(Last Updated On: May 5, 2020)

With the success of the latest flagship, Lotoo Paw Gold Touch (LPGT), Lotoo heard the demands from those who have a stricter budget. The all-new Paw 6000 is the solution for them.

Thank you, Pauline and team from Lotoo, for sending me the Lotoo Paw 6000 from Beijing, China, despite facing the Covid-19 pandemic. It was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Introduction

For those who have been in the audiophile community for a long time, Lotoo is definitely not a stranger. Founded in 1999, Lotoo is a professional audio equipment manufacturer in Beijing. Initially, Lotoo put all their focus on professional voice recorders. After several years in the recording industry, Lotoo decided to take a leap forward, embarking into the digital audio player (DAP) market.

A fact that cannot be denied is that Lotoo has the top-level professional audio technology R&D team in Asia. And with their long experience in this industry, they have never failed to fulfill the community’s needs in audio quality.

Paw Gold Touch was launched in early 2019. I first auditioned the DAP in CanJam Singapore 2019. It is amazing and I’m surprised by the sound quality as well as the portability compared to other flagship models that are as heavy as a brick, such as Sony NW-WM1Z or Astell and Kern SP2000.

Not long after CanJam, Lotoo revealed the sneak peek for Paw 6000. I anticipated to audition the Paw 6000 and even attended the launch event by Project Perfection Pte Ltd in Singapore. I am sold to it after the first audition of Paw 6000 in the launch event.

In this review, I will guide you through how this Paw 6000 won my heart at first sight.

Lotoo Paw 6000

Lotoo Paw 6000

"It has an outstanding build and smooth navigating firmware. The form factor of Paw 6000 is pocket friendly. I believe these are some external factors that come into picture when an audiophile is choosing a DAP. Besides that, its natural and well-balanced sound signature is definitely a selling point that won my heart over other DAPs in the market."

Pros:

  • »Reference sound signature
  • »Supreme build quality
  • »High quality leather case and charging cable
  • »Smooth interface
  • »Bi-directional Bluetooth
  • »LDAC enabled
  • »Long-lasting battery life
  • »Powerful output power
  • »USB DAC function
  • »On-the-air (OTA) firmware update

Cons:

  • »No streaming services
 

Unboxing

The unboxing experience for Paw 6000 is pleasant. Compared to other models within the price range of USD$1200, Paw 6000 has a relatively simple packaging. It’s similar to Sony NW-WM1A’s packaging. It comes in a black sturdy box with the brand and model name printed on the paper sleeve.

The outer paper sleeve
The outer paper sleeve
Side view of outer paper sleeve.
Side view of outer paper sleeve.

Opening the sleeve, Paw 6000 makes its first appearance to the user. The accessories are kept underneath the DAP. Here’s a list of items you can expect in the box:

  • Paw 6000
  • Leather case
  • Two hardened 9+ glass screen protectors
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Multilingual user manual
  • Warranty card (in Chinese)
  • USB Type-C charging and data transfer cable
Lotoo Paw 6000 makes its first appearance.
Lotoo Paw 6000 makes its first appearance.
Accessories that included in the packaging.
Accessories that included in the packaging.

The leather case is well-designed. It fits the DAP like a glove. Besides the fit, Lotoo is very thoughtful in designing the case. The charger opening on the case is opened wider so that the user can eject or insert the SD card without removing the case.

This is the design I need because I have four DAPs and only two SD cards. I need to eject and insert the SD card very often.

Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on
Lotoo Paw 6000 with case on

The Integration

Paw 6000 is designed to be a smaller and more affordable model compared to the current flagship, Paw Gold Touch. It could be defined as the upgrade for Paw 5000 and Paw 5000 mk II, too. Powered by a single AKM AK4493EQ DAC chip, Paw 6000 can support playback for audio files up to 32bit 768kHz and native DSD256 easily.

Similar to its predecessors as well as the current flagship, Paw 6000 is not equipped with internal memory. It has a micro SD slot that can support up to a 2TB micro SD card. I’m using a 256GB SD card and Paw 6000 handles file reading effortlessly and flawlessly.

Paw 6000 is using a 3.77” in-plane switching (IPS) touch screen. This is a major upgrade from predecessors which are using the mechanical button for controls. The included screen protector is a good accessory to protect this implementation. I installed it immediately after unboxing.

