Shanling UP4 2022 Review

Shanling UP4 2022 is a Bluetooth & USB DAC-AMP. Compared to the original model which had dual ES9218P DACs a year ago, the UP4 2022 is equipped with two ES9219C DAC chips. The price remains the same at $119.99.

UP4 2022 continues the classic design of the Shanling family with simple lines, light and thin body with a golden multifunctional volume knob. UP4 2022 comes standard with Shanling’s second-generation independent back clip, with increased thickness and improved toughness. UP4 2022 is equipped with a 540 mAh battery.

UP4 2022 comes with the flagship Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth (same as the OG) SoC, which integrates active noise reduction, low-power 120MHz DSP, 24bit audio processing, and other functions like stable and high-quality audio transmission, active noise reduction and low power consumption.

UP4 2022 adopts Bluetooth 5.0 version and supports LDAC/LHDC/aptX HD/aptX LL/aptX/AAC/SBC full-format Bluetooth codecs.

The UP4 2022 is equipped with 2.5mm and 3.5 mm headphone outputs. In the balanced output mode, the dual ES9219C DAC burst out synchronously. UP4 2022 is equipped with a Type-C USB interface and supports USB DAC mode.

The UP4 can be controlled remotely through the dedicated Eddict Player APP on the mobile phone. Not only supports more than ten operations such as Bluetooth format switching, channel EQ settings, volume fine-tuning, and single-dual DAC switching, but also direct OTA upgrade.

High-gain, low-gain, dual DAC booster switch, two built-in filters, and EQ presets are available in the App to choose from.

Pressing the MODE button allows the dual DAC boost mode. In the single-ended mode, the dual ES9219C DAC chips operate at the same time. The power goes up to 100mW@32Ω. For the balanced output, the thrust can be as high as 165mW@32Ω. Compared to the OG UP4 with 91 mW@32Ω single-ended and 160 mW@32Ω balanced output values, we can see the upgrade in power outputs.

UP4 2022 has a built-in NFC function, and the connection is completed with a single touch. UP4 2022 has a built-in Knowles SiSonic high-quality audio microphone, new cVc 8.0 call noise reduction technology, intelligent filtering of ambient noise, and call echo.

When the UP4 is connected to the mobile phone but not used for more than 2 minutes, it will enter the low-power standby mode. Standby mode is 300 hours. Tapping the power button once puts the UP4 into a working state. UP4 Bluetooth headphone power amplifier will turn on the red light on the screen when charging and turn on the green light when fully charged. After connecting with the computer through the USB cable, pressing and holding the power button enters the USB-DAC mode.

Features and Functions

There are a total of two buttons on the UP4 2022:

  1. The multifunctional volume knob
  2. The mode button

Both buttons have their own features and functions. For the multifunctional volume knob, here are the functions that can be activated through a series of gestures:

  • Power on: Long press for 3 seconds
  • Power off: Long press for 3 seconds
  • Pairing: Long press for 5 seconds when the UP4 2022 is turned off until the indicator flashes red and blue alternately
  • Play/pause: Single click
  • Next track: Double click
  • Previous track: Triple click
  • Answer call: Single click
  • End call: Single click
  • Cancel call: Double click
  • Volume control: Turn the wheel clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease.

Moving to the mode button, different functions can be achieved with different gestures:

  • Displaying current amplifier gain mode: Single click
  • Switching between amplifier gain mode: Double click
  • Switching between DAC digital filers: Press and hold the button for 3 seconds.

Indicators

The LED indicators on the glossy surface will tell users various information. When playing back through a wireless connection, the indicator will flash regularly telling users the codec that is currently connected:

  • SBC: Blue
  • AAC: Cyan
  • aptX / aptX Low Latency (LL): Violet
  • LDAC: Green
  • LHDC / HWA: White
  • aptX HD: Yellow

While switching the amplifier gain mode, users can know the mode from the indicator:

  • Low gain mode: Blue
  • High gain mode: Green
  • Boost mode: Yellow

These are the LED indicator for switching digital filters:

  • Linear phase fast roll-off: Blue
  • Linear phase slow roll-off: Green
  • Minimum phase fast roll-off: Violet
  • Minimum phase slow roll-off: Yellow

Technical Specs

  • Bluetooth codec format: LDAC / LHDC / aptX HD / aptX Low Latency / aptX / AAC /SBC
  • Bluetooth chip: Qualcomm CSR8675
  • DAC chip: ES9219C x 2
  • Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Transmission distance: 10 meters
  • Microphone: Knowles SiSonic high-quality microphone
  • Endurance: 15 (hours) single-ended, 10 hours (balanced) Charging: 2 hours
  • Battery capacity: 540 mAh
  • Power adapter: DC 5V / 500 mA
  • USB: Type-C interface, supports driver-free UBS DAC function (24/96)
  • Accessories: independent split back clip, Type-C data cable, manual
  • Volume adjustment: use the scroll wheel to independently adjust the volume
  • Plug: 3.5mm /2.5mm, support car AUX
  • Size: 60mm*36mm*13.5nnm
  • Weight: 37g

