Drop + THX Panda review: Fantastic planar magnetic headphones with SoundID

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TOP-PICK-2021-TOP-OF-ARTICLE

I remember the first time I used SoundID and some of the company’s competition. I wasn’t all that impressed with the new software, but some users raved about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried SoundID, but the Drop + THX Panda actually supports it, and to my surprise, it has improved immensely.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Drop + THX Panda headphones have received a lot of praise, and for a good reason. They do sound fantastic. Some reviewers have compared the Drop + THX Panda to the Apple AirPods Max, and I’d say that is a fair comparison, but I don’t think they’re better than the AirPods Max. That being said, these are still really great sounding headphones and actually more affordable than Apple’s offering. Let’s get right into the Drop + THX Panda headphones with SoundID.

Specifications

The Drop + THX Panda have the following features and specifications:

  • 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
  • IPX 6 waterproof
  • Weight: 13.2 oz (375 g)
  • Optional Boom Mic Specifications:
    • Microphone type: Noise-canceling condenser microphone
    • Volume slider and mute switch on microphone cable
    • Connector: 3.5 mm
    • Termination: 3.5 mm
    • Cable length: 4 ft (1.2 m) or 6 ft (1.8 m)
    • Compatible with all consoles and PCs with a 3.5 mm jack
    • Includes 4 ft (1.2 m) and 6 ft (1.8 m) extension cable
Drop + THX Panda
In The Box

What’s In The Box

  • Drop + THX Panda
  • Carrying case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • 56 in (142 cm) 3.5mm to 3.5mm AUX cable
  • Drop 2-year international warranty

Design

I’ll start with the bad on the Drop + THX Panda headphones. Well, it’s really not bad per se, but rather, ordinary. Sure. The Panda’s look good but so do hundreds of other headphones that look similar to them. I’m trying to say that the aesthetic look of these is very ordinary, and there really isn’t any wow factor.

That being said, they do feel good, and the materials used throughout are very premium. While they may look like something Monoprice or Skullcandy might make, they feel more in line with the Bose Q series or the Sony WH series. They certainly don’t feel in the same tier as the AirPods Max or Master & Dynamic’s offerings.

They’re not heavy, but they’re also not feather-light either. I actually like this weight more than the AirPods Max, which are pretty heavy. One unique design feature is the shape of the headband. It’s wider than most headbands which are nice and adds to the comfort.

Speaking of comfort, I found the Drop + THX Panda headphones to be very comfortable. The earpads are cushy and comfortable, and they are replaceable. They aren’t as easy to replace as other headphones, but they are meant to be replaced if needed.

As I mentioned before, the headband has a wider arch, which makes it very comfortable. The padding is a silicone material and feels good. The headband adjustment is great, it’s more than enough to fit my head, and I have a big head. The earcups articulate up and down but not left and right; that would have been a nice addition.

The left and right earcups are clearly marked on the inside, which I think every headphone maker should do. The left earcup has the headphone jack, and there is a 3.5mm cable included. And the right ear cup has the USB-C port for charging align with the joystick control. There is also an LED indicator next to the joystick, which they kept small, and I like that, so it’s not obnoxiously bright in low-light conditions.

The included case is wonderful. It’s very protective, and I love Drop was thoughtful enough to include a storage area for your cables. No cables flopping around inside the case here, they are neatly stored in the cable compartment, and there’s room for other stuff too.

Overall, the design is plain, but that doesn’t make them bad at all. These feel very premium and stack up well, even better than the Bose or Sony’s build quality. They all look about the same aesthetically, but the Drop + THX Panda headphones are certainly more premium feeling.

Drop + THX Panda
Outside of the Panda’s

Ease of Use

At their core, the Drop + THX Panda headphones are very simple to use. You don’t have to use the SoundID app to make use of them at all. You can jump right into settings on your device and pair them via Bluetooth. Or even easier, you can plug that 3.5mm cable right into your device, and you’re ready to go.

Bluetooth pairing is straightforward and something most users should know how to do. To get the most from the Drop + THX Panda, you should download the SoundID app. We’ll go over the app a little later. As for controls, I love that Drop opted to go with a joystick (Drop calls it the Directional Button) control rather than touch controls. I used to love touch controls, but I’ve recently changed my mind, and I think physical buttons or controls are much better.

Here’s what the Directional Button does:

  • Turning Drop + THX Panda on: Hold the Directional Button for two seconds until the LED indicator turns white. You will hear an audio cue.
  • Turning Drop + THX Panda off: Hold the Directional Button for three seconds until the white LED fades. You will hear an audio cue.
  • Bluetooth Pairing: Press and hold the Directional Button for four seconds and the LED while blink blue and red. Pairing is succesful when the LED turns white.
  • Media Controls:
    • Play/Pause: Press button once
    • Next Track: Push button to the right
    • Previous Track: Push button to the left
    • Volume Up: Push button up
    • Volume Down: Push button down
  • Calling Controls:
    • Answer Call: Press button once
    • End Current Call: Press button once
    • Reject Incoming Call: Press and hold button
    • Voice Assistant: Press button twice quickly

Overall, the Drop + THX Panda headphones are very straightforward to operate. I prefer the physical Directional Button over touch controls and wish more headphones would go back to this.

