Review: Lotoo PAW 6000 – Tenacious P

Lotoo PAW 6000

Control:

Lotoo is using the same operating system in the PAW 6000 as in their flagship. They call it Lotoo OS. It is built from the ground up and not based on Android or Linux.

Hardware wise you have volume control on top. In the Settings menu you can chose in what direction you want to increase the volume. On the right side you have the four mentioned hardware buttons for playback control.

Let’s take a quick look at the software.

At the time of writing I am using firmware version 1.2.0.3, you can download the latest software either by accessing Online-Update from the settings menu, or by downloading the file here: http://www.lotoo.cn/en/about/support/download/

Just like with the PAW Gold Touch, the boot-up time of the PAW 6000 is ridiculously fast. Within two seconds the player has finished its boot sequence, after another two to three seconds it’s ready to play. What’s also very good is, that the P6K has zero lag. It doesn’t matter how big the file is you want to play, it plays instantly.

In Settings you have access and control over Play Settings (shuffle, repeat, etc), Output Settings (High/Low Gain, DoP), Player Settings (Screen Timeout, Double Click, Breathe Light, etc). You can also set if the Lotoo should hardware decode, meaning no PEQ alterations, just plain untouched handling of the files. Other than that you also get to play with Filters and enable/disable Bluetooth. In Settings you also get access to information regarding available space on your micro SD card, WiFi and the Firmware. Here you can also update the firmware via “Online-Update”.

At the very top you will find an always visible information bar. Here you can see what you currently have enabled, what output is being in use, the gain for this output as well as information about the remaining percentage of battery. Depending on the settings enabled, you see more or less icons in that notification bar.

When you’re swiping down from the top corner you have quick access to a few settings, like brightness, Bluetooth, playback options (shuffle, repeat) and the gain settings of each headphone output. It’s great to see that both outputs can be set individually. However, they both use the same volume level. If you set the 3.5 output to 40, it will be valid for the 4.4 as well.

A swipe from the bottom up brings you back to the main screen, no matter where you’re starting. You can also set the P6K to activate the screen by double-tapping on it. If you disconnect your IEMs or headphones during listening the PAW 6000 will pause the song. A handy feature most DAPs have nowadays.

Media Management

On the main screen you have six different options. You can access user-created playlists, you can sort the database by Album, Songs or Artist or you can navigate through Folder view. Also found on the main screen is the Settings menu.

The lower third gives you information of the current playing track and you can hit play/pause, previous or next track.

The Play list menu also auto creates a list of songs that were recently played. In Album list you have access to all albums stored on your SD card. Lotoo’s media management system is easy to use. In Artist all songs are sorted by album and songs. I find this multi-layered navigation very handy to use and am glad Lotoo has implemented it.

Lotoo PAW 6000

Lotoo PAW 6000

You can sort all files by quality (bit depth) or with the HZ filter (sample rate), that’s especially neat if you want to list to just your DSD files for example.

When you’re browsing through your catalog and swipe up or down, you might notice a scroll bar on the right side. You can drag this one for faster searching. This is especially handy if you have a big library with hundreds of artists.

If you have a collection of Double CD’s or other albums consisting of more than two CDs and have it tagged with CD Number 1/2/3/etc the Lotoo will put them all in one album sorted by the ID3 Tag track number. For example, I have Radiohead’s OK Computer (Deluxe Edition, 2 CD) and it organizes the tracks by Track Number rather than CD Number.

The Lotoo updates your library after each reboot, it only updates new content though. The database is stored in a separate folder the unit creates on your SD card. You can’t access it directly from PAW, but it is visible when you’re using a computer to load new music on it.

Playlist Management

One thing that’s important to me, is how a DAP handles playlists. I like to add single songs to my current playing tracks, and the Touch thankfully offers that option. You have to tap the button in the top right corner, then you can select specific songs or albums the button ‘Add to playing list’ lets you add these files to now playing.

I’m a person that likes to start with just a few songs and then add other tracks on top of the first selection to make a playlist. With the Lotoo I can do exactly that and create a playlist depending on my current mood.

Now Playing Screen

Coming from the main screen, you can tap the song title to get to the Now Playing Screen. Once you’re there, you see a bunch of information of the current track.

