The Shanling MTW300 is the brand’s second TWS earphones, this time aimed at a more premium segment. This Bluetooth 5.2 earphone has water resistance, aptX support, a carbon nanotube diaphragm and currently retails for $129.
Shanling is a Chinese HiFi company that has been producing high-end, hi-fidelity equipment since they were founded in 1988. In the early days, the company was focused on manufacturing hardware equalizers and Hi-Fi amplifiers.
In recent years, they’ve been known more for their line of DAPs (Digital Audio Players) and earphones. However, they seem to be going back to their roots with a new line of desktop streamers and amplifiers, as well as maintaining their DAP and IEM lines.
Dual Microphone: With 8.0 CVC noise reduction for clearer calls
Weight: 4.8g per earphone. 89g Charging case
Waterproof: Earphones rated at IPX7
Packaging & Accessories
Just like the previous MTW100 model, the MTW300 comes in a small, sturdy box with a magnetic seal. On the front of the box there’s an image of the earbuds and on the back is a list of features and specifications.
Here’s what comes in the box:
Shanling MTW300 earphones
USB Type-C charging cable
7x pairs of silicone eartips
Documentation & warranty
One of the things I loved about the Shanling MTW100 was the tiny, comfortable shells. So I was delighted to find the MTW300 adopts an almost identical shape and size. The only real difference I can see is that the faceplates now have a slightly concave dimple where the Shanling logo and touch controls are.
The earpieces are a dark charcoal grey colour and ultra-lightweight, coming in at just 4.8g each. They’re made of plastic but feel durable and do not attract any fingerprints.
When it comes to touch controls, I find the buttons to be fairly responsive, assuming I find the right place as the faceplates are quite small! I love the fact that you can control the volume from the earphones which is a huge plus for me. Unfortunately, there’s no function to activate voice assistants but I’ll take volume controls over that any day of the week.
Internally, MTW300 has a 6mm carbon nanotube dynamic driver, Qualcomm Bluetooth 5.2 and support for the aptX audio codec. Externally, the earpieces have an IPX7 water-resistance rating which is well above average for TWS earphones. It means that you can use them near a swimming pool or in moderate rainfall without fear of damaging the units.
As far as comfort is concerned, the MTW300 are easily the most comfortable in my collection. They just disappear in my ears and feel very natural, as well as secure. Although there is no active noise-cancelling, the MTW300 offers excellent passive noise isolation and blocks out a good amount of external noise.
The MTW300 charging case is very small with rounded edges and therefore very pocket-friendly. But perhaps the best thing about this case (apart from the battery life – more on that later) is the way it looks and feels in the hand. Unlike the plastic MTW100 case, this one is made from zinc alloy and it feels very premium.
It’s got some real heft to it though, so keep that in mind if you generally carry charging cases around in your pockets. But that heft is what gives the case its solid and premium feel. This is hands down my favourite TWS case to date.
There’s a USB Type-C port on the back right next to a tiny LED that pulses white when the case is charging. There are another 3 LEDs inside the case that display the current battery level. The earphones snap in place magnetically and do not fall out easily, even when you shake the case. The lid also has a magnetic seal and snaps shut with a satisfying firmness.
Bluetooth and Battery Life
Bluetooth 5.2 is pretty standard nowadays and it brings several benefits including (but not limited to) more speed, greater range, multiple device support, better battery life and better audio quality.
During my testing, I had the occasional signal drop but it didn’t happen often and only lasted for less than a second after which it righted itself automatically. The signal range is on par with other TWS I’ve tested and more than I need in normal use. I can leave my phone on my desk upstairs and walk downstairs to my kitchen without a hiccup or any stuttering.
When it comes to battery life, the MTW300 has above-average performance. The earpieces can do nonstop music playback for up to 10 hours. Including the charging case, the MTW300 provides up to 35 hours total which is a very respectable amount.
The MTW300 microphone is functional but it’s not going to win any awards for clarity. You could get by in a pinch but if you make a lot of calls on your TWS earphones this might not be the best option for you.
