Overview of the Lotoo Paw 5000 MK2 is a leader in its segment?

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Sometimes the difference between the two generations of devices is large enough that you can say that they have nothing to do. And sometimes it so happens that when fully back the appearance only changes the sound, but so much that to compare with the previous variant is just silly. Exactly what happened with the Lotoo PAW 5000, recently updated to the “mark II”.

If you remember, the previous 5000 from the creators of “the great and terrible PAW Gold” with a good appearance and usability has a rather mediocre sound. It was not bad, but the player was clearly not among the leaders in the sound that, in General, no wonder, because it used some kind of codec. In Lotoo perfectly understood his mistakes, and the second version received in the role of the DAC AK4490, while retaining the compact dimensions of the predecessor and its processor, allowing to implement very high quality digital signal processing. The price remained at the same level recommended by the cost of the new 5000 is the same $ 350 (plus or minus adjustment for taxes and exchange rates).

Specifications

  • CPU: ADI Blackfin 514 DSP
  • DAC: AK4490EN
  • OH: OPA1622
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±0,2 dB)
  • Total harmonic distortion+noise: <about 0.0006%
  • Output power (per channel): 150 mW @ 32Ω
  • The ratio signal/noise: >114 dB
  • Channel separation: >118 dB
  • Maximum resolution: up to 384 kHz/32 bit, DSD up to DSD256
  • Support file formats: DFF, DSF, ISO, WAV, MP3, FLAC, APE, OGG, M4A, AAC, ALAC, CUE
  • Screen: 2″ TFT
  • Battery: 1700 mA/h
  • Working time on batteries: ~6 hours
  • Wireless interfaces: Bluetooth with A2DP
  • Input: USB 3.0
  • Outputs: line/SPDIF, 3.5 mm, 2.5 mm balanced
  • Dimensions: 98 mm × 55 mm × 17.5 mm
  • Weight: 110 g

Packing and delivery

Pack player almost traditional, this time for PAW 5000 chose strict black color, everything else was as we are used to seeing. You, of course, not a box of Gold and…

Inside, in addition to the player, you will find instructions, USB 3.0 cable and a strap with clip for attaching 5000 on hand. Lotoo somehow stubbornly believe that all of their players less Gold is designed for running. Although I personally think that Gold is also quite possible to use as weighting agent in training… of Course, I would like to see included more common case, but it will have to be bought separately.

Design and management

The appearance of the first generation 5000 did not change simply because it was not. The design of the “middle paw” was coined so well that as it is “out of fashion”, allowing the device to always look good. Case with slightly rounded edges are made mostly of metal, with a small plastic strip in the middle. Thanks to its compact size, the 5000 Mk II is excellent in the hand and conveniently operated. Build quality — everything fit perfectly, not loose and not rattling around.

The developers decided to go a little against the current trends in pleurotaenia and maximum spread different functions to separate buttons that, perhaps, have added convenience to manage.

On the left side is the volume rocker and two switches — one is responsible for the gain, the second for dumping, the existence of such a dual configuration allows more flexibility in configuring the player for different models of headphones. The upper end contains a socket headphone outputs: a regular 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm “balanced” and a combined line in/SPDIF-out. The right side contains a MicroUSB 3.0, backward compatible with regular MicroUSB. On the lower side is a slot for MicroSD cards. His memory of the player is not, so without a card in the slot does not work.

On the front side there is a navigation wheel with a button in the menu (it is used for play/pause), placed in the middle. Over the wheel there are two navigation buttons on the tracks, the right — three buttons, about which I will tell below. The top half of the front panel covers the screen, it is not the greatest, and the resolution closer to the middle, but he has a good stock of brightness that is good readability in bright sunlight. In the lower right corner of the front panel is a power button, is inscribed in the annular indicator, which when the player breathes, gently illuminating and gone out. This chip looks funny, but quickly tired, fortunately, it can easily be turned off in the settings menu.

Perhaps the main drawback of the new 5000 is the working time, the use of full DAC and good power output has led to the fact that the built-in battery lasts only 5 hours and 50 minutes (my standard test MEEAudio P1 low gain, FLAC 44.1/16). Of course, miracles do not happen, and in a compact body notably more capacious battery is not placed, but on the other hand, almost 6 hours of quality sound is still a lot, and hardly anyone listens to music 6 hours straight without the ability to recharge. However, given the success in the development of powerbanks, the device is nowadays relegated to the background.

