Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: detailed and dynamic IEMs for every budget

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Today, we have the pleasure of doing a triple review with three pairs of Shanling IEMs: the ME200s, ME500s and ME700s sold for €179, €299 and €599 respectively. Consequently, we’re going to cover almost all of the Chinese manufacturer’s 2020 range, with the exception of the entry-level model, the ME100. These three pairs of in-ear monitors are Hi-Res certified hybrid models combining dynamic drivers and balanced armatures. The Shanling ME200 and ME500 are midrange IEMs, while the Shanling ME700 is the flagship model. With an impedance of 16 and 18 ohms and a sensitivity rating of 111 and 106dB, these Shanling IEMs are compatible with smartphones, DAPs, portable audio DACs and headphone amplifiers. After impressing us with the M6 and Q1 DAPs, what does Shanling bring to the table with this new range of in-ear monitors?

The Shanling ME200, ME500 and ME700 IEMs are designed to fit the shape of the ear and be comfortable to wear.

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: the brand

You can read about the history of the Chinese brand in our review of the Shanling M6 and Q1 DAPs.

The Shanling M6 and Shanling Q1 are the latest DAPs from the brand and are certified Hi-Res Audio.

In 2019, Shanling released its first series of in-ear monitors with the entry-level ME100s and the ME200s, ME500s and ME700 that we’re reviewing today.

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: packaging & accessories

On the front of the boxes for the Shanling ME200 and ME500 IEMs there is a picture of the IEMs along with the Hi-Res logo, which indicates their compatibility with high-resolution audio formats. The ME700s’ box is larger and is similar in design to the one used for the Shanling M6. 

The Shanling ME700 IEMs come inside a luxurious box that looks like that of the M6 DAP.

In addition to the in-ear monitors, the boxes contain:

ME200 and ME500:

  • The removable cable (MMCX connectors) with silver plated conductors
  • 3 pairs of “vocal” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of “soundstage” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of “Bass” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of balanced silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips (only with the ME500s)
  • 1 cleaning tool
  • 1 user manual
  • 1 hard carry case

ME700:

  • The removable cable (MMCX connectors) with silver plated conductors
  • 3 pairs of “vocal” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of “soundstage” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of “Bass” silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs of balanced silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 1 pair of memory foam ear tips
  • 1 TRS 2.5mm to 3.5mm mini-jack adapter
  • 1 TRRRS 2.5mm to 4.4mm mini-jack adapter
  • 1 cleaning tool
  • 1 user manual
  • 1 hard carry case
The Shanling ME200, ME500 and ME700 IEMs come in a box that also contains a carrying pouch and a set of ear tips.

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: presentation

The Shanling ME200, ME500 and ME700 in-ear monitors are hybrid models, meaning that they combine both dynamic drivers and balanced armature drivers for an optimal reproduction of the entire sound spectrum. Just like a loudspeaker featuring a tweeter and a midbass driver, combining dynamic drivers with balanced armature models allows two different technologies to be used so that each handles the frequency range it can best reproduce. That way, the dynamic transducers can be used to reproduce deep and energetic lows, leaving the balanced armature drivers free to reproduce clear and detailed mids and highs. Balanced armature transducers have the advantage of possessing a higher transient response than a dynamic transducer. This means they can reproduce high-mids and highs much more precisely. 

The three pairs of IEMs come with a removable cable with MMCX connectors at one end and a mini-jack plug at the other. The cables are made of silver plated copper and the connectors are gold plated. Each cable has a flexible sheath at the end with the MMCX connectors so that they can be adjusted to fit the shape of the ears for a comfortable fit. At first glance, the cables appeared to be of high quality, which is particularly important for in-ear monitors. The velcro strap on each cable stops them from unwinding when the IEMs are in their carry case. This means that you don’t have to untangle them before putting them on, which should please those who usually get frustrated with knotted cables.

At first glance, the cables of the Shanling ME200, ME500 and M700 in-ear monitors appeared to be of high quality.

Shanling ME200: design

The Shanling ME200 in-ear monitors feature a 10mm dynamic driver and a Knowles balanced armature driver encased inside a 3D-printed resin shell. Available in several colors (purple, blue, navy blue, gray and red), the appearance of the Shanling ME200 IEMs instantly appealed to us. They were very pleasant to hold and the high quality of their design was evident. The dynamic transducer has a dual magnet and nanocomposite membrane specially designed to reproduce low frequencies and work alongside a balanced armature transducer.  

