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Luxury & Precision LP5 32bit DSD Portable Lossless Music Player

Rating:
3.375/5,
  1. daduy
    Spectacular Sounding DAP, if you can live with the shortcomings.....
    Written by daduy
    Published May 23, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality that rivals Desktop rig, 64 gig Internal storage, Plays DSD, superb build quality, 6,25mm headphone out socket
    Cons - Quirky firmware, no 3.5mm headphone out, no EQ, doesn't play some music format, no DAC support,
    Disclaimer
     
    I got this unit as part of Australasian tour arranged by Brooko, thank you very much for including me in this tour, this is my first time listening to high end DAP!
     
    Introduction
     
    I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 7 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
     
    I listen to the LP5 Gold daily in my commuting from home to work and in the office for about 7 days.
     
    I don't have any hi-end DAP so for comparison purpose i will compare the LP5 Gold with my Micromega MyDAC + Project Sunrise Combo.
     
    For the majority of my listening i am using Sennheiser HD 580 and KRK KNS 8400, with a bit of AKG K500 and Sony MDR SA1K thrown in.
     
    Build Quality
     
    I got to be honest, I wasn't really impressed when I saw the pictures online, yeah they look ok but doesn't look so special to me, But when I actually see the unit with my own eyes, boy was I wrong. You could tell, just by looking at them that they are a premium device. I was actually a bit afraid of taking them out of the case in fear of scratching them or dropping them, but that doesnt last really long thankfully :wink:.
     
    The rosewood finish is just gorgeous, the curve helps you put the unit firmly into your hand, i am not a big fan of the color gold, but that's just my personal preferences. They look like they weight quite a bit but really light in reality, a bit bulky but I guess you need the space to put the IC board and other component inside. I also like the firmness of the volume knob, it's quite firm that it won't accidentally turn in your pocket.
     
    In summary, the build quality is top notch, one that you would expect from a high end DAP.
     
    IMAG0016.jpg
     
     
    Interface & Features
     
    Ok let start with the interface first, it's quite basic, you don't have fancy interface and plenty of buttons like Fiio, but that might be an advantage for some people who like it simple. It's pretty easy to understand, the middle LP button that act as an Enter button and power switch. You can long press on the up button and it will lock the button. Long press the middle LP to turn on or turn off the unit. I never really care much with this kind of stuff, it works fine for me.
     
    Features...ah this might be the downside of the LP5 Gold. Instead of discussing the features they have, lets discuss the features they don't have (and should have imho)
     
    - No DAC support
    - No EQ
    - No L/R Balance
    - Weird sorting issue
    - Some music format is not recognized (e.g M4A)
    - No 3.5mm socket (The 3.5mm socket is line-out and the volume pot doesn't work on them)
     
    I first try the unit on my way home, I just got my Philips Downtown on my bag so it will have to do, plugged them excitedly to the 3.5mm socket thinking that it's a headphone out and found that I can't adjust the volume. I broke them! that's my initial thought, I just got the unit and somehow I broke them! Great! When I got home I quickly try the K500 on the 6.3mm socket and it works sweet!
    Allright...hang on...ah right, the 3.5mm socket is just for Line out and not headphone out.....hmm.....but then I would need to use adapter for IEM? seems a bit silly to me.
     
    Ok now I know not to use the 3.5mm without amp, let's copy some files into the player, it works without problem there, plug them to my linux box and they recognized the storage straight away. Move some of my music into LP5. Let's try out some Brandenburg Concerto......hmm...why does it shuffle the list there? Apparently LP5 play the music by the order of the file copied. So it's not alphabetical or numeric, oh this really frustrates me, I want to hear my concerto in order! sigh....
     
    These 2 is probably my biggest issue with the DAP, I don't need fancy stuff, but it should be a simple matter to look at the Meta tag of the files and sort by track number, and add an option to use the line out as a headphone out (if possible hardware wise).
     
    At least it plays DSD and got 64 Gig internal storage :)
     
    Sound Quality
     
    The most important part for me, sound quality, the build quality might be awesome, the features can be lacking, but the most essential in DAP has to be the sound quality in my opinion. So how do they sound? In short: Spectacular! to me they sounds neutral with a hint of warmth, transparent, rich in details, with a bit of treble rolled off at the top sound spectrum. It's quite interesting, they sounds really good, but they won't enhance your music in any way, if the source is bad it will sound bad, if the source is good the sound will really shine, they are just really honest.
     
    This is the first time I would use the word transparent for any music player. From my perspective, when I am using LP5 Gold to listen to my music, all i've heard is my music files + my headphone, It's like the LP5 disappear from the chain altogether. It's really nice since I can clearly heard distinction between my headphones, Senn HD580 sound very natural and relaxing, with just the right amount of warmth in there. KNS 8400 sounds fairly neutral with a bit of spark in the treble region. My biggest surprise is to find how enjoyable the Sony MDR SA1k on LP5, for me the LP5 is better paired with a bright headphones to compensate the treble rolled off of the the DAP. K500 also sounds great on them, but I didn't use them that long compare to HD580 or KNS8400. It's fair to say that LP5 have enough power to drive all of my full sized headphones with authority. They all paired beautifully with LP5, I wish i still have AKG k340, I'll bet they sound even better out of the LP5.
     
    Since I don't have a worthy DAP to compare with the LP5, I can only compare them to my desktop rig, Micromega MyDAC + Project Sunrise V1. I use J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.3 In G, BWV 1048 - 2. Allegro, performed by Musica Antiqua Köln to compare my desktop rig and LP5 Gold. Musica Antiqua Köln led by Reinhard Goebel is my favourite ensemble for Bach Brandenburg Concertos, they play the concerto at lightning speed with accurate precision, if you haven't listened to them you should! :) anyway back to the SQ review.
     
    On my desktop rig, the Concerto sound rich, warm, super energetic, and just pleasant to listen to, i feel like i am in race speeding at 200 km/h. When i switch to the LP5, i get the same feeling of richness, details, less warm though and this will be a bit weird, but the tempo just sound bit slower to me, it's like speeding at 175 km/h now. I tried to go back and forth a couple of time and the feeling linger. I should put some stopwatch just to compare them but unfortunately i dont. After comparing them I can see that my desktop rig most likely colored the music (more warmth for example) and the LP5 is just honest, transparent and doesnt add anything else to the source. I am sure this is a quality that a lot of audiophiles look for in a high end DAP.
     
    I hate to admit it but the LP5 gold is probably on par with my desktop rig, i still prefer my desktop rig, but i am probably biased since i used to their SQ for a long time and haven't really get used to the natural sound of the LP5 gold, but seriously on the detail retrieval, power, soundstage, they are on the same level in my opinion.
     
    Amping
     
    I tried pairing my Headstage Arrow 2G out of the LP5 Gold line-out socket, and while they add some color to the sound (more bass, extra sparkle on high end region), I don't necessarily think they are really needed, it sounds fine straight out of the Headphone socket, YMMV though.
     
    Summary
     
    Well this is a hard one for me, I used to think that Sound Quality is the prime factor for any DAP,AMP,DAC or headphones, others is less important. For LP5 Gold it turns out that while the Sound Quality is superb, the lack of features and firmware refinement really hits their overall rating.
     
    I look at the clutter at my desk, with my DAC + AMP, interconnect, power adapter, and all of that can be replace by a single LP5 Gold....that is just awesome...
     
