Great looking and fitting shells, Quality stock cable, Ultra-fast and dynamic bass, Heaps of headroom, Excellent separation
Brightness combined with thinness negatively affect timbre on many tracks, Imaging could be more accurate
The ME700 Lite is rather a technically impressive take on a bright, vocal-forward sound signature counterbalanced by a highly tactile bass response.
Shanling are one of the most renowned DAP manufacturers on the market with decades of experience and success. Similar to a few other DAP companies, Shanling have recently turned their attention IEMs. The ME-series was their first run, culminating in their current flagship ME700. This IEM featured 3D printed shells and a hybrid 5-driver setup with unique gold-plated DD providing a warm and rich sound. The ME700 Lite is the company’s new co-flagship model targeting a more neutral tonality and energetic signature. This has been achieved by substituting the woofer for a Titanium DD and introducing a new cable. In turn, the Lite appears more congruent to the ME100 and ME500 before it.
The ME700 Lite comes in at $499 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit on Shanling’s website here.
I would like to thank Frantisek from Shanling very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the ME700 Lite for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Drivers: Single DD & 4x BA
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 109dB +/- 3dB
Behind the Design –
Titanium Dynamic Driver
The original ME700 implemented a heavy, ductile gold dynamic driver. This is an unconventional choice but was curated for its delivery of a rich, warm sound. The ME700 instead utilises a titanium diaphragm with much higher rigidity – in turn, permitting a thinner and lighter construction. Accordingly, this driver provides a much faster transient response promising greater resolution and separation in addition to a more neutral sound.
Custom BA Drivers
4x BA drivers cover the higher frequencies and have been customised by Shanling for the ME700 Lite. Shanling developed in-house a custom dual mid driver in addition to custom high and ultra-high drivers. In addition, Shanling have designed the surrounding acoustics for phase coherence and low resonance for extended and linear high-frequencies free of peaks. Shanling also put each earphone through an extensive series of factory testing to ensure tight channel matching and QC.
Gold & Silver Cable
The ME700 Lite includes a new 4-wire, 42-core cable with gold and silver-plated single-crystal copper conductors. The cable promises to provide a clearer and more natural sound with extended high-frequencies.
The ME700 Lite comes within a large box with chic design. Sliding off the outer cover reveals an inner hard box with the earphones showcased within a foam inlet. Below is a slide-out tray containing the leather carrying case in addition to the eartips and cleaning brush. The tip selection is very extensive to ensure an ideal fit in addition to some level of customisation of the sound. Shanling provides 3 pairs of soundstage silicone tips, 3 pairs of balanced silicone tips and 3 pairs of vocal silicone tips. Spinfits come pre-installed to the earphones.
The ME700 Lite offers a faux-custom style 3D-printed shell similar to the ME700. However, as opposed to the dark, marble texture offered by that model, the Lite assumes a clean white aesthetic with gold insignias. It’s an attractive and well-formed earphone, an impression aided by an immaculate hyper-gloss finish overlying its seamless 3D printed construction. Though large, it is shapely to suit the curves of the outer ear. The bronze nozzles complement the aesthetic on offer and offer a retentive lip that comfortable holds size T200 tips.
Above is a removable MMCX cable. The stock cable must be praised, this is a 4-core unit with round, twisted braid, high strand count and gold and silver plated copper conductors. It has smooth, supple insulation with minimal memory albeit it does retain some curves due to the nature of its braid. Nonetheless, the cable is easy to live with due to its lightweight construction and smooth design that mitigates most tangling. The pre-moulded ear guides are comfortable and the polished stainless-steel connectors contribute to a premium all round feel.
Fit & Isolation –
Though on the larger side, the ME700 Lite is a comfortable and well-shaped earphone. It is clearly more sculpted than past ME earphones with features that lock firmly into the outer ear. In addition, it is shaped so as to avoid hotspot formation and, at least for my medium sized ears, I found it to offer good long-term comfort. The combination of slender nozzle and sculpted housing also contributes towards a deep and highly stable fit suitable for commute and even some active use.
A vent is visible on the upper-portion of the housing though does not appear to greatly affect isolation nor wind noise. I noted no driver flex albeit a moderate amount of wearing pressure as you may expect from a regular sealed in-ear. Isolation is a strong point too, easily suitable for day to day use and even frequent travellers. Though less attenuating than a custom monitor and some fully-sealed universals, isolation can be further enhanced with foam tips and is unlikely to leave the wearer wanting.