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Shanling UA2 Review (portable headphone amp & dac)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 81 56.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 56 39.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

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

    Votes: 1 0.7%

  • Total voters
    143

Saidera

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So there is still improvement necessary in the dongle market.

Balanced output capability prevents one from citing the apple dongle as a better option.
 

DanTheMan

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Oct 19, 2020
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Disappointed, but not surprised. This is why I’m still going dongle to FiiO A5 or e12 Monte Blanc. They’re old, but impossible to beat as far as I can tell.
 

drplinker

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May 1, 2021
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Thanks for the review @amirm !

Sheesh!! Talk about truth in marketing (or lack thereof), this is what is on Shanling's website:
Screen Shot 2022-07-24 at 1.36.23 PM.png


Manufacturer commented on previously aborted review Jul 30, 2021
Edit: Tagging manufacturer: @Frankie-Shanling if there is any clarification or rebuttal.
 
Last edited:

Jimster480

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Wow, pretty bad performance here.
I don't think this is worth any money tbh.... Honestly the FiiO K1 from back in the day is better. I still have one and it does quite well, but my LG G8 is better than that.

Not sure what the purpose of most of these devices is. I had the THX Onyx and was super disappointed with that too, very sharp sounding into planars especially.
 

antikryst

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Jul 17, 2022
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just got my UA2. i found that it didnt have enough driving power for adequate volume for the HD6XX. i downloaded their app and it was on high gain 100% volume by default out of the box.

though when i used UAPP i pressed the hardware volume control and i was able to up the DAC volume by like 10-15% more (just an estimate based on the sliders). It now has enough volume for the HD6XX. not sure if this is really extra hardware gain that UAPP unlocked. but the power sounds clean still when i upped the volume on the 6XX louder than the max of the default setting.

I can compare it to the sonata HD when my friend returns the sonata HD which i lent out.

just sharing my observations.
 

Jimster480

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just got my UA2. i found that it didnt have enough driving power for adequate volume for the HD6XX. i downloaded their app and it was on high gain 100% volume by default out of the box.

though when i used UAPP i pressed the hardware volume control and i was able to up the DAC volume by like 10-15% more (just an estimate based on the sliders). It now has enough volume for the HD6XX. not sure if this is really extra hardware gain that UAPP unlocked. but the power sounds clean still when i upped the volume on the 6XX louder than the max of the default setting.

I can compare it to the sonata HD when my friend returns the sonata HD which i lent out.

just sharing my observations.
Honestly you should probably return it. The lack of overall performance and power shows that the company really did not care when they put this product together.
 

antikryst

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Honestly you should probably return it. The lack of overall performance and power shows that the company really did not care when they put this product together.

no returns where i live. thats how it is. just got it for under $55 USD shipped so its not that bad. i like it better for IEMs vs my sonata HD since my sonata freezes Tidal when i dont wanna use UAPP. sonata has an issue with the tidal android app (tested with 2 phones).
 

Jimster480

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no returns where i live. thats how it is. just got it for under $55 USD shipped so its not that bad. i like it better for IEMs vs my sonata HD since my sonata freezes Tidal when i dont wanna use UAPP. sonata has an issue with the tidal android app (tested with 2 phones).
Try to sell it then, I mean the performance is really bad overall. Most phones would have a better native output.
 

Jimster480

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Most phones don't have a balanced output capable of driving the HD6XX :)
You don't need balance though. Nobody needs balanced.
Headphones don't require enough power to need a balanced connection. It is mostly just due to convenience and security of the physical plug connected in to your device.
A phone like the LG G8 has plenty of power to drive that headphone. Or some of the newer Sony models as they have even more headphone amperage.

The LG velvet is newer and it also has a good headphone output however it doesn't have the quad DAC with mqa and everything like the g8.
 

Chyżwar

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Jun 11, 2021
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You don't need balance though. Nobody needs balanced.
Headphones don't require enough power to need a balanced connection. It is mostly just due to convenience and security of the physical plug connected in to your device.
A phone like the LG G8 has plenty of power to drive that headphone. Or some of the newer Sony models as they have even more headphone amperage.

The LG velvet is newer and it also has a good headphone output however it doesn't have the quad DAC with mqa and everything like the g8.

I have the LG G7 and it doesn't have enough power to drive my HD600. Especially if we're talking about old recordings or music with a high dynamic range. This Shanling has more power output and sounds noticeably louder with high-impedance headphones. It's definitely better for the HD6XX than any phone.
 

Jimster480

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I have the LG G7 and it doesn't have enough power to drive my HD600. Especially if we're talking about old recordings or music with a high dynamic range. This Shanling has more power output and sounds noticeably louder with high-impedance headphones. It's definitely better for the HD6XX than any phone.
G8 has quite a bit more power IIRC.
Maybe you just get a portable amp and feed your G7->Portable Amp->HD6XX? Since the DAC in the G7 is quite good!
 

Wunderphones

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I'm the guy who got the UA2 to Amir, thinking that if the sound was at or near 100
Any measurements?



I don't need a portable amp :) But if someone wants to use the HD6XX with a portable device, this Shanling is not such a bad option.

If you already own the Shanling, I guess. But if you're poised to buy a dongle, I just don't see why you wouldn't spend the extra $30 to get the Hidizs S9 Pro. It measures a LOT better. (I was the guy who supplied the UA2 to Amir, thinking that if it was losing to the Hidizs, but not by very much, it would make sense to go with the Shanling at the lower price. But these numbers caused me to return the danged thing to Amazon.)
 

Dazerdoreal

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I hope you dont think I am an employee of Shanling :D, but I think I can explain your troubles with the UA2.

If it runs as it was supposed to run, it is a quite powerful dongle. I drive my Hifiman Deva Pro Planar with it and while I am still looking for something more powerful, it is still sufficient to drive it to comfortable levels with a -11 DB Preamp (Sub bass). I have heard that it is about as strong as the Fiio KA3 and I think that is true.

Then again, I had some trouble to get it running, and my guess is that this is also your problem. I am a Linux user, and at the beginning, my power output also was low and the volume control was awkward. This review also mentions these problems: https://www.soundphilereview.com/reviews/shanling-ua2-review-13134/

In order to fix that problem, I had to use "Alsamixer" and change the output volume back to 100. By default, it was on 30%, which equals about -20 DB. I guess this is also your problem. By default, the driver limited the output of the dongle. 100% on the volume bar equaled ~30% on the dongle. I have no idea how to fix this with other operating systems though, I am a linux guy.
 

antikryst

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I hope you dont think I am an employee of Shanling :D, but I think I can explain your troubles with the UA2.

If it runs as it was supposed to run, it is a quite powerful dongle. I drive my Hifiman Deva Pro Planar with it and while I am still looking for something more powerful, it is still sufficient to drive it to comfortable levels with a -11 DB Preamp (Sub bass). I have heard that it is about as strong as the Fiio KA3 and I think that is true.

Then again, I had some trouble to get it running, and my guess is that this is also your problem. I am a Linux user, and at the beginning, my power output also was low and the volume control was awkward. This review also mentions these problems: https://www.soundphilereview.com/reviews/shanling-ua2-review-13134/

In order to fix that problem, I had to use "Alsamixer" and change the output volume back to 100. By default, it was on 30%, which equals about -20 DB. I guess this is also your problem. By default, the driver limited the output of the dongle. 100% on the volume bar equaled ~30% on the dongle. I have no idea how to fix this with other operating systems though, I am a linux guy.

same with UAPP for android. default was not on max volume (hardware volume) on the app. i think i had to download the shanling app and set it to high gain first. but all in all sliding that hardware volume up to 100% gave it good output power.
 
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