Shanling H5 Review featured image

Shanling H5 Review

Select Comparisons

The following comparisons were completed using a mixture of the 64 Audio U4s, the Noble Audio Kadence, and the JH Audio Contour XO IEMs for our selected pairings. A mix of the H5 local player and OTG digital audio from a Samsung S23 Ultra was also used as our sources.

Shanling H7

The Shanling H7 is the bigger sibling and the flagship portable amp and DAC in the company’s line-up. We reviewed it earlier this year and praised it very highly comparing it to the FiiO Q7 among others. 


Both of these portable units ship with AKM DAC chipsets, however, the H7 uses the flagship AK4499EX combined with an AK4191EQ digital filter as opposed to the AK4493SEQ version inside the H5.

That being said, the shift to a dual-DAC implementation of the lower version chip and the ability to switch from single or dual use gives the H5 an interesting dimension and more battery life options.

Decoding on the H7 and the H5 is excellent and quite similar. Since they both use the XMOS XU316 USB chipset and BT5.2 both can offer up to LDAC, DSD512, PCM 32BIT/768kHz, and unfold MQA up to 8X visa USB dropping down to DSD256 and PCM 32BIT/384kHz for local media playback from inserted memory cards.

You will also find SPDIF capability the same on both with a maximum of 192kHz/24BIT for coaxial and 96kHz/24BIT for optical inputs. Neither has any line-level input.

Both are balanced by design but the Shanling H7 has the more powerful amplification circuit with an additional 6.35mm SE PO for headphones. The H5 will give you a healthy 840mW into a 32Ω load maximum but it’s still second spot to the H7’s 1300mW @32Ω capability.

The main caveat though with the H5 PO output is the output impedance at 4.4Ω SE and 6.7Ω balanced. All H7 outputs are sub-1Ω so it has no potential for impedance skew with sensitive gear similar to the H5.

Shanling H5 beside Shanling H7


It’s the little and large show and aside from the obvious shorter length on the H7, there is not a huge amount of difference to the aesthetics and with a heavy feature overlap also.

Both have a hip-flask shape to their chassis and are built out of anodized aluminum alloy with a nice smooth feeling when handling and complimented by excellent optional leather cases. 

The H5’s stubbier form factor is possible I believe due to the use of a smaller 3500mAh battery as opposed to the bulkier dual 6800mAh-rated dual 18650 inside the H7. That is also a factor in the reduced 80g weight of the H5 over the H7.  

The key feature differences are the lack of 6.35mm PO output on the H5 with just 4.4mm and 3.5mm SE outputs and a taller 2-line LCD screen which I actually prefer over the H7 version with its better lighting and improved legibility. 

The back panel I/O and analog outs are exactly the same so you lose nothing there which is a big plus for the H5. Both will operate as local players with access to the Eddict app via SyncLink and Bluetooth and both are firmware upgradeable. 

I am not seeing a huge difference either in battery performance with 12.5 hours SE and 8 hours balanced compared to the H7 which was rated at a maximum of 10 hours single-ended and 8 hours balanced for headphone and IEM usage. 


I tested all 3 monitors with this one and with each the H7 had a technical edge. It casts a taller and wider soundstage with better channel separation on each monitor and tighter imaging through the mids of each IEM.

In the case of the Contour XO with the bass boost at 3 p.m. the vocal clarity felt superior with slightly more definition on the singer notes coming through.

By comparison, the H5 sounded more diminished in vocal clarity, more rounded, and less detailed with the bass sometimes pulling you away from that region the more energetic it became. I would have to drop the Contour XO bass dial for the H5 to 2 p.m. to regain some needed midrange space.

The H5’s strength is in coloration and bass depth. It sounds richer and much weightier on the lows with a warmer and fuller midrange. It is an excellent pairing with the 64 Audio U4s’s dynamic driver and a smoother sound for brighter monitors such as the Contour XO.

It certainly projects more power and depth compared to the more neutral or slightly relaxed low-end presentation of the H7 though with less control. However, if you are listening to some bass-heavy tracks the H5 excels at delivering strong PRaT to give each low-end note some additional presence. 

