Review: Oppo PM-3 (Portable Planar Magnetic Headphones)
Firstly I would like to thank Alan at Napthine Porter and Oppo for sending me this sample to review, I always try to write honest reviews, these received over 50hrs of burn-in before the review, no major differences were noted.
iPod Classic > PM-3
iPod Classic > USB out > Oppo HA-2 > PM-3
Dell XPS15 > iFi iDAC > iCan > PM-3
Acoustic Principle - Closed back
Ear Coupling - Circumaural
Nominal Impedance - 26 Ohm
Sensitivity - 102 dB in 1 mW
Clamping Pressure - 5 N
Cables - 3 m detachable cable (3.5 mm with 6.35 mm adapter), 1.2 m detachable cable (3.5 mm)
Cable Connectors Output - 3.5 mm stereo jack
Input - 6.35 mm stereo jack, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Weight - 320 g (without cable)
Included Accessories - Carrying Case
Driver Type - Planar Magnetic
Driver Size (Round) - 55 mm diameter
Magnet System Symmetric push-pull neodymium
Frequency Response In Free-Field - 10 - 50,000 Hz
Long-Term Max Input Power -500 mW according to IEC 60268-7
Pulse Max Input Power - 2 W
MSRP - £349.99
Packaging, Accessories and Build quality:
The packaging is very nice, it is a little apple esque but I like it. A very sleek matte black box with a picture of the PM-3's on the front, on the back you will find information about the headphones, and on the side there is information about the different cables you can use with them (Apple, Android button functions). Out of this outer sleeve these is another box which uses thick, high quality cardboard which only has Oppo inscribed in silver on it. Open this box and inside you will find the headphone case which holds the headphones inside, along with their 3m cable. Very well packaged to avoid any damage, the cups have a sheet of plastic on them to prevent scratches during shipping. A very good looking, and solid packaging.
Accessories are good, they come with a genuine denim hard carry case, very interesting choice of material but it feels good and looks built to last. Also included were 4 cables, 1 x 3m straight cable with a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter for home listening, 1 x 1.2m standard stereo cable for most players, 1 x 1.2m apple compatible cable with microphone and buttons, and 1 x 1.2m Android/Windows phone compatible cable with microphone and buttons. So a cable for every use, and somewhere to store them to keep them safe. All very good accessories.
Build quality is also very good, they are mainly metal and according to Oppo have been extensively stress tested. The headband is well padded with soft pleather, the sliders are metal and have a satisfying click so you can easily get both sides matched. The cups swivel very smoothly, as there is some plastic between the metal parts. The cups themselves are metal and the whole headphone is very well constructed and precise.
The earpads are very soft and just deep enough, a little deeper wouldn't hurt. The clamping force is fairly strong but you can always leave them for a couple of days stretched over some books to loosen them a little. The detachable cable uses a standard 3.5mm stereo jack, no proprietary cables which is good news for custom cable makers, the standard cables feel fine and should hold up to general usage fine. The only problem I have with the build quality is the pads are not user replaceable, they can be removed and changed, but only by sending them back.
Comfort, Isolation and Cable noise:
Comfort is good overall, the clamping force is quite strong as stated above, but I think you could stretch them out over some books quite easily. Because of their quite high clamping force the pads conform tightly to your head providing an excellent seal, which block out a lot of noise, but it does mean that after a while your ears touch the driver a little. Also I find my ears heat up a little, but they are fine for 2-3 hour listening sessions without a break, and perfect for commuting. The headband pads is well padded and causes no discomfort.
Isolation is excellent, they block out a lot of external noise and are perfect for out and about listening.
Cable noise is not an issue with these headphones.
Split in to the usual categories, with a conclusion at the end.
The lows on these are full and have an almost tube like sound to them. They may not be the fastest but they do well to keep up with faster music, the do however have very natural timbre and decay, excelling in acoustic and jazz. The lows are very well controlled, and they extend well in to the sub bass (adding bass bost with an external amp even makes them good for EDM). Very little bleeding in to the mids means the mids keep nice and clean with only a slight boost in the mid-bass. When I first listened to these, I thought the lows were a little too thick and slow, but now I find them very well placed in the mix and nicely balanced with excellent punch and body.
The mids are the main focus of these, they sound very real with a tiny bit of added body and warmth, they also don't suffer from sibilance or harshness. The mids fair even better when fed some well recorded music, you can hear subtle details and the acoustics of the room. Spatial cues are easily picked out, and vocalists every breath can be heard, but they do not sound clinical or dry. I cannot find any flaws in the mids, they are sweet, smooth and detailed, a pleasure to listen to. Even electric guitars come through powerful and tracks with heavy distortion are rendered expertly.
When I first listened to these, I found the highs a little lacking in presence and sparkle, but now I don't find that an issue. They are by no stretch bright headphones, but the highs extend and compliment the mix very well, they are well separated and controlled, you can hear every tap and crash of a cymbal, you can hear it extend and gently roll off, very detailed and never splashy.
Instrument separation is very good, everything has good space and air between it, and the soundstage is not huge but wider than your average closed back headphone. These has a full sound, but well separated, the sound is quite intimate and it makes them more engaging.
Amping: well these are sensitive and also have low impedance, and run fine off a regular portable source, but they do sound better with amplification. Through the HA-2 they sound very good, a little more control and detail, but through my iFi setup they changed quite a lot, the highs became more extended, there was more air around everything and you could really hear how detailed and balanced these are.
Conclusion, well my first impressions were that these were very well built, and also a feat of engineering but I wasn't sold on the sound. Now giving them more time, and different systems, I have come to appreciate their sound a lot. It is very well balanced, everything is there without any particular flaws. I am very impressed with this, the only thing that could be improved is maybe the pads could be slightly deeper. The sound is balanced, controlled, detailed but not clinical, boring or analytical. Go get yourself a pair, perfect for home and portable usage!
Oppo were well known for their high end bluray players and such, but now they have stormed the portable and high end market with some fantastic products. The HA-2 I was very impressed with, as for £250 you get a very clean sounding portable DAC and amp that is Apple certified.
Now you have the PM-3 which is the first of its kind really, a portable, easy to drive planar magnetic headphone. And they have done a fantastic job.
Sound Perfection Rating: 10/10