The Smooth Operator….
[MY PERSONAL HEAD-FI GRADING]
1 ★ - Appalling! please avoid this!
2 ★★ Subpar offering, there are better options out there!
3 ★★★ Decent with some caveats! Not a bad pick!
4 ★★★★ Not perfect but solid choice ! This should be in your shortlist. A nice addition to your collection.
5 ★★★★★ One the best in class! You should go right ahead & buy one! A must have!
Luxury & Precision W4 4 ★★★★
SOUND IMPRESSIONS & USER EXPERIENCE:
[SOUND QUALITY 8/10 VALUE: 4/10] [Warmish-Neutral]
- The overall tonality is warmish-neutral. It sounds very clean, cohesive yet well very articulated. Being effortless & musical is in fact W4's maxim. Being analytical or engaging is definitely not its greatest forte but dynamically, it is no slouch.
- The low-end is noticeably sub-bass oriented with believable mid to upper bass presence. It's more rumbly than punchy. The attack is impactful but not hard hitting. The decay & extension is precise with thick & hefty note-weight. It manages to capture the essence of reverb/echo very well. The bass control is nothing short of competent with great consistency across all genres.
- The mid-range is neither intimate nor recessed. It has good level of warmth and body coming from lower harmonics. The note-weight on vocals and instrument never seem to be lacking. It does sacrifice a tad of clarity for euphony. Thus, some of the vocal texture and instrument attack are smoothed out. Having said that, the naturalness of vocal transient remains top-notch, it's got none of that edginess, sharpness or metallic sheen regardless of pairing.
- The treble performance is pristine. It not overly bright or too dark. it's got great extension with adequate air presence. The treble refinement is one the best in class. There has not been a single grain, haze, distortion or any sort degrading qualities. It's very clean, clear and smooth. There is no unnecessary emphasis, peaks or dips on lower to mid treble region at all. Any instrument or synthetic noise in this region have accurate presence and timbre. This allows it to pair with anything without any hassle. The only downside is, the treble could use a bit more bite on it's transient. Other than that, it is pretty much flawless in what it's trying to achieve.
- The head-stage is one of the widest I've heard with believable height and depth. Space and dimension never seem to be lacking.
- Great imaging, layering & separation prowess.
- Good level of micro-detail & dynamics from lows to highs, just slightly behind the best.
- Natural tone and timbre but not the most realistic in the game.
- Not as harsh on low-fi. Quite forgiving.
- Premium build and design with digital panel.
- Provides great amplification for a portable dongle DAC/AMP.
- Efficient power draw and heat management.
- Independent volume control with memory plus a useable little knob.
- Extra functionality: multiple selection of mode/filters/gain available.
How does it compares vs the cheaper, simpler, smaller Tanchjim SPACE.?
Vs TANCHJIM SPACE [Dual-CS43131]
[SOUND QUALITY 8/10 VALUE: 8/10] [NEUTRAL-BRIGHT]
- The W4 will sound warmer, thicker and more forward in the mix which makes your music sounds denser on replay. The SPACE however does not follow that rule. It will come across more mid-bass oriented. The mid-bass kick, slam and thump hits deeper and harder. And the texture of rumble and tremor is noticeably sharper. The slower decay and denser note weight of W4 bassline can't really hold the candle to the SPACE slightly superior bass detailing. The only aspect the SPACE is lacking is definitely on note-weight department.
- Versus the W4, the SPACE is more mid-centric in its presentation. The mid-range elements will sound more forward within the tri-frequency. The level of transparency and clarity is definitely a step up. The vocals and instrument sounds crispier on it's transient with adequate note weight and body. Having said that, for people who prefer lusher and fuller-bodied mid-range might still prefer the approach of W4. As for the downside, other slacking abit on vocal detailing, female vocal can come across a tad too thick on the W4. Whereas on SPACE, vocals and instrument can sound a tad too loud in the mix due to that slight bump on the pinna-gain region. And it is noticeably less forgiving on artifacts such as sibilance, grains, grit, glitch and those imperfections.
- The SPACE will come across significantly brighter with further extension. It sounds clearer, airier and more sparkling up top versus the W4. To my ears it is not overly bright nor it is fatiguing at least with the gears I've tried. It is very well executed in its approach. Instrument like hi-hats, cymbal-strike or even drum hit-extension are more pronounce with accurate decay. Electronics or synthetic noise are far more engaging and addicting to listen on SPACE which is a big plus in modern day music.
= Technical Performance =
- The W4 head-stage is slightly wider, noticeably more headroom and a hair more depth. The separation on both is very consistent. But the W4 offers more gap between instruments. And the vocals were given more space to shine. The imaging prowess is sharper and more accurate on the W4. The extra depth dimension gives the W4 slightly better sense of layering on the stage and not to mention the darker background. It's an easy win for the W4.
Detail & Resolve:
- When it comes to micro detail be it musical detail or artifacts, the SPACE just has the edge on retrieving those detail. Some of the detail on the W4 is smoothed out sadly hence why.
Tone and Timbre:
- In trade, the W4 provide the listeners with heftier note-weight and body to their music. It manages to retrieve elements of reverb and echo a tad better. It does sounds more organic than SPACE. I find it more pleasing to the ears regardless of pairings.
