To Strive For New Heights – A Review of the Shanling M3s

The Shanling M3s is a superb player, packed full of features, and sounds amazing. It’s small, light, and really just the perfect thing for on-the-go use. I did not expect this level of quality from this price range. Balanced output that performs better than some of the bigger and badder players? The M3s sounds so good I don’t find myself itching to get back to my more expensive gear. That says a lot. I shall herald this a resounding success. The Shanling M3s just became my chief recommendation for the under $300 mark. Buy one today!


The Shanling M3s:
Dimension: 113mm×53mm×14.5mm
Net weight: about 135g
Screen: 3 inches Retina screen
DSD playback:DSD256DAC: supported up to 384kHz–32bit
Bluetooth: 4.1 with APT-X
D/A converter: AK4490×2
Amplifier: AD8397×2
Gain: high gain/low gain
Supporting format: MP3、WAV、WMA、FLAC、AAC、ALAC、APE、IOS、DSF、DFF、cue、m3u、m3u
Sampling rate: 44.1kHz–384kHz
Output: Single ended output (3.5 mm) balanced output (2.5 mm)
Output power: [email protected](3.5 mm) [email protected](2.5 mm)
Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz(-0.15dB)
THD+N: 0.0015%(A-weighting,outputing 500mV)
SNR: >115dB(A-weighting )
Output impedance: <=0.3Ω
Channel separation: >102dB
External memory: supported up to 256G TF card
Capacity: 2600mAH lithium battery
USB interface :Type-C(USB2.0)
Playing hours: about 13 hours(3.5 mm) 8 hours(2.5 mm)



Pinky Powers

Pinky Powers

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.


9 Responses

  1. Did you have a chance to listen to Hiby R3? From a features perspective it seems to be ideal DAP for me as it is significantly smaller than both Opus#1 and M3s, offers Tidal and maybe later Spotify, seemingly a very responsive and high quality touch screen. Is it too much of a step down from M3s and Opus#1 in terms of sound quality?

    Thank you

  2. Yes. The Opus#1 is still a superior unit in some ways. Overall sound quality is a little better. Soundstage is a bit wider and deeper. Opus#1 brings more dimensionality to the vocals.

    The Opus used to be around $600 when it was new. So it is designed for a higher price/performance tier. Now that it is older, the prices have dropped significantly, it’s a crazy bargain.

  3. Hi

    Thank you for the great review. I have been considering getting a DAP for my Noble Audio Sage for sometime now and I am kind of torn between M3s and OPUS#1. I see that M3s and Sage pairs great but would OPUS#1 bring any advantages over this pairing?

  4. Hello thank you for review, it had thought to buy the Cayin n3 but seeing this breeding animal M3s I believe that he will buy it myself but I like the low ones, I wait that not me defraude.gracias.

  5. Great review! I would like to know how is the detail reproduction, instrument separation and soundstage of the Shanling M3s compared to an Astell & Kern AK70? And how is it of the AK70 compared to a Cayin N5ii? I own an AK70 and I am not sure if both would be a good upgrade for my classical music collection.

  6. Ok thank you so much. I have always enjoyed the aesthetics of your reviews. Appreciate that you have clearly stated that the M50X cannot be customized into balanced just through a wire and that it’s a matter of more complex engineering. People buy things that they don’t know about. Now that i know i will wait for the right time and the right milieu for balanced.

  7. In some cases, with some headphones, it can be as easy as a new cable. If the headphone has a jack on both cups, then its super easy.

    But the M50x does not. It uses one jack that is then wired to both drivers. And that jack is only a 3-pole. This means the L- & R- lines are tied together at the jack. Balanced is impossible, as those lines need to remain autonomous the whole way.

    Some single-wire headphones, like the Oppo PM3, use a 4-pole jack at the cup, which means you can build a balanced cable that just plugs right in, and get fully balanced audio.

    Sadly, the only way to get the M50x balanced is to open her up, remove the jack, and hardwire a new balanced cable to the internals of the headphone. I don’t recommend that, unless you know what you’re doing.

  8. Hi, i have read several reviews regarding balanced – 2.5mm headphones. I don’t know anything about the cables or the way to add a balanced cable to a standard 3.5mm headphone. I have an Audio Technica M50x and is there a way to convert the M50X to 2.5 mm setup just through a cable for players offering balanced output? Can I just buy a cable and connect it to my M50X?

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