Shine bright (or brighter) like a… Titanium.
The product was provided to me on a short term loan for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
My original LPGT review could be found here.
It has been over 2 years since my review of the original LPGT, and I still continue to feature it in every review as a neutral reference source when analyzing IEMs and comparing DAPs. And as I have said it in the past, the longevity and the relevance of non-Android DAPs like LPGT is often due to a lack of dependency on Android OS and aging SoC processors. But at the same time, it means that we will have to wait awhile before the next Lotoo flagship is released, unless you are curious about their latest Limited Edition Ti version.
But what is so special about this LPGT Ti release? Is this just a fancy beskar dressed Titanium LPGT or something more? As a fan of original LPGT I had to check it out and borrowed a review unit from Musicteck for my comparison analysis. There is no need to recycle my whole original LPGT review which is still 100% relevant, so the focus of this write up will be strictly on comparison between OG and Ti versions of LPGT. Here is what I found.
Of course, the most obvious change in this new version of LPGT is the chassis material featuring TA15 alloy with a custom formulated PVD coating. Actually, further research of TA15 reveals that a full name of this alloy is Titanium Aluminum Zirconium Molybdenum Vanadium (Ti-6Al-2Zr-1Mo-1V) widely used in aerospace and nuclear industries due to their unique properties of high strength and corrosion resistance. Also, switching to a different material chassis means a change in weight, though not as much going from 311g (LPGT) to 365g (Ti).
Due to additional manufacturing efforts, involving time and cost to produce these new TA15 alloy chassis, Lotoo decided to limit the production of their Titanium Edition LPGT to only 999 units. And as expected, the MSRP price went up to compensate for the difference, though AKM factory fire could be another contributing factor. Plus, to make this Limited Titanium Edition more distinct, Lotoo introduced a genuine Nappa leather brown case. It has a similar design as original black leather case, except the bottom has a cutout to access SD card without taking case off.
Under the hood, everything stayed the same, including AKM AK4497EQ DAC and AKM AK4137EQ hardware up-sampling converter. Also, while the internal headphone amplifier ICs remained the same, OPA1622 (4.4mm) and LME49600 (3.5mm), in the spec Lotoo noted unchanged 500mW for BAL output and increase in power from 500mW to 720mW for SE. I guess it makes sense since many full-size headphones come with SE cable termination for use with a desktop equipment, thus Lotoo decided to boost 3.5mm output.
But even so the spec says only 3.5mm was changed in output power, in my actual testing I found 4.4mm to have a similar change as well. I’m not doing DAP measurements and I can only judge by what I’m hearing, and going between LPGT and LPGT Ti and corresponding 3.5mm and 4.4mm ports required adjustment to match the volume, meaning both ports had increased power.
Sound Comparison / Analysis.
In the following comparison tests I was analyzing the sound difference between LPGT (OG) and LPGT (Ti) in High Gain, using full size headphones with SE (3.5mm single ended) output and IEMs with BAL (4.4mm balanced) output.
As I already mentioned, in every comparison between OG and Ti, I found Ti version to have higher output power, even from 4.4mm. I know, from the spec the BAL output power should be the same. But in every case, I had to lower the volume when switching from LPGT to LPGT Ti in order to match it.
Also, when I compared the Line Out of LPGT vs LPGT Ti using Romi Audio BX2 amplifier (my neutral reference amp), I found the sound of OG vs Ti to be identical from LO. Thus, any differences in tonality or technical performance between these DAPs is attributed to tweaks in Ti amplifier section of SE and BAL outputs.
3.5mm test w/Full size headphones.
Audio Technica ATH-R70x (open back, dynamic, 99dB sensitivity, 470ohm impedance) – the natural balanced tonality of R70x paired up with OG becomes more revealing in upper mids and lower treble when switched to Ti. I can hear more transparency and less organic coloration. It still sounds natural and balanced, just a little brighter and more revealing. One is not better than the other, just a different flavor.