Price: Performance Value:
- No matter how you look at it, the SPACE is simply the best bank for buck here. Despite that high of a price-tag, the W4 didn't manage to eclipse the SPACE completely. It is a sad truth. Still, on W4 defense, the extra touch sound refinement of the W4 is something a lot of people would appreciate and it does offer some added functionality, premium build, plus that tiny swivel knob just oozes quality with satisfying clicking noise.
- The SPACE however will definitely not work with most gears especially those bright, lean set. Meanwhile, the W4 should be able to pair well with all walks of tuning.
Power & Heat Efficiently:
- Both of them are pretty powerful and seemingly efficient on power draw. I didn't notice an abrupt power loss on battery level when using 4.4 BAL Output/High-Gain. Speaking of heat, the W4 handle its heat way better the SPACE could ever managed. The SPACE metal shell can get pretty hot upon using it.
There is a lot of to like about the W4. And there isn’t much to hate about it either. Sadly, it is eye-wateringly expensive. Honestly, it quite overly priced and for the asking price, I was expecting better sound quality out of the W4, especially from a detail retrieval & dynamics standpoint. Given it's overall performance, I will be hard press to buy one with full price. Partly because something like the Tanchjim SPACE, IBASSO DC03/04 PRO exist. Having said that, among the pantheon of dongles I’ve tried, the W4 do stand out as being of the most refine sounding dongle there is. Most of the flaws are nit-picks and it does have some good qualities that makes it an appreciable device. I genuinely love the built and design. From every angle, it just looks so attractive and classy. One might even buy one just for the aesthetic alone and I could be one of them. Still, if you seek a tiny portable DAC/AMP that is smooth, cohesive, refine yet sounds natural with good technical chops, the L&P W4 might be the one you’re looking for. Well, that only if you have 450 dollars to spare. Otherwise, you'll be more than happy using those mentioned dongles above.
SOURCE & GEARSNative FLAC Files [44.1Khz 16bits-96Khz 24bits]
Foobar2000 [Laptop] [Ugreen USB C Adapter]
Huawei P20 PRO [Phone][ App- Foobar2000]
Moondrop Blessing 2
Hidizs MP145 BALANCED
PLAYLIST (AS TESTED)1977 Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
1982 Chicago – Hard to say I'm sorry.
2003 NARUTO Original Soundtrack I – Wakiagaru Toushi
2008 K.will (케이윌) – 소원 (Great King Sejong OST Part.1)
2009 Maksim – Exodus
2010 Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou (OST) – Kokoro no Oku De Ha
2014 Grabbitz – Here with you now.
2014 BoA – MASAYUME CHASING
2014 Hyolyn – 안녕 Good bye
2015 K MISSING KINGS (OST) - New Kings
2016 K RETURN OF KINGS (OST) - Return of Kings
2016 K RETURN OF KINGS (OST) - If you die.
2017 Namie Amuro – Hope
2019 K SEVEN STORIES (OST) - In Pursuit Of
2019 K SEVEN STORIES (OST) - Lost Small World
2019 Blade & Soul (OST) – Half-Moon Lake
2019 CAROLE & TUESDAY VOCAL COLLECTION Vol.1 – Light a Fire
2020 Paradox Live Opening Show (1st E.P) – BAE – BaNG!!!
2020 Paradox Live Opening Show (1st E.P) – cozmez – Where They At
2020 倖田來未 (Kumi Koda) – GET NAKED (Kiyoshi Sugo Remix)
2020 倖田來未 (Kumi Koda) – again (MATZ Remix)
2020 premiere fleurs – プリンシパル
2020 Love Live! Nijigasaki – 朝香果林 (Karin Asaka) – VIVID WORLD
2020 Fujii Kaze – へでもねーよ”／Hedemo Ne-YoSeishun Sick
2020 King Gnu – 三文小説 ／Sanmon Shosetsu
2021 OWV – Fifth Season
2021 加藤 ミリヤ (Miliyah) feat. Yoshida Brothers – この夢が醒めるまで
2021 Official髭男dism – Cry Baby
2021 Chanmin BIJIN 美人 – Morning Mood
2021 門脇更紗 (Sarasa Kadowaki) – きれいだ
2021 Mirei Touyama – 美忘録
2021 SELECTION PROJECT Vol.1 – Only one yell -天沢灯ソロver.-
2022 Belle (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Million Miles Away (ENG vers.)
2022 rei (E-girls) – Dark Hero.
2022 rei (E-girls) – IDNY
2022 I can fly (Special Edition) – Bleecker Chrome - You will shine
2022 I can fly (Special Edition) – YOSHIKI EZAKI x Bleecker Chrome - UP
2022 BEAST TAMER (OST) – じんわり感じている幸せ
2022 Ado – 会いたくて
2022 Ado – 踊
2023 La prière - Sweet Dreams
2023 Bungou Stray Dogs 4th Season ED – Luck Life – しるし
2023 Genjitsu no Yohane – Far far away
2023 Genjitsu no Yohane – Hey, dear my friends
2023 UMAMUSUME PRETTY DERBY - Hat on your Head!
2023 Anna – 花のように (Hana no You ni)
2023 riria. – 貴方の側に (Anata no Soba ni)
★ Main-Test-Tracks/ A glimpse of what listen to 90% of the of time.
Do take my words for what it’s worth. Afterall, I am just one man.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING! HAVE A GOOD DAY WHEREVER YOU ARE! TAKE CARE!
- This is a loaner unit from my generous friend @Andy EF a.k.a the founder of #donglemadness. Big thanks to him and please do support him on youtube
If you like me to review your IEM/DAC/AMPS please hit me up: