Shanling UP5 Review

 

 

 

 

 

Shanling UP5 Ultra Portable BT & USB DAC/Amplifier Review

 

 

 

Introduction:

Shanling was founded in 1988 in China and began to develop audio products and launched their first Hi-Fi stereo amplifier in the same year. Shanling is a high-tech company combining R&D, production, processing and sales of products, including Hi-Res portable music players, portable amplifiers, Hi-Fi headphones/In-Ear Monitors, SACD/CD players, Hi-Fi amplifiers, power conditioners and many other Hi-Fi products.

The UP5 is an Ultra Portable All-in One BT & USB DAC Amplifier with MQA support that offers some impressive hardware features like 2 x ES9218P DAC’s Chips, Qualcomm’s latest QCC5120 Bluetooth Chipset for LDAC, LHDC, aptX HD, aptX LL, aptX, AAC, SBC audio codec support, XMOS USB input, FPGA + KDS Crystal Oscillators, 3.5mm Single Ended + 4.4mm & 2.5mm Balanced outputs and many more.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Shanling for providing me the UP5 review sample. I am not affiliated with Shanling beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.

 

 

Price & Availability:

The actual price of the Shanling UP5 is $179,00 USD. More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

  

 Package and Accessories:

The Shanling UP5 came in a very small cardboard box with the illustration of the product on the top and some product related technical details at the bottom.

 

Inside the box are the following items/accessories;

  • 1 x Shanling UP5 Ultra Portable BT/USB DAC & Amplifier
  • 1 x USB mini to USB Type-C cable for data cable and charging
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB A adapter
  • 1 x Leather Case
  • 1 x Print Material (Quick Start Guide Warranty card)

 

The leather case that came inside the box is of high quality. It looks pretty nice and offers also protection against drops and scratches.

 

 

 

 

Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

The Shanling UP5 is an Ultra Portable BT & USB DAC + Amplifier that looks and feel pretty solid in your hands while it weight only about 50grams and has dimension of 68x39x14.5mm so that it fits even in to your smallest pockets.

The build quality of the device is top notch like any other Shanling product that I have owned or reviewed before. From the metal frame to the multi functional volume wheel everything looks top notch!

On the front of the UP5 is a black glass panel with nicely rounded shape at the edges. Here is a small OLED screen and the NFC interface that is located behind the glass panel that has the NFC logo on the top.

This display gives information’s about Bluetooth Codec Status (AAC, Aptx, LDAC, etc.), Equalizer, Display Brightness, USB Mode, Digital Filter, Gain and many more.

On the right side of the device is the Multi Functional Button in form of a Wheel, which is a classic interface of all Shanling devices. This button acts as a Volume, Power, Navigation and Confirmation tool.

At the left side of the device is the Playback button that works as Play/Pause, Next/Previous, Open and Exit Menu interface.

On the top of the UP are the Analog outputs, which are the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS), 4.4mm Pentaconn Balanced (TRRRS) and 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) interfaces. Here is also the so called Knowles Sisonic Microphone, offering the cVc 8.0 standard noise reduction capability and an advanced DSP for elimination of surrounding noises.

At the bottom of the device is the USB Type-C port that works for charging and digital sound input purposes.

At the rear side of the Shanling UP5 the second glass panel with 2.5D rounded edges.

Here is the Shanling brand logo, the Hi-Res Audio/Hi-Res Wireless Logos and some technical detail & industrial certifications.

