Sold online directly from Andover for $499, they are a great value with high-end technology and build quality. The materials used in their construction suggest a far more expensive product and I can’t wait to listen to them!
Can you say details, details, details?! You don’t often get to see headphones with this much attention to detail for under $1000 much less $500. There is so much wood grain and finely crafted metal to savor in the design and it’s refreshing to see such craftsmanship. Real walnut hardwood and upgradable cables are something you usually find on far more expensive cans. It’s rare to see headphones that can be called art, but that is what Andover has achieved.
Setup is simple, just plug in the wires. I love the option to use 3.5mm or ¼” jacks with the same cable. Add to the fact that the entire cable is replaceable. I have upgraded some of my previous headphones this way and noticed a sonic difference. It’s small details like this that I love to see, and I praise Andover for including them.
Headphones are always interesting to compare, it’s like comparing flavors of ice cream. The PM-50 certainly showed no weakness in audio quality. I could hear the difference between a variety of sources and amplifiers, and in every case, the audio was crisp and detailed. Female vocals sounded amazing; bass was tight but not quite as deep as I expected. I listened to a huge variety of music to try and pull out every possible strength and weakness. To sum up my listening experience I would call these headphones very balanced in tone throughout the frequency range.
If I had to say one thing that could use improvement, it would be the comfort, the top padding was thin and didn’t offer as much support as I like. And these headphones are open back, so the audio can be heard by passersby at almost the same volume as the wearer, so they are not the best choice for a plane ride.
Small issues aside, I did enjoy the PM-50s and if you have never heard planar headphones before, you are missing out. I should note that the amp you use is key to making them sound their best. There isn’t necessarily a best choice, rather, it’s a matter of personal preference. I suggest trying out a few amps to see what you like. One thing was true: no matter what setup I used; they are a pleasure to listen to with little to no fatigue during long sessions.
My strongest impression of the PM-50s is the amazing level of attention Andover spent on making these headphones, they are a work of art! I really loved the option to swap cables; small details like this are what makes a brand my favorite. They respond nicely to different amps, so it’s worth trying out different components if you can. I think the only downside to them is the comfort, some less-expensive headphones are easier to wear. In conclusion, the PM-50 Planar Reference Headphones are a great set of cans and I am eager to see what Andover will come up with next!