    IMAG0018.jpg
     
     
    If you can overcome the lack of features and quirky firmware (which as of the time of this writing a new firmware has been released), got $750 lying around, you will find that the LP5 Gold is one spectacular sounding DAP that will play your full size headphones without any effort, i don't think you will have any regret (sound wise anyway :wink:
      Brooko likes this.
    1. peareye
      I agree with you - USB/DAC is a must have...especially when you get to this price point...although great sound doesnt hurt either!
      peareye, May 24, 2015
    2. GL1TCH3D
      No USB DAC functionality or EQ? I could live with the 6.3mm adapter but this doesn't feel like a good product to me in terms of features. An AK120 (not the newer version) will run you less than this costs and supports usb dac, basic EQ and has a usable 3.5mm headphone out.
      GL1TCH3D, May 24, 2015
    3. peareye
      you know, you're right....i forgot about the strange setup where they included the larger jack out for headphones....these are usually
       
      almost always reserved for the fronts of receivers and integrated amps...what were they thinkin'?????
      peareye, May 24, 2015
  2. Hisoundfi
    Simple and Sophisticated. Amazing Sound Quality! The Luxury & Precision LP5
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published May 18, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound quality, Prominent low end produces great sound w/ neutral phones, DSD, FLAC, WAV & other file playback, Easy drag and drop music files
    Cons - Primitive user interface, No audio adjustments, No English instructions, Limited use of chip set, Cheap plastic screen
    At the time this review was written, the gold edition Luxury and Precision LP5 was on sale on Penon Audio’s website for $1090.00. Here is a link to the product:
    DSC04370.jpg
     
    http://penonaudio.com/Luxury-Precision-LP5
     
    Before I begin, I want to send a very special thank you to Ronnie (@rontant) for the referral, and to John (@JohnYang) for setting up the opportunity to sample such a fine piece of audio equipment. Last but certainly not least, thank you to the mastermind of this product, Mr. Wan. Thank you for reaching out to have this unit tested and reviewed in North America.
     
    I was given an opportunity to demo this product in exchange for a formal review. I am not affiliated with Luxury and Precision in any way.
     
    Head-Fi has taken me on quite a journey into the world of personal audio. To be completely honest, there have been countless times that I’ve obtained an earphone or amplifier, or digital audio player that I feel like “this is it, I’ve found what I’ve been looking for, I’m content with the audio gear I have and this might be my end game piece of equipment”. That lasts for a little while, then something comes along that blows my recent purchase out of the water. I don’t know how deep the rabbit hole of personal audiophile equipment gets, but anyone who participates in this hobby knows exactly what I’m talking about. The rabbit hole just gets deeper, and deeper, and deeper…
     
    Normally when I write a review I try to break the unit down into specific criteria, but for the Luxury and Precision LP5, I don’t feel I would be doing this device any justice. I’m going to start by saying that there’s a lot of things this digital audio player can’t do that most of it’s competition can. Upon first using the product some might feel that this device is technologically inferior in today’s market. However, once you have loaded your favorite music into the LP5, and plugged in your best pair of cans, you will see that there are a few special things about the LP5 that many competitors simply can’t do! I’ll explain in a bit, but first let me tell you about myself so you can get a better understanding of my observations.
     
    I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
     
    There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, amplifiers and earphones that intrigues me, ESPECIALLY if they can be had for low prices. I’m a fan of products that give the buyer their money’s worth and more. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, hoping that I can discover models that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones ranging from from dirt cheap, to hundreds of dollars. I’m on a mission to find gear with a great price to performance ratio, and reporting these findings back to the Head-Fi community and those looking for their next piece of audio gear.
     
    I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they have good ergonomics, and their sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have and use.
     
    With this hobby we often times pay a lot of for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned is that price DOES NOT necessarily indicate good build and sound quality. While everyone’s tastes are different, I hope to share a depiction of what to expect in the items I own and review.
     
    The Review
    Over the course of this review I will note what I saw as shortcomings of the product. They will be noted with stars (*). I post these in good faith that it will aid in the development of the product. PLEASE MAKE SURE TO READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW IN ORDER TO COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE FEATURES OF THIS PRODUCT. There is a light at the end of the tunnel… Promise!
     
    The package arrived in a plain brown box. Inside there were two more boxes, a larger white box with the Luxury and Precision logo, and a smaller black box. Opening the white box revealed the DAP. The smaller black box held a very nice micro USB cable and a gold plated ¼ inch adapter.
    DSC04473.jpg
    DSC04474.jpg
     
     
    Pulling the device out of the box, I really appreciated the awesome finishes of the LP5. The back of the unit is made of real rosewood, and had some really cool branding of the product logo. The front of the unit was what seemed to be a milled aluminum. I was underwhelmed by the choice of plastic for the screen.
     
        *The screen is made of what seems to be a low grade clear plastic. I got a few small scratches on the unit from transporting it in my laptop bag with some pens that had metal tabs on them. The device is simply too high of quality to have such a cheap material for a screen.
     
    Here are some specifications copied from the Penon Audio website in regards to the gold version LP5:
     
    Appearance

    1. GOLD : champagne + rosewood (64G RAM)
    2. Capacitance:
    3. GOLD :high frequency part Polythioether SMD film capacitors
    4. Crystal Oscillator:
    5. Ultra Low Phase Noise XO is lower than 160 dB 0.3 picosecond jitter
    6. Inductance:
    7. Analog portion uses alloy inductors 4.7UF 4040 can be over 4A current
    8. Op-amp:
    9. 1812O Double Crown op amp
    10. Capacity
    11. 64GB 24BIT ECC FLASH



    DSC04356.jpg
     
     
     
    DSC04322.jpg
     
     


    Specifications

    1. True 32BIT player
    2. 24BIT 192KHZ USB native soundcard
    3. THD is 0.0015% when driving 32 ohm headphones
    4. DAC: AK4414, sound reduction particularly accurate, digital flavor is not strong, 4414 was a wonderful work ,it’s a four-channel DAC, but the SNR (stereo when 123 dB) THD 107DB is a DAC which is the highest in overall performance in AKM
    5. The world's lowest internal resistance ADI ADP1614 power chip resistance 50 mOhm within
    6. 6 layer 3U Immersion Gold PCB
    7. ALPS PRO AUDIO series potentiometer
    8. 1812 A single crown amp chip
    9. Digital part Murata X7R MLCC
    10. Digital part Taiyo Yuden ultrahigh current fully enclosed magnetic inductor
    11. 6.3 3U Immersion Gold headset seat
    12. 3.5 3U Immersion Gold closed headphone seat LINE OUT
    13. Power filtering section Murata X7S 100UF MLCC can be over 6 to 8A current ESR is  about 2 milliohms
    14. Pure brass electromagnetic shield
    15. ALPS 50 million times long life touching button

     
    Package Contents

    1. LP5 music player
    2. USB cable
    3. 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter

    DSC04361.jpg
     
    DSC04360.jpg
     
    When I got the device I gave it a good 12 hour charge, and waited in anticipation. Once charged I was greeted with a bunch of Chinese text on the screen, and had no idea how to change it to English. After about forty-five minutes of button mashing and guessing, and I was able to find and change the language settings.
     
    After the initial charge, and giving it a little extra time just to make sure the first operation was on a completely full charge, I found that the LP5 plays about 12 hours of music before the battery depletes, and charges back up in a couple hours.
     
    *There was no owner’s manual in English to figure the device out.
     
    Once I got the language part figured out, it was time to play with the device to figure out the user interface and controls. The unit operates with a very simple set of buttons (up, down, left, right, center) and once you play with it for about an hour, you’ve pretty much figured how to navigate through the device entirely. The device powers on by holding down the center button, and opens to a menu of three or four options. This happens VERY quickly (device is ready to use in about four seconds). The LP5 also shuts off by holding down the center button.
     
    The four menu options are:
        ~Internal Memory
        ~TF Card (only if you have inserted a micro SD card, not included)
        ~Resume Play
        ~System Settings
     
    From this menu you can access your music libraries on either the 64GB internal hard drive, or from the inserted SD card.
     
    Resume play goes to the last song played and continues from where you left off.
     
