Shanling H7 Overview — Headfonics
We evaluate the Shanling H7 which is a conveyable DAC and headphone amplifier with native playback, MQA decoding, and wi-fi Bluetooth functionality. It’s priced at $829.
Disclaimer: This can be a pattern despatched to us in change for our sincere opinion. Headfonics is an impartial web site with no affiliate hyperlinks or standing. We thank Shanling for his or her assist.
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Observe, that this text abides by our newest scoring tips which you’ll be able to learn up on here.
Shanling H7 Overview
The Shanling H7 is one more wonderful trendy interpretation of the basic DAC/amp scene that has had a little bit of a rebirth lately.
This can be a impartial sound signature however in comparison with the likes of the Mojo 2 and the Q7 it is a bit smoother and sweeter-toned and can gel fantastically with clean-sounding headgear.
Detailed and balanced sound signature
Native playback functionality
Eddict App a bit restricted
No 4.4mm line out
I first received wind of the Shanling H7 in the direction of the top of 2022 and given the stellar expertise of the competing FiiO Q7 I truthfully couldn’t flip down the chance.
James and Louis usually cowl Shanling’s mixture of DAPs and dongles for years now however Shanling particularly wished me to listen to and examine this in opposition to the Q7, (and I’m going to presume the Mojo 2 additionally given the worth level).
It’s considerably ironic as a result of I’ve been digging up my previous transportable DAC/amps of late and asking myself why I didn’t do that sooner as a result of just a few of the performances are on par with dearer DAPs and in some instances I’d fee them superior.
So, in a means the H7 is for all these ardent Shanling lovers on the market who discovered their high-end models such because the M9 and the limited-run M8 a fiscal stretch too far. Just like the Q7 there’s some engineering overlap between each the H7 and the flagship DAPs. And like FiiO, Shanling has priced this manner under these transportable sources at $829.
So, what’s the Shanling H7 and what does it do? In abstract, the H7 is a conveyable DAC and balanced headphone amplifier. It may well pair with each IEM and headphones through a variety of PO analog outputs to the entrance in addition to act as a preamp with a twin RCA analog output to the rear.
It may well additionally operate as a USB DAC out of your PC or MAC as effectively deal with USB OTG audio from one other transportable gadget reminiscent of your smartphone, iOS platform, or an OTG-compatible DAP. The H7 additionally connects wirelessly through Bluetooth and performs audio from nearly any suitable Bluetooth transmitter.
Maybe the killer function is its onboard participant and the way it will also be used to transmit audio. Yup, the H7 can play audio recordsdata domestically from a further microSD slot to the rear with a measure of management through a small menu-based LCD display screen and multifunctional dials to the entrance.
And at last, with the flexibility to sync, (hyperlink) with Shanling’s Eddict app through Android or iOS, that onboard audio storage may be managed and performed from a easy contact GUI.
The DAC contained in the H7 is a single AK4499EX with an AK4191EQ digital filter and modulator. Now, in the event you use Shanling merchandise earlier than you’ll know they’re massive followers of the “AKM Sound” so the H7 is not any exception to this in-house engineering choice.
Eagle-eyed readers may even spot that it’s the next-gen model of the basic AK4499EQ DAC chipset used inside each their M9 and M8 reference DAPs, (in twin chipset configurations).
It’s controversial then that it is a related path tread by FiiO with its Q7 ES9038PRO chipset in comparison with the twin chipset contained in the M17 DAP. Nonetheless, because the AK4499EQ was discontinued the transfer was made to the newer flagship EX model for the H7.
Mixed with an XMOS XU316 USB chipset the H7 is able to decoding as much as DSD512, PCM 32BIT/768kHz, and unfold MQA as much as 8X, (solely their DAPs are able to doing 16X at the moment). That’s at the next degree in comparison with the Q7’s most DSD256 and PCM 32BIT/3984kHZ functionality.
