Lotoo PAW 5000 Hi-Fi Music Player Review

Introduction
Love music? Love sport? Then you are going to love Lotoo PAW 5000 Hi-Fi Music Player as well. It is a lossless portable digital audio player that specially designed for sport. Yup, it will definitely suit for your active lifestyle as it comes with Bluetooth support and sport armband. And there is Sports Mode to adjust the pace of the music to 20% faster or slower. Besides, it is powered by high performance Blackfin 514 digital signal processor. Support all major lossless and standard music files with sample rates up to PCM 96kHz / DSD 2.8MHz. In addition, it is loaded with high-speed USB 3.0 port and can support microSD card up to 2TB. And can last for 12 hours of non-stop music playback. Interested? Read this review to know more…

Features

  • Highly musical portable music player designed for audiophiles on the move
  • Supports DSD, FLAC, WAV, AAC, ALAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, CUE and APE music files
  • Advanced performance Blackfin 514 digital signal processor
  • Balanced headphones supported via 2.5mm output
  • Bluetooth A2DP wireless connection
  • S/PDIF line-out connection for Hi-Fi equipment
  • Adjustable gain and impedance settings
  • User definable parametric EQ
  • Intuitive and highly adaptable graphical user interface
  • USB 3.0 high-speed port offers fast file transfer
  • Supports micro SDHC and micro SDXC memory cards up to 2TB
  • Up to 12 hours playtime
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Well protected

Package Content
Lotoo PAW 5000 comes with a nice and small packaging. You can find all the key features in front of the box. And its specifications at the back. After opened the package, you can see PAW 5000 well protected with hard foam. And another box contains all the accessories, quick guide and warranty card. The quality flat micro USB 3.0 cable surely will speed up copying music files process besides charging. And no worry, you still can use your smartphone micro USB 2.0 cable to charge it and transfer files too. Then you can find sport armband and its cradle too. Perfect companion for your active lifestyle, right? And its locking mechanism is tight. No worry of dropping it off during exercise.

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Package Contents
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Attached with sport armband

Specifications

  • Display: 2″ colour LCD (220x176px)
  • Supported formats: DSD (DFF/DSF/ISO) / FLAC / WAV / APE / OGG / AAC / ALAC / MP3 / WMA / M4A
  • Max. sample rate: PCM 96kHz / DSD 2.8MHz
  • Processor: ADI Blackfin DSP 514
  • USB: Super speed USB 3.0 Micro-B
  • Dimensions: 98x55x17.5mm
  • Weight: 110g
  • Battery 1700mAh Li-polymer
  • Storage: micro SDHC / micro SDXC (up to 2TB)
  • Frequency:  +/-0.5dB (20Hz – 20kHz)
  • Total harmonic distortion: <0.007% @ 1kHz (20Hz – 20kHz)
  • Max output: 100mW (16 ohm / channel)
  • Signal to noise ratio: 94dB
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Previous/fast backward, next/fast forward, Music/Fn, return/setup, ATE/PMEQ, power/lock screen and play/pause/OK buttons with jog dial

Design & Build Quality
Lotoo PAW 5000 is small and lightweight. And the build quality is good too. It is covered with grey aluminium metal panels for both front and back. Hard plastic frame on the side. It provides grip and nice to hold. The arc panels and round corners help to provide comfortable ergonomic as well. On the front, you will see 2″ colour LCD screen with 220 x 176px resolution at top. Follow by all the control buttons like previous/fast backward, next/fast forward, Music/Fn, return/setup, ATE/PMEQ, power/lock screen and play/pause/OK with jog dial. The jog dial is very useful to scroll through all your songs and settings. By the way, the gold colour power button has a white backlight ring that can setup to light up fading in/out mode (breathing LED) to provide nice visual effect. Or turn off to save some battery life.