    The settings menu gives you access to the following:
        ~Play Mode (repeat, sequence, repeat all, shuffle)
        ~Audio output settings (HP Output, SPDIF, DoP SPDIF, Digital Filter Setup)
        ~Advanced Settings (Display Settings, Language, Auto Shutdown, Sleep Timer,
    Default Settings, System info)
     
    And there you have it, pretty much all the LP5 offers in terms of user interface. To be honest it is borderline primitive functions given today’s technology. While the tech buffs will be shaking their heads wondering where the rest of the features are, the minimalists who appreciate simplicity will applaud it. After using the device for some time, I am somewhere in the middle on this.
     
    Here are some commonly found things on most devices that the LP5 didn’t have:
     
        *There is no WiFi
        *There is no bluetooth
        *There is no equalizer
        *There is no way to change the file order once songs are loaded into the device
        
     
    All settings are displayed on a small circular digital display that uses minimal graphics and all menu options are in yellow lettering. Scrolling the menus is done with the up and down keys. Navigation forward or backward is done with the left, right, or center buttons. My favorite part of the LP5 controls was the analog volume pot located on top of the unit. It works great and is a good ergonomic design and application for controlling volume.
     
     
    DSC04359.jpg
     
        *There is no “home button” (everything is accessed by entering into the folder or backing out of it to the desired menu screen).
     
    As for the display, the LP5 again uses a minimalist approach:
     
        *There is no album artwork displayed. It is file names only
        *The sound output meter is very laggy and can only be considered cosmetic
    DSC04366.jpg
     
    To transfer music onto the LP5, simply plug your device into your laptop, find your device, and drag and drop music files from your computer to the unit. I was very pleased to see how easy this was, and there was no special drivers needed. I was able to easily transfer files and choose between the 64GB internal storage and my installed 32GB Fat32 microSD card. I am not sure if the device stores more than this as my 64GB card was not supported.
     
        *The LP5 did not support my Samsung class 10 64GB microSDXC card. My computer could identify the card and I was able to transfer music onto it, but once the computer was disconnected and the device was accessed, the card was not identified.
     
    I downloaded as many formats as possible, with the most notable being DSD, FLAC, WAV, and MP3. The only format that I tried and didn’t work was M4A format
     
        *No support of M4A format
     
    So with all of this being said, you might be thinking that the negatives outweigh the positives so far, right? Well, the problem with drawing a quick conclusion is that we haven’t talked about how darn good this thing sounds. Simply put, it’s the best sounding, and most powerful portable DAP that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to when used with neutral cans (in high impedance mode) and sounds pretty decent with IEMs (in low impedance setting). The AK4414 chip sounds stellar, and the Double Crown opamp drives everything I have with ease. I couldn’t turn the volume beyond ¾ with my 300 ohm Sennheiser HD600 (in high impedance mode). Speaking of the HD600, the pairing of the LP5 and this set of cans is an epic combination, and is probably my favorite one-two punch at the time of writing this.
     
    The sound of the LP5 is warm, smooth, detailed, and doesn’t render any sense of a digital signal. There is a beefy low end that gave me a sense of more soundstage depth than any of my other rigs. To my ears, there was simply another layer of low end oomph that I didn’t hear with other gears. The added depth wasn't intrusive, and actually improved to depth of the tracks I was listening to for the most part.
     
    I had the pleasure of bringing the LP5 to the Chicago Axpona Audiocon. I turned a lot of heads with this thing. Many of the people who were running their booths were asking me questions about the LP5, and some asked for a quick listen. Many agreed that the user interface left something to be desired, but nobody could say that it didn’t sound rich, detailed, and downright awesome. While at the Axpona show, I was able to A-B compare the LP5 with the likes of the AK240, and Calyx M. While there’s no denying that the two mentioned had a FAR superior user interface, and sounded more balanced and just as detailed, neither had the robust low end and still maintained the level of resolution of the LP5. This LP5 is an impressive signature sound, that’s for sure! If I were going off of sound quality alone and using neutral full size cans, I will go as far as saying that I would reach for the LP5 over the other previously mentioned gadgets.  
     
    All things considered, there are some phones that didn’t sound all that good with the LP5. Bass heavy cans could sound a bit too boomy with some music. The same could be said with Bass forward IEMs. Simply put, save your LP5 for your best set of neutral earphones, and hear them transform into something amazing when being driven by this thing.
     
        *The LP5 makes bass heavy earphones sound a bit boomy, and there are no audio adjustments to balance this out.
     
    Soundstage is there, details are there, imaging is there, layering and texture is top notch. The “luxury & precision” comes out when you have the LP5 humming high quality recordings through your best set of full size cans. It even makes my MP3s sound better.
     
    As for outputs, the LP5 has a digital coax output, and a 3.5mm fixed line out. All earphone usage must be done via the ¼ inch jack with or without the combination of the jack adapter.
    DSC04355.jpg
        *The 3.5mm jack is a fixed line out that seldom gets used, and the ¼ inch adapter is required for headphone use. I would have rather had a 3.5mm jack for low impedance, and the ¼ inch jack for high impedance.
     
    While sampling the product, I was informed that I should be expecting a firmware update that will allow the LP5 to be used as a USB/DAC that can be connected to another device and utilize the awesome AK4414 chip and Double Crown opamp. This firmware update has yet to take place. Once this is done and confirmed to work I will definitely raise the star rating of my review.
     
        *The only way to utilize the quality chipset is through playback from the internal or SD storage. There is no USB/DAC functionality.
     
    To summarize, in my honest opinion the LP5 has $1500/$2000 sound, and a $50 user interface.  I understand that limiting the amount of gizmos and gadgets allows the developers to focus on high quality parts and world class sound quality. However, the LP5 simply won’t appeal to the masses in it’s price range until it can balance itself out in terms of functionality, user interface, and sound quality.
     
    I anticipate the day that Luxury and Precision finds that happy medium of sound quality and functionality. After experiencing the LP5, I know that it’s probably not a matter of if, but more when!
     
    One thing's for sure, If I am going to meet up with someone who wants to know how good a pair of headphones and portable DAP can sound, I’m bringing my HD600, and playing some DSD tracks through my Luxury and Precision LP5. Simply put, that is the best combination I currently have.


     
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. mochill
      Great review hisoundfi :blush:
      mochill, May 18, 2015
    3. mochill
      Great review hisoundfi :blush:
      mochill, May 18, 2015
    4. twister6
      Excellent review Vince, straight forward, honest, and to the point!!!  Agree with all the points!!!  Let's hope fw update will roll around sometime in a near future so we can continue comparing our notes :wink:
      twister6, May 18, 2015
  3. Brooko
    Luxury & Precision LP5 – Luxury Sound But Lacking Features
    Written by Brooko
    Published May 1, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality (tremendous), build quality, aesthetics (looks), output power
    Cons - Primitive UI, price, features very limited, issues with formats
    LP532.jpg
    Click any picture for full sized 1200 x 800 images

    INTRODUCTION

    I’ve been reviewing on Head-Fi for a while now, and one of the great benefits is that it has given me a chance to meet some wonderful people, and to hear some exotic audio gear that I would never have had a chance to spend time with.
     
    At this stage I’d like to thank my on-line friend Alex (you know him as Twister6) for vouching for me with the organisers behind the Luxury & Precision LP5, and another Head-Fier Yohn Yang for making the demo sample possible.
     
    John contacted me in early April to see if I would be interested in demoing and reviewing the LP5 – created by the same people who brought us the Colourfly C4 – and (if my information is correct) founded by Mr Wan.
     
    So the unit arrived a little under two weeks ago, and in that time I’ve had many hours of listening pleasure with the LP5 – and it has been a true pleasure to listen to.  The version I have is the “gold” version.
     
    DISCLAIMER
     
    I was provided the Luxury & Precision LP5 as a review sample.  It will go on tour once I have finished reviewing it.  There is no financial incentive from John or Mr Wan in writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with L&P - and this review is my honest opinion of the LP5.  I would like to thank Alex, John and Mr Wan for making this opportunity available.
     
