1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch Reference Portable Hi-Fi Player

Lotoo PAW Gold Touch (LPGT)

Rating:
4.9/5,
  • Product Highlights:

    - 3.77" IPS Touch Screen
    - Lotoo OS (NOT Android)
    - Bluetooth 4.1 with LDAC
    - 4.4mm Balanced Output
    - Power Output: 500mW at 32Ohm load
    - USB DAC (Fully Asynchronous)
    - USB-C Port, USB 3.1 Protocol
    - Memory: SD Card upto 2TB, Supports UHS II
    - 10+ Hrs Battery Life

    Specifications:

    Body:

    - Dimensions: 119mm x 68.6mm x 21mm
    - Weight: 275g

    Screen:
    - Touchscreen
    - Size: 3.77" IPS Display
    - Resolution: 800 x 480
    - Gorilla Glass (Std 5)
    - DLC Coating for Added Strength
    - AF (Anti-Fingerprint) Coating

    Battery:
    - Playback Time: 10+ Hrs
    - Capacity: 5500 mAH

    USB:
    - USB-C with upto USB 3.1 protocol
    - USB DAC Functionality
    - USB Charging

    Wireless:
    - Bluetooth 4.1 with LDAC support
    - WiFi b/g/n (Purpose Still Unknown)

    Memory:
    - SD Card
    - Support Upto 2TB UHS II

    Software:
    - Lotoo OS (Not Android or Linux)
    - PMEQ II with 5 Filters Per Setting
    - ATE

    Audio:
    - DAC Chip: AKM 4497EQ
    - Support upto PCM 768kHz and DSD512
    - Headphone Out - 4.4mm Balanced & 3.5mm Single Ended
    - Line Out - 4.4mm
    - Output Power: 500 mW per Channel at 32 Ohms

    4.4mm Balanced Headphone Out:
    - Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 kHz (+0.008/-0.34 dB)
    - THD+N: 0.00015%
    - SNR: 127 dB
    - Channel Separation: -126 dB
    - Dynamic Range: 127 dB
    - High Gain: +14.4 dBu
    - Low Gain: -10 dBu

    4.4mm Line Out:
    - Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 kHz (+0.008/-0.34 dB)
    - THD+N: 0.00015%
    - SNR: 127 dB
    - Channel Separation: -126 dB
    - Dynamic Range: 127 dB
    - Gain: +14.4 dBu

    3.5mm Singel Ended Headphone Out:
    - Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 kHz (+0.006/-0.38 dB)
    - THD+N: 0.00045%
    - SNR: 123 dB
    - Channel Separation: Unknown
    - Dynamic Range: 123 dB
    - High Gain: +16 dBu
    - Low Gain: -9 dBu

    lotooPGT_large.jpg

Recent Reviews

  1. Deezel177
    Lotoo PAW Gold Touch - The Hand of Midas
    Written by Deezel177
    Published May 1, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Top-class sound quality
    - Uncolored tone
    - Outstanding layering and imaging
    - Superbly low noise floor
    - Immense output power
    - A plethora of sound-shaping options
    - Bluetooth functionality
    - Gorgeous screen with anti-fingerprint coating
    - Swift OS response
    - Tank-like build quality
    - Ergonomic shape and size
    - Included leather case
    Cons - Price
    - UI is not the smoothest to navigate
    - Lack of intuitive inter-menu shortcuts
    - Album cover thumbnail view is cluttered with text
    - No onboard memory
    - Battery life is average at best
    - No streaming (for now)
    - Sound is neutral, and therefore not the most colored or exciting
    - PMEQ does not take advantage of touch screen
    DISCLAIMER: Musicteck (Lotoo’s US dealer) loaned me the PAW Gold Touch in return for my honest opinion. I will send the unit back following the review. I am not personally affiliated with the companies in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank MusicTeck and Lotoo for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.

    NOTE: This review was written with firmware version 1.1.1.1. Photos not of my own were provided by Lotoo.

    Lotoo is an Asian manufacturer who develops digital audio players. Their PAW 5000 and PAW Gold players have attained legendary status among the audiophile community – regularly praised for their rigorous build quality, excellent EQ and explosive sound signatures. Despite the mainly button-oriented nature of those players – especially within a landscape of touch screens galore – they found favour among tons of enthusiasts worldwide. Now, after some fruitful down time, it seems Lotoo is ready to listen to the masses at large; announcing in 2018 the release of their all-new flagship DAP: The Lotoo PAW Gold Touch – sporting a price tag of $3199, a renewed sound signature and a full-fledged IPS touch display.

    PAW-Gold-Touch-image01.jpg

    Lotoo PAW Gold Touch
    • DAC chip: AKM 4497EQ
    • Output power: 500mW @ 32 Ω
    • Audio I/O: 4.4mm balanced (also line out), 3.5mm single-ended (also line out)
    • Sample rate support: Up to PCM 768kHz and DSD512
    • Key feature(s) (if any): PMEQ II, ATE and XRC sound-shaping, proprietary Lotoo OS
    • Price: $3199
    • Website: www.lotoo.cn, www.lotoo.jp, shop.musicteck.com

    Unboxing and Accessories

    The packaging’s outermost sleeve sports a gloss gold finish, emblazoned with the signature Apollo motif found on Lotoo’s potentiometers. Shedding the sleeve unveils a black box, accented by the slightest touch of gold – indicative of the aesthetic the player possesses. Hoisting off the top lid reveals the device securely recessed within a foam cut-out.

    LPGT-Box.jpg

    Beneath it lies the Touch’s full slew of accessories. Included with Lotoo’s flagship player are three sets of extras neatly compartmentalised into individual mini-boxes. This is an approach I’ve seen implemented by Astell&Kern and Sony in the past, hinting at the pedigree Lotoo is doggedly pursuing. Comparisons aside, it’s a genuine display of finesse.

    LPGT-Box2.jpg

    The first mini-box contains paperwork – a user’s manual and warranty card. This is also where you’ll find the included micro-fibre cloth and two tempered-glass screen protectors. Again, the latter is a great inclusion that truly exhibits the lavishness of the product. Inside the second mini-box is a sleeved USB Type-C cable. Sheathed skilfully in soft, black paracord and sporting Lotoo-engraved, gold-plated connectors on both ends, the company clearly isn’t skimping out.

    LPGT-R-5.jpg

    The third compartment houses the Touch’s gorgeous leather case. Chromatically, it evokes the device’s aesthetic: All black and accented exquisitely with gold stitching around the rear. Visually, it’s flash and finesse in equal measure, and it’ll be difficult to top when aftermarket offerings start rolling in. The button indicators and logos engraved all around show excellent precision, especially the stylised PAW Gold Touch emblem on the rear; subtle and stylish simultaneously.

    LPGT-Box4.jpg

    One of my only two knocks would be on feel. There’s a slightly oily touch to it that isn’t perhaps as smooth as offerings from MITER or DIGNIS. Clearly, this is a minor con given their prices. To Lotoo’s credit, I’d say everything bar feel is on par with anything MITER, DIGNIS or musashino LABEL have produced. Secondly, despite the cut-out for the USB port, there isn’t one for the SD card slot. It’s a notable exclusion, but it’s something Lotoo can easily remedy moving forward.

    Build and Physical Controls

    Stating the obvious, Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch is an exquisitely-built device. Although its blocky form may suggest a more utilitarian approach, the Touch gradually reveals itself as a champion of luxury and class. There’s extreme finesse in how the player comes together. Despite hints of screws and seams here and there, the Touch’s CNC-milled, aluminium-alloy shell may as well have been a unibody design – neither a rough edge, nor an uneven surface nor a loose joint in sight.

    LPGT-Next-4 copy.jpg

    Visually, it’s clear that they’ve maintained the same motif present throughout their previous releases. This is in form and colour, and especially along the volume wheel too. But, several more modern inclusions have made the cut as well. The Touch sports grooves along the sides for a more secure grip. And, curvature along the edges boost ergonomics as well. The chassis’ matte-black exterior oozes class with flawless finishing. It’s a sandblasted finish that’s reminiscent of Apple’s Macbook Pros or Sony’s modern Walkmen. And, all this black only serves to accentuate the bling on dat volume wheel.

    Quite literally the PAW Gold Touch’s crown jewel, the Apollo Sun volume wheel is as nostalgic as it is gorgeous. It’s shiny, shimmery, splendid and an awesome throwback to Lotoo’s previous audio players as well. More impressively, they’ve managed to integrate it within a classy, suave and luxurious aesthetic without coming across corny. Accenting the wheel is a white LED ring at its base. The ring pulses to signify playback, but you can turn it off to conserve battery life as well.

    LPGT-Next-5 copy.jpg

    Turning the potentiometer feels smooth, and it’s recessed within the player sufficiently to prevent accidental turns. A neat feature I found on the Settings menu is the ability to determine which direction the wheel turns to indicate volume up or volume down. The wheel is on the looser side, with a fair bit of play in either direction before registering a click. This definitely isn’t a dense, heavy wheel that you’d find on a dedicated amplifier, for example. But regardless, it’s an incredibly solid-feeling, smooth-turning and visually stunning piece that deserves to sit atop the Touch’s gorgeous body.

    The PAW Gold Touch sports the classic set of physical buttons along the side of its chassis: Power, Play/Pause, Previous and Skip. Tiny bumps are present to indicate the first two buttons, making blind navigation a breeze. The buttons are beautifully machined and depress with a solid, satisfying, tactile click. And like the volume wheel, they sit securely within the chassis with zero wiggle as well. Also impressive in this regard are the 4.4mm and 3.5mm (also line out) jacks along the top. Among all my digital audio players, the Touch sports the most precisely machined and installed sockets I’ve experienced, leaving no air gaps or wiggle room. In addition, the gold, ring-y aesthetic is reminiscent of old vinyl records.

    LPGTWeb2 copy.jpg

    Considering what’s become of screen sizes nowadays in both the smartphone and DAP worlds, I think many will find the PAW Gold Touch a reasonably-sized device. As someone who frequents an iPhone 6 Plus and Sony’s WM1A, the Touch definitely felt smaller to me. Although I’ve gotten used to the larger text and album art that my other devices have made available to me, I love the form factor of the PAW Gold Touch for how comfortable it is in the hand, and how easy it is to operate as well. Despite the relatively smaller size, the Touch isn’t a featherweight. But to me, it isn’t inconvenient-heavy; rather, it’s substantial-heavy – truly indicative of the Touch’s exceptional build quality. If audiophiles out there are willing to lug around Sony WM1Z’s and Cayin N8’s in their pocket, I can’t imagine Lotoo’s Touch being too unwieldy for anyone.

    GUI and Presentation

    The PAW Gold Touch is an outstanding device the second it powers on, literally! Among the high-end digital sources available today, Lotoo’s flagship boasts the fastest boot time I’ve ever experienced: A mere two seconds – no pre-loaded loading screens, no wavy lines, no rotating logos; pure speed. After the comically swift start-up, you’re greeted by the main menu with a standard set of short-cuts. The last-played track prior to the previous shut down is there as well:

    LPGT-HOME.jpg

    Within seconds of operation, it’s clear that the PAW Gold Touch’s start-up speed translates to responsiveness as well. There’s never a perception of lag when operating the device, especially when alternating between menus, scrolling or loading up tracks to play. Functionality aside, one note I’d make towards presentation is the lack of motion blur. With Sony’s WM1A (my main DAP), scrolling has a smoother look to it, as well as a more natural sense of acceleration and deceleration. By comparison, the PAW Gold Touch is a tad stutter-y. But again, this is purely a minor visual nitpick.

