Shanling M1s DAP Review

Shanling M1s DAP Review

Shanling M1s DAP Review

In 2016, Shanling introduced the M1 portable digital audio player that boasted good sound with an ultra-compact form factor. Shanling M1 was actually the brand’s first-ever compact audio player. Even with its compact size, it packed a powerful punch that grabbed all the attention it deserved. Shanling has introduced a successor to the classic M1, the all-new Shanling M1s DAP.

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The new M1s still retains a compact form factor. Still, it has got a better DAC, independent Amp chipset, upgraded Ingenic X2000 Processor, MQA decoding function, 2.8″ color display, Streaming function, and several more new features. It’s like the M1S is an entirely new device.

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Shanling M1s houses ES9038Q2M Premium 32-Bit high-performance DAC chipset from ESS Sabre Technologies. The 9038Q2M is a highly-acclaimed chipset featured in many other products, it enables crisp high-resolution audio decoding on the M1s and achieves ultra-low distortion and high SNR values. The resulting output has a rich tone and a clean, noise-free background. Shanling has paired this premium Sabre DAC with an in-house developed FPGA architecture that enables high-resolution audio decoding supporting high-res 32bit/768kHz PCM, native DSD512, and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio signals.

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Shanling has featured dual independent RT6863 amp chips on the M1S that produce a robust signal amplification on the device. M1s pack outstanding power ratings for their compact size producing up to 245 mW of clean power with the balanced output port. M1s has two headphone output ports, 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced. The M1s has an upgraded Ingenic X2000 Three-Core processor with upgraded MTouch 2.0 OS. It offers smooth UI and advanced functions such as WiFi connectivity supporting streaming, Apple Airplay, and DLNA features. M1s also has two-way Wireless Bluetooth V5.0 connectivity. It can be connected to smartphones using the SyncLink function. It allows for complete control through a remote device.

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The Shanling M1s has bidirectional Bluetooth, WiFi, and can act as a separate DAC or a DAC amplifier.

Shanling M1s is launched officially for 229$ in Black and Silver color options.


  • Dimensions: 72 x 69 x 16 mm
  • Weight: 106g
  • Screen: 2.8 inches 640 x 480 touch screen
  • DAC: ESS ES9038Q2M
  • Digital Filters: 7
  • Amplifier: 2x Ricore RT6863
  • Battery Life: 14.5h SE / 1.5h BAL / 26H Bluetooth
  • Battery Capacity: 2100mAh
  • Memory: Micro SD card slot of up to 2TB
  • Output: 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • BT Transmitter: LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
  • BT receiver: LDAC, AAC, SBC
  • Wi-Fi Support: AirPlay, DLNA, OTA updates
  • Hi-Res Support: up to 32/768, DSD512 and MQA
  • USB DAC: up to 32/384 and DSD256
  • Music Formats: ISO, DXD, APE, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, AIF, DTS, MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, ALAC, OPUS, MQA ( ISO DST not supported)

3.5mm Output

  • Output Power: 144mW @ 32Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 40kHz (-0.5db)
  • THD+N: 0.0007% @ 32Ω (A-weighted @ 0.5V)
  • Dynamic Range: 123db @32 Ω (A-weighted)
  • Channel separation: 76db @32 Ω
  • SN Ratio: 116db @ 32 Ω
  • Noise Floor: 116db (A-weighted)
  • Output Impedance: 0.4Ω

4.4 Balanced Output

  • Output Power: 245mW @ 32Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 40kHz (-0.5db)
  • THD+N: 0.0008% @ 32Ω (A-weighted @ 1V)
  • Dynamic Range: 123db @32 Ω (A-weighted)
  • Channel separation: 108db @32 Ω
  • SN Ratio: 118db @ 32 Ω
  • Noise Floor: 110db (A-weighted)
  • Output Impedance: 0.8Ω

I would like to thank Shanling and Aoshida Audio for providing me with the review sample of Shanling M1s. They have one of the best inventories out there when it comes to desktop DACs and AMPs. You should definitely check them out.

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MTouch 2.0 OS

Please watch the video for a short MTouch 2.0 OS walkthrough.

Thankfully Shanling added the feature to turn the screen 180 degrees so you can choose whether the keys stay above or under the screen. And they are pretty useful when the M1s in your pocket or lying down on your desktop.

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The Shanling M1s also supports Type-C audio output like a smartphone would do. You can use your USB-C earphones like Moondrop Droplet, Quarks DSP, or the new Tanchjim Tanya DSP without a problem.


Update: Shanling M1s supports Tidal streaming after the latest firmware update.

The Shanling M1s has a dark, silent background, a dynamic signature, and a full frequency spectrum that seems flat-lined and neutral in frequency response and it seems to produce music in a rather transparent way.


The bass region is fast and agile. The bass notes have a very good texture. The excellent sub-bass extension coupled with a nice body and details delivers a satisfying lower end. It is nicely voluminous with admirable accuracy. It has a good amount of rumble. The sub-bass body and rumble are meaty and voluminous. It doesn’t restrict or stimulate the IEM for more grunt. The mid-bass has a slightly voluminous body giving the lower end a good amount of weight and fullness. Bass feels agile and recovers fast, which contributes to the sense of speed, hence, enhancing the technical capability of the M1s. The control is very good here also, so there is no section overlap of any kind and the transition between bass and mids feels smooth. 

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M1s supports a 10-band equalizer in the OS.


The whole mid-range has excellent details. The low mids have a good body, are adequate, does not feel too thick or too thin. The Shanling M1s is quite balanced in this regard. The timbre feels accurate, the presentation feels neutral and transparent. It does not feel like it’s throwing details in your way, more like it presents them and you are welcome to pick them out. What I mean here is that the presentation does not feel forced or artificial, it is rather detailed, articulate, and transparent in a natural way. The vocals are brilliant with great resolution. The transition between subregions is seamless, the mids feel coherent and they do a great job of carrying the emotion hidden in the tracks. The upper mids have impressive energy and extension and follow the steps of the impressive treble. 


The top-end spectrum is quite nice. The M1s has great treble energy. It is not particularly aggressive or bright, Shanling did a good job of fine-tuning the treble. The quantity feels accurate and the quality is definitely impressive. The definition and extension are great also, highs have good attack/decay and feel dynamic. The unit does not have an impressively wide stage, and the sensation of air is highly dependent on the pairing. Instruments have excellent layering and separation with a lot of space and air. AThe M1s reflects quite accurately. Overall, the treble is impressive.

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One of the few small form factor DAP on the market. Got both single-ended and balanced outputs for your variety of earphones. Sounds much better than most ES9038Q2M DAC chip based USB DACs. And it’s pretty lightweight than it seems. You can carry it in your jeans’ front pocket or even your shirt’s pocket. The Shanling M1s gets the job done. But does it with flying colors? Shanling M0 Pro review coming soon.

Shanling M0 Pro Review