Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphone Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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Wayne Myers
 
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Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphone Review

Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphone Review




Oppo PM-3: $399



by Wayne Myers





Introduction

The Oppo PM-3 is the latest addition to Oppo's line of planar magnetic headphones. The company known for bringing us universal media players has successfully branched into the world of headphones and headphone amplifiers in recent years, and the PM-3 is a worthy addition to that line.


Description

The PM-1 and PM-2 (the PM-1 without some of its nicer accessories) are open versions of the planar magnetic design. The PM-3 is a closed version, with a slightly different earpiece design but a similar overall appearance. I elected to receive the white version. It comes with a detachable white straight cord and blue denim carrying case. There is also a bonus cord which can be ordered for either Android or Apple products and allows basic phone control while listening. An optional headphone stand is also available.

The designers at Oppo addressed one minor annoyance for me in making the left and right earpiece designations easier to find and read. I love the blue denim carrying case. It is sharp and casual at the same time. Like the PM-1 and -2, the PM-3 is made for portable use but at the same time is worthy of a prime spot in the listening room back home.


Oppo PM-3 Web Page


Associated Review Equipment

Measurement Methods
  • Asus G74SX Laptop, Intel I7-2670QM @ 2.2 GHz, 16 GB DDR3 Memory, Room EQ Wizard, foobar2000
  • Roland Quad-Capture Audio Interface
  • 3Dio Freespace Binaural Microphone, modified, custom HRTF correction curve
  • Mackie 402-VLZ3 Preamp/Mixer
  • American Recorder SPL-8810 Sound Level Meter
  • AKG K 601 Headphones
  • Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250-Ohm Headphones
  • OPPO PM-1 Planar-Magnetic Headphones, Courtesy OPPO, Home Theater Shack Sponsor
  • Sennherser HD 600 Headphones
  • Sony MDR-V6 Headphones
  • FiiO X3 Portable DAC/Headphone Amplifier/Media Player
  • OPPO HA-1 DAC/Headphone Amplifier, Courtesy OPPO, Home Theater Shack Sponsor


Listening Scores

Frequency response for the PM-3 is excellent (score=10.0/10). Designed with a slightly downward-tilted profile, I felt all segments of the the frequency spectrum were well represented. Even the seemingly inevitable bass emphasis was very tame and just noticeable, solid without feeling pushy. I had felt that the PM-1 were slightly on the dark side in this category, but the PM-3 have a nicely present high end and extremely smooth character, not easily achieved in headphone designs, that I really enjoyed. The tilted profile makes them great for long, fatigue-free listening sessions.

Imaging is very good with the PM-3 (score=9.0/10). Not quite razor sharp, it is very solid and stable. And image width is very consistent through the frequency spectrum. The soundstage is fairly wide and quite natural, but that elusive ability for it to move out of the head was not as easily achieved as I like (score=8.0/10).

Clarity is very good, as one would expect with a planar magnetic design. Comparing to the PM-1 is a little unfair, since this is where the PM-1 excels with its electron-microscope ability to reveal the finest detail. But the PM-3 are true to their breeding and play clean and clear through their range (score=9.0/10).

The Speed category is where one would expect top performance with the PM-3. They gave every indication of keeping up with my speed test tracks with ease. Bass is responsive and tight. Tracks with dense mids and highs never became congested or messy (score=10.0/10).

For the Overall Listening Experience, the PM-3 get 9/10, having no significant detractors for me but also not giving me a "wow" experience that I reserve a "10" for.


Track Hopping

B-52's - Ain't It A Shame - When you have heard a favorite track hundreds of times, there is little to be surprised by. I found myself listening to details differently with the PM-3. The tone of the pulsing synthesizer in the background through the track, the character of the rhythm guitar. Detail is easy to focus on with the PM-3. Vocal tonality is perfect.

B-52's - Good Stuff - The tonal balance of the high end keeps the strummed bells at the beginning of each measure from getting lost on this track. The snare drum has a nice crack to it.

Broken Bells - Perfect World - Synthesizer tones were extremely natural through the PM-3, almost like they were natural acoustical instruments. The balance of main parts to background sounds made it easy to hear parts that get lost with some 'phones, almost pulled them forward in the mix for you.

Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Day - I was impressed again at the evenness of tone from the PM-3. Although not truly flat, it is very tempting to think of the PM-3 as a reference phone due to that evenness. It is the evenness of speakers that have had auto-EQ applied, sometimes seeming plain but other times impressing you with the completeness of presentation. Details are all there to be focused on easily if desired, yet are not being forced on you. You can relax and enjoy the whole sound or zoom in on the squeaking of guitar string noise or on throaty vocal sounds.

Midlake - Roscoe - The soundstage just manages to keep the densely-packed parts of this mix separate, although tighter imaging would have helped a little. The dense mids on the chorus fell behind the stellar level of the PM-1, not staying quite as clean, becoming slightly cluttered.

New Pornographers - From Blown Speakers - The dense mixes of this band are easy to dissect with the PM-3.

Todd Rundgren - Compassion - A great track for analyzing cymbal tones, they are presented with clarity and accuracy by the PM-3.

Eels - Baby Loves Me - The kick drum is really tight and has a nice punch.

Eels - Spectacular Girl - Background sounds on this track are easy to pull out and focus on. It is easy to feel like you are inside the Mark Everett's head hearing him think the words as he sings them. During this track I found myself feeling like the presentation of the PM-3 was plainer than I liked. That can happen with such an even tonality. Further listening reminded me the accessibility of detail that is possible with that evenness, and the option the listener has to relax and enjoy the tonal scene or zoom in on one sound if desired.

Radiohead - Feral - All those crisp little percussive sounds and noises are nicely managed. Again, the ability to zoom in on details that I haven't paid attention to before is fascinating.


Non-Listening Scores

The PM-3 get 8/10 for Comfort and the 9/10 for Design. My ears got a little sore after an hour of listening. The ear pieces probably mould to the listener's ears over time, so this is not a major detractor. The design, true to the family look, is excellent, but again I look for a "wow" factor for a perfect 10 score.


Other Factors - not part of the Overall Performance Score
  • Drivable with portable media devices: Yes, they reach 90 dB with a portable media player or smartphone.
  • Isolation (if closed design):


Specifications

Specifications
  • 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



Conclusions

The Oppo PM-3 Planar Magnetic Headphone is an excellent headphone for any kind of music. Its sound might not bowl you over with wow factors, but its unobtrusiveness is part of its secret power. You can relax and enjoy your music for hours on end. And at any point you can jump into the fine details of the music and pore over them to your heart's content. That is what the PM-3, with their clean, even presentation make possible. It is a headphone free of forcefulness, a headphone with which you can direct your attention at will, rather than having it bullied by a forceful tonality. I recommend the PM-3 as an excellent general listening headphone.
  • Imaging: 9.0
  • Soundstage: 8.0
  • Clarity: 9.0
  • Speed: 10.0
  • Frequency Response: 10.0 (Tilted Profile)
  • Overall Listening Experience: 9
  • Comfort: 8
  • Design: 9
  • MSRP/Street: $399
  • Overall Performance Score: 9.3 out of 10


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