    Additional disclaimer – the unit I have unfortunately arrived with an SDXC card that is not actually working.  I’ve checked with other reviewers who have a sample – and it seems it is just my unit. I’ve continued with the review, and will simply leave the expandable storage uncommented on.
     
    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
     
    (This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
     
    I'm a 48 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last few years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X3ii and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X3ii > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, Dunu Titan, Altone200, Trinity Delta and Alclair Curve. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
     
    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences.  I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.
     
    I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent.  I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue.  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).  I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’.  I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.
     
    My experience with DAPs in the past had been initially with some very cheap Sony offerings, then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, iPhone4, iPod Touch G4, iPhone 5S, HSA Studio V3, Fiio X1, X3ii and X5.
     
    WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A DAP
     
    I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I really look for in a new DAP.
    1. Clean, neutral signature – but with body (not thin)
    2. Good build quality
    3. Reasonable battery life
    4. Easy to use and practical interface
    5. Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.
    6. Value for money
    7. Enough storage to hold either my favourite albums in redbook, or my whole library in a reasonably high resolution lossy format (for me – aac256)
     
    Did I get all of this with the Luxury & Pecision LP5?  Well it’s a little bit of a mixed bag really – so join me on a journey, and we’ll look at the LP5 together – and see how it meets my expectations.
     
    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
     

    THE REVIEW

    For the sake of brevity, from this point onward, I’m going to simply call the Luxury & Precision LP5 the “LP5” – as much for ease of typing than anything else.
     
    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
     
    The LP5 arrived in a plain cardboard outer box, which gave no clues as to what lay inside. Opening the flap revealed a simple (yet elegant) inner box with the simple typing “LUXURY & PRECISION” in gold lettering on the top left.  There was also a slimline black box which housed the accessories. Opening the flap of the main box reveals a moulded inner cavity containing the LP5, and a sleeve with the LP5 user manual (written entirely in Chinese).
     
    LP501.jpg LP502.jpg
    The plain cardboard packing box
    Inner case and smaller accessory box

     
    The packaging is simple – but it’s also elegant and classy – and the sight of the LP5 in its gold and wood against the black background doesn’t look chintzy at all.  It looks like what it is supposed to be – a serious refined audio player.
     
    LP503.jpg LP504.jpg
    The inner case - LP5 and accessories
    Gold plated USB cable and 3.5/6.3 adaptor

     

    The small black box is straight cardboard, and contains the USB cable and also a 3.5-6.3mm connector. The USB cable itself seems to be very good quality – and has gold plated connectors at both USB and micro USB plug ends.
     
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
     
    The tables below list most of the relevant specifications listed by the creator, and because it is the only comparable player I have (even though it’s not in the same price bracket), I’ve listed Fiio’s X5 specs as well.
     
     
    Luxury & Precision LP5
    Fiio X5
    Approx cost (Amazon)
    ~ USD1000-1100 (unconfirmed)
    ~ USD 350-399
    Dimensions
    ~133 x 76 x 24mm
    ~ 114 x 68 x 16mm
    Weight
    200g
    195g
    Lossless file formats supported
    APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF, AIFF, WV(WavPack)
    APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF
    Lossy file formats supported
    MP3, aac, ogg vorbis
    MP3, aac, ogg vorbis
    Use as external DAC?
    No – but planned with fw upgrade
    Yes
    Play time
    12 hours
    10 hours+
    DAC chip used
    AK4414
    PCM1792A
    Main amp chip
    1812A Double Crown
    OPA1612+LMH6643
    S/N (H/O)
    123 dB
    115 dB (A-Weight)
    THD+N (H/O)
    <0.0015%
    < 0.0015%
    Output into 16 ohm
    TBA
    >460 mW
    Output into 32 ohm
    TBA
    >255 mW
    Output into 300 ohm
    TBA
    >28 mW
    Highest resolution lossless
    192 kHz, 32 bits
    192 kHz, 24 bits
    DSD/DSF/DFF support
    Yes – Native
    Yes – converted to PCM
    Output impedance (H/O)
    TBA
    0.26 ohm
    Line Out
    Yes – separate port
    Yes – separate port
    Digital Out
    Yes – coax port
    Yes – separate port, 3.5mm to Coax (cable supplied)
    External storage (current)
    Micro sdxc up to 128Gb
    2 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb
    Internal memory
    64Gb 24bit ECC flash
    None
    Shell / Casing
    Aluminium-lithium alloy (forged + CNC) with rosewood back and sides
    Plastic shell over aluminium body

     
    Note that at the time of writing, I am waiting to hear back regarding power and impedance specifications, and will add these once known.
     
    In addition – because the internals boast high quality parts, and Mr Wan has spared no expense with the LP5, I’ve also listed the main features and further specifications from their website / literature.
     
    Features:
    1. In house designed software including the decoding of all file formats, so that performance is maximized, and the system minimized.
    2. Completely uncompromising on the product architecture, including the creation of I2S width of 32BIT native 24 192 USB sound card chip.
    3. Volume adjustment by independent volume potentiometer (rather than attenuation of bits to the DAC)
    4. Multiple language selections: Simplified Chinese, English, Italian, French, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Swedish
    5. Front shell is aluminium-lithium alloy forged + CNC
    6. Featuring the world's lowest internal resistance ADI ADP1614 power chip resistance 50 mOhm.
     
    LP510.jpg LP509.jpg
    The rosewood backing - wonderfully finished
    Rosewood backing - beautiful grain

     
    LP511.jpg LP512.jpg
    Inside the LP5
    Inside the LP5 - tidy layout

     


    Further Specifications
    1. DAC Chip: AK4414, accurate sound reproduction but does not sound too digital. With SNR 123 dB (stereo) and THD 107 dB, it has the best overall performance among all AKM DACs.
    2. Headphone Amp: 1812A Double Crown (selection of the best chip out of 5 possible candidates)
    3. Co-Processor: 1812M supports up 32BIT decoding and native decoding of DSD format (DIFF, DSF,DAT and ISO format)
    4. Power Management Chip: 1812P
    5. Capacitor(digital): Polytheistic SMD film capacitors
    6. Inductance (digital): Taiyo Yuden ultrahigh current fully enclosed magnetic inductor. Analog portion uses alloy inductors 4.7UF 4040 can be over 4A current
    7. Crystal Oscillator - Ultra-Low Phase Noise XO is lower than 160 dB 0.3 picoseconds jitter
    8. Potentiometer: ALPS PRO AUDIO series potentiometer
    9. PCB: 6 layer 3U dark gold matte black
    10. Filter Capacitor: ultra-low ESR MLCC Murata X7S 6.3V100UF (current can be over 6~8A, ESR is about 2 milliohms)
    11. Buttons: ALPS, rated at 50 million presses
    12. Electromagnetic shield: Pure brass shield
     
    LP514.jpg LP515.jpg
    Battery, caps and bottom connectivity
    Bottom ports - headphone out, line-out, SPDIF and USB

     
    LP513.jpg LP516.jpg
    Underneath the top of the CNC aluminium alloy chassis - sdxc slot and screen
    Underside of the main board

     


    BUILD
     
    I have to admit, when I first looked at photos of the LP5, my first thought was that it looked a little “over the top”.  This feeling disappeared the first time I opened the box. The LP5 looks and feels extremely elegant, classy and luxurious.
     
    The first thing I noticed was the wonderful combination of the rosewood sides and rear contrasting and blending with the champagne coloured lithium-aluminium chassis. The second thing I noticed is how well the entire unit had been crafted. The rosewood is beautifully grained, perfectly smooth and nicely polished and finished. The L&P logo and names is nicely embossed on the rear, and the overall shape of the LP5 is wonderful holding it in your hands.
     