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Damp (high/low) switch, volume up & down buttons
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Gain (high/low) switch

On the left, there are damp (high/low) switch, volume up & down buttons and gain (high/low) switch. USB 3.0 port is located at the bottom right and Bluetooth logo on top. On top, you can find balance headphone (2.5mm), headphone and line out/SPDIF outputs. Lastly, microSD slot at the bottom.

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SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port
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Line out/SPDIF, headphone and balance headphone (2.5mm) outputs
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MicroSD card slot

User Interface & Functions
For the very first time when you power on Lotoo PAW 5000, you need to select your preferred language (English and Chinese). Of course, you need to insert microSD card too else it will prompt alert. It does not have internal storage but can support microSD card up to 2TB. Okay, back to GUI. Thanks to high performance ADI Blackfin 514 DSP, PAW 5000 UI is smooth and fast. And it has the professional retro interface look, simple and functional. On top, there is status bar that show repeat mode, gain setting, playlist (folder, cover, list1,2,3 & all) and battery icon with % indicator. Follow by effect settings like ATE/PMEQ and realtime left & right channel sound level meter from -50dB to 0dB. The sound level meter will change based on music and volume output. Then there is time display that can show current time or remaining time out of total time. Lastly, the file information which consists of format, sample rate and current music playing out of total songs in that particular folder. And the song file name listed at the bottom with scrolling effect.

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As you can see from above screenshot, there is a man running with 120% speed. Yup, this is what PAW 5000 specialised – sport mode. Just enabled it on setup, then use jog dial to control the speed. You can speed up to 20% or slowdown to 20% based on your need. Perfect to use when you want to sprint or rest for a while. The music tempo surely will help here. And all the input buttons are reachable even attached with sport armband. Nice one…

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You can fast forward and backward using the next/previous buttons. Or pause the music then use jog dial to skip to the part you want with increment of 3 to 5 seconds. Much easier, right? When hold play button, it will change the display output mode. The first one you already seen, the second and third one are shown above. Yup, there are audio spectrum analyser mode and album cover mode. The audio spectrum analyser is realtime as well. You can easily see which frequencies are being populated more and lesser. Volume output affect the spectrum as well here. Lastly, the album cover will be displayed only when your folder consists of JPEG with less than 150KB. Else it will show the blank CD like above.

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Lotoo PAW 5000 lists songs based on folder, cover, user custom list 1 to 3 and all. Pressing Music button will lead you to this selection screen. Folder mode is like Windows’ File Explorer, just use jog dial to select instead of mouse. Cover mode lets you go to the particular album easily based on album art. Then the 3 custom lists let you put all your favourite music in one place. You also get the ability to sort them too. By the way, you will get the list mode when scrolling jog dial while playing music. Therefore, it is recommended to copy music based on each artist in a separate folder. Then each album by that artist is in a separate sub-folder within that artists’ folder.

Wow… Copy music to PAW 5000 is extremely fast thanks to USB 3.0. Yes, it copies files as fast as your microSD card can go. It manages to transfer files at maximum speed no matter in read or write with 64GB SanDisk Extreme microSDXC. Yup, it’s getting maximum 85MB/s reading and 61MB/s writing speed. There is no need for addition card reader as PAW 5000 itself is the fastest one in town. Well done, Lotoo.

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Yes, you have the ability to change PAW 5000 sound signature. All thanks to ATE and PMEQ. ATE is short for Lotoo’s proprietary Acoustic Timbre Embellisher voicing algorithm. ATE uses DSP technology to bring these studio quality filters for you to play with – Brighter, Sweet, Dental, Style 701, Style 990, Diffuse field (Near field) and Diffuse field (Far field). In short, by selecting Style 70 will make it sounds like AKG K701 headphones. And there is Parametric EQ which has preset EQ that normally found like Classic, Pop, Rock, Techno, Dance, Headphone, Jazz, Full Bass and 6 custom ones. With PMEQ, you get extra controls to adjust 5 filters based on specific frequency on its gain, filter type and Q width parameters. You can adjust Filter GroupGain and rename the PMEQ. Besides, you can export and import them too. Just use the dedicated button – ATE/PMEQ to access and take time play around to find the best sound for your music.

