Shanling SONO Review – 2DD+1BA IEM For Bass Lovers
Meet the all-new Shanling Sono, a three-driver hybrid set of in-ear monitors. Shanling has equipped the pair with a dual-coaxial dynamic driver configuration featuring a 9.2mm bio-diaphragm bass driver and a 6.8mm LCP diaphragm midrange driver. For delivering a crisp treble response, Shanling has equipped a customized balanced armature driver on the SONO. The pair promises quality sound with strong lower-end and high-resolution clarity throughout the frequency band. It also has swappable tuning nozzles for two different sound signatures.
Shanling Sono houses a coaxial dual DD arrangement paired with a customized BA driver unit. The pair has a 6.8mm LCP diaphragm midrange driver and a 9.2mm bio-diaphragm lower-end driver, and the BA unit is customized for a crisp high-frequency response.
The dual DD arrangement on the Shanling Sono adopts high-quality components for premium sound delivery. The pair has a triple magnet structure that increases sensitivity and also enables swift movement of the driver diaphragms. The pair adopts a lightweight HCCAW voice coil for crisp high-resolution sound delivery.
Shanling Sono has a swappable ear nozzle design. With the help of different density filters on these nozzles, the pair brings two different sound profiles for the users. The black ring filter has a balanced sound profile delivering a smooth and lively sound, while the Red ring filter has a bass-emphasized signature bringing some punch to the lower end of the pair.
Shanling Sono IEMs have durable and beautiful-looking ear shells. The pair is built using high-quality zinc alloy material. The shells are fully metallic. They are hand-polished for a smooth and glossy finish. It has been crafted using a high-precision CNC engraving process for a smooth textured finish.
Shanling Sono has a swappable cable design with universal 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The pair comes bundled with a high-purity silver-plated single-crystal copper stock cable with a standard 3.5mm single-ended termination plug. The cable has a durable construction with metallic components and a gold-plated plug.
What’s in the box
Triple Driver Hybrid IEMs.
Dual Coaxial Dynamic Drivers(6.8mm+9.2mm).
High-Performance Balanced Armature Driver.
Triple Magnet Design.
High-Quality HCCAW Voice Coil.
Two Sets of Tuning Nozzles.
Premium & Exquisite Build With Zinc Alloy Metallic Ear Shells.
This is a V-shaped sound signature, with an emphasis on the bass and treble regions, and a recessed midrange. The sound is energetic, dynamic, and fun, but it may not be suitable for those who prefer a more balanced or neutral presentation.
If you are a bass head, you just need to change to the Red nozzle filter and get another extra boost in the bass region. I tested the Sono with the Black filters.
The bass of the Shanling Sono is powerful, deep, and punchy, thanks to the 8mm dynamic driver. It has a good impact and rumble, especially in the sub-bass region, but it can also bleed into the midrange and cause some muddiness and congestion.
It is still tight and well-controlled and is the best I’ve heard in the price range. The bass quantity is also some of the best I’ve heard but may be too much for some listeners, especially those who are sensitive to bass or who listen to genres that do not require a lot of bass.
However, personally, I quite enjoyed the unit’s bass response. I found myself gravitating to the Shanling Sono whenever I was in the mood to listen to hip-hop and pop music. It can deliver thumping beats, 808s, and deep bass hits, giving the music a slight warmth.
The sub-bass playback is a standout, being able to hit low notes without coming off as too overwhelming or muddy.
The midrange of the Shanling Sono is recessed and overshadowed by the bass and treble. It lacks presence and clarity, and it can sound distant and veiled.
The vocal playback comes off as thin and lacking in detail. I often found myself disappointed when using the Shanling Sono to listen to vocal-focused acoustic tracks or jazz tracks.
The lower midrange is warm and thick, giving low-end male vocals body. The midrange is serviceable, but those who listen to vocal—focused music may prefer other IEMs with more neutral tuning. This came as a shock, since in most modern pop music, the Shanling Sono was easily a leader in the price range.
The treble is bright, crisp, and sparkly, thanks to the balanced armature driver dedicated to high-frequency playback. It has good extension and detail, and almost never comes off as sibilant.
To my surprise, the Shanling Sono performed well in tracks I use to intentionally look for sibilance and it can ride the fine line between resolution and sibilance perfectly.
Even when compared to IEMs that are very good resolution-wise, it does not perform as well, but it does not fall far behind.
The treble quantity may be too much for some listeners, especially those who prefer a smoother or darker treble. But those searching for V-shaped IEMs will be pleasantly surprised with the treble and resolution performance.
The imaging performance is good, with a good sense of separation, positioning, and layering. Its imaging performance isn’t class-leading by any means but it’s definitely not something that holds the Shanling Sono back.
The Shanling Sono also creates a soundstage with adequate width and depth given the price range. The instrument separation is good but not class-leading, as the heightened treble and bass can mask some mid-range nuances. The imaging is clear and precise, allowing you to pinpoint the location and distance of each sound source.
We all know how good IEMs in the sub-$100 market have gotten. I often found myself subconsciously comparing them to IEMs that are more than double the price. And when compared to other IEMs within the price range the SONO frankly blows them out of the water with similar tuned competitors.
It is also important to highlight the level of detail retrieval it can bring to the table despite its low price and V-shaped tuning. If you’re looking for the perfect trifecta of value, resolution, and enjoyability, I would have no problem giving the Shanling Sono a strong recommendation.