Firmware

The player uses the same Blackfin, so firmware Lotoo create their own, and, perhaps, it is their products are good. FOR “paws” — a fast, very stable and, in my opinion, comfortable. Main menu as such in the player is missing after download (very quick) you get to the playback screen, and if you were listening to before turning off, the file will automatically be selected, you just press “Play”.

The playback screen can operate in one of three modes (toggled by long-pressing the Play button): VU-meter, spectrum analyzer and album art. The first two modes look very impressive, making reference to the technique of the 90 and causing the portion of regret that other developers have not adopted the VU-meters (except the FiiO).

As the menu in the player there, all the controls are rendered on three buttons, each of which has two functions for short and long press. Will tell about them from top to bottom.

The first button with a short press displays a list of tracks. PAW 5000 Mk II is not particularly spoils the media library, there is a view files in folders on your card, a few playlists you can add tracks and a list of all of the media crowd for fans to listen to all mixed up. Long press this button can perform one of the functions selected in the menu (mute, mode switching screen, and much more).

The next button with a short press is to return back to the menu and the file list, long press opens the player settings, separated by a few points. Play Settings contains settings for play: the order, time display, channel balance, gain compensation and the like DSD option. System Settings allows you to configure the timers screen and off, the brightness of the screen unlock mode (any button or just Power), etc. posted exotic options type of information about the battery and test the speed of SD card. Bluetooth Settings — everything is obvious: enable/disable wireless module, as well as searching and connecting to devices. Of course, Bluetooth here made rather “the surrender” without aptX it is not particularly useful, but, on the other hand, eat this function is also not ask, but with a simple Bluetooth speakers may come in handy. Sport Mode Settings — turn on/off the sport mode. FN Key Definition is the function for the first button.

By the way, about the Russian language in the firmware: in my version of player he’s gone, and with Cyrillic titles 5000 Mark II is not always friendly (although the Latin alphabet with diacritics are displayed properly, even without diacritics), but Lotoo love to release different localized devices with different firmware, so you may receive the Russian version.

In the comments to the reviews of the players Lotoo sometimes raises the question, what is the “sport mode”? It is actually very simple, in this mode, you can use the wheel to change the tempo of the current song in the range of ±20%, adjusting the music to your running speed/jumping/Pliva…

The last button with the signature ATE/PMEQ hides one of the main “chips” of this device. No wonder the Blackfin is a processor customized for digital signal processing, programmers Lotoo managed to squeeze out of him a lot and have equipped their players next to a digital “uluchshayzerov” (ATE) and a very high quality parametric EQ (PMEQ). ATE allow you to select one of the handlers (“brighter”, “softer” etc.) that will be applied to the sound, these handlers banal equalization more difficult and sometimes gives interesting results. Although a much more useful thing — it’s still a parametric EQ. He then implemented at the level of the good “software” solutions for the computer and works well, without spoiling the sound. Naturally, the settings will have to dig into the Internet to understand the General working principle and the value of the parameters, but I’m not going to deprive readers of the joy of knowledge.

Generally speaking, the firmware of the player fast, stable and comfortable. In the future, it probably will work, but common code base with the previous device makes it possible now to demonstrate reliable performance.

Sound

To listen to the device used the following headphones: iBasso IT03, 99 Meze Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Audio Andromeda, 64 Audio U12, HUM Pristine and others.

That sound is what allows you to forgive this player is relatively low while working. If PAW 5000 of the previous generation had nothing to do with big brother Gold, 5000 Mk2 still is a bit like my “rich relative”. In General, the flow player is very organic, without bias in microdialysate, it is that often like to call “musicality”, but this is the “musicality” is not at the expense of sounding natural.

The bass is a bit accentuated, but not quantitatively, but rather in terms of the energy that the player puts in the low frequency part of the spectrum. The emphasis is in the area of midbass and it sounds very natural, the filing adds a bit of massiveness, which gives a more solid basis for the entire tune. Resolution bass is very good, excellent for its price level, passed the texture, the instruments are perfectly separated, the bass is controlled and not creeps on the mid-range.

