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Shanling DAC 50

avril 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


The Shanling DAC 50
By Marc Philip | Published 28 April 2010

This week we fell in love with the Shanling DAC 50, which made its public appearance a few weeks ago at the 2010 Montreal Salon du son et de l’image.

DAC 50 by Shanling


The DAC 50 has a full set of inputs: AES/EBU (XLR), coaxial digital, optical and USB.

There is a headphone output near the back on the right side. It has a volume control, and the neat thing about this is that the knob is integrated into the top of the foot pillar. Very nice indeed.

back features DAC 50

The on/off button on the front left is built into the foot pillar the same way. Ergonomically this is well thought out.

Headphone section

Digital-to-analog conversion is done with a Burr-Brown PCM1796 chip and the signal from the audio input goes through a CIRRUS LOGIC CS8416.

Upsampling is done with a Burr-Brown SRC4192 but this can be bypassed in 24 bit / 96 KHz and then upsampled to 192 KHz. You do this with a touch on the remote control and the result is audible.

Switch ON/OFF and remote control

The internal clock is very precise, which seems to be borne out in listening.

Cost : 999$

We tried out the DAC 50 in several systems for this report. We took it to Claude’s place and also Jacques “the progger” Vignault’s. The third person didn’t have anything special to say and we won’t include him.

Specifications (from the manufacturer):
Dynamic range: (16bit) >96dB, (24bit) >120dB
Signal to noise ratio: >110dB
Total harmonic distortion: <0.002% Unbalanced output voltage: 2.1V Balanced output voltage: 4.2V Dimensions (L x W x H): 262 x 457 x 75 mm Net Weight: ~4.8 kg [caption id="attachment_708" align="aligncenter" width="720" caption="Feets coupling management "][/caption]

To judge by these figures it’s no wonder the DAC 50 is so musical.

Jacques (the progger’s) impressions

Wow! What a great piece of gear this is.

I completely rediscovered my CD player. You would have thought I’d got a new one, more up-to-date and more expensive too.

In 192 bits the sound quality is really incredible in my system. It’s also a very classy-looking piece of gear which looks like it costs a lot more than it really does. It has really beautiful build quality for a unit under $1000.

Top cover

Jacques (the progger’s) system for this test

• NAD 3020A integrated amp
• Rotel RCD855 CD player
• Nuance Tablet speakers
• QED balanced loudspeaker cable
• RG179 silver digital coax cable with Furutech connectors
• DIY interconnect cable with gold plated connectors
• inovaudio Tri-Pod Double rack in steel and Russian birch

Recordings used for this test

– Edgar Winter – Jazzin’ the Blues (2004) – Joe Bonamassa – The Ballad of John Henry (2008) – Hadouk Trio – Live à FIP (2003) – Fabian Anderhub – Left Line (2009) – Roger Waters – Amused to Death (1992) – Stanley Clarke & Friends – Live at the Greek (1994)


If your source is still decent, the DAC 50 will bring it to life. If not, let it go and replace your player instead. This, by the way, is what Yves, our third tester did, and he’s now having a second honeymoon with a higher-resolution system.

His trial, with the DAC 50 converting the signal from his venerable 20-year-old Sony 707 ESD, was the only time we heard nothing really worth noting. (The Sony has been replaced by a Wadia drive and Wadia 15 DAC.)

The best results came with Claude’s Oracle CD 2500. The “little” DAC 50 transformed this old but splendid player into a modern machine, at least in 192 KHz upsampling mode.

What improvements did we hear exactly?

Everything in the sonic spectrum, or just about, as long as we used the 192K upsampling feature. This was a wonderful surprise, none of us would have predicted so much from connecting this “little” DAC to a high end player of an earlier day.

DAC 50 with Oracle CD 2500

Definition and dynamics. These are the major gains you can expect.

The soundstage widened, gaining in depth and 3-D quality.
Vocal timbres became natural and at the same time had a harmonic richness that the player did not provide when we listened to it alone. A veil was lifted, like a kind of mist on the sonic landscape; the higher resolution gave Claude’s system a serious boost.

We had the feeling that the music was louder with the same volume setting, the bass was tighter and better controlled than before, that we could turn up the volume without our ears’ starting to bleed. In short, the DAC 50 brought more musicality to a system which was already good and only needed to be woken up.

How is it possible to get so much from a piece of equipment costing less than $1000?

Probably the Shanling people know what they’re doing and after many years of experience are able to build high-performance equipment—that’s my guess.

I have to mention that we didn’t have time to try the headphone output properly but without a doubt, in view of the performance in treating digital signals, I would be surprised if it weren’t at the same level.

With the DAC 50 Shanling has succeeded in giving new hope to everyone who had given up on their present CD player or other digital source. On top of that, it’s a handsome piece of gear whose elegant lines should match any environment.

A detail that matters

The DAC 50 is a high-performance converter and it will do even better if you replace the stock power cord with a premium one. The improvements we heard came across best this way, with our Silver Triton and its Furutech FI-50 connectors.

Furutech Power Cord with FI-50 Carbon

From our trials, this converter has a high potential—don’t be fooled by its low price. I would have no hesitation in comparing it with higher-end and therefore more expensive units.

The appearance of the converter is also exemplary, and this was the first thing that struck me—its impeccable design and finish.

Points forts Strengths :

• Performance
• Astonishing dynamics in 192 KHZ upsampling mode
• Almost inaudible background noise
• Luxurious appearance
• Headphone output
• Easy-to-use, multifunction remote control
• Very reasonable price considering performance and looks

Points faibles Weaknesses :

• No iPhone/iPod dock

The DAC 50 is a best buy for looks and performance.

DAC 50 win a Best Buy 2010

Contact and information

Charisma Audio

Manager : Bernard Li

Suite 86
4261, Highway 7
Markham, Ontario
Canada L3R 9W6
Telephone: (905) 470-0825
Fax: (905) 470-7966


Web site :

This article has been written by Marc PHILIP, independent editor and reviewer, all rights reserved, copyright 2010, the text and photos are the property of the author and the magazine,under the creative commons license.

Have a great day and enjoy the music.

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