Luxury & Precision W4 and W4-EX DAC/AMP

Looks like it’s time for an official place for this DAC/AMP. @Torq was one of the first to comment on his, and after reading his comments, I succumbed and ordered one also.

The W4 is the new flagship model and the W4-EX is the sub-flagship, with similar specs but a few fewer bells and whistles.

Unboxing pics:

As you can see this is a unit designed to be portable, used in-line as a dongle, larger than the AQ Dragonfly, and similar in size to a number of competitors. The W4 features a USB-C input port and both unbalanced 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm jacks. the 3.5 also includes an SP/DIF optical output.

I’m going to post some initial impressions only, as I haven’t had the device long enough for a comprehensive review.

Device packaging is small, but high quality. There is very little English on the box, most is Chinese. The box sports two QR codes, one of which works, and one of which does not. The one that does not is supposed to go to a social media support forum. The one that does work goes to L&P’s Chinese only website.

In the box there is, in addition to the device, short Apple Lightning and USB-C “To-Go” cables and a USB C to A converter. There’s a product card and a very short user manual, one page of which is printed in English in about 6 point type. My eyes required I take a photo of it to enlarge to read. I was unable to locate any English language extended manual.

Fortunately the device is simple, and the single knob/button’s actions are clearly indicated in the LED display on the side of the device. Long Press will engage the different functions and turning the knob can help select. Relatively intuitive and difficult to mess up.

So far, I’ve not had to use the functions, I just verified them. Most of the time I keep the device on NORMAL and use the volume to control well, volume.

Almost all of my listening has been done using the 4.4mm balanced output to my Audeze LCDi4 “IEMs” with some testing done driving my Rosson Audio Design RAD-0, also on balanced. I have not had to use high gain to get more than adequate volume out of the Rossons. I was not listening to extremely heavy sub-bass, but acoustic Jazz, International, and some Rock. There was no noticeable strain at my chosen listening volume. Output through ROON, Quobuz, and ROON ARC, from a generation 6 iPad mini.

I’ve found the soundstage to be very clear and detailed with no smearing of instruments. Wynton Marsalis’ trumpet, the clarinet, and other instruments were well defined and points. Bass had a properly larger feeling, just as one would expect listening to an acoustic bass. Drums on Tabla Beat Science were clean and all of the tonality of tablas was present.

I found the sound in NORMAL to be slightly relaxing, but not it a bad way. There is a notable lack of edginess or artifacts, and although the highs are clean and detailed there is not that slightly brash sound I get with the FiiO K9 Pro ESS (and THX amp stage). The FiiO has been my go-to desktop/portable at about 4 pounds. I’ve not yet done an A/B against that far more powerful machine on hard to drive headphones like the Sennheiser HD-6XX.

I’m still in the exploration stage with the W4, and would like to hear other’s experience. At this stage, it gets high marks for 1) nothing objectionable that I’ve been able to hear, 2) good ergonomics. 3) adequate power in balanced mode, surprising almost from a USB port on a phone, and 4) better detail and soundstage than I’ve heard on a small device.

The lack of documentation would be the only downgrade so far. The device is light but seems to be well made. I did find the driver upgrade on the L&P site by letting Edge translate the Chinese, but have not ventured to install it yet. I don’t have the Sennheiser IEMs.

I’m calling out @SoundWaves @cpp @generic @SenyorC and @David_Silva all of whom seemed to comment on this or @Torq 's original impression.


I’ll post a bit more here in a few … but …

The first post, here, has a walkthrough of the firmware update process (which works fine), and more convenient links to the files, as well as a summary of the changes for the updates.

It’s a bit fiddly, as you must install the Windows driver to perform the update … but you only have to do that the first time.

There’s also a video walkthrough of the firmware update process, here. Don’t know how useful this will be, as it is using a Chinese version of Windows (though it is subtitled in English) and the person running it has a bad case of spastic-mouse syndrome.

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I remain very impressed with the Luxury & Precision W4.

It is easily the best dongle DAC/amp I’ve heard (or measured). Hell, it’s better than an embarrassingly high number of extremely expensive desktop DACs.

