Shanling UA3 Evaluation — Headfonics

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Immediately, we evaluate the Shanling UA3 which is a brand new dongle-type moveable DAC and headphone amplifier that includes as much as DSD512 decoding functionality. It has a value of $109.

Disclaimer: This can be a pattern despatched to us in alternate for our trustworthy opinion. Headfonics is an unbiased web site with no affiliate hyperlinks or standing. We thank  Shanling for this chance.

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Shanling UA3 Evaluation

The Shanling UA3 has a hefty, good-sounding output at a low value level. It additionally has app, and a robustly constructed physique making it a heavy-hitting contender in its class.

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First rate quantity of driving energy


Clear Design


Preliminary Achieve on quantity set fairly excessive

Shanling makes one of the feature-crammed dongle DACs on the market presently which is the latest UA5. It’s full of options one might entry by means of its digital show. However it additionally has superb sound high quality and a solidly constructed physique.

The UA5 additionally has a fairly novel quantity knob that serves a couple of perform. This and the hybrid battery function made the UA5 totally different sufficient for me to take a tough have a look at it. Distinctive options it appears have gotten extra related with every dongle DAC launch.

For those who go down the Shanling dongle DAC product line you’ll run into the UA3 which is true under the UA5.

What does the UA3 deliver to the desk that I can’t style anyplace else? What distinguishes this dongle DAC from the remainder? This specific query needs to be on each dongle DAC producer’s entrance burner at the moment.

Shanling UA3 Review
Copyright Shanling 2022

Tech Highlights

DAC Part

Maybe the reply to that query lies with the DAC Shanling is utilizing inside the UA3. Whereas everybody else appears to steer to the extra widespread ESS chips or maybe Cirrus logic, Shanling went with a lately launched AKM variant which has been absent within the dongle DAC market up till now.

Shanling went with a single AK4493SEQ for the UA3 which is a reasonably new chip from the AKM group. The AK4493SEQ chip is labeled as a 32bit DAC with AKM’s Velvet sound expertise.

This chip’s particular declare to face out from the remainder is that it makes use of an built-in switched capacitor filter OSR double design that takes the place of resistors to precisely reproduce the characters of steady time Bessel or just put, a Bessel filter.

AKM printed a diagram of the interior sections of the AK4493SEQ and it exhibits a delta-sigma modulator and there additionally appears to be an built-in clock. It appears the actual chip’s claimed excessive energy effectivity is attributed to the truth that the chip operates alone with minimal want of any exterior circuits aside from one additional wanted stage.

Digital Codecs

Most cheap dongle DACs are excluding MQA decoding and the Shanling UA3 does the identical however as an alternative, it appears to focus all efforts on the extra widespread digital codecs and made positive the UA3 excels at them.

For instance, the PCM format can play good at as much as 32-bit and 768 kHz charges. DSD functionality reaches DSD512. I often push dongle DACs limits far as digital codecs go to see if they’ll deal with their highest bit charges properly and sure, the UA5 was steady constantly at these excessive charges and naturally at decrease charges additionally.

Shanling UA3 Review

Amplification Part

Though the DAC part inside the AK4493SEQ appears very competent the actual chip appears to be void of any amplification and appears to be only a devoted DAC. So Shanling’s answer was to pair it up with a set of Ricore RT6963 amplification chips for the front-end stage inside the UA3.

The DAC chips weren’t doubled up apparently as a result of it appears Shanling felt this chip’s efficiency was satisfactory or most likely simply needed to maintain energy consumption right down to the bottom doable ranges.

In addition they appear to provide significance to and made positive the UA3 had sufficient driving energy for extra than simply environment friendly IEMs. This chip combo appears to have an ample quantity of energy and quantity degree on faucet.

Efficiency Numbers

The Shanling appears to have energy output specification numbers that rival dearer fashions and significantly their very own UA5.

The UA3 can hit as much as 211mW per aspect at 32Ω. On the SE aspect, you get 125mW on the similar impedance. Output impedance is 0.4Ω and 0.8Ω on the balanced aspect.

Voltage is posted at 2v with 2.6v off the balanced aspect which is fairly low and would have assumed that the balanced aspect can be able to double the quantity of the SE aspect however that’s not so.

The one-ended aspect specs far as SNR and dynamic vary are listed at 119db. You barely step as much as 120db on the balanced aspect. Each outputs have a listed frequency response of 20 to 40 kHz.

The 2 most famous specification enhancements, significantly on the balanced aspect, is after all energy output however the channel separation goes up from 80 decibels as much as 110 decibels which is sort of a big acquire.

Shanling UA3 Review


The Shanling UA3 serves up a simplistic idea in design and the UA3 isn’t an eyesore of glitter and gold. As a substitute, it has a 60x25x13mm seamless all-metal black anodized shell with rounded ends and slotted sides and a few refined markings up back and front. All of the writing is completed in white and in truthful distinction to the black end.