    Where the PAW Gold Touch triumphs visually is screen quality. The tempered-glass-equipped IPS display is among the sharpest I’ve ever seen. In terms of image clarity and text reproduction, it’s nothing short of impressive. Movement is – again – crisp due to the lack of motion blur. While I may perceive it as less natural-looking, some may prefer it. If there was anything I’d love Lotoo to work on, it’d be colour accuracy. The blacks in particular can be prone to backlight bleed and have some white peering through. Sony’s WM1A possesses deeper blacks, increasing the perception of contrast. Then again, they do make TVs for a living. Regardless, it’s another minor con, but one to perhaps consider in the future.

    LPGTWeb4.jpg

    One massively impressive feature is the DLC (Diamond-like carbon) coating that Lotoo have applied onto the tempered-glass screen. In addition to increased strength, the coating has a fingerprint-resistant quality that’s among the most effective I’ve ever seen. Simple wipes with a cloth or a shirt removes all fingerprints or oily spots instantly with zero traces of residue – no cleaning solutions or compounds required – restoring the screen to mint-like, pristine condition.

    Like Sony (for example), Lotoo have gone ahead and produced their own operating system for the PAW Gold Touch – rather than adapting Android, which is the norm nowadays. Lotoo OS is the main reason for the Touch’s speed, and it’s a wonderful achievement from a company that doesn’t necessarily have the pedigree that a Sony or Google has. Although the device does possess Wi-Fi for OS-updating purposes, it’s worth noting that it does not support third-party streaming apps like Spotify or TIDAL; at least at the time of writing. If you require that, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. But, if you’re a memory card purist like me, then the Touch will have lacked nothing – well, except any form of onboard memory, that is.

    Navigation

    The PAW Gold Touch sports a fairly universal navigational system. Like the Sony and Astell&Kern DAPs that have largely dominated the market, files on the Touch can be sorted by Playlist, Artist, Album, Song or Folder. In each menu, there are shortcuts at the very top of the screen that allow you to quickly add tracks to a playlist, or filter based on sample rate. Personally, I sort most often by Album, because it’s easier for me to search via album artwork. Although the Touch offers a thumbnail-based GUI like the one shown in the image below, I was disappointed to find the shortcuts still occupied the top-quarter of the screen and the bottom-third of the thumbnails had the album titles on black bars layered on them:

    LPGT-ALBUMS.jpg

    Given the Touch’s already-limited screen real estate, I would’ve loved it if the thumbnails entirely occupied the screen like Astell&Kern’s implementation. I’m sure this is implementable via a software update somewhere down the line.

    Also, you can toggle an option dubbed Double-click in the Options menu. This allows you to wake-up the Touch’s display by double-tapping the screen. I found this feature particularly useful during stationary listening or in USB DAC mode.

    If there’s a specific artist, album or song you wish to look up, the Touch sports a Search function accessible by swiping down from the very top of the screen. This also brings down a menu that allows to switch between Loopmodes, alter gain settings on both the 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL outputs, and toggle Bluetooth, Volume Lockand XRC on or off.

    LPGT-DROP.jpg

    Although the Touch’s interface is relatively straightforward, I do feel navigation between menus could be a hair more streamlined. Sony’s WM1A (for example) allows the user to jump rapidly between menus through shortcuts on a drop-down home menu. This isn’t present on the PAW Gold Touch, requiring the user to either press the Return key multiple times – which, might I add, is positioned quite unnaturally at the top-left corner of the screen – or swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen to instantly return to the Home menu. Neither action is the most intuitive in the world, so I’d love to see Lotoo add these shortcuts to their pre-existing drop-down menu in a future update for swifter navigation.

    Connectivity and Storage

    The PAW Gold Touch implements USB 3.1 as its main means of data transfer and power charging. This means the best speeds possible, as well as a conveniently reversible plug. Unlike Sony’s proprietary Walkman I/O, you also aren’t forced to carry around an extra cable because of the ubiquity of USB Type-C. The Touch is also capable of functioning as a USB DAC. In this mode, the display shows a VU meter, as well as controls for XRC and EFX (discussed in Page 3). I admire Lotoo for including sound shaping even in DAC mode – a step above the implementations I’ve seen in other sources. There doesn’t seem to be any input lag too, which is crucial when editing or mixing music, watching movies, etc.

    Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 7.07.58 PM.png

    Additionally, the Touch sports Bluetooth connectivity. As a result, it’s also capable of turning into a wireless Bluetooth DAC. Unlike USB DAC mode, there is neither a VU meter nor an option for XRC. Perhaps this has something to do with the sample rate ceiling when transferring audio over Bluetooth. But, EFX remains available, which is unquestionably the more important feature. Unfortunately, for some reason, my Macbook Pro does not detect the Touch as a sound device. Bluetooth DAC on this laptop has worked previously on my Sony WM1A, so I must assume this is an issue on the Touch’s end. However, the player does work with my iPhone 6 Plus. There is a slight delay when watching YouTube videos, but that’s to be expected. Once again, Wi-Fi is also available, but it’s only current use is firmware updates; no streaming yet.

    Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 7.08.09 PM.png

    The PAW Gold Touch sports a full-sized SD card slot for up to 2TB of potential storage. I was disappointed to find the lack of any onboard storage, but it’s not a fatal flaw. Unlike my Sony WM1A, once the SD card is loaded up, you’re allowed to instantly navigate its contents without any loading screens to sit through. This means you can play music instantly from Folder view while the Touch generates the necessary libraries for tag-based sorting (i.e. Album, Artist, etc.).

    Battery Life

    The PAW Gold Touch sports a 5500mAH battery for approximately 10 hours of use per full charge. This estimate comes from Lotoo themselves, and I can’t say for certain what parameters were used to achieve that figure. Playing a mixture of FLAC and AAC files, battery sustenance is comparable to those of my Astell&Kern players. It’s decent, but definitely pales in comparison to Sony’s modern Walkmen, who’ve pretty much set the standard as far as battery life is concerned. My WM1A is capable of surviving 4-to-5-hour sessions for 2-3 days straight before requiring another charge. Charging is much faster on the Sony player as well. Approximately half of a full charge can be achieved within an hour’s worth of charging. On the other hand, charging the Touch with a generic USB Type-C cable takes around 3 hours for a full charge.

    Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 7.08.22 PM.png

    Sound Impressions

    More so than any digital source I’ve heard in the past, the PAW Gold Touch embodies reference with remarkable ease. The tone it flaunts is largely transparent – as indicated by the blank canvas it allows gear upstream to ultimately shade – and its technical foundations are nothing short of astounding. Its soundstage expansion isn’t endgame, but the layering, separation and detail achieved within it remains some of the best I’ve ever heard. Without the aid of an agitated treble, the Touch relies on extension, speed and balance to bolster its resolution. As a result, the transparency it achieves is done so effortlessly; a well-practiced, smooth and easy routine. Unlike its predecessors, the Touch strays away from flash. But ultimately, the grace and sophistication weaved throughout its frequency response is responsible for its success.

    LPGT-R-1.jpg

    The Touch’s bass response is strikingly clear. Opting for a more neutral tone, it perhaps isn’t as warm or sumptuous as Sony’s WM1Z, for example. There’s an emphasis on definition, separation and clarity, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of any fun, either. Linear extension throughout the sub-bass provides a healthy dose of impact. And, it rises (or drops) in accordance with whatever lies upstream. With dynamic drivers, it’ll match their physicality and decay, but add no more. And, it keeps up with balanced-armatures, without coming across lean. But with both, there’s always clarity and finesse. With upright basses or toms, a part of me may miss that woodywarmth. Ultimately, what the Touch guarantees is zero bottleneck – a bass you can set with your IEM of choice from pristine to hog wild without compromise along the way.

    This restraint then pays dividends as we progress further upwards. Without warmth emanating from the low-end – nor glare from the treble – the Touch’s midrange remains largely neutral. Though, where it’s least transparent throughout, an upper-midrange tilt does determine its inherent timbre. Instruments are neutrally-positioned within the soundscape, but they project strongly. There’s an energy imbued within them that translates to an extra zing in vocals, an added roar in electric guitars, etc. But, the lower registers remain calm, which impede a grunty-er, heftier response. Male baritones won’t have maximum gravitas, tom-toms and kick drums won’t bellow as much as they’ll thwack, and pianos will ring rather than slam. It’s a more elegant delivery of oomph that contrasts the explosiveness of Lotoo’s previous offerings.

    LPGT-R-2.jpg

    But regardless, the Touch continues to deliver in the technical domain. Micro-dynamic energy is perhaps the best I’ve heard from a digital source, Tiny nuances pop without resorting to treble peaks. Rather, it’s done via a pitch-black, stable background. So, those micro-details never feel forced. They play their role before vanishing without a trace. The player has an average sense of depth – average for a summit-fi flagship, mind you – but the layering it flaunts transcends that completely. Instruments are layered in front of and behind each other with pockets of clean air in between. The result is a three-dimensional soundscape filled with data to analyse andenjoy. There’s a healthy amount of body to the mids as well. There’s a meatiness to instruments; wetness to feather the line between transient and decay. As a result, clinical separation does not lead to clinical sound. Instead, it’s a balanced, natural image with masterful technique underneath.

    The treble is where the Touch is most refined. Sources I’ve heard often struggle in the top-end. iBasso’s age-old DX50 came across agreeable, but dull. Sony’s WM1A had articulate transients that suffered from a case of digital-itis. Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch manages to achieve a wonderful balance of both through technical ability and restraint. The Touch’s top-end possesses heaps of headroom, but refrains from testing it the slightest bit. The result is a treble that’s articulate, open and fast without seemingly lifting a finger. It’s a free sound that can only be described as refined; second nature. Pair that with a smooth timbre and what you get is a smooth, elegant release of detail. The tone overall is neutral and lower-treble bite does stick out a hair. But, the sheer ease with which those notes are handled – along with the PAW Gold Touch’s aforementioned technical skill – bill a treble response that’s as effortlessly capable as it is stringently controlled.

    LPGT-R-3.jpg

    Balanced vs. Single-Ended

    Switching between the two outputs, I hear identical tonal balances. This is unlike my Project-K-modded Sony WM1A or my Astell&Kern AK70-Kai, where you’re almost allowed two different signatures with the two outputs. In terms of timbre, note structure and positioning, balanced and single-ended are identical to my ears. On one hand, you don’t get that one last morsel of customisability. But on the other, you’re guaranteed consistency. I don’t hear a change in loudness either. The differences I do hear are in expansion and layering, especially. The 3D layers on balanced that fanned out along the x- and z-axes sound almost smushed together on single-ended – not congested per se, but compressed into a single file.

    On Snarky Puppy’s Jefe, as the track builds from just drums and guitars to the addition of horns, synths, and percussion, you get the impression on balanced that each extra layer sits separate from the ones that came before. Essentially, you experience the satisfaction of hearing the track build in size. On single-ended, each successive track sounds like it was plopped squarely on the previous one. So, the track doesn’t necessarily get bigger – it just gets more crowded. This is also evident in imaging. On balanced, you can hear the drums panned hard-left-and-right and the guitars at 10 and 2′ o clock, then the synths at 11 and 1, and finally the horns at the centre. On single-ended, it’s noticeably harder to discern.

