Review: Shanling MTW300 – Fly in the Ointment

The Shanling MTW300
The Shanling MTW300

After a first trial in the TWS market with the MTW100, Shanling launched the flagship MTW300 to strengthen their position against big players like Sony and Sennheiser.

Thank you, Frankie from Shanling, for sending me the MTW300 true wireless earbuds. They were sent to me in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

General Usage 78.3
Audiophile Usage 77.3

Score Breakdown

84.4
What We Like
  • Comfortable fitting
  • Good clarity
  • Premium looking charging case design
  • Friendly to users with small ears
  • Long battery life
  • Punchy and accurate bass
  • Smooth and spacious highs
What We Don't Like
  • Off-timbre in mids
  • Instability in connection
  • Poor voice pickup

Where to Buy

The Shanling MTW300 are available at:

Introduction

Founded in 1988 in China, Shanling started its journey in the audio industry as a headphone amplifier manufacturer. Shanling holds patented technology qualifications, such as Sony LDAC, Bluetooth Qualification Body (BQB), and Hi-Resolution (Hi-Res) Audio.

“We believe customer’s satisfaction and quality of products are the highest priorities; the realization of users’ dream and sharing profit with our partners are our development power.” – Shanling

In 2019, Shanling embarked on a new journey in true wireless earbud development. As a huge player in the DAP and amplifier market, Shanling is definitely not a stranger to audiophiles. Two years after the launch of the MTW100, Shanling recently launched their flagship model TWS, the MTW300.

How are these new flagship TWS from Shanling? Are they an adequate update to the current MTW100 model?

Let’s take a look!

Case

Battery

  • Battery Life: 25 hours
  • Connector: USB Type-C
  • Wireless Charging: No

The Shanling MTW300 charging case has great battery life. With a full charge, it will provide 25 hours of playback. For those who are using this pair of TWS for travelling, you only need to charge it once a week (at most).

The charging case also provides good standby duration – up to 200 hours! The charging case can be charged via USB Type-C.

At the low price of USD$129, I do not expect wireless charging.
The USB Type-C charging port of MTW300
The USB Type-C charging port of MTW300

UX

  • Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
  • Pass the shake test: Yes
  • Light Indicators: Displays battery level and charging status

The charging case can be easily opened with one hand because there is an obvious groove between the body and lid. I can open it without needing to look at the case. The earbuds are securely held in by magnets.

The magnet in the charging case
The magnet in the charging case
The magnet on the earbud
The magnet on the earbud

There are three LEDs near the groove between the body and lid. These LED indicators show the case charging status and battery level. The charging status of the earbuds is indicated by a LED on the earbuds themselves.

The three LED light indicators
The three LED light indicators

Design

  • Shape of the case: Squarish
  • Material: Zinc alloy
  • Build Quality: Premium

The Shanling MTW300 case is definitely one of the most premium looking enclosures I own, along with the Technics EAH-AZ70W. The squarish zinc alloy case and the choice of material makes it unique and different from other Chi-Fi true wireless earbuds, which normally have cheap plastic cases.

The zinc alloy charging case of MTW300
The zinc alloy charging case of MTW300
The joint that hold the lid and the case together firmly
The joint that hold the lid and the case together firmly

Unfortunately, the zinc alloy casing of the case is very vulnerable to scratches. Shanling includes a silicon outer covering to protect the zinc case from damage.

The silicon case of MTW300
The silicon case of MTW300

Portability

  • Weight: 99.1g (With earbuds inside, 4.8g each side)
  • Volume: 5.6 x 3.0 x 5.6 = 94.08 cm cu}} (~5.74 in cu)
  • Portability: Average

Due to the choice of material for the charging case, the MTW300 weigh almost 100g, which hurts portability. Since I seldom put my TWS charging case in the pocket of my pants, this does not really affect me. For those who have this habit, you might want to take note of the weight before placing your order.

Earbuds

Battery

  • Battery Life: 10 hrs
  • Charge Time (15mins): Around 120 mins playback time (Calculated based on 1.5 hours needed for a full charge)

The battery life of the earbuds is longer than many others on the market. For each full charge, they can last for 10 hours of continuous playback. To fully charge the earbuds, simply place the earbuds back to the case for 1.5 hours.

Tested and proven, I used the MTW300 for the entire office day (roughly 8 hours).

UX

  • Control Mechanism: Touch
  • Touch Accuracy: Average
  • Control Symmetry on both earbud: Yes
  • Mono Use: Yes for both sides
  • Voice assistant is missing from the control

MTW300 uses a touch sensor on the faceplate for control. The accuracy is acceptable – you might need to try a few times to ensure your finger lands accurately on the small-sized panel. Control gestures can be easily memorized as they are symmetrical for both earbuds, and no fancy moves are needed to trigger any controls.

