When I initially listened to the Lotoo, I wondered if it had as much to offer in the way of subtlety and fine focus as the AK and Questyle players. However, one recording that settled the question for me once and for all (in the Lotoo’s favour) was the intricate and evocative bluegrass track ‘Why Don’t You Go Back To The Woods’ from Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, and Edgar Meyer’s Skip, Hop & Wobble [Sugar Hill]. What especially caught my ear was the effortless manner in which the Lotoo crisply differentiated the attack, timbre, and decay characteristics of the overlapping voices of Douglas’ Dobro and Barenberg’s steel-string guitar—instruments that, as rendered by lesser players, can be very difficult to distinguish indeed. I was also favourably impressed by the Lotoo’s ability tease out the astonishing array of textures that master bassist Edgar Meyer is able to draw from his acoustic bass on this track. At one moment Meyer will explore the instrument’s deep, growling sonorities, yet in the next he will evoke lighter, higher pitched, and more fleet-footed aspects of the instrument’s sound in a manner reminiscent of, say, a mandolin. Through it all, the PAW Gold admirably keeps pace with Meyer’s variegated performance – something that would be hard for amp/DACs of any size or price to do so well.
Over the course of listening for this review, Lotoo’s PAW Gold has become a favourite listening tool for me, as well as a preferred travel companion. I say this because this versatile and accomplished digital audio player is as much at home driving power-hungry full-size headphones as it is in making high-quality, high-sensitivity CIEMs sing. It can literally drive anything and everything well, making it the portable digital audio player for all seasons and reasons.
Type: High-res portable digital audio player/DAC
Inputs: Super Speed USB 3.0 (via Micro-B jack; used solely for uploading digital audio files to the player), Music library memory card (see ‘Storage’, below)
Outputs: Stereo analogue line output (via 3.5mm min‑jack), single-ended headphone output (via 3.5mm mini-jack)
Firmware: Upgradeable via Lotoo-supplied downloads
Storage: Single card slot for SDHC/SDXC music library memory card at capacity of up to 2TB
DAC: Burr-Brown PCM1792
Other Processors & Major ICs: Blackfin 514 DSP device supports ATE & PMEQ options. Texas Instruments LME49600 headphone driver
Clock Jitter: 5ps (Typ)
Supported Formats: WAV, FLAC, AAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, CUE, OGG, APE, WavePack, and DSD (DFF, DSF, ISO)
Sample Rates: PCM: 8kHz – 384kHz, 16/24-bits. DSD: DSD64 (2.8Mhz), DSD128 (5.6MHz).
User Interface: 1.8-inch colour OLED screen, plus control switches and jacks as describer in the main review text.
Frequency Response: Headphone& Line Output: 20 Hz – 20KHz, ± 0.06dB; 5Hz – 50kHz, ± 1dB
Output Levels: Maximum output: 500mW@32 Ohms. Headphone output, high gain: +15dBu. Headphone output, low gain: 0 dBu
Line output: Maximum output: 2V RMS, +9dBu
THD + N: Headphone output: 0.00058%
Line output: 0.00036%
Signal/Noise Ratio (headphone and line output): 120dB
Battery: 6,000mAh, Li-Polymer battery
Playing time: 11 hours
Dimensions (H×W×D): 104 × 60 × 25.4mm
Manufacturer: Lotoo, Ltd.
Distributed in the UK by: KS Distribution
Tel: +44(0)1903 768919