    EFX

    PMEQ

    Manual equalisation has been a longtime staple of Lotoo’s digital audio players. The PAW Gold and PAW 5000 were lauded in particular for how effective their EQ implementations were, despite their button-dominated UIs somewhat hindering ease-of-use. I’ve personally never used either of the previous PAW devices, but I have spent countless hours manipulating EQ on my various digital audio workstations – whether it be Logic Pro, Pro Tools or Cubase. As someone who’s well-versed in those plug-ins, the PAW Gold Touch’s PMEQ application was impressively familiar. It’s a 5-point EQ, which to me is more than enough for anyone. Like professional EQs, the user is allowed to specify the target frequency, amplitude change and bandwidth. You’re also allowed to specify the filter type – high-pass, low-pass or band-pass.

    LPGTWeb5.jpg

    Despite the equaliser’s impressive specificity and attention-to-detail, I was disappointed to find the touch screen (i.e. the DAP’s namesake) wasn’t integrated into the interface at all. Unlike Astell&Kern or Sony’s – albeit sonically inferior – EQs, you’re not given the option to draw your intended curve. Instead, you’re forced to manually (and tediously) enter values into each parameter. To me, this is a missed opportunity in ease-of-use. But nevertheless, the sheer customisability and effectiveness of the equaliser remains marvellously impressive – only a few UI fixes away from being gosh darn perfect.

    ATE

    ATE (or Acoustic Timbre Embellisher) is another form of sonic customisation built into the PAW Gold Touch. Brighter attenuates the low-end, positioning it further back in the mix. The result is a cleaner, leaner signature with less warmth permeating the soundscape. I wouldn’t call it brighter in tone per se, but it certainly is less full. Sweet is somewhat of a low-pass, where the upper-mids and treble take a step back. Notes sound thicker and fuller with greater bloom to the lower-mids. With both ATE filters, what’s most impressive is that they seem to only alter the positioning of instruments. Brighter doesn’t sound anaemic or insubstantial, neither does Sweetsound congested or rolled-off. It’s all naturally done.

    LPGT-ATE.jpg

    The vaguely-named Dental sounds like it rolls-off the uppermost registers, resulting in a fuller, more saturated stage. Mid-bass impact seems to receive a slight bump as well. Of the three, this is the setting I personally find least useful, but it may find its place with brighter transducers. Style 701 (perhaps modelled after the AKG K701) heavily attenuates the mid-bass for a lean, neutral response – leaving the low-end more melodic and airy than impactful by any means. This converts my Custom Art FIBAE Black into a strict studio monitor, which I may find useful in the future. Style 990 (perhaps similarly modelled after Beyerdynamic’s DT990) is the complete opposite. It’s a strong low-pass that emphasises low-end bloom over the rest of the presentation. It’s more blubbery than Dental, but again, it may find its place among bassheads.

    Near Field brings the soundscape inside the head, creating an inside-out sort of sensation. My experience suggests this setting may involve some phase manipulation, but it does remind me of the Avantone and Focal near-fields I have in the studio. With reference-grade in-ears, this setting is preferred when I’m balancing vocals in a choir mix, for example. Far Field comes across more artificial to my ears. It sounds like attenuations in the mid-bass and upper-mids to create a perceivably more distant image, but it comes across less coherent and transparent. Nevertheless, ATE as a whole brings a slew of customisation to the table. Although some work more than others, I find implementation as a whole to be both effective and non-invasive. The current set is impressive as is, and I can only imagine more to come in the near-future.

    Noise Floor and Power

    Empire Ears Phantom

    The Phantom is one of the most sensitive in-ear monitors in my collection. Although that means it can be driven out of any conceivable device, it is prone to hissing as well. On every source I’ve heard them through – whether it be mixing consoles, portable amps or high-end DAPs from Sony, Onkyo and Astell&Kern – the Phantom willdig into their noise floors. Although the faintest whiff of a hiss is audible through the PAW Gold Touch, Lotoo’s flagship is perhaps the first source where I’d consider the noise negligible. Upon plugging in, the hiss blends into the background immediately. And when music starts playing, it’s practically non-existent; even in pockets of silence. Given the Phantom’s sensitivity, a volume of 25 out of 100 on high gain is where I tend to keep it, leaving tons of headroom for the Touch to perform.

    Vision Ears VE6XC

    Vision Ears’ VE6XC is perhaps a notch below the Phantom in sensitivity. It’s easy to drive and capable of sussing out hiss, but not to the degree of the Empire Ears co-flagship. And sure enough, the VE6XC does not hiss at all through the PAW Gold Touch. Whether music is playing or not, the noise floor is entirely indiscernible – a fantastic achievement for Lotoo. To achieve an enjoyable volume, the VE6XC requires 28-30 steps on high gain out of 100. Like the Phantom, the VE6XC is a dense-sounding monitor that benefits from the Touch’s clean-yet-sophisticated neutrality. Out of Lotoo’s flagship, both in-ears maintain the delicate, organic, human factor that make them what they are. But, the Touch allows them more headroom to breathe and play. So, you retain that charming musicality, now with zero restraints in the technical realm.

    LPGTNFP-1 copy C 2.jpg

    Custom Art FIBAE Black

    Custom Art’s FIBAE Black is a single-driver monitor. But among the custom in-ears in my collection, it’s perhaps the most difficult to drive. The headphone outputs on both my Soundcraft monitor mixer and my Yamaha CL5 barely power it at max volume. But as if to boast its superiority, Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch pushes it without breaking a sweat. At 40/100 on single-ended mode and high gain, I get very listenable volumes with no hiss. As the name suggests, the monitor also comes equipped with Custom Art’s FIBAE (Flat Impedance Balanced Armature Earphone) Technology. Essentially, it allows the monitor to maintain an identical signature no matter the source. As it entirely skips the colouration of the amp section, it makes for a transparent DAC evaluator. Through the Black, the Touch’s transparency, resolution and dynamics truly shine through – offering an impactful sound, whilst maintaining excellent headroom and composure at all times.

    MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open

    MrSpeakers’ AEON Flow Open is a relatively easy-to-drive headphone. Dan Clarke developed it to be mobile-friendly, after all. Obviously then, the PAW Gold Touch powers it with ease. On single-ended with high gain, 55 steps out of 100 is perfectly reasonable; akin to around 9 o’clock on my Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon desktop amp. Compared to the Liquid Carbon, the PAW Gold Touch definitely gives the AEON Flow Open a freer, more open stage. After all, the Cavalli Audio amp emphasises dynamism and impact above all. So, if you own an AEON Flow Open and are looking for a source to boost its imaging and expansion, the Touch is a very viable option. With that said, the Touch doesn’t quite give the AEON the warmth down low that the Liquid Carbon provides. So although the Touch is capable of making the most out of that planar bass impact effortlessly, it’s a bit top-heavy in tone for my tastes. But, I’m sure others may enjoy this colouration.

    LPGTNFP-2.jpg

    Sennheiser HD800S

    An amp-dependent headphone like Sennheiser’s HD800S is perhaps the PAW Gold Touch’s greatest test. Volume-wise, the Touch continues to perform – merely requiring 50 out of 100 steps on high-gain in single-ended mode to reach an acceptable loudness. Obviously then, this leaves quite a bit of headroom, resulting in a sound that comes across neither saturated nor forced. However, I do feel the headphones have more potential to spare spatially. The image the HD800S produces is well-layered, well-separated and detailed, but it isn’t as open or free-sounding as it would be on top-flight desktop amplifiers. But of course, this was the expected outcome. Lotoo should still be lauded for their admirable performance. Like the AEON Flow Open, the tonal combo isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. Although the Touch refines the HD800S’s treble quite effectively, the top-end tilt does leave the headphone sounding lean and meagre down low. This is a combo that’ll suit trebleheadsmore than others. But nevertheless, it makes a strong case for the Touch’s raw power.

    Select Comparisons

    Sony WM1A (modded by Project K)

    The WM1A is my current daily DAP, modified by Project K with enhanced internal wiring, electrical shielding and several other kinds of tweaks. Sonically, the player has transformed considerably, the specifics of which you can find here. The main hallmarks of this modded source is a thick, full-bodied, forward sound set against a vast, stable backdrop. This is where it first contrasts against the Touch. Lotoo’s flagship player is comparatively more laid-back with a neutrally-positioned midrange. Sony’s WM1A saturates instruments for a more energetic, involving and rhythmic presentation. The melodic elements here are fuller and more in-your-face, while the PAW Gold Touch holds back for refinement’s sake.

    LPGT-R-4.jpg

    Down low, the Touch delivers tighter, more concentrated hits. Bass notes feel denser and more compact. When the WM1A punches by comparison, wisps of warm air surround each jab. So, those notes may feel bigger, but they aren’t as defined and transparent as those on the PAW Gold Touch. Where the WM1A’s looser hits pay dividends is in stage cohesion and sub-bass rumble. The soundscape it produces has an ensemble feel because of the decay of the mid-bass. Some may call it musical, others may call it a touch sloppy. At the end of the day, you’ll be the judge of that. Sub-bass rumble is more fun and concert-like on the WM1A, while it has more of a linear, transparent, studio feel on the Touch.

    The treble is where the two players are furthest apart. The WM1A sources articulation from its lower-treble. With its full-bodied midrange, you get blunter transients with a wider sense of impact. Comparatively, the PAW Gold Touch’s refinement and upper-treble-emphasis generates feathered transients with a softer sense of attack. Instruments aren’t as bold here as they are on the WM1A. But, this pays dividends in headroom. The Touch possesses heaps of space for transients to pop in and decay. By comparison, the WM1A’s saturation renders it vulnerable to sounding brittle with certain recordings. In addition, the Touch’s superior coherence gifts it a more fanned-out, precise and spherical stage. The WM1A possesses the more musical, fun and immersive soundscape, but sacrifices a touch of finesse in return.

    Astell&Kern AK70 (modded by MST Technologies)

    Before being usurped by my Project-K-modded WM1A, my daily driver was Astell&Kern’s ultra-compact AK70. Similarly, it was modified, but by MST Technologies in Japan. The alterations made were far more invasive than Project K’s, involving word clocks, capacitors, op-amps, etc. The result was a neutral signature with excellent transparency, layering and stereo separation. You’d be right in assuming, then, that the AK70-Kai and the PAW Gold Touch share several similarities. Unlike the modded WM1A, they aren’t thick-sounding players, neither do they saturate their stages. Rather, they possess lighter, more compact notes with a reasonably swift decay to boost separation, headroom and perceivable detail. These qualities make up the AK70-Kai as well, but a couple notable differences do distinguish it from Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch.

    LPGT-AK-1 copy.jpg

    In terms of raw stage expansion, the PAW Gold Touch is the clear victor. Elements at 10 and 2 o’ clock especially expand further, giving the soundscape a distinct spherical shape. The AK70-Kai hangs on in terms of depth, but the diagonal and horizontal extremes feel a bit more closed-in. The Touch also possesses superior micro-dynamic range. Nuances pop out of the background more, so they’re more physically convincing. With that said, the AK70-Kai does impress when it comes to layering and separation. Despite having a less stable background, the Kai’s faster decay allows more data to come through. Reverbs seem more prominent, because the fundamentals had already gone. Nevertheless, when it comes to transparency and resolution – despite the Kai’s most cunning efforts – the PAW Gold Touch comes out squarely on top.

