Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Shanling Q1: Is It Worth the Upgrade from the M1?

By Clay Valarezo

Shanling Q1
Shanling Q1



I have been a fan of Shanling DAPs since I purchased the Shanling M1, the cutest lil’ device ever! Unlike earlier FiiO DAPs, the user experience has always been superior on these devices.


I think for the earlier Shanling DAPs, Hiby created the operating systems for the UI, though I could be very wrong about this. Yet, the Shanling Q1 has its own proprietary UI that company created in house, and it is lovely!


Below, I have listed some reasons why the Shanling Q1 is a worthy (and more affordable) upgrade to the Shanling M1 (no longer in production).


Touch Screen/ UX


The Q1 has a touch screen interface as opposed to the M1, which operates entirely with buttons. The Q1 does have a volume knob, as well as play/pause, back and forward buttons on the side. For me, this is a welcomed feature set, as it complements the touch screen operations nicely.


There is NO lag on this device, however it does take roughly 15 minutes to load 10,000 songs (AAC format, 16/44.1, 256 kpbs). I view my music in “folder” mode which makes navigation for me a breeze (I manually organize my music in folders while loading music on my card via separate adapter).


One last consideration about its touch screen. There are other devices in this price range with touch screens also, like the Shanling M0, and the FiiO M5. While those are great devices, their smaller size makes touch screen functionality less useful. It is hard to scroll through folders when you can only see 4 of them at a time. This is also the case for the Q1, but with one major difference—the font is larger due to the larger screen. It is easier to navigate on the Q1 compared to the Shanling M0 and the FiiO M5.


Battery Life


If you are familiar with my posts, you must be tired by now that I keep praising the “battery life” of a device. And that is understandable. Battery life is not as sexy as “sound quality,” that’s fo’ shizzle. But in this case, the Q1 has a noticeably larger battery life than the M1—about 5 hours more life. This is a boon, really.




The Q1 is also noticeably more powerful than the Shanling M1. Much like the M1, the Q1 has low and high gain settings so that the listener can customize their listening experiences. Of course, the high gain setting will eat more into the battery, but the Q1 has a much larger battery life than the M1, so it is not an issue.


Cuteness Factor


Yep, I went there! Both these devices are super cute. In fact, they are downright adorable. When I purchased the Q1 on crowdfunding, I was initially un-impressed with the pictures that Shanling used to display this lil’ cutie. I purchase these budget DAPs because, like many of you, I have a sickness, a sickness called DAP-a-holism. AND it was being sold for $90 at the time. Why the ef wouldn’t I buy it?


When I opened the lovely packaged Shanling box, I was blown away by how friggin’ cute this thing is. It has curvy edges that would make Kim Kardashian jealous. Yep, I went there too. The pictures really don’t do the Q1 justice.


Also, the Q1 is relatively heavy for its size. This is not an issue for me, since I use it when I am studying or writing blog posts.


Conclusion: Should You Buy the Q1?


I love the Shanling M1 with almost all my heart, I really do. That device got me hooked on Shanling products. The Q1 is an amazing piece of kit. I still use the M1, just in a different context (when I am meditating).


If you have the older M1, and if you are wondering whether to buy the Q1, then I would urge you to consider my post. I can’t comment on sound quality, as to me, I can’t tell the difference. But I can say that the Q1 has more power under the hood, so it can power harder to drive headphones more effectively AND has more battery life to justify the music listening experience.


Do you NEED this device? Ef no! Do you WANT this device? Hellz ya! How many DAPs do we really need? Only one. How many pairs of reference quality headphones do we really need? Only one. How many DAC/AMPs do we really need? Not even one.


But as DAP-a-holics, suffering from the greatest disease of all (DAP-a-holism), we need to find a spot in our hearts for that one more DAP; that one more DAP that will make us feel special and invigorated; that one more DAP that will make “normal” people around us question our sanity; that one more DAP that our parents find in our closets and criticize us. We need that “one more” DAP. And this is it!


Until next time, stay listening!

1 comment

  1. Hi I love this post! As another Dap-a-holic I have a M1 and I also love it. It works perfect, but my old eyes can't see anything on this DAP. I use a 7G nano and I love its buttons, navigation, iTunes smart lists and that I don't have to wait to update my library, but I'm not very happy with the fact that it has not enough power for my Beyerdynamics DT 770 pro (80 Ohm.). And I really love the wheel on the M1. I tried the M0, but it was very neutral to me. I prefer the bass sound on the M1. I bought a Hidzs AP 80 but the wheel is faulty after 1 year. The sound of the Hidzs is awesome to me but the ui was horrible. I use it now as a bluetooh reciever (it only can do that now). Other pieces of gear (iPhones, android phones with external DACs (Dragonfly black,...)) are ok but they have no buttons (a nightmare at night). I think I have, well, I need to try Q1, and it helps to know that it has a similar sound to the M1 from your article. Thank you very much!


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