Drop THX Panda Review

Drop THX Panda

After gauging community feedback, Drop decided to tweak the tuning of the PM-3 driver to remove some of its perceived treble ‘darkness’, and to help increase its detail-retrieval abilities. Tuning-wise they were looking to strike a fine balance between detail + resolution and ensuring that the voicing is neither grating nor fatiguing. The PM-3’s voicing was further tweaked with the addition of a new pad structure, to increase frequency range extension via a better overall seal.

 

With driver and amplification technology sorted, Drop then needed to source A1 digital components and technology to help feed the Panda with the best-possible signal, and give it the digital talents required in a premium wireless product in 2020. To ensure that the Panda’s connectivity was as capable as possible and to ensure it remains viable long into the future, Qualcomm’s 5100 series of chipsets has been employed. Straight of the box, the Panda will feature adaptive Aptx Low-latency/HD, meaning a latency of only 40ms, which is good news for gamers and those planning to watch videos. Currently the highest fidelity audio codec available, Sony’s LDAC is the absolute benchmark when it comes to wireless performance. However, LDAC needed to be made compatible with the new Qualcomm chipset, meaning Drop needed to work with Sony to implement LDAC on the Panda and needed to write the libraries themselves.

Will explained that Drop’s goal with the Panda was to create a product whose wireless performance was indistinguishable from its wired performance, and so ensuring the best possible Bluetooth technology was essential. According to Drop’s claim that the Panda is the “World’s first headphone with matching FR +THD measurements in passive and active mode”, and it sounds like they believe they’ve achieved it. Our conversation got even more interesting when I got a sense of some of the features that might make their way into the potential upgrade-path for the Panda, including robust Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capability; the ability to apply loudness + EQ curves; and even (theoretically) using the Panda’s 2 x in-built microphones to compensate for outside noise with an active cancellation effect. Pretty cool – let’s watch this space, but for now let’s focus on what the Panda will give you for your $399 at launch.

Drop + THX Panda.

Meet the Panda

So with all the community requests, ideas and innovation that has gone into the Panda, what exactly do we have on our hands? Some might think that having to tick so many boxes might result in a Frankenstein-esque creation, reminiscent of Homer Simpson’s Car. Or, have Drop managed to create a ‘Unicorn’ – a wireless closed-back headphone that’s usable, comfortable, portable, and also happens to sounds awesome? 

On paper, it certainly seems like it might just be:

  • Headphone type: Closed, planar magnetic
  • Bluetooth wireless technology: 5.0
  • Effective range: Line of sight, approximately 10 m (30 ft)
  • Battery life: 30+ hours
  • Impedance: 26 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1kHz / 1mW
  • Isolation: -40 dB
  • THD: 94 dB SPL @ 300Hz < 0.1%
  • THX-AAA-0™ Amplifier: -130 dB THD, 2.6 uV A-wt noise, and 10 mW power consumption
  • Frequency response: 10–50,000 Hz
  • Driver unit: 55mm, ribbon planar magnetic
  • Microphones: Dual
  • Weight: 13.2 oz (375 g)

The article continues on the third page. Click here or use the jumps below.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Matty's a musician, music-fan, and 'gear-phile' from Sydney, Australia. Outside of his day-job in creative advertising, Matty enjoys live music, lawn bowls, craft beer, and spending far too much money collecting vinyl.

    12 Comments

    • Reply February 17, 2020

      Peter

      Great review! These are on the list now! Seen a lot of reviewers raving about them already, but this review is a bit more thorough then the rest of them. Great job!

      • Reply March 6, 2020

        Matty Graham

        Thanks Peter, glad to hear you found it useful – I hope you enjoy the production model.

    • Reply February 17, 2020

      Robert

      How would the Panda compare with the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless?

    • Reply February 18, 2020

      Matty Graham

      Cheers Peter! I hope it gave you a good idea as to what we can expect when the launch version arrives.

      • Reply February 19, 2020

        Robert

        How would the Panda compare with the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless?

        • Reply March 6, 2020

          Matty Graham

          It would be an interesting comparison – that’s for sure. The Panda is a little more ‘purist’ in the way it’s been designed, but not having compared directly I couldn’t say exactly – it probably depends on whether you’re a traveller (and need ANC), or looking for straight-up SQ.

    • Reply February 18, 2020

      Usman

      A comparison to the Sony WH-1000XM3 would also be helpful !

      • Reply February 18, 2020

        Matty Graham

        Hey Usman, I don’t have either on hand to compare any more, but I distinctly remember the Sony having a dark, mid bass-centric sound. And of course, they’re designed to actively cancel noise. The Panda is hands-down better in terms of sound quality, and I’d say it’s passive isolation is a “fine” trade-off.

    • Reply May 10, 2020

      Toni

      About Panda vs Meze 99 Classics – which do you prefer was more comfortable? Do you think that Panda had bigger and softer pads or how was it? I have Meze’s and I’m thinking to purchase Panda for office use. I like the Meze’s but sometimes I just wish that the pads were softer and maybe a bit bigger.

      • Reply May 11, 2020

        Matty Graham

        Hi Toni, the Panda is a snugger, more comfortable fit overall and also isolates better.

    • Reply August 13, 2020

      arnold

      Nice review!

      How does the sound quality compare to the Audeze EL-8?

    • Reply August 26, 2020

      Ajith Nambiar

      How does one get hands on a panda in Australia. The drop check out says doesn’t ship to Aus when I put my address as Melbourne.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.