Lotoo Paw 5000 - Reviews
Pros: Greater soundstage & clarity than FiiO; first parametric equalizer that actually helps (but great w/0); small, light, beautiful & sturdy; balanced out
Cons: Only plays up to 96 Ksamples/sec; multiple button pushes needed to mute or stop; poor documentation.
As proud owner of the largest collection of Grados in private captivity (26 pairs), I inquired of Grado as to what portable amp they found best.  They indicated that the Lotoo PAW Gold and PAW 5000 were better than the traditional DAP/AMP/Headphone combination, so I got this PAW 5000.
WOW!  I could IMMEDIATELY hear an improvement on my Grado RS1e and then the HF-2 and several other Grados over the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 6, FiiO X3, and FiiO X5ii that I had been using.
 As the documentation was sparse, the operation of two keys labeled ATE/PQME and DAMP were not explained.  A bit of research indicated that ATE/PQME provides a five-band parametric equalizer with several presets (including two adapting it for the AKG K701 and the Beyerdynamic 990)  and six user-specified settings.  A bit more investigation found a setting from Lotoo that further improves sound, and another from a head-fi user that makes some more gentle improvements.  
This is the first time that I have ever heard a significant improvement through the use of an equalizer.  I am a convert.
Even without the EQ, this is the best DAP that I have heard.
I have enjoyed this so much that I am now vigorously trying to obtain its big (and MUCH more expensive) brother, the Lotoo PAW Gold.  It is very hard to find right now.
The sound is significantly better than other players in this price range.  I immediately perceived an increase in soundstage and greater spatial separation of instruments.  
The equalizer actually works... perhaps they use a higher-order parametric filter bank (flatter peak, faster fall-off) than the typical Gaussian-shaped second order type.
The player has sufficient power to power even inefficient headphones well... 500 mW/channel into 32  ohms.
The player is light (110 grams) and small (roughly 3-1/2" x 2" x 5/8").
It has a USB3 port, which means that it can download music faster into its up-to- 2TB (when available) micro memory card.
The Lotoo PAW 5000 charges through this USB port, which can also use a standard USB2 cable into part of its opening.
The PAW 5000 only plays sample rates up to 96 Ksamples/sec.  It will accept files at higher rates and play them, but it plays them at 96 Ksamples/sec.  
Putting album artwork in is a bit dodgy...  cover art must be a .jpeg file of less than 150 kB and must be in the same directory as the songs.  Higher level artists directories (if you use a structure of a folder for an artist with subfolders for each album) will not show any artwork unless you put a picture in it along with the album folders (perhaps of the artist's face?)
The player is a bit hard to turn off.  It extinguishes its display to conserve battery life (though you can either leave it on or increase the time via system settings), and you must turn the display back on by pressing the gold button on the front before you can then stop play.  If you quickly need to turn it off, it is simpler to just unplug the headphone, which also stops play.
I love this player.  Recommended by Grado for its headphones, it has caused me to seek to shell out over 10x as much for the Gold version (even more highly recommended, and found by some to be preferred to such better-known top-end players as the AK240 and -380).  It plays significantly better than my best other player, the FiiO X5ii.  It has convereted me to a user of parametric equalization, to the point that I am developing some software tools to display and optimize parametric equalizer settings and compare them to headphone frequency plots.  I highly recommend this player.
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Pros: Quick start up - quick operation - good sound- bluetooth - lots of EQ possibilities
Cons: Look - GUI primitive - no video playback - no streaming playback



With thanks

to Tony from HiFiHeadphones who provided me a Paw 5000 DAP for review these are a collection of my thoughts.


I made the decision early on in the audition of the DAP to focus my time with it. So I apologise now if you are hoping for a story of me as usual trying out 100s of different combinations with every IEM,bluetooth,full size phone,amp,DAP . You get the picture. 
Suffice it to say, time is fleeting, life is too short. I realised just how good the PAW 5000 quite early on in the time I had with it and I got on with the job of enjoying my music with it.

The Testing

Was done on the move and seated , in loud environments , wired and wireless, with Custom IEMs, Bluetooth and Full Size headphones. Through the headphone jack (minimally) Optically through the Chord Mojo, and then through the Mojo fed to my First Watt F6 50 Watts per channel Mini Beast.
The custom IEMs used were the 5 driver ACS Encore Studio Pro.


The bluetooth headphones used were the Pendulumic Stance S1+.
The full size headphones used were the HiFiMan HE-6 modified slightly by removing the dust covers on both both cups.

The Sound Quality

It may strike you as a little early to let the cat out of the bag. But please assume by this time I have unwrapped , charged and worked out how to switch on the Lotoo Paw 5000 and am now listening to it for the first time. 
I try to be as objective as I can when listening to anything I have been asked to review no matter how must it retails at and despite any other impressions I have read or come across previously. I have to confess that I have had previous experience with the Lotoo - I listened to it in CanJam London , my good friend @Turrican2 has replaced his Ibasso DX100 for this model and this is not even the first time I have had the opportunity to listen to the review model.....
@glassmonkey is my good friend from South East England and had the review model in November 2015 . Together the 2 of us had an extensive listen during a mini meet Micah was kind enough to host and we got through through many many hours of music during that great weekend.
Therefore I come to the listening phase of the Paw 5000 with many preconceived ideas as to how it will sound. Because I already knew the Paw 5000 was a premium product I decided to give no more than a few minutes of listening through the headphone out port of the device. The headphone out port produces more than enough power for my super sensitive ACS Encores . With no EQ set, I found the Paw dull and lifeless.  Please do not feel too shocked by this statement. I apply EQ to every music player I have. So of course, on a flat start this is exactly what I expected.
All comparisons were made between the Ibasso DX100 , owned by myself for 3 years.

Needless to say this is a DAP to which I am accustomed to the sound of and being that I have owned it for 3 years , that I am perfectly happy with. The presentation of the DX100 (with EQ applied) is a warm bassy smooth sound, whether played optically through the Chord Mojo or through the headphone out or through the Mojo/F6 combination. 
So it followed that I needed to have a shufty through the sound settings of the Paw 5000. There are 2 EQ functions within the DAP ; ATE and PME. There is also a damping filter switch and a hi-lo filter switch. The 4 different combinations of hardware and software can be mixed and matched over a much longer period of time than I allowed myself to achieve the correct synergy. Also the correct synergy is an individual experience. I spent 5 minutes or so , keeping the damping on , the hi-lo filter on hi, the ATE on sweet and the PME on rock. This was a pleasing enough synergy for me. There was enough texture in the voices and guitars and cymbals and enough punch in the kick drum and bass guitar to beat the DX100s more laid back delivery. There I said it; for me , the delivery of Rock Music through the Paw 5000 has more life and excitement than I can achieve on the Ibasso DX100.
Many will prefer the smoothness and refinement of the DX100 for their listening habits; I personally prefer the Paw 5000.
The Paw 5000 was compared in all combinations.Headphone out using the ACS Encore Studio Pros, Optical out to the Chord Mojo , again using the ACS
and finally the endgame combination of the Paw,Mojo with the HiFiMan HE-6 connected to the speaker taps to the F6 Diy Build "The Mini Beast" built lovingly by my good friend @dill3000
All combinations retained the musical attributes brought by the EQ and filter changes. Whilst extremely difficult to express in words of any real meaning ; each stage of the journey of connecting to ever higher end gear reveals more of the musical presentation of the Paw and highlights the differences between this and the DX100.

The Build

The Lotoo Paw 5000 is a tiny DAP . It has no internal storage and takes a Micro SD card formatted in FAT32. My 128 GB card worked flawlessly in it. The GUI is a little primitive ; but in it's simplicity it is quick and it is precise. I had a collection of MP3s (sorry Micah!) and FLAC files and everything worked without any pops or clicks. 
The look of the Paw , as you can tell from the title, was uninspiring (sorry Phil!). It is small and plastic and could easily be mistaken for a run of the mill cheap and cheerful DAP.
I have a Colorfly C3 . This DAP is £50.
Beauty of course is in the eye of the beholder and one must never judge a book by the cover. I feel rotten going into the cosmetic appeal of a product when I would be hypocritical in saying it makes any difference for me in deciding what audio product I wish to buy. I feel I should put my head above the parapet and state that the design of the Paw could look more elegant and the GUI could have been designed to look and feel a little less basic given where it sits in the marketplace.


In reality, the 4 stars are well deserved. There is little to criticise about the Lotoo. After all ; it beat the legendary Ibasso DX100 DAP I have had for a long long time based alone on sound quality. There is no comparison between the Paw and the DX100 in loading time , playability , battery life, recharging time and GUI. The Paw 5000 is light years ahead on these aspects.
The Paw as a great sounding , tiny , quick loading , easy to operate and versatile music player should fit into most people's higher end setups quite comfortably. 
Phil, thank you very much for your comments. An owner can provide insights over months of use that a reviewer over a period of a week just can't get to. 
I think that a Mojo is the way to do this thing proper justice 
Nice review. I've been inspired to have a mess around with the eq settings.
Pros: Easy to use UI, proper buttons, detailed and well separated sound.
Cons: Slightly analytical and tends to lose a bit of emotion, maybe not enough power for some headphones.
To begin, this review is based on a Lotoo Paw that has been on loan to me, I have no financial gain or otherwise from completing this review, it has been supplied to me to review and will be returned after a short review period to the sponsor.

My initial impressions are regarding the packaging, to me this is not important but we are all guilty of being biased one way or another based on first sight impressions. The box is quite large for what I thought was going to be a small Dap, it is split along the middle horizontally and contains the Dap in the lower half and all the accessories in the upper half, a very neat idea!

From the first listen, I really liked this Dap, it's ability to extract detail is wonderful. Recently I splashed out and bought myself a Shanling M2 Dap, I thought it extracted detail brilliantly, especially compared to DX50 but the Paw takes it to another level, the missing details are laid bare, some tracks that I have known for years took on another story altogether. There is no slurring of words, or instruments being hidden behind another instrument or voice, it all sits in it's own little area waving it's arms looking to be detected but this alone may be causing a small loss of emotion, it seems almost clinical. The more you listen, the more you hear and the more you begin to enjoy the music even greater, almost like hearing it afresh!

Another enjoyable asset for me is the sound stage, it really goes from one ear to far the other side of your other ear, I didn't know my headphones could go that far...

The first set of headphones I decided to use were my new set of Aurisonic 1Plus's, they have a beautiful clear midrange but slightly limited in the treble and bass regions, the sound was nice but not great, I could listen to it but I constantly felt the urge to increase the volume to hear a bit clearer. To me they didn't quite gel, nothing too specific but with the 1Plus headphones the emotion was dead.

Next up was the Vsonic VSDS headphones, I use these mainly for listening on my Xduoo X2 when I am cutting the grass, they are crystal clear, a bit intense in the treble and definitely lacking in bass but that I feel is normal for these, one thing I had to do was reduce the volume, the Paw was easily able to push these to ear damaging levels. Again the detail retrieval was excellent, though the treble was strident on the Vsonic, it didn't work that well, I cannot blame the Paw for this, this is a characteristic of these headphones.