    LP505.jpg LP506.jpg
    The finish is gorgeous
    Connectivity at the bottom - printed directions are actually stickers

     

    The body is a combination of forging and CNC cutting, and the fit and finish is very good – smooth edges, precise and solid feel to the buttons, and the Alps potentiometer for volume control is really smooth – and more importantly has no channel imbalance that I can detect – even at very low volumes.
     
    The plug sockets are very firm, precise, gold plated, and when plugged to the appropriate jacks feel very solid.
     
    LP507.jpg LP508.jpg
    Top volume pot - very smooth.  Oodles of power
    The LP5 - a classy looking unit

     

    The screen is very easy to read indoors (less so outside) and brightness can be controlled through the UI. The screen does appear to plastic rather than a gorilla glass – and for such a luxury item, I think this is one thing they could have perhaps looked at improving.
     
    The only fault I have with this unit is that mine unfortunately arrived with the sdxc external card reader DOA. I’ve checked with the other reviewers though, and as all of their units have working SDXC external memory, I haven’t marked the LP5 down.  I’ve still been able to use the internal memory – and as you’ll see from my UI comments in the next section, being limited to 64Gb at the moment is actually not a bad thing.
     
    In summary, I’m very impressed with the build quality.  And the LP5 literally oozes luxury and class.
     
    UI (USER INTERFACE) / USABILITY
     
    Please note that this is with the current released firmware 1.0.1.5.
     
    If you are coming from a fully featured UI (eg Apple or another mainstream DAP), you are going to be a little disappointed. I’ll start with what options the UI has, then go onto what is missing or quirky.
     
    The first thing that surprised me is that with the amount of real estate available – the screen is only 3.5cm in diameter.  This very much cuts down what can be displayed.  That aside though, once you get used to it, the screen is pretty responsive and because it is reasonably limited in its options, it is easy to navigate.
     
    When you first turn the LP5 on, you are greeted with the Luxury & Precision logo, and then an opening menu with (on my unit) 3 options – Internal Memory, Now Playing, and System Settings. I say on my unit because I’m guessing here will be a fourth option (External Memory) which is currently missing because I can’t access the sdxc external reader.
     
    LP517.jpg LP519.jpg
    Initial menu - access to folder browsing, playing and settings
    Folder browsing - notice that the order is not alpha-numeric

     

    Internal Memory simply takes you to a folder view of what you have stored on the 64Gb internal memory available. A note here – this is currently listed (may change with later fw) in the order it went on the player – not in alphabetical or alpha numeric order.  Quirky!  There is no sorting by tags, no accessing file tags, no artwork, and no search.  Just simple folder browsing.
     
    The Now Playing menu selection takes you to the play screen – if a song is currently playing. Or this changes to Resume Playing if the track has been stopped/paused. The Now Playing screen shows the track name, total track time, and position in track, the format and sample & bitrate, what play setting you’re using, and if SPDIF is being used. It also has a surprisingly accurate battery meter (shown as an analog type needle/dial), and it also has a larger dial which I think is supposed to act like a VU type meter – but which may as well not be there (it lags so much it doesn’t actually mean anything).
     
    LP520.jpg LP518.jpg
    Track list - this was in order thankfully
    The now playing screen - battery meter is the small 1/2 circle above the title info

     

    The System Settings menu gives you three new options – Play Mode, Audio Output Settings and Advanced. Play mode simply gives you options for playing files – sequence, repeat (track), repeat (all) and shuffle. The audio output setting lets you select:
    1. HP output – two options high impedance and low impedance.  This does affect gain, but I’m not sure yet if it also affects output impedance (I have asked).
    2. The SPDIF setting allows you to turn SPDIF on or off.  Not sure why exactly this is here – unless it’s affecting battery life in some way. The interesting thing is that with it turned on you can actually have digital going to a DAC and also be playing the same track through H/O at the same time. Tis is actually a really good way of A/Bing the LP5 against a desktop DAC after volume matching – and I actually used this method later in the comparison section of the review.
    3. There is also an option for DoP SPDIF which I’m unable to test until my iDSD actually gets here.  For those not sure of what this does – it means DSD on PCM SPDIF.  SPDIF does not natively support DSD transfer, however it does have enough bandwidth to deliver DSD signals. So the output chip will send DSD signals through SPDIF fooling the system that it is sending regular audio signals.  If you have a DAC which supports DOP SPDIF, you can then send the DSD signals correctly and have DSD playback.
    4. The final option is for Digital Filters. You have two options Fast Attenuation and Slow Attenuation.  John tells me that this is to do with filtration of very high frequency signals. I tried both, and couldn’t tell any difference. YMMV.
     
    LP522.jpg LP521.jpg
    First settings menu
    Different play modes

     

    The Advanced Settings option gives you another set-up menu where you can control screen brightness, language, auto shutdown settings, a sleep timer, reset everything to default, and display information about your LP5 – and that is pretty much it as this stage.
     
    LP524.jpg LP523.jpg
    High or low impedance settings for headphone out
    Output settings menu

     

    Again – this is on fw 1.0.1.5, so I’m expecting (hoping for) more functionality in future – including the addition of the ability to use the LP5 as a desktop DAC.
     
    For navigation – the LP5 employs a N, S, E, W and central button set-up.  For most screens, the central button selects, the N/S goes up or down, and the E/W goes back a folder (or setting). The exception is in the now playing screen.  Here if you hold the N button it locks the buttons (saves accidental pushes if on the go).  Pressing and holding again unlocks. The S button this time takes you out of the Now Playing menu (takes some adjusting to this). The E/W buttons either go back one track or forward one track (if pressed), or advances/goes back in the song – if held.  Center button simply plays or pauses.
     
    LP525.jpg LP526.jpg
    Somewhat weird - you can either turn SPDIF on or off.
    The filter menu

     

    So as you can see, the UI is very primitive.  The good is that it is very easy to get used to / navigate – the bad is that you don’t get a lot of features that most people will be used to on other DAPs.
     
    What the UI is currently missing (IMO) is:
    1. Gapless (there is no gapless integration at all)
    2. Any type of EQ
    3. Folder play through – I find this frustrating
    4. The DAC function (hopefully this is coming)
     
    And then of course there is the issue of no alpha numeric sorting of folders. All up – I couldn’t give the UI any more than a 3 or 4 out of 10 in its current form.  Hopefully firware updates lift this.
     
    FORMAT SUPPORT
     
    The documentation claims are for support of following files:
    APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF, AIFF, WV(WavPack) – lossless
    MP3, aac, ogg vorbis - lossy

    I tried FLAC at 16/44.1, 24/96, 24/88.1, and 24/192 and play was flawless. Likewise WAV playback had no issues. APE would play at 16/44.1 but refused to play at 24/96. ALAC was the same – it played, but playback went to extreme “slow mode” – ie unlistenable. AIFF didn’t play for me at all - either redbook or hi-res. DSD was very good and handled 2x64 but not 2x256 (the Fiio X3ii wouldn’t play the 2x256 either so not really surprised or concerned).

     
    I also tried lossy files.  MP3 worked flawlessly.  AAC256 refused to play at all for me, and ogg files weren’t recognised either.  So clearly some work to be done on the firmware to address some of the short-comings.
     
    POWER
     
    The LP5 has incredible power output.  Unfortunately the specs don’t list the power under load (again I have asked and will update if I receive these from Mr Wan via John).  What I can tell you is that the LP5 has a potent output amp unit.  To be honest when I first heard the LP5 – it sounded good on my IEMs, but nothing to really rave about.  Where it shines is in its ability to drive my HD600 and T1 as good (if not better) than my desktop set-up. While I’m finishing this review, I’ve been listening to the LP5 with my 600 ohm Beyer T1 for the last few hours, and the sound is just incredible.  No bass issues (which are usually present if the T1 is being under-driven), and I’d estimate I’m only at around a third on the pot. At two thirds volume it is simply too loud – and this is the T1!
     
