Drop Wireless Headphones
Aug 2, 20194462 views

Control Scheme

When enthusiasts talk about control schemes, they mostly complain. Which seems fair given most control schemes aren't great. Among the most consistent points, we see displeasure toward touch controls, and intuitive menu prioritization (single tap for virtual assistant, double tab for next track, etc). For this headphone, we're using one physical control for all major functions. The physical controller is a short throw joystick + button.
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We're still developing the joystick surface finish and shape. Here's a summary of the control scheme:
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To clarify the volume up and volume down, you're pushing the stick up or down with your thumb. Shockingly, up is volume up, down is volume down. What do you think? Did we draw the right conclusions on intuitive prioritization? Let us know your thoughts!
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Joysticks tend to get painful if stiff, and jump commands if loose. And it eats up vertical depth for no real reason. Pressing a joystick as Select also deteriorates over time... There's no ergonomics advantage if a dpad works better. Those thin hard sliver buttons are also bad, but better than joystick. I have a chifi Bluedio UFO2 which has a big firm dpad and long life buttons. https://images.app.goo.gl/a8Da5gnAsdcFoip67
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My only suggestion regarding the call controls is to not have it split between short and long presses. Since I assume most devices pause your music while you're on the phone, I would rather have Previous Track (pull towards you) answer and Next Track (pull away from you) decline and end call. That way you can't accidentally answer the call or hang up if you just bump the button trying to ignore it or change volume. In your testing, it might not be a problem based on the how tactile the joystick is, I just want it to be idiot-proof since I'm a big idiot. Otherwise, those look like good controls and I'm happy it's not a touchpad. My 1000XM3's are finnicky about responding to double taps to pause and play now.
Have you tested the joystick with gloves? Can’t tell how big the opening is for a gloved thumb.
If you are going to use a dial, it needs to be able to turn it to adjust volume
Memz22
And/or be able to change how much ANC is available
Is the size going to be around an Oppo PM-3? Or slightly larger? Here you might have something BIG, a classic in the making? The thing that actually has me hyped the most: Planar Ribbon, if that's true, and the technology is anything close to the RAAL, good-bye Stax, Good Bye HD6XX selling record, heck, I'm shaking in excitement at what this might bring in to the table! By the way, could you please send these to Big reviewers such as Zeos, Steve Guttenberg and Joshua Valour to us, as consumers, have some feedback pre-preorders. I'm not saying these will suck, but hey, even Tin Hifi made a recall because the tonality was off. In the end, I honestly can't wait.
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So we will... *crosses fingers*
Depends on the next couple stages of development. $300 is a target, would be pretty earth shattering at that price, but we don't know if that's doable yet.
Joysticks can be finicky. If designed well it might work but if when you press down on it you can get press in a direction by accident. That could be annoying.
So if this is the look in principal then they are wireless fostex Argons or similar, powered by THX. Not too bad a combination.
Hmm.. I like the touch controls on my 1000x m2 / 3 But this looks interesting.
Most of the microphones in these end up being so useless that I don't put any weight in the voice control access, as I usually don't use it. If you can convince me the microphone is worthy, I would potentially reconsider the button/access priority.
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It'll work well with consoles, sensitive drivers. While we're working on LL BT support (most implementations are still pretty weak), we're creating a boom mic cable setup that we can (cost permitting) include, or offer for a small additional cost. The "gaming" cable pack will include a 4ft 3.5mm TRRS for plugging into controllers, and a 6ft TRRS splitter. Use the 4ft with your console, then unplug, walk over to your computer, and plug it into the adapter. The 6ft long adapter means you can have the female TRRS end sitting on your desk, while the respective mic/headphone jacks are plugged into the back of your tower. So the experience would go something like:
  1. Connect Panda to your phone via BT, enjoy music wherever you are
  2. Get home from work/class, sit down on your couch, plug in the gaming cable, it defeats BT, and you're off to the races.
  3. Want to switch to PC? unplug gaming cable from controller, plug into adapter at your battle-station.


