Review - Shanling MW200

English | Español

Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

Intro…

The Shanling MW200 is a bluetooth neckband designed to be able to be used with IEMs of your preference, although it doesn’t always quite work that way. It is a product that I have seen around for a while (it was released around the middle of last year) and while I have been interested in trying it out, I didn’t actually get around to it. Due to it being my birthday recently, this was a gift from my wife and I am actually surprised at how much I use it and how it has actually changed a lot of my IEM listening time.


The MW200 is currently available for around 100€ and gives you an option of either MMCX or 2-Pin connectors. Personally, due to my slight disfavour of MMCX connectors, I have the 2-Pin version and picked up a couple of set of 2-Pin to MMCX adapters, allowing me to use any of my IEMs, well, almost.


Personally, I am someone who prefers cables over wireless where possible (not just Bluetooth, but also networking etc.) and I don’t really choose to use Bluetooth except for convenience. The MW200 has proven to be very convenient.




Presentation…


The presentation of the neckband is very simple. Arriving in a simple plain white box with an image of the neckband on the cover, inside we find a molded plastic insert where the neckband sits. Other than the neckband itself, the only other things included are an imitation leather drawstring bag, a USB-C cable and an instruction manual. The bag is handy for keeping the dust and scratches away when not in use, however, it will not protect the neckband during transit if thrown in a bag etc. 


Personally I don’t really carry it in my bag much, when I take it with me it is usually around my neck, but I ordered a semi rigid case for it anyway which cost around 3€ from Aliexpress, just for the few times I do need to throw it in my backpack.




Build and aesthetics…


I really don’t have much to compare in terms of neckband devices to compare but the MW200 seems to be well built and looks much better than some other options I have seen available. 


Made from plastic and a skin-friendly silicone material for the part that goes around the neck, there seem to be no flaws and shanling have opted to cover the exterior with the same glass they use on the back of their DAPs, giving it more of a premium look (and feel) than other options.


As far as comfort, I find the neckband to be very comfortable, even for wearing it for 8 hours straight (my usual work day), although I do have a couple of issues with the cables. I will mention more in the functionality section in just a moment, but in regards to comfort, I found the cables to be a little too long (although it is better to be too long than too short obviously) which also leads to them pointing out at a strange angle sometimes. This is not really uncomfortable, just feels a little strange at times when the cable doesn’t go flush behind your ears and sort of leaves at an angle. As the MMCX version spins at the connection point, this may not be the case but with the 2-pin connectors, it is held at a specific orientation.


All in all, I think the MW200 looks and feels good, is comfortable and I don’t really have any major complaints about anything in the build or comfort.




Functionality…


The functionality of the MW200 is very simple. You turn it on, you connect it to your device, that’s it, up and running.


As far as physical controls, there is nothing located on the right hand side of the neckband, with the controls on the left, along with the USB-C port.


Starting with the USB-C port, this is located below the neckband, pointing down. When charging this location is not bad but when using the MW200 as a wired DAC/Amp (which is possible), you will need to use a 90º USB-C connector in order to be able to wear the neckband without hindrance.


The buttons on the neckband are also simple and straightforward. On the top of the neckband, towards the rear, there is the power button, press for a few seconds to turn on or off (a voice command will confirm) or if the device is off, press and hold for longer to enter pairing mode.


Slightly forward of the power button, located on the inside of the neckband, is the volume rocker. Pressing forwards increases volume and backwards decreases, if long pressed, it will skip to the next/last track.


The final button is located also on the inside, forward of the volume control, and serves as play/pause or to start/end a call with a single click, whereas a longer press will summon the assistant on your mobile device. This button also has a coloured LED ring around it that changes colour depending on codec or pairing mode etc.


One final thing to note under functionality is the Shanling control app. This app works with various Shanling products and allows you to control them via bluetooth from your device (at least on Android, I am sorry but I have no idea about Apple products). With this app, you can control a few things on the MW200:


RGB LED indicator: the app allows you to turn the LED ring on or off.


Volume Level: You can choose if the MW200 should remember your previous volume level or not.


HWA Auto Connect: You can choose if HWA should be used automatically or not.


L-R Balance: Allows you to change the balanced towards left or right


Codec Selection: Allows you to choose which Codecs you would like the MW200 to be able to use, the unselected ones will not be presented to your device. In total, if all are selected,  the MX200 offers SBC, aptX-LL, AAC, aptX-HD, aptX, LDAC, HWA (LHDC). This toggle function is something that I find very useful, allowing me to avoid using codecs that don’t interest me (which are most of them).


Equalizer: This gives you a 10-band graphic equalizer, however, the EQ will not work while using LDAC due to performance limitations of the chip inside the MW200.


Filter: Allows selection between 4 different filters for the DAC of the MW200.


Instructions: The same as the printed ones included with the device.


That covers all of the functionality of the device, which is not a huge amount but we have to remember that there isn’t exactly much space in a device of this size to start including more things. I think that the MW200 does at least cover the basic necessities with this device, at least for me.




Usability…


While I just mentioned the functions of the MW200, I would like to comment a little on how I use it and why I find it a good option for me personally, which may not be the case for everyone.