You see the album cover, track name and artist information as well as the file extension. Below the song info you have the progress bar, which you can drag to any position and it will instantly jump to it. Under the progress bar you have access to the play-mode (shuffle, repeat), the playback control buttons and the PEQ and ATE menu.

When you swipe to the right on the album cover you can see three other info screens. Swipe once to the right and you will see the Lyrics, given they’re added in the file. Another swipe to the right brings you to file information where you can see everything about the current song. Yet another swipe to the right brings you to a professional screen, giving you a VU meter and a FR graph.

Lotoo PAW 6000

Lotoo PAW 6000

PEQ/ATE and Filters

In the bottom right corner of the Now Playing screen you see a symbol with three lines. This gets you to the PEQ and ATE filters. I myself am not a big EQ user but playing with the Lotoo’s has proven to be a lot of fun and extremely effective.

The PEQ offers you the option to change the frequency response of five bands. You can select the filter type (Band Pass, Low Pass or High Pass), set the desired Frequency to alter, change the Gain values by up to +/- 11.9 Decibels and change the bandwidth setting (Q value). Eight PEQ pre-sets are already stored on the Lotoo.

There are also seven Acoustic Timbre Embellisher (ATE) settings, these apply Lotoo’s studio quality filters. You can select between seven different ATE pre-sets.

On top of it all, you also have the option to switch between digital filter settings of the AK4493 DAC. There are six available for PCM and two for DSD.

Bluetooth

Lotoo has added a bi-directional, LDAC supporting Bluetooth to the PAW 6000. This means you can either send audio from the P6K to another device via Bluetooth or send it from your phone to the P6K to use its internal decoding.

LDAC offers support for high resolution files up to 24bit/96kHz, which for Bluetooth is outstanding. Using the PAW 6000 as a Bluetooth DAC is the only way for people who crave streaming services.

Personally, I am not a fan of Bluetooth, but I don’t deny the added comfort it brings to the table. For the sake of the experiment, I tested the Bluetooth function of the PAW 6000, and it worked fine, but I did not pursue it any more than I usually would.

USB DAC

You can also use the PAW 6000 as a USB DAC for your computer or smartphone. You simply have to pick the right option when it asks you during connection. The P6K’s display will show you that the USB DAC function still is in Beta state. I tried it with my Laptop and workstation at home and had no issues.

On the screen you will see the information for sample rate and bit depth and a VU meter. You can also use the Parametric EQ and ATE filters, labelled EFX. Volume is adjustable and you can also select high and low gain for both outputs.

When I was using the P6K with my workstation and fired in audio via Roon, I saw in the signal path of Roon that the Lotoo should receive a 16/44.1 file. The PAW 6000 however told me it is working with a 44kHz/32bit file. It also did the same when I sent a 24bit file. When I asked Lotoo about this I was informed, that the PAW 6000 always requests 32bit streams from the host device. This is the same way like the Chord Mojo and Hugo2 work. Usually the host just  adds zeros to make 16 or 24bits into 32bit file.

When you are using the PAW 6000 as USB DAC, it will also simultaneously charge its battery.

Lotoo PAW 6000

Lotoo PAW 6000

USB Output

Another feature of the Lotoo is to be used as a USB transport. You can connect the PAW 6000 to any USB DAC and send data-streams directly to the secondary DAC. I have tried this with my Chord Electronics Hugo 2 and Woo Audio WA11. The P6K will inform you that the USB Out function is still in beta stage, although I noticed no issues with it.

When you are using USB Out you can send PCM and DSD streams to the DAC. In the settings menu you can select how you want DSD to be handled. It can either be downsampled to PCM or sent via DoP to the DAC. The stream will be line-out so you can’t use the volume control, which guarantees a bit-perfect handling of the files.

You will however be able to use the PEQ and ATE settings during USB Out mode. This gives you the option to alter the signal with the graphic PEQ for example before it hits your DAC.

Issues

I don’t know if this can be called a software issue or not, since Lotoo made this on purpose, but the single language support might be frustrating for some customers. Bug-wise there isn’t much to note here. One thing that bothers me personally is, that the PAW 6000 does not go up correctly in hierarchy when you use the back-button.