These days, Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa are very common. Perhaps Shanling could consider adding a gesture to trigger these smart voice assistants from the earbuds.

The MTW300 earbud
The MTW300 earbud

Design

  • Profile: Low
  • Material: Plastic
  • Comfort: Good
  • Fit: Good

The earbud’s small form factor is almost negligible in my big ears. For those with small ears, the Shanling MTW300 are definitely a good choice.

Side view of the MTW300 earbud
Side view of the MTW300 earbud
Another view of the MTW300 earbuds
Another view of the MTW300 earbuds
MTW300 is small. It is almost negligible in my ear.
MTW300 is small. It is almost negligible in my ear.

Mic

  • Noise Cancellation: Average
  • Voice Pick-up: Average

Shanling advertises the MTW300 as a pair of true wireless earbuds with good mic quality with Qualcomm cVc 8.0 implementation. However, after a few tests, I do not think I will use them for phone calls.

The noise cancellation is acceptable and can suppress most of the background sound effectively. However, voice pick-up is poor. Additionally, I sound muffled to callers when using the Shanling MTW300.

Mic demo

Sound

  • Driver: 6mm carbon nanotube diaphragm dynamic driver
  • Sound Signature: V-shaped
  • Sub-bass: Good
  • Bass: Good
  • Mids: Average
  • Treble: Good
  • Sound Detail: Average

Overall sound signature

I consider the overall sound signature of MTW300 to be V-shaped – there is more emphasis on the lows and highs as compared to the midrange. They are fun and enjoyable to listen to, especially with pop and techno music.

The presentation is forward and energetic. You “feel” the stage up close. But, they only have average detail retrieval capability – sufficient for daily listening but definitely not for critical listening.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

Lows

The lows have a powerful and deep punch to the eardrums, just like many other dynamic driver powered IEMs or earbuds. Bass attack and decay are precise and speedy. There is no unacceptable bleeding towards the mids.

With the MTW300’s great isolation and deep insertion, you can feel the punch from the bass even more. I appreciate the bass performance when I listen to rock bands, such as Taiwanese band Mayday. The overall presentation is very lively and enjoyable and it is hard for me to stop stomping my feet with the drum beats.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

Mids

As mentioned in the overall sound signature, the MTW300 has a recessed midrange. It reminds me of my first IEMs, the Sony XBA-A1AP – punchy bass, lovely sweet highs but with sunken mids.

For those who want a pair of enjoyable, fun-sounding earbuds, the Shanling MTW300 are a good choice. However, if you wish to have more lush and full-bodied midrange performance, you might consider other options.

The overall timbre of the mids is slightly off.

I did several comparisons with my EAH-AZ70W from Technics, which I feel have the best midrange in true wireless earbuds. Shanling did well with their entry-level ME100 IEMs. Perhaps they can refer to them while tuning the next generation of TWS. If so, I will place my order.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

Highs

The highs are energetic, just like the bass. Shanling handles the highs well. It is smooth and well-decayed with almost zero distortion. This is great news for a lot of audiophiles who have lower tolerance towards sparkling highs. No worries, they will not bite your eardrums.

The highs are spacious and airy, with more precise and accurate timbre, as compared to the midrange. The crashing of cymbals sound natural and realistic. Using the MTW300 to enjoy classical music, it is definitely a precious moment. The airiness and natural sounding treble brings the live presentation in front of you.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

Connectivity

  • Audio Codec: aptX, AAC and SBC
  • Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Bluetooth Chip: QCC3040
  • Auto-connect when: Taken out of case
  • Average drop-outs in an hour: More than 5 times
  • Multi-point connection: No

Shanling MTW300 supports the aptX, AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. I tried the AAC and aptX connections with my MacBook Air and both of them work well. The Bluetooth chip in the MTW300 is the QCC3040, which supports Bluetooth V5.2.

Theoretically speaking, this specification should give users a stable and less power consuming connection. However, I experienced very bad signal drop-outs – more than 5 times in an hour on both AAC and aptX connections.Even worse, the MTW300 took a very long time to get both the earbuds in sync again after each drop-out.

The earbuds will auto connect to your last paired device when you remove them from the case. There is no multi-point connection support on the MTW300.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

Waterproof

  • IP Rating: IPX7

The Shanling MTW300 are IPX7 certified. You can use them comfortably in the gym, or with other outdoor sports. With a good fit, they are definitely a good companion when you are exercising. However, there is too much external signal interference when running outdoors.

Shanling really needs to address the stability of the connection.

Shanling MTW300
Shanling MTW300

1 comment

  1. Hi

    Your review is great thank you but the connectivity worries me. Did you try test with a phone? Android or iPhone?

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