For analogue output, Paw 6000 supports 3.5mm unbalanced and 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced output. Based on the technical specifications listed on Lotoo’s official website, both outputs are giving the same amount of power. The only difference between balanced and unbalanced outputs is the noise floor. Pentaconn balanced output offers you a better noise floor.

Similar to the predecessors and flagship models, Paw 6000 is parametric equalizer enabled. However, if you research or study in more detail, you will realise Paw 6000 is not equipped with a hardware digital signal processing (DSP) chip. The functionality of the DSP in Paw Gold Touch is to support DSD512 and dual phase-locked loop (PLL) clocks. Paw 6000 can only support up to DSD256, so it’s normal for Lotoo to remove DSP from the design.

I used Lotoo Paw 5000 mk II for a while and I was surprised to see that Paw 6000 is WiFi-enabled. The WiFi is solely for software updates. It’s not designed for streaming services. I like this design because I no longer need to connect my DAP to my laptop to update it. I can do it with the DAP connected to WiFi. This is very convenient and I tried it once. Tested and proven!

Updating my Paw 6000 through WiFi
Updating my Paw 6000 through WiFi
Downloading the firmware update package via WiFi
Downloading the firmware update package via WiFi

Paw 6000 has a few identities. It can act as a DAP, a USB digital analogue converter (DAC), Bluetooth DAC and Bluetooth transmitter. With one device on hand, it can fulfill almost all the needs from the users in terms of entertainment. Paw 6000 utilises USB Type C 3.1 connection. With this USB Type C enablement, the file transfer is lightning fast.

You can find bi-directional Bluetooth version 4.2 under the hood of Paw 6000. It supports LDAC Hi-Res codec. For those who need some freedom and wish to preserve high sonic quality, LDAC implementation is a great selling point. The codec that can be decoded through LDAC is 24bit/96kHz, far beyond other codecs like Advance Audio Coding (AAC) or low-complexity subband codec (SBC).

Another selling point that won my heart is the battery life. Paw 6000 is powered by a 5200 mAh battery. On the specification sheet, it states that Paw 6000 can last for 16 hours with continuous playback. Out of curiosity, I tested and it’s right! Actually, I got a total playback time of slightly more than 16 hours.

I’m totally satisfied with this and, compared to my current DAP, iBasso DX220, 16 hours is really a luxury. The DX220 can barely last for 6 hours with continuous playback.

Technical Specification

  • DAC chip: AK4493EQ
  • Supported formats: DSD256 / PCM up to 768KHz
  • Operational amplifier: OPA1622 (both single-end and balanced)
  • Headphone output: 300mw / channel @ 32ohm
  • Battery capacity: 5200 mAh
  • Playable time: 16 hours
  • Storage: MicroSD card (theoretically supports up to 2TB)
  • Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth V4.2
  • Dimension: 112x65x18mm
  • Weight: 228g

Build and Design

I like the luxury color code in Paw 6000’s design. The combination of black and gold makes it a social status for audiophiles.

As a Paw 5000 mk II user, I am impressed by the improvement Lotoo achieved in Paw 6000. The build quality of Paw 6000 is extraordinarily good. The chassis is computer numerical control (CNC) crafted with aircraft aluminium alloy. On the front top left corner, there is a “Lotoo” logo engraved in the alloy. The 3.77” screen integrated perfectly with the chassis, forming a bezel-less design.

The
The “Lotoo” logo engraved with 3.77″ screen

The back of Paw 6000 is covered by glass too. However, there is no screen protector included for the back panel. This is a small issue for me because I protected it with the provided leather case from the first moment I used it.

The naked back panel, without protection from the leather case.
The naked back panel, without protection from the leather case.

The audio outputs are located on top of the DAP, together with the volume control knob. They are in gold – a perfect match with the matte black chassis of Paw 6000. Initially, the audio outputs were a little tight for me but they are getting a little wider now after a period of usage.

Moving to the volume control knob, there is a “breathing light” embedded under the knob. You can turn it on in the setting of DAP. I think this is a cool feature, especially when I am listening at night with lights turned off. I can easily find the DAP with the breathing light. The volume control knob is well-built and provides a tactile response for every step you adjust.