In different phrases, the writing isn’t too brilliant on the UA3 and isn’t excessively contrasting or extremely eye-catching. You can nearly name it refined.

The markings are composed of a Hello-Res emblem and a few Shanling branding. On the flip aspect, there’s a Shanling emblem with digital format indications surrounding a really small LED which acts as an RGB format indicator.

On the highest, you’ll be able to see the twin headphone connectivity consisting of a 4.4mm balanced output and a 3.5mm connection however I’d not use each concurrently or on any dongle or amplifier.

On the underside lies the feminine USB-C connection which is the enter aspect. On one floor, there are additionally a few re-assignable quantity management buttons with a multifunction button.

One factor that this dongle ought to have in my view is an up-front acquire swap of some sort as a result of the quantity management appears very delicate to quantity ranges inventory and you might solely alter acquire ranges inside the Eddict participant.

It might simply be carried out by a double click on or comparable perform on that multifunction button in a firmware replace in a while.

Shanling UA3 Review

Eddict Participant

For those who search for an app that works with the UA3, Shanling has a participant known as Eddict participant that works with the UA3 however to me, it looks like greater than a participant as a result of it has plenty of options.

The one necessary function of dongle DAC controller apps is often the firmware updates function. There appears to be none inside the participant however Shanling handles that with separate recordsdata that you could obtain and execute inside a PC however not inside the app or on cellular gadgets. The method includes putting in a driver after which launching an executable.

The Eddict participant does ask for file entry while you first use it and that’s superb because it has to seek out your native music library nevertheless it doesn’t ask for contact entry like most others which is a reduction.

The Eddict participant is sort of good, it has plenty of options and all the things appears to work properly. There’s a ten-band equalizer with ten customized presets, a couple of filters plus a acquire.

It additionally permits the consumer to entry their NAS from inside the participant or some other community storage plus it provides WIFI switch functionality in case you need to transfer some music recordsdata round from inside the app itself.

Shanling UA3 Review

Packaging and Equipment

The Shanling UA3 equipment listing is as follows. Contained in the field, there’s a fast information, a guaranty card, and a product information brochure. That is all of the literature you get.

For connectivity, you get a dual-sided USB-C black paracord-wrapped cable with gray suggestions and a separate full-size USB adapter. It’s a fairly good cable plus I’m additionally joyful the wire is absolutely swappable.

However once more, there’s no iOS connectivity included though the UA3 is appropriate with the OS. Each the cable plus the adapter equipped are Shanling branded.

Now, bear in mind the white Hello-Res emblem in white on the shell? Shanling consists of two gold Hello-Res stickers in case you need to add some coloration and make the dongle look extra eye-catching by including some sheen.

Sound Impressions


The DAC part inside the Shanling UA3 appears very impartial and well-balanced with quantity of detailed nuances. It appears new tech pays off generally as within the case of the UA3 which purchased within the AKM ahead element sound signature and encased it inside a small dongle DAC.

What you get here’s a DAC that makes an attempt to extract particulars but additionally appears unforgiving in the truth that it offers the listener an nearly unaltered image of the recording. So, if the recording is a foul one this dongle DAC will replicate the actual fact. No less than it always portrays a darkish background that’s absent of hiss.

About the one facet of the general sound signature that may be thought of ingenuous and unfaithful is the slight ligneous or nearly tube-like character some vocals can painting however total, all of the frequency bands are represented evenly and easily.

The UA3 appears to deliver forth bass response a couple of drops greater than different extra impartial dongles, like for instance a number of the Cirrus logic variants.

The bass extension can attain very low notes whereas the highs appear ideally impartial. Midrange response does have a fairly ethereal facet however concurrently the actual fact doesn’t make it distant sounding as a complete.

Staging and dynamics

Since there’s bass presence there appears to be quantity of grunt within the low finish when the recording requires plus the bass portrays a big occupation spatially. Together with speedy supply, the UA3 offers off amount of bass kick. The general stability appears about flat-lined all the way in which pats by means of the remainder of the bands.

There’s a side I fairly like concerning the UA3 and it’s the big sound stage it will possibly produce. Objects appear to have distance however don’t wander off and nonetheless retain presence. The dongle appears to additionally painting issues inside recordings in an elevated means relative to placement.

The positioning is nice. Technical skills are additionally good for separation, and imaging with capability to sound tall and broad however not sound too distant or pale far-off. Vocal points appear wider in comparison with most different DACs.

Maybe if we give an total description it could go like this. The general soundstage and width create an ethereal facet occupied by large-sized components all inside their corresponding areas with un-bonded components. It appears the UA3 hits a step above some older dongles with older tech SOCs far as the general panorama and staging.

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