Shanling UA1 is part of a general category of products jokingly termed ‘Chi-Fi’. Much like the Shanling M0 digital audio player and Shanling MTW100 true wireless earphones, the UA1 is affordably priced and promises full-fledged DAC and amplification capabilities despite its compact form factor.
Shanling UA1 is its size; this portable DAC is so small and light that I could easily balance it on just one finger. It weighs just 8.3g. Its small metal casing contains the 3.5mm headphone jack and the actual DAC itself, and there’s a fixed 5cm USB Type-C cable that extends from the other side.
Shanling UA1 has an ESS Sabre ES9218P DAC chip, which has been around for a while now but is still a capable option that fits into its compact body
Shanling UA1 has to do this with ease, but its basic DAC and amplification capabilities mean that it suits budget headphones and earphones – typically, entry-level in-ear monitors.
Total cost of which would be less than Rs. 6,000 – the sound quality was impressive, and expectedly better than what even the best true wireless earphones can achieve. This is the point of a wired setup; you’re striving for sound quality rather than the convenience and comfort of a completely wireless solution.
Shanling UA1, serving as a bridge between the source and output, does its job quietly and efficiently. However, its amplification abilities are best suited to budget audiophile earphones, rather than even somewhat high-end kit.
Shanling UA1 is there fore best used with budget IEMs that have a neutral approach to their sound.