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications:

  • Model                         : UP5
  • DAC Chips                 : 2x ESS Sabre ES9219C
  • USB Input                   : Xmos XU208
  • Analog Output Port    : 3.5mm Single-ended, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced
  • Bluetooth Chip            : Qualcomm QCC5120
  • Bluetooth Version       : 5.0
  • Bluetooth Codec’s      : LDAC, LHDC, aptX HD, aptX LL, aptX, AAC, SBC
  • Operating Distance    : approx 10 Meters
  • Output Power Single  : 3.5mm SE 90 mW@32ohm
  • Output Power Dual     : 3.5mm SE 112 mW@32ohm, 2.5/4.4mm Balanced 240mW@32Ω
  • SNR                            : 120dB both Single Ended & Balanced
  • Channel Separation   : 70dB @32Ω (Single Ended) / 108dB @32Ω (Balanced)
  • THD+N                       : 0.0018 % (LDAC/A-W/0.5V/32Ω) – 0.0035 % (others/A-W/0.5V/32Ω)
  • Battery Size                : 680mAh.
  • Battery Life                 : Up to 15 hours (SE, Single DAC), Up to 11 Hours (Balanced)
  • Dimensions                 : 68mm x 39mm x 14.5mm.
  • Weight                        : 50 grams.

 

 

 

 

Hardware and Functionality:

The Shanling UP5 is maybe a Ultra Portable Bluetooth and & USB DAC Amplifier, but it offers a long list of impressive features such like MQA support, 2x ES9218P DAC, Qualcomm’s latest QCC5120 Bluetooth Chipset, FPGA + KDS Crystal Oscillators and many more.

 

DAC Section:

The Shanling UP5 features the same 2x ES9219C SABRE DAC chipset they featured in their latest M3X Android Music Player. This Digital to Analog Converter come with the companies patented 32-bit “HyperStream” architecture, which delivers a SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of 120dB over both the 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm (TRRRS) + 2.5mm (TRRS) Balanced outputs @32Ω  (A-weighted). The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD+N) is 0.0018% with LDAC and 0.0035% with other codec’s.

 

 

Outputs / Amplification / Drivability / Hissing:

The Shanling UP5 is equipped with a wide variety of analog output options, which are 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS), 4.4mm Pentaconn Balanced (TRRRS) and 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) outputs. It offers a truly balanced audio architecture, which means that each channel is driven separately from the other with its own DAC and amplifier.

The 3.5mm Single Ended port is capable to deliver an output power of 90mW @ 32ohm in Single DAC Mode and 112mW @32 Ohm in Dual DAC Mode.. The 2.5mm (TRRS) & 4.4mm (TRRRS) Balanced ports on the other hand do offer an output power of about 240mW @32ohm that is quite impressive for such a small device.

The Shanling UP has two gain options which are Low & High gain.

The both the 3.5mm Single Ended & 4.4mm (TRRRS) + 2.5mm (TRRS) Balanced outputs of the Shanling UP5 do show a pretty clean output with very low amount of hissing.

 

 

Bluetooth SoC / Bluetooth Performance & Pairing:

The Shanling UP5 is equipped with Qualcomm’s latest and most advanced QCC5120 Bluetooth chip that supports the latest Bluetooth V5.0 protocol. UP5 supports most of the advanced high-resolution wireless codec’s including LDAC, LHDC, aptX HD, aptX LL, aptX, AAC and SBC.

The Bluetooth operating distance of the Shanling UP5 works flawlessly up to 5 meters if there is a wall between you and the source, while it distance increases up to 9 – 10 meters in more open environments.

The UP5 had no remarkable lip-sync latency issues when I watched to YouTube or Netflix videos over the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus, thanks to the latest aptX LL and LDAC codec support.

The pairing of the UP5 with sources like Android/iOS phones, tablets, etc are quite easy. You have also the option to pair it to other compatible devices with just a simple tap by using the NFC wireless short-range communication protocol, entirely avoiding the cumbersome traditional pairing process.

 

Microphone:

Knowles Sisonic Microphone, offering the cVc 8.0 standard noise reduction capability and an advanced DSP for elimination of surrounding noises. The performance of the build-in microphone was not bad during some of my voice conversations.

