Phone home. Phone home. Phone home? The ET3 is a new half-width CD player from Shanling whose internal CD drive, a Philips SAA7824, reads CD, CD-R and CD-RW discs via a Sanyo HD850 pick-up laser and features built-in DSP to handle “error correction and noise reduction”. On rear-facing outputs, we note the presence of AES/EBU, coaxial, TOSLINK and I2S and the absence of analogue outputs to mark the ET3 out as strictly a digital transport. Optional internal upsampling to hi-res PCM or DSD comes courtesy of a CT7302CL chip. BYO DAC.
Now comes the first twist. The ET3 internalises an Ingenic X2000 chip loaded with Shanling’s own code for Bluetooth streaming (LDAC, AAC, SBC) plus wi-fi (but not Ethernet) streaming via UPnP or AirPlay. The unit’s menu navigation and display are executed via a front panel IPS 320 x 290px screen and a nearby rotary knob. Alternatively, we can attach a USB drive full of songs to the back panel’s USB socket and use the ‘companion app’ to play ’em.
A potentially even bigger twist waits in the wings: can the second USB socket – a USB digital audio output – be fed by the internal CD drive’s output? Shanling, you got mail. The Chinese company’s super-speedy response: yes, it can! With that second twist confirmed, Shanling points out that the USB output’s catch, if we can even call it that, is that the upsampler is off the table. Never mind that: could this be the world’s first CD transport to output via USB?
Lastly, I’m a fan of the ET3’s lift-off/drop-on plastic lid whose inner ring doubles as a CD placement puck. It also seems a smart move on Shanling’s part to put the CD transport controls on the top plate for easier access once the unit is placed on a desktop, low board or media console. Those who would prefer to put the ET3 in a hi-fi rack are advised that it comes with an IR remote control.
The Shanling ET3 will begin shipping this month (June 2023) for US$729.
Further information: Shanling