One step higher up that laddeR!
PROS: discrete R-2R resistor array DAC, natural resolving tonality, optimized for sensitive and hard to drive earphones/headphones, high power BAL output, LDAC Bluetooth Rx, Balanced Line Out, solid build, addition of touch screen in Pro model.
CONS: price, no custom EQ.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
The original P6 review could be found here.
Shortly after the release of P6, Luxury & Precision announced Pro version of their flagship discrete resistor R-2R DAC portable audio player. While “Pro” releases of many DAPs in the last few years were rather common and typically meant v2 version of the player, P6 Pro turned out to be a little different. This update has noticeable improvements in both the performance and the usability, but many were surprised how soon it was announced, literally on the heels of the original releases. And then, to an even bigger surprise, there was announcement about offering P6 Pro upgrade as an exchange option for P6 users.
I don’t want to speculate, but it did cross my mind that maybe L&P had the idea for both versions of this DAP from the get-go, considering that Pro upgrade takes the existing P6 and seamlessly replaces some of the internal components, including the new touch screen drop-in replacement. Maybe Pro version was planned for a later date, but I have a feeling they received many requests for a touch screen navigation like the one in their other flagship LP6 DAP. Whatever was the reason, I can’t speak for manufacturer. But I’m glad they didn’t wait too long and pleased the exchange option is offered now.
Imagine buying a new DAP, finding out shortly a new version is about to be released, and then end up selling it at a loss to buy Pro version? It actually happened last year with another manufacturer and their Pro release. Here, it was a thoughtful gesture to offer upgrade to existing P6 customers and to charge a fee which brings the total to be less than retail price of a new Pro model. But the big question now, should you upgrade P6 if you got one, or if you don’t have it yet, which model to buy? And, what exactly does this upgrade brings to the table?
Due to a big overlap with my original P6 review, it makes no sense to recycle everything all over again, thus I will only focus on the Pro changes. Now, let’s proceed to find out more!
Unboxing and Accessories.
The unboxing experience of P6 Pro should be identical to P6, so please refer to my original review.
But one main accessory is different. If you are buying new P6 Pro unit, it comes with a new green leather case. If you are upgrading through exchange program, you will end up keeping the original yellow leather case. Maybe you will be able to buy green leather case separately; probably a good question for your retailer.
Original yellow case has a top opening where P6 slides in, along with cutouts for buttons on the left and right sides and ports at the bottom while the top is fully open with exposed corners. The new case has the same cutouts for the buttons on the left/right sides and the bottom, but the P6 Pro slides in from the left side where you have a secure flap that folds inside the case. As a result, the top of the case, including both corners, is covered with an exception of cutout for headphone ports and a power button.
You can also consider that the new case design would protect P6/P6 Pro from sliding out when you pull on the cable from the top, though the original case does grip the DAP like a glove, very secure. The main advantage here is that both top corners of the DAP will be protected. Also, I noticed the green leather is a little softer to the touch in comparison to yellow case.
Design and Under the Hood Changes.
The chassis design and overall dimensions of P6 Pro are identical to the original P6. You still have a device with 67.7 mm x 124mm (H) x 20mm (D), but the finish now is all black instead of original aluminum/greyish color. The volume wheel is golden instead of original aluminum color, and the back panel is a wooden veneer instead of glass. Due to a different back panel material, the weight of P6 Pro is reduced from 256g to 230g. Coincidentally, L&P featured wooden back panel in their L3 Pro, L5 Pro, and L6 (there was no Pro version of that one) models. So, perhaps it is a signature of Pro look.
Aside from chassis color, volume wheel color, and back panel, DAPs look identical. Also, both feature the same top glass panel with 3.5” IPS display, but Pro gets a capacitive touch screen. As already mentioned, the new touch screen is a drop-in replacement which doesn’t affect the dimension of the DAP, even the power consumption level remains the same. Another thing according to L&P provided info, to minimize EMI interference which could be introduced when going from non-touch to capacitive touch screen, L&P redesigned the amplification circuit and volume control system.
Touch screen itself is very responsive and scrolling is relatively fast when going through a long list of songs or through a menu. And regardless of touch screen, you can still enable other controls just like in P6, using volume wheel and media buttons for navigation. I personally had them disabled because touch screen was just enough. And in a playback screen you can use touch controls to play, pause, skip, and fast forward and back through a song by swiping.
Another performance improvement of P6 Pro was in doubling the dynamic range. Based on the measurements, original P6 was equal to 8x PCM 1704k chips, while P6 Pro dynamic range is equivalent to 16x PCM 1704k chips in parallel. Keep in mind, P6/P6 Pro does not use DAC chips, they use R-2R DAC design composed of hundreds of matching resistors. To improve the dynamic range, L&P cherry picked best-matching high-grade 1/10,000 resistors from P6 series.
Furthermore, they fine-tuned the design to improve signal-to-noise ratio, going from 123dB in P6 to a higher 125dB SNR in P6 Pro, quite impressive for a discrete R-2R DAP. Lower noise floor is crucial when dealing with sensitive IEMs, and I personally found the original P6 to be hiss free even with most sensitive ones. But higher SNR also means blacker background which is noticeable in P6 Pro when compared side-by-side with P6.
Also, there were Bluetooth improvements with better BT audio algorithm and more accurate FPGA clock. As well as optimization of Lossless Matrix Volume Control System (LLMVS) to achieve lossless dynamics even at the lowest volume setting.
The rest remained the same, including support of Digital Out to connect to external DAC/amp (SPDIF output, 4-ring 3.5mm coax out), Line Out to connect to external AMP, USB DAC to connect to your computer for use of P6 Pro as an external audio card, and my personal favorite Bluetooth Wireless Rx mode to connect wireless to your phone for streaming audio using LDAC protocol which turns P6 Pro into a wireless hi-res R-2R DAC/amp.