The front panel controls include the following switches and screens:
FILE (which allows users to choose selections from a general song, artist, track, and album directory)
LIST (to choose from among user-defined playlists)
SETUP (which provides comprehensive player setup configuration options)
ATE/PMEQ (which offers sets of studio-quality ‘Acoustic Timbre Embellisher’ and user-definable Parametric EQ options),
An engraved and gold-plated metal rocker-type selector ring (which provides Play/Pause, Forward, Backward, and Stop functions),
A user-definable ‘function button’ positioned in the centre of the sector ring,
An Fn switch (which lets users define the role of the ‘function button’),
A Power On/Off switch that doubles as an ‘enable’ switch for the player’s display screen and front panel controls, and
A sapphire glass-covered 1.8-inch full colour OLED display screen (which can, at the user’s option, provide three different screen views: the main playback/control window, a two-channel real-time spectrum analyser, and a window showing cover art for the track/album in play).
The player’s main playback control window is a marvel of user-interface design, presenting a substantial amount of information in a very small space. Specifically, the window shows play settings (repeat or sequential playback modes, etc.), EQ/tone effects settings if any, a colour-coded 2-channel playback VU meter, total time and running playback time for the track in play, the track’s sequential number within a given album, file format/bit-depth/sampling rate information, artist/song title/file suffix information for the track in play, and playback status (playing/playback paused/playback stopped). In short, virtually anything one might want to know about playback can be found at a glance on the PAW Gold’s screen.
Top mounted controls and jacks include:
A master gain switch offering high (+15 dBu) or low (0 dBu) gain settings,
A Hold switch (in essence a control lock-out switch),
A knurled and gold-plated metal thumbwheel-type volume control (which is protected by a machined metal arch cut into the top surface of the player),
A headphone output jack (3.5mm), and
An analogue line-out jack (3.5mm).
The left side of the player provides a USB 3.0 jack (used for loading digital audio files and metadata to the player’s music library memory card) plus a dedicated socket for the player’s included 12V battery charger. The right side of the player is deliberately left blank, while the bottom edge of the player provides a covered memory card slot that can accommodate SDHC/SDXC music library memory cards of up of to 2TB capacity.
If the Lotoo’s controls sound overly complicated, in practice the player proved easy to understand and to use. Its hybrid button-plus-menu control architecture is often quicker and easier to use than the controls of many ostensibly easy-to-use players that force users to move up, down, and sideways through labyrinthine menu structures. With the PAW Gold, you simply press the button that corresponds to the task you want to accomplish, and then make your selection from a focused set of menu options. That’s it: simplicity in action.