On my travels through the World of portable HiFi it was inevitable that I’d come across one of the range of pen sized top loaders out there. I have previously owned the Dragonfly Cobalt from Audioquest. You know, the one they rave about? The flagship of the Dragonfly range. It seems to me that before the Dragonfly there wasn’t much call for these humble looking devices. Since the black, red and blue came out – boom! Tons of them. I sold my Cobalt. Ultimately I never really used it. It didn’t have the sound quality of the Chord Mojo, wasn’t as powerful and didn’t have anything particularly special about it. I haven’t had much interest in the ultra portables since the Cobalt, because I felt that if that is the model that all the other companies intended to follow then it wouldn’t hold any interest to me. I am pleased to say that the S2 , from Lotoo, kindly provided by Lotoo, has bucked the trend and changed my opinion on these little sticks.
It wasn’t too long ago that I finally put some time into a review of the Paw 6000 DAP. If you’ve read that and watched the vid, you’ll know that although I liked it, I wasn’t sold on it being the thing to buy from a huge range of similar priced things out there. That being said, it WAS nice; a revisit may be necessary in the future once I have spent real time with the EQ presets that are in abundance. I understand the difference between a review and a life spent with a portable audio product. A little more time and we may have a match for the Colorfly U8 – I still have my DOUBTS on that, but one must keep an open mind! The rahter less luxurious S2 from Lotoo is a different proposition. It’s place in the market is seriously below that where the 6000 sits – I expect it will retail at or near £200 in the UK – and my thoughts are – money well spent.
The S2 from Lotoo isn’t quite as pretty as the Cobalt. But at least it doesn’t look like a USB stick. It feels better put together and has more features. It can work as a remote control. It has a ton of EQ presets. It takes USBC. It handles 4.4 balanced as well as 3.5 unbalanced. Therefore, it has a lot more going for it.
My tools of the trade were used, as usual, to bring you a reasonable insight into what the S2 sounds like. I have grabbed 2 samples – 1 – directly out of the 3.5mm jack of my Samsung A52 5G smartphone – 2 – the 3.5mm jack of the Lotoo S2. The headphone I used is a full sized Planar Magnetic – the HiFiMan Deva Pro, of course, in wired mode. I volume matched both tracks and have included 90 seconds or so of each track. Take a listen, but use headphones or earphones , these are binaural recordings and will sound strange through external speakers. I have tried to recreate as accurately as possible what the sound was like when I had the headphones on. The samples may need to be listened to several times before you can say with any certainty what the differences are. It’s not you – the mind has a lot of things going on at the same time, it is difficult to focus in just one direction, even for that short space of time needed. If you persevere, you’ll hear what is going on, don’t worry. Here’s the review and the samples are midway through
I have 2 Dac/Amps that I mention in this YouTube – the Cobalt and the Chord Mojo. I really thought nothing could make me relinquish my cherished Mojo. It took a long time before the Dac/Amp went on it’s way to the next owner. The battery stopped working on the Mojo, and it cost me near £200 to get it fixed out of warranty. The S2 needs no battery. It uses your phone battery or the laptop’s/PC’s power to run it. And, from memory, the S2 is not too far away from the SQ of the Mojo. It beats the SQ of the Cobalt, which I felt was overrated. I found the signature of the Cobalt too be pitched too high. It had a ringing quality in the upper mids and higher frequencies that was tiring and disappointing, especially given that there are no EQ’s available on it.
That’s about all I wish to have my latest ramble about. I have everything else you need to know contained on the video above. The one thing I will add is a brief look at the presets and how they affect the sound signature. Again, that will be utilising real sound samples taken from using the S2. For that, keep subscribed on my YouTube channel. Until then, if you are looking for a little something that doesn’t break the bank and you’re not sold on digital audio players, keep these ultra portables in mind. They might just be on to something.