Android Central Verdict
The M0 Pro is a versatile DAC that doubles as a hi-res music player. The 1.54-inch screen lets you select files stored on the device via MicroSD slot, the interface is lag-free, and you get excellent sound quality for what you pay. The best part is that the M0 Pro can deliver fully balanced sound. If you're on the lookout for a Bluetooth DAC that's built for portability, the M0 Pro is a great choice.
Tiny size is ideal for portability
Excellent build quality
Works as a USB or Bluetooth 5.0 DAC
Includes LDAC and AptX audio codecs
Fully balanced audio
4.4mm balanced plug is an optional extra
No wireless charging
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Shanling is one of the oldest Chinese audio manufacturers, with a history stretching back 30 years. Music players have always been the brand's forte, and it is well-known for its M series of digital audio players. The product I'm looking at today is the M0 Pro, an updated model of the M0 that launched five years ago.
The M0 Pro is a music player distilled to its bare essentials: you get a screen, an ESS DAC, a 3.5mm jack, and a MicroSD slot for loading songs. While larger players like the Fiio M11S run a full-fledged instance of Android and integrate your favorite streaming services, the main goal with the M0 Pro is portability, so it misses out on internet connectivity in lieu of offline storage. The MicroSD slot lets you slot up to 2TB cards, so you can take a sizeable high-res library on the go.
Where the M0 Pro truly stands out is its ability to work as a wireless DAC. It has Bluetooth 5.0 and includes the LDAC and AptX codecs, so if you want to stream music off Spotify or Tidal, you can just connect the M0 Pro to your phone and leverage the DAC on offer.
The M0 Pro retails for $129, and you can get it at audio retailers like Linsoul Audio. You don't get much in the way of accessories in the box, and if you need a balanced 4.4 connector, Shanling sells a 3.5mm to 4.4mm plug for $14. In a similar vein, you'll have to pay $11 to get a leather case to safeguard the M0 Pro.
With portability being a core tenet of the M0 Pro, you'll find a tiny 1.54-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 240 x 240. The screen is serviceable for navigating the barebones interface, and it gets bright enough for outdoor use.
Each category has large icons that make it easy to use, and while there isn't much on offer, you get the fundamentals: a decent file browser, music player, and an EQ to change the sound balance. The UI doesn't have any latency, and it feels well-designed to take full advantage of the diminutive size of the M0 Pro.
The design itself looks elegant, with the metal chassis feeling durable in daily use. The build quality is on par with music players that cost a lot more money, and Shanling deserves credit for nailing the design. The M0 Pro is available in red, green, and black variants.
As for ports, you'll find the MicroSD slot, USB-C connector, and 3.5mm jack located at the bottom, and the volume dial to the right. What's particularly great is that the volume knob has a button that can be customized for playback controls. You can double press to go to the next song, single press to play or pause music, and so on. It is a nifty way to control music without having to use the screen — particularly handy if you're using the M0 Pro for workouts.
There's a 650mAh battery under the hood, and Shanling touts battery life of 14.5 hours on a full charge and standby time of a month. In my use, I got just under ten hours of usage before needing to charge the M0 Pro, and that's more than adequate for a device of this size. It takes over an hour and half to fully charge the M0 Pro, and the only thing I would have liked here is wireless charging.
You'll find dual ESS ES9219C DACs, allowing the M0 Pro to deliver a fully balanced sound. That is a huge achievement in and of itself, and I think Shanling should have included the 3.5mm to 4.4mm connector in the box as standard instead of an accessory.
The M0 Pro is able to play back PCM at 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128, and it has enough power to drive most IEMs and even full-fledged headsets. It goes up to 90mW at 32Ω for the single-ended 3.5mm jack, and 236mW at 32Ω for the balanced connection, and I didn't have any issues with the IEMs I tested.
As for the sound itself, the M0 Pro does a good job delivering a balanced sound, and while the bass isn't particularly impactful, it has a lot of body and comes across as clean. The mids are where the M0 Pro does a terrific job, offering plenty of warmth and definition. There's no harshness to the treble, but you get good extension and resolution.
I didn't have any issues pairing the M0 Pro with Fiio's FA7S and FH15, and while I did a bulk of the testing in wired mode, I connected it to my Galaxy S23 Ultra over Bluetooth and didn't see any glitches.
Overall, the M0 Pro isn't going to provide an analytical sound, but the added warmth in the mid-range and the relaxed treble makes the DAC a good option for listening to a wide range of genres. Shanling did a good job with the tuning, and considering the portable use case, the musical nature of the sound is a big differentiator for the product.
If you want a portable DAC that works seamlessly over Bluetooth and doubles as a high-res player for offline music, the M0 Pro is a terrific choice.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.