Shanling M6 Portable Music Player

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by purr1n, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Many of you know that I've been using the Sony ZX2 has a portable player for some time because of its synergies with Campfire IEMs such as Andromeda, Ara, and Solaris 2020. The slightly higher UI was perfect to tame the bass of the Andromeda, and it's organic and laid-back presentation suited the balanced armature highs, not just for the Campfire IEMs, but basically any balanced armature IEMs. I'm not necessarily a fan of the BA sound, especially in the highs, so I look for a particular kind of presentation to time its negative traits: "hashy", "prickly", etc.

    PXL_20201216_191952283.jpg

    The problem with the ZX2, like almost all other Sony gear (except cameras), is that Sony gave up on it. The Android on the ZX2 is so old that it can't run anything today. It's 2020, and really, I don't load up songs on portable devices anymore - it's simply too time consuming. I want stuff like Roon to work when I'm at home, or Qobuz (with its download option) when I'm on the go. This is where the Shanling M6 comes in.

    Unbelievably, the presentation of the Shanling turned out to be remarkably similar to that of the Sony ZX2. It's got that slightly dark and laid-back presentation. Maybe a bit less organic in the lows and slightly more incisive in the highs. The M6 worked wonderfully well with the Ara. Because the sound of the M6 is slightly laid-back, I had to adjust tips for a more shallow insertion to get Ara to more upper-mid aggressive. I do not have the Solaris 2020, but I imagine this to be a great match for the M6. Those who are familiar with the Cavalli House sound will be appreciate the M6.

    Like the ZX2 which required a bit of burn-in, presumably for its caps (don't think I'm odd, the Sony instructions actually say that burn in is necessary for the ZX2), I also found that the M6 required some use for the sound to open and liven up. Some of this started to occur after I ran through the battery the first time. By the second charge, it was more evident. I cannot say if it will change with more use because the battery has lasts a long time. I've literally left the unit as it without topping off the charge between each period of major use. I took this with me during a Thanksgiving visit to Texas more than a month ago, and again while in the car during my drive from California to Texas just before Christmas. Yup, I've only charged the unit twice. While I haven't used it constantly, I know I've used it on the plane and in the car for hours at a time per session, so the battery definitely seems to last a decently long time, at least with the Campfire Aras. I'd say half of the time, I either used WiFi in the terminal, on the plane, or from a hotspot.

    The M6 comes with three different kinds of outputs. There is the standard 3.5mm jack, and balanced 2.5mm and 4mm jacks. I have not had the opportunity to try the balanced outputs yet. I would hope for better sound quality from them as I believe there are x2 AKM DACs in the M6. There is a USB C type port for charging for plugging in as a DAC/Amp from a computer. I have not tested this from a computer as this is not my use case for this type of device. (My intention was always to use this as a self-contained device).

    PXL_20201216_192038699.jpg
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 15
    • List
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Gain and filter settings can be adjusted from the Android swipe down from top gesture. There are no physical switches for this which is cool.
    PXL_20201225_012903359.jpg

    Volume is adjusted via a dial on the side. A push of the dial turns the screen off or brings it back on. I didn't have an issue with the super sensitive Ara with respect to the volume on either low or high gain. (I mostly ran high gain because I think it sounded a bit better, that is more lively).
    PXL_20201216_192044834.jpg

    The left side has three buttons for back play/pause, and forward. The play/pause button is a bit bigger than the other so it was easy for me to find it when the lights were off on the plane. There a slot for a microSD card too. Note that the carrying case slips over the player while allowing access to its physical controls. The ZX2 has a case too, but it's mostly useless because it covers up everything.
    PXL_20201216_192028456.jpg

    Android is Nougat which is a bit older. I think the last release was over a year ago. Hopefully it will continue to be supported. I didn't have a problem with getting Roon, Qobuz, and USB Audio Player to run on it for now. In addition, I was able to install Chrome and surf and post to SBAF from the plane a month ago.
    PXL_20201216_192010161.jpg

    In a week or so, I will get measurements of the M6. For now, this is all it will have to be.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 8
    • List
  3. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    At least it is not Marshmallow. Some of the apps I believe like Qobuz were pushing min support for a higher level of Android 5.0, and some of the older Android DAPs were still in that generation.

