Overview of the Bluetooth DAC amplifier Shanling UP4: a small box with great features


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Portable Bluetooth DAC-amplifiers have been produced in a variety of options and designs for some time now.

time.Still, the idea of ​​turning your favorite wired headphones into wireless ones is quite logical. Moreover, with the spread of Bluetooth codecs for transmission &#8220;over the air&#8221; A signal with a higher bitrate makes such devices even more tempting. One of these gadgets, Shanling UP4, came to us for review. He has already managed to create a stir on specialized websites and forums. And we decided to personally check what it is capable of and how convenient it is to use such a device in real life.

  1. What is interesting Shanling UP4?
  2. What is in the box?
  3. What does Shanling UP4 look like?
  4. What is usability and functionality?
  5. How does that sound?
  6. What about autonomy?
  7. In the dry residue

Why is Shanling UP4 interesting?


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In a very compact and light blackThe &#8220;box&#8221;, which is the Shanling UP4, has a lot of interesting things packed into it. First of all, it is a Bluetooth receiver to which a smartphone is connected via Bluetooth 5.0 as a wireless source. At the same time, the gadget supports all possible codecs: AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC, HWA (LHDC) and formally meets the requirements for Hi-Res Wireless certification. A standard 3.5 mm output and a 2.5 mm balanced output are provided for connecting headphones. Two ES9218PC mobile DACs combined with amplification circuits are responsible for the sound, and a Qualcomm CSR8675 chip is responsible for the wireless connection. To control the Shanling UP4, you use a scroll wheel and an additional button. The gadget can be used as a headset thanks to the built-in microphone, and the NFC module allows you to quickly connect to a smartphone. And all this stuff weighs only 37 g.

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What is in the box?


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Shanling UP4 is packed in a small black boximage of the device, Hi-Res, Hi-Res Wireless certification logos and all technical information. Cover with magnetic clasp. Below it is a kit that includes Shanling UP4, brief instructions, a fabric-braided USB Type-C cable and a removable plastic clip mount. With its help, the gadget can be attached to clothing. For example, while playing sports.


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As an alternative, the Shanling has a leather case with a snap closure.


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What does Shanling UP4 look like?


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Shanling UP4 is very nice in design.It is a very compact black &#8220;bar&#8221; with rounded side edges. The main part of the frame is metal, and the front and back are made of glass. On the front panel there is an NFC tag, the Shanling logo and an LED indicator. We will return to it later. The receiver is very compact, you can barely feel it in your pocket, both in size and weight.


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Controls and functional elements minimum. Bottom - only USB Type-C for charging and connecting as a USB-DAC:


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There is a scroll wheel on the right side,which is responsible for adjusting the volume, controlling playback and turning on the gadget (it also works as a button). It is the same black color, small in size, with notches. The cutoffs are informative, the wheel operates with a pleasant click.


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At the top end there are both connectors for connectionheadphones, an additional button for settings and a built-in microphone hole. By the way, the Knowles SiSonic model is used with support for Qualcomm cVc 8.0 noise-cutting algorithms. It works very well, you can use it for conversations.


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The left end is devoid of anything, and on the back - only technical designations.


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The assembly and appearance of Shanling UP4 are all at the best level. Setting up and managing is a bit more complicated.

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What is usability and functionality?

The wheel is enough for basic controlscroll. With its help, you can adjust not only the volume: by pressing (including double and triple) you can control playback, reception and rejection of calls. Well, no one forbids you to take a smartphone out of your pocket for the same purposes. Further - more difficult. Gain level and digital filters are switched using the Mode button. Gain level - double press, digital filters - long press. Everything would be fine, but the current modes are indicated only using an LED indicator. Same as the current codec. There is no particular desire to remember all these color combinations. And there is simply no indication of the current volume level. So a small screen would be useful.


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Fortunately, the company has released an application for Androidcalled Shanling Controller, in which all this can be done more clearly. And at the same time see the firmware version, the current charge level, the codec used, and also adjust the equalizer. The application is still crude, there are problems with localization, but it is convenient to use for configuration.


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As already written above, the receiver usesBluetooth 5.0 and supports AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC, HWA (LHDC) codecs. LDAC was mainly used in conjunction with Huawei P40 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra; it is most convenient to connect using NFC. There were no problems with connection stability with the above-mentioned models. At a distance of about 5 meters with an obstacle in the form of a wall, no cliffs or interruptions were observed. There is a USB DAC function, which is common for such devices. But I was pleased that there was no need to install any drivers. In any case, they are not needed for Windows 10.