Next up was the Trinity Delta hybrids with the neutral filters and foam buds, once they got warmed up they began to work nicely but still they seemed strained with the Paw, the detail was again crystal clear, vocals were detailed and crisp but a slight cupping of the sound was evident and again the bass sounded a bit light, though there was sufficient power to drive the Delta's to painful levels. One album I have that is full of detail and hidden sounds is Jethro Tull, Heavy Horses, I suspect this has been recorded from a vinyl disc as you can actually hear the track before it begins, just like vinyl tends to do. This album has been upsampled to 24 bit and 48khz, for those who say it doesn't make any difference I say, you just cannot hear it! It does make a difference, no matter what is said about the calculations, it doesn't take into account everything that the human ear can hear and I believe in it, so there! Another album that is nicely recorded is Ozric Tentagles, Jurassic Shift, with the Delta's a similar effect was a slight cupping of the sound but again with fabulous retrieval of detail and airiness around the various instruments. I tried these headphones listening to Pink Floyds The Endless River, I personally think this album sounds "computer" recorded, with all the emotion removed and filtered but with the Delta and Paw combination, things began to take on a new meaning, I actually began to like this album!

The headphones that seemed to work the best with the Paw were my Rockjaw Kommands, they gave all the detail without the cuppiness, bass was rumbling along nicely without being over blown, the treble was clear and detailed, not harsh or strident, some emotion was even beginning to creep in, of all my headphones, these seemed best suited to the Paw!

My only pair of full sized heasphones are my Sennheiser HD598's, I thought the Paw would not be able to make these work but here I was very wrong, in fact this is the best I have heard these headphones sound, ever! The only down side was that they seemed to be lacking slightly in bass, normally these headphones can rock but they just seemed very dry, the treble was clear and detailed, again I cannot remember when these headphones produced such a enthralling sound, it was just a shame that the bass was so dried up.

Sometime last year someone put a link for a set of cheap headphones on one of the Chinese wholesale sites, claiming they were great, at approimately £12.00 delivered, I thought they might be worth a listen, well to my astonishment, the Paw seemed to get on with them famously, a nice big soundstage, clear treble, slightly lifted midrange and good clean bass but again slightly lacking, especially in the lower registers. But truely a wonderful sound, more listenable that most of my headphones that I tried with the Paw.

While I had a chance to play, I dug,out my old set of Fischer Audio headphones, normally these are great for bass but lacking in treble but not with the Paw, if anything, the bass excess has been tamed and the treble enhanced to make these sound pretty good, again a tad analytical and definitely emotionless but the soundstage is much improved over their normal operation.

While in my bits box, I found my Hifiman R0's, to be honest, I don't like these at all, they are very lacking in bass, the upper sounds are very clear and detailed but not to my liking, with the Paw they still lacked bass and were crisp and clear, definitely emotionless and boring! To my dismay, when I played Pink Floyd, The Endless River, these things began to work like a proper headphone, even a bit of bass detail appeared.

Mostly this review has been based on how this device sounds connected to my varying sets of headphones and I make no apology for this, if I was looking for a new Dap, this is what I would be doing and it has been truely eye opening. Personally I think this Dap is a wonderful piece of kit, up until now, the Shanling M2 has been my favourite, it replaced my DX50 which had a Fiio E17 and the Minibox E+ setup connected to it to improve the sound. When next I go looking for a Dap, this will be high on my list, in fact before Christmas I was looking at this Dap but after reading some of the reviews of the M2 and the fact that it came up at a good price, I plumped for the M2, if I had of gotten a chance to hear this Dap, it would have been at the front of the wanted list! I like my M2 but it just cannot compete with the Paw for detail retrieval, maybe a bit more emotion is available with the M2 but given the option, the Paw would have been my first choice.

I like how simple it is to work, the UI is logical, the scroll wheel does just that, scroll and nothing else, there are proper buttons to push to achieve what you want to do, from my short time with the unit, the battery seems to last long enough for me and it can produce enough power to run all my headphones to loud enough levels. What more can you ask for? I have not had the chance to try mega buck Daps's like the Astell and Kern's but how much better can they be for all that extra money, if you are looking for a crystal clear Dap that can play music beautifully, maybe with a slight loss of emotion, then have a really good look at this Lotoo Paw, it's worth the effort.

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Pros: Unique UI, solid build quality, excellent file-format support, extensive EQ support, clean sound signature
Cons: Shaky buttons, file-based navigation, poor line-out performance, low power headphone out



I would like to thank Tony at HifiHeadphones for this opportunity to join the review tour of the Lotoo PAW5000. The PAW5k was with me for one week and honestly, I wish I had more time with it to properly take advantage of the many features it offers.


This review should of course be taken as a grain of salt as it is my opinion and only my opinion. I have past experience with quite a few cans and IEMs before. I personally own or have owned these cans and IEMs (to the best of my knowledge):

  1. Sennheiser HD25 Aluminium 25th Anniversary Limited Edition
  2. Sennheiser HD424
  3. M-Audio Q40
  4. Denon AH-D2000
  5. NAD VISO HP50
  6. Aedle VK-1
  7. Beyerdynamic DTX-101iE
  8. Monster Turbine Pro Gold
  9. ADL EH-008
  10. Koss Sportapro
  11. Other odd vintage cans
  12. Flare Audio R2Pro
  13. Final Audio Design Heaven VI


Packaging and Accessories


I can't say much for the way the Lotoo PAW 5000 arrived as they were sent my way by another reviewer and not the manufacturer or a third-party seller, but when I opened up the package I was greeted with a small box that immediately split into two when I took it out.
The top half contained a flat and well-constructed USB 3.0 cable, a neoprene armband and a plastic case which allows the PAW5k to be used with the armband. I didn't have use for any of the latter two as (for the armband and case) I'm a potato who doesn't exercise at all and (for the cable) because I transfer all my music using a MicroSD card.
The bottom half contained the warranty and quick-start guide and underneath those, the deceptively small player nestled in black velvet-covered foam. I have to say, this player is presented quite nicely and the packaging seems to be adequate without being excessive.


Design and Build

The Lotoo PAW 5000 is a small all-in-one Digital Audio Player (DAP) constructed of what seems to be two metal panels with a plastic middle separating the two. I'm really not worried about the player breaking anytime soon because of its solid construction. It fits really nicely in my hand because of its rounded corners and if anything feels a little heavier than expected.
The front consists of the screen, a navigation scroll wheel with a play/pause/ok button in the middle, fast forward and rewind buttons, a music menu button which also allows for Fn functionality with a long press, a back button which also gives access to the setup menu with a long press, a button which accesses the proprietary 'ATE' (Acoustic Timbre Embellisher) and a parametric EQ, and the power button.

The left side has the high/low dampening slider, the volume buttons and the high/low gain slider. The right side has a single USB 3.0 port for connection to a PC. The bottom has the MicroSD card slot and the top has a 3.5mm TRS phone out, a 2.5mm TRRS balanced out and a combination line out/optical digital out 3.5mm jack.
The scroll wheel feels solid enough when I turn it but the buttons seem to be somewhat wobbly when I attempt to move them. This shouldn't be too much of a problem but for a cool £330 perhaps it leaves a little to be desired. All the buttons are fairly easily accessible but the power button feels just a little awkward to hit using my right hand. This could actually be a design feature to stop people from accidentally pressing it though!


Loading Music and Format Support

Loading music has never been easier for me; I did my typical firmware stability test and loaded my phone's 64GB Micro SD card directly into the DAP without formatting of any kind. Lo and behold, it worked without a hitch! Several other DAPs which I shall not name have hiccuped at this stage, being rather confused with the other files present on the card, but the Lotoo PAW 5000 prevails!
I don't personally own any DSD files or much of anything beyond 16/44.1 FLAC. Yes, I'm not a believer, I know. However, for the purposes of this review, I downloaded a few of my father's high-resolution and DSD music and loaded them into the PAW 5000. The DAP ate them without a hitch and gave me music just like with any old 16/44.1 file. The PAW 5000 works well with MP3 and WAV and also appears to accept APE, OGG, M4A, AAC, ALAC and CUE playlists.

Screen and UI

The screen isn't the biggest, but is more than adequate for a simple DAP. The Lotoo PAW 5000 comes with a rather exotic UI, but fortunately it was very easy to learn how to to use it. It has a rather retro styling which to me is very endearing and unlike anything else on the market and the limited space is managed rather well with all useful information being present on the screen.
The UI seems to be very responsive with no noticeable lag whenever I operate the DAP. Scanning the music into the database didn't take long at all either. There was no 5-minute-long wait for me this time like, again, some other DAPs have forced me to undergo. The scroll wheel is a huge asset with larger libraries like the one I have; zipping from A to Z has never been faster with any DAP I have used so far and is only limited by the speed at which you turn the wheel.

It's very easy to access whatever you want to on this device; everything can be done in just a few clicks. However, something that does annoy me is how you can't skip tracks unless you hit that awkwardly-placed power button to first activate the screen. Please do fix this as I'm a user that tends to skip around my music a lot and it took me a while to get used to how the PAW 5000 does things.
Another thing that may be an annoyance to some users is how the UI is a file-based one with no support for tags of any kind. I happen to already be a very organized file-based DAP user due to being exposed to the Shozy Alien and it's minimalist UI but people who are used to tag-based UIs will have to spend some time cleaning up their library before being able to use this DAP.



Equipment and Burn-in

The equipment I used was:
  1. Windows laptop (running Foobar 2000) > Stoner Acoustics UD110V2 > Project Ember with Mullard CV491 > Headphones
  2. LG G4 > Cozoy Aegis > IEMs
  3. Lotoo PAW 5000 > IEMs
  4. Lotoo PAW 5000 > Project Ember with Mullard CV491 > Headphones 
Since this is a review unit, I have no idea how long this DAP was burnt in, so I'll assume that they've already been used for many hours and burn-in is not a factor here.



The first thing which came into my mind was accurate. It was very accurate, rather like studio bass, especially compared to the stronger meatier bass of the Cozoy Aegis. It extends very well, is nicely controlled and is punchy but there's not too much authority in each hit. It's a drier kind of bass, one that purists will enjoy very much but I personally do not find to be the most appealing.



A nice, transparent yet smooth presentation is best used to describe the mid-range of this DAP. It's on the same level as the Cozoy Aegis but to me is slightly thinner and brighter, especially the upper mid section. It accurately brings forth the timbre of musical instruments but it never gets too strident or sharp. It's also very dynamic and clean and can be quite enjoyable but again, it's slightly too thin for my own tastes.



There's a slight 'digital' feel to the sound which does give the treble section a very detailed response. This, however, also means that it doesn't pair well with brighter sources or badly-mastered music and the Aegis is just that much more natural to me and fits my preferences better. However, it does make the R2Pro sound more neutral than it does out of the Aegis due to this and thus to some people, it may be preferable.