The Shanling ME200’s dual magnet dynamic driver ensures tight and powerful bass.

The Shanling ME200 IEM’s cable is equipped with four silver plated OFC conductors for better transmission of mid and high frequencies.

Shanling ME500: design

The Shanling ME500 is a three-way model equipped with three drivers per earpiece. As a result, each earbud holds two Knowles Armature TWFK-30017 balanced armature drivers for the high-mids and highs, and a dual magnet dynamic driver for the mids and lows. The dual magnet dynamic driver technology used in the Shanling ME500 IEMs provides a very strong magnetic field of 1 tesla, resulting in powerful and dynamic bass. The drivers are encased inside a brass shell specifically designed to ensure durability and reduce harmonic resonance. The Shanling ME500 in-ear monitors’ cable features silver plated oxygen-free copper conductors that are protected by an elegant transparent sheath. This removable cable is equipped with gold plated MMCX connectors and a reinforced part that ensures optimal comfort for all ear shapes.

The Shanling ME500 in-ear monitors combine a dual magnet dynamic driver with two balanced armature drivers for a natural and ample sound.

Shanling ME700: design

The Shanling ME700 in-ear monitors are the flagship model of the Chinese manufacturer’s range and are equipped with no less than five drivers per earpiece. There is a large dynamic driver with a 24K gold plated membrane to reproduce the lows that is paired with two balanced armature drivers for the mids. The highs are handled by two other balanced armature drivers specially optimized to reach 40kHz. They ensure an accurate and detailed reproduction of the highs and harmonics. The Shanling ME700 IEMs are also equipped with a three-way filter developed by the Chinese brand to distribute the frequency ranges to the appropriate transducers, thus ensuring optimal performance across the entire sound spectrum.

With five drivers per earpiece and a three-way crossover filter, the Shanling ME700 IEMs offer flawlessly articulated frequencies.

The removable cable of the ME700 in-ear monitors also features gold plated MMCX connectors as well as a reinforced part for the ears and is composed of eight high-purity silver conductors for optimal transmission of high frequencies. The cable’s braided structure is robust and elegant. At the other end there is a balanced 2.5mm mini-jack connector. The Shanling ME700 in-ear monitors come with a balanced 4.4mm mini-jack adapter and an unbalanced 3.5mm mini-jack adapter to ensure perfect compatibility with numerous sources.

The Shanling ME700 in-ear monitors can be used with many different sources thanks to the included adapters.

The Shanling ME700 in-ear monitors’ resin shells are made using 3D printing. To design the shells, the brand’s engineers studied a database filled with several thousand different ear shapes to develop a model that fits everyone. As a result, these IEMs are comfortable and fit snugly inside the cavity of the ear. The outer part of the IEMs has a marbled finish that gives them a very attractive high-end look.

The Shanling ME700 IEMs’ marbled finish gives them a very elegant look.

Shanling ME200, ME500, ME700: ergonomics and comfort

Whether they are made of resin or metal, the Shanling 2020 in-ear monitors look elegant and are very pleasant to wear, in particular thanks to their shape, which is designed specifically to sit in the ear’s cavity, and the reinforced parts of the cables that go behind the ear. Light and comfortable, they allow you to delve deep into a long listening session without any fatigue or discomfort. As with all in-ear monitors, it is essential to choose ear tips that fit your ear correctly. Thanks to a wide selection of tips in different sizes, shapes and materials, Shanling in-ear monitors suit all ears and preferences. 

The Shanling ME in-ear monitors are comfortable and rest naturally in the cavity of the ear.

Each pair of Shanling ME in-ear monitors comes with an excellent cable whose quality only increases the higher up you go in the range. The exemplary build quality of the Shanling ME200’s cable was evident from the first time we used it, which is a real advantage for users who are used to travelling and taking transport. For those who take their IEMs with them but prefer not to use them while commuting, each model comes with a leatherette carrying case that can be easily slipped into a bag or coat pocket. 

Each model of in-ear monitors from the Shanling ME range comes with a leatherette carrying case and a set of ear tips.

