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mad1316
14
Apr 13, 2021
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There's a lot to unpack here...
I was one of the early batch buyers; I've been waiting until we got all the promised features before writing up my review. With the very recent addition of SoundID (which includes firmware updates), I'm pretty sure we're there. So let's go through some things. 1) The 3.5mm cord with boom mic: Not worth it, 2.5/5 IMO. Mic is poor quality, 3.5mm jack is handy to have for flexibility but does not sound good enough to be worthwhile. If you need to go wired, stick with the type-c connection. Speaking of which 2) Digital wired mode (type-c): excellent 5/5. When you need to charge up, this is a great way to do it. Defaults to 24-bit 48KHz. Perhaps not ideal, but nothing to complain about. 3) Battery life: fantastic 5/5. I haven't been tracking exactly, but I never feel like I'm losing out on anything. I can go through an entire work day, let it sit for a week, pick it up and listen for hours more with no issues. And when it needs a charge, you can always drop back to digital mode. 4) Build quality: no complaints 5/5. I don't have anything like a vmoda to compare to, but at no point have I felt like these are cheap or weak. 5) Bluetooth general notes: Range I'd give a 4/5. It doesn't have as much range as some, but better than others. Seems to have the main antenna in the right earcup. Supports LDAC. Latency is overall 4/5. I've tested with a few different adapters and methods. At the worst, it's off just enough to make a/v sync just a tiny bit noticeable. At best (which is most of the time), it's below my ability to easily pinpoint. More details to follow starting at number 7. 6) Comfort: 4/5. Clamp force is fine, headband is fine. Earpads are fine. The issue is one I deal with often: the earcups are just a notch too small for these to fit *over* my ears fully without some discomfort. With some fiddling I can get it comfortable enough to use for hours. Wish the earcups were maybe half an inch wider. I do not count this as a design flaw, as I often have this issue with headphones so I assume my ears are larger than average. Just wanted to make sure this is notated here. Sweat levels are as expected for closed back and the stock earpad materials. Doesn't feel noticeably warm, but the general isolation does allow your own heat to build up a bit (again, as would be expected for the design). 7) Bluetooth, phone use: easy 4.5 stars. Only downgrade is the mic. It *has* a mic, so it *can* be used to take phone calls but if phone calls are your primary use, you won't want to go this route. The mic sounds distant and picks up a good bit of background noise. Again, not unexpected considering it has no boom. Listening-wise, it's a slam dunk. Latency and quality are as good as your phone can handle. 8) Bluetooth, external TV adapter: another 4.5 stars. You lose some ground in latency, but gain some ground in quality ceiling and range. In this case, I use the Avantree Orbit (best I could find when I was looking) with SPDIF input passing through (have also tested with aux input, similar results). 9) Bluetooth, external USB PC adapter: 4.5 stars. Avantree DG60 adapter used here. Better latency than the Orbit, but about 10% lower range. The half star knocked off is for the light popping when connecting, and that it's much slower to connect. Not a major issue. 10) Bluetooth, PC internal adapter: 4.5 stars. Intel AX200 internal used here. Quality here is so close to digital (type c) mode that I'm not sure I could pinpoint which is which. Latency is lowest here as well (at least with video watching, not sure how well it'd hold up for gaming). You do lose more on range (that's the half star), but I'm willing to deal with that for the best wireless latency and quality overall. 11) SoundID: 3.5/5. This is the newest addition, and a mixed blessing. App is finicky getting it to connect to the headphones (1/2 star). Requires location to be turned on (idiotic) to connect (1 star). No manual EQ adjustments (1/2 star). Options available for EQ training are insufficient (1/2 star, this would be alleviated by the ability to make manual adjustments). Now the positives: the hearing test and compensation are a little weird to work with but does work well and provides a real benefit. Once you finally manage to get things connected and accomplished ( as well as the options allow for), it uploads to the headphones and you don't need the app except for further firmware updates in the future or adjustments to the SoundID profile. If the app weren't so half-baked, this would be an amazing value add. Cut the location requirement and allow for manual EQ adjustments (even hidden away in an advanced menu), and this sits comfortably at a near 5/5. As it is, 3.5/5 and some frustrations. EDIT: SoundID just got an update today that opens up the EQ to manual customization, including a preset to go to flat response. Still requires location to be turned on. 4.5/5 stars for the app now. Wrap-up: overall I'm happy with my purchase and would recommend it. The price is a relevant factor. I got it for less as an early buyer. At the current price it's a tougher sell but I would still recommend it as headphones. If you need a headset, either look elsewhere, or be ready to add an antlion mic or other external mic solution. A great set of headphones, with a few small issues to be aware of. As shown above, overall 4/5 stars. If the app wasn't such a mess, 4.5/5 stars overall. EDIT: with the app update today, I'll give it the 4.5/5 stars overall.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Apr 13, 2021
bencox
0
Apr 15, 2021
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The mic is objectively EXTREMELY good. You sound like you know enough, so I'll just leave at "If you drive it with crap, you'll get crap no matter how good it is". All other review points are spot on, excellent review!
Apr 15, 2021
mad1316
14
Apr 15, 2021
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(I assume you refer to the wired boom mic addon) The mic doesn't hold a candle to the one on the PC38X. As that's my go-to headset with mic, that's also my comparison point. Configured the same, through the same audio stack (Schiit Hel), the PC38X wins on mic quality in every way. Theoretically possible my Panda has a hardware flaw, but I have no easy way to test that (and since I got these as headphones it doesn't really bother me personally). I can only provide info for what I have and can test. If you're referring to the built-in mic, the comparison point is the Sennheiser Momentum TW (1st gen). Again, it just doesn't hold up in quality comparison when running through the same stack (phone or pc). Panda wins by landslide on listening in either case. Glad you liked the review otherwise.
Apr 15, 2021
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