The well-balanced tuning of the Shanling MG600 effortlessly captures the heart without any flashy tricks.
Shanling is a reputed brand in the field of sources – earlier DAPs and now in dongle DAC/amps as well. I still have the M0, and it has been a trusted companion for quite a while now. The UP4 was my on-the-go source for almost a year.
Sometime earlier, they started releasing IEMs as well, and the ME line of hybrid IEMs were generally well-received by the market. I heard the ME700 Lite and was surprised by the refined tuning. Although they really were not my style as by then my heart was solely captured by single DD, I have to admit they were wonderfully tuned.
- Fast and heavy bass slam
- Organic and transparent midrange
- Brilliant but controlled treble
- Crisp notes with a smoothened edge
- Airy and spacious soundstage
- Immaculate imaging
- Excellent separation
- Overall dynamic and musical presentation
- High-quality modular connection
- Somewhat uncomfortable cable
- Slightly lower sense of detail in the treble
- Marginally limited upper treble extension
However, when I saw the MG single dynamic driver line introduction, I immediately knew I had to get hold of the MG600. A stabilized maple wood shell with a single DD was just too enticing for me. I was rewarded handsomely by this decision.
- Driver: Single 10mm dynamic driver with carbon and graphite fiber composite diaphragm and aluminum/magnesium dome
- Construction: Semi-open
- Shell: Stabilized maple wood
- Impedance: 22Ω
- Frequency Range: 20-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 105±3dB
- Cable: 1.3m long octa-core single crystal copper and silver-plated copper hybrid cable with modular connectors
The IEMs may be small, but the box certainly is not so. The brilliant sky-blue box looks fairly jubilant. Inside the IEMs, modular cable, connectors, carrying case, and all the ear tips are neatly stored in their own cutouts.
In the box
- MG600 IEMs
- Modular cable with interchangeable terminations (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm)
- 9 pairs of silicone ear tips of 3 types
- 2 pairs of silicone+foam hybrid ear tips
- Additional 2 pairs of Spinfit ear tips
- Pleather carrying case
The pine green pleather carrying case is just the perfect size. I really want to emphasize this, as I mostly find bundled carrying cases either too big or too small. But not this one – it’s the perfect size to store the IEMs, cable, and all the connectors comfortably together while not being overly big!
The stock cable, while most certainly a looker, could be more supple. Its stiffness irks me to some extent, but the major issue is the weight. Thanks to the solid stainless steel splitter and the cable’s own bulk, the cable creates a noticeable downward pull on the ear. The earhooks are on the tighter side as well.
These factors make the MG600 uncomfortable after some time.
The cable consists of 6 cores of high-purity single-crystal copper and 2 cores of silver-plated copper. The modular connection is quite an optimal length to make the connection secure. The connectors fit tight enough to survive a sudden jerk and do not need excessive force to swap. The right-angled plug does have a lesser chance of getting accidentally bent.
Shanling has included a wide variety of ear tips with the package:
- 3 pairs of Vocal ear tips (I believe the M is wrongly marked as S and S as XS)
- 3 pairs of Soundstage ear tips
- 3 pairs of Bass ear tips
- 2 pairs of Balanced ear tips (both pairs M sized)
- 2 pairs of Spinfit CP100 ear tips
The Vocal ear tips are regular short stem wide bore ear tips of a different color. Not a good pairing as they lessen the bass impact significantly.
The Bass ear tips are identical to Sony EP-EX11 silicone ear tips. Their narrow bore make the MG600 sound congested.
The Soundstage ear tips are unique. Very comfortable, soft but firm, and have a 10.5mm long stem and about 3.5mm wide nozzle. They live up to their name and keep the soundstage large without compromising the low end. These are my favorite of the options.
The Balanced ear tips are a hybrid design with a silicone outer flange and foam inner core. They are a bit too stiff, so I don’t use them. The Spinfit ear tips also do not provide a good fit for me.
Even sworn enemies of the MG600 (if there are any) will have to agree on one point – these IEMs are drop-dead gorgeous! The maple wood shells are mesmerizing – the blue resin and brown maple wood create a very unique combination that feels somewhat modern with a significant touch of vintage. The shiny lacquered finish adds to that beauty.
The backplate looks charming with an intricately designed grill for a semi-open back design. The golden Shanling logo enhances it even more.
Comfort and isolation
The small size, an almost spherical shape with a somewhat long nozzle, makes the MG600 both unique and highly comfortable to wear. I can even sleep with them on with little to no inconvenience.
Isolation is quite nice despite being semi-open back. It reduces unwanted reverberation and enhances the stage by a tiny bit.
On the inside, Shanling has put a 10 mm dynamic driver with an unusual diaphragm made of a carbon and graphite fiber mix with an aluminum/magnesium dome at the center. I have not heard of such a configuration prior to this.
An exotic design for certain, but how do they sound? Let’s delve in.
The MG600 might not blow you away with their awesomeness from the start, but you would be hard-pressed to find anything disagreeable. Their distinct refinement sets them apart from others in a very subtle manner. Shanling has made real efforts to establish an outstanding balance between all three frequencies so that they are distinctly present without overshadowing each other.
The bass sounds impactful yet controlled, with a decent speed.
Subbass reaches deep, and is prominently textured, with a pretty fast decay – producing a very clean and strong sub-bass rumble. The sub-bass notes are full-bodied but not bloated. The bassline in Massive Attack – Angel and the bass guitar riff in RATM – Bullet In The Head are noticeably prominent without muddying the midrange.
Midbass has a powerful, fast, and full-bodied slam. For example, Van Halen – Hot For Teacher, the consecutive multiple fast kickdrums set up a wonderful bassline resembling a motorbike’s sound that the MG600 portray to its full glory. The heavy drums in Metallica – Enter Sandman slam and rumble with considerable power without interfering with the vocals and guitars.
The midrange is crisp, fatigue-free, well-bodied, prominent, transparent, and natural, with a hint of warmth.
Male vocals sound deep and organic – the throaty feel is really strong. Leonard Cohen sounds outstanding while singing Hallelujah, and the background chorus also sounds prominent.
String instruments are rendered brilliantly. Each note of the acoustic guitar in Estas Tonne – Strings of A Bard, from the heavy notes to the light notes, sound appropriately soulful and divine. The electric guitar riff in Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train sounds crunchy and dynamic. The violins in James Newton Howard – Overture sound so very pleasant.
Female vocals on MG600 are simply a delight – powerful and yet non-sibilant! Yao Si Ting’s silky voice in Scarborough Fair, Sara Bareilles’s lively and slightly gritty voice in Love Song, Whitney Houston’s captivating voice in I Will Always Love You – the MG600 extract their essence accurately and effortlessly. They soar high and never pierce, sounding full yet ethereal.
The treble is comparatively slightly less energetic but has a refined brilliance and marks its presence quite clearly in the mix.
The upper treble extension is slightly limited but discernible, although not ethereal. The lower treble has a fair amount of brilliance, and notes are reasonably crisp. The overall tonality leans towards warm-bright. The whole treble section is positioned a bit away from the listener while having sufficient energy to avoid getting lost in a busy passage.
There is a hint of smoothness at the leading edge of the notes; they feel slightly small in size but not thin. The textures in the upper treble feel a touch less prominent. Cymbal hits are crisp and clear. Hi-hat and cymbal rolls feel smooth but not subdued. Overall the treble has a signature of soft brilliance and sounds refined.
The distant finger cymbals in Steely Dan – Do It Again are easily discernible in the mix. The prominent cymbal roll in Metallica – Enter Sandman sounds clear, crisp, and placed at a distance. The mix of both bold and delicate treble notes in Mitski – Your Best American Girl are played splendidly with audible differences in the different pitches.
Soundstage, imaging, and details
Owing to the semi-open back design, the whole presentation of the MG600 is sufficiently clean, spacious, and airy.
The stage is well-proportioned in all three dimensions, making it very nicely well-rounded. Width, height, and depth are nicely extended, making the headspace rather large.
The background is quite clean, devoid of any unwanted reverberations. Imaging feels precise to a degree within the stage. The instrument placements are well distributed inside the headspace, creating a nearly three-dimensional presentation.
The MG600 sound sufficiently dynamic, mostly owing to the powerful yet clean bass slam and the very clean background – really noteworthy macrodynamics.
Regarding microdynamics – details are adequately pronounced throughout the bass and midrange, and in the treble, they are just shy of excellent. The finer textures are very easily noticeable, and only in the upper treble do they feel slightly compromised. The separation between notes is satisfactory, and there is ample space among the notes.
Vs. 634EARS LOAK-T(CL)
The LOAK-T(CL) is the ‘current’ flagship of 634EARS. Compared to the MG600, the LOAK have a much sharper sound. The notes are sharper, sound more detailed, but might hint at discomfort on tracks with a really harsh/hot upper mid section (Mitski – Your Best American Girl).
The LOAK have a much more dynamic sound as well – bass sounds more powerful, slams harder, has slightly bigger notes, and sounds more atmospheric. The midrange is more transparent and vibrant. The treble is noticeably more energetic, much more extended, and has that ethereal nature that makes this region sound exhilarating.
Moreover, to provide this higher sense of detail, the body of the notes has not been compromised in any way – the notes are well-defined and have a very nice three-dimensional presence, sounding almost real. The stage is slightly more spacious, and overall the sound feels airier with a higher degree of separation.
In comparison, the MG600 have a slightly smoother, more comfortable, and more organic sound – a perfect compliment. The soundstage is sufficiently big and airy. Notes are crisp, nicely separated, and never become abrasive or piercing but still express the inherent energy in the track with respectable prowess. The complete spectrum has a very refined and sufficiently dynamic presence.
Where to Buy
Frankly, I am smitten. MG600 are such an incredible offering from Shanling and they totally blindsided me.
Before hearing this pair of IEMs, I expected a smooth sound with a subdued sense of detail and a lack of dynamics. Well, the MG600 proved me wrong.
This is a pair that I want to pick up in the late hours of the night, when my mind is not in the mood for extra details and wants to submerge in the musicality, but not at the cost of technicalities.
Shanling has crafted the MG600 to sound organic, musical, and airy while providing a notably competent technical performance. Producing fast and heavy bass slam, organic and transparent midrange, and smooth yet brilliant treble simultaneously is no easy feat.
In addition to that the MG600 have a spacious and airy stage, excellent separation, dynamic presentation, and crisp and controlled notes. They blow my mind every time I put them in my ears and hit play. They make Shanling’s motto, “Enjoy Music. Anytime. Anywhere.” come true.