    The key difference between the two lies in the top-end. The AK70-Kai possesses a calmer lower-treble for softer, more feathered articulation. This is partly why it’s able to keep up with the Touch in terms of depth. There’s more excitement to the PAW Gold Touch, as well as the room to do so. Conversely, the AK70-Kai’s more intimate soundscape makes it lean towards a wall-of-sound-esque presentation. The advantage to the Kai is that its soundscape sounds more cohered and tethered together. The whole ensemble feels like a lively, singular unit. The advantage to the Touch is superior transparency, greater separation and effortless resolution. Finally, the Touch’s excellent bass extension produces notes with greater solidity, physicality and texture. On the other hand, the Kai’s slams sound airier and lighter by comparison.

    Verdict

    Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch is a monumental entry in the flagship space. Gallantly abandoning their button-clad comfort zone, the audio player veterans have shown that they can tango with the top dogs in build, aesthetics, software design and sound. Few interface quirks notwithstanding, this is a luxury product with the function and form to match. Sonically, it’s one of the most well-executed iterations of neutral I’ve heard from a source. How well it executes reference without monotony and spaciousness without indifference is most impressive to my ears. In addition, the stunningly low noise floor, immense output power and plethora of sound-shaping options make one gorgeously complete package. $3199 is never an easy price to swallow, but Lotoo have absolutely made a case for it. As much as I long for all this to trickle down to more affordable options in the future, the PAW Gold Touch alone is a compelling buy for any discerning audiophile.

    LPGT (T)-2.jpg
      fokta likes this.
  2. cleg
    Another big step forward
    Written by cleg
    Published Jan 31, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - mature and natural sound, smooth ui, good usability, versatility, driving power, accessories set
    Cons - no streaming capabilities
    1-Main Pic.jpg
    A long, long time ago… In the old year of 2014, famous company Infomedia started a subsidiary company named Lotoo and announced digital audio player that became on the best portable audio devices ever created. The new gadget, named Lotoo Paw Gold had a pretty "refreshing" price tag of $2400, I could be wrong, but at that moment it was the most expensive DAP on the market. A long time passed since then, but LPG still was a great option for those who wanted great sound quality. But feature-wise, Paw was pretty outdated: small screen, button-based controls, no wireless interfaces, etc. Lotoo did a minor refresh of their flagship, releasing "Lotoo Paw Gold 2017", but changes were minor: new color and reduced background noise level. Finally, at 2018 they announced succeeder of LPG with a pretty long name "Lotoo Paw Gold Touch" (BTW, is it the longest name in DAPs world?) and this DAP is a massive leap into the market of 2018-made devices. I've spent a few weeks with LPGN, and now I'd like to tell about it.

    Before I proceed, I'd like to thank Lotoo for providing me a review sample in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. Lotoo Paw Gold Touch is available for sale at MusicTeck.
    2-Box.jpg

    Package of original LPG was one of the most impressive boxes I've ever seen. Unfolding like Lemarchand box, slowly unveiling its contents, it did an excellent job in creating an appropriate mood for the buyer. Unfortunately, Lotoo decided to make packaging more eco-friendly and simplify it. Now it's plain black cardboard box put into outer "jacket" covered in goldish foil with embossing. This packaging looks expensive enough, but I'll miss the old box.

    Inside of package, you will find:
    • player itself
    • nice stitched leather case
    • two protective screens
    • cleaning cloth
    • USB-C cable in fabric cloth, looking good
    • manual and warranty card
    I'd said it's pretty much all you will need to use the player, not more, not less.

    If you put "classical" LPG and "touch" version together and ask people which one is more recent, I bet there won't be two opinions: the new design looks modern and mature. Of course, LPG had its brutal charm, but let's face the truth: 2014 was a long time ago. Lotoo designers succeeded in creating a new "flagship" design. It combines style, usability, and the company's unique approach.
    3-Accessories.jpg

    The player is pretty big, its width and height are bigger than corresponding sizes of LPG. At the same time, the new model is thinner, so it's still can be considered portable. Unlike A&Ultima, it better fits in a palm and is easier to operate. The black metal case is now more rounded, all sharp edges and slopes are gone. It contrasts with A&K's design approach and gives LPGT it's own unique look among other gods of TOTL Olympus.

    Of course, the center of gadget's universe is sensor screen. It's relatively small, a bit less than 4 inches, the resolution is 800 × 480. Viewing angles and picture quality is excellent. Brightness is enough for direct sunlight. The screen is pretty responsive, but some UI elements need a bit of tweaking, mostly toggles. Their tap area is small, and they require precise aiming for toggling. Besides that, touch and gestures handling is flawless.

    A nice small feature that I especially like: you can double tap the screen to wake the player up. I think all DAPs should implement that ASAP.
    4-Front.jpg

    Right panel holds four buttons: one for toggling player on and screen locking, and 3 for track navigation and play-pause function. All buttons have nice, defined click and proper tactical feedback. The bottom panel has a slot for SD cards (player uses full-size SD). LPGT has no own memory, but it supports all card volumes so that won't be a huge problem. Near the SD slot, you'll find USB-C socket for charging, memory card access, and to use the player as USB DAC. Nice touch, when you connect LPGT to smartphone or PC, it shows menu, allowing you to select the desired connection mode. Moreover, you can choose, shall player charge while working as a DAC, it's a convenient feature that allows you to save some power using "Touch" with notebook or smartphone.

    Speaking about work time, despite pretty big battery (5500 mAh), it's about average. From a single charge, I've got from 9 to 10.5 hours of work. A full charge took about 4 hours.
    5-Rear.jpg

    On top panel located two outputs: 4.4 mm "balanced" Pentacon and single-ended 3.5 mm. I think that a gradual transition to Pentacon is the right direction for portable audio. Volume knob, located nearby, is the only element reminding classical LPG: it has same gold plating and similar "sun" pattern that Lotoo connects with Apollo, god of music. Volume control uses good encoder, so it's rotating smoothly and with an apparent fixation of positions. Underneath this knob, you'll see a circular led indicator with a cool "breath" effect slowly fading in and out during playback and charge. It looks stylish, but you'll become annoyed after 15 minutes of slow blinks, you can turn it off in settings.

    Overall build quality is uncompromised, and probably you can't expect less for that price range. Usability is also good; I got no single issue with it.
    6-Bottom.jpg

    Firmware is an in-house developed solution, not relying on the Android core. From one point of view, it gives DAP lightning-fast bootup (about 2 seconds) and boosts its reliability and performance. From another hand, it's drastically limiting the streaming capabilities of the player. LPGT has WiFi, but its single usage is a firmware update. Maybe later Lotoo will add some network features, but that isn't certain. At the same time, Bluetooth implementation is excellent: it's bi-directional and supports LDAC.

    I won't go deep into describing every single menu option, the player has plenty of them, but anyone can figure them out after 10 minutes of use.

    The main screen divides into few sections. Top one contains media library buttons: Playlist, Folder, Artists, Albums and all songs, and Settings button. Media library is traditional, most probably you've seen that many times. Besides usual browsing, you can filter songs list by files resolution and perform bulk and single file operations of deletion and addition to the playlist. Artists list is single-level, selecting artist will give you all his songs without albums groping. Update: recent firmware fixed this, now two-level grouping is available. Also, I must admit that the media library is lightning fast, scanning is done in the background and took almost no time.
    7-Case Front.jpg

    Below media library, the player shows information about the currently playing track, tapping here will move you to now playing screen. That screen is pretty familiar: big cover display, navigation controls, etc. Tapping album's cover will show you additional information about the track, its lyrics (if present) and signature spectrum analyzer. I like that Lotoo didn't forget about that feature of classical LPG.

    Under the track info on the main screen, developers placed playback control buttons with nice sine wave animation underneath.

    Swipe down from upper edge traditionally opens quick settings menu. Swiping up from the lower side will return you to the main menu from any submenu.

    And about the settings. There are lots of them, but their grouping is pretty logical, so learning them won't take much time. Fun detail: you can tune both outputs separately, selecting options like mode, gain, and balance. I won't describe all possibilities, mention the most important one: parametric equalizer and ATE. As in "old" model, new Paw Gold has a perfect implementation of digital signal processing. You can select one of "Acoustic Timbre Enhancement" presets, they are fascinating and goes beyond traditional EQing. Or you can tune equalizer yourself, using a pretty convenient menu. Unlike old LPG, now you can see the equalizer curve to get a better understanding of what's going on with sound. The best thing here is that turning equalizer on don't spoil the music, unlike other DAP's implementations, so "Touch" is, probably, the best option for those who'd like to "tweak" the sound of player.
    8-Glass.jpg

    And now, let's move to the sound. As I've mentioned above, two outputs of LPGT uses different opamps so that their sounding will be a bit different. The single-ended output sounds a bit closer to "Classical" LPG: more added energy and a bit "rougher" representation. So to get the maximum "boost," you need to use balanced out with Pentacon cable or utilizing some adapter. The further sound description is made using 4.4 mm out.

    Tuning of TOTL DAP's sound is a hard job, one step aside, and you fail. Representation should be neutral, detailed, but at the same time not too dull and lifeless. Luckily, Lotoo's engineers know their job well, and LPGT is a strong competitor in its segment with a superb organic and engaging presentation.

    It's hard to describe the sound of LPGT because it's "correct." It sounds "as is" and that's probably saying almost everything about it :) There are not much "features" in player's representation to name, so I can just tell how good are particular aspects of it's sounding. But anyway, let's try to do that.
    9-Case Rear.jpg

    For listening, I used the following headphones: Meze Empyrean, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Audio Andromeda and Solaris, Unique Melody Mason V3, HUM Pristine.

    Bass is neutral, perfectly detailed and well-controlled. Player has no accents, so it won't fit the tastes of those who like "additional pump," but will perfectly suit those who want to hear any single nuance of low-register instruments. Acoustic bass, organ, lower octaves of fortepiano — that's where LPGT shines. Anyway, synthesized bass isn't a problem for it too, depth is excellent, and if you need some bass boost, you can get appropriate headphones or IEMs. As an example track for bass, I will name Dire Straits – Private Investigations. If you heard this track, I think you can understand why I selected it. This monotone bass notes in the second part of this track are in perfect contrast with Knopfler's guitar, and LPGT's ideal control of bass makes this part impressive.

    Mid frequencies are masterfully balancing between neutrality and engagement. They have a tiny hint of added forwardness in the upper area that adding additional effectiveness to vocals, but that's the only deviation from neutrality. At the same time, LPGT offers an impressive integral representation of musical material, immersive and emotional. At the same time, the player is resolving, with the perfect amount of micro contrast. The imaginary stage is the widest I've heard in portable audio world (sharing #1 spot with SP1000), and one of the deepest (SP1000 is a bit deeper, but just a bit). As an example here I will use The Alan Parsons Project – La Sagrada Familia: player flawlessly recreated nice 3D effects during the intro, as well as emotions and details of central "rock" part.
    10-With Encore.jpg

    Treble for me is a most significant difference of high-end device. It's so hard to point at some minor issues with upper frequencies, but they can ruin everything and make sound lifeless. Luckily, LPGT is a right TOTL player, and it's treble is as close to perfection as possible. Details, layering, proper attacks and decays — all that nuances are here, giving the player airness, naturalness and "superpowers" to deal with overtones. Treble's example will be Leïla Martial – Left Alone, one of the best vocal jazz tracks in my media library. Intensive female vocal is always a test for any DAP, but "Touch" passes it with flying colors.