The output is so clean that, even without a dedicated line-out connection, it is better than the pure/true line-out performance of every portable device I’ve tried. More impressive still is that it beats most of the desktop competition in that regard as well.

That’s in “objective” measurement; for those that care about such things, if a certain overzealous objectivist party ever sticks one up on their arse APx555 it’ll come up as better than 119 dB SINAD. Which puts it well ahead of most DAPs (including flagship models like the Cayin N8/N8ii or A&K SP2000), or even things like the Chord Mojo 2.

That’s quite a feat … but how it sounds is what most will care about …

So, subjectively it’s a precise, clean, organic, punchy, dynamic and highly resolving delivery. It’s not cold, nor sterile, even with all the EQ, SDF and other tweaks turned off. There’s no apparent tonal shift. Timbral rendering is excellent. I haven’t run into any fatigue listening to it so far, and I’ve done a number of all-day sessions at this point - both with IEMs and full-size cans.

The SP2000 (Cu, not that has made a difference for me) is a bit warmer, but also less resolving and somehow not as “fast”. The N8ii also doesn’t match the W4 for resolution. I like the W4’s output more than either (regardless of mode on the N8ii). I don’t have it available anymore, but I suspect I’d like the original N8’s “tube” output mode a bit more, but it would still be technically behind the W4’s delivery. Even the SP3000 isn’t quite there …

I really thought that, while the W4 shows these units a clean pair of heels that, when it came down to it, I’d prefer the DAPs overall for listening enjoyment.


Honestly, at this point, absent needing more power, or having a desire to have an entirely separate device for music other than your phone, both of which will be factors for some, I cannot think of/name a truly portable listening solution that I like more than the W4.

Maybe the Cayin N30LE which, despite my griping, I pre-ordered (I’m fickle; deal with it), will beat the W4 for listening enjoyment (come-on “classic tube” mode …), but I am skeptical the Cayin will best it on objective performance (power excepted); the N8ii doesn’t.

It’s not all rosy … though the “issues” are minor and mostly down to familiarity.

The UX is not difficult, and it’s self-consistent, but what I expect turning the knob to do in settings is actually what pressing it in achieves. I’ve adjusted to it, but early on I did wind up on High Gain accidentally, while listening, when I didn’t mean (or want) to.

The firmware update process REQURIES a Windows machine, and installing drivers. That’s lame. Other devices (e.g., the Lotoo Paw S1/S2), just have you copy a firmware file to the thing and reboot. Works perfectly and from everything that can mount USB storage.

I don’t like any of the EQ settings other than Normal, so far.

Though, oddly, I DO find that the IEM-specific SDF settings are preferable to “Normal” when actually used with those IEMs. I think they’re internally implemented as EQ profiles as well (and they work with the EQ settings - it’s not one or the other; they “stack” so to speak), but so far they’re working for me. At least as long as I remember to change them when switching IEMs.

Current list of SDF settings is: IE600, IE800S, IE900, SE846, Xelento, IER-M9 and IER-Z1R.

Can’t speak to battery life, other than it being obviously shorter than when using AirPods Pro 2 via Bluetooth, or anything else via the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. I’ll have to do a run-down test. I usually have my phone sitting on a USB power bank that has integrated wireless charging when I’m listening on a plane anyway - so it has not been a factor to date.

I should say more about sound … but really it’s just the best sounding, and most engaging/enjoyable, device of its type I’ve come across (which pretty much includes every name-brand dongle DAC/amp and all of the decent and flagship DAPs).

I don’t regard it as colored - which leaves me a bit surprised as to why I find it so engaging AND non-fatiguing … but if a pleasantly colored presentation is what you want, you might be better looking at iFi, Cayin, Lotoo (my prior favorite) or AudioQuest there.

“You are rebels sent by my enemies. You have tried our patience for too long; but … no more. For I now have a weapon of unimaginable power. The DOOM ray. Watch as my DOOM ray disintegrates him. And when this ray has killed that wretch, and it’s had a week to recharge … it’s your turn …”.


