NOTE: Subjective impressions and review are written BEFORE measuring the device. I deliberately avoid measuring until I have finalised my subjective impressions to avoid objective behaviour influencing my opinion. The only part added after was the bit about SNR.
The Lotoo PAW6000 is a high-end DAP/Digital Audio Player with perhaps one of the most polished user experiences of any I’ve tried.
It’s primarily aimed at IEM use, but does have 300mW output power so should handle most full-size dynamic driver headphones without much trouble.
The P6K is using an AKM4493 DAC chip and OPA1622 opamp for the headphone amp. It offers both balanced 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm outputs which can be configured for headphone output, or fixed line-output. In my testing there was no performance difference between the two modes, though of course volume control is disabled in line-out mode.
Given as this is an AKM DAC, it can also do true native DSD (something that unfortunately ESS chips cannot). This can be enabled via the ‘hardware decode’ option in settings, though it will disable volume control.
It can also be used as a USB DAC for your PC, so this could in theory function as both your DAP and desktop DAC. Making the value proposition quite a bit sweeter!
The build quality of the P6K is truly exceptional, with a vivid, high-resolution IPS display using Gorilla Glass 5 and a ‘Diamond-like carbon’ coating for scratch resistance.
The body itself is machined from a smooth matte finish aluminium alloy with a shape that fits very comfortably in the hand. Everything about this device screams quality down to the satisfyingly tactile and firm buttons and a volume wheel with just the right level of resistance.
For connectivity it uses a USB-C charging/data port, and has a single micro-SD card slot capable of supporting upto 2TB SD cards.
But what really stands out isn’t the device itself, it’s the software running on it, seriously this is one of the most responsive, intuitive and seamless experiences I’ve had with a DAP, Lotoo has done a truly exceptional job on the software here.
Browsing is snappy and fast, and it’s easy to get to the track, artist or album you want fast thanks to the quick-scroll tab on the right hand side.
Settings for custom parametric EQ if you’d like to tweak your soundand gain are quickly accessible via a swipe-down menu, and honestly there is absolutely nothing I can fault with the software whatsoever, it’s a joy to use and exceptionally polished.
This is a device clearly intended for IEM use, and as you’ll see later on, it’s exceptionally good there, given as at 50mV output it has a signal-to-noise ratio of 93dB, which is beaten only by a small handful of ultra-low noise amplifiers on the market.
But, whilst it is intended for IEM use (and there was 0 hiss whatsoever on any IEM I tried), it CAN be used for many moderately hard to drive headphones. The Focal Elex, Sendy Aiva and HD800S sounded great on the P6k, but the Hifiman Arya and Abyss 1266 both sounded limp and constrained. So this is indeed quite flexible, but get a beefier source if you’re wanting to run hard to drive planars.
The P6k offers a signature that I’d describe as just a touch warm, with exceptional resolution and timbre that honestly took me by surprise.
Resolution on the P6 is really quite fantastic whilst never being forced or aggressive. It’s resolving because it IS, not because it’s trying to shove it in your face.
Tracks such as “Painting (Masterpiece)” by Lewis Del Mar have a huge amount of information displayed in an effortless fashion; subtle spatial cues on the vocals, every little bit of the pluck, decay and resonance on the guitar, but when I say ‘effortless’, I do not at all mean that it’s sounding soft, far from it! In fact in this same track the drums at the very beginning of the track hit hard, fast, and controlled.
What I really like about the PAW6000 is how natural it sounds, timbre is conveyed in an extremely lifelike and accurate manner, leading tracks such as Tartini’s “Sonata for Violin in G-Minor” to simply lock you in and leave you smiling for the entire 16 minute duration of the track. It’s not warming or smoothing things over, but it has no need to sharpen or brighten things up to force apparent resolution. It just….does it. Keeping everything separate, true to life, and with plenty of detail retrieval.
This extends down to the low-end of things too, where as hinted at before, bass is tight, controlled, fast, impactful, but also the true timbre of drums, bass guitar and organs are displayed wonderfully.
