Drop T-X0 Mk II Review

This is more of a mini-review than a full-fledged review, the reason being that Drop often revises and adjusts products based on community feedback. Consider this more of a sonic-preview of what you can expect form the first run.

This particular headphone is the newest incarnation of the well-known T-50rp MkII. As I mentioned in the preview, Drop claims an improved tuning and the options of two different ear pads and damping pieces. This is the headphone that ‘launched a thousand mods’ as it were, so let’s dive right in a see how it sounds.

Drop’s T-X0 came to me in a plain white cardboard box, utilitarian and easy to open. I’ve gotten in a bunch of super tight-fitting boxes recently, so it was refreshing for me. Inside were the headphones, which look pretty much like a traditional T-50rp with a leather head strap. The all-leather pads were installed, and a second set of microfiber-faced leather pads and damping o-rings was tucked in next to them.

Drop commented that listeners should be able to find some tuning variation to their liking from classical to hip-hop, based on combining the different pads and damping pieces. I did a little mixing and matching and found the stock combinations to be generally the most coherent, so my comments will mostly be aimed towards those, those you can of course feel free to mix them to taste.

From a comfort perspective they were reasonable for a T-50 style headphone, the headstrap is a big improvement over the plain rubber headband – though almost anything would be an improvement over that – and the leather earpads are reasonably comfortable, if a bit shallow for my tastes. The Microfiber-faced pads I didn’t care for at all as I found the material a bit rough and scratchy. It wasn’t the worst offender I’ve worn, but it wasn’t my favorite. The side of the cups has a twist-lock 3.5mm input, and the cable has a 6.5mm plug on the other end. The cable is fairly flexible and a bit longer than I was expecting, both pluses in my book.

Build-wise these are the same T-XX series headphones you know from Fostex, so the construction is mostly rubber and thick plastic. These things are pretty rugged, and I know studios that have pairs that have been stepped on, thrown around and otherwise abused for many years with no issues. Looks-wise they won’t be winning any awards, unless you’re a huge fan of black squares, but reliability should be pretty good if Fostex’s track record is anything to go.

The T-50rp has always been a bit of a weird headphone. I recall hearing one stock a number of years ago and never really understanding what the hype was. In my experience it didn’t really respond well to EQ, being too inefficient for any consumer level analog EQs, and responding only modestly to software EQ. Acoustical modding however was a veritable playground. Here, the situation is a bit different. The T-X0 has a basically very listenable sound. With the leather pads and dampers the midrange is quite open and breathes in a really magical way – the sense of relaxed detail that the T-50 well-modded can do so excellently is definitely present here, though it’s subtler than some of the better, usually more expensive mods. The treble is fairly well-behaved except for some aggressive mid-treble spikes that are typical of many T-50’s. They aren’t as obnoxious as spikes from a dynamic driver can be, and I would bet they’re broad in Q, but they manifest as a sort of overall hazy, harshness in the treble. It’s not terrible behavior, but I felt that even on fairly uncompressed music the treble could be a little too forward.

The bass with the leather pads at first gave me the impression of being anemic, but in actuality it’s simply because it doesn’t hit that hard. The level may be a bit low for bass-heads, but it’s reasonably clean and textured. EQ didn’t make much difference here, and increasing the level didn’t give me any more heft or body, just higher levels. Overall I would say the biggest sin here is a general lack of dynamics, which helps the treble peaks seem a bit more agreeable and the bass a little dry.

Swapping to the microfiber and second set of damping rings, the sound changed noticeably. The dynamic contrast of the headphones improved, and the sense of low mid-and-bass weight that I was missing before improved. It certainly wasn’t to the level of a Focal headphone, but much more satisfying. The treble by contrast seemed now a little on the drier side, with less sparkle and sharper peaks, though less hazy. Clarity seemed to suffer a bit, and the midrange still had a very pleasing detail to it, but was a bit more recessed, especially in the presence region. Overall the sound came off a bit peakier and grainier, though it did make modern, compressed pop recordings sound more enjoyable. I did find this setup more responsive to EQ, but also perceptually less efficient, requiring me to turn up the levels before the perceived loudness was equal. This is all frequency-response related of course, but the sound seemed a little easier to manipulate with these specific pads and damping rings. Busy mixes seemed a bit more clustered with this tuning set however. Of the two, I would say this one is probably the choice if you enjoy recordings which are less than perfect with clearly separated frequencies, and the leather tuning set will be more useful for those who have high-quality recordings with less compression and more moving parts. Think hip-hop versus orchestral music.

Overall I think that for the pre-order asking price of $180 USD – which jumps to $220 after July 18th – these are a reasonable value for those looking to mod some T-50’s. The going rate for a T-50rp MkII seems to be about $160 on Amazon, so an extra $20-$60 for pads and some damping material as well as a leather headband doesn’t seem out of line to me. I would say that for those looking for a daily-driver headphone who don’t want to fuss with mods, these wouldn’t be my first recommendation, but that’s not really their intended purpose. With some Dekoni or ZMF pads, and craft store foam, one could take the modding even further and have quite a lot of fun just learning about how pads and damping material affect the sound. A fun little product for the tinkerer headphone enthusiast.