    Another strong side of LPGT is versatility. It has a low level of background noise to make listening to any sensitive IEMs a joy. It has enough driving power for a vast majority of full-size cans. Just give this DAP any headphones (except few toughest to drive models), and it will push them to the limits.
    11-Compare.jpg

    Few selected comparisons.

    Astell&Kern SP1000 It seems to me that Lotoo engineers kept A&Ultima in mind when they tweaked LPGT sound. Both players are very close concerning sound, speaking either about "level" or "representation." Same control, same neutral, but engaging representation, same rich treble, etc. Differences are so minor that I had to do a long A/B testing session to describe the difference. SP1000 has a bit deeper imaginary stage, but the difference is subtle. Also, DAPs have slightly different mids coloration: signature "fluid" mids of A&K versus small grain of added upper mids emotions from LPGT. Honestly, I can't answer which one is better, so, you should probably base selection on non-sonic preferences like design and features.

    Astell&Kern SP1000M This one is simpler to tell apart. LPGT offers better bass representation and bit more treble extension. The stage has the same depth, but LPGT is a bit wider. The difference is minor but audible.
    12-Stylish Shot.jpg

    Lotoo Paw Gold Well, this one is a more complicated choice as LPGT isn't a "classical LPG on steroids." The sound of the "Touch" was re-tuned to be less colored and more natural. So, if you like the added emotions and drive of the classical model, LPGT isn't an upgrade, but a new, different experience. But if you prefer the more natural and uncolored sound, "Touch" is a noticeable step forward.

    Well, probably, it's time to summarize. Lotoo is moving in the head of the market, LPGT is a worse contender for other flagship devices: great mature sound, exciting design, and smooth UI. Of course, it lacks streaming features, but the flawless implementation of the equalizer is a much more important option, at least for me.

    P.S. Video version of my review is also available

      Rebelranger, B9Scrambler and Whitigir like this.
  3. Whitigir
    A unique Player with strong characters
    Written by Whitigir
    Published Jan 28, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Ergonomic, unique signature of it own with strong characters, powerful enough even Hd800s is satisfied
    Cons - No internet or browser with WiFi, price
    Thanks to Musicteck , an authorized dealer of Lotoo in the US, I am able to spend sometime with the Gold-Touch. I requested the Gold-Touch because it peaked my interest in many of the technologies which is dedicated toward Sound quality. The 2 main reasons are


    1/ DSP, Digital Signal Processing. Instead of using the typical FPGA or Xmos chips to handle this process, Lotoo opted for another chip that is Black Fin 706. Yes, the DSP is just as important as a DAC, or it could even be more important. I am sure the majority of people overlooked this. While Lotoo does not marketing this implementation and design the way it should, Lotto shows that they care about sound quality and how it gets processed.
    32DBE527-0177-4DC6-976F-395CDDD8F7EB.jpeg
    2/ Upsampling and Oversampling by another chip on the fly, the AKM4137EQ. It is very interesting that as my understanding, this chip can also act as another DSP chip, but Lotoo has a reason to separate DSP chip and Upsampling-Oversampling processing chip. I think it makes sense to have each dedicated chip into a specific task. According to Lotoo description, any PCM can be Upsampled into 768KHz, and any DSD goes to Reprocessing into DSD256. If I am not mistaken, by doing this, Lotto is fully in control of software algorithm which can fully utilizes the Hardware IC chips to the most efficient way. So when Upsampled or reprocessing of either PCM or DSD, the software will heavily be affecting the sound performances. If Chord has M-Scaler to Scale up any PCM into 768KHz, then Gold Touch XRC is already doing it within itself. However, the programs and coding would be the decisive factor here


    3/ GT Is advertised to be capable of DSD512. So far, there is only 2 devices in portable form that can do DSD512 natively. The DX200 and the LPGT


    4/ Build quality from pictures advertised, it seems to be using top of the line Oxi-Capacitors from AVX
    1D25917F-84B5-485B-A467-50D6BDFDA978.jpeg
    Freshly out of the box, the GT reminds me the form factor of WM1Z with the appearance of WM1A. Instead of using MicroSD, it uses full-size SD. It is fairly light in hand. Quick look at the connectors, headphones 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended. Both of these outputs can be used as Line-Out


    Instead of using 2x AK4497EQ, Lotoo opted for 1 single chip. Does it matter ? Yes, and no. Theoretically speaking, anything higher than 125Db Dynamic range, we are into high-resolutions, and high quality of sound reproductions. The rest of it is how the hardware is internally connected, communicated, quality of the supportive components being used, and most of all, the playback software and the whole OS.


    A9F4C346-5BAE-43F1-B712-08AA96D30A07.jpeg



    Practicality: GT has External USB-DAC and Bluetooth DAC/Amp features, both allows great flexibility to wire or wirelessly connection to other devices while using the GT as your portable DAC/Amp


    At this moment, the wireless connection to go onto the internet is only useful for checking OTA updates, no browser or apps. The GT from out of the box and the interfaces were very straight forward, simple, and easy to grab hold of. I can totally see that GT was catered from within the Operation System to the Connections and it interfaces are all dedicated toward user friendly and music performances only. This motive is very similar to Sony and their latest Walkman. Only exception is that Walkman WM lines don’t even have WiFi.


    USB-DAC features: right now, the USB-DAC feature is only enabled by using the stock cables that comes with it. Using Windows 10 OS, the GT automatically prompted Windows to install driver, and however, does not allow DSD playback in this mode by using HQ-Player.


    However, Upsampling on the fly upto 705.6Khz is possible in this mode. That means even in XRC, the full-blown feature of upscaling your PCM into 768KHz is as advertised. By using HQPlayer, you can custom the Filter, noise-shaping, dithering to your heart contents. Volume-wheel is disabled, and only software from the PC is enabled.

    CDF14534-72A8-40FB-A32F-1EB0510A42E8.jpeg
    Disclaimer: I only use full-size headphones, and it is HD800S. My point of view and impressions according to my preferences is my own. You may find it helpful, or totally useless. However, If you are honestly looking to spend $3,000 something for a DAP, and looking for reviews or impressions to get an idea, I would urge you to take my impressions with a grain of salt. The best is to listen to the Gold Touch with your favorite collections and favorite gears (headphones or in ears), and decide for yourself. If you are inside the US, you may contact Musicteck for a Demo on tour unit, which I am using for this review. This unit is not purchased or given to me. I am simply interested in the device, and willing to share what Impression I may find


    PCM without EQ: please bare in mind that I won’t be making any impressions regarding the EQ. If you like to EQ, I can only say that P-EQ is very well known for it performances.

    267F62FD-9FC1-4292-8D78-5E5B73CDCBB5.jpeg

    Sound signature: it is your typical AKM sound signature, and it isn’t much altered. Thick density with smooth and weighty treble. Engaging with a little touch of warmth very similar to WM1Z, but with better soundstage. Very focused and analog like. I would say that it is very musical, engaging, and fun to listen to with a unique signature or characters of it own.


    Power delivery: very powerful, high gain can gain a lot more than low gain, and with high-gain, balanced 4.4mm, HD800s can seamlessly be driven at 60 volumes


    Layering and separations are great, though, I thought it could be better ?


    Sub-bass: plenty of it with a good dosage of rumbles


    Bass overall is dense with a slight touch of your AKM signature, good blooms, extensions and speed, while being very well balanced from low-mid-upper bass throughout


    Mid carries a touch of warmth with great and acceptable layering separation overall, the GT is very musical , soothing and engaging to listen to. Trying to listening to GT until this section, I just want to relax, close my eyes, and let it sing me to sleep.


    Lower trebles is very well presenting with great body density and resolution. Mid treble also have this weighty feeling while the upper treble is a tad more neutral in comparison to the rest with great extensions. I think Lotoo is trying to keep the musicality, engaging, fun, but not losing any details and or too boring. It is actually very forgiven as sibilants in bad records are kept to a minimum to still be enjoyable but noticeable enough to tell you that there is sibilants caused by the tracks


    Soundstage: very spherical and holographic. The sound signature is a tad closer to the WM1Z than I would think, while the soundstage is actually better in width, depth, not quiet as tall in the vertical plane. It is probably the illusion created by the expansion of width and depth in comparison.


    Clarity and transparency: once again, AKM style with focuses upon timbres density and analog like musicality


    There is something different with the GT than the Wm1Z that I can not quite find the right way to describe, perhaps it is the warmth but evenly and artfully turned closer to natural sounding on the wm1Z while the LPGT is also similarly warmth but more kind of like a unique signature of it own. I don’t know why when I think about this and the “mega bass line of Walkman in the past come to mind”.
    FD383CE1-B78D-42A8-A5BF-E045F662ECFF.jpeg

    XRC: Upsampling any PCM with AKM-IC into 768KHz


    While connecting to PC with Windows OS and the stock cables, the GT will automatically provide driver to the PC. It will allow to do XRC on the GT itself, or you can use HQPlayer-Wasapi-GT and up-scale anything into 75.6Khz. This feature is as advertised.


    It charges and play simultaneously, so it would not run out of battery.


    Sound signature: using XRC here, the sound is now more neutral without too much emphasizing into the bass blooms and resonances as the Standard playback. It got cleaned up nicely and is more balanced to the rest of other spectrums with better decay and speed. Vocal is also cleaned up nicely, but trebles could be a touch more detailed with better energy and extensions. The better treble could be achieved with (Sinc-M filter, none dithering, 705.6 KHz) from within the HQPlayer itself. The unique characters of LPGT still remains but somewhat tamed


    What does this mean ? It means that simply Lotoo has it own and very Unique signature and strong character with it own Standard Player


    For now, the most enjoyable sound performances for me comes from the HQPlayer with GT as an external DAC that can upscale upto 705.6Khz. The feature inside itself, XRC can do something similar, but it will need time to perfection.


    DSD-Native as a platform


    Using GT connecting to PC can only be used with upscaling PCM, and there is no feature available for DSD at all.


    However, a loaded DSD256 onto the SD-card can play flawlessly. Using DSD256 the “unique signature” that I mentioned above became more Apparent. This flavor presented itself plenty with Standard player, and somewhat on XRC upscaling, then disappear with DSD256


    Perhaps if this is Lotoo house sound signature, then I am sure it will not disappoint anyone who adore it, a touch of warmth, Very musical with great density and long decay with great blooms


    While advertising the player being able to handle DSD512, the GT can not actually playback DSD512 being loaded into the SD card or USB-DAC. Maybe in the future, this feature will be enabled with firmware. However, for a portable device, many companies rather choose to be safe than sorry as DSD512 consumes a lot of processing power and battery


    I also have another DAP here that can do wonderfully with DSD512 internally loaded or acting as external USB-DAC, the DX200. However, the DX200 can not play PCM 705.6Khz the way the GT does. If you want PCM upscaler, go with GT, and if you want DSD512, the Dx200 is the answer.