I do have a few bluetooth receivers and TWS IEMs but to be honest, I really don’t use them that much. I will use TWS IEMs while doing things around the house but in my day to day life, I generally don’t use bluetooth that much (except for in my car). I can stream from my phone to my DAPs via bluetooth but, as is the case with other bluetooth receivers I own, I still have a cable going from my ears to the DAP. As I still have to deal with the cable, I prefer to just use local files on the DAPs or stream to them directly via WiFi (using my phone as a hotspot when out and about). 


As I am usually in the process of testing something to review, I will be using different IEMs or headphones on a weekly basis, which means that TWS IEMs end up getting very little use after their review, except for household work as I mentioned. While at work, sitting at my desk, I am almost always connected (via cable) to an Atom. This means that when I need to get up from my desk (which is sometimes very often, depending on the day), I need to remove the IEMs and lay them on the table. The same goes when I receive a voice call via my PC, I remove the IEMs and put on my PortaPro’s (my choice for long conference calls).


With the MW200, I put it around my neck before I leave home in the morning and it stays there until I get home in the evening. This stops the need for removing the IEMs each time I get up from my desk and also lets me just remove them and let them dangle around my neck when needing to switch to the PortaPro’s. 


If I am working on something that is going to keep me at my desk for a longer period of time, then I will still opt to switch to a cable connection to the Atom, I also always use the Atom for any IEM comparisons and detailed listening. However, on days that I am moving around the office a lot, or into the warehouse and back, I now keep listening to the IEMs whereas before, I would only really put them in if I knew I was going to be sitting down for a while or I would use a DAP in my pocket which means I am disconnected from my phone (which is a positive thing but not always a good idea while at work ;) )


I find the MW200 to have plenty of power to drive all of the IEMs I have tried so far and the sound quality (via LDAC) is of sufficient quality for me to feel that I am listening to music via IEMs and not necessarily focusing on bluetooth qualities.


The range is not great, once more than 4 or 5 meters away from my phone I start to get interruptions (again, using LDAC), but I always have my phone with me anyway, so it is not something I have issues with.


As I said at the start of this section, this is my personal use case, so it may or may not apply to you, however, I do find that the MW200 has increased my listening time of IEMs during the week. 


My only issue, which is something I mentioned at the beginning of this review, is that I can’t use all of my IEMs with the MW200. The 2-pin to MMCX adapter does allow me to change between connection types, however, it is not possible to use IEMs that have their cable connection at the bottom. I would have preferred the cables to not be pre shaped but, being honest, the majority of IEMs being sold at the moment do have top entry.




Sound…


As far as sound, there really isn’t much to say. The MW200 is very clean and has enough power for all of the IEMs I have tried with it so far. 


In comparison to something like the M0, which has been my usual LDAC receiver when wanting something small that can clip to my collar etc., I must say that I prefer the sound of the AKM chip used in the MW200.


While I say that I prefer the AKM chip, the comparison between the MW200 and M0 is not really fair as the M0 is more of a “all in one solution”, allowing local playback, streaming via bluetooth etc. If I am playing back local files on the M0, the results change but it is not a fair comparison as bluetooth is not involved in the process. When strictly comparing sound via bluetooth from my phone, I prefer the MW200 over the M0.


As I have already said, power is enough for all the IEMs I have tried but I think I should mention something else on the subject. My phone actually distorts the bluetooth signal when played at full (this happens no matter what device I am streaming BT to), so I always have to run my phone at around 70% to avoid this. Even with my phone at 70%, the power of the MW200 is more than sufficient to drive IEMs above comfortable (to me) levels with plenty of room to spare.


I know that this sound section, which is probably the most important part of a music listening device, is going to be extremely short but I really have nothing more to say that it sounds clean, has no noticeable errors and is plenty loud enough for me. There isn’t much more I can ask for from a device of this style.



Conclusion…


I have been tempted many times to pick up a Qudelix 5k, or one of the similar devices available, but have never actually done so because I know that it just won't get the use it deserves. I am not sure if I would have ever actually purchased the MW200 if it wasn’t a gift but I am actually very glad to have received it.


The microphone (which I forgot to mention earlier) is great, in fact, it is the best sounding bluetooth headset I have tried until now, and it is always available around my neck for any time that my phone rings.


The commodity of being able to have any IEMs (well, almost any) around my neck and also be able to jump on and off calls without any hassle is great. I can go from very enjoyable sound (depending on the iEMs in use obviously) to a not so enjoyable call and back again just with a touch of a button.


I have had no issues with connections, it always connects instantly when I turn it on. It also can be connected to two devices at once and can even be used via USB cable if I should end up running out of battery (which I have not yet done, it easily lasts me all day and usually still has over 40% left when I get home at night).


I really can’t complain about the MW200. It is obviously not using any super hi-end chips or functions but the commodity makes it more than worthwhile for me. 


I also don’t have the feeling that I am wanting to get away from it and back to cable as soon as possible, something that I do experience with any other BT products. I can happily listen to my IEMs and enjoy them without being tied to the desk or another device in my pocket.


SenyorC