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DROP + THX Panda Announcement

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by WillBright, Dec 11, 2019.
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  1. WillBright
    Hey Friends,

    Over the years we’ve seen countless discussions full of audiophiles wishing for a strong wireless offering. With the wireless headphone space focused on noise-canceling over audio quality, it’s been tough for us to leave the Altoids tins and rubber-bands behind.

    Today I’m excited to finally announce the Drop + THX Panda wireless headphone; the first portable wireless headphone to deliver full-system sound.


    [​IMG]

    Driver

    Panda utilizes a Planar Ribbon Driver. This driver type is a subset of planar magnetic drivers that utilizes a dual sided magnetic structure on a braced diaphragm to deliver a carefully-tuned, phase-correct sound. This driver technology has only been used in one series of headphones previously, the Oppo PM-1, PM-2, and PM-3.

    It's the PM3 driver with damping improvements. We acquired the Planar Ribbon tech and all existing driver designs from Oppo and redesigned the damping system to resolve some of the darkness that the community didn't like about the PM-3.

    [​IMG]

    Amp

    Feeding the Planar Ribbon Driver, you’ll find a discrete THX-AAA amplifier implementation designed by our team in collaboration with THX. This amplifier can drive Panda to comfortable listening volumes for everyone with headroom to spare. BT Chipset To handle the audio transfer + conversion, Panda features the Qualcomm QCC5124 chipset. Our implementation of this chipset supports LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX adaptive, AAC, and SBC.

    DSP Panda’s sound is the result of passive acoustic tuning, there’s no DSP in Panda. If there's enough interest, we may be able to create an EQ app in the future. There's DSP on the chipset, it's just turned off, so with user-upgradable firmware, a lot is possible.

    Battery

    Battery life is 30+ hrs, with Quick Charge giving you 3+ hrs on 10 minutes of charge via USB-C. We’re in the midst of aligning our testing criteria with the market (is bose testing at 50% volume or 20%? is sony testing with ANC on full or half? etc), but we expect Panda to exceed the battery life of major ANC headsets.

    Isolation

    Panda is fully closed and designed for strong acoustic isolation. We’re waiting on the testing lab to confirm a db measurement, but subjectively, it’s on-par with deep-sitting IEM isolation.

    Compatibility

    Panda has a passive input, enabling use with external amplifiers and non-BT devices like the Nintendo Switch.

    Weight

    Despite the battery, amplifier, and heavy drivers, we’ve been able to keep Panda’s weight under 350g.

    Communication

    Panda features dual mics on the right earcup for effective communication and virtual assistants.

    Materials

    the frame is made of plastic (most of it, for weight) and cast aluminum (gimble arms, hinges, etc). Earpads are a plush foam wrapped in premium protein leather.

    The headband is a smooth rubber (lots of care has been taken to achieve the right level of "grip", it'll stay on your head, but won't pull out your hair) and we designed the geometry of the headphone so the weight is held by the earcups instead of the headband.

    Clamping force is less than a new HD6XX and more than a new K7XX, I'd call it "comfortable, but certain".

    Price

    Panda’s MSRP is $399.99

    Launch Timing

    Panda will launch at the end of January (targeting the 27th right now, may change) and units will ship closer to summer ("summer" is a reasonable range, could be sooner, just depends on details we don't know today).

    [​IMG]

    We're going to create a host of content and events around this launch, including sending review samples, publishing measurements, and hosting a listening party at our office in SF prior to launch.

    And to jump ahead, yes, it's called Panda; everyone loves pandas.

    Thanks for your interest and I look forward to reading your thoughts in the discussion!​
     
    Drop Stay updated on Drop at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com/massdrop https://twitter.com/massdrop https://www.massdrop.com/?clickid=3QR3Ib27lyA-VkBRJwyGuQJeUkhUQvX5r0tLzQ0&utm_term=252901&utm_content=VigLink&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=impactradius&irgwc=1
  2. Sound Trooper
    I'm really keen in this and as far as I know, this is the only wireless headphone which has an emphasis on sound quality. Another thing which makes it interesting is the use of driver technology from the previous oppo PM headphones together with the THX amp tech.
     
  3. metal571
    Audeze Mobius and Hifiman Ananda BT.
     