3.5mm Single-ended output

  • Output Power: 1.75V/32Ω (100mW/32Ω) (Dual DAC Mode)
  • 1.51V/32 (71mW/32Ω) (High Gain Mode)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz (-0.7dB)
  • THD+N: 0.002% (A-W/1V/32Ω)
  • Channel Separation: 71dB/32Ω
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 119dB
  • Noise Floor: 114dB (High Gain Mode)
  • Output Impedance: < 1Ω

2.5mm Balanced output

  • Output Power: 2.3V/32Ω (165mW/32Ω)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz (-0.7dB)
  • THD+N: 0.0018% (A-W/1V/32Q)
  • Channel Separation: 92dB/32Ω
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 119dB
  • Noise Floor: 112dB
  • Output Impedance: < 1Ω
The power of this small device cannot be underestimated. Rated at 165mW at 32Ohms on the balanced output, the UP4 2022 can deliver decent music quality to most of the in-ear monitors (IEMs) on the market without any difficulties. Personally, I believe this power output can drive most of the headphones in the market decently.

I would like to thank Aoshida Audio for providing me with the review sample of UP4 2022

Sound

I tested the UP4 2022 in Bluetooth mode with LDAC codec streaming music from my phone. Also connected to my PC in USB DAC mode.

I am impressed with Shanling UP4 2022. Compared to my earlier model the UP2 (single ES9218P DAC) it brings better clarity, accuracy, and precision to the table. The dynamic range and sonics are better too. It strikes a very good balance between being analytical and musical. I can label the UP4 2022 colorless but it does have a bit of brightness with the treble instruments.

Lows

The UP4 2022 has a very good bass response. 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. The decay speed is snappy, it does not have dryness and does not vanish into thin air like the Playmate. The UP4 2022 maintains a natural amount of juice, closer to how is intended to be perceived. It perfectly fits someone who likes a good amount of detail, accuracy, and precision over the heft and wooly thump. The faster, more defined notes give the lower end very good resolution and clarity. If a more voluminous delivery is the need of the hour feel free to EQ, the response is very good.

Mids

The UP4 2022 has a slightly less emphasized mid-range, they gave it a bit of flavor after all. Thankfully the amount of details are intact and guess what, this mid-range has a more engaging vocal region this time. The whole mid-range has excellent details. It is not the harsh and humid type of clarity but the calm and cool type of visibility. It slightly trades juiciness for a bit more cleanliness and dynamism. The delivery is effortless and the imaging is clean. The clarity and transparency along with natural decay speed leave a very likable taste. Notes have a slightly thinner body while finishing is without any perkiness or sharpness. The ability of details retrieval is very good. It perfectly balances the foreground and background transparency managing to bring out the micro details of the foreground without any problem. If your IEM is decent, you will not miss a single detail.

The vocals have very good clarity and definition with nice texture and details. It brings out a livelier and jollier feel to the music. Let it be male or female vocals both have accurate depth and finish but favor female vocals a bit more. The upper mid-range is well in line with the rest of the spectrum but can feel a bit more attacking.

Highs

After coming from a livelier and vivid-sounding mid-range the UP4 2022 nicely maintains the eagerness. It has an excellent sparkly pace. It has a bit more attack and the finishing sharpness is very engaging. The directional cues are very good and as vivid. Notes have accurate sharpness with a slightly sparkly finishing and fun feel along with an accurate body and excellent texture. The decay is on the faster side. An abundance of details is 2nd to none. The treble extension is excellent with plenty of room for cue placement. Instruments have excellent layering and separation with a lot of space and air.

Technicalities

The stage of UP4 2022 feels very natural with expansion where the instruments have plenty of space and air between them. The instrumental density is excellent. There is no hollowness or unnecessary space in the stage performance. The distribution of space is admirably even, none of the parts of the spectrum takes unreasonable space letting the whole spectrum have its own freedom of expression and expansion. The stage is slightly taller while sacrificing a bit of depth and width but is fairly satisfying.

In general, the stage size and the projection depend on the headgear. The IEM and headphones do play a huge part but the naturally expansive stage size of the UP4 2022 does add some extra dimension to the mix.

Sum-Up

The Shanling UP4 2022 is a great Bluetooth DAC-AMP for audiophiles who are looking to improve the sound quality and balanced output of their smartphone at a reasonable price. This could be one of the most affordable options on the market that features a dual dedicated audio DAC chipset and supports almost all types of Bluetooth codecs. The multifunctional volume knob works flawlessly. Phone calls are crystal clear. And you have the freedom to use your favorite earphone in Bluetooth mode for 10 to 15 hours depending on the codec and output port being used.