A Luxury of High Res Sound.
PROS: solid build, high res layered sound, great imaging, high power balanced output, leather case, usb OTG dac support.
CONS: audio playback only (no BT or wifi), limited touch swiping, high output impedance of BAL out.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
After my previous reviews of LP5 and L5Pro, as well as collected impressions of L3 and L3Pro, there is no doubt in my mind that Luxury & Precision puts sound quality and audio performance ahead of GUI and other bells’n’whistles features. And as a result, they are still better known as a boutique brand, catering to a specific group of audiophiles, though it doesn’t mean they ignore comments from their customers or don’t take a notice of critical feedback. Maybe that is why their latest flagship DAP release of L6 is a mix of all the best features from the previous releases, combined with some additional improvements.
Regardless of its exotic design and limited UI, I still hold LP5 audio performance in high regard due to its AK4414 DAC implementation. L5/L5Pro introduced a more pocket friendly touch screen design, and L3/L3Pro added balanced output and USB/OTG DAC features. L6 brought back the high res of AK4414 with an updated design of L5/L5Pro (improved with a dedicated power button and a proper transport control button arrangement) and included L3/L3Pro features of 2.5mm balanced output, LO, SPDIF, USB DAC, and USB OTG DAC. Plus, added up/down touch swiping in addition to touch-tapping.
I’m sure many will be a little confused why am I so excited about the common features available even in some of the budget DAPs. To appreciate these improvements, you need to be familiar with the sound of the original LP5 DAP and how it got reincarnated in a more user and feature friendly L6 design. There are still room for improvement, and I will cover everything in my detailed review below. So, let’s take a closer look at Luxury & Precision latest flagship.
Unboxing and Accessories.
Based on my previous experience with L&P DAPs, I wasn’t surprised to see a narrow black box L6 arrived in, but quickly realized it was not a box but a sleeve. With sleeve off, I found a wooden box with a sliding cover. L&P used a real wooden box, not some cheap compressed chips, kind of reminding me of cigar boxes. One little detail which I found to be quite neat, there were two little magnets holding the cover from sliding if tilted.
Inside was a foam insert with a cutout for L6, to hold it securely in the box, an accessories box with a genuine leather case, and another small box for a micro USB cable with gold plated connectors. Seems that screen protector was already applied to L6 glass display. For me personally, if a nice case and a cable are included, I don’t think the other accessories are as big necessity, except here it would have been great to include digital coax cable since L6 uses 4-ring 3.5mm jack for digital out (like in FiiO daps).
The leather case is made of a very light brown nubuck type of leather, and has a perfect like-a-glove fit. The bottom of the case has a roomy cutout for micro-USB connector and micro SD card opening. The right side has a large cutout for all 4 buttons while keeping them uncovered, recessed (so no accidental pressing while in a pocket), and still easy to access. The led pinhole above it has its own small opening. The top is fully exposed, and the volume wheel has a full clearance on the front and the back for an easy access.
While the first original L&P release of LP5 had some resemblance (wooden back frame) to ColorFly C4 which was also co-created by L&P team, the follow up L5 had a more traditional rectangular footprint, probably inspired by A&K releases. The design evolved from L5 to L5Pro, then scaled down to L3 and L3Pro, and went back up to L6, and now L6 will be scaled down again to L4 (newly announced release). While the mechanical volume wheel in the upper right corner remained the same, there were a few significant changes between L5/L3 and L6/L4. All the ports (3.5mm, 2.5mm and LO/Coax) got moved from the bottom to the top, on the same side next to the volume wheel. This is very important because now you can place L6 in your pocket, connect headphones at the top, and control the volume next to it. Before, you had to place L5/L3 with a volume wheel facing down for headphone cable to be connected from the top.
Moving headphones outputs to the top (in both L6 and L4) also resulted in removing C1, C2, and Screen Lock buttons previously sitting on the angled panel in the upper left corner. I must admit, I do miss C1 and C2 programmable shortcut buttons which in L5/L3 I had assigned to Playback screen and File Browsing screen. Screen lock button I never understood and always thought it should have been assigned to a power button. Now, L6/L4 have a separate “traditional” power button on the right side at the top, which turns the DAP on/off with a long press and turns the screen on/off with a short press. Below it you will find 3 transport control buttons, and FINALLY, L&P assigned Play/Pause in the middle and Skip/Forward Prev/Next on each side of it. That was another thing driving me crazy in previous L&P models where Skip buttons were next to each other and Play/Pause was at the top. Now, the layout is more consistent with every other DAP on the market.
In a summary, you have micro SD card at the bottom, next to a good old micro USB which is used for charging, data transfer, and USB DAC functionality. Nothing on the left side. 3 transport control buttons on the right side with a separate power button above it, and in the upper right corner on the right side a status/charging led pinhole. All 4 buttons are metal, the same size, and with an engraved functionality. The power button sits a bit further out, though I would prefer to keep it even further away for a better separation. At the top you have 3.5mm SE HO, 2.5mm BAL HO, 3.5mm LO and SPDIF Digital Out, and a volume wheel with a safety bridge cover over the top.
The overall unit has 63mm x 123mm x 16.9mm dimension, where the front is occupied by a 3.5” IPS touch screen with 480×320 resolution. Yes, it’s a touch screen and finally L&P implemented vertical swiping when scrolling through a list of songs or Settings menu, but you still can’t swipe horizontally to control the fast-forward bar during the playback. I really wish L&P would implement that in one of their future updates. It’s essential to be able to fast forward through the song by swiping it. The back of L6 has a Rosewood panel with their traditional emblem and logo. The frame of L6 made from a Series 6 aluminum-magnesium alloy with a very dark gunmetal blue finish.