The H5 vocal timbre is warmer suiting higher-pitched vocals with a more forgiving tone on the Kadence. The H7 is more accurate but with a more relaxed vocal image, it’s not as intimate in its presentation. 

It is the headroom where the H7 excels with an airier performance. The treble on the H5 is good with each monitor but its presence and extension are less noticeable with your ear dropping to the bass, then the mids. 

Chord Electronics Mojo 2

The Chord Electronics Mojo 2 earlier in 2022 as the successor to the original Mojo from 2018. We reviewed this around the same time as the launch last year and it was also a Top Gear Award winner for 2022.


The most striking technical differences are the choice of DAC with the Mojo 2 using and improving on the original Mojo in-house FPGA and FIR filter-based design and the H5 using a delta-sigma AK4493SEQ chipset. 

The Mojo 2’s Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA chipset, (XC7A15T) is still Xilinx’s most advanced FPGA board with a boosted tap count over the original Mojo of 40,960 taps using 40 DSP cores which is now that little bit closer to the performance level of the high-end Hugo 2.

Despite being a deep admirer of the Chord DAC implementation and I do consider it superior over delta-sigma in many ways, the highest decoding ability is slightly lower than that of the H5 at PCM 32BIT/768kHz and DSD256 natively compared to DSD512 in the Shanling design. Chord does not do MQA on principle which the H5 offers at up to 8X unfolding capability.

The Mojo 2 is purely single-ended for amplification but with dual 3.5mm SE outputs, you can have dual PO output. Despite being only single-ended its peak 600mW into a 30Ω load is quite competitive and not far off the 840mW balanced output capability of the H5.  

Once again, the H5 Achilles heel is its high output impedance with the Mojo 2 PO at just 0.6Ω making it more efficient and IEM friendly avoiding a lot more potential for impedance skew.

Chord Electronics Mojo 2


The Mojo 2 is smaller, more pocketable, and the lighter of the two devices at just 185g. However, with the Poly attached, it is a lot longer and less pocketable compared to the H5.

Both are extremely well made with anodized aluminum materials but I give the edge to the Mojo2 in terms of housing toughness. It just feels incredibly solid and dense despite the lighter weight. 

The lack of an LCD screen is one drawback of the Mojo 2. The orb color control scheme has a steeper learning curve compared to the 2-line LCD screen and multifunctional dials of the H5, especially for the hardware EQ inside the Mojo 2 which conversely, I rate as a big advantage over the H5’s weaker digital filter line-up.

Both can do local storage playback with wireless control but for the Mojo 2 to do that you need to buy the additional Poly module which doubles the costs as well as offering a lower BT4.2 service.

However, you do get lossless streaming into the mix which I find superior to H5’s LDAC BT capability. I would, however, rate the Eddict software as much easier to use than Poly’s GoFigure.

The I/O feature set for the Mojo 2 is good but not as complete as the H5. You get optical and coaxial inputs on both, neither has a line-in and both have USB-C though the Mojo 2 has that quirky legacy micro-USB interface for charging and Poly interfacing.

Some additional features on the H5 might also prove useful to some such as gain control and channel balancing as well as the ability to switch from single to dual DACs. An 8-hour rating for the Mojo is on par with the balanced output of the H5 but behind its SE rating of 12 hours.


This comparison can be explained with a tale of two pairings, each suiting one amplifier over the other. With both monitors, the Mojo2 has the better technical chops. I do find it the more resolving of the two, with superior separation and dynamic range. However, the timbre and pairing synergy were not as straightforward.

For example, the 64 Audio U4s and the Mojo 2 were the perfect companions sounding tight, clean, and clear with a very accurate tonal reproduction and excellent vocal clarity. You get excellent control in terms of dynamic impact and speed of decay from the Mojo 2. 

Granted, the H5 has more bass bloom and a richer midrange vocal tone that is easier on the ear. However, the bass is comparatively pillowy and the staging is more intimate with less headroom.