The soundstage is very accurate, but has a distinct lack of depth that does hinder the overall layering of music and is further emphasized by a lack of blackness in the background. This is fine for less complicated pieces but when you try to force a full orchestra through this DAP these shortcomings becomes very easy to hear. I wouldn't try to play music that's too complicated through this DAP at all.

Headphone/Line Out Power

The headphone out is good enough for IEMs and efficient cans but chokes when feeding more inefficient full-sized cans such as the Sennheiser HD650. This is a DAP that is best paired with more portable audio equipment it seems. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though as it means that it won't hiss with the most sensitive of IEMs due to the lower power output.


I briefly tried to utilize the line-out of the PAW 5000 and fed the signal into both my Gilmore Lite and Project Ember. Unfortunately, it was beaten by the lowly UD110v2 DAC which has a much smaller price tag, so I have to say that the internal DAC is best paired with the internal amp.


EQ and 'ATE'

As mentioned previously, there is a button on the front of this DAP which allows for both a parametric EQ - a very nice touch which not many DAPs I've used so far have - and a propriety DSP-based sound filtering system which Lotoo calls the ATE (Acoustic Timbre Enhancement). Only one can be activated at a time.


I didn't try it extensively but there is the option to create custom equalizers as well as the presets. None of the presets or ATE options really appealed to me and I don't really use EQ with my R2Pros as I'm happy with their sound. However, I can see how this will appeal to people who are a fan of extensive EQing of their cans or people who have a problem with a specific part of the sound signature of a pair of cans.



I've really enjoyed the week I had with this product. Lotoo have really made sure that the end user has a joyful experience from start to end. The UI is incredibly unique and one-of-a-kind and to me has a very cool styling and this is backed up by the power of the SoC which ensures smooth, rapid navigation. Music files are very easily recognized and played and extensive gain, EQ and ATE functionality also allows the user to alter the sound to their liking.
However, it’s not without its flaws; a file-based system mean that tag-based users will potentially have to do a lot of work reorganizing their library so they can navigate the PAW 5000 properly. The sound signature, while very good, is also somewhat polarizing and not everyone will enjoy it.
A wonderful enjoyable user experience from the moment I open up the box to when I finish listening mean that this product is something that I would happily recommend to someone who enjoys a clean, pure sound signature. 
Packaging and Accessories:
Gorgeous presentation from when I opened the box up and plenty of accessories ensure a great user experience from the get-go
Design and Build:
A very solid build with rounded corners ensure it’s very nice to hold in the hand. However, the buttons are a little shaky when being pressed so this could be an improvement.
Loading Music and Format Support:
A wide range of formats are supported which should mean that most libraries can be played straight off the bat. Loading music is quick and easy too, even from a non-ideal SD card.
Screen and UI:
A quick, very unique and responsive UI mean a smooth and enjoyable user experience. The screen is good enough not to interfere with any functionality. A file-based navigation may cause problems with disorganized music libraries though.
Clean, tight and dry studio-type bass mean very precise lows that don’t emphasize anything.
Transparent and clear mid-range that is very dynamic but still has good timbre.
Bright and crisp treble that’s slightly emphasized and very detailed but plays very badly with poorly-mastered music.
Very accurate but with a distinct lack of depth that hinders the overall presentation.
Headphone/Line Out Power:
The headphone out doesn’t have much juice so this is best paired with IEMs or efficient cans. The line-out however is disappointing as it’s outperformed by a very cheap standalone DAC.
Not the most bang for the buck, but it has a ton of features and good if slightly polarizing sound including EQ and balanced out which I suspect will make this DAP an all-in-one unit for many people.
A wonderful enjoyable user experience from the moment I open up the box to when I finish listening mean that this product is something that I would happily recommend to someone who enjoys a clean, pure sound signature. However, it’s not without its flaws.



File Formats:
DSD64 (DFF, DSF, ISO); PCM (WAV, MP3, FLAC, APE, OGG, M4A, AAC, ALAC, CUE) max 32/96
2 inch color LCD 220 x 176
ADI Blackfin DSP 514
USB 3.0
Micro SDHC and micro SDXC memory cards up to 2TB
Updates actively supported
Frequency Range:
+-0.5dB (20-20KHz)
THD + N <0.007 (20-20KHz)
100mW per Channel at 16ohm
Battery Life:
Up to 10 hours at max power output

Pros: Build quality; Solid Firmware & Battery; Output Versatility; Clean and very detailed Midrange; EQ options
Cons: Not all-arounder sound; Limited extension and Stage; Lacks power; No internal storage; UI & Navigation; Wheel; No file handling
LOTOO PAW 5000 - A very versatile portable player
Full review here: LINK

Part 1: PHONE output
The PAW 5000 music player presents a rather neutral sound with a slight extra emphasis on the midrange section, very little colored without being too forward, and not too sweet, and actually might be found a bit dry.
Bass & Treble:
Bass has a very warmish tilt on it. It is very quick and tight, with great control but softer in impact, something easily noticed when using either V-shaped or warm/bassier sets. On high DAMP set, the low end gets even tighter and more detailed but also thinner as result. While the whole bass is rather effortless, sub-bass extension is somehow limited, more than expected for a mid-tier DAP at this price range; probably the first disadvantage I'd find on the PAW 5000. Nonetheless, it has a clean and refined bass response.
Treble is well balanced, not too bright but enough for most genres. Even on Bright ATE EQ setting it remains 'safe' in terms of sharpness and sibilance. Similarly to the sub-bass (but to a lesser degree), upper treble extension doesn't reach too far. The energy is more focused into the lower treble region, mainly to give a better midrange resolution, rather than on the high frequencies alone. Where the PAW 5000 treble really stands out is in its more elegant and intelligent presentation mixing air and smoothness.
Probably the nicest part and true strength of this Lotoo PAW DAP. The whole midrange is forward from low to upper parts. Mids can go from slightly forward to very frontal and intimate depending on the headphone/earphone in use; even V-shaped sets would be perceived as more 'flat' in a certain way. Regardless the positioning, the midrange is very open, clean and highly detailed. It's still no match for my AMP-S with its superb airy and micro detailed presentation, even on its 'warmer' set (Mode 1), but the PAW doesn't intend to be really analytical.
Between instruments and vocals, the latter feel more prioritized, usually thrown a bit more forward for a more intimate/closer presentation. They're among the 'sweet' category, although there's a slight sense of dryness at times. lower vocals might feel a bit soft, lacking in some weight, while female ones are nicer carrying more energy and emotion.
Soundstage dimensions are not too large due to the both ends limited extension. Even so, thanks to the well done midrange balance, the sound of the PAW is actually big, spacious and very articulated. For the price, speed is about average but the PAW shows no issues handling more complex tracks with little effort, intelligent layering and natural decay and attack.
Detail retrieval is very good, especially when matched with more analytical sets; all my TWFK based IEMs were taken to a higher level (and even had their extra treble heat controlled down a bit more).

Great Review, Thanks.  Just wondering the softer bass issue, can it be fixed using the Parametric Eq.
Thanks. yes, you'd be able to change the bass quantity to your liking, but the PMEQ is quite complex
Pros: Clear precise sound, snappy user interface, excellent connectivity, matches well with many IEMs, tiny, battery life rocks
Cons: Low power amplifier, no tag browsing, lack of USB OTG and external DAC capability, user interface not for all


Thanks to Tony at HiFi Headphones for the opportunity to join in the Lotoo PAW 5000 UK tour. I was loaned the Lotoo PAW 5000 for one week. It wasn’t enough. The opinions here are my own, and are not influenced by the tour status of the player.

Inside the goodie box

When I opened up my box of joy inside a DPD bag, I didn’t expect to see such a diminutive player. I can say with confidence, that it isn’t the size of the DAP that matters—unless you need something that will strap perfectly to a MoJo—it’s the emotion of the music, and this little DAP delivers.
The box was appropriately sized, with all the components in the right place. They let the Lotoo PAW take center stage, by surrounding it in a sea of black velvetized foam. The box has plenty of information on it, and inside it gives you some good information, too.  Tony at HiFi headphones sent me a link to use instructions before I received the player, but it comes with English instructions in the box. It didn’t come with the latest firmware, and I didn’t update it till right before I shipped it to the next reviewer and tour compadre, Kryten123. The unit arrived with firmware, and left with A friend and PAW 5000 owner told me the latest firmware allows exFAT to be used. I didn't get to test it.
The box contains a USB3 cable, a holster for jogging, and a strap to hold the holster. I didn’t test out the sporty items, because I’m a few meatballs short of a coronary and don’t like running in the rain. Rain exposure can’t be great for a review unit either, so I’ll leave the sporty test to the next in line. Everything appeared to be of sufficient quality, and fit into a small box inside the main box.
Front of the box Inside the boxBack of the box
I present to you a gallery of views. Show us what your working with, PAW 5000.


Vital Statistics

From the box:
File Formats
DSD64 (DFF, DSF, ISO); PCM (WAV, MP3, FLAC, APE, OGG, M4A, AAC, ALAC, CUE) max 32/96
2 inch color LCD 220 x 176
ADI Blackfin DSP 514
USB 3.0
Says 32GB max (I used 200GB in FAT32 with no problem)
Update supported
Audio Specifications
+-0.5dB (20-20KHz)
<0.007 (20-20KHz)
100mw + 100mw at 16ohm
From my testing:
Glassmonkey measurements
Time to charge:
2 hours 55 minutes (2.4amp charger)
Time to depletion:
11 hours 57 minutes (DSD, CD Quality and HiDef FLAC)
Bluetooth range:
~30 feet

