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Shanling UA2 Review (portable headphone amp & dac)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 81 57.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 55 38.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 5 3.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 1 0.7%

  • Total voters
    142

amirm

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This a quick review and measurements of the Shanling UA2. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $95.
Shanling UA2 Review Portable DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.jpg


I previously tested one which due to owner preconfiguration, would not output much voltage. This is remedied in this new unit.

Both balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs are provided. Communication is using USB-C.

Shanling UA2 Measurements
I focused on only testing the balanced output. Here is our dashboard:

Shanling UA2 Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png


I am pleased to see 4 volt output which helps a lot with driving high impedance headphones. Not so good is the amount of distortion.

Baseline noise is high as well:

Shanling UA2 DNR Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png


Which is reflected in IMD test:
Shanling UA2 IMD Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png


The J-test signal used for this test has a 250 Hz component which should be invisible. But it it is not:
Shanling UA2 Jitter Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png


This indicates bleeding of digital signal into analog.

Most important is power output and we have plenty of it at 300 ohms:
Shanling UA2 THD 300 Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png

Best portable headphone adapter 300 ohm review.png


Sadly inverse is true at 32 ohm:
Shanling UA2 THD 32 Measurements DAC and Headphone balanced portable amplifier.png

Best portable headphone adapter 32.png


Conclusions:
It is nice to see high output power for high impedance headphones. With low impedance though, due to low current delivery, you hardly have any power. Combined with rather high baseline noise floor, it is hard for me to recommend the Shanling UA2.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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daftcombo

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Thanks Amir!

Does the spray of distortion peaks appear at lower than max volume?
 

GeekyBastard

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In fact, this test result can be predicted from the beginning, because over the years Shanling has only been doing OEM for several Hi-Fi companies, they do not have any design and development capabilities themselves, almost all of Shanling's own brand products were designed by outsourcing teams.
 

Matias

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Nowadays any company can buy a Cosmos ADC and verify their designs. No excuses.
 

Drengur

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In fact, this test result can be predicted from the beginning, because over the years Shanling has only been doing OEM for several Hi-Fi companies, they do not have any design and development capabilities themselves, almost all of Shanling's own brand products were designed by outsourcing teams.
I am sure you are correct, but I don't think this used to be the case.

I was a Shanling distributor for 24 hours (or so I thought) years ago, back in 2005. Before I signed the contract a larger distributor (It wasn't hard to be larger than myself) got the deal. They had excellent industrial design and made killer looking tube-stuff. I was always a bit sad when I looked at my store window, it would have looked so nice with a STP-80 in it. C'est la vie I guess.
 

MC_RME

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@amirm : that J-Test looks like you used the 16 bit version test signal instead of the 24 bit one.
 

Ismapics

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Screen Shot 2022-07-24 at 11.33.21 AM.png
Not much better than an Apple Dongle costing $10.00. Something other YT Talking heads don't seem to see.
 

DonR

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Given the portable nature, I am not sure the noise floor is as critical as it would be for a desk DAC. Outclassed by others though.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Given the portable nature, I am not sure the noise floor is as critical as it would be for a desk DAC. Outclassed by others though.
Actually the most common use is IEMs which are quite sensitive. So it matters even more here.
 

Dzhaughn

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He was a very funny comedian, and he's dead. It's a mediocre DAC and amp, but can't we give the guy a break?

 

Lambda

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That’s a lot of distortion (comparatively)
it's nice to get 4Vrms out of it but its not worth this level of distortion.
 

antikryst

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ouch. was waiting for mine to arrive. got it at $60 so i just bit without the ASR review. i guess it shouldnt be bad for driving IEMs (based on other reviews) but glad to see it will be good for my HD6XX.
 
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