The breathing light under the volume control knob
The breathing light under the volume control knob
The top view of Paw 6000
The top view of Paw 6000

The physical control buttons are located on the right side of the DAP. The top button is the power button for waking up the screen and turning on/off the device. Following the power button are conventional buttons for audio controls, play/pause button and next/previous track button. In the settings, users can change the next/previous track button to suit personal preference.

The side view of Paw 6000
The side view of Paw 6000

The charging and data transferring USB Type-C port is located on the bottom of the DAP, together with micro SD card slot. The overall design of Paw 6000 is sturdy. It has a dimension of 112 x 65 x 18 mm and puts 225g on the scale. It is, without a doubt, a pocket-friendly design. I have no issues carrying it around in my pocket.

The USB Type-C port and Micro SD card slot
The USB Type-C port and Micro SD card slot

User Interface

Paw 6000 is powered by Lotoo Touch Operating System (LTOS), similar to its elder brother Paw Gold Touch. This OS is in-house specially designed by Lotoo for these two models. We can expect a perfect integration between the hardware and software since the OS is proprietary catered to the hardware in Paw Gold Touch and Paw 6000. Without disappointing the user, Paw 6000 can be booted within 3 seconds. This is the fastest that I experienced so far.

On the main screen, there are six different options for users to play around with – Playlist, Album List, Songs, Folders, Artist and Settings. It is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Below these six options, there is a minimized ‘now playing’ screen. Users can control it there, or go to the maximized ‘now playing’ screen by tapping on it.

Six options on the main screen for users to play with.
Six options on the main screen for users to play with.
The maximised
The maximised “Now Playing” screen

Media Management

Navigating the media on Paw 6000 is an easy task. Users can go into any option, except Settings to find the desired track easily. To set up a playlist, you can set up the playlist in the Playlist option on the main screen and add in your tracks. Users can choose the artist or album and add all the tracks that fall under the selection into the playlist, too. This is applicable to folders as well.

There’s a cool feature in Paw 6000 that I often use – the search function. If you drag down the control panel on the screen, you will see a search bar. Simply key in the track name and Paw 6000 can immediately show you the track. I have more than 100GB of tracks in the SD card and this function really shortens time for me to find a particular track. I love it!

The search function on Paw 6000
The search function on Paw 6000

Parametric Equalizer (PMEQ) and Acoustic Timbre Embellisher (ATE)

In the maximized ‘now playing’ screen, users can find a control button that will lead you to the PMEQ and ATE settings.

I am not a big fan of PMEQ. However, this is a good inclusion in the firmware development because this allows users to do the final tuning in the pairing.

In the PMEQ setting, there is a list of pre-set profiles that you can choose from. If you want something that is customized to your personal preference, you can create a profile in the setting, too. PMEQ allows you to create a profile in 5 bands equalizer.

PMEQ profiles
PMEQ profiles

On the other hand, ATE also has a list of profiles that users can select from. These profiles can be easily understood as Lotoo’s studio quality filters. Besides PMEQ and ATE, users will get the conventional option to switch between digital filter settings of the AK4493 DAC. There are six options for PCM and two for DSD.

ATE profiles
ATE profiles

Bluetooth

As mentioned briefly in the previous section, Paw 6000 is implemented with a bi-directional Bluetooth. To define the term ‘bi-directional’, it simply means Paw 6000 can be used as a transmitter and a receiver. In transmitter mode, you can connect your wireless headphones to Paw 6000.

You can connect your wireless headphones to Paw 6000 via Bluetooth.
You can connect your wireless headphones to Paw 6000 via Bluetooth.

On the other hand, in receiver mode, you can connect your phone to Paw 6000 and use streaming services on your phone. Paw 6000 will act as a Bluetooth DAC in this scenario. This perfectly addresses the non-existing streaming capability on Paw 6000. Although I do not usually stream, I still think this is a good feature to be implemented.

Bluetooth DAC feature enable users to stream with their smartphones.
Bluetooth DAC feature enable users to stream with their smartphones.

USB DAC

Another cool feature Paw 6000 provides is USB DAC function. Simply connect Paw 6000 to your laptop or PC, there will be a pop up screen. Choose USB DAC (PC) if you want to charge your Paw 6000 simultaneously. Otherwise, you can choose USB DAC (phone).

After choosing the desired connection, the screen will show 32bit/44kHz. This is the sampling rate requested by Paw 6000 to the source. In the USB DAC mode, the PMEQ and ATE features can still be used.