With the Kadence, the timbre is more debatable between the two. The Mojo2 is more neutral but hits with a steelier tone in the highs that can bleed into the Kadence upper-mids. That translates to hard-edged percussion hits and sharper overtones on higher-pitching vocals, moments that proved distracting.

The H5 is more forgiving though not entirely free of those upper-order harmonic overtones with the Kadence. Still, its slightly stronger bass presence and generally smoother vocals provide a more forgiving albeit less detailed and dynamic pairing compared to the Mojo 2 stock sound.

With the Mojo 2 UHD DSP controls, you can tweak the treble down a little but I found you had to move it down by quite some distance to remove the sharpness in the highs with the Kadence. 

One last mention is noise. The Mojo 2/Kadence picked up a low level of noise whereas hiss was absent from the H5 pairing. Neither had any issues with the U4s.

iFi Audio xDSD

The iFi Audio xDSD was launched way back in mid-2018 and though perhaps officially discontinued you can still get it brand new for around $240 plus tax on Amazon USA.

There is no like-for-like replacement with the hip-dac2 a step below the xDSD’s original $399 SRP. The xDSD Gryphon, reviewed by Louis, was launched last year at a much higher price point of $600. 


The H5 uses a more modern AKM4493SEQ chipset yet despite its age, the Burr-Brown multi-bit PCM1793A DAC inside the xDSD is still seen quite favorably among enthusiasts. It delivers bit-perfect processing right up to DSD and including DXD. 

Decoding rates on the xDSD are right up there also with the H5 at up to PCM 32BIT/768kHz and DSD512 as well as MQA, though only up to 4X as opposed to the H5’s 8X capability.

Both units also offer BT wireless receiving capability though the BT4.2 capable xDSD is only up to aptX maximum as opposed to the H5’s superior LDAC feature. S/PDIF Coaxial and Optical Input are the same for both with coaxial at 192kHz/24Bit and 96kHz/24BIT for optical.

The H5 offers more amplification power and a more modern 4.4mm balanced output option as opposed to the 3.5mm SE and the more niche 3.5mm SBalanced option on the xDSD. The H5 is rated at up to 840mW via balanced whereas the xDSD runs at best 500mW into a 16Ω dropping down to 270mW on a higher 50Ω load.

Just to note, the xDSD output impedance is rated at less than 1Ω across the board so it is less likely to give you any impedance skew issues compared to the higher output impedance of the H5. 

iFi Audio xDSD


Both of the units actually have similar form factors with the differences more on the sizing and finishing. That means two curved hip-flask type designs with the xDSD using a ‘ribbed’ magnesium-aluminum alloy finished in chrome and the H5 using anodized aluminum. 

The xDSD is smaller and lighter by some distance and also more pocketable and flexible in one hand. Despite that, I think the H5 is the more intuitive to use with its LCD screen and twin multifunction dial system. The orb color scheme of the xDSD reminds me of the Mojo 2 meaning a higher learning curve and not as intuitive. 

The feature set is strong on the xDSD with the inclusion of BT onboard DSP functionality such as 3D+ Matrix and XBass+ which do make a big difference to the performance. It also has a dual filter hardware switch with some subtle differences in the tuning between the two options.

You can also go OTG and USB-DAC though the female USB-A port is a curious choice. It even offers IEMatch built-in which is ironic considering the H5’s very high output impedance for its own PO.

The H5, however, is just a more modern device with stronger BT functionality, sync capability with an iOS and Android-capable app, onboard media playback from local storage not to mention a dedicated 2V capable line-out as opposed to the 3.5mm jack dual-functioning as a 2V line on the xDSD.

Battery life is weaker on the xDSD with a smaller 2200mAh rated at around 6-8 hours maximum. The H5 is also 8 hours but out of a much more powerful 4.4mm balanced output, SE will get you 12 hours. Naturally, both will drop with wireless and the H5 more so with local media playback.


