Review: Lotoo Paw Gold (Excellent first DAP from Lotoo)
Firstly I would like to thank Mark at Hifiheadphones for lending me this sample to review, I will write as honest a review possible. This DAP has been fully burnt in, no differences were noted.
Lotoo Paw Gold > Inearz IE-P350
Lotoo Paw Gold > German Maestro GMP 400
(A long list of specifications can be found on the product page)
Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
Well the packaging is very impressive, there are many boxes within boxes here. First off you get a silver box, which unfolds to reveal a black box. The top of this folds back to reveal the Paw Gold neatly held in a velvet coated foam insert. This top section slides to the side to reveal a middle tray which includes the manual, then this also slides to the side to reveal a bottom tray which holds the USB Cable and the charger. A very complex but premium box, everything is neatly placed to ensure it looks good but is also safe during shipping.
Accessories included are a USB 3.0 cable, a charger, driver installation CD and velvet carry pouch. Overall a good set of accessories, a nice leather case wouldn't be a bad addition, but everything but a SD card is included. All you need is to add your SD card with music and you're ready to listen. The included charger is supplied with a Chinese plug but one of the same spec is easy to find in the UK or you can use an adapter.
Build quality is superb, just the weight in your hand give you confidence that it is built to last. The colour scheme is a little blingy but there are talks of a different colour being released. The machined aluminium is flawless, the buttons all have a solid click to them, the volume knob is great it only has a tiny amount of play and a lot less than the Astell & Kern models. All sockets also feel very solid and I cannot see any part of it failing with ease. Very good build quality, and definitely built to last, the protector across the volume knob is also a great addition to make it even more durable.
Usability and Features:
Usability is great, I'm really glad to see the company stuck to proper buttons. For a dedicated DAP I far prefer buttons, it means you soon get used to where the buttons are and can easily control playback without removing the DAP from your pocket. It is also less gimmicky, this is made for music playback, and that it does very well. Less frills means less hassle usually, and this is a prime example of functionality over frills.
The UI is very intuitive and the buttons are well labelled, it is very easy to navigate around the menus without much hassle. There are plenty of playback options and also a brilliant EQ with 6 user EQ slots. The FN button can be programmed to different functions. The UI is quick too, never did I find it to lag, you can make playlists, and in the playlist menu you get a list of all tracks on the device, so you can play all, unfortunately there is no shuffle option yet though.
This DAP has a regular 3.5mm headphone output but with high and low gain, next to the headphone out there is a lineout socket for connecting to an external amp (not needed). There is a hold button and you can program if you want to be able to change the volume whilst the DAP is on hold. On the side there is a USB 3.0 socket, and next to that is the charging socket. Unfortunately you can only charge it with the supplied charger and not via USB. It features a full size SD card slot, so you can fit more than a micro SD currently and also regular SD cards are cheaper.
I won't split it in to categories, I will try and describe it as a whole.
This DAP has a great amp stage that is powerful, it can power most headphones, including the Beyerdynamic T1. It also sounds great when powering harder to drive headphones and that is where you will hear most difference compared with lower priced DAP's.
This DAP has a very natural sound, it portrays a very wide soundstage with very convincing imagery and pinpoint accuracy. It has a very lush and easy to listen to sound, yet never misses out on any of the detail that is in the track. It does not hurl detail at you and does not have a clinical sound, which is perfect for what this DAP is for, high fidelity on the go listening. The sound has very defined and crisp edges but also a relaxing sound signature.
When on the go this is the sound I would rather have. For general listening the slightly warmer sound is preferable, as you don't get listening fatigue but you still get the detail and sparkle. People go on the pursuit of the most high fidelity/cleanest sound and miss out on the real aim, which is to enjoy the music. This DAP lets you enjoy the music yet still has the detail to boot. You can tell Lotoo have a backgound in pro audio, as the pro audio edge cuts through but still remains an easy to listen to DAP.
The mids are very intimate and the timbre is spot on, this gives a very realistic portrayal of what you are listening to, the highs extend effortlessly with no exaggeration and the lows are controlled and full bodied.
The soundstage is very wide and immersive, and the accuracy is perfect.
Conclusion, well this is a high end DAP, and most will ask is it worth the price. Well if you have the money I would say go for it, but you might want to wait for future versions as they could include USB DAC functionality. Sound wise I really enjoy this DAP, it has a very immersive 3D sound, with realistic timbre and tone whilst retaining a controlled and detailed sound. It's everything high fidelity should be, enjoyable and easy to listen to.
The UI is also great and responsive, the build quality is fantastic (bar the colour scheme) and it is an all round excellent player, standard SD card slot is always a bonus.
In the future I would like to see USB DAC functionality (not possible via firmware, needs a hardware change), different colours and shuffle, then it would be the perfect high-end DAP. I prefer this to the Astell & Kern AK240 design wise, it is a lot better, the AK240 has too many functions and gimmicks, and it is not ergonomic when held in your hand.
Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (needs a couple more features to be 10/10)