Drop + THX Panda Review (and Measurements)

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. randytsuch

    randytsuch Almost "Made"

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    Well I can't find them. Looked on drop and indiegogo
    Unless drop is hiding them from me, still shows up

    Link?

    Thanks
    Randy
     
  2. jboehle

    jboehle Rando

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  3. Will

    Will Massdrop

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    This first round (low serials) is only open to DROP members that requested Panda during the development process.

    If you didn't request Panda, don't worry, the IGG campaign opens Monday with its own allocation of units etc.
     
  4. jboehle

    jboehle Rando

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    Oops, sorry for the confusion! It was not clear on that page to me that it was only for certain members.
     
  5. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I got a review sample in a couple days ago. Will try to get detailed thoughts and measurements posted tomorrow, but here's what I have so far. I did most of my listening with BT from my phone.

    - Tuning is pretty darn good. Little bit bassy, warm, but balanced overall. Kind of like the HD650 but with better extension on the low end.

    - Upper-mids are pretty relaxed. Some may find themselves wishing the headphones had more bite.

    - Lower-bass/upper-mids might be a bit too bloated for some, but this is really a tiny, tiny nitpickf. They're definitely not basshead-worthy, if that's what you're thinking.

    - Treble seems smooth, clean. Actually, these are clean and smooth sounding overall.

    - I think it's fair to expect some level of sonic compromises over Bluetooth, and so, taking that into account, they sound very good overall.

    - I used them as a USB device from my phone, and they seemed to get tighter, cleaner, and more aggressive overall. Not bad. I'd say I dig how they sounded like that. Still a bit recessed in upper-mids, but better overall in almost all regards.

    - I don't like the 4-way, clicky nipple used for controls. It's mushy and I guarantee you going to fail on these with some regularity. I've been told this will be improved for production, but no one can convince me this is anything other than polishing a turd for the sake of style. (I'm saying these would be better suited with regular ol' buttons.)

    - Pads feel nice. No issues using these as over-ear headphones. But they do get hot very quickly, and this is coming from someone that usually doesn't have issues with closed-back headphones getting hot.

    - Headphone overall looks and feels premium.

    - Headband is basically just a hard slab of plastic with what feels like 2mm of soft rubber on the underside. It's easily in my top 10 list of worst headbands I've ever had the displeasure of using. Incredibly uncomfortable and painful within 3-5 minutes.

    I'm told they're looking into adding foam into the headband. I hope they do. I had two other people I know test them out, and they both said, "Sound is great. Comfort is bad and I'd never buy them because of that."

    Maybe they're fine if your head is small-to-average sized. But I hope the headband sees improvements for launch.

    I don't like the name, because I think it's lame, but it's also inconsequential. Then again, all I can think of is drop kicking pandas, and I have to wonder why anyone would want to do that.
     
  6. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    How's the clamp? Is the pad depth / width / height similar to the PM3?

    My dumbo ears touched in all 3 directions on PM3 and it drove me nuts.
     
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  7. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I know it's been a while since you measured and reviewed em, but how do the upper-mids on the Panda compare to the Meze 99 Classics (bigger pads) in terms of "not enough bite" in wired mode and BT? Also, amazing they got the treble smooth since most BT stuff I've tried (headphones and IEMs) have pretty hashy upper registers; how's it compare to the HD6__ in smoothness?

    Also I chuckled for embarrassingly long at "drop kicking pandas".
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @Elnrik There is clamp. Less than a fresh HD650. But still a bit too tight for fat heads like you and me. Good news is you won't notice it because you'll be too busy thinking about the headband. (Good or bad, depending on if you want the Panda to punish you.)

    @Lyander Those Mezes are quite a bit bassier, from what I remember. And while they didn't have an upper-mid depression, the top end could be a bit steely and bright. Not too bad, and the bass helped cover it up.

    It might sound smoother than the HD650, because the 650 has that slight hot spot at 5KHz. Kind of grainy and strained. And, you know, dipping down in the upper-mids is going to make the sleek, black, nipply headphone inherently more relaxed in many ways.
     
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  9. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    So, passive mode sounds...not quite so good. I mean, it's not too bad, but it could definitely use some work. Quick thoughts on that vs active mode.

    - Upper mid depression is really quite severe. Makes them sound overly soft and somewhat hollow.

    - Treble is less even. Low-to-mid treble stands out a bit more, and mid-to-upper treble gets pushed down relative to active mode. They sound darker overall but with a bit more etch in the mix.

    - Bass is not as prominent. In hindsight, bass in active mode fits the Harman curve closer than I thought, meaning more bass than passive, but I guess sounds cleaner and punchier than passive as well. Bass and lower-mids sound bloomier and thicker overall. May also just be how they relate to the rest of the response.

    Overall, in passive mode, they just sound kind of funky overall. Fair amount of bass, poor upper-mids, and OK but mixed treble.

