SHANLING UA1 Plus Review – Dual CS43131 Dongle DAC
Shanling’s latest UA1 Plus dongle DAC houses a premium Dual-DAC chipset of two CS43131 DAC chips combined with a high-performance USB Processor that enables high-resolution 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 audio signals.
Shanling UA1 Plus features the brand’s in-house developed ultra-frequency conversion black technology. This technology optimizes power consumption while maintaining high-resolution audio performance. The technology optimizes the power draw based on the working conditions such as active bitrate, volume level, Impedance load, etc. greatly reducing power drain from the connected source device.
Don’t get fooled by the small and compact form factor of the UA1 Plus, the DAC/AMP packs an impressive performance with true high-resolution audio signal decoding support. With the help of a CT7601 USB receiver chip that enables 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 high-resolution audio signals.
Shanling with their years of expertise in designing premium audio gears, has designed the UA1 Plus to deliver unmatched sound performance for the price in a tiny form factor. The DAC/AMP provides clear audio signal decoding with negligible noise floor. It is suitable for high-sensitivity IEMs.
The UA1 Plus is completely compatible with the Shanling Eddict player application on the source device. It helps you access different functions and features on the device such as 100-level volume control, filter selection, gain control, and channel balance.
Shanling UA1 Plus features an RGB indicator placed neatly right next to the headphone connection port. The indicator glows in different colors based on the active file bitrate. It ranges from Red, Blue, and Green, to White, and more.
Shanling UA1 Plus Portable USB DAC/AMP supports UAC2.0/UAC1.0 easy switching. The UAC1.0 mode allows easy connection with devices such as Nintendo Switch. The device has an easy-to-switch one-key mode button.
What’s in the box
Premium Performance, Compact Size.
High-Performance Dual CS43131 DAC Chips.
Supports High-Resolution PCM & DSD Signal Decoding.
32-Bit/768kHz PCM & Native DSD512 Audio Signals.
In-House Developed Ultra-Conversion Black Technology.
The UA1 Plus is downright impressive. The portable USB DAC & AMP market is crawling with products and every day more of them are being released by companies around the world. The rivalry is harsher than ever and this is always great for us the consumers.
The UA1 Plus is a very competitive and impressive product that I believe offers almost twice the value of its current price tag. Let me describe it to you without further ado.
The UA1 Plus sounds clean, open, spacious, and detailed. In many ways, it reminds me of Moondrop DAWN Pro. The UA1 Plus offers a similar tonal balance, transparency, and resolution.
The UA1 Plus is a good dongle DAC, it does a great job of reflecting the signatures of the IEMs you pair it with, without overly saturating or manipulating their signatures. The UA1 Plus features good tonal balance and comes with a neutral, balanced signature with no emphasis on any region.
It is a capable DAC with a surprisingly good technical foundation. Let’s take a closer look at the SQ and technicalities.
The Shanling UA1 Plus is capable of delivering impactful yet agile bass. The sub and mid-bass quantities are great. The UA1 Plus can easily extend and reach when the track asks for it. It does not feel like it is lacking anybody in bass and shapes its response well according to the track’s requirements.
Pairing it with an equally capable in-ear monitor gets you a tight, fast bass with a great slam and that’s quite good at any price point.
The extension is nice, but don’t expect class-A grade sub-rumble performance out of a 4cm super-portable device. Overall, the bass has adequate presence, carries a good amount of detail, and feels fast enough to feel dynamic.
The midrange is clean, resolving, and articulate. The note-weight is medium-rare and pairing the UA1 Plus with highly analytical IEMs hurt its tonal balance but for everything else, it offers a wonderful midrange recipe.
The transition from bass to mids is smooth. The vocals feel articulate, clean, and natural. The stringed instruments do not lack body and their timbre feels great for a DAC that is sub-100. It is almost too good to be true.
The upper mids are controlled yet expansive and they carry a good amount of detail also. The presentation feels airy and spacious partly due to the well-done tuning of this region. Hi-hats and cymbals never sound dull or too harsh as they carry a good amount of excitement while staying away from the sibilance.
The UA1 Plus’s treble reproduction is impressive, just like its midrange. The UA1 Plus offers a clean, extended, and controlled treble. It is not overdone, or it is not boosted to impose a false sense of resolution, it is rather well-done and it does not feel aggressive or lacking in any way.
The bite is there when the track asks for it, and so is the extension. The treble sounds resolving, clean, and dynamic. It boosts the perceived sense of articulacy. This section feels almost identical, tonally, to the Moondrop DAWN Pro. Both of the devices have energetic, detailed yet natural treble responses.
From the technical standpoint, the UA1 Plus could easily be one of the best sub-50 dongle DACs I’ve heard in 2023. It offers a great tonal balance, great clarity, and a spacious and airy presentation on top of these.
It sounds dynamic, energetic, and fast. It handles congestion well and multi-instrumented complex passages are easy dilemmas when paired with an equally capable IEM.
Soundstage-wise, the UA1 Plus plays in a similar lane as with Moondrop DAWN Pro. It does not feel like it has the most expansive stage in the history of portable DAC AMPs. It is adequately proportioned. Compared to its rivals, it is above average in width and average in depth.
The most impressive side of the UA1 Plus is its tonal performance, no doubt. It feels coherent, and linear across the frequency spectrum. No overlapping, no dips, no peaks, no saturation. It is a damn good dongle DAC-AMP and certainly punches above its price tag.
The Shanling UA1 Plus offers excellent sound quality, and great build and design. It has a compact and portable form factor and has enough juice to drive almost anything you’d need on the go. If you need the smallest dual DAC solution in the market don’t look elsewhere.