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Lotoo Paw Gold Touch Reference Portable Hi-Fi Player

Lotoo PAW Gold Touch (LPGT)

Rating:
5/5,
  • 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. ustinj
    Lotoo Paw Touch Gold Impressions
    Written by ustinj
    Published Jan 16, 2019 at 6:04 PM
    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.
  2. 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.

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    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.

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    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. tunes
      Does it have optical lobe out?

      How does it compare to the Qstyle QP1R?
      tunes, Dec 22, 2018
    2. twister6
      @tunes no optical out, and sorry, I don't have QP1R for comparison.
      twister6, Dec 22, 2018

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