    LP530.jpg LP531.jpg
    Sublime with the HD600
    Amazing with the T1

     

    CONNECTIVITY
     
    I’ve used the SPDIF out a few times, and it works pretty flawlessly as a transport.  As I mentioned earlier, the ability to have the SPDIF operating at the same time as the H/O means it is ideal if you were at a Meet situation, and wanted to A/B a new source against your LP5.
     
    I also used the line-out to check it was working, and there were no hitches. I simply can’t think of any time I’d use the line-out though unless it was for an impedance correction (at the moment impedance is unknown).  The in-built amp is simply too good to bypass – if using full sized headphones.
     
    I am really looking forward to accessing the DAC functionality though – and this is one feature that the LP5 will need going forward to justify its high price point IMO.
     
    As far as the headphone out does – it appears to be very clean, and I have no problems at all with it.  It is a 6.3mm socket – so IEM users will need to use an adaptor. And this is another area that I think was ‘missed’ with the LP5.  A lot of people with a high class portable will want to use IEMs and/or customs.  The adaptor is functional – but it’s also clumsy.  I love the 6.3mm socket for my full sized cans – but it would have been a great addition/asset if they’d included a separate 3.5mm socket.  Or even doubled the line-out with that function and made it switchable.  An opportunity lost unfortunately.
     
    BATTERY
     
    From fully charged, I connected the HD600, set the output impedance to high, selected a redbook FLAC album, and set it to repeat.  The volume used was normal listening volume. Uninterrupted, with the screen mostly off, gave me almost exactly 10 hours play – which I personally found acceptable.  I’d imagine the stated 12 hours may be on the lower impedance setting and using IEMs. Actual charge time from empty – using a wall wart and Apple USB plug was approximately 3.5 hours. You can see when charging is finished because the green charging bar (on screen) changes to solid.  It took me a while to figure this out.  Also you can play the LP5 while charging (nice).
     
    COMPARISONS/SOUND
     
    I seem to have written a book so far, and I’m yet to really describe how the LP5 sounds.
     
    If I was to describe the overall sonic character of the LP5 I’d have to say warm (without being dark), detailed (without being bright), spacious – and although I hate the word when used as a descriptor – very musical.  It just sounds right.  It takes me back to the times I’ve had the chance to play really well recorded music out of a very good receiver. In short – I love the sound of the LP5.
     
    It’s not going to put your music under a spotlight – yet it will show all the details (good or bad) that are in the recording.  It doesn’t mask imperfections – bad recordings still sound bad – but when you get really good recordings, the LP5 just shines.
     
    LP5 and IEMs
    When I first received the LP5, my initial trials were with a variety of IEMs – my hybrids (A83, Altone, and Trinity Delta), as well as the Alclair Curve, DUNU Titan and Havi B3 Pro1.
     
    The Havi, A83 and Delta all sounded really good on the LP5 – rich, full, and when directly compared to the X5 – very slightly smoother and a touch more refined – but the differences were really quite minimal. With the Alclair Curve (which is a warm and slightly mellowish sounding IEM), neither the X5 or LP5 really shone to my taste.  The difference of course is that I can EQ the X5, and the Curve then sounds fantastic.  With the LP5 I’m limited – which is a shame. The standout for me though was the Altone200 and DUNU Titan.  The extra heat up top with the both the Altone and Titan really allowed it to shine in combination with the LP5.  To be fair both also sound great with the X5 as well.
     
    LP528.jpg LP529.jpg
    Very good with the A83
    Even better with the DUNU Titan

     

    I guess my issue with the LP5 and the IEMs I have is that whilst they generally sound extremely good, the SQ is not miles above the SQ of the $400 Fiio X5. At the moment, the X5 offers more features, and better portability (plus the headphone out socket is made for the use of IEMs or portable headphones).
     
    Time to see how the LP5 fares with full sized headphones.
     
    LP5 and Full Sized Cans
    The first time I tried the LP5 with my HD600s, my jaw literally dropped, and I couldn’t take the smile off my face. First – the plug is made for a full sized headphone (no clumsy adaptor!). Secondly there is power to spare – and honestly you’d deafen yourself before you fully extended the pot on the LP5. Thirdly, and most importantly, the sound is phenomenal – beautifully clear, extended (both ends), spacious, rich, full – just everything I’ve ever wanted the HD600’s to portray. Not only that – there is no compromise on the bass – it’s articulate, well textured, and most importantly doesn’t feel like it is being choked for power. In direct comparison to the X5 (and I like the X5 with the HD600), the X5 sounds slightly thin.
     
    So after tearing myself away from the comparison, I had to try the T1. This time the difference was even bigger.  The T1 on the X5 definitely sounds brighter than it should be – and tends to get a little etchy and sibilant. The LP5 just sounds gorgeous – the bass is fully present, everything is vivid, but nicely balanced. Again – if I didn’t know for sure that the T1s were plugged into the LP5, I’d swear they were connected to my desktop.
     
    LP5 vs X5
    We’ve covered some of this above – but very quickly. With IEMs the LP5 slightly edges out the X5 – it’s slightly richer, smoother, and fuller in overall mid-range presentation.  Bass is similar – maybe a touch more impact with the LP5.  The differences are subtle though.  With full sized headphones, the slight gap becomes a gulf. The LP5’s extra power accentuates the early impressions with IEMs. Again everything is richer, fuller, smoother – and dare I say more refined. Very black background and good separation. There is also a greater sense of space or dimensionality.
     
    LP534.jpg
    Alongside the Fiio X5
    Getting ready to test against the NFB-12 and Little Dot MKIV

     

    LP vs NFB12 + LD MKIV
    You’d think pitting a portable player up against a desk-top set-up wouldn’t be a fair match, but it seemed logical considering how well the LP5 handled full sized headphones.  So I volume matched the T1s (using a calibrated SPL meter) and ran through some test tracks.  The sound signatures and overall sonic quality was practically identical.  The T1 sings with the NFB-12 + LD MKIV OTL combination, and I was getting the same presentation and brilliant tonality from a DAP? The NFB-12 + Little Dot is slightly on the warm side, very clean and very clear – with good extension and detail.  The music envelops you, involves you – it’s rich, vibrant, yet also refined and sophisticated.  And the LP5 was also able to deliver this feeling – so well in fact that I would easily get lost trying to guess which was which.
     

    VALUE & CONCLUSION

    I listed earlier what I often look for in a DAP – and if being completely objective – it would pass most of my initial aims – but be questionable on the value for money, and somewhat on the ease of use. The gold edition LP5 is feature short, has a GUI that needs some serious work, and lacks a lot of the features that other high-res DAPs are bringing to the market.  Unfortunately I couldn’t test the external storage – but I haven’t taken that into account.
    With its current firmware, it has problems with some file formats, has no DAC functionality, and the inability to even sort by alpha numeric (folder view) will have prospective buyers scratching their heads in puzzlement.  All of these can be fixed by future firmware releases though.
     
    What the LP5 does bring though is a gorgeous, elegant and sophisticated look, and stellar build quality and materials.  And it sounds nothing short of phenomenal with full sized headphones. That is its strength – and for anyone searching for a portable solution for full sized headphones should see if they can get a demo.  Yes it really is that good sonically.
     
    Is it worth $1000?  Well that depends on what priority you put on overall sonic portrayal. At the moment – I’d say it would struggle to be attractive to most people given its shortfalls. But – fix the glaring errors in GUI, add DAC functionality, and it suddenly becomes a lot more viable (and I believe these are fixable).
     
    The LP5 won’t be for everyone – but if I was in the position to be looking for a DAP specifically for full sized cans (eg a bedroom set-up, or something I could take traveling or to a holiday house), the LP5 would be brilliant. Even with its current shortfalls (and assuming they would be fixed) I’d honestly be tempted to save and get one if I could afford it. Sonically it fits my preferred signature to a T.  
     
