Don’t be deceived by the size and the price. The Shanling M0 is a Hi-Res music player capable of supporting up to 384KHz 32-bit sampling rate, which basically means it can playback all the best audio files on this planet. For that capability, it gets certified by the Japan Audio Association for High-Resolution Audio performance, the smallest player to receive such certification.
The heart of every audio player is the digital-to-analog converter (DAC), and for Shanling M0, it is using the ESS Sabre ES9218P, which is the same DAC that LG uses for the V30+ and G7+ ThinQ. Comparing side-by-side, the audio characteristic is almost identical, delivering substantial musical details, controlled clarity at the higher frequency, and extended bass.
Besides directly plugging the headphones to the 3.5mm jack, the Shanling M0 supports Bluetooth audio over premium aptX and LDAC. But that’s not all. It also works as a Bluetooth receiver from other audio devices, which means if your smartphone does not have a 3.5mm audio jack, you can pair the M0 to the smartphone to enjoy audio streamed from the smartphone to M0. In addition, M0 also works as a USB sound card as well as digital transport that outputs audio to an external DAC (like Chord Mojo) through the multi-purpose USB Type-C connector. So many functions in such a tiny device!
With such a petite form factor, handling the device requires compromise. Navigating the UI is simply scrolling up and down for content and swiping right to go back previous screen, but the latter gesture seems like a hit-and-miss. There is only a single hardware button on the device – a scroll knob to adjust volume and functions as a click button to turn on and off the screen. Through the settings, a double-click action can be customised, like play/pause track.
It is amazing how a tiny music player like Shanling M0 offers so much audio and wireless capabilities that it can be a useful secondary audio device. The only minor issue would be its clumsy UI, but with the price it’s retailing for and the list of features, it is so hard to say no to the M0.