For those who plan to change to the Ampak AP6256AC BT5.0 chipset for wi-fi the decoding gives you an optimum LDAC 24BIT/96kHz which is good. Nonetheless, in contrast to the Q7, there is no such thing as a aptX or aptX Adaptive so the drop is steep from LDAC right down to SBC. Within the case of iOS, you get the same old AAC most.
Because the H7 additionally provides coaxial and optical SPDIF enter the inner DAC may even decode as much as a most of 192kHz/24BIT for coaxial and 96kHz/24BIT for optical.
It’s price noting that in the event you plan to make use of the built-in Ingenic X2000-powered native participant choice you’ll get the identical charges and choices as you’d utilizing it in USB-DAC and OTG wired mode.
That is the one space that I feel just a few house owners of Shanling’s DAPs would possibly take a second have a look at is the H7’s amplification. So far as I can see the H7 is Shanling’s strongest transportable gadget at the moment in the marketplace.
Each the M9 and the M9 faucet out at just below 1W right into a 32Ω load with the M9 doing barely higher at 920mW in Turbo Achieve in comparison with the M8 at 840mW.
The H7, alternatively, gives you as much as 1300mW @32Ω utilizing its balanced output in excessive acquire mode. The 450mW @32Ω SE ranking on a excessive acquire setting is akin to the Turbo Achieve setting on the M9 so no actual benefit there.
Sadly, there is no such thing as a DC energy choice just like the Q7 so the 3W balanced output ‘beast mode’ belongs to FiiO on this occasion. Nonetheless, at 1.5W into 32Ω on battery mode, the 2 units are very shut by way of headline numbers.
The H7 is smaller and loads lighter than I used to be anticipating, notably after utilizing the Q7 for just a few months. At 142 x 85 x 25 mm it’s simply marginally longer than the Mojo 2 with the Poly on the top of it. It’s additionally about as large because the high-end Cayin C9 tube amplifier and nearly half its top.
At 352g it’s nearly half the load of the 650g Q7 and you may really feel that distinction instantly within the dealing with of the 2. I’d truly fee the H7 as a reasonably transportable gadget on that foundation. Although maybe not as pocketable because the Mojo 2 I wouldn’t balk at taking up this for journey the place the carry-on allowance is restrictive.
Aesthetically the anodized aluminum alloy housing is a really clean flask-type type issue making it supremely snug to carry in a single hand or each. The one actual edging is on the front and back panels and even then it’s none too sharp to the contact. Screws are additionally shallow profiled with simply 2 small black inserts on the again.
The rear panel is barely recessed which is an efficient factor in my ebook to guard the connectors from unintentional drops. You can see the extra intricate reducing on the entrance panel with a small LCD panel for the light-weight OS and two ALPs pots on both aspect which have a pleasant grippy texture to their ending.
The entrance panel itself has a transparent coating which I presume is for each safety and labeling although the labels themselves usually are not the simplest to learn below sure lighting.
The H7 preamp outputs and the digital inputs are all housed on the rear panel with respectable spacing for many common connectors to suit with out house points.
Additionally, you will discover the reminiscence card slot to the highest proper of the rear panel and it ought to deal with as much as 2TB in capability. Observe, in case you are planning to make use of the onboard system for native playback there’s a onerous wall set at 20k recordsdata for media administration through meta tagging because of its restricted onboard system reminiscence. Folder navigation is unaffected.
When you have extra then I’d recommend you use native playback through the Eddict app which is way extra helpful anyhow even in the event you solely have just a few recordsdata on the cardboard.
Digital inputs cowl each coaxial and optical through a 3.5mm SPDIF enter with two separate USB-C slots for USB-DAC and charging duties. For iOS customers or these wishing to connect a USB-C lightning cable connection the pin association is barely totally different so an everyday Lightning cable is not going to work.
On this occasion, Shanling does provide a particular model that does work known as the L3 Neotech Pure Silver Audio Cable Kind-C Lightning. It’s an non-compulsory additional and while I’d have a lot most popular to have seen it as a part of the bundle it’s constructed to a excessive commonplace utilizing a hand-woven 9strand 4-core pure silver wire.
