Lotoo PAW Gold Touch – First Contact

Disclaimer: The Lotoo PAW Gold Touch sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Lotto and MusicTeck USA for giving us this opportunity.

This is our first time to work with Lotoo on impressions and reviews. To read more about DAPs we have reviewed before on Headfonics click here.

It is rare we get two flagship DAPs here in the office within the space of a few weeks to review but indeed this week that is the very case.

Just as the Cayin N8 gets a wrap with a super high score and justifiably so we have no less than Lotoo’s new PAW Gold Touch DAP take a metaphorical walk through the office door. And I am hellishly excited because the PAW Gold Touch really does feel like the Yin to Cayin N8’s Yang.

Do they complement each other? Yes, but at $3199 for the Lotoo and $3299 for the N8, a lot of people are really going to have to know which one is right from them rather than casually buy both. I could happily sit with one or the other but they do have some very clear differences at an engineering and sonic level that will appeal to different crowds and tastes.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Discretion

Unboxing the Touch is more akin to the Sony 1Z experience I had at the start of the year. It is professionally done with a vinyl wrap over a mid-sized box but it is not Cayin N8 uber display design. Logistics managers in Lotoo may be happy about that or at least you might since it is a heck of a lot smaller to ship out.

Leather Case

Inside the accessories and layout is again understated but professionally done. You do not get a huge selection of accessories but what you do get is well made. Of particular note is the dark brown stitched leather case which is immaculately finished with the Paw Gold Touch emblem on the back.

The case fits the Touch like a glove as it should. Well actually, perhaps even too good because I have to find unique ways to get it out of the case. techniques such as pushing via the USB-C slot, sliding with my hand on the screen or pinching the volume guard with various degrees of success. In any event, at this stage what you need to know is that it will not slide out accidentally when brand new.


Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Accessories

The rest of the accessories include a USB-C charging and data transfer cable, 2 tempered glass screen protectors, (you need to put one on as one is not pre-applied), a cleaning cloth and some manuals and warranty information.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Build

This is the sexiest DAP I have ever handled period. No, it is not super slim and at 275g is it not the lightest either. However, the design is very sleek and modern and the build quality is Japan levels of excellence.  The Touch is built from CNC crafted aluminum alloy with that signature gold-plated volume knob resting on the top panel behind a solid metal guard.  Multiple coating layers on the alloy give it that sleek black look and an excellent level of fingerprint resistance.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Just underneath that dial is a little glowing LED which Lotoo call a breathing light.  I find this fascinating to stare at but you can turn it off if it annoys you also in the main settings.

At the back, there is a little NMT cover which is like a softer plate opening in the chassis for the Touch’s Bluetooth signal to get through easily and retain a strong signal. I can tell a lot of time has been put into the form factor and materials of the Touch.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Screen

The screen is just fantastic as well. This is not a huge screen but it suits the Touch perfectly. This is a 3.77″ IPS display with some seriously high-end Gorilla Glass 5 which should provide ample protection. The viewing angles and general legibility are very good from what I can see at this initial stage also.

Outputs

There are plenty of analog outputs on the Touch also with 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm unbalanced outputs for headphone jacks and 4.4mm balanced line-out.

I am not seeing any numbers listed for the 3.5mm line-out and in the marketing material, they do not state it has a 3.5mm LO. However, there is an LO label on the top panel and the OS provides an option for a 3.5mm LO so this is something we will get back to you on during our main review to see if this is a dedicated LO.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

The digital connectivity has improved from the old PAW Gold non-touch with a modern USB-C  port at the base. You can now charge as well as data transfer and use the Touch as a USB-DAC. I do not see any SPDIF functions which some might have liked to have seen given the N8’s capability.

However, it does seem the Lotoo is aiming more for Sony lovers since the 1Z has just about the same level of functionality both analog and digital.

Wireless

Yup, it has Bluetooth 4.1 and LDAC support and it will act as a BT DAC to another source with similar capabilities. There is also an “online update” option which means it does have WiFi but like the N8 its only for OTA updates so no DLNA or WiFi type streaming is possible directly with the Touch. You will have to stream via BT from another source to get that.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Memory

There is no onboard memory just as in the original Paw Gold version. You will have to use memory cards and here is a strange one though not a deal breaker. The Touch still uses full-sized SD cards instead of micro-SD so guys, retain those SD card adapters as you will need them.

Battery

The Touch is rated at 10 hours or so depending on how you use the player. We have been using it now solidly for about 7 hours and have 20% left with lots of poking and adjusting so the numbers seem reasonably accurate.

Software

Lotoo has created their own OS from the ground up and it is very fast, super responsive actually as well as offering some complex feature sets. Of particular note are the EQ and general levels of audio tweaking available on the player.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Sound Tweaking

At a functional level, you have the ability to set an LR balance for both 3.5mm and 4.4mm, two levels of gain (low and high) for analog and a dB gain setting for BT audio. Switch off the hardware decoding feature in the settings menu and it opens up the parametric EQ presets and customizing option and a feature called ATE. ATE works a little like the iBasso DX120 sound mode on initial impressions with titles such as “sweet” and “bright”.