The acoustic isolation of the IEMs in the Shanling ME range is outstanding. We used these IEMs to listen to music while working from home while the TV was on, while someone was playing video games, and when the washing machine was in spin cycle and we didn’t hear anything other than the music. We made a similar observation while walking in the street, although it has been pretty calm out lately. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings when wearing IEMs or headphones outside. The passive isolation is just as effective for those around you, who can’t hear a single note even at high volume. These in-ear monitors are therefore a great solution if you are spending lockdown in a small space with someone else and want some peace!

Key specifications

Shanling ME200

Drivers

  • Highs: 1 x Knowles balanced armature
  • Mids and lows: 1 x dynamic driver with a dual magnet and composite membrane
  • 3D-printed resin shell

Measurements

  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/1mW

Cable

  • Silver plated OFC conductors
  • Gold plated MMCX connector
  • 3.5mm mini-jack connector with gold plated contacts

Shanling ME500

Drivers

  • Highs: 2 x Knowles TWFK-30017 balanced armature
  • Mids and lows: 1 x dynamic driver with a dual magnet and composite membrane
  • Metal acoustic tube
  • Precision machined copper shell designed to reduce harmonic resonance

Measurements

  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 18 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/1mW

Cable

  • Silver plated OFC conductors
  • Gold plated MMCX connector
  • 3.5mm mini-jack connector with gold plated contacts

Shanling ME700

Drivers

  • Highs: 2 x custom balanced armature
  • Mids: 2 x custom balanced armature
  • Lows: 1 x dynamic driver with a dual magnet and gold plated membrane
  • Metal acoustic tubes
  • 3D-printed resin shell

Measurements

  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 18 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106dB SPL/1mW

Cable

  • Silver plated high-purity octa core conductors
  • Gold plated MMCX connector
  • Balanced 2.5mm mini-jack connector with gold plated contacts
  • Unbalanced 3.5mm mini-jack adapter
  • Balanced 4.4mm mini-jack adapter

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: listening conditions

For our review, we paired the Shanling ME200, ME500 and ME700 in-ear monitors with a Chord Mojo audio DAC which was connected to a computer using an Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable. For listening to music while travelling, we connected the IEMs directly to a smartphone. We listened to 320 kbps MP3, CD-quality WAV (16/44) and Hi-Res (24/96) digital files stored on our hard drive, but also a playlist of Hi-res tracks on Qobuz with our Sublime+ subscription. We used the medium-sized Bass ear tips for all three pairs of IEMs.

We paired the Shanling ME IEMs with the Chord Mojo DAC to listen to Hi-Res tracks streamed from Qobuz.

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: listening impressions

The first thing we noticed about the Shanling ME in-ear monitors was the openness of the soundstage and the space that they brought to the music. This is largely due to the hybrid design of these IEMs. The balanced armature drivers provide a detailed and accurate reproduction of the upper mids and highs, creating a spacious and open feel, while the dynamic driver ensures presence in the lows and rich mids.

The Shanling ME200 IEMs displayed good balance and provided a soft and natural sound. With the track Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure, the bass was clearly distinguishable and rhythmic, the orchestration was balanced and Robert Smith’s voice brought all these elements together while standing out from the rest. We also listened to the track “One Summer’s Day” from Joe Hisaishi’s original soundtrack for the movie Spirited Away. Always very smooth, the Shanling ME200s provided a spacious and relaxed reproduction of the various instruments. Some piano notes were a little too bright and the balanced armature driver overshadowed the dynamic driver. The instruments had a lot of space and everything was clear and detailed. We let ourselves be carried away by the music to join Chihiro and Haku in their adventures.

Very easy to power, the Shanling ME200 IEMs are suitable for listening to music with a smartphone.

We began our listening session with the Shanling ME500 in-ear monitors by listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song Lookin’ Through My Back Door (Hi-Res, 24-bit/192kHz). The ME500s had the same airy feel as the ME200s, but with even more openness and details. The reproduction of the instruments was natural and the sound was dynamic. The details in the recording, like the sound of the guitar pick on the strings, the resonance of the snare drum, the vibration of the bass strings and the piano notes in the background, brought the music to life. The Shanling ME500s’ natural and spacious sound signature highlighted the organic and raw aspect of the recording. Like the ME200 IEMs, the balanced armature drivers caused the highest notes to be a little too bright, but didn’t produce any sibilance. The Shanling ME500 IEMs were particularly at ease when reproducing the track Plastic Stress by trip hop band Terranova. The vocals were flawlessly extracted and positioned in the foreground, and the lows were always perfectly controlled. Every impact and every bass note was excellently reproduced by the dynamic driver, and the in-ear monitors’ anti-resonance shells ensured responsive lows without any lag. The frequency ranges were well structured and the sound was natural.

