There’s an almost endless number of portable music players on the market these days. This makes it difficult to find an affordable player that works well with all the features you want. The Shanling M2s Portable Music Player is a fairly small device that promises Hi-Res Audio on the go for under $200. But it’s tough to know what you’re getting into when you buy a DAP without trying it first so I’m going to run the Shanling M2s through a full review and see if it’s worth the money.
In The Box
The Shanling M2s comes with the following items:
- Warranty card
- USB cable
- Card reader
- 4 x protective film for screen
The Shanling M2s has a ton of features. First and foremost the M2s is a Hi-Res player equipped to handle APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, DSF and DIFF. DSD playback supports up to 192kHz sample rate at 24 bits per second. The TPA2160 amplifier has low and high gain settings for varying impedance headphones. On the high gain setting I managed to power a Beyerdynamic DT1770 (250 Ohm) headphone no problem. I’d say 300 Ohms is probably the limit for this on-board amp though.
The Shanling M2s player has a battery life of about 9 hours and even has Bluetooth v4.0 with the aptX codec for Hi-Res streaming. The interface is very easy to use. There’s a power button, multi-function volume knob and back button. On the other side you’ll find the play, pause and track advance buttons.
There’s also a wide selection of System Settings for the Shanling M2s portable player ranging from themes and screen brightness to DSD Output mode and USB mode options. The Play Settings allow a myriad of options like volume limit, EQ, gain, and balance settings. Seemingly anything you could want in a small hi-res player is packed into this sleek aluminum casing.
I tested the Shanling M2s in many different settings including the Bluetooth aptX connection. While I did find the audio to be excellent the range was very short (not even 10 feet). Connecting to my smartphone (without aptX) got the same result. You’ll need to have the device close by if you plan to use the Bluetooth feature.
Making my way around the menu was pretty simple. Everything was pretty intuitive from finding my music to playing the tracks I wanted and adjusting the volume. The software was quick to respond and the notched multi-function button allowed for accurate menu selections without troubles. The Shanling M2s has a Micro SD slot capable of up to 256GB of memory which will give you quite a large portable library of music. Load up multiple cards for even more storage and switch them out as needed.
The M2s player does have a digital out option but I could not get it to work with the DAC/amps I had available to me. This may have been due to my cable options. With no USB-C to Micro USB I couldn’t connect directly to a Chord Mojo without extra nonsensical adapters and converters. I would recommend consulting Shanling regarding this option as I’m sure it’s legit. It’s not a huge deal for me though. I’d rather not have to carry another piece of gear around and the on-board amp is well and good for my daily needs.
Overall the M2s Portable Music Player did well with my “commuter test”. Going to and from work I played tracks with no disruption or jitter. And the size of the M2s (only 3″ long) makes it smaller than any smartphone. The high resolution screen made small text easy to read without any trouble.
I got started right away on the Shanling M2s by loading up a Micro SD card with my favorite tracks and sampling some songs I know incredibly well. To be honest the sound on this tiny little player really surprised me. Crystal clear CD quality music pushes out of the headphone jack in high-resolution with an undetectable noise floor. All my hi-res files sounded incredibly pristine and the optional high / low output gave me the choice to run high or low impedance headphones on a whim.
To put it plainly, the Shanling M2s Portable Music Player is a small but amazing sounding machine. Shanling packed a lot of useful features into this box but the sound quality alone makes it a worthwhile investment. So if you’re looking to get a portable, easy to use Hi-Res player capable of powering high impedance headphones without an extra amplifier then the Shanling M2s is a good option at under $200. It’s light, easy to use and gets the job done. And it comes in 3 trendy colors.
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Dynamic Range: 108dB
Channel Separation: 75dB 32Ohms
Rated Output Level: 2.2VRMS@10 kOhms
Battery Life: 9 hours
Battery Capacity: 1800mAh
External Memory: 256GB via Micro SD Card
USB: Typ-C (USB 2.0)
USB Digital Output: Native / Dop / D2P
DAC: Supported up to 192kHz / 32bit
Bluetooth: 4.0 w/ aptX
DAC Chip: ESS9016