Sometime back I reviewed the Andover PM50 and while I liked a good bit of what I heard, the fit was a bit problematic. I stopped short of adjusting it due to concerns with it being a loaner unit and not wanting to influence later reviews as they would then receive a non-standard unit.
I am happy to report that Andover listened to the comments made by several of us regarding fit and reworked the headband, as such, what follows is an update to the original review and not a complete re-review. The original can be found here.
The PM50 has a very solid build with very little plastic anywhere and none at stress points. The headband is steel with metal couplers that allow the gimbals to rotate on the vertical axis roughly 15º in either direction (a trick Hifiman would be wise to learn). Gimbals allow the cups to rotate fully on the horizontal axis, but depending on which pad is in use, the pad will prevent full rotation as it strikes the gimbals. The cups themselves are figured walnut with a satin finish that appears very similar to a tung oil finish if it isn’t actually that. Drivers are affixed by an aluminum plate on the inside of the cup which also serves as the attachment point for the pads. Pads snap on and off and do require gentle pressure to install or remove. This is the one place where plastic is used and if twisted to attempt to remove the pads, I can see damage to the attachment studs being fairly likely so be aware that these are a straight push/pull operation. Three different styles of pad were provided with my preference being for the more squared off variety as I got a better seal with these than the other two styles. The PM50 is almost an on-ear headphone as cup size is much closer to something like the VModa than to the LCD or Susvara. Clamping force on the PM50 is now on par with many others in my collection. While still slightly tight, the metal band is flexible enough to allow final tweaking by the end user so users of all sizes can find a proper fit. Wear was considerably more comfortable this second time around with the modified band with long sessions while wearing glasses possible.
Audeze EL-8 (open) – clamping force is now similar between the two models. The El-8 is a bit lighter so doesn’t feel quite as heavy on the head, but the reduced clamping makes the PM50 a more comfortable companion and a better build alternative to the EL-8.
Hifiman Sundara – I also prefer the headband of the PM-50 as the ability to rotate on the vertical axis of the PM-50 is something the Sundara cant match. The PM50 is smaller than the Sundara and fit is a bit more on-ear when compared to the larger Sundara. Clamping force is still slightly higher on the PM50 than the Sundara but is now much closer and neither has a real advantage in this department. I gave the Sundara props for better fit in the original compare and this is now about even between the two.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
For a first effort from Andover, I have to applaud the PM50. Its well built, well tuned, and fairly easy to drive. I has most of the features we expect from a planar, good transparency and speed, near linearity (up to a point), and better than average instrument separation. If there is a caveat, it is in the build of the PM50 where it fits more like an on-ear than an over-ear. Clamping force is now much improved and even with glasses, the PM50 was comfortable for extended listening sessions. During my initial testing I had removed my glasses as it simply was not comfortable. I applaud Andover for fixing the mechanical issues as the sound was already quite good on the PM50 and now the mechanics match it. Its a solid value in the planar market for those looking for something a bit smaller than the Susvara or LCD series.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 7.5/107.5/10
- Treble - 7/107/10
- Soundstage - 7/107/10
- Imaging - 7.5/107.5/10
Pros: gorgeous wood, solid build – all metal construction, very detailed signature
Cons: Clamping force is excessive initially, adjustments are slip-fit and may loosen with time