Cruisin’ like a racer in Outrun circa 1986

Right after receiving it, I loaded in a fresh Samsung 32GB microSD I had laying around the house and it was instantly recognized. Loading music was a bit slow, which I think is due to FAT32 not keeping up with the USB3.0 slot the PAW 5000 is equipped with. I didn’t get to test out exFAT in the new firmware, but it should be much faster to load music. Once the memory card is loaded up, the player recognizes the library almost instantly. The engine doesn’t need to warm up, it’s pedal to the metal from the word ‘GO!’ Petrol fumes and burning rubber never sounded so good. Recognition with a 200GB Sandisk microSD card that arrived later was also super quick, no road hazards or spinouts here. You’ll be satisfied with how quickly you get to listen to your music.
With music loaded onto my card, I moved with trepidation towards interacting with a graphically basic scroll wheel based UI. I was scared, I was petrified…. Luckily this UI has got enough zip to leave no doubt that we’re stayin’ alive. I’ve been spoiled with the simple, intuitive operating system on the DX50 that is my daily DAP. The PAW 5000 is just as easy to use, and a bit faster overall.
The scroll wheel on the PAW 5000 is super responsive; going from top to bottom on a long list of music takes way less time than on my DX50 with it’s tiny little scroll bar at the right side of the screen. It goes as fast as you can spin it, and that is pretty fast. The wheel is much more responsive than the Q1PR that I tried out at CanJam London, and I liked the feel better than iPods or the FiiO players I’ve tried, from memory (with all the inherent recall bias there). The center “action” button is responsive, but feels a little loose. A more firm seating would give a bit more confidence. The UI is turbo charged. You are never more than a few clicks or wheel spins away from what you want to access.
To my great surprise, I didn’t find myself missing touch screen navigation. I enjoyed pushing the wheel and accelerating through the various options and shifting lanes with the well-appointed buttons. The clicks were satisfying as I lapped through my collection with my retro HUD keeping time and showing the volume spikes in the road. I could almost feel the pixelated California sun, but the sound quality was oh so much better than Outrun.
Speaking of those options, there are many hidden in the menus. You can assign a function, like mute, or several other options to a long press of the music key. There are parametric equalizer presets and custom equalizers that you can load from external settings or create your own. There’s what Lotoo call the Acoustic Timbre Enhancement (ATE), which are an either or with equalizer settings. You can easily make playlists (I didn’t try loading playlists in from computers), and remove items from playlists (something I’ve never figured out how to do on my DX50). I didn’t much care for most of the equalizer presets on their own, rock was alright, but I did find a use for them. With the Havit H2555BT, I found that the midbass was overblown and the Techno preset helped the Havit sound better. Your mileage may vary with how much use you get out of the presets. I tend to not use equalizers, but some headphones call for them, and we can’t all go buy better headphones. The ATE settings were all very subtle, with the most noticeable effects from the ‘field’ effects.
The UI is not without its limitations:
  1. It is completely file based
  2. I repeat, no tag based browsing
  3. No album art with your tracks and the Covers folder only shows art intermittently and is a bit pointless—who wants to see album art disconnected from the music in a weird low-res screen format?
Many folks already use file based navigation, so the lack of tag support may not be a con for you. But if you’ve got inconsistent filenames from downloading from a variety of reputable sources to go with your dubious sources, you’re music library is going to be littered around like an open garbage bag in the back of a pick-up truck barreling down the highway. You won’t like this player if you don’t have good naming on your files or good file structures. One important thing to note: you will need to make sure your files include track numbers before track names, or all you will get is alphabetical ordering when you are playing your albums. File-based systems are a wrinkle, but not really a flaw. Wrinkles give you character, and the PAW 5000 is chock full of character.
Below is a video of me playing around in the UI. I hope it helps somebody out there.


Connectin’ like Lego blocks

The PAW 5000 has tons of connectivity options:
  1. An optical out to turn it into a digital transport
  2. Bluetooth for wireless fun with your magic pair of wireless headphones
  3. A line-out for feeding a headphone amplifier or two channel setup
I grabbed all those connector blocks and chucked ‘em together like a kid at Christmas.  I fed the optical out into the Pulse X-Infinity DAC, and tried it on with a bit of mobile joy (you know the right Chord). It connected beautifully. If you are thinking of getting a MoJo, you need a good transport, and this is a perfect size and feature match for the MoJo. The Bluetooth was tested with an Avantree BTTC200X feeding my two channel set-up, the Pendulumic Stance S1, and some Havit H2555BT (the most descriptive name ever given to a headphone) headphones. There was never any trouble pairing. The Havits didn’t quite have it right off, they had some drop-outs, irrespective of range from the PAW 5000. Given that the Havits were the only set that wasn’t with it on pairing, I’ll put it down to the quality of the Havits. They settled down after a couple minutes. All the headphones were stable to about 30 feet.
The line-out was a bit of a disappointment for me. Plugged into the back of my Cambridge Audio azur 540A using an Audioquest Evergreen 3.5mm to RCA, it sounded feeble and distorted when I turned up the volume. When I plugged it into my Feliks Audio Elise, it wasn’t totally clean. I could hear a noise floor that just isn’t present with my X-Infinity or my Geek Out V2 DACs. I don’t think that the PAW 5000 is putting out enough juice on the line-out for it to work terribly well with my amplifiers. Maybe it would work better with a portable amplifier, but I didn’t have one on hand to test.


I’m only shouting because this is what most of you have been waiting for.
I tried the PAW 5000 with the following headphones:
  1. V-Moda XS
  2. HiFiMan RE0
  3. RHA ma750
  4. Sennheiser HD600
  5. AKG K3003
  6. Sennheiser IE800
  7. SoundMAGIC PL30
  8. Pendulumic Stance S1
  9. Havit H2555BT
It didn’t matter what headphone I was using, I always used High Gain, and High Damping (the toggles on the side). I only turned the damping down on one song where the treble got a bit much in one week of testing, and switched back after that song was done.
The V-Moda XS sounds great out of the PAW 5000, the V-Moda can have a bit too heavy bass emphasis, but the PAW balances it out a bit. Led Zeppelin – In My Time of Dying rocked my brain into some sort of strange fluorescent jelly. Don’t worry, I recovered. The background was pitch black and everything was just grooving and slamming. Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear had perfect presentation of Josh Tillman’s voice. His voice is easy to get a bit off by thickening up the lower mids (like the DX50 does), but the PAW 5000 nails it. Oh the violins! On Pink Floyd – Time the sound stage was small, but the instrument separation was as it should be.
Rocking the RE0 on the next day Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (Album) sounded a little hollow compared to the sound on the DX50. I took a leisurely listen through Beach House – Bloom (Album) and Victoria Legrand’s voice was precise and incisive. I’ve heard this album sound blurry on other sources, but it was very clean while still maintaining its emotional payload. The soundstage warmly glows expansively on this album. Nice. On Beck – Nicotine and Gravy, the breathy man moans and grunts are super distinct and strangely alluring. Sonic texture like a fine medieval brocade made into a space onesie—so comfortable out here without gravity, get your funk on.
The RHA ma750 has a very forward but very textured presentation. I threw 2Pac’s Greatest Hits on, and blessed some dead Gs. Queen – Jazz (album), really made me not want to stop. It was really lively and rich in texture.
The Sennheiser IE800 didn’t much like the PAW 5000. On Massive Attack – Angel the headphones sounded good, but the bass just wasn’t powerful enough. On Led Zeppelin – Custard Pie the mids were a touch recessed. When I switched the PAW 5000 into transport mode with the Chord MoJo doing the sonic portraiture, the vocals came out of recession, and the sound was more musical and dynamic. I think the IE800 might need more driving power than the pack of cards sized PAW 5000 deals out.
Switching gears, I threw the HD600 at the PAW 5000 and the MoJo, neither drives it well. The PAW 5000 has to be all the way at max in balanced mode, and the MoJo is almost there, but lacks something. The MoJo is magical, but the HD600 can do more than the MoJo says it can do.
I also gave a listen with the K3003, but I think I didn’t have well fit tips, so I’ve chosen not to report those impressions.


What about other players/DACs?

I compared the PAW 5000 to the DX50 and the Geek Out V2, but only briefly. They are all nice sounding players and a good choice should they fit your needs.
I found the PAW 5000 to have slightly thin bass, and a bit of treble emphasis, which makes it a great pairing for headphones with slamming bass. The soundstage had a bit better air to it than the GO V2 and the DX50. The instrument separation is great, and it has a very clean black background.
I found the GO V2 to have more recessed bass on Dire Straits – Money for Nothing than the PAW 5000. The DX50 had more funk on the bass, and more weight on the vocals with it’s characteristic lower mid emphasis, and had more airy treble than the GO V2. It also had more impact. The GO V2 was hooked directly into the computer, it jumps some notches when played through a clean USB (iUSB3.0) with good cables (LH Labs 2G). In comparison, the PAW 5000 had the most controlled bass, and the most air in Mark Knopfler’s vocals. The ethereal electronic sounds are more tight and focused with the PAW 5000.
I think which DAC is my favourite is a toss-up. The GO V2 levels up well with cleaner source gear, but I haven’t compared the DX50 with the same upgraded source gear as an external DAC. The PAW 5000 cannot be used as an external DAC, so this is as good as it gets right now.
Between the two DAPs (DX50 and PAW 5000), there are some features that I miss from the DX50 when I’m using the PAW 5000. I miss USB OTG, and I miss using the player as an external DAC. I love these features, and honestly think that I want them on all my future DAPs. USB OTG allows me to have tons of portable storage. I can hook up a 128GB USB stick and dramatically expand my DX50’s storage. External DAC function means that I can always have good sound, so long as I have my DAP. It also means being able to introduce people to good sound with their own music.



