The Quintessential Pure Music DAP.
PROS: Neutral yet very dynamic sound, excellent imaging, pitch black background, high transparency and clarity, very clean, fast UI, PMEQ, 4.4mm balanced out, battery life, high quality leather case.
CONS: Not Android based (if required), no streaming directly from the DAP, no on-board memory, WiFi only for firmware updates, not all special characters available on keyboard (for WiFi password), language settings geographically restricted.
I would like to thank Lotoo for providing me with the PAW6000 in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
PAW6000 Specifications at a Glance:
- Screen: 3.77 inch IPS GFF Retina LCD
- Dimensions: 112 x 65 x 18mm
- Weight: 225g
- Memory: Micro SD only (max 2TB)
- WiFi: For firmware update only
- Bluetooth: Bi-directional BT 4.2
- OS: LTOS
- DAC: AK4493EQ
- Amp: OPA1622
- Decoding: Up to DSD256
- Battery: 5,200 mAH Li-Polymer
- Playback: 16 hours
- Output 3.5mm: 300mW (32Ω)
- Output 4.4mm: 300mW (32Ω)
- SNR: 121 dB
- Channel isolation: -135 dB (balanced), -120 dB (unbalanced)
- Price: US$1,199
Available for Sale on MusicTeck and other retailers.
Lotoo was founded in 1999 as the professional audio brand of the Beijing Infomedia Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. It has made quite a name for itself with the release of the original PAW Gold, a DAP that still has a very strong following within the head-fi community. The PAW Gold is a unique DAP that combines a pure reference tuning with a design and OS that sets it apart from other DAPs on the market. This is something that has always piqued my interest in Lotoo and why I was very curious about the PAW Gold, the recently released PAW Gold Touch and the newly released PAW6000 (LP6K). I my opinion Lotoo makes choices that do not just distinguish their products from the rest, they seem to plan out every aspect in great detail in order to achieve an optimal result for the DAP as a whole.
Let me explain, as I think this is something that really sets apart the LP6K I am reviewing here. We audiophiles like to look at specs and I have seen a lot of people who judge purely based on that. In fact, some manufacturers play specifically into that by using components from expensive DAPs in their own more affordable products. This makes people very excited because it plays into the narrative that TOTL products are overpriced and that this DAP can do the same at a third of the price. We all love a great deal after all, especially if it means we can keep both our kidneys. What is ignored in that narrative however is that it isn’t so much the components themselves that determine the resulting quality, it is their implementation. A DAC chip for instance is not that expensive by itself, but to get the most out of that chip is where the real challenge can be found. With the LP6K Lotoo has shown that this is exactly where they concentrate their efforts.
This is why Lotoo keeps piquing my interest. Their approach seems to be thoughtful and understated in order to produce a product that speaks for itself. They still need the exposure like any other company, but this is not hype-train gear for the masses, to me the LP6K is for serious audiophiles who want maximum control with minimum fuss. Obviously, some of my previous reviews come to mind here. Indeed, the FiiO M11 uses two of the same DAC chips as the one in the LP6K, and while a good solid DAP at its price point (I stand by what I wrote in my review), the M11 is nowhere near the LP6K.
As I hope I can clarify with my review, while missing some features valued by today’s audiophiles, such as streaming services running directly on the DAP, the LP6K is an audiophile tool with a great deal of refinement.
The unboxing experience is nice, be it a fairly standard affair, as it is based on the ubiquitous satin black box with sleeve. Many companies use these and I can see why because it is a very classy presentation. As soon as you remove the sleeve and open up the box the LP6K is presented in all its glory and that is really what it is all about, that beautiful DAP. Underneath are two more layers of boxes. One with manuals, a cleaning cloth and two sets with screen protectors and cleaning wipes. The other layer holds a charger cable, which is very sturdy and has a decent length, as well as a high quality leather case. The case is very nice and fits snugly around the LP6K so there is no chance of it falling out accidentally. In all, it is a good selection of quality accessories without any superfluous items.
I absolutely love the look and feel of this DAP. It is shaped a little bit like a brick with somewhat curved sides and I personally really like that. It is not the smallest or the lightest DAP, but it feels great when I hold and use it. Everything about it feels like careful thought was put into it, on how it would be used, what buttons need to be there and how you use them. Even access to the micro SD card slot is easy with the leather case on because a space has been cut out for it together with the USB type-C port at the bottom. On the right side there are four buttons (power, forward, back, play/pause) that have a really good size so it is easy to find them, even with the case on. On top there are the 4.4mm Pentaconn Balanced out and 3.5mm Single Ended out, as well as a lovely hint of gold in the volume dial. The volume dial is nicely protected and I have not had issues with accidental volume changes. Plus, it feels really nice and tactile. On a side-note here, it is possible to change the direction for volume up or down. So if you are used to a specific clockwise or counter-clockwise volume change, you can set your preference easily.
I have been using the LP6K a lot and find the design works really well. The thickness and the curves of the sides actually improve the grip and the size and weight sit very comfortably in my hand. I can easily reach all the buttons and the volume dial without losing a secure grip and one-handed operation of the screen is easy.
Under the Hood.
As I indicated in the preamble, the LP6K is equipped with the same AK4493EQ DAC chip as you might find in the FiiO M11, but Lotoo has by far the better implementation of this DAC chip. It is paired with the OPA1622 for the headphone amp. Now, I am a “music lover” audiophile and not that interested in all the technical details (I will leave that to other reviewers), but both the 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm Single Ended out put out a healthy 300mW at 32 Ohms. More importantly, it is an exceptionally clean sound with a very low noise floor. Although I will admit that I do not have sensitive enough IEMs to put the LP6K really to the test here. My most sensitive IEMs are the Empire Ears Phantom and I managed to listen at high gain without the slightest hint of any hiss whatsoever. This is what keeps impressing me about the LP6K. It sounds so clean, so stable and with such a pitch-black background that it really makes every single note and every little detail pop out with great dynamics.