Shanling ME700 Lite Review – Blue Skies
Shanling ME500 Plat ($289): The ME500 Plat offers a warmer bass and sharper lower-treble while the ME700 Lite cleans up the sound and increases linearity. The ME500 Plat has a more present and warmer bass with a bit more mid-bass presence. The ME700 Lite offers a cleaner tuning with a faster and harder-hitting sub-bass. It has faster mid-bass decay and higher definition but also less presence and fullness that some may crave. While the midrange tuning is similar on the ME500, its greater mid-bass gives it a light warmth and a bit more body.
The ME700 Lite’s midrange sounds more upfront relative to its less potent mid-bass and treble. The ME500 is a bit sharper at times due to its lower-treble peak that brings up articulation. The ME700 Lite does sound brighter overall, however, being more intimate, thinner and more revealing in general. Treble is crisper and more forward on the ME500 Lite though the ME700 Lite is clearly more detailed alongside offering more headroom. Its soundstage as well is more multi-dimensional with sharper imaging.
Fiio FA9 ($499): The FA9 offers a warmer and more linear style of sound with slightly more bite to its lower-treble, albeit, this can also be altered using its tuning switches. As stock, the FA9 is immediately more balanced. It has more bass and more bass warmth by a good degree. Its sub-bass doesn’t have quite the same extension and slam but a good amount of weight nonetheless due to the physical LPF. The ME700 Lite offers a cleaner tone and higher separation. The FA9 offers a slightly faster decay equalised by its greater warmth, introducing a fuller, smoother note expression. This trend continues to the midrange.
The FA9 is not as forward nor as bright. It is warmer, fuller and smoother, slightly more so than neutral in all aspects. The ME700 Lite represents its foil, being brighter, more vocal forward and more revealing. It isn’t as balanced or coherent, but more defined and open by a good degree. The treble tells a similar story. In fact, the FA9 has a slightly crisper lower-treble, especially in lieu of its smoother upper-midrange. The ME700 has much more upper-harmonic energy and sparkle alongside a bit more extension and headroom. It has a slightly larger soundstage but the FA9 offers more coherent imaging to my ears.
Oriveti OH500 ($499): The OH500 is a more balanced but equally clean W-shaped earphone. It has a bit more bass, similar midrange presence and a slightly crisper lower-treble followed by a darker background. The OH500 has a bit more bass presence through the sub and mid-bass especially, being fuller and punchier. The ME700 Lite is quicker and harder-hitting, equally well extending but cleaner and more separated through the mid-bass. The midrange is more forward by comparison. The tone is cooler and note body is thinner. In return, the ME700 Lite has higher clarity and extension, sounding more open. The OH500 is more neutrally tones and has more accurate body.
The biggest differentiator is the upper-midrange which is smoother and denser on the OH500, granting it higher coherence and smoothness. The treble is a bit more focused on the OH500, and crisper but thinner on the ME700 Lite. The ME700 Lite has more air and fine-details are brought more to the fore. The OH500 has a cleaner and far darker background with more defined layers. The soundstage is similarly sized on both, perhaps a little wider on the ME700 Lite. The ME700 Lite has better separation while the OH500 sounds a bit more organised to my ears.
The ME700 Lite is not to be labelled as a neutral earphone so much as one with a neutral tone. For this earphone carries a clearly sculpted sound signature and that invariably means it will be more polarising than your usual balanced/target-curve earphone. Personally, I don’t find this to be conducive towards versatile daily listening. Yet despite this, I found myself enjoying its atypically agile, energetic and open sound. While the timbre leaves to be desired and it errs on the analytical side, the ME700 Lite also remains balanced enough to be appreciated by most listeners. Again, it is a bright sound, especially regarding the upper-midrange though, as aforementioned, this makes it a perfect match for those wanting ultra-clean, clear vocals. In addition, the accessory set and shell design both impress, aiding a delightful ergonomic experience. For those valuing a natural, coherent and balanced presentation, other options are easy to come by. The ME700 Lite is rather a technically impressive take on a bright, vocal-forward sound signature counterbalanced by a highly tactile bass response.
The Shanling ME700 Lite can be purchased from Shanling for $499 USD at the time of review. I am not affiliated with Shanling and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.
Track List –
AKMU – SAILING
Billy Joel – The Stranger
Cream – Wheels of Fire
Crush – Digital Lover
Daryl Hall & John Oates – Voices
Dire Straits – Communique
Dirty Loops – Next To You
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
H.E.R – I Used To Know Her
Joji – Sanctuary
Kanye West – Ye
Radiohead – OK Computer
TALA – ain’t leavin` without you
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The weeknd – After Hours
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