    So now I need to grade it – and I need to be fair – and that’s why I’m giving the LP5 a 3/5 (or 60%).  This could easily be a 4/5 (80%) once the GUI is tweaked, errors fixed and DAC functionality added. My next step is to organise a tour for the LP5 – and I am going to miss this DAP like crazy while it is gone.  It’s become a staple part of my late evening listening regime – and reviewing it has been pure pleasure.
     
    LP533.jpg
    Stickers removed - purely elegant look
    FINAL THANKS
     
    Thanks for sticking with me through another “novel” sized review. I would once again like to pass my thanks to Alex (Twister6) for recommending me as a reviewer, John Yang for facilitating the review cycle, and Mr Wan for creating such an incredible sounding player.
     
    I sincerely hope that L&P will continue the current path they’re on – and perhaps implement some of the changes I’ve mentioned. The LP5 sounds truly wonderful – and I do feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to listen to, and review it.
      leobigfield, djvkool, d marc0 and 6 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Brooko
      @Canadian411 - I guess they thought it was more aesthetically pleasing.  I think Alex (Twister6) described it really well - the LP5 just isn't your everyday type of DAP.  But it's perfect for relaxing, end of the day type stuff. I sort of envisage later in the evening, picking a comfy chair, your favourite full sized headphones, a nice glass of amber fluid, and then just picking your favourite album and switching off from the world for an hour.  Funnily enough - that's what I often did when I was testing it.  Either the HD600 or T1, no amp, sofa, sometimes a good book.  It was sublime.  Once the album is playing - you no longer need the screen, or controls.  You no longer worry about the GUI.  That is its magic.
      Brooko, May 14, 2015
    3. Zaroff
      This would be VERY tempting if it had proper sorting and gapless. Both are deal-breakers.
      Zaroff, May 21, 2015
    4. Brooko
      Oh I agree - if the firmware upgrades don't happen - what you have is a very nice sounding and powerful DAP - but with a "budget player" interface.  Sadly - its now 3 weeks since I wrote the review, and the silence from L&P so far on both requested information and news on fw updates has been deafening.  I can only hope that they are still coming. 
      Brooko, May 21, 2015
  4. twister6
    A very unique high performance DAP!
    Written by twister6
    Published Apr 30, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - excellent sound quality, unique design, use of exotic wooden material, very powerful
    Cons - limited accessories, primitive GUI, pricey, firmware is still work in progress

     
    Before I start my write up, I would like to Thank Luxury & Precision for providing a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.  The manufacture page is http://www.luxuryprecision.net/, and it's available from http://penonaudio.com/Luxury-Precision-LP5
     

     
    Luxury & Precision is a name one would expect from a company specializing in a design of luxury timepieces.  Indeed, the product I would like to share with you about has a craftsmanship of a luxury watch, except this is a high resolution digital audio player brought to you by a design team responsible for a line of popular ColorFly DAPs.  Prior to receiving my review unit, I was already smitten by images of LP5 and also impressed by a choice of top tier components used in its design.  L&P is offering their LP5 model in two variants, Silver + red shadow wood (32GB version) and Gold + rosewood (64GB version).  To justify a price difference between two models, you are not only getting a different finish with a double of 24bit ECC Flash memory capacity, but also a selection of higher quality components to deliver a cleaner sound.  The unit I received was a Gold model, the one I would like to share with you about in my review.  Here is what I found.
     
    The packaging it arrived in had two separate boxes, the main “luxurious” gift box with the actual LP5 and separate smaller box with accessories.  I gotta be honest with you, after seeing pictures of this DAP before its arrival, the level of my curiosity to see it in person was at ultimate high!  The main box had a sturdy thick carton construction with a form fitted, felt covered cutout where LP5 was sitting like a crown jewel.  Besides a pocket under the cover flap with a warranty card and instructions (in Chinese), nothing else was inside of the box.  Btw, later I was very pleased that L&P had transparent plastic stickers overlaying every control and port on the DAP with explanation of functionality in English (I kept those stickers for most of the review pictures, only removing it at the end).
     
    The only included accessories were usb to micro-usb cable, for charging and data transfer, and 6.3mm headphone adapter, essential to use with LP5 where HO port is not a traditional 3.5mm.  The included USB cable was of a high quality and even had a ferrite bead choke, though not sure if it was even necessary.  Considering its premium price, I would have loved to see more accessories, maybe as a minimum some kind of a custom protective leather case.
     
    Unboxing & Accessories.
     
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    I’m sure some might argue that a protective case is not really necessary because once you take LP5 out of the box and hold its sexy body with a carved wooden back against the palm of your hand – you will realize this DAP was meant to be seen in its full glory without covering any details under a protective skin.  Though its design looks relatively solid, I can’t imagine handling it carelessly by throwing it in my pocket next to keys or tossing it in a gym bag or just dropping it on a table like I handle some of my other DAPs. 
     
    The combination of metal and wood material reminded me somewhat of ColorFly C4 design, which is not a coincidence since I already mentioned about the same design team being behind both of these DAPs.  I guess their vision is not only to make a great sounding audio player but also to make it unique enough to stand out from the crowd.  With that respect - mission was accomplished!  The combination of a shape which reminds me of a flask with an analog volume potentiometer (Alps pro audio series volume knob) at the top, a round display with a small screen window, four elongated directional buttons and a small round button in the middle, and a hourglass shaped wooden sides with a comfortable grip - all these details make LP5 stand out with a modern-classic look.
     
    The volume knob at the top has a nice textured sides and a smooth rotation.  To prevent it from accidental bumping, there is a metal protection cover piece placed over the top like a bridge.  The buttons on the front of the DAP are a bit on a small size and have some rattling, but at the same time they have a nice tactile response with a good feedback when pressed.  At the bottom of the LP5 you have 6.3mm (1/4") Headphone output, 3.5mm Line Out output, a slot for micro-SD card, micro-usb port, and a coaxial SPDIF port with RCA type of connector (cable for this port would have been another good accessory to consider).  Micro USB port is to charge the unit and also to transfer files (LP5 is recognized with a logical drive letter when connected to PC/laptop).  I’m still finalizing my battery measurement since there is a noticeable difference between playing mp3s vs FLAC/DSD files and at a different volume levels, but I heard from others who were able to achieve 10hrs without a problem.  Also, with an upcoming firmware update, USB DAC functionality is going to be enabled to use LP5 as an external soundcard.  Last but not least, the top and the bottom has two sets of small screws to take this DAP apart.
     
    In my opinion, LP5 has one gorgeous design that really gets attention.  I showed it to a number of people, and everybody wanted to hold it in their hands, to touch controls, and made comments if "this is a real wood".  But from a different perspective, would I consider this to be pocket friendly DAP to carry with me everyday?  Probably not.  At 206 grams it's not too heavy, but with a thickness of about 25mm and dimensions of approximately 130mm x 65mm - it's not exactly compact in size.  This is a type of DAP you would want to sit down with at home to relax with a glass of fine vine while listening to some smooth groovy high resolution tunes in DSD format.
     
    Design details.
     
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    Unfortunately, once you turn the power on, the beauty of exterior design doesn't exactly translate into internal GUI.  Don't get me wrong, LP5 still has a capable user-friendly interface, but the GUI is rather primitive and somewhat limited.  It's limited by a screen diameter of about 35mm where graphics cleverly covers a full circle shape, but the actual dynamic area of the display seems to be of a rectangular shape and fitting only 5 lines of text.
     
    With a power on (holding down middle round button), you are presented with a Main Menu to access Internal or Flash Memory, to go to Now Playing screen, and to go to System Setting.  With a current firmware version while accessing memory with music content, the songs will be arranged by a file date.  There is no alphabetical sorting order, though I heard it might be implemented with a next firmware update.  Browsing through files is self explanatory, and only requires using up/down directional buttons to navigate and clicking a middle button to start playing a song.  Once in Play Mode, you get a small rectangular area in the middle with a song name scrolling across and a song time below it.  When you're fast forwarding through a song, progress bar fills in that rectangle to indicate elapsed time.  Above this rectangle there is an analog style needle gauge of the remaining battery, and another needle gauge indicator corresponding to VU meter (needle was moving, but I'm not sure if it was accurate).  Underneath of that rectangle, you have info about bit depth and sampling rate of the song, and if SPDIF is on or off, as well as playback mode indicator.
     
