Apple’s new announcement of Lossless Audio streaming for Apple New music may well have sparked curiosity in improving upon the high quality of audio in your personal audio set up, but audiophiles have been discovering strategies to make this transpire for many yrs now. The best and most inexpensive resolution is to use a transportable digital-analogue converter (DAC) with a excellent pair of wired headphones or earphones. A notably fascinating selection in this phase is what I am examining now: the Shanling UA1 transportable DAC-Amplifier.
Priced at Rs. 3,999 in India, the Shanling UA1 is component of a common class of solutions jokingly termed ‘Chi-Fi’. Substantially like the Shanling M0 electronic audio player and Shanling MTW100 real wi-fi earphones, the UA1 is affordably priced and promises total-fledged DAC and amplification abilities irrespective of its compact type component. Discover out how it performs, in this evaluate.
Shanling UA1 design and style and requirements
Maybe the most outstanding aspect of the layout of the Shanling UA1 is its sizing this transportable DAC is so small and light-weight that I could very easily stability it on just a single finger. It weighs just 8.3g. Its smaller steel casing includes the 3.5mm headphone jack and the true DAC by itself, and there’s a set 5cm USB Kind-C cable that extends from the other facet. A USB Variety-C to USB Sort-A adapter is provided in the gross sales bundle for more connectivity alternatives.
What also tends to make the Shanling UA1 remarkable is itsease of use. You just have to plug it into the supply machine, and it immediately takes around audio output. This can be most equipment with a USB Style-C port these types of as Android smartphones and tablets, and pick iPad designs these as the iPad Air (2020) or other iOS equipment employing the appropriate adapter, as properly as desktops with USB Style-A ports.
Whilst some source gadgets may well require some set up, I did not require to do anything beyond plugging the Shanling UA1 in, when using it with an Android smartphone functioning Android 11 and a MacBook Air running MacOS Significant Sur. You will need to put in motorists to be equipped to use the Shanling UA1 with Windows gadgets, and some Android units may possibly will need to be set to output audio to USB via their configurations for the UA1 to perform.
The Shanling UA1 has an ESS Sabre ES9218P DAC chip, which has been all over for a when now but is nonetheless a capable choice that fits into its compact system. The product supports up to 32-little bit / 384kHz resolution audio, and the DSD256 format. It attracts energy directly from the resource machine as a result of the USB link, and has a rated frequency reaction assortment of 20-50,000Hz.
Shanling UA1 functionality
The most significant part in any audiophile setup is the output machine, that is, the headphones or earphones you use. The resource gadget and bridge are, of class, crucial in their possess regard, but they serve a lot more to guidance the output machine than to influence the output considerably on their own. The Shanling UA1 has the specifications and capabilities to do this with ease, but its simple DAC and amplification capabilities imply that it suits funds headphones and earphones – ordinarily, entry-stage in-ear displays.
Even though a advised headphone impedance assortment for the Shanling UA1 is not outlined, it can drive even higher-impedance headphones. That reported, it really is meant to powerfully and impressively generate easy-going headsets and IEMs, fairly than just about deal with to drive higher-end, significant-impedance headphones. I discovered that functionality was good with essential IEMs these as the KZ ZSN Professional X and Blon BL-03, featuring a good strengthen in phrases of attain and travel, whilst retaining the clean, specific sonic signatures of these two headsets.
Listening to a high-resolution DSD recording of Astor Piazzolla’s Nervousness, the seem was loud even when set to about the 40 p.c volume stage on my Android smartphone, and growing it to all-around the 60 % mark designed it louder with out any audible distortion or reduction in seem good quality. The grunt and definition of the double-bass that I have usually beloved about Stress and anxiety was present and real, with the KZ ZSN Pro X handling to recreate all of the depth and definition in this fantastic monitor with simplicity.
Even with this primary set up – the overall value of which would be significantly less than Rs. 6,000 – the sound high quality was extraordinary, and expectedly superior than what even the most effective legitimate wireless earphones can attain. This is the point of a wired setup you happen to be striving for audio top quality rather than the comfort and convenience of a wholly wi-fi solution.
The Shanling UA1, serving as a bridge in between the source and output, does its task quietly and efficiently. Even so, its amplification skills are best suited to spending budget audiophile earphones, instead than even rather higher-close package. With a Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear wired headset, the audio felt practically boring and droning. These headphones are a little bit hotter-sounding than the IEMs I experimented with the UA1 with, and this very low-finish drive did appear to get a bump that at times felt a little bit extreme. The Shanling UA1 is therefore greatest used with spending plan IEMs that have a neutral technique to their audio.
All of the communicate surrounding the launch of Apple Music’s Lossless Audio tier has sparked fascination in audiophile kit, and we’re most likely to see quite a few purchasers investing in basic gear these types of as DACs to take gain of the enhancement in stream quality. The Shanling UA1 is the initial stage in this direction it is really a able bridge involving the supply machine – both a smartphone or a notebook – and your earphones.
That explained, it is greatest suited for use with price range IEMs this sort of as the KZ ZSN Pro X or Blon BL-03, both of those of which price all over Rs. 2,000 every. If you might be on the lookout to established up a primary audiophile kit on a funds, the Shanling UA1 is worth looking at.
Cost: Rs. 3,999
Scores (out of 10):
General performance: 8
- Compact, uncomplicated to use
- USB Type-C and Style-A connectivity out of the box
- 32-bit / 384kHz, DSD256 help
- Functions incredibly nicely with entry-degree IEMs
- Not perfect for use with substantial-conclude headphones