At first glance, the Shanling UA5 Portable USB DAC Amplifier looks like a lighter. And the sizes are appropriate. However, two ESS ES9038Q2M DACs and two Ricore RE6863 amplifiers work inside in a fully balanced circuit.
The device works with PCM resolutions up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD512 – Full Hi-Res. In terms of connections (USB-C is used, both the USB-C to USB-C cable and the USB-A adapter are included), the Shanling UA5 is compatible with both PCs and mobile systems running Android, Windows, Mac and iOS. True, in the latter case, you need a Lightning cable, which is not included.
In addition, this almost USB dongle supports UAC2.0 and UAC1.0 modes for connecting Nintendo Switch, which is useful for game lovers. But they tried to make the control independent – in any case, the volume is controlled by a massive encoder, and the buttons on the case along with a 1.4-inch monochrome display will provide access to the main functions.
The manufacturer tried to provide the Shanling UA5 with completely stationary functions with minimal dimensions. For example, Shanling UA5 has a digital SPDIF output – you can connect an external DAC to it. The traditional 3.5mm unbalanced headphone output is complemented by a balanced 4.4mm headphone output, replacing the fragile 2.5mm of previous models.
Shanling UA5 is able to receive power via the same USB cable, but to extend the battery life of a smartphone with an additional load, a special Hybrid Battery Power saving mode is provided. In this case, the UA5 will be partially powered by the smartphone (USB controller and FPGA).
But the most important parts of the DAC – analog amplifiers – will work from their own battery. When it is discharged, the saving mode will turn off automatically.
The Shanling UA5 received a durable case made of anodized aluminum in black or red, which can be supplemented with a protective leather case in three colors to choose from (purchased separately).