Are you two announcing a 1970s style end-of-an-era in technology? Many US and European car brands failed as Japan rose. Many mechanical watch brands failed as quartz watches rose.

Will audio products soon split into two groups: (1) mass-market products good enough for almost everyone…and perhaps perfect in blind testing, versus (2) collectable audio products purchased mainly for being exclusive, luxurious, unique, and/or interesting?

China appears to be going down the path of Japan and Korea in starting out clumsy but finishing on the top…

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Nah …

It’s just a highly technically-competent piece that, at the same time, manages not to fall foul of the sterile/dry/boring presentation that so many objectively excellent (or at least extremely well measuring) seem to manifest.

It STILL has me hedging on my N30LE pre-order … something I’m getting specifically FOR the coloration it introduces - as it does not appear on paper that the N30LE will approach the W4 for raw fidelity. I do know the W4 has rendered my SP2000 obsolete … there’s just no reason at all for me to deal with it … it doesn’t sound as good (even with its coloration) and it is, comparatively, a pain in the arse … only scoring over the W4/iPhone combination in that it requires one less cable.

Would really like to see a comparison between the W4 and the Ru7. The only thing I have read is " W4 has a little different presentation of the soundstage where the width is slightly narrower while it has more out of your head depth. The main tonality difference is in mids where RU7 is a little brighter and more revealing while W4 is warmer and more colored. " Both sound like nice units.

You said it very well about the sound. When I tried to talk about “relaxed” but still being highly detailed, what it is, in essence is not fatiguing and quite engaging. I listened for a few hours steadily last night and it just sounded right. Lack of annoying features is at least as important as some specific strength.

And the W4 does have strengths.

I know the new update adds support for a specific Sennheiser headphone. Have you found a way to actually set a PEQ profile in the W4 itself? I’d like to be able to add a setting to EQ the Audeze LCDi4. Right now, I can use ROON. When away from my home, I’m trying to use the EQ in ROON ARC. But I can’t get EQ listening to say, Radio Paradise using the W4 (as I can with the Audeze Cipher cable).

Speaking of the ROON ARC EQ, the profile I found on head-fi for the LCDi4 specifies a 180 hz +3db Low Pass filter with a Q of .8. I can’t seem to enter that data. What is the diff between a Low Pass and a Bass Shelf? Thanks in advance.

Give 'em another 5 or 10 years.

A move from being a basic functional appliance to attracting fanboys and collectors and making limited editions and race models is likely. I can’t wait until the snobby dealers arrive to keep the buyers humble and create waiting queues.

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I might get to doing such a thing; won’t be this week though.

Objectively, at least after a quick run on the analyzer (I wasn’t being super methodical, so I won’t post numbers … yet … just in case I screwed up), the RU7 is a long way behind

I didn’t get much listening time, but I wasn’t impressed with what I did hear. Definitely not as transparent, nor resolving, as the W4, and with some hints of grain (which usually means fatigue, for me … though I didn’t listen long enough to find out).

I mean, from memory, the RU7 is better than the RU6 but that isn’t saying very much.

Could just be me, and if others like it - more power to them … and of course more listening to the RU7 might change how I feel about it, but from first listen … it’s a pass and I wouldn’t put it in the same class of performance as the W2 or W4 (or the Lotoo Paw S1 or S2 for that matter).

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As far as I know, you’d have to modify (hack) the firmware to do that - and then regenerate the binary with an appropriate checksum or signature. I doubt that’ll be something L&P supports, so it’s just their presets for EQ.

If you do want adjustable PEQ, the Qudelix 5K will give you that. Along with being able to create your own, custom, presets. But it doesn’t sound nearly as good as the W4 otherwise.

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Would the W4 power my 800s


It has more power, with less distortion/noise, into 300 ohms than the RU7 does … so if the RU7 is fitting that bill, the W4 will have more headroom, more power, and be cleaner.