    In comparison to DX200Titanium and Amp1Titanium balanced out. The Dx200 actually has better soundstage with width, depth, vertical and Holo graphical presentation. The airiness and separation is also a bit better. The GT does get closer to the DX200Ti when ticked on the XRC. Both is playing DSD256 about similar with GT a touch more analog sounding.
    F7903748-52DF-4DE4-8554-98F7FD539719.jpeg
    Conclusion: We all have our own preferences, music is just like art and foods. We don’t all like fish-sauces, or anchovy do we ?


    So, in my opinion. The LPGT is wonderful for what it is trying to aim at. Very friendly interface, New features such as XRC, and is the first of many products to be seamlessly upscaling PCM into higher format upto 705.6 KHz by itself, or by PC via USB. Parametric EQ, over the air firmware upgrades, different choices of digital filters, the powerful output to drive full-size headphones. The unique House-Sound signature of LoToo...etc...My verdict is that the LPGT is a wonderful machine with carefully engineering and thought out to be a wonderful high-performances oriented device with a Unique signature and characters, the LPGT is certainly of it own, and if your preferences is leaning toward this uniqueness, you will not find another DAP on the current market similar

    However, for my personal choices, I choose to stay with Dx200 as a platform just as much as when I let go of my WM1Z and still keeping it. Ultimately, for your own decision, I will then once again, urge you to personally listen to the LPGT before you can decide.
      fokta, Tawek, twister6 and 1 other person like this.
  4. ustinj
    Lotoo Paw Touch Gold Impressions
    Written by ustinj
    Published Jan 16, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - sound, ergonomics, build, software, leather case
    Cons - expensive
    [​IMG]
    I’ve currently got the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch on loan from Musicteck.com, and have been giving it a bit of use in the past few weeks. Big thanks to Andrew for giving me the opportunity to give the ‘legendary’ TOTL DAP a go. I’ll be returning it shortly after. You can view more information and pick up your own at the following link:


    Full disclaimer: I’ve stated it before, and I’ll state it again. At the heart of my love for audio quality, I still ultimately consider myself a consumer above all things. Admittedly, I’m not the most experienced when it comes to pinpointing the direct changes when it comes to source changes. However, new experiences are always welcome and I’ll do my best to transcribe my impressions on the LPGT into words.

    The LPGT comes in a golden logo-embellished cardboard box, with a significantly thicker black box underneath. I don’t really focus much on packaging anymore, but I can say is that the LPGT is well-presented and very organized in its delivery.

    Following suit, I won’t be going too much into detail about the small things. I wouldn't consider this exactly a review, due to my lack of knowledge in DAPs and source gear. These are my impressions of the LPGT.

    GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
    The player itself is quite the brick. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things, and certainly far heftier than your typical smartphone. Regardless, it feels comfortable to hold and operate with one hand (apart from the weight).

    [​IMG]
    The design is clearly well-thought out — after using it for three weeks, I had hardly noticed the smart design cues that made it so convenient and graceful to use (that is good design, hardly drawing attention to it!). Only now, sitting and holding the player in my hands, do I acknowledge things such as:
    • Rivets on both the left & right sides of the player, allowing the base of my palm and fingers to have a more secure grip on the player (I typically hold the player with my left hand, but it’s designed to work fine with the right hand as well).
    • Power & playback control buttons are placed accordingly, so that when the player is held in my operating hand (left), my fingers rest directly on the hardware buttons for easy operation.
    • Volume wheel is placed so that while my middle finger can operate the hardware buttons, my index finger can easily change the volume .
    • Chamfered & rounded corners, so that holding the player in my hand is comfortable and doesn’t dig into base of palm (some players have recently had the trend of obscenely sharp and crisp corners, like Fiio M7 — looks cool I guess, but it hurts). This angled rounding not only looks good but feels good.
    • SD card cover pivots when opened, allowing you to insert / remove the card without bending and putting stress on any plastic.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    As mentioned above, playback control hardware buttons are available on the right-hand side of the player. There is a small nub on the pause button for easy indication and finger placement without vision. Volume is controlled by the infamous golden dial on the top, each click indicating an increment of volume. It works well, and adds its one-of-a-kind twist to the design that gives the player its identity.

    The ‘breathing’ light under the volume knob is really handsome, indicating whether or not a track is currently playing. You can adjust whether or not this light activates in the settings.

    [​IMG]
    The included leather case is simply fantastic. It fits exceptionally well (really, like a glove — a really tight, custom-fit glove…), there’s quite literally no chance of the player coming loose from the case. In fact, on first installation, I was kind of panicking because I couldn’t get it off. It looks beautiful as well. The leather is soft and luxurious to the touch. The brown stitching on the back perimeter gives it a nice contrast, surrounding the stylish “Paw Gold Touch” typography. However, there are some slight inconsistencies to the edges around the screen. I’m not a leather professional though, and I’m not really sure what this indicates.

    I’m sure if Lotoo didn’t include it with the player, this case alone would sell for a pretty penny. However, something to note is that the leather case covers the SD card cover (so you’d have to take the case off if you want to remove the card).

    [​IMG]

    SHORT NOTES ON LTOS
    I tend to be pretty picky about user interfaces. The LTOS UI is actually something I really had no major qualms using. There are no annoying quirks that bothered me, which is impressive as I can’t say the same for many other DAP UI’s I’ve used. It’s very smooth and streamlined to use — though the user manual is written completely in Chinese (couldn’t find an English version either), I didn’t have any issue whatsoever operating the DAP for basic music listening*. There were no issues with lag, skipping, or weird playback order (ahem, Fiio’s M7). No actual complaints about the OS itself.

    *However, it would be invaluable for Lotoo to include an English version of the user manual anywhere. It took me quite a bit of playing around to figure out how to enable things such as custom EQs, upsampling, and more. Once I figured it out, it was like “Well, that’s actually pretty convenient”.

    The option for Bluetooth DAC function took me by surprise, as I expected the typical buyer for a device of this caliber would not be interested in mucking about wireless connections. It works as expected, similarly to the Shanling M0’s BT receiver function. Pairing is simple and straightforward. Funny thing here, the sound of streaming Spotify through the LPGT’s BT DAC is far more pleasant than listening through a wired USB-C to 3.5mm connection.


    SOUND IMPRESSIONS

    On a flight, I had a pretty good time listening to the LPGT paired with the Campfire Audio Andromeda S. In one sentence, I can describe the experience: it became really easy to get lost in the music. Onto the basic output, the matchup without a buffer in between is a bit too thick for my liking — I used an ifi IEMatch (got this for free from a friend) to tweak the sound a bit. The resulting sound is a beautifully balanced tuning.

    [​IMG]
    First off, my general description of the Andromeda S pairing.

    With the slightly increased OI from the IEMatch, the Andromeda S has a quick, snappy, agile bass presentation. It reaches down well into the subbass, especially for a balanced armature setup. Unfortunately in terms of bass, it doesn’t come close to what a decent dynamic driver can do — it loses authority down into the subbass and doesn’t have the texture that a DD does. Midrange is tonally correct with a pleasing warmth behind vocal notes. Upper midrange texture with the Andromeda S is noticeably better here than with the original Andromeda. Where details on a lower OI would feel a bit more muffled to me on the original Andromeda, it sounds just perfectly detailed on the Andromeda S. Treble is the most beautiful aspect of the Andromeda in my opinion. So delicate yet robust, it has a flamboyant sparkle that really wowed me the first time I heard it. Admittedly it’s slightly nicer on the original Andromeda, but the S is no slouch. The overall sound is just a harmonious cooperation between the frequencies.

    Off the bat, I find the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch does not have an immediately coloured sound. If anything, the tone feels to be mostly neutral other than a slight lift in subbass. Now, what exactly does the LPGT do that my V20 and Shanling M0 do not? Let me first say that it is not a night and day difference (or I’m just not sensitive enough to perceive it that way); upgrading to the LPGT from your phone will not be nearly as drastic as upgrading the transducer. I tried various IEMs, but only my Andromeda felt like it was not bottlenecking the DAP’s hardware. The improvement was a bit hard to pin down at first, but if I were to put down whatever has been flowing through my brain as I listened to the LPGT:

    (Paired with Campfire Audio Andromeda S), XRC upsampling ON…

    • I’ll have to admit that there is actually a low amount of noticeable noise through the SE. However, I find this greatly improved on the balanced output.
    • The LPGT renders detail seamlessly, every crackle, movement, and microdetail in a vocalist’s note sounds so real and there. Whereas with the LG V20 and M0 to an extent, I had hardly noticed these tiny details were on the recording.
    • Continuing off of the previous point, the amount of detailing on the LPGT feels in a way effortless. It doesn’t have an artificial brightness or steeliness that simulates enhanced detail — the resolution is just there, unobtrusive, and it feels as if I don’t have to even try to hear it. During some activities where I would normally have music playing in the background, I’d actually find myself listening to the details of the track and spacing out!
    • As I stated, the LPGT does not have an artificial brightness in the treble. The treble feels very natural and even, transparent without any alteration or colouration. I can’t 100% say the same for my other source gear.
    • Spacial cues… Layering is impressive. Instruments sound less tempted to meld together in complex passages, they maintain their composure well without any issue. Soundstage does not feel enhanced or constrained, it just feels appropriately average in all directions.
    • While listening with the balanced output, I feel that microdynamics are simply excellent. Everything sounds so snappy, as if every note is a fleeting image in itself. Attack feels quicker, faster… and holds my attention until the note disappears, in which it does so gracefully and fades to nothingness without a trace (very clean background, as if it eliminates any trailing sounds or noise that shouldn’t actually be there).
    This is without a doubt a device made for music.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll be sending the LPGT back very soon. There have been times where I was afraid to bring it out and use it, since it’s a very expensive device (and a loaner). However, the times I spent with it were just incredibly pleasant listening experiences. I’ll definitely miss this player in all its glory! In summation, the LPGT is truly a exceptional sounding player with attractive design and convenient software -- whether or not it's worth the splendid price tag is up for personal debate. Thanks again to Andrew at Musicteck for letting me give the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch a try.
  5. twister6
    Extreme Makeover of LPG!
    Written by twister6
    Published Dec 20, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - optimized OS with 2sec boot up, duplex LDAC Bluetooth, Parametric EQ II, solid build quality, hardware up-sampling, SE and BAL Line out, reference quality sound, high level of config in Settings.
    Cons - price, SD card only and no internal storage.


    The product in this review was loaned to me for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion. The review was originally featured on my blog, and now I would like to share it with my readers on Head-fi.

    Manufacturer website: Lotoo. Available for sale from MusicTeck.

    One thing I would like for people to be aware of, LPGT purchased in some of the countries in Asia (S. Korea, Japan, and Mainland China) will not have English language as an option, while others (SGP, HK, etc) will have it. This only affects units purchased in Asia, so please make sure to check with your distributor/retailer before making a purchase, especially if you are ordering from overseas or asking someone who is traveling in Asia to get one for you.


    Intro.

    It has been exactly 3 years since I reviewed the original LPG, Lotoo's flagship DAP which has been introduced almost four years ago and still has a cult following by many audiophiles and reviewers who continue using it along with the latest A&K and Sony flagships. So, what made this DAP to stand the test of time? There are many factors, such as optimized custom OS, build like-a-tank compact design, powerful output to drive variety of headphones and earphones, and its well-known Parametric EQ. But regardless of its relevance, sooner or later the DAP will start showing its age, especially when it’s a non-touch screen device with audio playback only functionality.

