Aesthetics and Build Quality:
Well what can I say, Shanling know how to make a great looking product and the UP2 is no different. Tempered glass in the front and back with subtle branding and a machined aluminium shell and volume knob/button. On the bottom you have a single USB-C port for charging and DAC duties, on the top you have the headphone socket and small hole where the internal microphone is located. It is sleek, slim and just looks great in person.
Build quality is great, the tempered glass should hold up well over time, along with the main aluminium body feeling strong. Having a USB-C connector is excellent as most new devices have now moved over to this connector. I really cannot fault the UP2 in terms of build.
Well the UP2 is first and foremost a Bluetooth receiver, it supports all the latest codecs too including LDAC and AptxHD. This really does make a difference when compared to devices that only support SBC and AAC.
The UP2 can also be used as a USB DAC with a PC and does not require drivers to work. The internal headphone amp is powerful enough for most IEM’s and easy to drive headphones.
You can quite easily control the music via the UP2, the volume wheel can be pressed in to play/pause, double click to skip a track forwards, and triple to skip back. You can pick up phone calls and the UP2 has a built-in microphone for that duty. The UP2 has around 11hrs battery life on SBC, when using LDAC or Aptx it is slightly lower.
The UP2 is an excellent sounding Bluetooth receiver, using a separate Bluetooth receiver and DAC chip means you really do get high quality Bluetooth audio. I’ve been using the UP2 with some Campfire Audio Andromedas and there is absolutely zero background hiss, match that with the low output impedance and you have an impressive wireless setup. The UP2 doesn’t really have much of a sound signature of its own, being neutral and detailed depending on what you pair it with.
With LDAC playing it’s getting harder and harder to tell between Bluetooth and CD quality wired from a DAP (of course you have to be playing CD quality over Bluetooth for LDAC to do its magic). No longer do we have to put up with mushy highs, and one tone bass notes over Bluetooth, now we can have excellent dynamics and detail retrieval, it is making me rethink the whole Bluetooth thing, and that’s a £79 product paired with a £1049 pair of earphones.
Of course, there is still an argument to have a dedicated DAP, with a better amplifier and better components, but usually at a much higher cost. For daily use however the Shanling is perfect, the difference in sound quality really isn’t that big and one that is easy to live with if you value convenience. Yes the UP2 + earphones isn’t as slick as a pair of true wireless earphones but the sound quality is superior to all true wireless models we have tested, along with having better battery life.
Well the UP2 really is a great little device, the sound quality when paired with a device that can transmit LDAC or Aptx HD really is closing the gap between wireless and wired, with no substantial drop in audio quality. The UP2 is the perfect on-the-go partner for a pair of quality earphones or easy to drive headphones, I forgot to add that the UP2 is clean and neutral sounding to boot.
Build Quality: 5/5
Sound Quality: 4/5