Filters

You do also get filter controls for both PCM and DSD and they are quite familiar to many with the likes of ‘short delay, sharp roll-off’ and super slow roll-off to name just 2 out of 6 for PCM mode alone. You also get two for the DSD mode, both of which act as low pass filters.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Media Management

Our initial impressions are that this might be a touch basic in functionality though it does seem to be very bug-free at this point. Firmware could and should update some the media management features to bring it up to par with competing OS’s such as HiBy and Sony’s own software.

You do get a clean home screen with all the immediate categories and playlist creation at the touch of a finger but the drill down is not as complete as I would like it. For example, Artist tagging is 100% accurate on the stuff we tested but on drill down it does not organize by album so you get a flat list of songs. That means if you have a ton of albums from the same artist you might have problems identifying tracks. There is also no Genre tagging which some might like to see in future updates. For now, if you want to drill down by artist and album you will have to go via the Folder search. (Update this will be rectified in the next firmware release from Lotoo)

The software does have some good individual title or song search functionality which is very quick. There is also next to no lagging when scrolling or drilling down. Just how I like it!

Language

Very important, make sure the edition you are buying comes in your spoken language. Currently, Lotoo is only offering the PAW Gold Touch in the language of whichever region is it being sold. There are no multiple language options so please ask your dealer or online store which edition they are selling. This is important for those who like to import hunt for bargains as you may get caught out. I am not aware if a firmware update will resolve this either.

Lotoo Paw Gold Touch

Initial Sound Impressions

I did say Ying to the Yang compared to the N8 because the AK4497EQ DAC at the heart of this player is very neutral, very clean and wonderfully detailed. This is nothing like the tube output of the N8 with its more mellow and well, ‘tubey’ musical sound. Nor is it as aggressive and full-bodied as the N8 so it provides an excellent contrast for me. This is a very accurate and balanced player with a penchant for micro-detail, especially with imaging.

We did a brief test with Anette Askvik’s Liberty which is a superbly recorded album and title-track. The spatial cues with the CA Andromeda were lighting fast, very dynamic sounding and painted over an excellent black background. This is going to be a good pairing with sensitive IEMs by the way, the noise levels are very low indeed.

Stay Tuned!

At this early stage, it is already a safe bet to say the Touch is a reference-class player and I do look forward to testing it more extensively in the weeks to come both with IEMs, headphones and that new USB-DAC features.

PAW Gold Touch Specifications

Body:

  • Dimensions: 119mm x 68.6mm x 21mm
  • Weight: 275g

Screen:

  • Touchscreen
  • Size: 3.77″ IPS Display
  • Resolution: 800 x 480
  • Gorilla Glass (Std 5)
  • DLC Coating for Added Strength
  • AF (Anti-Fingerprint) Coating

Battery:

  • Playback Time: 10+ Hrs
  • Capacity: 5500 mAH

USB:

  • USB-C with upto USB 3.1 protocol
  • USB DAC Functionality
  •  USB Charging

Wireless:

  • Bluetooth 4.1 with LDAC support
  • WiFi b/g/n (Purpose Still Unknown)
  • Memory:
  • SD Card
  • Support Up to 2TB UHS II

Software:

  • Lotoo OS (Not Android or Linux)
  • PMEQ II with 5 Filters Per Setting
  • ATE

Audio:

  • DAC Chip: AKM 4497EQ
  • Support upto PCM 768kHz and DSD512
  • Headphone Out – 4.4mm Balanced & 3.5mm Single Ended
  • Line Out – 4.4mm
  • Output Power: 500 mW per Channel at 32 Ohms

4.4mm Balanced Headphone Out:

  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 kHz (+0.008/-0.34 dB)
  • THD+N: 0.00015%
  • SNR: 127 dB
  • Channel Separation: -126 dB
  • Dynamic Range: 127 dB
  • High Gain: +14.4 dBu
  • Low Gain: -10 dBu

4.4mm Line Out:

  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 kHz (+0.008/-0.34 dB)
  • THD+N: 0.00015%
  • SNR: 127 dB
  • Channel Separation: -126 dB
  • Dynamic Range: 127 dB
  • Gain: +14.4 dBu

3.5mm Singel Ended Headphone Out:

  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 kHz (+0.006/-0.38 dB)
  • THD+N: 0.00045%
  • SNR: 123 dB
  • Channel Separation: Unknown
  • Dynamic Range: 123 dB
  • High Gain: +16 dBu
  • Low Gain: -9 dBu
Lotoo PAW Gold Touch – First Contact
4 (80%) 6 vote[s]

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