The Lotoo PAW 5000 has a lot of things going for it: it’s tiny, has lots of connectivity, has a snappy full featured UI, and it sounds great. It also has it’s detractors: no tag browsing, not enough amplification for demanding cans, and lack of USB OTG or external DAC functionality. I think the last two cons (USB OTG and external DAC) can be fixed with firmware upgrades, I hope that Lotoo does so.
Nice review Micah!
I have auditioned the PAW 5000 a couple of weeks ago and I think external DAC is workable via the 3.5mm L/O. One reviewer here used it with Chord Mojo which is a death combo.
I used the Lotoo PAW 5000 as a transport feeding the Chord MoJo (see pictures). It functions very well as a transport and is a perfect size match for the MoJo. What the PAW 5000 couldn't do at time of review (don't think it can yet) is function as a DAC to be plugged into my computer or into a phone to make audio outputs from those sources sound better. I can use my DX50 to make Tidal sound better on my computer, the PAW 5000 couldn't do that.
Pros: Lightweight, Small Form Factor, Clean Sound
Cons: UI Limitations, Low End Extension
I’ve seen lotoo threads and discussions around Head-Fi before, but I haven’t paid too much attention to their products mostly because they’re fairly deceiving with their looks in the sense that they look rather primitive by today’s standards. However, I had the good luck of meeting XiaoQi of Lotoo at RMAF 2015 and got the chance to listen to the PAW Gold (LPG) there – I was quite happy with its sound to say the least. I exchanged information with XiaoQi and we later came in contact, at which time I was given the opportunity to review both the PAW Gold and the 5000. Lotoo sent me both units in a package and I’ve since spend quite a bit of time with them. I’d like a give big thank you to Lotoo and XiaoQi for their willingness to send me review units of their products especially considering the fact that they’re not something you see too often yet.
Packaging and Accessories:
The PAW 5000 comes in a nicely constructed and solid feeling cardboard box that a nice finish to it. The front shows a black and white image of the 5000 as well as a list of some functions that the 5000 has while the back goes into more detail in terms of the specifications of the 5000. Inside you see a warranty and quick guide pamphlet as well as a box with the accessories inside. The accessories are fairly basic, but certainly a bit different from what you’d generally expect. There’s no silicon case, but instead, a hard back cover that you can attach to the back of the 5000. The reason for the back cover is so you can put the provided armband (or your own) through the back cover and turn the 5000 into a nice exercise rig. The fact that the 5000 also has a Bluetooth feature really makes it excellent as an exercise device. Besides the exercise starter pack, you receive a 3.0 USB cable for charging and data transfer. That’s as far as the accessories goes. I like the addition of the exercise starter pack and think it’s a great idea and design. Unfortunately for me, the main means of exercise for me is swimming. I would personally not recommend using 5000 and exercise pack for swimming.
Packaging of the PAW 5000
Build and Design:
The main chassis of the 5000 is constructed of metal. While it’s made of metal, the device was surprisingly light to me. The light weight of the 5000 makes it truly ideal for portable use, as it’s also a very small device, but it does make me question how sturdy the 5000 is built. However, further inspection seems to suggest that the 5000 is very well-built. Nothing bends or creaks when I apply some pressure to the 5000 and nothing feels or sounds loose when I shake it. While I don’t think the screen is made up of the same sapphire crystal glass as the higher end PAW Gold, it’s nonetheless sturdy and is certainly not some cheap plastic material. The majority of the buttons are made of plastic but are responsive and have a nice click to them when you push on them. Overall, I’m honestly quite happy with the build of the 5000.
With Astell and Kern really bringing up the standards for aesthetics and designs of audio players, the overall design of the 5000 did not impress me to say the least. The button layout seemed like it would be a bit clunky to use and wasn’t particularly attractive. I’m happy to say though, that while the UI of the 5000 is fairly basic, the buttons are intuitive and there isn’t much of a learning curve to it even with quite a few buttons on the device. Something aesthetically that I do actually like a lot about the 5000 and its older brother is the color of its chassis. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what color it is. It seems to be a dark grey color but with a purple tint to it. Someone please tell me what color it is – I think I’m going a bit mad over it.
Exercise Accessories of the PAW 5000
As I briefly mentioned earlier, I’m quite a big fan of how small and lightweight the 5000 is. While there are quite a few DAPs and portable amplifiers out there really pushing the boundaries between portable and transportable, the 5000 is pretty much the definition of portable. It’s not as small as something like the iPod Nano, but it’s still small, not overly thick, and fits in your hand very easily. The battery life is also pretty good. I was able to get around 10 hours or so with it, so it’s nothing exceptional, but it does get me through the day no problem.
Function and User Interface:
Taking a tour around the PAW 5000 and starting on the left side, you see the damp feature, volume control (that also double as forward and back buttons), and the gain setting. Quick note about the damp feature – keep it on high and don’t touch it. I’m honestly not sure why it’s there. Low damp brings the volume down lower, like how a gain setting would, but it also veils the sound significantly – it literally dampens the sound and makes it sound like someone’s put a mute on all the instruments. Keep it on high, and adjust your volume accordingly. Moving on to the top, you see a 2.5 mm balanced output, a 3.5 mm headphone out, and a 3.5 mm line out and SPDIF. The right side has the USB 3.0 jack on it and seems to be where the Bluetooth module of the device is. On the bottom are a reset button and the location for inserting your microSD card. The front of the device is a bit more crowded. There’s forward and back track buttons that only work while the screen is on, a music button that doubles as a function button when held, a back button that doubles as a settings button when held, and an ATE/PMEQ button. In addition, there’s a power button, scroll wheel, select button, and of course the screen.
I won’t get into too much detail of how the UI works. Rather, I’ll sort of give my general opinion of it and note anything unusual or interesting I’ve found. I am running the 5000 with firmware
First off, powering on and off the 5000 is super quick and easy. Hold the power button and it turns quickly. To turn it off, simply hold the power button and you’ll see a loading bar run across the screen. Once it’s moved across the screen, then it will power off. This is just a way to ensure that the power button wasn’t pressed on accident. Quick and easy – love it.
Searching for music takes some getting used to. You can search via the folders you have, or by album, which is called “cover.” Now, I’m not sure if the “cover” section is also supposed to show the album art or not, but it doesn’t seem to for me. Besides those two options, you have 3 playlists you can create, or to search for music through all songs. The issue with searching through all songs is that the songs are listed as file name, not the title of the song, so if you have any sort of number going on with the files, you’re not going to have fun finding the song you want. The scroll wheel makes scrolling through files fairly painless, but it’s certainly not as advanced as the likes of Apple devices or Astell and Kern DAPs.
Something quite unique to the Lotoo products is the ATE/PMEQ function. Now I’m not sure what ATE stands for, but both just seem to be some sort of equalization program that alter either the presentation or the signature of the sound. The PMEQ is your traditional EQ settings like classical, rock, hip-hop, etc. while the ATE settings seem to focus more on changing the presentation of the music. For example, I found the “Style 701” to sound pretty good with acoustic live music, as it provides a more “in front of you” presentation as well as a more open sound for a more live feel. However, the bass basically disappears as a result, so you do have to pick and choose. Overall, I actually found some of these settings to be fairly well-done and usable, unlike a lot of the settings on other devices, but I do still prefer to keep these settings off. Something else to note is that while you’re able to create your own EQs, it seems you need to create it on a computer and import it onto the 5000.
The function setting that Lotoo implemented is also quite unique and overall pretty good. With the function button, you have the ability to select from a variety of uses such as mute, battery info and repeat mode. A lot of these are quite useful. For example, by selecting repeat mode, you are able to change your repeat setting without having to go through play setting. Other functions such as mute or -20dB mute has the potential to be fantastically useful, but fall short. I found that those two would be amazingly useful if someone is trying to talk to you and you can simply lower the volume or completely mute the button temporarily with a push of a button. However, they’re not as useful because in order to access the function button, you need to turn the screen on, in which case, you might as well just pause the device instead. That’s one issue I have with the player. I wish there were some sort of setting where you can select whether you want the buttons to be active when the screen is off. As of now, there is only volume up and down that double as forward and back track that work when the screen is off. There’s no play/pause button that works. It’s not the end of the world, but I would like to see more flexibility here.
The main screen is definitely not your typical main screen. There’s no album art – in its place is a pretty cool right/left channel indicator that shows you the activity of each side. I can’t remember the exact term for it. The main screen is also filled with information. Battery life, gain, repeat mode, and file info can all be found there. It looks very retro, which is pretty cool to me and I quite like it despite it looking fairly backward and somewhat primitive by today’s standards.
Unfortunately I don’t have any Bluetooth products available so I was unable to test the 5000 with Bluetooth. I think it’s a great feature to have though. On the other hand, the 5000 does not have USB function which is a bit of a downer.
Overall, the UI is clunky in some places, but really well-designed in other regards. The overall look and feel is very minimalistic, but I liked the experience I had with the 5000.
Here are the specs and features listed by Lotoo:
-DSD Supported
-Bluetooth Supported
-Balanced Headphone Output (2.5 mm)
-Dual Gain Levels
-Dual Damp Levels
-Acoustic Timbre Embellisher
-User Definable Parametric EQ
-SPDIF Digital Output
-Tempo Free Function
-APE/FLAC/ALAC Full Format Supported
General specification
-Broadcast formats: DSD64 DFF DSF/ISO
-Display screen: 2 inches color LCD220x176
-Processor: ADI Blackfin DSP514
-DSP sampling rate: DSD2.8 MHz
-PCM32-96 KHZ
-USB transfer: Super Speed start
-Memory card: TF card (maximum 2 TB)
-Battery capacity: 1700mah lithium polymer battery
-Wireless transmission: Bluetooth A2DP stereo audio
-Size: 98 * 55 * 17.5 (not including buttons protruding part)
-Weight: 110 g
-Firmware upgrade: support
Headphone output
-Frequency Response: ± 0.5dB (20-20KHz)
-THD + N: <0.007% (20-20KHz)
-SNR: 94dB
-Output Power: 100mw + 100mw @ 16ohm
Line output
-Frequency Response: ± 0.5dB (20-20KHz)
-THD + N: <0.007% (20-20KHz)
-SNR: 94dB
Listening Impressions:
Unfortunately, I don’t have any sort of 2.5 mm balanced cable, so my listening impression was done with single ended only. The majority of listening was done with some select CD quality albums, a few Hi-Res albums, and a few 320 kbps mp3 files. Listening was done with my UE Reference Monitor running directly out of the headphone output of the 5000.
As a whole, the bass region is a bit more polite than what you generally expect from a DAP of this price. Bass is a little rolled off, resulting in less sub bass presence and texture. Mid bass, on the other hand, is fairly well-balanced with a well-controlled but still slightly polite impact. In general, I found the 5000 to be tuned more for a clean sound than a rich and warm sound like most mid-tier DAPs you find around this price range. The overall sound is a bit less dynamic and exciting as a result, but there are still certain benefits. The bass region certainly follows this description as it doesn’t quite have the thickness or the authority you would probably expect from it but also doesn’t color the sound too much.
The midrange can be described as being transparent and clean. Instrument separation is impressive for a DAP of its price and there is a good sense of air between individual instruments and vocals have a good sense of focus to it and has good resolution. The upper midrange and lower treble is a bit more energetic on the 5000, so you do get more shimmer and attack on some instruments. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have any DAPs of the same price for comparison, but compared to my reference setup, it certainly sounds more energetic but also less controlled and somewhat splashy. Despite that, the sound is never particularly glaring or harsh, but those looking for a warmer and lush sound will best consider another DAP. I quite like the midrange of the 5000 and find its overall transparency to be quite a breath of fresh air from the warmth you get from its competitors. While the sound wouldn’t be characterized as analytical, it is more accurate to me than its competitors.
As suggested earlier, the treble is slightly emphasized giving it a bit more sparkle and air. Treble resolution and texture is good with clean and articulate attacks. I find that decay can last just a tad longer than I would like, which does make it just a tad less clean and controlled in comparison to my more reference gear. While I think the resolution in the top end of the 5000 is good, those more sensitive to treble harshness will have to consider pairing. For me, pairing the UERM, an IEM known to be a bit harsh for some, with the 5000 does result in some prominent treble that is pushing it a bit for me. This shouldn’t deter those sensitive to harsh treble from the 5000 as the treble response is pretty good on the 5000 – you just have to consider pairing as well, though I doubt someone sensitive to treble would be using a headphone or IEM with an energetic treble to begin with.
The soundstage of the 5000 is fairly intimate, not extending particularly far in any direction, but the overall size is still acceptable. In particular, you don’t get too much layering or sense of depth. However, the 5000 does make good use of the space it’s able to provide. Imaging is quite good and, without a particularly thick sound, the 5000 does sound spacious and open despite the actual instruments being closer in distance.
Lotoo PAW 5000 > Norne Therium Cable > UERM
Lotoo PAW 5000 and Cayin N5
Both priced around 350 USD (the 5000 seems to fluctuate a bit), comparing the two seems pretty reasonable and intuitive. The N5 is both larger and heavier than the 5000 while also feeling more solidly built than the super lightweight 5000. Both devices are solidly built though. The 5000 doesn’t have the benefit of functioning as a USB DAC like the N5 does, but also has other functions that the N5 doesn’t have like Bluetooth functionality, ATE/PMEQ to slightly alter the sound, a playlist function (for some reason…), and an armband dock (with an armband of course).
In terms of comparing the two in terms of sound, I think it’s quite close, but the overall presentation of the two devices are pretty different. The N5 has a much richer and dynamic sound, while the PAW 5000 has a leaner and flatter sound overall. The 5000’s bass doesn’t extend all that well and its mid bass also doesn’t have the impact that the N5 has. The midrange of the 5000 is drier than that of the N5 with slightly more forward vocals and with more treble energy and extension.
At first glance, it feels that the 5000 has an overall flatter response and more analytical sound in comparison to the richer sounding N5, but I do feel that the N5 has a more natural tonality overall. I feel that the treble has better balance and control on the PAW 5000, as the treble is just a bit too smooth for me on the N5, but I think the N5 has a bit better soundstage and layering overall, despite having a less open sound.
I think both products are pretty good and it comes down to what you need. The PAW 5000 is really the epitome of portability, being fairly durable and very lightweight and small, while the N5 is a little bigger but has the fuller and more natural sound.
Ending Thoughts:
While most portable DAPs and amps are really pushing the boundaries of how much you want to fit in your pocket, Lotoo chose to give you a break with the PAW 5000. This is what real portability is. The PAW 5000 also has a bit of a different approach to sound, with a much flatter sound in comparison to the warm and smooth sound that other competing devices have.
At the end of the day, the PAW 5000 doesn’t have the most dynamic or engaging sound to me, but can be a very good choice for those looking for accuracy in their portable device. Personally, while I generally appreciate a flatter response over a warmer, lusher sound, I feel that a weightier low end is somewhat necessary when you’re in an environment with some external noise. So overall, I like the sound of the PAW 5000 and absolutely love its small form factor, but do find it to be a toss-up in terms of recommending it as a portable device. I prefer its sound to many of its competitors, but that’s if I’m maybe sitting in a library or doing work without too much outside distraction going on.
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I think so. So the only way to auto play an albums folder of songs one after the other, is to use the 'cover' system? But only if I also apply 'sequence' as my repeat setting. My folders/albums are organized by Artist - Year - Title (inc Vol 01 or CD 01 etc) and then each song/track/file within each folder album is by Track No - Title, unless it's a Various Artist album and then it is Track No - Artist - Title.
I don't use playlists etc. I play an album. So I really need the 5k to 'easily' let me see the folder list, select the folder/album I want to play, and then play all the tracks in order automatically.
Does it do this please?
Yea as long as your folders are well organized. You'll have no issues navigating through the folders.
Thanks for confirming.
Pros: USB3.0, Bluetooth wireless support, Parametric EQ, sports armband, nice smooth sound.
Cons: lacking in power, an average audio performance.

Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Lotoo for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: http://www.lotoo.cn/page/Default.asp?pageID=108 , Available on Amazon and also from Penon and HiFiHeadphones.

This year has been quite eventful with a lot of manufacturers releasing scaled down budget versions of their flagship DAPs, such as X3ii, AK Jr, N5, and now PAW 5000 (PAW5k).  With Lotoo’s PAW Gold being highly regarded in audiophile community as one of the top summit-fi contenders, their announcement of PAW5k got a lot of attention, especially considering their $350 price tag vs PAW Gold still being offered close to $2k.  PAW Gold has been on my radar for a long time, and even though I didn’t have an opportunity to review it, I was still very excited to spend time with PAW5k and to see how it compares in features and performance to my ever expanding review collection of other popular DAPs.
Of course you have to be realistic that at nearly 1/6 of Gold’s price there will be some noticeable compromises in a design and a sound, but even before receiving it I already had high expectations for PAW5k.  It looked good on a paper with a rather interesting list of features, including USB3.0 support, Bluetooth 4.x wireless support, and A&K style 2.5mm balanced output, all of which would add up to an impressive price/performance ratio.  So, were my expectations met?  Let’s find out.
Prior to describing my unboxing experience, I want to bring up the actual shipping box and how well it was packaged inside with carefully placed pieces of styrofoam around PAW5k box.  I received my package directly from Lotoo, so not sure if other retailers will offer the same level of packaging care, but I was still impressed with a level of attention.  The product box itself was sturdy, and focused more on a detailed description of features on the cover and a complete spec on the back.  Though it was a bit of a step back from a typical premium “all black” packaging, here you can get a pretty good idea about the DAP even before you take it out of the box.
After taking a shrink wrap off, the box cover (with another accessories box inside) just separated from the bottom where PAW5k was sitting inside of a foam cutout.  Probably not a big deal for some, but that part of “just separated” caused me to drop the DAP since I was only holding the top part of the box.  Perhaps a packaging sleeve would have been a good idea if you want to store this DAP back in the box and to make sure it's intact.
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When it comes to DAP accessories, I’m sure many manufacturers are scratching their heads trying to come up with something original.  After all, besides a charging cable and maybe a case, what else would you include?  Well, PAW5k got one trick up its sleeve.  First, you will find a quality USB3.0 charging cable, the one with an extended micro-usb connector though PAW5k is backward compatible to charge/connect using a regular smartphone micro-usb cable.  You will also get a quick manual and a warranty card.  Surprisingly, I didn’t find a screen protector which would have been a good addition considering what appears to be a real glass screen.
The element of surprise came when I found a plastic removable backplate and neoprene armband.  It did catch me a bit off guard, but quickly made a perfect sense.  This is a very lightweight and compact DAP, measuring 98mm x 55mm x17.5mm and weighting only 110g, and it would make a perfect companion to use during exercising, especially considering wireless support of Bluetooth connection.  Similar to HFM HM700 and the included armband, PAW5k setup is actually more practical in comparison by exposing all the controls when the DAP is attached to the armband.  There is also no need to worry about wires (with Bluetooth connection), and of course – in theory you don’t even need DAP controls since you can play/pause, skip, and change volume straight from your wireless headphones, depending on the model you have.
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As I already mentioned, PAW5k is very small and lightweight, about the size of a deck of cards.  For the reference, it’s nearly identical to FiiO’s X1 and X3ii in size.  The build quality is good, but it’s not on the same level as some other DAPs that feature solid aluminum housing.  The front and the back have aluminum metal panels, while around the side perimeter you have a hard plastic frame.  The back of the DAP feels solid, no flex, but the front has a little bit of flex in the area between the scrolling wheel and the buttons.  On the front at the top you have 2” OLED color screen with 220x176 resolution.  The resolution is not exactly high enough for an album art, thus you won’t find any being displayed, but it’s perfect for a text and a basic screen graphics with an excellent contrast and a great visibility under any lighting.
In the lower left corner you will find the main scrolling wheel control with a play/pause/enter button in the middle.  The wheel has a nice textured surface around the edge, a bit loose when it comes to rotation yet with enough resistance and a subtle click to give you a good sense of control when you are scrolling through a list of your songs or stepping through a settings menu.  Other control buttons are spread around with Skip next/prev and Fast fwd/back buttons right above it, and Music/Fn button in the corner which brings up different sorting lists of music folders and also could be long pressed to execute shortcut assigned to Fn button.  Underneath of that you have a Back/Esc button which also brings up Setup menu when you long press it, and right below it is ATE/PMEQ buttons to bring up digital sound effects and access to Parametric EQ.  The lower right corner has a glowing “gold” power button which also turns screen on/off.  This power button has a fading in/out backlight ring which creates a nice visual effect, but could also be disabled in setup to extend battery life.
Right side of the DAP has USB3.0 connector for charging and data transfer.  On the left size you have Gain H/L slider, Volume up/down buttons which also double as skip fwd/back with a long press when screen is off, and Damp H/L slider.  In my testing I found Damp button to function like another level of gain control.  The bottom of the DAP has micro-SD card slot, while at the top you have all the ports.  First one is 2.5mm balanced headphone output, wired identical to A&K 2.5mm port.  Next to it you will find 3.5mm headphone output, then another 3.5mm port with LO and SPDIF digital coaxial and also a built in 3.5mm optical port (though I only read about it somewhere on-line and can’t confirm it for sure).  The right upper corner is labeled as “Bluetooth” indicating the location of BT antenna.
Due to a dense population of all these similarly shaped buttons, it took me a bit of getting used to the layout, but shortly afterwards operation became second nature.  I do want to mention that buttons feel plasticy and a bit on a cheap side.  Nothing is flimsy or has a terrible rattle, definitely not that.  But in comparison to a number of my recently reviewed DAPs, PAW5k build and construction felt on a cheaper side.  What else do you expect when you have to scale down from their Gold flagship?  One thing for sure, nobody going to mistake PAW5k for iPod or another smartphone - it has a very unique look and super comfortable ergonomics to use in one hand.
Design details.
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The heart of PAW5k is ADI Blackfin 514 DSP which handles all the audio formats and processes digital audio to condition it for DAC output.  When it comes to the actual DAC selection, Lotoo went with a rather basic low-power stereo audio CODEC (encoder/decoder) TLV320AIC3105 from TI.  It's basically an OK stereo audio DAC that can handle up to 32bit data and a sample rate of up to 96kHz, meaning higher rates are supported but most likely processed and down sampled by DSP before sending it to that TI DAC.  Also, it has just an OK signal-to-noise ratio of 102dB.  Not sure about amplification output (which could be a part of TI DAC), but I found it to be just enough for IEMs and efficient headphones.  And with a more efficient DAC/amp you can expect an improved battery performance, where I have seen an endurance exceeding 10hrs under a mixed high/low gain use with a moderate volume setting.
One important thing to keep in mind, PAW Gold uses exactly the same Blackfin 514 DSP which means that firmware didn’t have to be re-written and you’re already dealing with a mature code.  As a matter of fact, based on the screenshots and some of the PAW Gold reviews I have read, the GUI and control interface are very similar.  To be honest, I absolutely LOVE the interface and the amount of tweaking you get with PAW5k settings.  You will get a slightly pixilated font and a very basic GUI, but this retro look is very efficient in my opinion.  At the same time, I can see some people finding it less appealing if you are used to high res displays of other DAPs.
From the moment you power it up (very fast start up) you are greeted by a rather efficient all-in-one display layout with everything on a single screen.  Starting with a status bar, you get a repeat mode in the left corner, Gain/Damp setting in the middle, and battery icon with % indicator to the right.  You can also see which DSP effect or PMEQ preset is being applied and a horizontal bar graph with L/R channel level, assuming it's calibrated by Red Book standards from -50dB to 0dB.  I tend to believe the value is relatively accurate because as you raise the volume or change Gain setting, it's reflected in the dynamic meter indicator.  You also get song’s time duration and current play position, and file info with a file number within a folder and format with an exact sampling rate.  Below that you can see a scrolling file name.  While playing you can fast forward or skip the song with corresponding Next/Prev buttons, and when Paused you get a song’s time line which you can skip through with a turn of a scrolling wheel (every turn steps in increments of 0.04sec).  Also, pressing and holding Play button for a few seconds changes the screen to dynamic Spectrum Analyzer view, and one more time changes to a blank screen with a CD graphics (not really sure about the purpose of that since it's blank).
When you press Music button once (long press activates a pre-selected Fn shortcut, more about it later) you are presented with a List where you have a file view by Folder (all the files and sub-folders), by Cover (looks like a folder view only), List1/2/3 which is a selection of 3 favorite lists where you can tag and add files to, ALL where every file from every sub-directory is in a single alphabetical list, and the last choice is to Update Database after adding new files.  I think "Cover" selection is a bit confusing and redundant, but otherwise you can get around with fast and easy song navigation.  Personally, I don’t have flash cards with thousands of cataloged songs, but for my general listening purpose I found it to be sufficient.
The Back/Setup button brings up Setup menu when long pressed where you presented with Play settings, System settings, Bluetooth settings, Sport mode settings, and Fn key definition.  Play settings gives you Repeat Mode (sequence, single repeat, repeat all, and random), Time Display (current time and remaining time), DSD gain (from -12dB to +12dB in 6dB steps), Line Out Level switch to enable/disable it, and Channel L/R balance.  System settings gives you Power off timer (enabling it and setting the actual time), Auto power off time selection, Language selection, Display extinction (timeout), Breathing Led (the pulsating light around power button, on/off), Brightness level (3 levels), Battery info (percent indicator, the same as in a status bar), Database update (file refresh), uSD card info (capacity and free/used space), uSD card speed test (pass/fail test based on read speed), Format (uSD card), Factory settings reset, System info, and Firmware update.