 

 

XMOS XUF 208 Chip & USB DAC function:

The Shanling UP5 is a very capable All-in One device that offers Hi-Res USB Input capabilities, in addition to its lossless Bluetooth format support. The UP5 unitizes the XMOS XUF208 chip that gives it the ability to work as USB DAC/Amplifier, which will support sampling rates up to 32 bit/384kHz and Native DSD256.

The USB DAC functionality supports 2 modes that you can select over the settings menu of the UP5, which are the USB 1.0 and the high performance USB 2.0 mode.

 

 

Battery Life:

The Shanling UP5 is equipped with a 680 mAh build-in battery, which takes about 1.5 hours to fully charge.

My experiences in terms of battery life are listed bellow;

  • 3.5mm SE / Low Gain / Volume 25                           : 14.5 hours (SBC codec)
  • 3.5mm SE / Low Gain / Volume 25                           : 9 hours (LDAC codec)
  • 3.5mm SE / High Gain / Volume 20                          : 10 hours (SBC codec)
  • 3.5mm SE / High Gain / Volume 20                          :  7 hours (LDAC codec)
  • 2.5/4.4mm Balanced / Low Gain / Volume 25          : 11 hours (SBC codec)
  • 2.5/4.4mm Balanced / Low Gain / Volume 25          : 7.5 hours (LDAC codec)
  • 2.5/4.4mm Balanced / High Gain / Volume 20         : 8 hours (SBC Codec)
  • 2.5/4.4mm Balanced / High Gain / Volume 20         : 5 hours (LDAC Codec)

 

The overall battery performance is pretty good for such a small device.

 

 

MQA Support:

The Shanling UP5 support the latest MQA decoding to experience Master Quality Audio files. The source device should be loaded with MQA supported software such as UAPP, Tidal, etc.

 

 

Shanling Control Application:

The Shanling Controller APP is an iOS / Android compatible application that gives you access to the following features that are listed below;

  • Bluetooth Codec Selection
  • Car Mode
  • Display Brightness
  • Default Volume Level
  • Screen Off Timer
  • Filter Selection
  • Gain
  • Single / Dual DAC
  • Equalizer Settings
  • Firmware Updates

 

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

Devices          : Shanling UP5, FiiO BTR5
IEM’s              : Shanling ME700 Lite, Moondrop Variations, Kinera Skuld
Headphones  : iBasso SR2

 

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • Bro Safari UFO! – Drama “Party Favor Remix” (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Christian Reindl (feat Lucie Paradise) – Cernunnos (Deezer HiFi)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Shanling UP5 offers a nicely transparent, balanced and detailed presentation from the lows up to the higher frequency regions. The tonality a bit warmer than neutral, while the general presentation shows a good sense of control.

My sound impression below are mainly based over the 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) output paired with the Shanling ME700 Lite, Kinera Skuld and Moondrop Variations In-Ear Monitors. I have used the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus with the LDAC codec.

 

 

Bass: 

The subbass region of the Shanling UP5 shows a natural and nicely soft tonality. The depth in this area is on a good level when I do listen to the UP5 with the ME500 Lite or the Moondrop Variations, while the emphasis and rumble is not too high or too low. For example; songs such like “Massive Attack’s – Angel” and “Portishead’s – It Could Be Sweet” are reproduced with a pretty good sense of subbass rumble.

The midbass region of the UP5 has a powerful yet controlled character. This area sounds nicely transparent, clean and detailed with all headphones and IEM’s I have paired the device.

Instruments such as cross drums or trumpets are presented with a good level of depth and intensity, while strings like a contrabass is produced in a quite clear, bold and pronounced manner.

 

Midrange:

The Shanling UP5 has a pretty organic midrange timbre and has a fairly transparent, soft and balanced presentation in this area. It shows a nice breeze of coloration that is produced in both the lower and upper midrange area. This midrange tuning avoids that the UP5 sounds to dry or sterile in this region.

Both male and female vocals are reproduced in a quite realistic and natural manner. Female vocals do sound lively and transparent without to show any remarkable sibilance or sharpness when I do listen to the UP5 with ME700 Lite or Kinera Skuld IEM.