I do like the truth that Shanling has thrown in a 6.35mm analog output on the entrance panel alongside the common 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm balanced choices. It’s an analogous method to the FiiO Q7 although there is no such thing as a 2.5mm TRRS choice that may have accomplished the line-up.
Additionally, you will discover on the entrance panel there is no such thing as a indicated line-in. The twin RCA preamp on the rear will cowl the line-out however a devoted however twin PO/LO enter function may need been helpful.
On this occasion, Shanling has suggested utilizing one of many common PO and pushing up the quantity to a most which in impact provides you a 2V line-out sign. Nonetheless, it’s a double-amping function that some discover topical with noise from one amp being amplified by the subsequent in line. Good factor, the H7 is a really quiet amp so the difficulty is minimized.
As a result of the H7 has a small OS system with an LED show there’s a measure of interplay with it past easy energy on/off and quantity management.
The 2 Alps pots on both aspect just about do every thing you should handle quantity, change between modes and options, in addition to a restricted quantity of native playback management. Apart from the panel visible suggestions you additionally get quite a lot of small LED diodes above indicating charging standing, pattern fee, and if the MQA choice is activated throughout playback.
The primary panel itself will spherical robin your accessible modes on the far left in addition to indicative quantity degree, acquire, and battery life remaining. The exact grouping of controls is break up between the 2 pots which double up as multifunction buttons when pressed.
The left Alps pot does all of the native media navigation with the fitting aspect controlling play/pause, energy, and quantity ranges.
Direct management from the H7 participant itself is a linear and comparatively restricted system with no capability to scan by way of recordsdata to choose particular tracks. You must click on by way of every one within the order they’re offered from the microSD card.
You may as well change the enter mode and dig deeper into the H7 menu system through the left pot. Settings embrace acquire, channel imbalance, digital filter, and firmware updates. A number of that is duplicated through the Eddict app in SyncLink mode which some will in all probability choose.
The H7 makes use of a twin 18650 battery configuration for a mixed capability of 6800 mAh. That gives you a most of 10 hours single-ended and eight hours balanced for headphone and IEM utilization.
That is kind of on par with the Q7 on-paper specs for balanced and the Mojo 2 for unbalanced so there’s not a lot to complain about right here.
In fact, utilization circumstances will decide the precise degree however utilizing SyncLink balanced with sub 30Ω IEMS and a mixture of MQA and 16BIT FLAC recordsdata received me round 7 hours simply throughout testing.
Because of the chip used within the H7 charging circuit, Shanling has beneficial avoiding USB-C to C cables and their related quick chargers which may have some compatibility points. On this occasion, it’s safer to make use of common chargers with USB-A ports and a 5V/2A output, (just like the Mojo and Mojo 2). There’s additionally no capability to DC energy the H7, in contrast to the Q7.
Packaging & Equipment
The Shanling H7 is available in a reasonably industry-standard white retail field with related branding on the outside and loads of protecting foam packaging on the within to guard each the participant and its related equipment which may be discovered on the base of the field.
Inside you get a brief 1m 3.5mm to RCA SPDIF cable which I discovered extraordinarily helpful as my 3.5mm SPDIF converters have gone lacking these days. You additionally get a USB-C to USB-A cable for USB-DAC and charging duties and a shorter USB-C to USB-C cable for OTG connectivity.
The final two equipment embrace a comfortable orange drawstring pouch to hold the H7 and a set of 3M silicone blister ft if you wish to defend the bottom of the participant throughout use. The orange pouch is a bit meh and doesn’t look terribly protecting so I’d suggest forking out the extra $30 for the extra devoted H7 which you’ll be able to seize on Musicteck USA.
It’s listed as leather-based however the materials feels completed like comfortable cloth and matches the H7 rather well. It’s not too tight nor does it really feel just like the H7 will fall out by chance. Its cut-away on the entrance permits for straightforward entry to each the pots and LED show with the rear end mimicking the housing overhang completely.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and pairings.