    While the upper-mids are relaxed in active mode, the overall tuning sounds much more lively and engaging. More balanced overall, especially over USB instead of BT.

    Quick measurements of the left channel in passive mode. Will try to get active mode measurements in the next day or two and see if my mind is playing tricks on me. No commentary for now other than I took distortion at 94dB because that's what I had it calibrated at recently.

    Drop + THX Panda - Left Channel Frequency Response PASSIVE.png

    Drop + THX Panda - Left Channel CSD PASSIVE 36dB Floor.png

    Drop + THX Panda - Left Channel CSD PASSIVE 45dB Floor.png

    Drop + THX Panda - Left Channel Distortion PASSIVE.png
     
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  10. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    For variety.



    Is that RANDY or a flat plate? FR looks hideous.
     
  11. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Same in-ear mic I've been using for the last few years.

    Never used a flat plate coupler for measurements, and RANDY is still on the shelf as a to do project.
     
  12. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    So upper mids should be elevated, right, relative to a flat-plate or SBAF-compensated EARS? If so, that dip looks really extreme.
     
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  13. QuadFacepalm

    QuadFacepalm Rando

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    Not really what I would call an extreme dip; I would estimate it as 3 dB below "clear, but not shouty" for most people based on the 3 different sets of measurements out so far for pre-production samples (taking into consideration different measurement rigs and compensation curves).

    Still concerned about the overall tuning regardless; for my tastes in upper mids, likely would echo @Hands concerns about upper mids being too relaxed.

    For my tastes in bass, I would prefer around 1-2 db less from 100-250 Hz, and 3 dB more from 100 Hz down for a FR closer to ye-olde Harman Over-ear target circa 2013. The aforementioned tuning changes would be good for on-the-go usage scenarios regardless, which would be the primary use case of these cans for most people.
     
  14. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I've always heard flat on my graphs as being neutral when measured this way. In-ear mic sits at the opening of my ear canal, then headphones are worn and measured on my head. I've only ever compensated for inherent bass roll-off from my little mic amp.

    I assume you're familiar with some of my other measurements and have heard headphones I've measured? No doubt, my own head and ears are going to affect results. But you can take something I've measured that you've also heard, then extrapolate from there on other measurements.

    There should be more similarities than there are differences between the SBAF-EARs comp and what I churn out.
     
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  15. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    In other news, I was able to grab some quick measurements last night running the Panda off USB. Still to be posted, but...

    Bass indeed was different. More of it overall, different curve, less of a subtle blend into mids.

    Almost identical otherwise, which I found really surprising. So, now I'll have to double check and see if the headphones are particularly sensitive to amps or something.
     
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  16. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Adding FR graph showing passive vs active, latter being USB from my PC.

    The extra bass I could hear without a doubt on active mode, but I could have sworn the upper-mids sounded less depressed and the treble brighter and more aggressive overall, but possibly smoother too. I listened to them in active mode first, found myself overall pleased with them, and tried passive mode later to some disappointment.

    Yet, these results would suggest that nothing really changed in those regards. Any differences in the treble could be normal measurement variance.

    Still, I know everything is relative. The Focal Clears, for example, I always found a bit shouty between 1-2KHz. However, on setting 1KHz to the 90dB point in graphs, it didn't really seem that bad...In fact, it seemed more like the midrange around 500Hz was a bit cool. How could they sound full, yet shouty, in that case?

    Putting that 500Hz point at 90dB somehow made the measurements look closer to what I thought I heard. And, yet, I didn't change the results themselves, I only changed the reference point.

    That said, that's about the only explanation I have for why I think I heard the Panda the way I did in active mode. So, I've attached two results. Both compare passive vs active mode, but on one, I simply changed where I set the 90dB point, my go-to.

    You might also think that they still don't measure well in active mode, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong. They definitely have some faults and quirks. Still, they sound surprisingly good in active mode. Much better than graphs would indicate at a cursory glance.

    Drop + THX Panda - Frequency Response - Passive vs Active.png


    Drop + THX Panda - Passive vs Active - Different Relative Perspective.png
     
  17. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

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    Graph makes it look like the Panda is super syrupy and lifeless (Intoxicated Panda).
    Bloated warm poo with muffled upper midrange. Hope it doesn't sound that way!


    June/July/August we will find out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
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  18. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Wait wait wait wait wait.

    If I read the specs right, this thing does LDAC? So I can use my WM1A and stream LDAC to this sucka?
     
  19. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

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    WM1A or a cheap android phone ....
     
  20. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    WM1A > Cheap Android Phone via LDAC. I done the tests and really prefer using DAPs for wireless audio. Android you can use UAPP but it all depends if UAPP actually runs bit-perfect on the device and two if if able to run bit-perfect can it run that single to bluetooth?

    I'll wait until later in the year on this one.
     

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