Lotoo have always remained elusive in the circles of high-end audiophilia. Without much of a push for advertising and marketing in international waters, their products have still garnered acclaim from enthusiasts worldwide. Shortly after their release of their flagship DAP: the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch – which retails for a staggering $3199, Lotoo have decided to release a more affordable offering – the PAW 6000 while still maintaining impeccable sound in a compact form factor.
Priced at $1200, the PAW 6000 features a 3.77” IPS LCD touch-screen display and is equipped with Lotoo’s blazingly fast custom OS as well as AKM’s AMK4493EQ DAC chip technology.
The Lotoo PAW 6000 arrives in a matte black box with gold accented product highlights which exude class to the firm’s overall branding. Inside, the players rests in a foam protective layer which lifts to reveal a leather case, USB-C to USB-A 1 meter cable, 2 screen protectors and the manual & warranty card.
The leather case that comes with the PAW 6000 packaging is very well designed and fits neatly with the player. The design remains simple and yet elegant with its gold-stitch exterior and well textured finish.
Aesthetically, the PAW 6000 is very reminiscent of its older sibling – the PAW Gold Touch. Both share that sleek and minimalist design while being very compact and timeless. The unit is milled from aircraft grade aluminum and incorporates a 3.77 inch screen integrated into the body of the device.
On the top of the device, there is a textured golden volume wheel which is similar to Questyle’s crown design. The wheel offers good tactile feedback and rests in a concave groove which prevents accidental turning and slips. Beneath the wheel is an LED which pulsates during normal playback and is a nice little touch to an already well-implemented design. Next to the wheel are two ports – a balanced 4.4 mm jack as well a single-ended 3.5 mm one.
On the right hand side, there are four physical hardware buttons – the on/off button, followed by next, play/pause and previous track buttons.
On the bottom rests the micro SD card slot as well as the USB C port.
The PAW 6000 integrates a 3.77” IPS LCD touch-screen display. While the screen is not the largest or most resolute, it is more than enough for a device designed for sound use. Already, the implementation of touch screen put its leaps and bounds above Questyle’s Q2PR and Dethonray’s DTR1 physical buttons.
The PAW 6000 employs a single AKM AK4493EQ DAC which is the same chipset used by Fiio in their M11 albeit in a dual implementation. The headphone amplifier used is the OPA1622 and the PAW 6000 packs in a respectable 5200 mAH Li-Polymer battery.
In terms of playback format, the PAW 6000 outputs up to DSD256 and PCM384kHz 32BIT while supporting all the main file types.
The User Interface
Having created their own OS from scratch, Lotoo have delivered a user interface which is one of the best I have experienced from a DAP. It is incredibly fast with a 2-3 second start up time, cohesive design and very intuitive.
As with their design, the settings are minimalist but easily accessible and the implementation of a search bar amidst the scroll-down menu is highly favorable. Other features within this dropdown include brightness, Bluetooth, playback options (shuffle/repeat) as well as the low/high gain settings.
The main screen menu hosts six different categories including playlist, album list, songs, folders, artist as well as settings. It is easy to use and very responsive. Among the features in settings mode, Lotoo have allowed for a DSP features including PMEQ, ATE as well as a graphical EQ. The PAW 6000 does not have Blackfin DSP capabilities like the Gold Touch but is nevertheless still capable. The EQ feature in particular is outstanding with the multiple presets and ability to view sound frequencies whilst a song is playing. The only downside is that it quite cumbersome to create a custom preset to add to the already built in presets.
The Lotoo PAW 6000 features bi-directional Bluetooth with its LDAC which supports files up to 24 bit/96kHz. While there are no streaming services, the Bluetooth bi-directionality allows users a workaround to push files from a streaming device allowing for music to be listened on the PAW 6000.
Users can also use the PAW 6000 as a USB DAC when plugged into a computer/laptop device. While listed as beta functionality, the option works very smoothly and even allows simultaneous charging.
Immediately, is it clear that the Lotoo PAW 6000 was designed with reference tonality in mind. Overall, the sound character is neutral with a clean and linear presentation extending from the low to the higher frequencies.
Bass performance is well presented with solid detailing, texturing and response times. Realism is the attribute here with the PAW 6000 delivering natural low frequencies without resorting to bloom or artificial coloration.
This extends to the midrange frequencies which are well balanced without resorting to extra warmth or analytical coldness. Overall, the sound is very transparent with good weight of vocals amidst a spacious and revealing sound.
There is a slight lower-treble elevation which gives the PAW 6000 some lift and height in tracks. Naturally, with the AK4493EQ chip, the PAW 6000’s treble is artfully extensive and avoids any glary or harsh overtones.
Overall, the PAW 6000 is a fantastic little DAP with amazing technical prowess amongst a refined yet capably bodied tone. It is very revealing and allows in-ear monitors and headphones to sound as they were intended – particularly impressive pairings included 64 Audio’s Tia Fourte & U18 IEMs.
Fiio M11 Pro
Next to Fiio’s M11 Pro, the Lotoo PAW 6000 stands out as being more spacious, refined and fuller bodied. While the PAW 6000 does not offer streaming services, its OS is simply much faster than Fiio’s with a faster boot up time and more intuitive design. Where the M11 pro opts for a more mid-forward presentation, the Lotoo delineates a more accurately placed center stage among a pitch-black background. Overall, PAW 6000 is smoother while being simultaneously more transparent.
Dethonray Prelude DTR1
The Prelude is a very capable compact DAP like the PAW 6000 but there are some differences in their sound. The DTR1 boasts faster decay and micro-dynamism whereas the Lotoo leans towards a more neutral affair for note speeds. The DTR1 is smoother sounding and leans more musical while rendering great resolution and detailing. The PAW 6000 on the other hand is more a reference DAP with better soundstage, treble lift and depth. Overall, these two different flavors are more complimentary of each other than competitors of the same sound. Naturally, they synergise with different equipment.
The Cayin N8 is a more musically orientated DAP without sacrificing transparency, resolution, detailing and speed. Compared to the PAW 6000, the N8 boast slightly large soundstage with slightly more depth with more of a relaxed and enveloping sound. With the tube output, there is even harmonic distortion to deliver a very engaging and compelling sound signature which complements well with revealing IEMs.
Lotoo have certainly hit it out of the ballpark with their latest release. With a strong design philosophy, outstanding features and more importantly a beautifully reference and neutral sound, the PAW 6000 is amongst the best all-round DAP in its price category. With a very compact and pocketable size, the PAW 6000 is an ideal travel companion with a staggering 16 hours of playback time – simply amazing. It is intriguing to hear what their flagship Gold Touch offers in sound performance, but there are reports that the two are not far off. For $1200 then, the PAW 6000 is a simply hard to miss bargain for its sonic capabilities, wealth of features and cohesive UI all in a convenient form factor.
Lotoo PAW 6000