Shanling H1 Portable Headphone Amplifier Review
We’ve been treated to a few of Shanling’s products lately; as well as the excellent M1 and M2S players, this little amp promises to give brands like Fiio a run for their money! The entry-level portables market has been truly cornered by Fiio in recent years, so it will be interesting to see what impact Shanling can make here.
- Small, handy unit
- Thoughtfully designed volume control
- Well constructed
Design and Appearance
The Shanling H1 amp is a small unit, being 7cm x 6cm and about 1.5cm thick; about half the size of the average mobile handset. The edges are bevelled and the unit feels good in the hand, with enough weight to feel substantial for its size, although the unit is itself not heavy.
The main feature is the recessed knurled volume knob which is centred on one side of the amp, which is protected from accidental operation by the amp’s housing. Power/charge lights are on the top, plus there’s a gain switch and micro-USB socket on the rear for charging. That’s it! The H1 is as simple as it gets for an amp, and it’s all that’s needed.
Durability and Build Quality
The Shanling H1 headphone amp is constructed from aluminium and has a pretty solid feel about it. It will probably have no problem being dropped occasionally, but we’ve not tried this here! The volume knob has a smooth, solid feel as it’s turned and it has enough stiffness not to be operated accidentally whilst in the pocket.
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This amp goes loud for its size; we couldn’t resist pairing it up with a HiFiMAN HE-6 which is notoriously difficult to drive. On the low gain setting, and using an incoming line-level signal, the volume goes up to hearing damage levels with the HE-6 on some pieces. Not bad! Of course, we don’t recommend this pairing for getting the best out of the HE-6!
The H1 is designed for portable use, so was tried versus being directly connected to a cheap phone with portable earphones . The sound is faithful and quite neutral, although there is a little more thump coming through with the sub-bass. Music appears to be more relaxed and natural through the amp, where it sounds a little strained with a direct connection. Listening to this amp with a pair of SoundMAGIC E80 earphones is actually very enjoyable!
Shanling’s new H1 portable amplifier is a palm-sized affair, but Fiio had better start making room anyway!