I wanted to get the best use case for these headphones. I purchased a Fiio M6 for this review as my iPhone doesn't do LDAC or APTX. I also do not have access to my tower pc which has the same functionality. With that out of the way, the review.
I purchased the DROP Panda through the kickstarter with the $350 tier. My order arrived in November and I have had quite some use of these headphones since. The physical aspects of the headphones are straight forward. The Panda has a joystick/nipple interface on the right ear cup along with a USB C port for charging and computer interfacing. The left cup only has a single 3.5 mm adapter which is SE not Balanced. The simplicity of the design is nice here and is snappy to respond. I can pause, play, next track, last track, or control volume easily without much issue. There are three ports on the right cup I am assuming are for microphones. Yes, you can make phone calls with these headphones. I have not tested this feature as I am all about using these for music.
The Build quality is fantastic. There is no logos anywhere that's overtly visible. There is a small DROP logo on the headband arm located above the right ear cup, but that's it. Inside the ear cups there are L and R printed on the correct cups accordingly. The entire build feels like plastic with the interface joystick being rubberized. It doesn't feel cheap or low quality at all. The cups swivel 180 in one direction only, allowing them to fold into their case (hard shell case too!) or rest on your neck. The design seems like it would hold up to mild abuse well. I like the look of it and the feel of it. It gives a vibe of sleek and strong while being made of plastic, a nice touch really. Because of the plastic, the weight is a surprise as these are magnetic planar headphones. The weight doesn't affect me very much in long listening sessions.
The LDAC connection is strong. I placed my M6 at one end of my room and moved 15 feet away without having any drop in signal or digital noise. The quality of sound in LDAC is nice, something I hadn't had on my iPhone due to apple... The separation is unreal, listening to my favorite test "Amaranth" by Nightwish was a pleasure. Much like other planar headphones, I could pick out every single piece of the orchestra and percussion even through all the vocal layers in the chorus. It sounds similar to the Sendy Aiva headphones except the separation is much more clear. What I mean is the chimes and strings sound like I was in the room with them even with all the additional noise of a band playing over them. Its unreal! The bass extension is exactly what I like, punchy quick roll off with no over emphasis. Bass guitars and kick drum sound like you are in the room. I will say that digital bass on EDM tracks don't sound as powerful as other close backs, but this is a normal downside to planars. The mids sound good, I don't think they are as good as the DEVA or as forward as the DEVA. The mids are there, but sounds like cymbals and vocals are like listening through a screen. Being a mids head, I was a little saddened by this. I feel that this has to do with the sound dampening in the cup foam. Maybe someone will mod these cans and tell me how to fix? The highs sound like they are through a screen as well. I don't feel that they are recessed, but more warm sounding. These are warm headphones for sure, but the highs hammer this point home. While I find them warm headphones, I feel that these are well priced headphones for the sound quality. Comparing them to the 177x, they fit right in in quality but add Bluetooth!
I find that LDAC is the preferred method over wired to a external dac/amp like the Q5s. I would also like to note that the Q5s bass boost did very little to the overall sound, yay for physical dampening! I also found that the headphones kept a similar sound signature when used with with Q5s, even with a different dac/amp.
Now for my complaint on the sound side, soundstage. Yes, this is a closed back headphone and it will suffer in the soundstage department. But the Panda has sennheiser level of soundstage here. My HD650s have a intimate soundstage, the Panda headphones mirror this style of soundstage. While I am able to pick out directions of sound and have 360 degrees of sound its too intimate to make a big impact.
In conclusion, The DROP Panda are a great entry into the audiophile community. I love these headphones and feel that the $400 price point is just about right based on feature and sound. I also feel that these headphones will hold up with heavy use. The IPx6 water resistance is a minus from me, but I don't plan on wearing these in the rain, do you?
(The DROP Panda was purchased by me. DROP did not have any comments on my review nor provided any money or items for me to influence my review. The Photo is taken from DROP dot com and I do not own it, I don't have a camera yet. Maybe I should stop buying headphones and get a decent camera?)