Pros: Build quality and sound quality are top notch, I have no qualms with either.
Cons: Cost, non removable pads.
Tonal Balanced: Balanced
Style: Open circumaural headphones
Listening Set-up: Musicbee (FLAC) -> Matrix HPA-3u
Cost at Time of Review: $1,400
Reviewing ProcessI’ve had the PM-x2 for a bit over a month now and have put significant head time on them. Over the course of my time I feel that I have gained a solid understanding of the sound and build of the PM-x2 and feel confident sharing my opinion. With that said this review is my opinion and I encourage readers to demo a product when available before buying.
Thanks to Alex for graciously allowing me to borrow this pair!
Build Quality & Fit
To put things simply the PM-x2 are built extremely well from top to bottom with no worries of durability based on the review pair that I’ve had for a month. The headphone is mostly constructed of metal with plastic being only apparent on the outside of the earcup. No squeaks, no creeks, the earcups swivel 90* each way with no groans or resistance and the sliders adjust the headband with a firm click. I have no qualms about the quality of the build here though I am disappointed that the pads are not removable, at least not in a quick on/off way.
The PM-x2 fit rather comfortably around the ears with their plush velour pads with a modest amount of clamp. The horizontal pressure is adjusted nicely to my head, though my ears are nearing the drivers. The metal construction adds to the weight though and downward force is certainly noticed. The headphones aren’t uncomfortable, but they never disappear once on my head; there’s simply too much downward force for these to disappear on the head. Neither comfortable or uncomfortable, the PM-x2 are able to be worn for hours at a time without any discomfort.
A lot of people believe that a neutral or balanced headphone is one that lacks bass, but this is not true. A truly balanced or neutral headphone should have a linear bass response that digs as low as the ears can hear, and that is what I hear with the PM-x2. Using the bass shaker test I feel a visceral rumble at the lowest frequencies with a linear bass response up to 200hz and back down. In real world listening the sub-bass is textured in such a way that sounds buttery and thick without sounding sluggish; mild rumble in the deepest notes while maintaining clarity and control. The thick qualities of the PM-x2’s sub-bass make it a perfect complement for the sub-bass driven song Sleep Sounds from Jamie xx, or the Jon Hopkins album Immunity. When tested with James Blake’s Limit to Your Love I feel that the PM-x2 handles the rapidly pulsating bass sequence rather well, but I prefer the PM-x2’s sub-bass with more slower plodding sub-bass driven songs.
The midbass is smooth with a touch of warmth, coming off mildly thick but never intrusive. Kick drums are punchy, albeit a bit rounded in texture, while bass guitars are thick and controlled. There’s perhaps a slight sense of hump here, but I may be overthinking things. What I do know is that the qualities of the midbass have sounded great with Madonna, Dawes and Kendrick Lamar alike making the PM-x2 a rather versatile headphone as it carries energy from pop music while sounding lifelike for the alt-country acoustic drums of Dawes.
Mids & Highs
The midrange is stellar; this is the most natural sounding midrange that I’ve heard to this date and it does so effortlessly. Every instrument within the midrange sounds phenomenal, but the PM-x2 shines brightest with well mastered acoustic tracks, a favorite of mine being Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back. The midrange is quick to decay which allows for each string pluck to be clearly discerned, never sounding cluttered due to sluggishness. Tonality is spot on, with each instrument sounding natural, there are no signs of coloration to my ears. The midrange also has fantastic resolve which allows me to hear the small details like strings buzzing, or the hand changing positions on the fretboard to a great level, furthering my immersion within the song.
The midrange reminds me a lot of a refined Sennheiser HD600; improving upon clarity and resolve while maintaining a natural tone throughout.
The highs are clean and balanced well with the mids, extending without signs of grain. There’s a lack of air in the highs, though they don’t sound confined either. Neither forward or laid back, the highs are presented as natural and effortlessly as the midrange is.
The soundstage of the PM-x2 is rather wide, though not airy, which can give it a bit more of an intimate sound than something like the K701. What the PM-x2 lacks in width it makes up for in separation, depth and accuracy of imaging. I haven’t listened to something yet where the soundstage was cluttered, even Modest Mouse’s Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine which is a lo-fi recording that gets rather hectic at the end. A touch of air would be nice, but otherwise I have no complaints here.
ConclusionThe PM-x2 are a headphone that I consider to be a direct upgrade from the Sennheiser HD600 and potentially end-game for many people. While the Sennheiser HD800 is a more resolving and airy headphone I enjoy the slight warmth and musicality of the PM-x2 over it. The PM-x2 are balanced while carrying respectable authority in the lows, a truly easy to listen sound signature that is immediately enjoyable without lacking resolution.
The PM-x2 are the total package: build quality, aesthetics and sound quality. The only hang up I have with the PM-x2 is the price, but that issue is not one that I have exclusively with the PM-x2. The PM-x2 are a totally valid option considering comparably priced headphones such as the HD800 or LCD-X and between the three they are what I would choose.