    I heard rumors about Touch screen LPG version back in 2017, even with a possible release date before Xmas of that year. Don't know exactly what happened and why it was delayed, but I assume that product wasn’t ready for prime time, or maybe they decided to revise the design. Lotoo usually doesn’t spoil us with many releases, and seems they take their time to get it right, to make it last, to futureproof the design. Even after LPGT announcement back in April of this year and showcasing Touch at various global audio shows, only now they are rolling out a global release since the firmware is finalized and all the promised features are implemented and thoroughly tested.

    lpgt-58.jpg

    Unboxing and Accessories.

    I still remember LPG unboxing experience, unfolding the origami-like silver cover and trying to figure out how to open the box with its swing-out compartments. LPGT unboxing is more straight forward while still maintaining its premium level. Finally, it has the “golden touch” with a golden sleeve cover featuring their signature Apollo Sun God pattern.

    lpgt-01.jpg lpgt-02.jpg lpgt-03.jpg lpgt-04.jpg

    Inside you will find all the essentials with a manual, a pair of tempered glass screen protectors (one was included as a spare), a cleaning cloth, and a premium USB/USB-C braided cable. My favorite accessory was a premium leather case.

    lpgt-05.jpg lpgt-06.jpg lpgt-07.jpg

    The included leather case fits LPGT like a glove, enhancing the grip, and protecting from scratches and minor drops. The case covers SD port at the bottom and keeps USB-C charging/data port open. It also covers the playback/power buttons on the right side with an easy to feel indented outline/shape around the controls. The top of the case is open, giving full access to Headphone/LO ports and the golden wheel.

    lpgt-08.jpg lpgt-09.jpg lpgt-21.jpg lpgt-22.jpg

    Design.

    It was interesting to see how Lotoo transformed their original non-touch LPG into a touch-screen version. The focus of any touch screen design is usually a glass display which can look boring. To make the shape unique, Lotoo carried over the same outline around the volume wheel, paying their homage to the original LPG. The size of LPGT is bigger, 68.6mm x 119mm x 21mm and the weight is 293g. Then, above its 3.77” IPS Retina LCD touch screen (with 480x800 resolution), you will find the original shiny gold volume wheel with a secure guard around it. In my opinion, the golden wheel with its Apollo Sun pattern is still the focus of the design. And just like in the original, you can configure its direction to change volume either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The level of configuration and customization in LPGT is very impressive, you can even configure to double tap the screen to wake it up.

    lpgt-10.jpg lpgt-16.jpg lpgt-17.jpg

    Bottom of LPGT hosts a full-size SD card with a dust cover, just like in the original LPG. Don’t expect micro SD and there is also no internal storage, so you must use SD card. Those are still easy to buy, or you can use micro SD with SD card adapter. Next to it is USB-C port for charging of the DAP, data transfer, and USB DAC connection. Right there you can already see that you no longer need to deal with a proprietary LPG charger, and you finally got USB DAC functionality.

    Nothing is on the left side, and the right side has 4 round metal buttons with their functionality etched on the surface. 3 playback control buttons (play/pause and skip) are grouped closer while a power button (also used for screen on/off) is a little further away. Play button has a bump identification (for a blind id) if you are planning to use Touch without a case, while with a case on this bump is irrelevant. Either way, buttons have a nice tactile response, with or without a case.

    lpgt-11.jpg lpgt-12.jpg lpgt-13.jpg lpgt-14.jpg lpgt-15.jpg lpgt-19.jpg lpgt-20.jpg

    The top of the DAP, besides already mentioned volume wheel with a “breathing light” underneath, also has 3.5mm single ended and 4.4mm balanced outputs with a flexible configuration. Single-ended 3.5mm low impedance output uses LME49600 op-amp (TI high performance, high current HiFi headphone buffer), has 125dB SNR spec with 500mW max power output, and can be selected as Headphone output or Line out, where as HO can be set to high/low gain and have independent L/R balance adjustment. Balanced 4.4mm low impedance output uses OPA1622 op-amp (TI high performance SoundPlus HiFi audio opamp), has 127dB SNR spec with 500mW max power output, and can be selected as Headphone output or Line out, where as HO can be set to high/low gain and have independent L/R balance adjustment.

    While LPGT is a little bigger than original LPG, it still feels compact and lighter (relative to SP1000, WM1Z, and N8), and easy to operate with one hand. And it’s still build like-a-tank with its aircraft aluminum alloy chassis and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 display with anti-fingerprint and DLC coating.

    lpgt-18.jpg

    Under the hood.

    In the heart of LPGT you will find the AKM flagship AK4497EQ DAC, but in addition to AKM DAC, Lotoo also implemented AKM AK4137EQ up-sampling chip. On the fly you can up-sample PCM to 768kHz and DSD to DSD256. Up-sampling is Enabled in the Settings and based on my brief testing, it’s not a gimmick but the real deal. The same as Lotoo's own operating system being the real deal - optimized and super fast with a boot up time of about 2-3 seconds.

    LPGT supports all the popular lossy and lossless formats up to and including DFF, DSF, ISO, FLAC, APE, WAV, AAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, and OGG, with PCM sampling rates 32kHz-768kHz. It also supports DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, and DSD512 with corresponding sampling rates of 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz, and 22.4MHz. I didn’t notice any lag or glitches when switching between different file formats or during Gapless playback (which usually buffers ahead), thanks to its multi-processor architecture which handles multiple tasks in parallel.

    lpgt-60.jpg

    I already mentioned about the implementation of TI OPA1622 SoundPlus opamps on 4.4mm BAL output and TI LME49600 High Performance opamps on 2.5mm SE output. To my surprise, both ports have the same output power, rated up to 500mW, and I confirmed the output level to be in a perfect match when switching between SE and BAL headphone ports. Each of these ports can be selected as Line Out as well, to drive external amplifier in either Single Ended or fully Balanced connection.

    lpgt-61.jpg

    USB DAC is supported without a problem when you connect Touch to computer or smartphone. You can also take advantage of LDAC wireless protocol with 2-way Bluetooth 4.2 support (LDAC 96kHz/24bit, up to 990kbps). With duplex BT support, you can either pair up with wireless headphones and speakers or connect Touch as a wireless Receiver to your Smartphone which enables wireless high-res streaming to LPGT. I tested it with my Galaxy S9 which supports LDAC and was able to stream Spotify wireless without a problem.

    lpgt-24.jpg lpgt-25.jpg lpgt-26.jpg lpgt-27.jpg

    Unlike LPG with its proprietary charging connector, now you can take advantage of USB-C port, to charge its 5400 mAh battery which should yield a playback time of up to 10hrs. I will have to run multiple charge/discharge cycles to verify this when I get my longer-term review sample. There also a nice feature of when connecting USB DAC to either select "computer" so you charge the battery or USB DAC Phone, so you don't drain your phone battery.

    lpgt-56.jpg

    There’s also WiFi interface, but its current implementation is only for over-the-air (OTA) download and update of the firmware. I’m not sure if there is a plan for any native plugins support in the future, but for now WiFi functionality is limited only to OTA fw downloads which I verified to work without a problem.

    lpgt-50.jpg

    GUI - Interface and Playback screen.

    In less than 3 seconds after pressing the power button on LPGT, you are greeted with the Main interface screen where you will find shortcuts to Play list, Songs, Artists, Album list, Folders, and Settings at the top, and currently playing song with transport touch controls below it. Songs, Artists, Albums sorts your file according to the selection, while Playlists shows favorites, recent playlists, and all songs. In Albums you have two views, as a list or large artwork thumbs. Folders let you browse by file folders on your SD card. Tapping on the currently playing song brings you to Playback screen, and you can always get back to the Main screen by swiping the screen up.

    lpgt-28.jpg lpgt-29.jpg lpgt-30.jpg lpgt-31.jpg lpgt-32.jpg

    The swiping up has a cool visual animation effect of the screen shrinking up as you drag your finger across until it disappears, and you are back to the Main interface screen. I captured this effect in screenshots below by taking separate pictures with my camera – very smooth transition effect.

    lpgt-33.jpg lpgt-34.jpg lpgt-35.jpg lpgt-36.jpg

    When you swipe down notification bar, you have access to a few essential shortcuts, such as Playback mode, Enable/disable Bluetooth, Volume hold/lock, Enable/disable XSC (hardware up-sampling), and separate selection of 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone output Gain. You will also find song search at the top, and brightness control bar at the bottom of the expanded notification bar screen.

    lpgt-37.jpg

    The Playback screen is very straight forward with embedded artwork occupying top half (if one is available, if not, there is a default artwork) and multiple views underneath which you can access by swiping to view artwork, detailed song info, lyrics (if embedded), and Spectrum Analyzer bars view, just like in LPG. There is a shortcut in the upper right corner to delete the song or to add to playlist.

    lpgt-51.jpg lpgt-52.jpg lpgt-55.jpg

    Below the artwork screen, you will see a transport control scroll bar, and underneath of it a playback control buttons, including playback mode on the left and EFX on the right. EFX brings up PMEQ (Parametric EQ II) and ATE (Acoustic Timbre Embellisher) presets and custom PMEQ presets, coincidentally identical to the ones found in LPG. It seems that a handful features have been carried over from the original LPG. Also, in the PMEQ list you can find the custom Parametric EQ presets.

    lpgt-53.jpg lpgt-54.jpg

    In my opinion, Parametric EQ (PMEQ) feature of the LPG was a big deal since it allowed a very precise and accurate sound-shaping control. While I don’t use EQ on regular daily basis, I do rely on it when it comes to providing fine-tuning feedback to IEM manufacturers where LPG is my go-to tool for precise narrow cuts and boosts while sweeping through frequencies. Of course, dealing with a tiny screen and LPG push-button controls can be frustrating when tweaking PMEQ. With a large touch screen and visual interface, this experience is night’n’day where you can easily select from a drop-down menu a filter type, F0 center frequency, gain in decimal increments, and Q width of the band while watching the adjustment on the graph above. My only wish here is to be able to drag the peak on the graph itself to adjust the gain from a touch screen.

    lpgt-45.jpg lpgt-46.jpg

    GUI - Settings and Features.

    When it comes to Settings, LPGT probably has more options than I have ever seen in any other DAP. The main Settings menu is split into Basic Settings (covering Play, Output, and Player settings), Sound Settings (covering Hardware decode, EQ, ATE, and Filter settings), Bluetooth (which also covers BT DAC), SD card management (with available space, files, and format menu), LPGT Info and Model (covering device/model info, software, hardware, wireless version), On-line Update (for WiFi OTA update), and other legal info and Factory Reset to get back to Defaults.

    lpgt-38.jpg lpgt-39.jpg lpgt-40.jpg

    When you go into Play settings, you will find available Play modes (loop, shuffle, single repeat, and sequence) all of which can also be selected in Playback screen, Sleep timer, show lyrics, enable XRC hardware up-sampling, and File switching effect where you find Gapless setting (tested to work perfectly).

    lpgt-41.jpg

    Output setting has a detailed control of each 3.5mm and 4.4mm ports where you adjust the L/R balance, select output type (headphone or line out), select output gain (in headphone mode), and select if you want Line Out volume to be fixed or adjustable. You can also adjust Bluetooth volume setting, DSD gain compensation, and VU Meter setting. Here, you are in control of every single config detail.

    lpgt-42.jpg lpgt-43.jpg

    Player setting gives you more control of LPGT hardware where you can enable/disable Breathe light (underneath volume wheel, if you want to save battery), Double-click to wake up the DAP by tapping on the screen when it’s off, locking keys, selecting Volume key direction (clockwise, counter-clockwise), Power management with auto power-off and screen off, and Language selection.

    lpgt-44.jpg

    PCM and DSD Filter selection gives you even more controls of the sound. Under PCM filters you have access to select one of 6 different filters associated with AKM4497EQ DAC, and you can also select Low Pass Filter under DSD filters.

    lpgt-47.jpg lpgt-48.jpg lpgt-49.jpg

    Sound Analysis.

