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2.5 hour Comparison test at China Store of 80% of Daps on the Market (incl. recently released models)

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Chris Lee, Oct 25, 2017.
  1. Chris Lee
    Sorry for my poor English. I know it’s hard for people to test out DAPs in North America due to lack of stores selling these Chinese daps. For your convenience, I just visited a headphone store in Beijing, China where they sell several different daps from Cayin, Questyle, Luxury & Precision, Colorfly, Astell & Kern, Lotoo, Cowon, Opus, etc. I spent over 2.5 hours at the store to test out every DAP they had using their Audeze LCD-2 headphones.

    In the end, I narrowed down my preferences between Lotoo Paw 5000 MKII (just released a month ago with newer AK4490EN dac) and the Luxury Precision L3.

    Of course, the Questyle QP2R sounded amazing, but the sound still was not “special” enough. The Cayin i5 was not far off, but I did not like the sound of its colored midrange. Opus daps all sounded thin and lacking body, more digital sounding like your Android smartphones with DTS sound enhancer.

    Luxury Precision L3 was lacking in bass slam, and using its bass boost EQ- distorted the sound- which I did not like. Also, it was lacking in power and I had to really turn up the volume. I did enjoy its wide sound stage and instrument separation. Compared to the Lotoo Paw 5000 MKII, it sounded slightly veiled and lacked transparency.

    Overall, the newest Lotoo Paw 5000 MKII was the best sounding dap I’ve heard, much better than the AK70. It sounded the punchiest, clearest, and most emotional. If there’s one nitpicking, it’s that it did sound a bit bright with my own AKG K450 headphones- but never harsh. The brightness could be due to the fact that the Lotoo was still new and hadn’t been fully burned-in. I also used my Beyerdynamic Bryon earphones for testing. I like the portability and sound of my K450 and it was the only dap able to really control and tighten up the warm bass of my K450. I did like the extra brightness over the L3 because it pushed vocals more forward with a lot of top-end sparkle, which I prefer. It doesn’t have the largest soundstage, but I find many daps with large soundstage will result in laid-back vocals and slight veiling of micro-details.

    I was looking for a DAP that had the best sound and portability. I didn’t care if it had a touchscreen, fancy CNC body, balanced output, Wi-Fi, or 8 processors. Not only was the Lotto Paw 5000 MKII better sounding than many fancy Android-based DAPs, it is lightweight around 100g and small enough to fit in your jeans. Its midrange clarity is so good with my budget K450 that it made sound like expensive headphones and vocals were very engaging. Think of how good it would sound with more expensive headphones.

    Winner: Lotoo Paw 5000 MKII


    -bright OLED screen

    -clean, detailed sound

    -very powerful amp with d-amp tuning for different headphones

    -EQ does not distort sound

    -up to 2TB storage on single slot (2TB…not joking!)


    -soundstage not the largest, but sound is very precise.

    -bass tight and punchy, but can be a bit lean on some tracks.

    -forward, lean sound nature might not appeal to all.

    -UI not the easiest to use

    -no Wi-fi; other bells and whistles.

    For people, interested in a review of the newest Aigo Z6 Pro DAP (released a month ago) with ES9018Q2C dac and ES9016 headphone amp, please let me know. I just purchased one for review purposes as I believe this one of the best-for-the-buck DAPs you can get right now. The more expensive Onkyo DP-S1 uses the same chip and amp, but in dual configuration. You get it in China for 899 yuan, less than $200.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
    Blazer39, trellus, endia and 3 others like this.
  2. duo8
    What DAP there has the best UI?
  3. Chris Lee
    I'm not huge fan of touchscreens as I find them lacking response sometimes. Overall, I think the Lotoo's UI is the best IMO, because of it's speed and clarity. Startup and shutdown are blazing fast compared to the other DAPs. However, there is a learning curve when you're first using it.

    I hate the fonts used on 90% of daps, making song names almost impossible to read. The Lotoo has a very bright screen, brighter than many touchscreens, and its font is very easy to read. The old Lotoo Paw 5000 was mediocre for the price, but this new version is much much better.
    trellus likes this.
  4. headwhacker
    I'm interested with PAW5K MK2 as well. LPG is really awesome and has become my go to DAP. It also works amazingly as a source for the KSE1500 because of it's excellent PEQ. However, it's too thick and heavy. I had the original PAW5K but it was disappointing. The low gain is too low and the high gain is too noisy (hiss) for iems.

    I hope the MK2 improves on the weakness of the original. With Lotoo's PEQ it maybe a at least a very good transport or a cheap alternative to LPG.
    Niyologist likes this.
  5. Blazer39
    would you say cayin n3(which sounds exactly like i5) is good alternative for lotoo paw 5000 mkii?

    paw 5000 bit over my budget for now
  6. newtophones07
    Nice comparison

    I am curious why so many products stick with the ak4490, instead of the newer ak4497, especially for $400+ USD

    As far as that Aigo Z6 Pro DAP, that is a lot of hardware for less than $200 USD,. I would love to hear an impression
  7. Baljortar
    How can you describe the line out of the paw 5000 mk2? Compared to something quite good as the aune m2 is.

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