Gear used for testing includes:
Sony NW ZX-300 (aptX)
The Shanling MTW300 has a light V-shaped signature with a slight emphasis on the bass and lower treble. It has much more clarity and better detail retrieval compared to the MTW100. In fact, it has slightly better detail retrieval than a lot of TWS earphones in its price range.
It has a fairly forward and slightly dense overall presentation and comes through with significant energy and drive.
The bass is punchy and has a good slam factor without being domineering. It’s a fast, controlled bass that doesn’t bleed over into the midrange. There’s enough body to get your toes tapping and just the right amount of oomph to provide punch when you’re on the move.
Listening to All India Radio’s “Sula Guin”, the MTW300 delivers ample weight and bass body without blanketing the midrange vocals or instruments. It’s not a basshead earphone but there’s enough impact to satisfy the average everyday listener.
The MTW300 midrange is expressive but is slightly thin in the lower region. Upper midrange notes are more favoured, boosting female vocals and certain instruments like pianos and electric guitars. There’s a good amount of clarity, while overall resolution is fairly average, especially during busy segments.
An upper midrange lift can at times make electric guitars can sound a little thin, especially when mixed with a lot of crash cymbals, like during the last minute of God Is An Astronaut’s “Snowfall”. But for the most part, the midrange is engaging and has sufficient body and forwardness.
MTW300’s treble is lively and crisp. Most of the energy is in the lower treble which creates somewhat dense notes that provide ample detail but not a lot of sparkle or air. This is typical of popular TWS tuning, as the earphones are designed for music on the go and tend to have inoffensive rather than highly precise treble.
As a result, the treble is spritely enough without showing any harshness or sibilance. Hi-hats and cymbals sound convincing enough without being too bright or sharp while at the same time creating ample clarity for the midrange and definition for percussion instruments.
The soundstage is intimate but stable, with a neutral stage position and a centre image that is neither too close nor distant. Vocals sound as though you’re a few rows back from the nosebleed section so they give you room to breathe but it still feels as though they’re in the room with you. Instrument separation is average and imaging is fairly accurate and gives a good indication of instrument or vocal position.
Tronsmart Apollo Bold (US$99)
The Apollo Bold has a much warmer presentation, especially when the ANC is engaged. It has much more bass presence than the Shanling which could be good or bad depending on your own preference. Vocals aren’t as forward or as engaging as they are on the MTW300 but they are smoother and have more body.
The Shanling has a more energetic and detailed treble. While both have a similar soundstage size, the MTW300 has better imaging. The battery life is very good on both, at around 10 hours each. But in terms of features, the Apollo Bold comes out in front with its ANC, ambient mode, app support and extra touch control functionality.
Moondrop Sparks (US$89)
The Sparks has a lighter, cleaner sound due to its DSF (diffuse sound field) tuning vs the Shanling’s V-shaped signature. It has more sub-bass depth but less mid-bass punch than the Shanling. Vocals are more forward on the Sparks due to its upper midrange focus. The MTW300 also has an upper midrange lift but not to the same extent as the Moondrop.
The Sparks has a fast roll-off after its upper mids peak, giving it less treble than the Shanling. Despite having less treble, the detail retrieval is similar on both earphones but the Shanling has a bit more air. Both have just the rudimentary features i.e, music playback and call functionality. The Sparks’ case is bigger and blockier but both will fit easily in most pockets.
The Shanling MTW300 is a clear evolution from the former MTW100. The clarity and dynamics are improved providing a sound that is more energetic, cleaner and ultimately more engaging. Bonus points for this TWS earphone are awarded for the excellent fit, quality of its charging case and IPX7 water resistance.
With its outstanding passive noise isolation, ANC is a moot point plus the comfort and fit are class-leading. The MTW300 is a good option for anyone looking for a no-frills TWS with good audio quality and battery life. However, at this price, I’d like to see some added features such as wireless charging and ambient mode/ANC.