Drop + THX Panda wireless headphone review: Supremely clean sub-bass

The Drop + THX Panda headphones are top-tier in overall sound, but distinguish themselves from the pack with absolutely the cleanest sub-bass reproduction I’ve heard. I’m talking about the frequencies below 60Hz that emanate from the 18-inch woofer in the trunk, the rumble of earthquakes in a movie theater, and so on).

They’re pricey at $399, and I didn’t find them to be the most comfortable to wear with a short haircut, but that sub-bass. Wow.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best headphones, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Design and features

The basic black-on-black Drop + THX Panda feature 55mm planar ribbon drivers. This is my first dance with this technology, and it works quite well. Fellow reviewer Theo Nicolakis was equally impressed when he reviewed Oppo’s planar ribbon implementation in the since-discontinued Oppo PM-2 (which were even pricier at $699).

render1 Drop

Drop provides a single easy-to-master joystick that’s far easier to master than a bunch of buttons.

I have no way of checking the 50kHz top-end frequency response Drop claims, as I have no equipment to measure anything above 24kHz. As the best young ears top out at around 21kHz at best, I wouldn’t worry about these types of claims. I can and did check the 50Hz spec, and you can read more in the performance section below, though I gave most of the story away up front.

Drop also touts the THX AAA amplifier onboard, which promises uber fidelity and a super low noise floor. Claims and numbers aside, it sounds very good. If I have any issue with the Drop + THX Panda, it’s the comfort factor. They’re a tad hefty at 13.2 ounces, and the thin padding on the headband wore on me and my crew cut over time. My thick-haired roommate, of course, wondered what I was on about. I also found the fit of the swiveling cups over the ears quite snug, though the padding there is far more abundant and effective. My ears never grounded out against the speaker grills, a phenomenon that’s the kiss of death when it comes to long mixing or listening sessions.

drop panda4 Drop

This cutaway illustration of the Drop + THX Panda reveals the planar ribbon driver that no doubt has something to do with this headphone’s excellent sub-bass reproduction.

The Drop + THX Panda use a tiny multi-function joystick/button for all operations, including on/off, next track/previous track, answer/hang up, and so on. I like having one tactilely obvious control for everything, it’s far better than searching for, and trying to remember, which button is which.

There are dual microphones for voice quality during phone calls. And while there’s no active noise cancellation, the materials and tight fit of the Drop + THX Panda go a long way towards lowering the ambient noise level. These cans use Bluetooth 5.0 and support aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC for higher-fidelity listening. They paired quickly and reliably with several phones, TVs, and PCs.

Drop includes a carrying case, a USB-C cable for charging the headphones and a 4.5-foot, 3.5mm auxiliary cable for wired analog listening. The company also sells a $49 boom mic that plugs into the 3.5mm jack, which might be of interest to gamers or folks working from home. One was thoughtfully provided with my review unit and I found that it works quite well.

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