Smartphones has eaten up the share of the music player market. iPod and other digital players are not immune. Of course, the major audio brands are actively responding. Because of the openness of Android system, the major players have been developing Android music players. But Android is very demanding in processor performance and manufacturers’ ability to maintain high level of audio performance.
ShanLing seems to have reservations about Android. Last year’s flagship M5s still use a customized version of MTouch OS to reduce system redundancy. But nothing can escape from the trends. In September, ShanLing brought us its first HIFI digital player equipped with Android operating system – ShanLing M6.
Is it just going with the trend or does it have something unique in the sleeves? Let’s find out.
The roller almost set the tone for ShanLing’s design, which is both good looking and practical. But the rollers have long caused problem of misoperation, which is even more obvious on M5s. This is solved on ShanLing M6, because it’s roller is almost flush with the border. Two concave faces are cut out on the metal midframe for easy scrolling. On the other hand, the feel of the roller has been adjusted. The pressure feel is enhanced, damping is also appropriately increased. The overall control feeling is more crisp. In our days of use, we found it precise and reliable.
The double-curved glass and metal midframe design let you know it is from ShanLing when you put hands on it. The curve of the metal frame is bigger, which brace the front and rear glass panels better.
On the left border, a long groove is cut out by CNC, where lays three control buttons. Using thumb to press them feels better.
ShanLing M6 has three connection ports on the bottom, which are 3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm and 4.4mm balance port. In addition, there is a USB-C interface and it supports two-way DAC output.
For a music player, ShanLing M6’s size is quite good. Although the weight is more than 200g, but the width is comfortable in one-handed operation. Buttons on the side can also be easily pressed.
The 4.7-inch screen is huge among music players. The 720P resolution and 16 million colors display ensure great color and display effect. The screen’s supplier, Sharp solved the screen shadowing problem on M5s. The screen brightness may not be as high as some flagship phone, but for album covers and lyrics display or watching videos it is more than enough.
On the system, ShanLing M6 uses a customized version of Android 7.0 system, code-named MTouch 3.0. The system interface is close to native Android, which takes little time to get familiar with for most users. In terms of operating logic, ShanLing M6 follows the sliding gesture operation of modern phones. Sliding up to multi-task, left to go back to the next level. It’s is very suitable for our usage habits, which greatly reduced the use threshold. I can seamlessly switch between the mobile phone and ShanLing M6.
The ShanLing Music App is a bright spot of the system. It is simple enough, without of the complexity of online streaming and advertising. The playback interface is fresh and natural. The new slow selection mode is also very interesting. Qualcomm’s 430 eight-core processor and 4GB storage ensure smooth operation of the system.
Now let us look at the sound performance of the ShanLing M6, which uses dual 4495SEQ chips. It is said to be a special version DAC of AKM.
Here is my experience on ShanLing M6 after a few days of use.
I mainly used ShanLing ME500 with 2.5mm balanced cable as the main output equipment. The moment the sound reached ear drums, I can feel M6’s drive power is strong enough. The base of the sound is warm and thick. The sound field is well-formed and clear. Combined with ME500’s excellent sound separation and resolution, it is impactful for rock music lovers like me. You can feel the bass surrounding. Coupled with the excellent resolution of meddle and treble, string music feels relaxed, smooth and detailed from ShanLing M6. So it’s suitable for classical music.
Compared to M5s, the meddle frequency and treble of ShanLing M6 does not appear so sharp and less stimulating. I personally prefer the warmer taste. I would not worry about it’s line out performance. What ShanLing M6 really surprised me most is the performance of streaming music. No matter it’s wired or wireless headphones, it has maintained a very high resolution and separation. The vocals and instruments will no longer be mixed together. A lot of sound details will be revealed.
The answer handed over by ShanLing M6 is very satisfying. The new custom Android system, although still with some room for improvement, is convenient and intuitive on interactions and optimization. The sound is less sharp and remains balanced and comfortable. If you like the sound of ShanLing but want to have the operation of phones, ShanLing M6 is undoubtedly your better choice. The introduction of Android system would make many audiophiles starting to think of giving up customized system. But Shanling made it clear that it will not give up its own deep customization of the MTouch system and will continue to launch competitive products. Two kinds of system would be coexisting. The parallel product lines strategy would take care of different consumer needs and is also conducive to the expansion of market.