    Regardless of how impressive the DAP may look and operate, at the end of the day people will be buying it for its sound performance because you don’t need $3k paper weight with a golden wheel. When I received LPGT loaner, in the back of my mind I was thinking – new DAC with the same opamp chipset on SE output and a different opamp chipset on BAL. Thus, I was curious about what sound changes should I expect since Lotoo moved from TI PCM1762 to AKM AK4497EQ DAC.

    I think many LPG fans will be pleasantly surprised since the changes in sound are not that drastic. LPGT has a more neutral sound signature with a very accurate transparent tonality. The sound performance still stands out with a great transparency and layering, something LPG is well known for, except LPG has more sub-bass rumble while LPGT is more balanced and more neutral in that respect.

    When it comes to soundstage expansion, I find it to be naturally wide. But I wouldn’t exactly call it holographic, especially when compared to some other DAPs (covered in Comparison section of the review). Instead, LPGT soundstage has more focus with a slightly confined width and more out of your head depth. Surprisingly, when you switch to “Headphone” PMEQ preset, the sound becomes more 3D holographic, which makes me kind of doubt if PMEQ is only about “EQ” without any other DSP effects. But with all EFX off, the sound has above average width, identical to LPG.

    Up-sampling is another secret weapon of LPGT which I kept permanently on during my testing. Without it, sound performance is close to LPG, but once you enable it – the dynamics of the sound expands with a noticeable improvement, including better layering and separation of sounds as I hear it while testing with different hi-res IEMs. The change is not night’n’day, but it’s noticeable enough to appreciate the fine-tuning.

    Another noticeable difference in performance between LPG and LPG is a pitch-black background with no hissing even in high gain, balanced, and with volume down to zero (my extreme test condition) using sensitive IEMs like Andromeda and Solaris. That was very impressive and a bit rare for a high-power DAP.

    As I mentioned already, both 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced headphone outputs have an identical power out where the volume level was the same when switching between the ports with the same pair of IEMs. Also, between SE and BAL, the tonality and the sound sig are nearly identical, with the only difference of BAL having a little wider soundstage expansion. While I usually find balanced output background to be blacker, here it was on par with single ended output.

    lpgt-23.jpg

    Comparison.

    In this review section, sound comparison was done using LPGT 4.4mm headphone balanced output, with all the effects off, and up-sampling turned on while using 64 Audio U18t with EA Leo II balanced terminated cable and Pentaconn 4.4mm adaptor. In every comparison I made sure to match the sound level between DAPs. Also, I only going to cover a sound difference as I hear it. Obviously, every flagship has their own set of features and functionality differences.

    LPGT vs LPG – I find soundstage width to be very close, just with Touch being a “touch” wider. Also, very similar sound signature and tonality, where the only difference I hear is a little more sub-bass in LPG. In terms of sound performance, I hear LPGT having a little better layering and improved dynamics when up-sampling is on. Also, LPGT has blacker background which makes the sound tighter due to a faster transient response of notes on/off transition. LPGT has no hissing with sensitive IEMs, while LPG does.

    lpgt-57.jpg

    LPGT vs Sony WM1Z (4.4mm BAL) – I find their soundstage expansion to be similar. WM1Z has a warmer tonality with a bass that has a little more impact, while in comparison Touch is more neutral and more transparent (less colored). Both have a dynamic layered sound, but I hear just a little bit more air between the layers in Touch due to its more neutral signature. To my ears, WM1Z has a more analog warmer tonality, while LPGT has a more precise reference sound.

    LPGT vs A&K SP1000 SS (2.5mm BAL) – I hear SPK to have a more holographic soundstage with a wider sound, while the depth is the same; in contrast – LPGT staging width is more focused. In terms of tonality, SPK with the latest fw has more bass impact and smoother treble response at the top in comparison to a more transparent (less colored) and more neutral sound signature of Touch. I also find Touch to have a blacker background.

    LPGT vs Cayin N8 (Solid State 4.4mm BAL) – I find N8 to have a more holographic soundstage with a wider sound, while Touch has a more focused staging. In terms of the tonality, N8 sounds a little bit warmer and smoother and has a little more low-end impact (especially in mid-bass) while they have a similar sub-bass rumble. In comparison, Touch has a more transparent balanced sound with a reference tonality, and a blacker background with an improved layering when up-sampling is enabled.

    LPGT vs iBasso DX200Ti (4.4mm BAL w/amp8) – I find DX soundstage to be a little wider, while both have the same soundstage depth. DX sound has more bass impact and a touch more treble sparkle, while Touch has a more neutral transparent signature. Both have a sound with great dynamics and a decent layering and separation. Also, both have a black background, but Touch noise floor is probably lower since I hear zero-hissing performance with sensitive iems in comparison to DX.

    lpgt-59.jpg

    Pair up.

    LPGT has plenty of power to driver some of the most demanding full size headphones and at the same time take care of high sensitivity IEMs without any noticeable hissing. Here is how I hear Touch pairs up with some of the headphones and earphones.

    Audeze EL8C (SE, full size closed back, planar magnetic) - I hear an elliptical shaped soundstage expansion, wide with a more intimate depth. Nice warm punchy bass, smooth natural mids, crisp treble. In this pair up I don't hear any metallic sheen sound artifacts in treble. The only thing is vocals being slightly "nasal" in tonality. It's not a bad pair up at all, especially since the treble is under control and not harsh.

    Beyerdynamic T5p2 (BAL, full size closed back, dynamic) - I hear a wide soundstage with more out-of-your head expansion. Bass has a deep sub-bass rumble with a stronger mid-bass punch. Natural smooth resolving fuller body mids. Crisp well controlled treble. The sound has a very organic tonality with a natural resolution.

    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x (SE, full size open back, dynamic) - I hear a very spacious open soundstage, in both width and depth. Tonality is very natural with a nicely balanced signature. Bass goes deep and punches nicely through the mix, mids are very natural and highly resolving at the same time, very soulful rendition of vocals. Treble has a natural crunch to give sound great definition without any exaggerated sparkle. This is a perfect example of R70x sound, without any coloration and exaggeration.

    Campfire Audio Solaris (BAL, DD/3BA hybrid IEM) - I hear a holographic soundstage expansion, tight punchy bass with a deep extension, natural resolving mids with a perfect mix of organic revealing tonality, and crisp airy treble with great definition and excellent control. I hear the sound to be very natural in this pair up.

    Campfire Audio Andromeda (BAL, 5BA IEM) - I heard soundstage with more out of your head expansion. Punchy warm bass, not as tight, with slower decay. Brighter resolving mids with a bit of a leaner body. Crisp well controlled treble with moderate airiness. As previously mentioned, no hiss with Andro and Solaris was a very pleasant experience.

    Westone W80 (BAL, 8BA IEM) - I hear a holographic soundstage expansion. Smooth natural laid back tonality, deeper low end expansion with some extra sub-bass rumble and punchy mid-bass, overall bass is more relaxed, not as tight. Mids are full bodied, warmer, organic; with natural retrieval of details, nothing too revealing. Treble has some sparkle but it's more controlled and smooth.

    Empire Ears Legend X (BAL, 2DD/5BA hybrid IEM) - I hear a very wide soundstage expansion with a nice depth, not too close or too far out of your head. Bass slams hard with a visceral rumble and a tight well controlled mid-bass punch. Mids are naturally resolving, with slightly north of neutral lower mids and detailed organic upper mids, treble is crisp and well controlled. While I usually prefer to knock down about 3dB around 60Hz when listening to LX, here I actually enjoyed extra bass since it was not as overwhelming.

    64 Audio U18t (BAL, 18BA IEM) - I hear a holographic soundstage expansion. A textured sub-bass rumble with a little extra quantity, tight mid-bass punch with a good control and separation from mids. Neutral natural lower mids, natural revealing upper mids with an excellent retrieval of details (not on micro detail level, but very good nevertheless), and crisp sparkly airy non-fatigue treble. Upper frequencies are a little more revealing, but still in a natural controlled way. While in some pair ups U18t could sound more mid-forward, here the signature was more balanced.

    64 Audio Fourte (BAL, DD/3BA hybrid IEM) - I hear a holographic soundstage expansion. Deep visceral bass, excellent sub-bass extension with a velvety rumble, warm analog mid-bass punch with a little longer decay, though well controlled to separate from mids. Lower mids are south of neutral, leaner in body, upper mids are revealing and on micro detailed level, while treble is very crisp and sparkly. Overall, the signature is more v-shaped, to please treble-heads who love the impact of a deep bass.

    lpgt-62.jpg

    Conclusion.

    It’s hard to ignore LPG when testing LPGT. After spending a few weeks with LPGT loaner, I found the sound sig to be similar to LPG. Except, you no longer hear LPG's sub-bass boost, and instead, LPGT is more neutral and more transparent. In terms of sound performance, LPGT up-sampling improves the layering and sound dynamics. The other noticeable change is a dead quiet black background even with sensitive IEMs. But overall, I think Lotoo decided to stick to the same sound sig formula even though LPG uses TI PCM1762 while LPGT uses AKM AK4497EQ DACs. Coincidentally, LPGT 3.5mm output uses the same LME49600 opamps as LPG, and even its 4.4mm output with OA1622 opamps was tuned to sound nearly the same as 3.5mm output.

    So why would you consider Lotoo’s latest flagship DAP or would want to upgrade from LPG? Because of all the new features where Touch adds USB DAC, Bluetooth with a duplex LDAC to turn this DAP into a wireless BT DAC (streaming from your phone), USB-C charging (no longer need proprietary charger), touch screen with a very responsive interface and a fast OS bootup (2-3 sec), updated Parametric EQ II, included EFX presets which you can apply in USB DAC and Bluetooth modes, and even WiFi for OTA firmware updates. You also get on-the-fly up-sampling and support of DSD512. And not to forget Line Out from both 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm outputs if you want to drive external fully balanced amplifier.

    Bottom line, there are a lot of similarities in sound between LPG and LPGT, but I think it was done intentionally because Lotoo was never planning to introduce a significant update to its sound signature. LPG was released 4 years ago, and even the last year (2017) refresh was mostly cosmetic with a few internal optimizations. In my opinion, the idea behind LPGT was to enhance LPG with missing features, to bring it up to current flagship standards. LPGT is like LPG on steroids, or you can call it an Extreme Makeover of LPG!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. twister6
      @tunes no optical out, and sorry, I don't have QP1R for comparison.
      twister6, Dec 22, 2018
    3. tunes
      Toslink out available?
      tunes, Jan 23, 2019
    4. twister6
      @tunes I replied to you a month ago above, no optical out bud.
      twister6, Jan 23, 2019

Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!