    System Settings menu has three choices with Play Mode (with Repeat, Sequence, Repeat All, and Shuffle), Audio Output setting with HP Output (which has Low and High impedance setting, similar to low and high gain), SPDIF (on/off), DoP SPDIF (DSD over PCM through SPDIF on/off), and Digital Filter Setup (with fast or slow attenuation setting).  The last menu choice in System Setting is Advanced with Display Setting (light on time and brightness level), Language selection (LP5 arrived by default with Chinese language which took a little while to figure out how to change), Auto Shutdown, Sleep Timer, Default Settings reset, and System info.  Perhaps more features will be added in future updates, but the one I was missing the most were EQ, gapless playback, and playlist creation.  Also due to a limited screen real estate, there is no display of album art.
     
    GUI.
     
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    Of course, all the pretty looks will mean nothing if you can’t back it up with a quality performance.  Even so I felt LP5 GUI was a bit too primitive for such an exquisite exterior look, you can be rest assured that Luxury & Precision redeemed themselves with a sound quality!  In a world of Wolfson WM8740, Cirrus Logic CS4398, and TI PCM1792 popular DACs, it was my first experience with AKM AK4414 DAC.  I always preach that DAP should be treated as a black box, and it should be judged by its sound rather than components (such as DAC) used in the design.  Still, it was an interesting fact that L&P team decided to stand out from the crowd by using a different DAC to make their sound more unique while supporting every available loss and lossless audio format.  As a matter of fact, I read that L&P design team wrote their own software system to support decoding of all these formats.
     
    In general, It's not easy to describe a sound signature of the DAP because you are hearing it through headphones and their own unique sound signature.   Therefore, I went through a number of my headphones ranging in sound sig from neutral to balanced and flat in order to find a common thread to describe LP5 sound.  I found LP5 to have a smooth and slightly mid-forward sound signature with a touch of warmth, courtesy of a rich textured sub-bass and a slightly rolled off top end.
     
    Starting with a low end, it has a healthy amount of sub-bass which is nicely balanced with a fast mid-bass punch.  I actually think it has the most articulate sub-bass delivery among all of my DAPs.  At the same time, low end is very well controlled with a surgical separation from mids.
     
    Lower mids have a nice body which adds to the organic tonality of a sound, and upper mids are slightly forward with an excellent retrieval of details.  Such combination of mid-range spectrum balance plays an important role in natural and very convincing delivery of vocals, both male and female.
     
    At the same time, a solid low end and a slightly forward upper mids push the treble a little bit to the background.  Treble has an excellent extension, and I'm sure if LP5 would have an EQ - you would be able to "correct" top end with a little more sparkle, but at the same time it's still very detailed and not fatigued which is excellent for extended listening pleasure.  Based on my listening experience with LP5, if you are craving a more analytical treble extension with some extra sizzle from your cymbal crashes - LP5 might be a bit too smooth for this task.
     
    I found the background to be black, and there was a very minimum hiss with my most sensitive IEMs.  Soundstage has an excellent depth and above average width, where I found staging to be a bit deeper than wider in relative comparison.  Also, it has a lot of power to drive any IEM or Full Size headphones, even HAVI B3P1 and ATH-R70x (drove those 470 ohm cans with authority!), though I did have to switch HO output high/low impedance setting like a Gain control to pump more juice.  It does pair up OK with external amp, but might not be really necessary.  In general, I found it to pair up better with my neutral and brighter signature headphones, but not so much with a darker signature ones like UM Pro 50 (and lack of EQ support doesn't help either).
     
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    Next to other DAPs, I wanted to see how it compares to X3ii, AK120ii, X5, and N6, all of which I currently have access to.
     
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    LP5 vs N6 - N6 has a slightly better retrieval of details, a little leaner and brighter sound, a touch less sub-bass, a little more sparkle at top end (slightly better treble extension), mids are nearly identical in quality while N6 quantity is more balanced.  Soundstage has the same depth, while N6 has a little better width.  In general, LP5 was a little bit warmer and smoother.
     
    LP5 vs AK120ii - AK is a little bit smoother, very similar low end though LP5 sub-bass has a bit more impact, LP5 mids are brighter/crispier and a bit more upfront.  With treble, LP5 has a little brighter and more analytical treble.  Also, both have a very similar soundstage, maybe with AK being a touch wider.
     
    LP5 vs X3ii - In my opinion, both have a very similar low end extension, down to sub-bass and mid-bass, though LP5 is more detailed.  X3ii mids are not as detailed and also more balanced, and treble was a bit crispier.  LP5 has an overall more detailed and slightly brighter sound and a little wider soundstage.
     
    LP5 vs X5 – I found X5 sound to be thinner, airy, and with less sub-bass quantity.  Soundstage is a little bit wider and deeper.  Sound of X5 has a little less body.
     
    Conclusion.
     
    I want to start my summary a little bit different this time.  For sure, Luxury & Precision LP5 is a very unique looking and quite pricey DAP.  The more I was thinking about it, the more it started to remind me of a race car.  Take for example Bentley Continental GT3-R special race edition.  When you look at it, you see a modern-classic look, a similarity I found with LP5 having modern build and design while still having classic curves, retro color tones, and mix of material including wood.  Under the hood of GT3-R you will find a very powerful engine with a top notch performance, similar to LP5 with its powerful DAC and array of top notch performance components.  But when you look inside of GT3-R, you see a strip-down minimalistic interior design with all the bare essentials to control this car - very similar to LP5 with its minimal GUI design to cover only essential functionality.
     
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    Is this the best sounding DAP I have ever tested?  It comes close with its unique sound signature and when paired up with a right set of headphones.  In my opinion, the design really stands out, and I still find it to be very tastefully done to look like a piece of art!  At the same time, this opinion could be polarized where some people might not like its look and could even find it tacky.  You can even refer to it as a niche product for those who collect rare audio equipment.  But no matter how you look at it, you can't take away how great LP5 sounds, how smooth its analog volume control operates, how cleverly its small screen was utilized even under circumstances of limited GUI.  Regarding some missing features, we can hope it will be added in the future firmware updates, like a support for USB DAC, file sorting, and so on.  If you are looking for all-around portable DAP to take with you everywhere - LP5 wouldn't be my first choice.  It's more like a race car for a special occasion to take around the track, to show off to your friends, and to indulge your fast and furious need for speed with some bling-bling!
      golov17, Brooko, Vartan and 1 other person like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Wyd4
      Great review.
      It was actually great to see some real pictures of the GUI as opposed to the renders.
      Personally I love the look and I love that they have carried the design into the screen/ui with the round appearance (unlike the n6).
      To be honest, the sound you described is also what I would expect from its design/looks.
      It would almost seem odd had it been a bright dry or overly analytical sound.  Would be like someone starting a Ford GT40 and it having a 4 cylinder engine.
      If I could justify having multiple devices (I tend to just keep one as I always end up putting one in a draw and never looking at it again) this is definitely something I would have waiting for those special occasions.  To sit back on a chair with a scotch and just relax.
      Wyd4, Apr 30, 2015
    3. JohnYang
      Nice review! I think you described LP5 pretty well there. Not a "everyday everywhere" device, but a very nice "gonna enjoy my sunny afternoon with some high-tea, sugar and music" type of device.
      JohnYang, May 1, 2015
    4. mrmoto050
      Nice Review, very well written, covered all the bases. I'm not sure I would jump in until the firmware is updated though.
      mrmoto050, May 1, 2015