The PAW 6000 always requests 32bit/44kHz sampling rate from the host device. If the file played is lower than the requested sampling rate, the host will just add zeros to “up-sampling” to the requested sampling rate.
USB DAC feature
USB DAC feature

Sound Analysis

Before listening to Paw 6000, based on my experience in using Paw 5000 mk II and auditioning for Paw Gold Touch, I could roughly predict the sound signature. It is going to be neutral, just like its predecessor and elder brother. Without any disappointment, the sound signature of Paw 6000 is indeed neutral and well-balanced across frequency spectrums.

It is a reference sounding DAP. The overall presentation is transparent and free from coloration. No one is getting any additional “flavors” from the Paw 6000. It delivers according to what it is tasked to play. I have been using the Paw 6000 as my reference DAP, together with my iBasso DX220. I will comment about the comparison in the latter part in this article.

Lows

The lows are presented with a good weight and full body. The richness in the lows is well-balanced – neither too warm nor too lean. I am satisfied with the dynamic and punch presented by Paw 6000 in lows. The layering has been handled well, too. You are not going to face any congestion in the presentation.

The speed of the low frequency delivered by Paw 6000 is very well-controlled – between muddy caused by slow decay and analytical caused by speedy decay.

Mids

The mids are very transparent and breathy, just like the overall presentation. The vocals delivered are natural and realistic. There is no additional coloration to the midrange. Similar to the lows, you can expect a rich textured midrange to be delivered by Paw 6000. The soundstage is very open. The positioning of vocals and other instruments is precise.

Closing my eyes and listening to what Paw 6000 delivers, I can feel the headroom and the space, making it very entertaining.

Highs

The highs of Paw 6000 portray a natural timbre. It hits you like spring wind breezes on your eardrum. It’s comfortable to listen to. You should not expect an overly forward or shy treble. It is well-maintained to be at the same level as the other two frequencies. The treble is very well-extended. There is neither distortion nor early roll-off in the treble observed within this reviewing period of around 1 month.

Pairing

I did several IEM pairings to test out the capability of Paw 6000. Surprisingly, it pairs up well with them and I cherry picked a few to share in this article.

Dita XLS Dream

This is a dream pairing. Kenneth, from Project Perfection Pte Ltd, Lotoo’s distributor in Southeast Asia, recommended this to me. The dynamic driver in the Dream XLS is well-activated. The soundstage is something that I am sold on. The term “XLS” in the model name of Dream XLS stands for “Extra Large Soundstage”. Paw 6000 further enhances this characteristic. The presentation is simply spacious and airy.

Bringing my Dream XLS for s stroll before the Circuit Breaker implemented in Singapore
Bringing my Dream XLS for s stroll before the Circuit Breaker implemented in Singapore

Avara Custom AV3

This is my first acquired custom IEM. It has a very well-balanced sound signature, just like Paw 6000. I love this pairing because the overall presentation just sounds referencing. I’m impressed by the transparency presented in this pairing. The midrange sounds natural, with rich texture. I feel very comfortable listening to this pairing. No overwhelming lows and fatigue-causing highs.

Avara Custom AV3
Avara Custom AV3

Sennheiser IE400 Pro

This is another reference grade IEM, just like AV3. I first listened to IE400 Pro with my Opus #3. The presentation is above average with good fidelity. When I paired it with Paw 6000, I was immediately amazed. The soundstage is opened up. The bass has a thicker texture, compared to what my Opus #3 presented initially.

It gives me the same feeling of what I get with Paw 6000 and Dream XLS pairing – high fidelity with wide soundstage.

Paw 6000 with Sennheiser IE400 Pro
Paw 6000 with Sennheiser IE400 Pro

Origami Audio Silver

I’m glad to have a chance to audition this amazing IEM with my Paw 6000 in Singapore. In March, David from E1 Personal Audio Singapore got the Origami Audio Silver from founder Oya-San for local audiophiles to audition. I spent almost two hours listening to it with my Paw 6000. The pairing is impressive. The presentation is dynamic with a punchy bass. The vocals, female vocals especially, sound sweet and breathy.

I shared my impression with Oya-san and I’m happy to say that he is listening to this pairing now.

Paw 6000 with Origami Audio Silver
Paw 6000 with Origami Audio Silver

Comparison

Sony NW-WM1A

WM1A is my favorite reference grade digital audio player (DAP) before I came into contact with other brands like IBasso Audio DX220 or Lotoo Paw 6000. WM1A has good neutrality in terms of sonic presentation which makes it an all-rounder for different genres.

