Drop Announces Panda; a THX-Equipped Wireless Over-Ear Headphone for $399Rob Stumpf
Drop, purveyors of affordable quality audio, announced on Tuesday that it plans to launch an all-new wireless over-ear headphone targeted at hifi lovers who want a bit of portability in their lives.
Coined Panda (because, according to Drop; “everyone loves pandas”), the closed back over-ear headphone is meant to compete with the likes of the products offered by the ampersand boys (Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, and Master & Dynamic). But rather than focus on Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) as its primary selling point, Drop has instead chosen to put its sights on audio quality.
The Panda uses a planar ribbon driver, a technology with roots deeply ingrained in similar offerings from Chinese HiFi maker, OPPO Digital. Specifically, the Panda shares a very similar form to the discontinued PM-3 which is said to utilize a driver from the same family.
Power will be fed from a discrete THX-derived AAA amp designed specifically from a collaboration between Drop and THX for this application. Drop says that this amp can drive the Panda to “comfortable listening levels” while still leaving headroom for those who crave a bit more noise.
Both ANC and Digital Signal Processors (DSP) were left out of this particular headphone, but Drop says that doesn’t matter – it claims that Panda is tuned passively using its own acoustics and still manages to isolate sound akin to deep-sitting IEMs.
Modern technologies are also fitted into the Panda; including USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0 (via a Qualcomm QCC5124), and even dual microphones. Despite a 30-hour battery life, it also has a passive input available in case you prefer to drive the Panda with your own source.
Oh, and it weighs an astonishingly light 12.4 oz (350g).
The Panda will carry a price tag of $399 and has a tentative launch date of January 27th.
Drop expects the units to begin shipping the units closer to Q2 2020 and states that it will be creating quite the buzz around the units over the next few months, including hosting a listening party at its headquarters in San Francisco, California.
We can’t wait to get our hands on one of these units to try out. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a true wireless headphone aimed at audio enthusiasts and not just being developed to butt-heads over best ANC on the market (Looking at you, Sony WH-1000XM3).
Sure, similar priced options like the new Audeze LCD-1 exists, but many people complained that the “portable” was lost with being open-back. The Panda seems to fill the gap in this case, but we’re curious on how the two will line up in terms of sound quality.
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