It’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows with the Touch though, there are still a few bugs in the software which should be corrected.
For example, the Touch has a very faint but audible click when you play files of different sample rates. If you’re someone who listens to single albums this won’t affect you, but as a playlist listener it bothers me. This behavior also appears on other DAPs, such as the WM-1Z from Sony or the R6 Pro by Hiby.
If you have multiple albums with the same name (e.g. Greatest Hits), Touch will categorize it into one album when using Album list. However, this only occurs when the files of these albums are of the same type (e.g. FLAC).
There is still no WiFi menu. Admittedly it isn’t needed now. WiFi can only be accessed when performing a firmware upgrade using the Settings menu’s ‘Online Update’.
Lotoo has been informed about these bugs prior to publication of this review. Knowing that Lotoo has continuously worked on the firmware of the PAW Gold to this date, I am confident that they will solve these issues as well.
I have been informed by Lotoo, that a new firmware is going to be published very soon, which should correct a few minor bugs. No information if the ones listed above are in the changelog or not though. No new functions will be added with this one.
Then there’s still the single-language support, which a few people I have already seen complain about. While I understand the frustration, it’s not just Lotoo who uses region specific firmware. Sony and AK do it as well, and nobody bats an eye there. Customers who buy within their region from an authorized dealer/distributor will get a software designed to their market. So, if you want a Touch that has English pre-installed, you should buy from one of Lotoo’s Western partners.
All in all, I find the software to be well thought out and intuitive. It’s easy to use and gives me many options to play with the sound, more than any other DAP I have come across.
The sound quality of a product is always the most important and defining factor in my opinion. Sure, usability is almost equally important, but I’m sure most people can live with a stellar sounding unit with a less than perfect software. Luckily Lotoo has that base also covered.
On paper both outputs differ in technical specifications and used components, which should result in different sound. To me both single ended and balanced output sound identical though. While most of the time I find there to be a difference between the implementation of other manufacturers, Lotoo has opted to make them sound the same.
On one hand that’s pretty cool and you don’t have to worry about reterminating your cables to gain something, it makes me question why there are two outputs then. The most logical reason I can come up with, is for the use of external amplifiers to feed them a balanced signal.
We’ll cover the vanilla experience first, and go over changes of XRC and PEQ/ATE a little later.
With all settings disabled, the PAW Gold Touch to me sounds flat out neutral. It sports an incredibly well achieved reference sound, that does not ask for a light or weighty pairing.
The Touch has a very well sought out balance, and goes deep and wide into both registers. Bass has good definition and resolution. It reaches down low into sub-bass, has good rumble and authority. Lows sit tight, are well controlled and have superb texture.
When we’re coming to mids, I think the best word to describe them is transparent. There is nothing added to flavor them, but rather they’re featuring a studio precision and accuracy. Midrange has very high resolution, every little nuance of the sound is tickled out with care and is displayed masterfully.
On a technical perspective, Touch impresses again. The sound stage has good dimensions and the Lotoo creates a venue that’s well organized and structured. Every musician is precisely separated from each other and stands out from a nicely dark background. The Touch has very good layering and imaging. Tones are clean and free of impurities.
Treble is again neutral, but can become a touch bright and dry. PGT does not tend to sibilance. It extends very well and brings good air into the spectrum. Touch is very detailed and even the finest of sounds comes through. Highs are energetic, crisp and have good sparkle.
Lotoo gives you a perfect reference sound as a base to build your own signature with, by using the PEQ or XRC.
When enabling the hardware sample rate conversion, the Touch upsamples all data to the highest possible multiple of 44.1 or 48kHz. On a sonic change it results in a more dynamic bass with bigger body. Vocals also appear more in front than before, giving it a slightly more holographic imaging. Treble is less direct and the overall appearance gains in space. The sound becomes slightly fuller and engaging.
Lotoo gives the user a hand full of pre-sets for the Parametric EQ. There are settings for different genres – Classic, Pop, Rock, Techno, Dance and Jazz, but also two additional settings for Full Bass and Headphone. You can actually export the pre-sets, Lotoo creates a .eq file then in the SYSTEM folder on your SD card. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a program that could open it in Linux.
The one preset I have used the most is Headphone, and I want to give a little information about that one. All sound alterations go through the Blackfin DSP chip.
When using the Headphone PEQ the sound becomes fuller and more holographic. Vocals become more body, weight and emotion. Instruments seem meatier and with more blood in them. Notes have longer decay. The sound stage appears slightly deeper and the whole presentation becomes more engaging.
There are also seven ATE pre-sets. These are sound processing filters that put an effect over the sound. You can set ATE to Brighter, Sweet, Dental, Style 701, Style 990, Diffuse Field (Near field) or Diffuse Field (Far field). I didn’t really find any of those particularly to my liking and haven’t given them much attention.
The review goes on after the jump!