I actually prefer the neutrality in Paw 6000 more. The presentation is more analogue as compared to WM1A. WM1A sounds technical and cold when we compare it with Lotoo. I think this analogue sounding DAP stole my heart.

The battery life of Paw 6000 is around half of WM1A’s 33 hours. Rated at 16 hours, I think this is sufficient for most of the people, including me. I can charge the device once every 2-3 days.

In terms of output power, I find Paw 6000 to have a better power output. Rated at 300 mW @ 32 ohms, I am able to drive most of my IEMs well. I revisited my Tin Audio P1, a power-hungry beast. I’m glad that it’s potential is fully unveiled by Paw 6000’s powerful output.

The background of Paw 6000 is darker and the noise floor is lower too. Besides driving those power-hungry beasts, Paw 6000 can handle sensitive IEMs like Campfire Audio Andromeda well, too.

Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and NW-WM1A.

iBasso DX220

Another favorite reference DAP for comparison here. The first thing that caused me to prefer Paw 6000 over DX220 is definitely the battery life. A short playback duration of 6 hours is always a problem for me. I always need to charge my DX220 in the office during a workday. Paw 6000 totally solved my problem.

DX220 runs Android. You can enjoy the streaming services such as Tidal and Spotify on DX220, but not on Paw 6000. However, this is not an issue for me because I always rely on my personal music library. For those who stream, you can still use Paw 6000 and connect it to your phone via Bluetooth. Not a big deal here.

In terms of sonic quality, both of them are reference grade. However, there are still slight differences between them. DX220 is more forward and aggressive, as compared to Paw 6000’s calm and steady. The bass of DX220 is punchier, but with a faster decay speed. The richer texture bass of Paw 6000 sounds more natural.

Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and iBasso DX220.

FiiO M15

M15 is the latest flagship from FiiO. FiiO released M11, M11 Pro and M15 in a timeframe of 12 months; an exciting year indeed. Hardware wise, M15 uses dual flagship DAC chips from AKM, AKM4499. This is very attractive to users because the other DAP that is using this chip is Astell and Kern SP2000 which is tagged with a price of USD$3499 while M15 costs only USD$1299.

However, while I tested and compared it with my Paw 6000, I observed the importance of integration. I still remember when I first posted the information of Paw 6000 on my social media page; a netizen questioned why a DAP with single AKM4493EQ chip is selling more than USD$1000. My initial thought is: you’re paying for integration.

To illustrate this, I would like to use Apple as an example. Apple’s iPhone is always deemed as overpriced. However, if you are an iPhone user, you understand what you are paying for. It’s not the brand, but the hardware and software integration.

In terms of sound signature, FiiO M15 is on the brighter side while Paw 6000 is a more reference sounding DAP. FiiO M15 reminds me of my Opus #3. They have similar sound signatures. The detail presentation from M15 is superb. However, they sound a little “dry” or technical for long listening.

M15 is running Android 7.0. Users can stream from services on M15, just like on DX220. The battery life for M15 and Paw 6000 is similar. However, I believe with streaming services and WiFi on, the battery life might be shorter. M15 has an additional 2.5mm output besides 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced and 3.5mm unbalanced.

Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.
Comparison between Paw 6000 and FiiO M15.

Verdict

The Lotoo Paw 6000 is a great choice for those who are looking for a reference-grade DAP like Paw Gold Touch but with a stricter budget – just like me. I’m happy to see this option offered by Lotoo. More audiophiles can now be blessed by the greatness of Lotoo DAP, physically and sonically.

It has an outstanding build and smooth navigating firmware. The form factor of Paw 6000 is pocket friendly. I believe these are some external factors that come into picture when an audiophile is choosing a DAP. Besides that, its natural and well-balanced sound signature is definitely a selling point that won my heart over other DAPs in the market.

Paw 6000 is retailing at USD$1199. You can purchase it from Lotoo’s authorized agents. In Southeast Asia, you can check out Project Perfection Pte Ltd’s official website.

Reference sound signature, supreme build quality, smooth user interface and long-lasting battery life of Paw 6000 gives it a well-deserved five star rating. Congratulations, Lotoo. This is my very first five star review for a DAP.