Paired with the Chord Mojo DACn the Shanling ME500 in-ear monitors provided even more clarity, space and precision.

Once we connected the Shanling ME700 in-ear monitors to our Chord Mojo using the unbalanced 3.5mm mini-jack adapter, we got right to the heart of the matter and kicked off our listening session with the impressive production of the album Admission by American band Torche. We selected the track “Inferno” for its very low tuned guitar. This was a baptism of fire for the ME700s, as all the intensity of the song would be lost with IEMs unable to reproduce powerful and tight bass as well as clear vocals. The Shanling ME700s passed the test with flying colors. The lows were present, the instruments and vocals clear and distinguishable. The sound was perfectly controlled from start to finish. There was the same spacious feeling we already observed with the ME200 and ME500, but with richer tones, more impressive bass and greater overall control. To continue testing the IEMs, we switched to the dark hip-hop of American band Dälek with their album Endangered Philosophies. Once again, the M700s stood out with their ability to reproduce rich and powerful lows without becoming muddled or tiring to listen to. Despite being down-mixed compared to the beats and sounds, MC Dälek’s voice remained intelligible. The sound was rhythmic and was consistently transparent, even with pieces featuring complex orchestration. With the original soundtrack of the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring composed by Howard Shore, the Shanling ME700s rose to the challenge once again. With the track “Khazad-dûm”, the instrument grew progressively louder and more intense, while the tribal chants remained audible in the background. The amplitude of the soundstage and the detail of the vocals and instruments made it possible to accurately reproduce all the grandeur of Peter Jackson’s rendition of this epic saga.

The combination of the Shanling ME700 IEMs and Chord Mojo DAC allowed us to fully enjoy the Hi-Res files available on Qobuz.

Shanling ME200, ME500 & ME700: compared to

FiiO F9 Pro: In the same category as the Shanling ME200 in-ear monitors, the FiiO F9 Pros are a little more timid and narrow. The comfort is similar, although the FiiO F9 Pros will appeal more to users looking for more discreet IEMs. The Shanling ME200s take the upper hand with their more open and spacious soundstage.

iBasso IT01: The iBasso IT01 in-ear monitors only have one dynamic transducer and therefore don’t provide the same precision in the highs and high mids as the Shanling ME200s. Although the IT01 IEMs provide rounder lows and a warmer sound, the ME200s are more natural and will appeal to those looking for a more balanced sound. 

Meze Rai Solo: The Meze Rai Solos are in the same price range as the Shanling ME500 in-ear monitors and have a very similar design. The two pairs of IEMs are similar regarding comfort and build quality. Both are also capable of reproducing highly detailed and precise high mids. However, the ME500s come out on top when it comes to consistent frequency ranges and balance thanks to its hybrid design.

FiiO FH7: We were so impressed by the FiiO FH7 in-ear monitors when we reviewed them that it was very difficult to compare them to the Shanling ME700s. We found the FiiO IEMs to be slightly more comfortable and a little more energetic, whereas the Shanling ME700s are natural, balanced and have a beautiful marbled finish. These are minimal differences that mainly boil down to the user’s personal preferences. A beautiful design, a pleasant listening experience without any fatigue, consistent performance with all types of music: the quality of both models is undeniable. That said, the Shanling in-ear monitors have the advantage of having a 2.5mm connector and including 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters, which allows them to be used immediately with a wide range of sources.

When paired with a DAC or a smartphone, the Shanling ME 2020 in-ear monitors provide a natural and detailed sound.

Conclusion

With the ME200, ME500 and ME700 in-ear monitors, Shanling provides a range of IEMs for all budgets designed to provide a spacious and natural sound. The IEMs’ hybrid design guarantees superbly structured frequencies as well as an extensive and deep soundstage. Shanling has pulled out all the stops for its earphone range with three models that offer a balanced performance, a high-quality design and come with a variety of ear tips and a beautiful carrying case for listening on the go.

What we liked

  • The open soundstage
  • The well structured frequencies
  • The comfort
  • The design quality
  • The included accessories

What we would have liked

  • For the highs to have been less bright with the ME200s and ME500s


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