    I presume any app on this device doesn't go through the Android OS for sound (aka everything runs bit-perfect to DAC)?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    One thing I forgot to mention, this does use the AKM 4495EQ DACs. There is no VELVET sound. Yes, the presentation is laid-back and good like the classic (not Drop or Monoprice) Cavalli house sound, which the sound works for you or not, there is no resemblance to the VELVET of the 4490 or poorer implementations of the 4495 (Topping D70 DAC) which were VELVET, but also tonally lean with digital nasties (which would have been a disaster with BA IEMs IMO).

    From all indications in the software, it does appear to go through its own custom sound stack. Would be good to verify via measurements or perhaps @Bina can chime in. I know there is a Shanling custom player app, but TBH, I haven't used it. Too lazy to load up music files when its easier to stream via Qobuz and mark for offline use.

    I certainly learned a lot about Bebe Rexha's music while on the go. Gotta keep up with what the kids know and what's being shown on TV.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
  5. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    Per sellers the apps doesn't go through Android OS, which is good at least. There's also a Pro version of M6 for $100-$150 more.

    Still warry on Android DAPs, they will be a time that software will no longer work on them. This is why I prefer using my WM1A for DAP useage, even the WM-Port on the WM1A is old/annoying at this point if you lose the cable.
     
  6. Bina

    Bina MOT - Shanling

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Likes Received:
    369
    Trophy Points:
    63
    All the apps run directly to the DAC, no nastiness from Android resamplig.

    Only limitations on third party apps, DSD for now works natively only in Shanling Music app. In other apps it will be converted to Hi-Res PCM.



    Thanks to @purr1n for taking time to look at our M6, I'm glad you like it.

    If anybody will have any questions, I'm here to respond or in PMs.

    Happy holidays to you all.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 12
    • List
  7. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    What is really the difference in sound between regular M6 and its Pro edition?
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  8. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    8,003
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    That’s my exact question as well.
     
  9. Bina

    Bina MOT - Shanling

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Likes Received:
    369
    Trophy Points:
    63
    They are running different DACs (Pro with AK4497 vs AK4495) and different amplifier circuits.

    From these two, M6 is the smoother, denser, slightly warmer one. M6 Pro is step more towards neutrality, faster, more tight, overall more focused on technicalities.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 13
    • List
  10. Baten

    Baten Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2018
    Likes Received:
    921
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    EU
    Topping D50 DAC is probably the worst DAC I've ever heard. Perhaps the D50s is better but I'd highly doubt it.. They are both ESS 9038Q2M-based, though. Are you thinking of another AKM 4495 DAC, purr1n?

    The only AK4495SEQ DAC I have had the pleasure of owning was an Aune S16. Pretty nifty device with FPGA re-clocking and discrete headphone amp built-in (not very strong but very adequate). I kinda regret selling it, it was definitely above average. If this M6 sounds anything like it, it'd be a very good portable.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Corrected it. I was referring to the Topping D70, the AKM4495 based one. Probably not as nasty as the D50 (ESS seem difficult to get right and most ChiFi seem to fail at it, Topping being no exception). Somehow Topping was able to make the D70 sound "AKM VELVET" with the spongy soft lows while at the same time sounding thin with digital nasties and surprisingly no better resolution than old ESS chips despite the x2 AKM 4495. I was actually beginning to think that the AKM4495 was the bastard child in their lineup, that is until I heard what Shanling did with the M6.

    The M6 seems similar to the Aune with x2 AKM4495 and FPGA reclocking as well. Now I am sort of curious about the M6 Pro!

    I also got the Shanling Bluetooth receiver with ends that should fit the Campfire IEMs. Can't wait to try them out with the M6. Reporting forthcoming.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    BTW, none of this should be surprising from Shanling. They are concentrating on the portable market now, but these guys had cred back in the day. This was from a HF meet eight years ago. My table was next to rockcod's. He built a massive AMB Beta 22 amp powering Sennheiser HD6xx with a Shanling CD Player as the source - obviously designed by people with ears, not just measurement instruments. That was my first experience with Shanling. That CDP sounded damn good! That rig sounded damn good.

    [​IMG]

    I miss those days when nutty hobbyists were the meets! Now it's all commercialized thanks to greedy people. While I don't think people don't deserve to make money, there has to be balance in the Force.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 10
    • List
  13. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    @purr1n how's the software on the M6? Smooth/buggy/so-so?

    My biggest issue with Android DAPs is how poorly optimized they are on the software end. I had a Fiio X5 3rd Gen DAP which while the sound was good enough, the software was buggy with tons of crashes to the point I said screw this. Then again, I can also say that this is a common stereotype with Chinese software/hardware = Great Hardware but trash software. It isn't just all lets make it where all the sound goes bit-perfect to the DAC.

