are a few vendors selling the Shanling M6 Pro but this is a niche product so stock levels will vary accordingly. Be careful to buy from a reputable vendor like those we list below as this is a high value item they are more likely to be there for you in the case of a warranty claim etc.
Link for pricing and purchase on Linsoul
Key Features and Specifications of the Shanling M6 Pro
- Dual AKM4497EQ DAC Chips
- Fully updated amp section with 600Mw power
- 32GB internal storage with Micro SD card expansion
- 4.7-inch touchscreen
- 3 headphone out ports – 2x balanced
- Support for DSD256 and 32-bit high res audio
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
What’s in the box?
The Shanling M6 Pro packaging is relatively basic, just a nicely put together with cardboard case with the player suspended in foam to keep it safe in transit. The included extras are also on the more minimal side, but this is common with DAP’s which do not typically need many extras to get you going.
In the box, you will find:
- 2x Screen Protectors
- A USB Charging and Data Cable
- A quick start guide
- The Shanling M6 Pro DAP
Build Quality and Design
The new Pro version looks virtually identical to the older Shanling M6. The only difference is the backplate, which has a new design, and I think it makes it look a bit cleaner. I like the original styling and build, so I was more than happy they didn’t try and reinvent the product.
The body is a single-piece aluminum chassis that wraps around the whole device. The front and the back are two glass panels. On the left-hand side, you will find most of the playback and operation controls apart from the power button/volume pot that sits on the device’s right-hand side.
The button layout and placement make it very easy to use the M6 Pro single-handed, and this is true with both the left and right hands.
The switchgear is all metal as well, and presses all give an excellent click. Some companies still cheap out and use plastic buttons and inadequate mechanisms which give sloppy feedback on presses, the Shanling feels well-considered and premium.
Additionally, you will find the recess for the Micro-SD card slot on the left-hand side, which I assume most people will use as internal storage is minimal.
The player’s bottom is where things get interesting, and Shanling gives you plenty of options for connecting your headphones and earphones. The following ports can are on the bottom of the device:
- 1x USB-C charging and data port
- 1x Standard 3.5mm headphone port
- 2x Balanced Output ports (2.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm Pentacon)
If you are going to be using it with headphones, this is a great setup, but for Hi-Fi users who want optical outs and other technologies, this is the wrong DAP for you.
Personally, as someone who has many headphones with different connectors who does most of his listening on headphones, this player is an excellent choice. It’s versatile outputs mean I don’t have to worry about using adaptors every time I want to switch my cans.
The screen is the same 4.7-inch Sharp panel used on the original M6, and its a perfect one with an excellent dynamic range and sharpness.
It also gets sufficiently bright for use outdoors. 4.7 inches might seem small compared to most modern smartphones, but on DAPs predominantly used for music playback, there is no point in having a large screen eating up precious battery life.
Some people may take umbrage at first that there are huge bezels on the top and bottom of the device, but when you use the player with one hand, you remember just how simple life once was. Typing will be minimal when using the Pro, so I do not miss a large display.
As I mentioned above, the physical operation of the Shanling M6 Pro is perfect. It’s a bulky player, but the ergonomics are also excellent. The one-handed operation is a big thing for me, but so can operate the device from inside my pocket.
With the M6 Pro, I have no issue controlling the player while “blind” thanks to the physical controls.
User Interface and features
Those who own the regular M6 will not see any changes to the UI on the Pro model. It runs on a very stable but dated version of Android 7.1, which has some useful tweaks but remains faithful to stock experience for the majority. I had no problem installing all my favorite apps from the play store and had no compatibility issues in getting them to run.
Out of the box and for the Shanling M6 Pro review, we installed the following applications:
Youtube and Netflix were installed and run fine, but I wouldn’t waste my time watching media on such a device when my phone is far more capable. Of the installed apps, I never experienced any crashes or bugs, and the speed was also perfectly acceptable yet not on a par with my Samsung Note 10 Plus or iPhone 11.
I use Neutron for my playback, but it is dated looking by now. I’m a creature of habit, so I and I know that system well. Still, for the review, I spent most of my time using the Shanling Music Player.
While it lacks some of the Astel and Kern players’ polish, it’s a robust and stable platform if you are using your library to listen.
Battery Life and Charging
It’s good to see we finally see the back of micro USB on devices like these. It took some time, but 99% of the products that require charging coming through our doors now support USB-C as the charging port. Shanling goes a little deeper by including Quickcharge 3.0 on the M6 Pro, which means less downtime between sessions.
There is a good-sized 4000mah battery inside, and it gave some excellent playback time when you consider the hardware powered by the player.
We achieved bang on the 9-hour mark for our tests with our balanced headphones and 12 hours 10 mins with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. That is more than enough for a day listening, and most people should see a few sessions before needing to re juice the player.
Bluetooth and Wifi are both included with the Pro, and both worked reasonably well. The only complaint I had was the Wifi was a bit weak when not in the same room as the router, although the distance was also a factor.
The Bluetooth performance was excellent, and they use the 4.2 standards with support for APTX, LDAC, and SBC.
The Listening Experience
Players are one of these areas where review sites talk a whole lot of nonsense. They paint a picture of unbelievable sweeping emotional dynamics, but that is all puff to up their word count. All I want from my players is to be as transparent and authentic to source as possible and have sufficient power to drive my most demanding headphones.
If I want to alter that sound, I will do so through an EQ or choose the appropriate headphones depending on what I feel like listening. In that sense, I look for technical excellence in my source components’ performance, and Shanling has nailed that on the M6 Pro.
The best way to describe the M6 Pro when listening is discreet and powerful with an excellent dynamic range. There are no artificial colorations or artifacts.
It remains incredibly neutral and unbiased in how it presents the music as if to say, “here is all the detail and performance you have been asking for, I won’t be the limitation. Are your headphones up to the job?”
Every one of my IEM’s is driven with ease, and being so familiar with my test units; I can quickly tell if something unnatural is happening. It wasn’t. They sounded fantastic, spacious, detailed, and precise. The background is devoid of any his and pure black allowing the music to exist in its own space.
No emphasis bias is on the upper frequencies mids or lows. It remains keenly balanced throughout the spectrum. Its a fantastic listening experience, no musical or warm but viciously accurate and revealing just the way I like it.
This thing does smash far more expensive players from Sony and Astell, giving you every bit as much performance, but at a far lesser price, it might just be the biggest no brainer as we go into the latter half of 2020.
The original M6 was a fantastic player and rightly praised by many. While the new M6 Pro is remarkably similar, its refinements in the amp section’s power make it an incredibly versatile player with which you can go from high demand headphones to IEM’s quickly.
I have been using the Astell & Kern Cube and YNLVMEI A1 for the past few months. However, for the rest of the year, I’m personally switching to the M6Pro. The reason? It’s an incredible sound, ease of use, and system stability.
I think that at this point, there is no better audio player on the market offering this level of performance at this price. A fantastic player and highly recommended.