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Shanling ME80 Review Single Dynamic Driver IEM

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Featuring a snail-like aluminium casing, the Shanling ME80 earphones look like miniature twin turbochargers. The Shanling ME80 shells are, in fact, very small and have a smooth matte finish that fits comfortably inside the ears. The front plate has a clear bubble like design with Shanling branding embedded in it. More ME80 branding can be seen on the underside of the earphones next to R and L markings.


The Shanling ME80 have blue/red color coded MMCX connectors so, you know which connector goes where. Because Shanling ME80 uses MMCX connectors, you don't have to worry about orientation/polarity like you do with 2-pin cables. Also, there is only one type of MMCX cable you can get; hence less confusion when replacing the cable, unlike 2-pin cables which are available in two types: 0.78mm and 0.75mm 2-pin diameters.
Because the Shanling ME80 earphones are detachable, you can potentially convert them into wireless by using a MMCX Bluetooth cable (not included). Sound quality wise, there is no perceivable difference between MMCX connectors and 2-pin connectors, other the design itself. MMCX cables are easier to use because they plug in like a snap fastener whereas 2-pin cables requires you to insert two tiny pins into two tiny hole openings, which can feel like threading a needle. 
Some 2-pin iem cables have more user-friendly designs than others like the CCA CKX iem, which has recessed 2-pin connectors. MMCX cables, basically, use a stubby pin (like a snap button), which is thick and short and almost impossible to break, unlike a 2-pin.
The only thing that can go wrong with MMCX cables it's the connectors becoming loose over time which usually happens when constantly plugging and unplugging the MMCX connectors. The Shanling ME80 MMCX connectors have thick rubber strain reliefs with ridges around it that helps grip the MMCX connectors and easily pull them apart from the earphones.

Total weight of the Shanling ME80 stands at 28 grams, which is about the same weight as the TinHifi T2000The ME80 body shells alone weigh just 11 grams (5.5 grams per shell), which is as lightweight as a pair of true wireless earbuds. Inside each shell, there is a 10mm dynamic driver made with non-metal material (PU+PEEK), which is a rubbery plastic type material.

The cable uses silver plated (OFC) copper wiring, as opposed to pure silver or pure copper wiring, which you can also get. The combination of silver plated copper should be technically best of both worlds, although of course that depends on the listening ears. From experience, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between silver plated and pure, although pure silver cables seem to make the soundstage and treble more clear.

The wiring is braided and covered with a thick, semi-transparent tinted rubber outer sheath that lets you see the internal wiring. The ME80 cable looks and feels quality and does not tangle, which is a plus. Inline, there is also a metal alloy y-splitter and cinch to manage the cable and pre-shaped rubber ear hooks. The cable measures 1.3 meters long and has a gold-plated 3.5mm connector attached to a metal straight plug with a transparent rubber strain relief.
The Shanling ME80 drivers have been designed with low impedance (16 ohms) and high sensitivity (111dB); hence they are super easy to drive from a smartphone without the need of an amplifier, which is only really needed for iems/headphones that have high impedance and low sensitivity. Considering that the Shanling ME80 only use single dynamic drivers and no armatures, you could mistake them for a pair of multi-driver iem because of how bright the midrange and treble sound.

The soundstage isn't as wide as with a multi-driver iem but, you can hear more of the bass, midrange and treble frequencies you typically can't with regular dynamic driver earphones. You can identify the sub-bass and mid-bass in a music track, as well as the upper ranges of the higher tones, making the ME80 perfect for mixing and mastering tracks. For more casual listening, the Tripowin TC01 feel more fun to use.
There are two tiny vent holes on each earbud to help bass response. The nozzle neck and mesh tip are also made of aluminium metal and they have a wide bore, which allows bass frequencies to develop. Earphones with narrower nozzle openings tend to have a tighter sound signature that emphasises the higher tones. This is why you can get narrow bore eartips too, which work well at "taming" bass heavy earphones.

The Shanling ME80 earphones and accessories come nicely packaged inside a protective foam and hard box that you can use to store them. For day to day use, the included hardshell case works well for transportation. The case looks like a snazzy military ammo pouch without the belt loop or clip, which would have been useful for attaching it onto trousers.

The Shanling ME80 case opens up like a flap over purse and, ti closes via magnetic fastening. The case is covered with leatherette material and weighs 34 grams. There is nice styling throughout with stitching and Shanling branding stamped on the front like an old wax seal. The storage case is large enough to fit the earphones, cable and the included brush. 

There are a total of 7 pairs of bowl-shaped ear tips of different sizes (small, medium and large). The ear tips come with different color bores, including blue, pink, green and yellow. The blue color bore ones have a dark grey color bowl, while the pink, green and yellow bore tips have a white/semi translucent bowl construction. The ear tips that come pre-fitted are standard bowl shape eartips.

All the ear tips have the same bore diameter opening. The only real difference between the ear tips (aside from the color), it's the thickness which changes the sound signature slightly. The pink, green and yellow bore tips are thinner, which emphasizes the higher tones, although the seal is not as snug as the others; hence you get a bit less passive isolation. You can buy the Shanling ME80 from Linsoul. Check out the review of the Blon Mini earphones, the Tin Hifi T2 Evo IEMs. Check out the review of KZ VX10 true wireless five driver earphones.

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