I was very interested in what these were going to sound like, so I attended the listening party at Drop. I tested the headphones with a few different sources, but I spent the most time with the Panda connected to the Chord Mojo. I'll reference the DT 1990 and DT 177X GO throughout this video because those are the two headphones that I practically use every day right now, and I think the DT 177X GO is in line with what these should be competing with.
The pads are very soft, likely some sort of memory foam. I would say they were a little softer than Dakoni's material. The pads have a slight taper from the base to ends that touch your head creating a sizable ear cavity. I felt that these were a bit on the shallow side though, maybe a little less deep than the DT 1990. I also felt my ears warming up pretty quickly, so you might want to be aware of that if that's something you are sensitive to. Overall I didn't feel any negative pressure points on my head but they weren't the most comfortable pair of headphones I've tried.
I'll keep it brief because I probably only tested them for 30 minutes in total in a fairly noisy environment. I felt the sound signature was dark, with a slight bump in the sub and mid bass, some weird things in the upper bass and low mids, and then general flatness through the rest of the sound.
The sub bass was amazing, thank you planar drivers 🙏. Really a classic example of what planar technology can do.
The next notable point is the upper bass and low mids, I personally felt that something wasn't tuned quite right. It felt bloated at this point. Unfortunately, it just sounded muddy enough that I don't think a good EQ would completely be able to tune this out. I'm hoping it's just in my head but this was the worst part of the sound for me.
The mids are good but not mind blowing. I was personally hoping the vocals would stand out a little more. Instruments sounded fine but a little veiled, but take that with a grain of salt, there is a lot of detail throughout the mids and if you're not using these for critical listening you won't miss much.
The highs felt a little recessed, almost as if these headphones were too careful not to offend any listener. I felt there was a lack of sparkle with symbols that I'm used to having with my DT 1990s at home. I also wouldn't read too into this, in a loud external environment I find it extremely hard to properly assess the highs, however I did feel like I was missing some detail here which was a little disappointing.
Are these the best bluetooth headphones I've ever used? Yes. That is an easy win, but there isn't that much competition in this exact space. I have not heard the Beyer Amiron Wireless but those seem like some of the only headphones competing in the wireless high-fi space. From my impression, the sound is dark with lots of bass extension.
There was an active decision not to include ANC. While I agree that I want to be able to turn it completely off, I don't know if not having it entirely makes them better. I just cannot see these making good travel headphones for a lot of users out there. Personally, I travel with Airpod Pros and a set of IEMs, and I don't see myself replacing those with the Pandas. In my office I use the DT 177X GO, and I think these are a really competitive offering for that usage, but I still prefer the sound of my DT 177X GO (with pad swap) more.
Ok, big question, who are these for? If you work in an office or like using bluetooth in medium noise environments and want a really good sounding headphone, these are perfect, there isn't much direct competition and these are solid overall headphones. Then there is the suggested price of $400. If these headphones are not going to be your daily drivers, I have a hard time recommending them. If you already have a nice wired setup and don't mind the wires, I don't think you should get these; if you are looking for a great closed back around this price I would point you to the DT 177X Go then. If you've never owned nice sounding headphones before, this is a great pair to get started with, and these will not disappoint.
Essentially, these are a fantastic all in one, but still come with all in one trade offs. Putting everything together, it is a great value, but it's not like you can pull out the amp/dac module inside the headphone and use it on a different set. I will hang on to my ES100 for the time being instead of getting the Pandas.