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Shanling M6 Pro 21 Portable Hi-res Music Player – New DAC and Output Stage

Shanling recently presented an updated version of the Shanling M6 with the Shanling M6 (21), and now they are following this path with the Shanling M6 Pro, which is being launched in a new version as the Shanling M6 Pro 21.

Shanling presented the Shanling M6 (21) just a few weeks ago and with it an updated version of the Shanling M6. Now the Shanling M6 Pro Android Hi-res Music Player is followed by the new Shanling M6 Pro 21 Portable Hi-res Music Player, the reason being the same in both cases.

Hardly any manufacturer is currently immune to having to redesign products, because the current situation on the market regarding essential components is still very tense, and it is to be feared that this will not change any time soon.

Shortage of D/A converters

It is above all the shortage of D/A converters on the market that is currently slowing down manufacturers like Shanling, or forcing them to adapt existing solutions in order to be able to continue manufacturing products at all.

In concrete terms, this is about the fact that chips from AKM are simply not available. As is well known, in October 2020 a devastating fire broke out in the chip production of the specialist Asahi Kasei Microdevices, the company that is often referred to simply as AKM and is one of the most important suppliers of D/A converters. All solutions based on AKM D/A converters can therefore not be produced. This was true for the Shanling M6, and is equally true for the Shanling M6 Pro.

Shanling M6 Pro 21 – Not just a new DAC

So Shanling had to react and design a new model. However, it is not as mundane as it may sound to simply replace the D/A converter with a different model; with such a deep intervention, large parts of the circuit design must be modified. The new Shanling M6 Pro 21 thus differs from the previous version, which the manufacturer now calls the Shanling M6 Pro Classic, in several essential points.

DAP based on Google Android

The Shanling M6 Pro 21 is a digital audio player based on the Google Android operating system, once again using the so-called AGLO. AGLO stands for “Android Global Losless Output” system and guarantees that the operating system does not interfere with the difficult audio signal processing, i.e. it remains untouched.

The hardware platform is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 ARM 64-bit 8-core CPU with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB ROM. A microSD card slot is available for audio data, which supports storage media up to 512 GB.

The central control element is, of course, once again an IPS touch display with a diagonal of 4.7 inches and a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. First and foremost, there is a rotary encoder on the side, which is used to control the volume. Other buttons, also on the side, control playback.

The Shanling M6 Pro 21 primarily connects to the outside world via WiFi, which also allows access to any streaming services. Only the appropriate apps have to be installed, which, thanks to Google Android as the operating system, can be done easily via the Google PLAY Store.

  • Shanling M6 Pro 21 01
  • Shanling M6 Pro 21 03
  • Shanling M6 Pro 21 02

Of course, Bluetooth 4.2 is also included, whereby it is a Bluetooth transceiver and signals can thus be sent and received. Among other things, codecs are supported that allow signal transmission in hi-res audio, i.e. in addition to the lossy codecs SBC and AAC, aptX with “CD quality”, as well as aptX HD and LDAC for hi-res audio. Specifically, LDAC, LHDC, SBC, HWA, aptX and aptX HD are used for sending, while LDAC and SBC are available for receiving data via Bluetooth.

The Shanling M6 Pro 21 can be connected to a PC or Mac via USB-C and thus function as a D/A converter. A special feature here is that the Shanling M6 Pro 21 can also be connected to a DAC via USB, in which case it functions as a USB transport, i.e. it supplies the data alone, which is then processed further by a possibly even higher-quality D/A converter.

In addition, data can of course be transferred from a PC or Mac to the Shanling M6 Pro 21 via USB, and the integrated battery is also charged in this way.

The 4,000 mAh battery is said to allow a playing time of up to 16 hours in Single DAC mode and via the unbalanced output. If the full performance of the Dual DAC and the balanced circuit design are used, up to 13 hours of playing time are available. The player is quickly fully charged again via Quick Charge QC 3.0.

New D/A converter, new output stage

Compared to the Shanling M6 Pro Classic, the new Shanling M6 Pro 21 features a new D/A converter, as described. Instead of the previous model from AKM, chips of the type ESS Sabre ES9068AS DAC are now used, two of them in dual mono design.

This enables the new Shanling M6 Pro 21 to process signals in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 768 kHz, as well as DSD up to DSD256. Signals encoded in lossy MQA with DRM can also be processed. This is especially important for users who subscribe to the TIDAL service.

The output stage is also new, because the Shanling M6 Pro Classic relied on a Texas Instruments OPA1612, the new Shanling M6 Pro 21 relies on a Texas Instruments OPA2211.

This means that some important key data have been improved, first and foremost the output voltage. Whereas the previous model had an unbalanced output of 200 mW and a balanced output of 600 mW, the new model now has an unbalanced output of 240 mW and a balanced output of 760 mW, whereby these figures refer to an impedance of 32 ohms. The signal-to-noise ratio has also been significantly improved, as a glance at the data sheet shows.

Speaking of which, we have already “revealed” that the new Shanling M6 Pro 21 can, of course, be used for unbalanced as well as balanced headphone connections, as it is equipped with a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack as well as a 4.4 mm jack.

The new Shanling M6 Pro 21 should be available within the next few days, according to the manufacturer’s promise. The price for the Shanling M6 Pro 21 is listed at € 799.

Getting to the point

Just as with the Shanling M6, which the Chinese specialist for personal audio devices had to follow with the Shanling M6 (21), the Shanling M6 Pro 21 is now available as the successor to the DAP, now called the Shanling M6 Pro Classic. In both cases, the manufacturer was forced to adapt the design due to the tense market situation for chips, especially D/A converters, which, however, also has positive effects. The new Shanling M6 Pro 21 differs from the previous model in some striking key data through better values.

Distribution:NT Global Distribution GmbH
Price:€ 799,-
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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