Middle of slightly flattened, the player tries to play high contrast, emphasizing micronance that especially benefits the poorly-written style. But, of course, the total resolution of the MF is decent (though not transcendent) level. Especially well 5000 Mk II can microcontrast and emotion — the harsh, distinctive vocals, drive of live performances — here are its strengths. Imaginary scene a little more average in width and depth, the player is not trying to embellish or change in positioning. Very nicely done the separation in depth, it is natural and realistic (what I missed the first generation).

RF expected for the price range is simplified in terms of development of attack and damping, but have good resolution and length, which correlates well with bass emphasis, balancing it. Due to the length, a good player plays the small nuances of the high-frequency range, but it doesn’t sound harsh. Sometimes, by the way, treble sound even “slightly richer” than actually, it is not always in favor of naturalness, but often such “additive” there is impressive and very pleasing to the ear.

Of course, we need a few comparisons. Since I don’t have infinite time for the mass of the comparative tests, I chose those models that consider the closest to the PAW5000 the second generation.

Fiio X5-2. Sometimes the price reduction allows the player to increase their ratio quality/price, despite the release of a new generation, to remain interesting player. Exactly what happened with the X5-2. Compared to the hero of the review, it offers a more energetic and more energetic sound, although on some recordings it sounds sharper and more emphasizes the flaws and dirt tracks.

Cayin N5. While the second generation of the player is in development, the first is still an interesting option, offering a more neutral and dry sound with a slight slope in the light for lovers of the monitor’s filing.

Alien+. The difference with the PAW5000-2, something like X5-2: more emotional, more energetic sound, but without the characteristic of player FiiO of field, resulting in a more “natural” sound perception.

FiiO X5-3. The case when we can say that the player is “different” in the flow. Those who have read the overview of the third generation “five”, and understand the difference — a big fusion, just over the dark flow, the best study of the NCH — that’s what distinguishes the device of the FiiO.

Compatibility

In Lotoo very right power for your player, 150 mW — that a reasonable optimum, which obviously is enough for any headphone that makes sense to use portable. Switches with gain and damping factor, this player can be “tuned” for sensitive IEM that allows you to listen to them with virtually no background noise.

Stylistically versatile player, although his Forte is better tolerance to bad records (probably the case when the player is fine, to my ears, it plays even different strand) and emotion that adds pizzazz to living records. The quality of the material is new PAW5000 tolerant, somewhere in the 5 to 10-point scale.

Traditionally, several tracks for example

Machine Head — Be Still and Know. Who knew that just being inspired by Pantera and adding to the sound of his group a bit trendy thrash/groove, it is possible to achieve such results? Of all the albums Machine Head, I think I like most is Unto the Locust, the complexity and novelty. The “middle PAW” (there is also Pico) is surprisingly good with all the overloaded guitars and drums party without losing their background and vocals.

The Brecker Brothers — Big Idea. When you think jazz is music, forever stuck somewhere near the first half of the 20th century, listen to this jazz fusion Duo. First time listening to this track, I was sure that this product for at least ten years of our Millennium, but it turned out that he released back in 1992. Big Idea emerged as an R&B single, still sounds fresh, boldly combining pure jazz wind instruments with electronic effects and rhythm party. PAW 5000 Mk II great shows on this kind of music, reflecting her lively and vovlekayut.

Florence + the Machine — Breathe of Life. If not for Deezer with his “flow” of recommended songs, I would have probably never came across this track, the scope of my interests is far from today’s fashionable anorexic-melancholic music. However, this work of popular British rockers sounds very interesting, combining epic scale “background” with exciting orchestration and pleasant vocals. With PAW5000-2 this is all making the extra scale, just the same crushing wave of music.

Insights

I think, and without a conclusion it is clear that I think Lotoo PAW 5000 second revisions the best player in its price range. Understand that this is a rather strong statement, but I have a right to a subjective assessment? Small size, stylish look, easy controls and great sound more than make up for not the record-breaking autonomy, and personally, I’m willing to sacrifice it in favor of high-quality sound in such a small enclosure.

PS If you like music and/or actively interested in the topic of portable audio — subscribe to my channel @PortaFi Telegram, where I am able to announce the reviews, sometimes I share news, thoughts and good music.

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Overview of the Lotoo Paw 5000 MK2 is a leader in its segment?
Pavel Dmitriev