I come clean right at the start. I am a big fan of the super reference tuning of the PAW Gold Touch, I just love having a blank canvas to work with. Lotoo has proven that the professional tuning they gave their flagship really works well with many monitors. On top, it’s a reviewer’s delight. The Touch shows me perfectly how a monitor sounds like with its unaltered signature.
Lotoo markets the PAW 6000 also as a reference tuned DAP, so my audio senses were tingled. When I first unpacked and listened to the new Lotoo I was pleasantly surprised how much performance of the flagship they managed to get into the P6K.
The PAW 6000 has a beautifully neutral signature, where nothing gets any favors. It places all frequency ranges equally. There is no over-saturated warmth, no forward placed brightness, just plain reference with excellent technical performance. Richness is also very neutral in the PAW 6000 as it sounds neither explicitly rich nor dry.
Bass reaches low into sub-bass areas with good body, texture, layering and resolution. Every bass-note sounds realistic with good weight and size. Bass has very good density without ever being too thick or tough. Low end notes sound natural and realistic in timbre. Impact, thunder and grunt are all delivered with accuracy and realism. The PAW 6000 has a well delivered bass that enjoys good levels of speed.
With its neutral signature the P6K does not put any extra weight and attention into the lower midrange. It is not a particularly warm or thick sounding product. It has a linear response where mids are just perfect in size and weight. Every sound is portrayed with the same attention and this makes it a very true to the source DAP. Instruments and vocals have wonderful body and shape. Singers have nice emotions and air in their voices, to transport a very convincing sound.
What the PAW 6000 does exemplary to me, is its impressive transparency. Just like the PAW Gold and the PAW Gold Touch there are very high levels of transparency in the midrange. You get a picture that is rendered with high resolution and precision. The sound stage the Lotoo PAW 6000 creates is spread wide and deep with a spacious sound. Another point where the P6K fully delivers is imaging and layering to me. As it perfectly portrays every musician sharply separated in very good spotlight. The background is almost pitch black. There is some very faint noise between the instruments though.
Treble is well extended with a neutral placement. There is no sharpness or over-brightness in the sound of the PAW 6000. High pitched instruments and noises sound clean and pure. I did not notice any sibilance, even with brighter gear it never pushed the limits of comfort to me. Highs provide very good air to the entire signature.
Most hardware I know has noticeable differences between balanced and single ended outputs. The major exception was Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch. There is nothing that separates them from each other to my ears. With the PAW 6000 things are a bit different.
Although both outputs spit a similarly clean and clear signature with a reference tuning, the differences can be found in technical performance. To me the balanced output sounds just a tad more precise and more resolving. It presents each note with a bit finer rendering and resolution. The balanced output to me also produces slightly less hissing in high gain. The sound stage to me seems slightly wider and deeper on the 4.4 mm output as well. These differences are not day and night, but only minute changes.
The neutral and reference signature of the PAW 6000 should make a great partner for just about any IEM or headphone, given it is powered right. I personally hardly ever use headphones on the go, as I prefer C/IEMs for the commute, so most of my listening was done with C/IEMs. But I reached for an array of different over ear headphones at home.
Let’s check out a few different pairings with the new Lotoo PAW 6000.
In Ear Monitors
I haven’t come across a single DAP that can’t power IEMs enough. With the market shifting towards portability it only makes sense that there are no problems for them. In Low Gain mode I did not notice any hissing from the Lotoo PAW 6000. Neither in balanced nor unbalanced. For this test I usually bring out my super sensitive IEMs from Empire Ears. Namely the Wraith and Zeus XIV. When switching to high gain both outputs produce noticeable hiss.
Not all DAPs handle hybrids equally, some don’t get them to perform at their peak. Which mostly results in a badly controlled low end and boomy bass. In times where IEM manufacturers squeeze as many different drivers in the shells as possible, this is an important aspect.
JH Audio – Layla
The Layla is one of the monitors I came to love more and more during my journey. For a piece that has been designed many years ago, it still holds up to the competition very well. Yes, there are other monitors which surpass it in sheer technicalities, but the Layla is like a damn good wine. It makes you want more.
With the Layla you get nicely dynamic bass that reaches deep into the sub-bass areas. Bass has high resolution and very good air in it. Body, weight and note-size is spot on with the PAW 6000 x Layla pairing for me. Nothing seems to heavy, dense or thick. It’s all just about right. Especially layering is something Layla manages very well, and with the P6K that’s no exception.
You get a melodic, rich and smooth sound with heaps of resolution. Imaging is very good, with sharply separated instruments and singers. Vocals are emotional, well formed and realistic in size. They never appear too big, too thin or too thick. Just right on correct.
The Layla puts lower frequencies and midrange more in focus than highs, but they still sound clean. Treble is not overly forward or bright, yet still well defined and with good lighting.
qdc – Anole VX
Oh, what a wonderful sound. I just love this combination. The Anole VX is definitely among my personal favorite IEMs. You get excellent body and richness. A signature that is filled with blood and emotions.
What I love about this pairing is the organic sound it produces. The Anole VX captures music with such a spot-on timbre and naturalism that puts a wide smile on my smug face. The low end is dynamic, well controlled and almost dynamic-driver like. There is good rumble, body, weight and texture in every note.
Mids are full, have the right density and sound just gorgeous. The Anole VX is one of the very, very few monitors that reproduces mids just perfectly. I often listen to albums from friends of mine, just because I know how they sound in real life, and the Anole fully delivers here with the PAW 6000. Absolutely perfect.
You get an organic, realistic and superb sound with wonderful resolution and layering. Imaging is as good as it gets with a dark background. Sure, there is some room for improvement in terms of blackness and sharpness, but overall the package just fully convinces.
Treble is well defined, not too sharp nor too soft and clear of sibilance. You get good extension and air, with a fast and energetic top end.
64 Audio – Fourté Noir
The Fourté Noir is one of my hybrids I bring to the office on a regular basis. With the Lotoo PAW 6000 you get a very well controlled low end, that’s heavy on the sub-bass. Lows have excellent weight and drive, just like you know it from good dynamic drivers. The Fourté Noir has a very precise and accurate low-end tuning, that just doesn’t make any mistakes.
You get a dynamic and full bass with very good resolution and texture. It provides nice lower midrange warmth for weightier and more physical mids. Instruments sound accurate and realistic. Mids are smooth yet enjoy very high resolution. Timbre is slightly colored towards warmth, but just so much to give high levels of enjoyment, rather than making things uncomfortably numb.
Where this pairing excels really is sound stage dimensions, resolution, layering and imaging. With the Fourté Noir you just get the highest level of them all. With the Noir you get the typical tia-driver top-end extension that just goes on for miles. The tia treble is energetic, crisp, clear and clean. The only thing that I’m missing is a slight richness, which the Lotoo also does not provide.
It’s a truly spectacular pairing that made many office-hours of mine pass a whole lot faster. It’s engaging and purely enjoyable.
Unique Melody – Mason V3+
I’ve always been a big fan of the UM Maestro/Mason tuning and so I was quite anxious to see how they re-tuned the Mason V3 in it’s “V3+” version. With the PAW 6000 and V3+ combo you get a very detailed yet musical sound. The sound stage is very wide and deep, and the spaciousness is impressive. The combo never exaggerates but instead it impresses on all fronts. It’s dynamic, detailed, has great timbre, impressive layering and above all, delicious bass and mids.
This for me could be the winning combo of the year, though the V3+ also sounds great (yet different) when driven by other DAPs such as the SP1000 and Cayin N6ii
How does the PAW 6000 handle full sized headphones? Find out on the next page.