Alright, let’s have a look on the settings. There are play, system, Bluetooth, sport mode and Fn key settings in setup. In play settings, you can adjust repeat mode as sequence, single repeat, repeat all and random. Time display as current time or remaining time. DSD gain selections are -12dB, -6dB, 0dB, +6dB and +12dB. Lineout level switch on or off. Finally, channel balance from 0dB to 3.0dB (0.5 increment) for both left and right channel. There are lot of stuffs in system settings – power off timer, auto power off, language, display timeout, breathing LED, brightness (3 levels), battery info, update database, SD info, SD speed test, format SD, factory reset, system info and lastly firmware update. Talking about battery, PAW 5000 manages to drive DUNU Titan 1 for 12 hours non-stop FLAC music on average sound level test. As usual, battery life is shorter when volume is louder. And it take around 2 hours to fully charge.

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Bluetooth supported

Bluetooth settings let you to pair with your favourite Bluetooth headphones or speaker by turning Bluetooth switch on. It will connect to Bluetooth headphones if paired previously. Else just scan for new one manually. PAW 5000 Bluetooth coverage is okay at best. It manages to playback music up to 5m with some obstacles like wall on Bluetooth headphones that usually have 7m range with Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. So it is 2m shorter than Galaxy S4 coverage. And you can’t control volume level with PAW 5000 on Bluetooth mode. Not a big deal as most of the Bluetooth speaker and headphones have volume control built-in. But I can’t use it on Audio-Technica ATH-M50x with Voxoa BTunes Bluetooth Headphone Adapter which also doesn’t have volume control function. Hopefully, future firmware update will support it…

I won’t cover sport mode again here as you should know its function already. Lastly, there is Fn key. It is a custom shortcut key. You can assign it as mute -20dB, mute, repeat mode, screen information, timer switch, battery info, database update and sport mode. Choose the function that you prefer, personally I selected mute -20dB.

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with DUNU Titan 1

Sound Quality
For all my tests, damp is set permanently to high for the best sound quality and performance. High gain for headphones and low for in-ear monitors. And without any effect on. With max output @ 100mW (16 ohm / channel), PAW 5000 easily drive all the headphones and in-ear monitors that I have. Just don’t expect it can drive headphones with extremely high impedance. Too bad that I do not have equipment to test balanced headphone and optical S/PDIF outputs. So I will update this review when I have the chance to try them in the future.

Overall, Lotoo PAW 5000 has neutral and smooth relaxing sound signature. A little bit warm by the way. Details are there and clear. As for soundstage, it is just okay only for both width and depth. Therefore, sound separation and layering are average as well.

Highs are clear and round. You won’t feel the harshness of the edge. And it’s relaxing. As for mids, I love the vocals for both male and female. PAW 5000 manages to make them sound the way they should be – so natural and sweet especially on Eye on Me by Faye Wong. And do note that vocals are a bit forward, close to ears. The clarity and thickness are presented just the way they should. Lows are fast and full. Again just like highs, they are on gentle side. All in all, PAW 5000 has nice smooth and relax sound on Brainwavz Audio HM5. Put on Audio-Technica ATH-M50x if you want to have more energetic bass.

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with Brainwavz Audio HM5

Advantages

  • Neutral and smooth sound signature
  • Fast & functional UI
  • Decent build quality
  • Plenty of features – eg. Bluetooth, sport mode
  • Long battery life
  • Ultra portable and lightweight

Limitations

  • Average soundstage
  • Bluetooth coverage can be better
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with Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Conclusion
Lotoo PAW 5000 is a digital audio player with neutral and smooth sound signature. Loaded with lot of features like balanced output, Bluetooth, ATE and PMEQ. Don’t forget sport mode with +/-20% music tempo and long battery life. More information can be found at Lotoo Website. And get yours here.