Today, I’m reviewing the Shanling UP4 2022 Bluetooth headphone amplifier. The UP4 2022 is an updated version of the original UP4 and comes with several significant upgrades. It features Dual ES9219C DAC chips, up to 11.5 hours of battery life and a golden scroll wheel. The price is $119.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Aoshida for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are based on my experience with the product.
Shanling UP4 2022 Review
More of what we've come to expect from Shanling and even better than the original.
Add your rating here!0 Votes
Sounds even better than the original
Transparent and resolving sound
Good battery life
Single-ended and balanced headphone outputs
USB DAC functionality
Shanling Eddict app currently only supports Android
The Shanling UP4 2022 body is identical to the original UP4 except it now has a golden scroll wheel. With dimensions of 60mm*36mm*13.5mm, the device fits easily in jeans or shirt pockets. Alternatively, you can use the included clip case to secure it on a belt or bag etc. I find this more practical than the leather case but your mileage may vary.
The chassis features 2.5D glass panels on the front and back. It looks really classy but tends to be a fingerprint magnet. On the front of the device is an NFC logo and a single multi-colour LED. The LED displays information about pairing, charging status, gain modes and Bluetooth codecs.
The golden scroll wheel on the right side is for adjusting the volume and playback controls. On the top side are the 3.5mm and 2.5mm headphone outputs. In addition, there’s a gain/DAC mode select button and a built-in microphone.
Finally, on the bottom of the device is a USB-C port for charging the battery and USB DAC functionality.
Internals & Functions
At the heart of the UP4 2022 lies dual Dual ES9219C DAC chipsets. The ES9219C is an efficient high-performance DAC that supports up to 24bit/92kHz.
A Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth chip takes charge of the wireless connectivity of the UP4. It supports all the major Bluetooth audio codecs including LDAC, LHDC, aptX HD, aptX LL, aptX, AAC and SBC.
Additional functionality can be accessed via the Shanling Eddict app. With the app, you can set the EQ and gain modes and update the firmware. However, the app currently only supports Android phones.
The Shanling UP4 2022’s single-ended 3.5mm output produces 71mW @ 32Ω in High Gain and up to 100mW @ 32Ω when in Dual DAC Mode. The balanced 2.5mm output takes things up a notch, with up to 165mW@ 32Ω in High Gain.
Bluetooth Connectivity and USB DAC Function
Just like the other UP series amps I’ve tested, the UP4 2022 pairs quickly and easily with my phone or other devices. There’s a voice prompt that tells you when the unit powers on, when it connects to your phone and when you turn the power off. I find this especially useful when the device is in my pocket or if I’m out in bright daylight.
The USB DAC function is simple and works consistently. You just plug the UP4 2022 into a computer, phone or tablet and it is good to go. It does not require any driver installation to work with Windows PCs or Macs.
The Shanling UP4 2022 has a 540mAh internal battery. You can get up to 11.5 hours from the 3.5mm output or 9.5 hours from the balanced output. It takes around 2 hours to fully charge the battery.
The Shanling UP4 2022 stays loyal to the Shanling house sound and the original UP4. But the effects of the upgraded internals can be clearly heard in this latest iteration. The UP4 2022 has slightly more output power but the real improvements are in the technical performance, specifically transparency and resolution. In fact, this new model’s performance is within reaching distance of the Shanling UP5 flagship.
To my ears, the UP4 2022’s lows are more neutral than the UP4’s. As a result, bass notes have better definition but retain fullness and body. This is especially nice for IEMs with elevated bass, like the Meze Audio ADVAR; the UP4 2022 lets you enjoy the warmth and texture in the bass without any looseness or bloat.
Pair the UP4 2022 with a planar IEM like the TANGZU Zetian Wu and you can enjoy the speed and precision of the driver and still get the bass extension and authority it has to offer. Listening to Tool’s “Right In To”, the kick drums sound full-bodied but tight. The toms are crisp but have the right note weight and decay naturally with just the right amount of roundness.
The midrange sounds exceptionally clean and spacious. This is due to the UP4 2022’s increased neutrality and resolution. It sounds admirably effortless for a portable device at this price. Whether in USB DAC or Bluetooth mode, the UP4 2022’s added transparency really shines in the mids.
Playing through EX:Re’s “The Dazzler”, the Shanling UP4 2022 brings the vocals to the forefront with clarity and transparency. The layering of the vocals, the piano in the background and the steady rhythmic drums had me shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary quality you can get with an entry-level Bluetooth amplifier.
The width of the soundstage is wider than the original UP4’s, again due to the newer model’s increased linearity. Left and right separation is excellent and the imaging gives you a strong sense of instrument and vocal positions.
The Shanling UP4 2022 version inherits the excellence of the original and takes things up a notch. We see the same excellent build quality and aesthetic found in Shanling’s previous UP models. The sonic performance is exceptional for such an affordable Bluetooth device. With its great sound, powerful output plus single-ended and balanced outputs the UP4 2022 is a device that I can heartily recommend.