No matter what sort of music you’re throwing at it, be it the drum solo in Daft Punk’s “contact”, the deep, pounding synths of Lost Boy’s “head under water” or the ominous, echoing rumbles of Hans Zimmer’s “2049”, there is nothing you’re missing out on and I would honestly go as far as to say this is trading blows with many desktop solutions not too far off it’s price-point.
But, the one thing that the P6K doesn’t do all too well is soundstage. The overall presentation is incredibly enjoyable but just a little bit intimate. Tracks such as “Imagination” by Foster the People can sound truly expansive on a great system and on the P6k it’s most definitely closer than it should be, and swapping to something such as the P6 Pro shows a fairly stark difference here.
However, given as IEMs typically are not known for their staging capabilities, it’s likely that this isn’t really too much of a concern, and if there is one thing I’d pick to be less than ideal on an IEM source, this would be it. I’d much rather have a sweet sounding, detailed, and engaging experience that was a bit more intimate, rather than something a bit bigger but also more dry or not as resolving.
The Lotoo PAW6000 sounds phenomenal, it’s built beautifully, and the software and features are a joy to use. This is an exceptionally well made product and just about everything there is to say about it is very positive. I would like to see a little bit bigger soundstage, but the exceptional detail, timbre, and overall tonality more than make up for it.
The PAW6000 has a VERY positive recommendation from me.
And as you can see below, objectively it’s pretty excellent too!
– Audio Precision APx555 B-Series Analyzer with 300Ohm input impedance set unless otherwise specificed
– 4.4mm to XLR Adapter made by Skedra
– USB Source: Intel PC via ifi iGalvanic 3.0 and iUSB 3.0
– All measurements shown in this post are taken using the fast linear filter
– All measurements shown are using the balanced output unless otherwise specified
– Full reports containing additional data and test configurations are attached
– Exact analyzer/filter configurations for each measurement are detailed in the full reports
Full Measurement Reports:
Reports available here:
NOTE: in the reports, the full-output and 700mV tests were run in high gain as the P6K does not do 700mV in low gain, and the 50mV tests were run in low gain.
Dynamic Range (AES17): 116.1dB
Noise Level RMS (20-20khz): 4.41uVrms
Noise Level RMS (20-90khz): 8.74uVrms
DC Offset: 1.1mV active, 1.1mV idle
1khz 0dBFS Balanced Out 300ohm:
Whilst THD+N here isn’t blisteringly high, keep in mind this is a DAP and we’re much more interested in the 700mv/50mv performance for running IEMs and Headphones.
1khz 2v Single-Ended Output 300ohm:
(The PAW6000 clipped at max output on single-ended so I tested 2v/RCA line-level instead)
Doesn’t look like there is much performance lost at all on the SE output!
Balanced 700mV 300 Ohm:
Single-Ended 700mV 300ohm:
Balanced 50mV 12 ohm (IEMs) low gain:
Absolutely fantastic performance at IEM-level outputs. Not many devices get to this level even though at higher levels like 4v they may have better THD+N.
Single-Ended 50mV 12 ohm (IEMs) low gain:
The PAW6000 is using the stock AKM filters so you have a choice of linear/minimum phase filters and rolloff types, this is the performance of the sharpest rolloff linear phase filter:
Jitter performance looks to be good but a bit odd. There are no visible deterministic jitter spurs, but the random jitter is up to -140dB. We know this is not just analog noise because the idle and active noise measurements show it being much lower. The shape of the noise floor is also unusual (the notch filter was not enabled during this test so that is not the cause).
THD+N / Frequency:
THD+N rises into the upper frequencies, but this seems to be predominantly due to noise, not harmonic distortion.
SINAD/THD+N vs output level:
IMD (SMPTE) vs Output Level:
-90.31dBfs 1khz Sine:
Idle Noise Spectrum upto 1.2Mhz:
Some slightly odd behaviour going on around 1khz which was also present on the Lotoo S2, not sure what this is, but it’s so low it’s unlikely to be a problem, possibly just some DSP or design specific quirk.