Shanling M2X

Sound.

So how does the M2X sound? Really rather good actually. I have used a variety of IEMs such as the Final E4000, Custom Art FIBAE Black, Dita Fealty, 64 Audio U12t and Trio, and the Empire Ears Phantom. The music I used was a wide range with tracks from the Foo Fighters, Rolling Stones, Caro Emerald, and Agnes Obel, as well as classical music from Beethoven, Bach and Paganini, and EDM from Astronaut Ape, Carbon Based Lifeforms and Melokind.

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The M2X has a punchy sound with somewhat brighter tonality that is a bit more detail-oriented than what I would consider strictly neutral. It leans slightly towards a more revealing type of sound, but with a lot of energy. With the Final E4000 I felt I got a really nice punchy bass, clear mids and sparkly highs with an overall very dynamic feel to it, which worked great with my usual training music from Neffex. The stage is a very good size, not as big as with my AK70, but bigger than with the M0, which is good to begin with. There is some difference as well between using the SE and balanced out, with the balanced out pushing the stage a little wider and feeling a little cleaner and more dynamic overall with the harder to drive Dita Fealty (Dita’s Awesome Plug is great for comparisons without the need for an adapter).

The overall impression I have of the M2X is that it is a very good quality neutral DAP with a slightly brighter tonality and excellent imaging, detail retrieval and layering. Dare I say it punches above its price point? No I daren’t, but that is simply because I have nothing of the same price to compare it to. It is certainly a healthy step up from the M0 and I consider both excellent value for the sound quality they produce.

USB DAC.

The M2X also functions as a USB DAC and I spent some time using it as such, but without convincing results. Connecting the M2X to my late 2011 MacBook Pro was easy, just plug-and-play, be it that I had to indicate in my MacBook’s settings that I wanted to use the sound through the M2X. However, comparing the sound of the M2X as a USB DAC to the M2X directly revealed that as a USB DAC I was not getting the full performance. The bass was not as well controlled or extended, vocals sounded a bit brittle and the treble became rather tinny, clearly not what the M2X is capable of. I have not been able to identify the reason for this. Perhaps it has to do with my dated MacBook or a driver issue. Beyond that the M2X was working very well and I encountered no synchronization issues or cut-outs like I have had with other DAPs and even dedicated DAC/Amps. If the issue was indeed due to my aging MacBook, then the M2X makes for an excellent USB DAC.

Comparison to M0.

A big question of course is whether or not the M2X is a step up from its little sibling, the M0. Well, spoiler warning, it most certainly is. I already hinted that the sound of the M2X is a healthy step up and while the overall character is very similar, both are neutral, punchy sound with a slightly brighter tonality, the M2X does it better in every respect. Bass extends a little deeper, is better controlled, mids are cleaner and more airy, and the treble is better extended and a bit more natural sounding. The stage is also larger and cleaner, allowing for better imaging.

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Moreover, as a portable device I feel the M2X is more practical. The size is much more convenient, as the M0’s screen can be a little too small for easy navigation and the addition of physical playback buttons and a 2.5mm balanced out are very practical. The M2X is also richly featured with various controls such as the custom EQ function and of course various connection options for streaming Tidal natively and others through pairing it with a smartphone.

I really like both DAPs, and the M2X is in every way a step up from the M0 if size is not a key factor.

Conclusions.

The M2X is an affordable, richly featured DAP that delivers excellent sound quality. The UI might be a little rough around the edges here in there, but is smooth, response and intuitive to use. The sound I feel can be best described as neutral with a bit of punch and a slightly brighter tonality to make the music detailed and exciting. Build quality feels great and with a lot of up-to-date features, I think it makes for a great value DAP that is definitely worth a closer look.

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6 thoughts on “Shanling M2X

  1. i cant decide between M2X and fiio m6…is m2x step up from m6 in terms of sound quality?
    and which one has more neutral sound?!

    Like

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