    Been with the Sony WM1A and its a great DAP, but I do miss the Android OS where I can just stream everything in my collection to the device without loading up a MicroSD Card. At the same time, these Android DAPs will have a limited life cycle if they don't upgrade Andorid to a later version.

    Thanks @Bina for answering my question upfront. How's the battery life?
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
  14. scblock

    scblock Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Likes Received:
    643
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Denver
    Probably one of the most important issues for these players, especially with playback of local files. The FiiO X5 software is much better now than it used to be, but it took years from when I bought the player to when I thought the software was good enough.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Haha. As I mentioned, I have mostly been using Qobuz and Roon. USB Audio Player had a hitch, but I think that was user error in setting things up for the proper output (setting the options that I'm not using an external USB DAC, but rather the internal DAC of the M6). UAP seems to work fine now.

    Qobuz had an issue with not being able to retrieve some songs slated for offline use, but I think this was more of an app issue. Roon has worked flawlessly. The OS, the audio stack, and its associated device settings (BT, gain, digital filters, Air Play, etc.) have been stable. I haven't rebooted yet. I have NOT tested the dedicated player mode yet (there is Android mode, and dedicated M6 player mode) and I doubt I will. I simply do not upload songs to the M6 from the computer via USB anymore like how I did on the ZX2 because this would defeat the point of an Android device. My use is around the house with Roon, or Qobuz on the go with songs downloaded for offline use (occasionally using my phone as a hotspot to grab a file songs).

    As far as battery, after the initial charge to top it off, I have only charged it a total of two times since November 20th. No, I don't use it 24x7, but I know I use it enough for a few hours here and there while on one roundtrip plane and one one-way three-day two-night car trip from CA to TX. My charge discipline sucks and I often find my ZX2 out of battery. I am down to 20% charge now on my second charge with M6 - this while using the WiFi too for 50% of my listening including at the airport. Campfire Ara has been used throughout.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
  16. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    Nice, thanks for the input. So much "issues post" on HF about the M6, but part of me thing that half of the issues are legit and the other half are user error.

    Also for some who aren't familiar, if you have an UPnP setup in your house/apt you can stream it to an Android device. I do that sometimes when I don't wanna use Roon.

    I just hate that it takes a long time to get the software just right. At that point the next Chinese DAP is just right near the corner, which the cycle repeats itself. So frustrating.
     
  17. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 7, 2019
    Likes Received:
    1,336
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks for the review @purr1n. For portable use I mostly use Mojo but I want simplicity in life and carrying my phone and Mojo is something I want to get away from and this DAP fits nicely with online streaming and Roon.
    What do you think about pairing it with JVC FDX01. I feel FDX01 lacks a bit of dynamics and Width in headstaging. Do you feel it can help in alleviating these shortcomings of JVC ?
    Thanks
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Building Magnis part time because it's peaceful.

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    75,343
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    It sounds like the M6 Pro would be a better match with the JVCs. I tend toward almost opposite sounding playback devices between CF stuff and the FD01.

    My JVCs are packed inside the Pod container in a random box, so I cannot say for certain, not at least for several months.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  19. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2018
    Likes Received:
    7,128
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    DUVALLL-904
    Was about to say the same thing, but I don't have the M6. Before I did the custom FW adjustment on my WM1A yesterday, I didn't recommend the JVCs with the famous laid back Sony sound, post custom FW adjustment which makes the laid back sound even less, the JVCs are pretty punchy and great actually. Shit, the Gaudio Nair was better with the custom FW WM1A than stock. I think on the M6 it might too boring for me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
  20. limesoft

    limesoft Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2016
    Likes Received:
    210
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    London
    The JVCFDX1 likes sources with smoother laidback upper mids - around 4khz (due to it's forwardness in this region), tight sub bass as it has few db extra here and slightly forward treble to compensate for the lack of it - this is using the thickest filter as I find the other filters bring out other issues like ringing etc.

    The Fiio M11 Pro is excellent pairing as it ticks all of these boxes. I find Shanling to have a generally more chilled/warmish sound signature so the M6 might not be the best pairing. My Sony ZX507 also is not as great a pairing as the Fiio.. it's mostly because of the Fiio's slightly subdued and super smooth mids, which with other phones can sound a bit sterile/lifeless but with the JVCs it's excellent.

    I also go for the opposite source signatures with Campfire vs JVC
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 4
    • List

Share This Page