Lotoo PAW 5000 Review
Earlier this year we were pleased to announce the new Lotoo PAW Gold player, but now there's a smaller (and a much lower cost) model from Lotoo called the PAW 5000. At half the size, less than half of the weight and less than a quarter of the price of the PAW Gold model, can this upstart bring home the audio bacon?
Design and appearance
The button arrangement on the front is very similar to the earlier model, and the wheel on the 5000 model enables files, folders and options to be selected. The PAW Gold's frontage was adorned by a little too much of the blingy stuff by all accounts, so the 5000 has been reined in with just a touch of gold on the power button. Very tasteful.
With handheld devices, the trend seems to be towards touchscreens now. This can give greater functionality and versatility, but buttons do offer a more instant tactile feedback. Also the advantages of a button-operated unit present themselves in winter where the PAW 5000 can be used with gloves on, or with gloves off and cold fingers!
The PAW 5000 has more connectivity than the PAW Gold, with an optional SPDIF output for attaching to an exterior DAC. There's a headphone socket of course, and a line-out socket for external amps. Another welcome option is the ability to work with bluetooth headphones via the bluetooth 4.0 standard so you can enjoy your music wirelessly without the possibility of snags.
Durability & build quality
The PAW 5000 is a lot lighter than the PAW Gold, but still feels solid. Buttons feel well made, and the wheel has a free-flowing quality about it while still feeling sturdy. Unlike the PAW Gold model however, a collision with a tiled floor may result in a dented player, rather than a cracked tile. Although the player has no flex or 'give' as it's squeezed in the hand, a tap on the back cover does betray a slight hollowness.
(Tested with an Audiofly AF180 IEM with EQ off on the player)
We're used to using earphones such as the Audiofly AF180 with a Chord Hugo (with a Fiio X3 connected via coaxial) and so were expecting a bit of a drop in quality in terms of sound quality. It's not that easy though.
With EQ disabled, sound is neutral with a nice depth and breadth - soundstage is as good as headphones will portray. The presentation does not have the precise, clinical edge which some high-end players (such as the AK240) have, but that's no bad thing. Details are not lost; they are there, but just not pushed at the listener so much.
The Lotoo PAW 5000 is a good match for these earphones; the AF180 earphones cost only a little more (at £369.99) and are well served. The PAW 5000 helps to bring out the best in them, and should the listener wish to have a bit more (or less) edge to the sound, the EQ settings should have something to please. These are much the same as the PAW Gold player, featuring both permanent presets and user configurable presets too.
Digital output (SPDIF)
Balanced output (2.5mm)
Many EQ presets, also user configurable EQ
No internal memory
Supplied SuperSpeed USB cable is quite short
The Lotoo PAW 5000 does not require deep pockets; in more ways than one. The sound quality and features found on this device rival much higher priced equivalents offered by other makers, and the diminutive size of the PAW 5000 makes it very convenient to keep as a constant companion for those quiet (or noisy!) moments.