Shanling is a brand that has been high on my radar for quite some time. All year I’ve been hearing about their different IEMs and DAPs, and I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of their products until now. The ME700 fiver driver hybrid IEMs have reached me at last, and I get to tell you all about them. There’s a lot of special materials packed into this $559 HI-FI earphone so let’s not waste any time.
What You Get
The presentation of the ME700 is pretty dazzling. This a large box for an IEM, So I am expecting a good amount of accessories to be supplied here. Removing the top fold reveals the ME700 attached to its 2.5mm MMCX Neotech silver cable. Along with the cable, you’ll see a small plastic bag that contains special Comply memory foam ear tips. These tips are meant to provide superior isolation and comfort, however, there is only a single pair in one size. They appear to be medium-sized tips and are presented as something special for the ME700.
The box contains a compartment underneath that contains the rest of the box’s materials. There’s an immediate draw to the twelve total pairs of multicolored ear tips, which are neatly organized corresponding to a specific use. Each set is split into sections, red tips for vocals, white tips for soundstage, black tips for bass, and yellow tips for balance. It’s rare that ear tips are used to highlight a specific quality of the sound signature, so I am immediately intrigued to try them out. Other accessories include a leather storage pouch, a cleaning tool, and 3.5mm/4.4mm adapters. The inclusion of 4.4mm is a welcome one, and it gives the ME700 a real high-end feel.
Look and Feel
Starting with the design of the outer shell, the ME700 has a teardrop-shaped housing comparable to the Vision Ears VE series, or IBasso AM205. The body is 3D printed with a cultured marble faceplate. When you hold it in your hand you can feel how hollow the earpiece is, making for an easier fit. The snazziest part of this aesthetic is the golden Shanling insignia that makes this IEM appear like a real luxury item. When you remove the ear tips, you’ll notice that the nozzle also has this golden makeup. The nozzle itself is wide but small, giving you a nice lip for the ear tips to provide most of the comfort.
The main unit comes with ear tips already attached in addition to the array of tips already provided. They were yellow tips, the color that labels the balanced section in the packaging. The combination of the tips and housing design has never been more important here, as different pairings can greatly affect your experience with the ME700. Each of the silicone tips felt similar, and I went mostly for the medium-sized ones. This brought me the max level of comfort I was going to have with these IEMs, and the result was a solid all-around fit. I also tried the Comply foam tips, and while the isolation was greater here, the all-around comfort level was identical to the silicone with a little added security. The options here are great, and if you don’t find the ME700 to be comfy right away, switching out tips has never been more significant for an IEM.
The ME700 has a lot going on under the hood. As I previously stated, this is a five driver hybrid system. The main system is a 10mm dynamic driver with a gold plated diaphragm, with 4 custom balanced armatures. Two armatures act as midrange drivers, while the other two supply the treble. The 24K gold plating is used for sound dampening, absorbing unwanted vibrations for a cleaner low end and warmer acoustical properties. To make this system work to the greatest efficiency, Shanling gives the ME700 a triple bore design that makes sure each frequency range is perceived at the correct time.
I first started listening to the ME700 by plugging it straight into my 3.5mm headphone jack on my PC. The impedance of the system is only 16 Ohms so I was expecting a nice big volume, and that’s what I got. However, the signal flow wasn’t as clean as I had expected the ME700 to be, so I quickly switched to my HELM Audio Bolt and It gave me the results I was looking for. The amplification was even greater here and turned out to be very sensitive to the slightest adjustment in volume. If you’re using any kind of DAC/AMP, watch your input volumes and gain control because these IEMs will blast signal.
I saw it fitting to switch over to the clear soundstage labeled tips to get the best sense of what the ME700 can achieve. The first track I tested with these tips was “Open The Light” by Boards of Canada, which proved to be an excellent representative to showcase this IEMs wide image. The track uses sweeps and synthetic melodies that pan from the left and right channel while incorporating a strong throaty low-end response that gives the mix a ton of space to play around in.
The ME700 presents a forward image without sacrificing dynamic range, creating a strong response that is designed to make an immediate impression on the listener. Classical tracks and film scores still have smooth transitions between quiet and grandiose without having to fight with your volume control. The stage of the ME700 is also wide enough where the separation of elements can be perceived accurately and with articulation. They also show a great depth with spatial effects and layering. Sounds become semi-spherical the more they start to leak out to the extreme left/right of each channel. The headspace takes on so much more complexity than I expected, and the soundstage tips expand those complexities for a more immersive image.
For the lows, I switched over to the bass ear tips. Without these tips, the bass still provides a great sense of strength and smoothness. Whatever you decide to listen to, the bass will always illicit some type of significant effect. You don’t exactly need the bass ear tips to enjoy the low-end, but it does add a bit of thickness and warmth to the overall timbre. It has the opportunity to supply an ample amount of punch with a smooth tonality that brings a constant engagement with the lows.
For the midrange, I used both the balanced and vocal tips for my analysis. With a great helping of boost from the low-mids, the entire midrange is full, rich, and meaty. Instrumentations are given a wide range and a sense of tonal consistency with each track. Pianos especially hold a significant amount of weight that bolsters the track to an elegant response. Vocals are brought forward a bit too, making for a nice singer/songwriter focus in terms of genre. However, the ME700 will showcase the best qualities in your track no matter the genre.
Like the mids, the highs offer a great full range of detail, maybe the most detailed response out of the bunch. They don’t call as much attention to themselves as the bass, but they possess a great sense of control and tonal tightness. You’ll hear some sibilances, but also a smoothed out top-end that makes sure things never get out of control. No harshness to be found here, just some light air, and crisp textures in a controlled environment.
The Shanling ME700 is a great IEM. A top quality earphone for half the price of some of the fancier models, without sacrificing fidelity. The best aspect of the ME700 is just how versatile it is, with different ear tip combinations playing around with a variety of resonances and sound signatures. This powerful IEM is absolutely worth the investment, however, it is in need of a good DAC/AMP to really unlock the potential of this earphone.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Meaty sound signature, good fit with most tips, 4.4mm adapter, design
Cons: Comply tips aren’t as comfy
|Drivers||Single Dynamic driver & 4 balanced armature drivers.|
3.5mm Single ended
The Shanling ME700 is available at Audio 46.
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