A focus on what’s important allows Shanling to produce a great-sounding pair of TWS with a budget price tag.
- Terrific charge case
- Small and ergonomic shape is comfortable in the ear
- Bargain price
- Attractive and elegant design
- Long battery life
- Enjoyable sound signature
- High-quality aptX codec Bluetooth support
- Can become harsh at high volumes
- No ANC or ENC
- No app or control customization
Where to Buy
The Shanling MTW200 are available at:
Focus on the fundamentals.
Like just about everyone else these days, I am obsessed with the Ted Lasso show, so I thought I’d start this review with a bit of a sports coaching mantra. It’s a tasty, if somewhat overused, sound bite, but it’s a concept that seems frequently overlooked these days, especially in the TWS market.
True Wireless earbuds are absolute marvels of technology. Apple set the bar high, and everyone seems to be scrambling to catch up or surpass the mighty Airpods Pro.
Don’t ask me how the companies cram all that technology into teeny little earbuds. Somehow multiple microphones, noise cancellation, touch controls, application integration, etc. have become the norm. And then they sell them at bargain prices that traditional headphones can only dream of. But wait, something’s got to give! All the focus on cost-cutting and technological one-upmanship can make us forget about what’s important. The sound!
With the release of the MTW200, Shanling strips off the fluff and focuses on what’s important. When it comes right down to it, a pair of TWS must offer a few crucial things: good tuning, comfortable fit, excellent Bluetooth connection, and functional touch controls. The other stuff is just nice-to-haves.
Let’s find out if Shanling was able to do the important stuff the right way!
- Battery Life: 42 hours
- Connector: USB Type-C
- Wireless Charging: No
The MTW200 have an outstanding charging case!
Adding to the package, the MTW200 come with the nicest charging cases I’ve ever encountered. It’s a shiny, stainless steel, Zippo lighter-shaped wonder! Sure, I’ve superficially scratched it, and it’s covered with fingerprints, but it’s still a beauty! Material, weight, shape, and design all impart a feeling of intrinsic worth that plastic cases just can’t match.
The USB-C port is centered on the flat bottom, meaning the case has to be laid down to charge, unlike its typical vertical orientation.
The MTW200 have a 9-hour playtime which is extended to an outstanding 42 hours with occasional recharges from the case. A full charge is completed in 1.5 hours for both the case and the earbuds.
- Can be open easily with one hand: Yes
- Pass the shake test: Yes
- Light Indicators: Displays battery level and charging status
“Shanling” is written in the tiny depression under the front of the lid, which, coupled with the vertical orientation of the case, enables easy opening with one hand. The case design allows for the tadpole-shaped earbuds to slip down into slots within. Magnets hold the buds securely, but it requires two hands to remove them.
The single small LED at the bottom of the front of the case shows battery life and charging status (red – low, orange – medium, green – high). When the USB-C cable is plugged in the bottom of the case, the LED indicator will pulse red slowly to indicate charging.
- Shape of the case: Squarish
- Material: Zinc alloy
- Build Quality: Premium
The zinc alloy case is either available in “Zippo” silver or a plain black finish. The silver is the more attractive option, but I assume the black version would be far less prone to fingerprints.
- Weight: 64g (With earbuds inside, 4g each side)
- Volume: 5 x 2 x 5 = 50 cm cu (~3.05 in cu)
- Portability: Good
The case is just about as small as it can be to contain the earbuds and is a smoothly finished rectangular box with rounded edges. It slips effortlessly into a pocket, although is fairly weighty, so you’ll know it’s there if you put it in a light jacket.
- Battery Life: 9 hrs
- Charge Time (15mins): Around 120 mins playback time (Calculated based on 1.5 hours needed for a full charge)
Place the earphones back into the case to charge them. The small LED indicators on the upper touch surface of the earphones will illuminate red. The 9-hour battery life is far and away more than I need in a single day, and a total of 42 hours is very generous indeed.
- 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
The touch controls work well and are reasonably responsive along the outer surface of the tail. Although there is no app to modify the control scheme, the default controls are fairly intuitive and easy to master.
Single-tap on the right earphone for volume up or single-tap on the left earphone for volume down. Double-tap on the left or right earphone to play/pause. Hold for 2 seconds for previous (left earphone) or next (right earphone). Triple-tap to activate the voice assistant (Google, Siri, or Alexa).
During calls, single-tap will answer, while double-tap will hang up. Hold for 2 seconds to cancel or reject a call.
- Profile: Low
- Material: Plastic
- Comfort: Good
- Fit: Good
The earbuds are standard pollywog shaped and constructed mostly from black plastic, although the outer touch surface is chromed to match the case. The tails extend about 2 cm, and the bulbous body is approximately 1.5cm across, so the overall size is smaller than many competitors. They sit comfortably and flush in the ear.
- Noise Cancellation: Average
- Voice Pick-up: Average
There is no environmental noise cancellation (ENC) trickery going on, but the MTW200 do feature Qualcomm clear voice capture (cVc) 8.0 echo canceling and noise suppression technology. Qualcomm claims “cVc is a suite of algorithms that work on the transmission and receiving path of voice calls to deliver optimum voice quality no matter where you are.”
In practice, it all works pretty well. While background noise is transmitted somewhat in noisy environments, voices remain clear and intelligible.
- Driver: 10mm dynamic driver
- Sound Signature: V-shaped
- Sub-bass: Good
- Bass: Good
- Mids: Good
- Treble: Good
- Sound Detail: Good
Overall sound signature
The Shanling MTW200 are a good-sounding pair of TWS. And that’s what counts!
Priced sub-USD$100, the MTW200 present an enjoyable listening experience for the dollar and they are easy to like. While they sacrifice the ultimate in detail retrieval or fidelity, their v-shaped sound signature is tuned for fun. Bass response is fairly prominent and steadily decreases as the frequencies move upwards into the midrange, which is somewhat recessed in the mix. They aren’t quite as low-focused as the 1MORE ComfoBuds Pro, but there’s plenty of meat for EDM fans.
A 3-5kHz peak adds vibrancy to the sound, but can become harsh at high listening volumes. I’m not complaining as I more often use TWS for podcasts or audiobooks than critical music listening, and this bump improves vocal clarity. However, if you like listening to music at top volumes, such as when working out on a loud exercise machine, the MTW200 may become fatiguing.
At reasonable listening levels, the MTW remain cohesive and smooth, with ample high and low energy. These aren’t uncolored or intended for neutral reproduction, but the MTW200 deliver enough competency and delicacy to be a good fit for most listeners.
Clean, smooth music reproduction. The fundamentals indeed.
- Audio Codec: aptX, AAC and SBC
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.2
- Bluetooth Chip: QCC3040
- Auto-connect when: Removed from case
- Average drop-outs in an hour: None
- Multi-point connection: No
The MTW200 use the Qualcomm QCC3040 chipset, which features Bluetooth 5.2 and the high-quality aptX codec. While this is all pretty much cutting-edge, keep in mind that there is no ANC or ENC offered with the MTW200. These omissions, paired with the lack of app, are the only factors of the MTW200 that reveal their budget (sub-$100) price tag.
It only takes a couple of seconds for the MTW200 to reconnect to a previously paired device when removed from the charging case. The range is pretty typical and stays stable within 10 meters of the source.
- IP Rating: IPX4
The Shanling MTW200 are IPX4 certified meaning they are suitable for most athletic endeavors short of swimming or full immersion.