Both sources veered more to the warmer natural side of the spectrum with the xDSD just a little less so compared to the H5. However, a number of problems cropped up on the xDSD compared to the H5 and some of it is really just down to technology progression over the years.


The first obvious issue is the noise floor on the xDSD which is a lot higher compared to the H5. This came up in a big way with the Kadence pairing with heavy background hiss which killed the dynamic range and listening pleasure in the process.

Yes, it diminishes when the music gets going but going over quieter passages you will hear it making this an unworkable pairing for me. Throw in some channel balancing issues on low volume and it’s a hard pass for me.

Some noise was present in the JH Audio Contour XO pairing but at a much lower level and more manageable with no such issue in the U4s. The H5 delivered a much blacker background across all of the paired IEMs making it more sensitive IEM friendly for noise.


The second is the xDSD coloration which is a little uneven as well as being heavily influenced by its twin DSP xBass and 3D+ DSP controls.

With no DSP it is relatively analog sounding, slightly to the warm side on the lows but with a shorter level of decay and neutral imaging compared to the H5 when paired with the U4s and Contour XO.

That rate of decay sounded like a hard stop for me on percussion hits, especially with the measure filter on the xDSD turned on. In short, they sounded strange and abrupt, too abrupt.

The H5 sounded far more refined and natural on the highs with a softer and slightly longer decay and more realistic percussion hits as a result. Still euphonic and warm in part but more believable on the technical side.

The H5 will offer more bloom on the lows and sound the weightier of the two. The stock xDSD sound is punchy but without the same forward and full tone. To get a more full-on presentation switch on the XBass+ and combine it with the 3D+ to get a far heavier and more expansive sound from the xDSD.

In part, it is overwhelming at times and not as refined or detailed as the H5 but still a more fun side to the xDSD performance. 

Shanling H5 retail box

Our Verdict

The Shanling H5 is almost as feature-rich as its bigger sibling, the H7, for virtually half the price. Key aspects such as local playback storage, the stubbier form factor, good power, and a plethora of I/O options are all there which give it an outstanding level of value.

The sound is going to appeal more to those who want power and vocal priority. It’s a rich and smooth sound with some pleasing low-end density and a nice black background with good channel balance at low volumes. 

This is less reference-like and more emotive-driven in terms of how the listener will connect with it. Technical aspects such as separation and staging headroom come second with its more intimate presentation.

What to watch out for? The impedance skew, there is some there if we go by the subjective IEMatch results with low impedance monitors. However, it’s not always a preferred option and it will come down to your personal preference in terms of how you like your gear to sound. 

In all, I am kind of surprised at how much Shanling managed to pack into the H5. If you are after something with a bit of ‘drive’ in its performance this is a really nice affordable alternative to the H7.

Shanling H5 Specifications

  • Dimensions: 102 x 85 x 25 mm
  • Weight: 270.4 g
  • Screen: 0.87-inch Screen
  • USB Input Hi-Res Support: 32 bit / 768 kHz, DSD 512
  • MicroSD Hi-Res Support: 32 bit / 384 kHz, DSD 256
  • Gain Setting: Three-Level Setting
  • Storage: MicroSD Card Slot, up to 2TB
  • DAC: 2x AKM AK4493SEQ
  • Digital Filters: 6 Preset Filters
  • Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver
  • Bluetooth Codec Support: LDAC / AAC / SBC

Single-Ended Output

  • Output Power: 2.7V@32Ω(227mW@32Ω)
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz (-0.7 dB)THD+N:0.0014%
  • Channel separation: 80 dB @ 32 Ohm
  • Dynamic Range: 118 dB
  • Signal-To-Noise: 118 dB
  • Output Impedance: 4.7Ω

Balanced Output

  • Output Power: 5.19V@32Ω(840mW@32Ω)
  • Frequency Response:20 Hz – 40 kHz (-0.7 dB)
  • THD+N:0.0004%
  • Channel separation: 105 dB @ 32 Ohm
  • Dynamic Range: 121 dB
  • Signal-To-Noise: 121 dB
  • Output Impedance: 6.6Ω

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