Drop + THX Panda
Inside of the Panda’s

Sound

The Drop + THX Panda headphones have a fairly flat soundstage out of the box, and you can certainly stick with that if you wanted. I am okay with the out-of-the-box sound but Drop, and THX partnered with Sonarworks to incorporate SoundID into the Pandas.

We will get into SoundID in the next section, but I wanted to go over the technology that makes up the Drop + THX Panda headphones.

Drop and THX say that they created a new standard for wireless audio: the 3P Signal Path. This technology combines three key elements: a high-bandwidth Bluetooth audio codec, a zero-distortion THX AAA amplifier, and phase-correct planar-ribbon drivers.

Drop says these technologies deliver audiophile-quality listening and produce the world’s lowest distortion levels in wireless headphones. The Drop + THX Panda headphones are also the world’s first with THX AAA technology which the company says uses a patented feed-forward error-correction topology. This tech is supposed to reduce harmonic, intermodulation, and crossover distortions by 20 to 100 times.

No matter how loud you listen, the THX AAA™ amplifier can drive Panda to comfortable listening volumes with headroom to spare. Promising high-fidelity audio that’s better than conventional headphones, planar-ribbon drivers are on the rise. What makes them so special? They feature a series of evenly spaced magnets on both sides of the diaphragm that act on a flat plane—hence the name “planar”—which results in carefully tuned phase-correct sound. Thanks to the evenly suspended diaphragm material between permanent magnetic fields, planar-ribbon drivers are extremely resistant to distortion. They’re also super responsive and have a hyper-realistic sound signature that you’ll notice straight away.

Drop

Overall, the Drop + THX Panda headphones sound fantastic. They really start to shine once you incorporate Sonarworks SoundID into them, and we’re covering that next.

Drop + THX Panda Headphones Gallery

SoundID

Sonarworks SoundID has been around for a few years now, and I’ve tried them out in the past. As a matter of fact, a few other companies have also come out with similar software, and none of them really impressed me.

I wasn’t too thrilled with having to try SoundID again. Given that my first impressions weren’t that great, I figured a fresh run at it probably wouldn’t change my opinion. And for those who have never used SoundID or software like it, the software is basically like a hearing test.

When you fire up the app, you have to choose the Drop + THX Panda headphones from a list of headphones. SoundID works with a plethora of headphones, and you can see if yours are supported here.

Once you pair up with the headphones, you have a couple of options, the Sound Preference test, and the Hearing optimization test. I was shocked after doing the Sound Preferences because SoundID actually made EQ adjustments where I wanted them.

For listening to music, I’ve always liked the bass frequencies bumped up a little bit, not a lot, and the mids to stay flat while accenting the highs. SoundID calls my sound preference U-Type. Now, Sound Preferences is something new, at least from the last time I used SoundID. And this is why I think this software has improved since the last time I used it.

The hearing test is meant to balance and improve the sound experience, which was the only experience I had with SoundID. Until now.

The hearing test runs you through a series of tones that play in your left or right ear. You have to adjust the volume until you cannot hear the tones. SoundID then builds a profile based on that data and the data from Sound Preferences to adjust the EQ to what it thinks is best for your hearing.

The SoundID software has improved since I last used it, and this time I could really hear the difference. Overall, I think SoundID makes the Drop + THX Panda headphones that much better in the sound department. I’d recommend at least trying it to experience it.

You should also know that Sonarworks also makes SoundID for your computer and speakers. The video below is a great intro into SoundID Reference so be sure to have a watch if you want to know more.

Reception/Call Quality

No complaints here. Bluetooth 5 reception is as expected, and I could keep a connection within the 33 feet norm and most times could go further. The call quality was also great, and I had no issues from my end or the callers’ end.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Drop + THX Panda headphones is advertised at 30-hours. That’s pretty spot-on, and in some cases, I could get a little better than 30-hours. Battery life is also dependent on volume and distance from your Bluetooth connection, so your mileage will vary.

Price/Value

The Drop + THX Panda headphones are priced at US$399. These sit comfortably next to Bose and Sony without a problem. I’d say they can even give the AirPods Max a run, especially since they are more affordable. I think the price to value ratio is good, and you’ll get everything you pay for and more.

Wrap Up

I use a lot of headphones, and currently, the AirPods Max are my favorite over-ear headphones. But the Drop + THX Panda headphones are pretty damn close to them and at a more affordable price tag. If you’re considering something like AirPods Max and aren’t willing to drop money on them, the Drop + THX Panda headphones are worth looking at.

The Drop + THX Panda headphones and SoundID both get a Techaeris Top Pick award. Combined, they are a powerful pair.

*We use revenue-generating affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made using them. Read more on our disclaimer page.

Last Updated on September 4, 2021.

Drop + THX Panda

US$399

Design

9.0/10

Ease of Use

9.5/10

Sound

9.0/10

SoundID

9.0/10

Reception/Call Quality

9.0/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Comfortable and plush
  • Premium build quality
  • Easy to Use
  • Fantastic sound
  • SoundID actually works well now
  • Great call quality
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Physical control none of the touch nonsense
  • Really nice carrying case

Needs work

  • Plain-looking design
  • It would have been nice if they folded up more compactly
  • Ear pads aren't as easy to replace as some other headphones
Drop Plus THX Panda Headphones Feature Image SoundID
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