Meze Audio Empyrean (open back, planar magnetic, 100dB sensitivity, 31.6ohm impedance) – in this pair up comparison when going from OG to Ti to my ears mids/vocals and treble sounds very similar. The difference I’m hearing is in background being blacker which tightens the sound, especially noticeable in bass with improvement in definition, articulation, and stronger punch.
Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd gen (semi open ported, Tesla dynamic, 102dB sensitivity, 32ohm impedance) – in this comparison the difference was similar to Empyrean where to my ears mids/vocals and treble sounded very similar, but the bass was tighter, more articulate, having faster attack and shorter decay which gave bass a better definition to cut through the mix.
4.4mm test w/IEMs.
Oriolus Traillii – here I found a noticeable change in mids/vocals with Ti having more clarity and more revealing details while OG being a little smoother and slightly laid back. Soundstage is wider in Ti. Overall, Ti sound is tighter and has blacker background. With these IEMs I preferred a pair up with Ti.
VE Erlkonig LBE (sw#2) – consistent with other pair ups, I found the soundstage to be wider in Ti and mids and treble sounds brighter and more revealing. Especially in treble, I hear it crisper in Ti pair up. The sound with Ti is tighter and has a little blacker background, but in this pair up I preferred the original LPGT because of a smoother and more natural treble.
VE Elysium – consistent with other pair ups, soundstage is wider and background is blacker. Bass sounds similar, maybe a little tighter with Ti which gives it a more pronounced punch. With mids and treble, OG sounds more natural and more organic while Ti makes mids/vocals more revealing (that part I like), but treble brighter and crisper, which I wasn’t too crazy about. Overall, I preferred the original LPGT with Ely due to treble being more natural and less splashy.
EE Odin – consistent with other pair ups, soundstage is a little wider in Ti and lower treble with Odin sounds a little brighter and crisper. I also noticed slight change in imaging where Ti brought vocals a little more forward. Furthermore, I found Ti to have a blacker background and tighter sound, but with Odin I preferred a smoother tonality of OG.
EE Legend X – in this pair up soundstage does sound a little wider with Ti and the sound has blacker background, but overall, it sounds very similar between OG and Ti, maybe with Ti mids/vocals being a little bit more forward. But you have to listen very close to pick up the difference. Either one is good pair up with LX.
64 Audio A18s – again, in this comparison I hear a wider soundstage, blacker background, and tighter sound which results in a more articulate and punchier bass due to a shorter decay which gives bass a better control. And mids and treble improvement in retrieval of details gives the sound a better definition. In this pair up I preferred Ti.
DUNU Luna – wider soundstage and blacker background with a tighter sound was expected in Ti pair up, but I also found Ti to have more revealing mids and crisper treble which gave Luna a better definition with improved retrieval of details vs smoother pair up with OG which gave it more laidback feeling. Here, I definitely preferred pair up with Ti.
As I mentioned in my intro, we probably have to wait a little while before the next Lotoo flagship model. But there is always an upgraditis itch, especially when you see all the new releases from other manufacturers. If you are a fan of Lotoo DAPs, especially LPGT, the exclusivity of Limited Edition LPGT Ti will catch your attention. But you have to keep in mind, this is not just a new release with a premium material chassis and a higher quality leather case. Lotoo also implemented a few tuning tweaks in both SE and BAL headphone outputs, even so spec only mentions higher power of SE output.
While the original LPGT tonality is neutral and a little smoother, LPGT Ti tonality is a little brighter and more revealing, especially with a little more sparkle in treble. Also, I’m hearing a little wider soundstage and a blacker background. As a result, to my ears LPGT pairs up better with some of the brighter tuned IEMs while LPGT Ti pairs up better with neutral and warmer IEMs. Overall, I found Ti to be a refined version of the original LPGT, but the original one is still a very impressive and a cheaper flagship DAP, so you can’t go wrong with either one.