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Shanling M9 Plus – The Update for the Flagship

The new Shanling M9 Plus is the long-awaited update of the flagship portable hi-res audio player based on Google Android, according to specialist Shanling Audio, which cites the new AKM AK4499EX D/A converters in a special quad DAC design as an outstanding feature.

Story Highlights
  • Shanling Audio wants the new Shanling M9 Plus to be understood as a long-awaited update of its flagship DAP.

Shanling M9 Plus Flagship Portable Android Player is the name Shanling Audio has given to its latest addition to the DAP market, which is intended to appeal to the most demanding users. Audiophile hi-fi enthusiasts who want to enjoy the highest sound quality on the go will be lured by the special design of the D/A converter of the new Shanling M9 Plus.

The new Shanling M9 Plus is the first such player to feature a Quad DAC Balanced Circuit, based on four AKM AK4499EX converters plus two AKM AK4191s.

Based on the Shanling M9

The new Shanling M9 Plus is intended to continue the success of the Shanling M9, a DAP based on Google Android, which was launched in 2021 and equipped with AKM AK4499 transducers as the flagship of Shanling Audio, and which was also offered in a limited edition of only 500 units.

With the new Shanling M9 Plus, the long-awaited update of the aforementioned Shanling M9 is now ready, and once again, as we have already indicated, it is a special transducer that is the focus here.

New processor platform from Qualcomm Inc.

The new Shanling M9 Plus is based on the same Google Android platform as its predecessor, but offers several improvements in all relevant areas. For example, it uses a high-performance platform from Qualcomm Inc. based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core processor with 8 GB RAM for the Google Android 10 operating system and an additional 256 GB internal memory. In many cases, therefore, there will be no need to upgrade the Shanling M9 Plus via microSD cards, which would be possible up to 2 TByte.

The central user interface is a 6-inch display with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,160 pixels.

Of course, it is possible to contact the outside world via WiFi, for example, to directly access various streaming services via the corresponding apps or even stream content from one’s own network. As a dlna-certified streaming client, the Shanling M9 Plus supports UPnP, Apple AirPlay and SyncLink.

Bluetooth 5.0 is available for the connection with headphones and portable devices as a source, whereby it is a transceiver that can transmit (SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, LHDC) and receive (SBC, LDAC).

However, the connection to the outside world can also be made via USB, namely a USB-C interface, where a reliable data transfer with high performance is guaranteed via an XMOS XU316. Via this USB-C port, the new Shanling M9 Plus can of course also be used as an external converter, this is mentioned for the sake of completeness.

Quad-DAC design based on AKM AK4499EX

For the developers at Shanling Audio, it was painful that the AKM AK4499 DAC was no longer available, as they held it in very high regard. The new flagship from Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation, the AKM AK4499X, is the perfect solution, especially as it is now used in the Shanling M9 Pro in a special way, namely in a so-called Quad-DAC design.

This means that four AKM AK4499EX are used here, so that an 8-channel design could be realised for a completely symmetrical set-up, as the manufacturer points out and in this context speaks of a particularly high dynamic range with the lowest noise. All four DACs are tested and paired manually to ensure ideal tuning at all times.

In addition to the DACs, two AKM AK4191 delta-sigma modulators are used, which are said to be largely responsible for the outstanding sound quality. The clock generators have also been upgraded to 90.3168 MHz and 98.304 MHz respectively, the internally developed I/V converter circuit has been adapted to the ADA45253 and the entire DAC section has been given its own independent XC9519 power supply chip, according to Shanling Audio.

Powerful output stage

The amplifier section uses Shanling Audio’s tried and tested OP+BUF architecture, now with a combination of MUSES 8920 J-FET and BUF634, which the manufacturer claims will ensure a smoother and more refined sound, and with an improved power supply guarantees increased stability and a total output power of an impressive 1,120 mW into 32 ohms. ELNA Silmic II and Panasonic Tantalum capacitors are also said to be particularly important for a warm and mellow sound, which is considered essential for the sound character the developers at Shanling Audio are striving for.

A 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack and a balanced 4.4 mm Pentaconn are available for connecting headphones.

Up to 18 hours of battery life

According to the manufacturer, the Shanling M9 Pro offers a playing time of up to 18 hours, although this only applies to operation with unbalanced headphones. If you want full performance via the balanced output, the integrated 8,350 mAh battery still offers eleven hours before it has to be recharged via QC 3.0.

Elegant appearance

The new Shanling M9 Pro presents itself in a discreet, elegant black, whereby the material used is light, yet extremely stable aluminium, which is produced using CNC manufacturing. The Shanling M9 Pro measures 147 x 82 x 22 mm and weighs 379 g.

Prices and availability

The new Shanling M9 Pro should be available in specialist shops as early as May 2023, according to the manufacturer. As a guide price, Shanling Audio quotes US$ 2.959,-.

Getting to the point

It is the new flagship in the field of DAP that Shanling Audio is now launching on the market with the new Shanling M9 Pro in mid-May 2023. In particular, it is the transducer concept used here that stands out and is supposed to ensure outstanding quality. For this purpose, the new Shanling M9 Pro also offers a correspondingly powerful output stage, which should be able to operate any headphones without any problems.

PriceUS$ 2.959,-
DistributionNT Global Distribution GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG
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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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