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How does that sound?

The receiver is equipped with two ESS Saber ES9218PC DACs withown amplification circuits. The output power is stated at 71 mW when connecting 3.5 mm headphones, 91 mW in Dual DAC mode (also 3.5 mm) and 160 mW - balanced output at 32 Ohms, so with &#8220;buildup&#8221; there won't be any problems. A balanced output was used for connection. According to subjective feelings, it gives a little &#8220;airier&#8221; sound with better detail in the mids and highs. Although in general the character of the sound does not change. Shanling, when developing the UP4, well understood the target audience of the receiver and &#8220;built&#8221; sound accordingly. It does not play analytically; for this purpose, there are more expensive and massive players for more demanding music lovers. Shanling UP4 plays musically and tightly. In particular, this is achieved by the characteristic development of low frequencies. They sound massive, deep and large, without losing detail, control and bite. The low frequencies are assertive, but at the same time remain in their place and do not interfere with the mid-frequency part of the range.


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Mid frequencies are good in their resolution,quantity and naturalness, well convey the character of the instruments and vocals, adding to the overall emotionality of the recordings. At the same time, there is a feeling of minimal sleekness and simplicity in terms of detail. In this case, this may be a plus, given the purpose of the receiver: it forgives some of the flaws and shortcomings of the recordings. The situation is approximately the same with high frequencies: there are enough of them, but they are slightly smoothed out, with slightly simplified attacks and attenuations and will not hurt the ears of high-frequency-phobes. The imagined scene is highly dependent on many factors, including headphones. But the overall impression is without revelations: it’s not tight, but it doesn’t strike the imagination either.

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What about autonomy?

Shanling UP4 is powered by a 550 mAh battery,promise up to 15 hours on 3.5 mm and up to 10 hours on balance. Of course, it all depends on the headphones and the codec used. But overall, the indicators are believable. When connecting the headphones to the balanced output and using LDAC, it really turns out about 10 hours, which is very good, as for such a miniature device. And if you regularly use it as a USB DAC, then the need for targeted charging will disappear altogether.

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In the dry residue

Despite some &#8220;niche&#8221;Similar Bluetooth receivers, I am glad that their quantity, quality and functionality are growing. Such a gadget allows you to significantly &#8220;upgrade&#8221; sound of your smartphone and add the missing jack for your favorite wired headphones, because almost all modern flagship smartphones have already lost it. And now you can do this for reasonable money. As for the Shanling UP4 itself, it pleases with its musical, engaging and driving sound, standard and balanced headphone output, Bluetooth 5.0 with support for all existing codecs, decent battery life, nice design and very compact size. The only complaint we can highlight is the absence of any screen, which makes setting up the receiver somewhat difficult. At the moment, Shanling UP4 costs around3400 UAH.

5 reasons to buy Shanling UP4:

  • cool driving sound;
  • the presence of standard and balanced headphone outputs;
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with support for SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC, HWA (LHDC);
  • compact dimensions and nice design;
  • Decent battery life.

1 reason not to buy Shanling UP4:

  • lack of an information display for easy setup.

Shanling UP4

Shanling UP4: Hi-Fi Bluetooth receiver with dual DAC, standard and balanced outputs, Bluetooth 5.0 interface with support for SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency codecs, aptX HD, LDAC, HWA (LHDC) and a microphone for use as a headset

Soundmag

We recommend

Shanling UP4

DAC
2xESS Saber ES9218PC

Power
71 mW (3.5 mm), 91 mW (3.5 mm output, Dual DAC), 160 mW (balanced output) @ 32 ohms

Signal to noise ratio
120 dB

Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise
0.003% (LDAC) @ 32 ohms

Wireless interfaces
Bluetooth 5.0 (Qualcomm CSR8675 chip), NFC

Supported Codecs
SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC, HWA (LHDC)

Battery
550 mAh, up to 15 hours playback

Wired interface
USB 2.0 (Type-C)

Dimensions and weight
60x36x13.5 mm, 37 g

For those that want to know more:

  • Shanling M0 review: Hi-Fi in miniature
  • Cayin N3 review: a universal Hi-Fi player for beginner music lovers
  • Best-in-Class: Review of the FiiO X3 II Hi-Fi Player
  • FiiO X5 3rd gen review: a universal mid-range Hi-Fi player
  • Overview of the flagship Hi-Fi player FiiO X7 with interchangeable amplifiers

Thank you

The editors thank Soundmag for the kindly provided review of the Bluetooth receiver