Instruments on the other hand do sound pretty natural, musical and detailed. The fact that instruments do not play very close and distant to each other, makes the UP5 to a quite balanced and controlled device that surpasses my expectations from such a small device and a product at this price range.

The lower midrange shows a slightly amount of coloration that adds vocals and instruments a slightly sense of additional body. The upper midrange on the other hand shows a good level of authority, extension and brightness, while the detail retrieval is pretty decent for an ultra-portable DAC/Amplifier.

 

Treble:

The Shanling UP5 has a well-tuned treble range, which shows a great balance between brightness and control. The general treble tuning can be described as moderately bright, pretty detailed and forgiving.

The lower treble region is able to produce a good clarity that was audible on all IEM’s. The upper treble region on the other hand shows a decent sense of airiness and sparkle without to have any remarkable over sharpness.

Instruments such as hi-hats are slightly in the background but showing distinctive hits, with a slightly soft and but lively tonality, while crash cymbals are reproduced with a good sense of authority and extension.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The Shanling UP5 offers a quite spacious and airy soundstage atmosphere with good sense of wideness and depth, while the height is on an average level. When it comes to the separation and placement of instruments, I can say that the UP5 performs above its price point that was pretty audible in genres like classical music.

 

 

 

 

Comparison:

 

Shanling UP5 versus FiiO BTR5:

The Shanling UP5 shows a slightly warmer and more musical tonality compared to the FiiO BTR5, which has a brighter tonality and more energetic overall presentation.

Both devices are successful in terms of subbass depth, while the UP5 has the upper hand in terms of subbass intensity and extension. The midbass region of the Shanling UP5 is slightly more pronounced than those of the FiiO BTR5, while both devices do offer a decent performance in terms of control and resolution in this area.

The FiiO BTR5 shows a more sterile and dry midrange tonality compared to the Shanling UP5, which has a slightly warmer and musical tonality. The BTR5 has a slightly advantage when I do listen to  female vocals due to the more pronounced upper midrange tuning, while it tends to sibilance and harshness especially at higher volume levels. The Shanling UP5 is the more successful device when it comes to male vocals that are shown with a better sense of body, depth and emotionality.

The treble range of both of the Shanling UP5 and the FiiO BTR5 shows a good level of clarity, airiness and resolution while the UP5 has the slightly edge in terms of extension and definition in this area.

When it comes to the soundstage performance, I can say that both devices are decent products at this price range. The main difference is that the Shanling UP5 offers a better sense of soundstage depth, while the FiiO BTR5 has a slightly advantage when it comes to the wideness of the stage.

 

 

Conclusion:
The Shanling UP5 is a pretty detailed and balanced sounding device for its price tag that shows a nicely organic timbre. It’s like a small Swiss Army Knife when it comes to the output and connectivity options, and it packs also tons of hardware features, which makes it to a very versatile BT & USB DAC/Amplifier that fits easily in to your pocket. Moreover, it comes with a High Quality leather case which is a nice addition.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons: 

  • + Pretty Clean, Balanced & Detailed Sound Tuning
  • + Offers Various Input and Output Options
  • + MQA & Dual DAC Support
  • + Plenty of Power for such a Small Size
  • + Battery Life & Signal Strength

 

  • – The Glass Surface Beautiful but a Fingerprint Magnet
  • – The Beautiful Leather Case makes the Buttons Hard to Navigate

 

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses

  1. Abir says:

    Would you recommend an iem under 200$ with excellent technicalities ?

    • Gökhan AYDIN says:

      Hi Abir, the Moondrop KATO and the TinHifi P1 Plus are definitely some excellent IEM’s in terms of technicality. Cheers!

  2. Abir says:

    Thanks for your suggestion…
    Would you recommend any dongle or dac/amp under 200$ for P1 Plus ?

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