Will
just got back from vacation and see this detailed reply, thanks @Will :) cant wait for it!
When should we be expecting the headphone to be ready? Few months? 6 months? A year?
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Thanks. Appreciate all the transparency. Looking forward to these.
Thank you so much. I will save up some money for it. Any expected price range? It’ll be mega if you provide an option to add a bluetooth adapter for desktop use too.
From the looks of it, the joystick won't be providing any physical feedback as to what it will sense as "true" up/down/left/right (based on the circular cutout on the housing). It might be frustrating to get muscle memory that you think is "up (12 o'clock)" but you're actually centered on "1 o'clock" and not realizing it. That could make the control scheme more error-prone to the user accidentally hitting "2 o'clock" and skipping a song, or hitting accidentally hitting "11 o'clock" when going back and have to use another two inputs to correct it. Meanwhile if that user were centered on 12 o'clock, that same degree of error would yield correct inputs. I think there's an opportunity to make the cutout a diamond shape instead of a circle to guide users towards true up/down/left/right, which can be unintuitive on a joystick placed at an angle and behind the ear. The diagonals aren't being used in this control scheme after all.
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daru
In our testing, we found these two points address the "true direction" concern. The joystick does have directions, there is tactile feedback when you push it in any 90 degree direction. So you push it up, and there's a bump to let you know you pushed it in a direction. In our testing, nobody has had an issue differentiating right from up or left from down, etc. The joystick will likely end in a plus, the physical plastic button will have a plus on it, giving you another tactile reference point (look closely at the image I posted, you can see the plus is raised). This version has been intuitive for everyone, but without these two changes, it wasn't.
Will
Sounds great! I can see the raised plus now that you pointed it out, and the tactile feedback sounds perfect. Forgot to mention in my original comment that it's all looking nice, and it's awesome that you guys are getting feedback on the site at steps like this.
Come on when are they coming?
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Malte
Soon™
Looks like a fairly typical command scheme. Consistency like that is fairly easy to pick up on. Not hunting for “the right button” to perform the desired command is also a plus. This seems like a well-thought out control scheme. My only concern is for the durability. I’m not a mechanical engineer, but for a single button to maintain its “centered” neutral position and consistently trigger each of its other 5 “positional states” (up/down/left/right/in) without developing a sensitivity for false inputs over time with use on that only button, that seems like a tall order to last more than two years. I don’t know if the factory or QA team will be able to test for the Mean Time to Failure, but hopefully it’s in the 5 digits range (the more presses, the better IMO).
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Evshrug
Regarding this: "...but for a single button to maintain its “centered” neutral position and consistently trigger each of its other 5 “positional states” (up/down/left/right/in) without developing a sensitivity for false inputs over time with use on that only button, that seems like a tall order to last more than two years." Consider that this same type of joystick is used in handheld game consoles that can last years under much much heavier use than what this will ever see.
daru
True. But I’ve seen many companies take the “... much much heavier use than this will ever see” idea too much to heart, and cheap out. For every XBox 360 controller, there’s a Mad Catz or No Name Generic controller that breaks in two months. If Drop could literally get the joysticks from Microsoft, I would be ecstatic, but even Sony’s Dual Shock 4 thumbsticks aren’t as good, and those were WAY WAY WAY better than the older Sony thumbsticks (and overall I prefer the PS4 over the XBO, just saying).
It think it's fine but I wouldn't have had a problem with a second button just for volume. The thing I am concerned about is what I saw in the excel sheet. The volume up/down sound effect, if it's going to have a sound effect or a beep please have an option to disable it. The beeping sound from my Sennheiser HD 4.50 every time I raise or lower the volume just disconnects me from my music. It is very annoying.
Alvarado05
I getcha about the immersion concerns. However, I like the short feedback before I start playing the music, so that I can tell if the volume is deafening or too quiet before the first note begins. Do you think it would be a good compromise if the beep tone was of a lower pitch, to better blend in with the music? I haven’t heard the HD 4.50 myself, but some of these headphone alert tones are set to play at midtone “Blip” notes where our ears are most sensitive. The idea is to “Blip” around the same frequencies as vocals, because most people set their volume based on that, and most headphones are designed with elevated bass and treble to compensate for the way our ear shape (and brain) amplify the midrange. Lowering the alert tone to a lower-pitched “boop” should be less intrusive while playing music, but it’s possible that going too low might make the user think the volume is set lower than it actually is. Everything is a balance of trade-offs. But, yeah, do you think more of a “baritone” volume boop would be less intrusive than a “tenor” alert blip?
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Meh. I think Sony got it right on the XM1000 series with touch-sensitivity and gestures. Do the same hardware, but open up the software side to allow for customization.
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nathan.coulombe
Sony got everything right with the xm1000 series of headphones. The noise cancelling is the best I've ever heard, including when compare to Bose. I spend a few hours a week this time of year on a riding lawnmower. I slip the Sony's on, turn them on, and absolutely no lawnmower noise. This is also true with The Bose. They sound better than any headphones I have except the planars. I had Bose 12 years ago. Noise reduction has improved immensely since then. I also have a pair of AKG on ear headphones that do an amazing job with NR.
Skydiver1955
Which planars do you have? I would expect these Drop headphones to be inbetween... they’re closed, so they won’t sound as transparent and “transporting me to the real venue” feeling as open-backed headphones in the best circumstances, but they are still (leaf) planars and they look similar to some past leaf-planars that performed very well, and they’re not active noise cancelling, but since they are closed they will isolate leak and muffle some more environmental noise than a fully open set. These have the potential to be very versatile headphones.
Looks like USB-C, so glad to see requests are being followed up on. Can't wait so far. Controls seem extremely intuitive.
"Pull D button away from you?" (What does that mean?) How would you grip it to do that? It's recessed in the picture.
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to get an idea of the orientation, bring your right hand up to cover your right ear. Where your right thumb is sitting? That’s where the control stick sits. Next track? Nudge it to the right, away from you. Previous track? Nudge it to the left, toward you. Volume up? Push it up. Volume down? Push it down, etc.
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Will
Ah, got it - it's on the back side of the right cup, not the front of the left cup.