Andover Audio Introduces PM-50 Planar Magnetic Headphones

March 6 2020, 01:10
The high-end headphone market continues to grow as the generic headphone product category expands globally. With wireless now sending mainstream consumers in completely new directions for personal audio, there is still room for brands to grab a share of the market in the wired, premium segment. The new PM-50 Planar Magnetic headphones are a way for Andover Audio to enter the space, proposing a relatively affordable ($500) design that still manages to surprise with walnut housings and replaceable ear-cushions. 

The Andover Audio team, led by former Cambridge SoundWorks General Manager Rob Mainiero, is a group of audio experts and veteran engineers who hail from a lineup of iconic companies that include Acoustic Research, a/d/s/, Advent, Apogee Acoustics, Bose, Harman and others. Since its formation in 2012, Andover Audio has provided design and manufacturing services to the most recognized brands in automotive, telecommunications and high-performance audio. Andover is now focusing its expertise on self-branded products that artfully blend premium audio technologies with distinctive design. The first product we've heard from the Boston-based company was the Model One Record Player - an advanced record player and entertainment system.

From that concept, Andover designed the Spinbase, a compact, yet premium speaker solution for under the turntable placement. It features Andover's feedback-eliminating Isogroove technology and a clever arrangement of two woofers and two tweeters to produce a credible stereo image and auxiliary inputs for a music streamer or CD player. Honestly, more of a solution looking for a problem, and not as great as the Model One design with the Stand and subwoofer, which makes sense for people who have no other sound system.

Now, the company is expanding its catalog with a new product in the high-end headphone category. More specifically, large, circumaural planar magnetic headphones, which the company describes as able to generate "a spectacularly detailed and musical soundscape for private listening" and able to provide "hours of listening enjoyment without ear fatigue." And there's no reason to doubt since well-designed planar magnetic drivers are usually very nice-sounding, and the Andover expert team has enough experience to understand the production challenges and how to offer consistency and quality at sensible prices.

And of course the new product was also designed to work with any music source that most consumers would use. As the company explains, the PM-50 can be driven by any traditional source including smartphones, portable music players, high-end DACs, traditional audio systems, and dedicated headphone amplifiers.

Following the industrial design of the Model One turntable music system, the PM-50 headphones feature finely crafted housings of genuine walnut that provide a solid acoustic enclosure for the 50mm planar magnetic drivers, with an open-back acoustic design to provide better transparency and spatiality. The ergonomic, lightweight headband was also designed for comfort and is continuously adjustable for all-day listening.

Another nice touch is the fact that the Andover PM-50 headphones come with two sets of ear-cushions. The thicker cushions provide a more relaxed and open sound, while the thinner cushions provide more immediacy and impact. Listeners can choose their favorite for sound and comfort, or can change them for specific recordings. A third set of pads, which feature a looser fit, will be available later in 2020, the company also reveals. And of course cables are removable and upgradable.

In the more affordable planar magnetic headphone segment, under US $400, the market currently offers formidable alternatives such as the Audeze LCD-1, or even wireless options like the Drop + THX Panda. For its price range, the Andover PM-50 is an impressive design with decent specifications and superior materials, that many potential buyers will compare with more expensive options from established brands in the high-end headphone space, and hopefully they will like what they hear.
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