Put another way, you’ll be able to get 114 dB/SPL from the W4 into the HD800S. Though that’d be silly, but for an average listening level of, say, 94 dB/SPL (which is still high), you’d have 20 dB of headroom, and be using only 1/100th of the available power (so the amp would not be working hard, and is in its “sweet spot”).

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Thank you so much. I don’t listen loud, so the sweet spot you note is perfect for my application.

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After reading thru this thread I had to go and see what the W4 costs. Amazon has them and … $459 … that’s not bad, not bad at all.

It’s already put big grins on Ian & David’s faces, so that qualifies it as a bargain.

I don’t want or need one, but if someone handed me one I’d say, “Thank You Very Much.”

Mark Gosdin


That someone is your Amazon delivery service. I didn’t need one. I’m really glad I ordered. I’ve got a couple of Dragonflys to retire. I’m going to keep the iFi Go-Link because well I don’t know why, but it was cheap, it works, and it fits in the Dunu Titan case. Going to keep my iFi iDSD because well, the battery in it, not the same use case. But the W4 is a clear go-to.

Every listen brings a smile to my face. Still have a lot of things to try, but the tempting thing is just to plug it in and listen. And that’s the whole point.

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If I used mobile audio these days I’d probably buy one. But, I’m not. Just desktop and Bluetooth AirPods. The Qudelix 5K used to be at the front of the mobile hype train, but may have become the caboose. Will stand-alone DAPs die now?

It’s probably still the most flexible device of its type available. The PEQ/AutoEQ functionality alone is a strong selling point. But, it’s been out for a while, so most of the people that want one probably have one. And in raw objective terms … even over USB … it doesn’t clear the bar for transparency for basic Redbook content. It’s close, but not quite there.

I have one. It sounds good enough in most cases. But regardless of what IEMs I pair it with - for enjoyment it doesn’t beat, overall, what I can get from the AirPods Pro 2 … and those have ANC, better overall battery life (w/ a short break every 5 hours or so), and don’t involve ANY wires. And EQ isn’t necessary there, as they suit me for the kind of listening I use them for as-is.

Beyond FOMO types, I think that day gets ever closer. And I’m not sure the FOMO crowd is big enough to support multiple vendors and flagship products for an indefinite period.

I was basically done with standalone DAPs when I got the AirPods Pro 2. The W4 puts another big nail in the coffin that was just starting to let a little light in … and I’m ONLY considering the N30LE because it has all-in-one capability w/ support for an iPhone as a transport and a tube output stage that, allegedly, sounds tubey ENOUGH to be worth it (N8 did, N8ii didn’t, SP2000T was too noisy).

For this years iPhone cycle, it’s looking like I’ll get USB-C … which will address 99% of the issues that come with using Dongle DAC/amps with iPhones. And then a potential 2TB of on-device storage … plus native streaming (Cellular, even, not just WiFi) … yeah … perfect transport …

We’ll see how the N30LE fairs … I’ve got about another 9 days to cancel my pre-order, and I’m on the fence. Feedback from CanJam London this weekend may sway that.

And … I’m supposed to be back home this weekend (have some people coming by to listen to the HM1, and my electrostatic setups) … but I am almost tempted to come back through London instead (I’ve got a couple hours left to decide) and do CanJam to see the N30LE (and maybe see what HEDD have cooking) … and then hang for a week and do the Dutch F1 GP.


While it’s not a battery run-down test, nor a power measurement … I will say that my original Mophie USB/wireless/Qi powerpack/charger (it’s their first one with integrated Lightning port … can’t find it anymore … but they probably have even faster wireless charging now) is keeping up with the drain of the iPhone/W4 into IE600 and the phone is staying at 100%.

What can I say … have to have something to do when your flight is delayed and then the crew times out …


Here they are getting more and more strict about not allowing power banks to be used on planes, which is a PITA.

We always fly certain delta planes when we go out west and I always use the supplied USB port on the seat, for my ipad. The lithium battery fire scare is getting pretty nuts on all planes. But the flights we have been on as recently as May to Kauai ( Delta) battery packs “They’re limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery. With airline approval, you can bring two larger spare batteries (up to 160 Wh).” carry on only.