Let’s say I pick an album from an artist to play. Then in the now playing screen I hit the back-button in the top left corner. Now I land in the selected album – good. But if I tap the back button again, I land at the top of the Artists list. I would expect to go to the list of albums of said artist first, and then back to the entire artist list (and bookmarked to the currently playing artist), but that does not happen. It’s a mild issue, but I have noticed the same behavior on my PAW Gold Touch.

This only occurs when I use the Artist – Album – Song structure. It works fine when browsing Album – Song or going via the folder view.

Another bug I came across is that the PAW 6000, and the PAW Gold Touch for that matter, plays the first song of a playlist (e.g. an album) on repeat if all songs have been played already. This means for example I play an album with ten tracks in shuffle. After every of the ten songs has been played it will repeat the first one until you manually change songs.

So far the PAW6000 crashed on me only once. Well, it just turned off automatically for some reason, but besides that it’s an all-smooth experience.

[EDIT]: Lotoo has published a new firmware (v 1.2.0.4), which seems to have solved the hierarchy navigation and repeat of first song in shuffle bug. It can be downloaded by accessing Online Update via System Settings or by downloading the file here. You will have to place the .coe file in the UPDATE folder in the P6K’s root folder.

This is the changelog to the previous version, taken from the update-notes.txt file in the ZIP:

1. UI Optimazation:

W64 files supported.
Add some error notices.
In the playback screen, Album cover alignment is now centered.
Fix the UI bug on slidebar.
DST files (which could not be played) are shown as “DST” format now, to distinguish from normal DSD(DSF or DFF) files.
Fix the operating logic when returning from playback screen to album list.
Modify the incorrect certification icon.

2. System optimization:
Database stability improved.
solve the bug that system freezing when accessing bad audio files.

All about Sound on the next page.

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    6 Comments

    • Reply January 4, 2020

      Carlos Costas

      Hi! First things first your review it’s great, I have an Astell&Kern AK380, it sounds really good, i think that nowdays it still keeps fighting with the best daps in the market, but i think that for some sorts of music it lacks a little bit of emphasis, (it’s very refined imho), i’m looking for something new and I was thinking about chnage it for an Lotoo Paw 6000 or maybe the Sony wm1a, what do you think about changing it? How are these three daps compared each other soundwise?, do you think that it will be a big donwgrade? I’m just looking for a little more emotion and dynamisn in modern music like pop, vocals. AK380 shines with very good old records and instrumental music (OST, Classic, Jazz).

      Finally if you could choose the Lotoo or the Sony, which one would you prefer? and why?

      Lots of thanks!

      • Reply January 7, 2020

        Linus

        Hello Carlos,

        many thanks for your comment.
        Personally, I haven’t heard the WM1A, so I can’t compare it to either the P6K or the AK380. I used to own an AK380 about two years ago. Loved it. But sold it in favor of the SP1000. Haven’t heard the 380 since then and I’m refusing to do comparisons based on memory. Sorry.
        I would go with the Lotoo, as it fits my needs perfectly. If you don’t need internal storage (the Lotoo has none) then go ahead with the PAW 6000. It’s pocketable, powerful and has very good battery-life (although the WM1A is keeping a load even longer).

        Go with the Lotoo if you want: long battery life, very effective PEQ, fast no nonsense UI, excellent sound (Lieven even prefers it to the WM1Z), robust build quality and consistent firmware updates (Lotoo updates their software constantly even after many years).

        Hope that helps!
        Cheers and happy new year.

    • Reply January 9, 2020

      Scotosan

      Hi, so is the paw 6000 more neutral and spacious than cayin n6ii? Or is the 6000 warmer? Which do you like better soundwise? I have the n6ii and I like it but it’s so heavy and I’m not really using android.

      This looks smaller and closer to what I want – if the sound is as good.

      Thanks

    • Reply April 12, 2020

      Lester

      Is the card slot supports uhs-II? Like the gold touch

      • Reply April 13, 2020

        Linus

        Hi Lester,
        thanks for stopping by and reading the review.
        Yes, I think the PAW6000 also supports UHS-II.
        Hope that helps.
        Cheers

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