Bluetooth setting enables BT radio and lists Bluetooth devices available for pair up.  I found BT performance to be pretty good with all of my wireless headphones, though similarly to AK120ii a wireless distance was a bit on a shorter side of 10-15ft.  Other than that, I found wireless sound quality to be better than A&K.  There is no apt-X codec support which I'm used to with my Galaxy Note 4, and being intimately familiar with a sound I'm expecting from my Wireless headphones, I do hear PAW5k wireless sound quality to be slightly inferior.  In reality, BT wireless mode in here is more for a convenience in conjunction with sports armband when you want to use this DAP during your active lifestyle endeavors.  And speaking of that, you have Sport Mode setting where upon enabling you get an option in your main Play screen to speed up/down the tempo of your music by +/- 20%.  This was definitely something I have never seen before with any other DAP, a very clever way to get you going with a faster rhythm/beat.  The last selection in Setup was Fn shortcut assignment where you have a choice of 8 functions to assign to Fn key when you long press it.  I ended up assigning Mute to this function key, making it very convenient to mute a sound with a single key press.
Overall, my inner geek was delighted with a very comprehensive level of controls and system setup/customization options.  Sure, graphics is pixilated and it's not the prettiest GUI I have seen, but it's very functional and easy to get used to.  There is just one thing I wasn't too happy about.  When used with wireless headphones you have a full playback control from your headphones (volume, track skip, and play/pause), but in a wired mode with screen off you can only change Volume by short pressing corresponding buttons and skip the track next/prev with a long press of the same buttons.  Otherwise, there is NO play/pause option when screen is off and you have to turn the screen on (w/power button) and then press Play button in the middle of a scrolling wheel.  I really hope in the next firmware update this issue will be addressed.
GUI interface.
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Before I get into sound analysis, there is one more feature I would like to talk about - Parametric EQ.  I have A LOT of DAPs, some don't even have EQ while others have Graphic EQ where you have certain amount of bands each at a fixed center frequency and fixed bandwidth.  With graphic EQ you get a nice "graphic" visual of which band you are adjusting and the amount of adjustment, but you have no control of selecting a specific frequency or the bandwidth of that frequency.  Parametric EQ gives you all these controls where you can customize F0 (center frequency), Gain (level adjustment), Type (Low Shelf, High Shelf, or Band Pass filter), and Q (bandwidth of the filter band).  Lotoo recognized importance of PMEQ and digital effects, thus you have a dedicated button assigned to this menu selection.  You get 8 quality presets covering different styles and 6 Custom User presets where you can fine tune your own setting.  Each custom setting gives you a level of control per my description above, and in addition to that you can export and import PMEQ presets to share with others.
Also, under the same menu selection, in addition to PMEQ you have ATE digital effects giving you a selection of 7 distinct choices to customize your sound.  One thing to note, you can only select one specific ATE effect or one PMEQ preset, but not both at the same time.  Depending on your ATE or PMEQ selection, the main playback screen will display the choice right below status bar.
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Sound analysis.
Considering PAW Gold reputation, it's natural to approach PAW5k with high expectations of scaled down “mini-me” performance, though you have to be realistic considering price difference.  I never heard PAW Gold but have read a number of reviews from trusted sources to get an idea of what Lotoo flagship sounds like.  I also read PAW5k impressions where some people auditioned it in their local audio store (in Asia of course, we don't have this luxury in US/Canada), comparing Gold and 5000 side by side.  For sure that created a noticeable contrast and influenced a negative biased opinion.  You really have to step back and to evaluate it on a level of other similar mid-fi DAPs.
Despite its summit-fi heritage, PAW5k is mid-fi quality DAP with a neutral-warmish sound signature, an average soundstage expansion, good (not great) retrieval of details, and an average level of layering and sound separation.  I actually found PAW5k very enjoyable with its clear and smooth musical sound quality, extended and slightly relaxed low end, detailed full body warm mids, and a smooth treble with a good extension and tamed airiness.  While comparing 3.5mm vs 2.5mm headphone outputs, I found sound to be nearly the same.  Maybe a little more power in balanced versus single ended, but not too much difference in soundstage expansion or background noise (low level of hissing only noticeable with sensitive low impedance IEMs/CIEMs).
While testing PAW5k with my headphones, I set DAMP permanently to High which yields the best sound performance.  Gain setting (H/L) varied between full size and IEMs depending on power requirements, but there was no question about DAMP setting.  Here are the notes I took while looking into PAW5k pair up:
MSR7 - in low gain closer to max volume - nice smooth relaxed sound, not as detailed as with some of my other sources, but for those who find MSR7 on a bright side this pair up would mean a definitive cure.
R70x (470 ohm) - in high gain closer to max volume - nice smooth organic sound, also not as detailed and lacking some airiness like I have experienced with these open backs paired up with some other daps.  But sound was still very smooth and natural.  Considering high gain and max volume, I was really pushing this DAP to the max and felt like it wasn’t driving these open cans to their full potential.
EL-8C - in high gain with a mid volume setting – a sound was slightly bright and a bit metallic, and I found bass to be not as tight.  Surprisingly, this wasn’t the best pair up.
PM-3 - in high gain closer to max volume – this was a rather good pair up with a surprisingly nice low end impact and bright detailed mids.  Color my surprised!!!  I totally didn’t expect it to sound better than pair up with EL-8C, but apparently it had a good synergy with PAW5k.
VE ZEN (320 ohm) - in high gain closer to max volume – another great pair up, detailed sound, nice low end extension, clear mids, and smooth treble.
UE600 - in low gain toward the middle of volume scale – I found no hissing, clear smooth sound, though the performance was not very dynamic or detailed.
Ei.xx - in low gain toward the max volume – has a nice clear sound with a good bass slam, not too dynamic or layered, and with an average soundstage.
DN2kJ (8 ohm) - in low gain toward the max volume - bright slightly peaky sound, not as dynamic or layered, but clear and with tight low end, just upper mids are a bit harsh.
I was a bit worried that I won’t be able to drive a lot of these headphones, but turned out that in high gain closer to max volume PAW5k was able to pump some serious juice.  Unfortunately, it left no headroom to drive anything more powerful.  Bottom line, PAW5k is intended for more efficient headphones with impedance under 300 ohms.  But if you need more power, use LO to stack PAW5k with your favorite portable amp.
Comparison to AP100, X5ii, X3ii, N5:
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I saved the best comparison for last.  I know I’m being a little critical about PAW5k because I had a slightly higher expectation for it, but in reality this is actually a very good DAP under $350 which compares nicely to some of my other DAPs in this price category.
PAW5k vs N5: N5 has more power, sound is more dynamic, and you can hear a better layering and separation, including more transparency.  Soundstage of N5 was also slightly wider.  Despite similarities of USB3.0 support, 2.5mm balanced output, and a similar scrolling wheel (though PAW5k feels looser) – I find N5 to have a definitive edge when it comes to sound quality, more solid build, and support of 2 flash cards while PAW5k has more flexibility in features such as Bluetooth, PMEQ, sports mode, and DSP effects.  Sound difference is not exactly night’n’day, but N5 has an upper hand in here.
PAW5k vs X5ii: X5ii has more power, slightly better dynamics, a little better layering and separation, and a similar staging.  Here, the gap in sound starts to close in but X5ii still has a slight edge in sound quality and support of 2 flash cards, while PAW5k is more compact and has other unique features such as BT, USB3.0, dsp effects, and PMEQ.
PAW5k vs X3ii: similar in sound quality and performance, though X3ii has more power.  I would actually position PAW5k between X3ii and X5ii, where pair up with some headphones made it sound closer to X3ii while with others made it closer to X5ii.  But overall I hear it as a closer match up.  Of course, you have to realize there is $150 price difference toward the X3ii advantage, but the amount of extra features in PAW5k justifies it more than enough.
PAW5k vs AP100: AP has a brighter, airy, and more transparent sound, slightly better dynamics and improved layering and separation.  While AP100 has an advantage in sound quality, PAW5k steps all over it in user experience, flexibility of settings, and other bonuses such as PMEQ, Bluetooth, sports mode, and DSP effects.
I started my review by mentioning a recent popular trend where manufacturers releasing scaled down versions of their flagships.  In case of PAW5k and considering I’m only familiar with PAW Gold from reading other reviews, I think Lotoo took a little different approach by taking a step back and then another sideways.  While keeping the same DSP core, interface, and even similar button layout (with an exception of a scrolling wheel in PAW5k over 4-way gold-plated disc in Gold version), they really scaled down in sound quality by utilizing TI stereo audio DAC.  It’s not necessary that bad since it actually compares fairly to some other mid-fi DAPs with more popular DACs and separate amp sections.  Where it actually makes up for this scaled down sound performance is in features that elevate it to a whole new level.  With a fast USB3.0 bus, BT 4.0 wireless support, sports armband with a mounting backplate, sports mode to speed up and to slow down music tempo by +/-20%, support of meaningful DSP effects, excellent Parametric EQ, and a great battery life of about 10hrs (at max output) – PAW5k will not replace your audiophile quality portable rig, but it will make one fine companion for any audiophile or audio enthusiast with an active lifestyle!
@ozkan : uh, so much PAW5k activity after it went up on MD :)  In terms of sound quality, AP100 ranks above, but as an overall functionality, features, and user experience - Lotoo is miles ahead of it.  PAW5k scaled down a sound quality, but it has a lot of features carried over from its $2k "Gold" flagship.
Thank you for the detailed review @twister6 as it's getting me closer to making a balanced dap decision.  With the Paw5K sitting at $200 on Amazon, and my desire to spend $600 on an AK70 or $400 on a Hifiman Supermini lessening after reading what I can get for $200, I think I might have made a decision, just not quite sure yet.  I suspect this will be a lateral move to my Fiio X5 gen 1, so at least if that's true I won't feel I'm taking a step back if I go this route.  Also considering I can  use this as a transport for Mojo unless I'm mistaken, this very well may replace 2 or 3 daps at once if I get it.  Thank you again for the review and the help it's given!
I learned of the Lotoo DAPs from GradoLabs, who recommended it instead of a portable amp for driving their headphones.  They use it themselves (primarily the Lotoo PAW Gold, but for portable use, this PAW 5000).