  4. GREQ
    Let's hear more about "Full-System Sound".
     
  5. Gabsriel
    Hi,

    Is there a chance that swapable memory foam pads will happen ?
    The earpads of my PM3 are too fragile and getting flat too early.
    More emphasis on treble than the PM3, and we're good :wink:
     
    PDC3 likes this.
  6. AlwaysForward
    I’m disappointed that these lack DSP, being a planar. I will wait for the details on the response curve but DSP would have probably kicked me into a more interested consumer.
     
  7. dogears
    :)
     
  8. WillBright
    @Gabsriel

    Earpads are designed to be user-replaceable and various earpad options will be available in the future.

    @AlwaysForward

    While Panda was tuned without the use of DSP, the chipset supports DSP, it's just disabled. If there's enough interest in DSP as a feature, we could publish a firmware update with accompanying EQ app to enable DSP control. A1ll Pandas will ship with user-upgradable firmware.

    Thanks to everyone for your interest, we're hosting a listening event at our office in San Francisco on Thursday the 16th, reserve your spot here:

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/drop-thx-panda-headphones-listening-day-tickets-86610872451
     
    Drop Stay updated on Drop at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com/massdrop https://twitter.com/massdrop https://www.massdrop.com/?clickid=3QR3Ib27lyA-VkBRJwyGuQJeUkhUQvX5r0tLzQ0&utm_term=252901&utm_content=VigLink&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=impactradius&irgwc=1
    PDC3, Chris Kaoss, Gabsriel and 2 others like this.
  9. AlwaysForward
    That would be a welcome software update! I'd love to press a button for "HT" Harman Tuning, "Fun" for V-Shape etc

    I happen to live in SF and will swing by the listening event!
     
  10. ribosradagast
    As an owner (and lover) of the PM-3, color me interested. I live 2811 miles from the office though, so don't expect to be able to make it to the launch partay
     
  11. megabigeye
    I'm surprised there's not more hype around this. Was this ever announced on the Head-Fi homepage? I usually skip straight to the forums, so I don't see all the announcements, features, etc.

    I'm particularly interested in this tidbit:
    I've always found the PM-3 to be a bit boring (except with tubes), so I'm curious if the addressed darkness will also resolve some of the boring-ness? Will there be (or are there) measurements that compare the Panda and the PM-3? Can we see 'em? Pretty pleeeeaaassseee???
    Also, you said you've "acquired the Planar Ribbon tech and all existing driver designs from Oppo;" does that mean you'll be releasing headphones based on the PM-1 and/or PM-2?

    Finally, right after Oppo closed shop, MassDrop had a thread asking what products/partnerships we'd like to see. I suggested Oppo. *Ahem* I'll be waiting by my phone, Mr. Bright. :wink:
     
    dsrk, Chris Kaoss, deafenears and 2 others like this.
  12. bcaulf17
    I’m interested as well. If anything I’ll wait until after enough good reviews come out and see what the verdict is. I’ve been enjoying another recent Drop collaboration lately. They Beyerdynamic DT177X Go. Now that is one that is surprisingly not getting the hype it deserves, in my opinion...
     
  13. WillBright
    This guy, asking the real questions.

    The PM Driver tech was a big part of what kicked off the Panda project. When Oppo decided to close Oppo Digital, I was pretty disappointed. In a post "$250 D2000's on Amazon" world, the PM-3 was a huge boon to the community, so we saw a lot of reactions like the one you posted. I was super excited when Oppo Digital responded to our inquery. From there, our Product Development team started working on a 1:1 revival of the PM-3. But you know, it wouldn't be product development if the product didn't... develop? right? lol.

    Anyway, shoot me a PM with a screenshot of your post and I'll add you to our loaner list if you're interested, appreciate your interest and early input : )
     
    Drop Stay updated on Drop at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com/massdrop https://twitter.com/massdrop https://www.massdrop.com/?clickid=3QR3Ib27lyA-VkBRJwyGuQJeUkhUQvX5r0tLzQ0&utm_term=252901&utm_content=VigLink&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=impactradius&irgwc=1
    dsrk, metal571 and megabigeye like this.
  14. xeizo
    Sony has the WH-1000XM3 and the WH-H900N which both are geared towards audiophiles with advanced driver tech(aluminium or titanium coated diaphragms, extreme wide frequency response) and LDAC, both are affordable and both sounds pretty good.

    But more competition is better of course!
     
  15. Chris Kaoss
    Tbh, the sonys doing very well on anc, but not at sound quality, imo.
    Heard both of them and they can't stand against the Pm-3.

    Looking forward to the upcoming Panda. :)
     
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