There IS a way to make album art appear on the Covers view... it MUST be in jpeg format, must be less than 150 kB, and must be in the folder that also contains the songs of the album.  Even then, if you organize your music in nested folders of Artist / Album / song files, you will bring up the Artist folder during Cover view, and unless you put a picture of the artist responsible for the respective albums in the folder, you will get no picture for that folder.
As regards the parametric equalizer, I have found several settings...one on the Lotoo site, one on the UK distributor site (the folks that wrote its English manual), and four others on the head-fi.org site.   I especially like the Lotoo one:
Filter 1:      33 Hz; +4 dB; LSF; 1
Filter 2:      55 Hz; +6.5 dB; BPF; 1
Filter 3:  1,100 Hz; +2 dB; BPF; 1
Filter 4:10,000Hz; +8.4 dB; BPF; 1
Filter 5:11,000Hz; +6.0 dB; BPF; 1.
If I get time, I plan to build an Excel spreadsheet model that will compute and plot the frequency response as a function of multiple filters' frequency, gain, type, and Q.  With that, I can overlay it on the published measured response of a particular headphone to seek frequency compensation settings.
Oh, and I LOVE the PAW 5000, so much so that I am determined to get the PAW GOLD, recognizing that it has fewer features (no digital output, no BT, no charging via USB but by dedicated charger) but even better sound. 
Pros: Small and attractive device. Sounds highly nuanced.
Cons: UI and button controls.
Lotoo PAW 5000 Quick Review
Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the loaner.
Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/777260/lotoo-paw-5000-review-by-mark2410
Brief:  Nicely sized and nicely sounding DAP.
Price:  £330 which is about US$512
Specification:  Go see here, there is lots and lots of spec.  http://www.ksdistribution.co.uk/products.php?brand=28&product=PAW_5000&text=spec
Accessories:  Micro USB 3 cable, Arm strap thingy and clip to attach to the arm strap thingy.
Build Quality:  Solid.  With metal screws and such it is rock solid.  No squeaks or flexes when your squeeze it tight.  Nice.
Aesthetics:  Its maybe not quite up to Sony’s looks but for an audiophile DAP its verging on super model looks.  Its nice.
Power:  With the gain to low and DAMP on low you can max that volume dial on quiet things but it still drove things nicely.  With them both on high then the power opened up as did the volume output.
Sound:  It was nice, in many ways it reminded me of the 650, a slightly smooth sound.  There was always a bit of darkness, a greyness and colour sapping feel to it.  Like some one has dialled down the colour controls on a TV, its not all grey but that fractional tint.  It has this faint sadness or sorrow over soft and slow pieces.  It is really quite curious.  Normally things of softening and darkening nature are more brown but this is more grey and therefore less colouring.  There is a purity to it, a very soft and casual purity.  It’s not wild, it doesn’t love doing wild either, like a faint veil, ever so faint smoothing any brutal edges and tonally rounding things.  Mids especially I notice this curious, sad songs sound so desperately sad, the sound highly captivating but its really all very curious.  More lively stuff retains a touch of grey to them but are more sprightly.  Maybe it’s the silent background?  There is something I can’t quite put my finger on.  I like it, I definitely like it and I love vocally lingering music but it’s a curious colouring or rather a lack of colouring tonal selection.  Its so very pure and yet there is some aural shadow cast over everything.  Weird, very good sounding but so unusual.
Value:  £330 is a bit of wallet ouch but for an audiophile grade DAP  that isn’t frighteningly ugly, well somethings got to give somewhere and in this case it’s your wallet.
Pro’s:   Small and attractive device.  Sounds highly nuanced.
Con’s:  UI and button controls.
Pros: Resolution, Transparency, Neutrality, Portability, Format Range, Battery Life
Cons: Lack of driving power, Stage depth, Background
Lotoo is known as a part of an important company, which produces audio components in China. They recently introduced Paw Gold, found quite impressive by many head-fiers. Now, they are introducing little brother of Paw Gold: Paw 5000.
It can be seen as a competitor in mid-fi league, but it can reach to performance of 600+ USD priced daps in terms of some technical abilities in sound. The reviewed unit is a demo piece coming from Lotoo distributor in Turkey. As far as I know, the built quality and sound will be the same in mass production. In time, the firmware can be changed surely.
The review doesn’t focus on the firmware and the built quality primarily, but they are shortly described as they can be seen below.
Built Quality and Firmware:
Paw 5000 has metal covers on back and front; and there is a plastic frame on which there are volume and gain buttons located. On the front panel, there is a turn wheel with a few buttons for controlling UI including yellow power button. I don’t like the turn wheel’s sensitivity much; it can become less responsive sometimes. The quality of the buttons on the plastic frame is decent, but I hope they will improve the quality of the buttons in possible successor.  
There is a micro sd slot on bottom of the unit; it works properly with 64 GB of cards, but Paw 5000 needs its own format on card and it may format your card before reading it. Also, there is an USB 3.0 port on the right side of the plastic frame in order to connect it to computer and charging via a smartphone adapter. There are also 3.5mm phone out, 3.5mm line out and 2.5mm balanced out located on the top of the unit.
The battery life is quite impressive, it can reach to almost more than 10 hours listening time. On the other hand, driving power is not strong enough even with high gain option. Paw 5000 isn’t a good player for whose want to drive full-size cans and hard to drive IEMs such as M-Fidelity SA-43.
The firmware has the same look with its older brother Paw Gold. The speed of the interface is quite good except some minor lags during switching between songs. On/off time is very short and it can be ready to play in seconds with a fast reading of sd card. Additionally, there is no slowing down problem while playing DSD formats as well as 24/192 formats. Some listeners have mentioned that it can become too warm during playing, but I have not experienced this kind of problem during my time with the player. The temperature of the device was at normal levels when playing music.
The picture is an excerpt. 
Paw 5000’s sound is pretty close to neutral side with a hint of warmness. It is neither too thick nor too warm. Overall sound is quite resolved and transparent and it can be seen as a serious challenger among mid-fi daps.
Low Frequency:
Paw5000’s lows are not too prominent, but it has enough quantity of bass for whose don’t want low frequency to be too prominent. Sub bass is enough punchy to give a good body to overall spectrum; punches come from a mid-sized area of impact on the stage. However, sub bass is neither too emotional nor impressively textured and it doesn’t have an authority as it should have. On the other hand, its hitting to deep ability is good.
Mid bass can be described as dry by some, but it has a good amount of resolution. This dryness and lack of emotion can be turned into an advantage to create a less colored presentation overall. Paw 5000 is a good alternative source for earphones, which already have too prominent or too forward mid bass presentation.  
By taking the advantage of tight presentation of overall low frequency, Paw 5000 creates a good level of control.
Mid Frequency:
Overall mids have quite good resolution and transparency; and they can reach to the transparency/resolution performance of 600 USD+ priced sources. However, mids are not impressive enough in terms of smoothness. Some sources in 600+ USD price range have a bit more dynamism and naturalness compared to Paw 5000.
On the other hand, Paw 5000 has a clean overall mid presentation and a very good rank among mid-fi daps including Fiio X5 and Dx90. Surely, it isn’t clean as Hifiman Hm901 or Lotoo Paw Gold. Even though Paw 5000 has slightly bright, alive and not much weighty notes, upper mids aren’t piercing.
High Frequency:
As mid frequency, highs are slightly alive and prominent without piercing note recreation; and level of naturalness is impressive. However, Paw 5000 wouldn’t be an ideal source for earphones that already have too prominent or piercing highs. Although high frequency doesn’t have an impressive resolution as mids, it can be ranked in a good place among Paw 5000’s rivals.
Soundstage and Separation:
Even if it has a good imaging, the stage is the weakest point of Paw 5000 with its background. Its width’s dimension is enough, but the depth is not impressive. Also, due to lack of depth, the layering isn’t strong; at least it isn’t on par with 600+ USD sources. Albeit it is mostly linked to earphones, the coherence is quite good and focusing becomes easier.  Additionally, the distances between instruments are quite clear and there isn’t too warm air.
The background of Paw 5000 is not very black and stable enough. This problem and the lack of the depth, they together result in reducing instrument separation while listening fast tracks. Even so, Paw 5000’s separation performance is better than some popular sources such as Fiio X3ii, but stays a bit behind QLS QA360.
A Comparison:
QLS QA360 vs Lotoo Paw 5000
Both devices have the similar tonality overall, but QA360 has a slightly weightier and more refined presentation. They both have a bit warmth, while Paw 5000 has less colored and slightly more neutral sound.   
Low Frequency:
While sub bass of Paw 5000 is a bit rougher, tighter and faster, QA360 hits from a larger area by a hair with weightier, better textured, more emotional and authoritative notes. Impact levels are close, but Paw 5000 has slightly drier hits.
The tone of the mid bass is more natural and less dry on QA360, while Paw 5000 has slightly more resolved mid bass presentation. Both have a good balance on mid bass section, but Paw 5000 seems to be more suitable for a wider range of earphones.
Mid Frequency:
While QA360 has weightier notes on center and lower mids, Paw 5000 has slightly airier tone overall and better resolution during slow tracks. While Paw 5000 has slightly more transparent notes, QA360 has more organic presentation. Paw 5000 has more neutral tone overall; QA360 is more dynamic but more colored.
By taking the advantage of the blacker background, QA360 is clearer with a better separation on fast metal tracks. Also, QA360 has a higher detail level overall.
Even though QA360 has thicker notes on upper mids, Paw 5000 has smoother attacks with a more natural tone on this area.
High Frequency:
They both have prominent treble presentation, but Paw 5000 has more natural tone and attacks. QA360 has a better note thickness and extension, while Paw 5000 is more transparent. They both have the same level of resolution and control.
Soundstage and Separation:
The width level of the stage on both devices is close, but QA360 has deeper stage with better imaging, layering and 3D ability. Paw 5000 has slightly forward mids, while QA360 has slightly better separation due to Paw 5000’s lack of stage depth.
Last Words:
With its clean, quite resolved, transparent sound and portability, Paw 5000 achieves superiority over its rivals and has a very good rank among them. Personally, I prefer Paw 5000 to X5 and DX90, perhaps even to QA360 in terms of technical perspective. In sum, Lotoo creates an impressive alternative in mid-fi class with its affordable 400 USD price.
Thanks mate. I actually prefer calling it ''P5000'' :)
Did you try turning the damping up to "high" with difficult IEMs? That is what was recommended to me. If I didn't, there wasn't enough volume with some.
Yes I tried it like you said. Surely it is enough for easy to drive IEMs (Legend etc) but unfortunately not for SA-43.