Saturday, May 6, 2017

Oppo PM3


I'm not usually one to pick up headphones from a cellular phone company. So when I heard that Oppo had launched a planar magnetic headphone... I gave it a listen. With every intent to laugh at their failure...

Thankfully, I wound up eating my words. As the Oppo PM2 sounded amazing! While I wasn't a fan of how dead neutral and almost lifeless it was... I couldn't ignore how flawlessly it performed with every genre of music and every source in my collection.

Fast forward to now, and after hearing about the PM 3 countless times. I decided it was time to give it a listen.

An truthfully, I'm shocked at how well Oppo transitioned from an open to a closed back planar magnetic! Even more shocking is the price, as of this writing you can purchase the PM 3 for around $399 new or $300 used.

Back when I was looking for a nice closed back, the Mr.Speakers Mad Dog modded T50RP was the newest sensation, I got a pair... hated them with my Tube amp and Sold them, they were around $350, next I tried the AKG K550 used for around $250. They sound amazing! But the comfort was horrible, and the sound was prone to changing any time you moved your head... so they too were sold.




What makes the Oppo PM3 a game changer, is how easy it is to own an operate. Unlike the Mad Dog it doesn't need a lot of power, and unlike the Akg K550, it doesn't sound anemic when you blink.


While they aren't quite as small  as my Sennhesier HD 25-1 ii, their relatively small size and fold-able ear cups give them the edge in portability . With the removable cable, you can easily walk around with these around your neck. Something I often did as a college student, though I had to either carry a big bag with me, or try to manage balancing a big pair of dynamics headphones, with cables poking out of my pockets. Thankfully, those days have ended for my-self and for the market.

Thankfully, the Oppo PM3 is equally comfortable and easy to carry. Their big soft pleather ear pads didn't have any issues with sweat, even in the thick heat of summer. The clamping force was enough to get a good seal with my glasses on and keep them in place as I moved around. I spent a day at work with these and had no problem tuning out my co-workers and screaming manager. Sadly though, many pens were vaulted at me that day... Non the less, between the excellent comfort and amazing isolation I often found myself really escaping into the music! 

The Oppo PM3s  have a luxurious in the hand feel, and a very solid click to the adjustable solid metal headband gimbals.  I guess my only real complaint would have to be with the Headband, compared to everything else it did feel a little lack luster, but that's just me nitpicking. Other wise the build quality is exceptional. 

Driver Specifications
Driver TypePlanar Magnetic
Driver Size (Round)55 mm diameter
Magnet SystemSymmetric 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 Power2 W
Acoustic PrincipleClosed back
Ear CouplingCircumaural
Nominal Impedance26 Ohm
Sensitivity102 dB in 1 mW



Numbers are nice but they don't really correlate to audible performance, so to put it short, the PM 3 sounds amazing. I've seen many recommendations of it lately, and it's obvious to my ears why.

Going back to the PM2, I can honestly say I hate it. It sounded AMAZING with everything, but was so utterly boring... thankfully the PM3 is equally as multi talented, but does have some unique flaws that really add to it's character!

Sadly, my listening was cut a little short this time around, as my iBasso PB2 died on me during my last listening session. Non the less, my biggest problem with the PM 3 was timbre. It's a little dry and uneven, it's dark presentation and fairly neutral sound signature do mask some of it's weirdness, but non the less I found it to have a some upper mid over emphasis. With Jazz, Trumpets can often sound a little grainy and the release is a little lax. In tracks with a powerful vocal lead, trailing notes were often over emphasized. They tended to stay around a little to long, the same can be said when enjoying a single pianist. A portion of their playing has a beautiful tactile attack, with a very fast decay and release, but then other notes don't quite have the same tactility nor speed.

Aside from that, these sound amazing. The bass has a lot of power, and remains very well textured and taut. Low and central mids, also have a nice fullness to them most of the time. I really liked the top end too! While it wasn't as sparkly as I'm used to,  the darker top end shifted the focus away from high hats enough to let the mids sing a little more in genres like Rock and Jazz. Finally their sound stage is phenomenal. While listening to the very same pianist amidst that wonky timbre was a shift from the left to right channel. As he moved across the keyboard the sound did follow him. Just a small shift in favor of the left or right channel. and while that was only a small detail I found it to be really cool! It's not something I noticed on any other headphone aside from my HE 4. I found  many of those little surprises it's in imaging during my week with them. Compliments of their amazing isolation and unique presentation.

It's no slouch with detail either, in addition to those amazingly fine imaging shifts, I found no lack of micro details. From the weird gong noise in So What, to every breath in Igor Levit's Aria with 30 Variations, the Oppo PM3 continued to impress me!

All in all, the Oppo PM3 is an incredibly immersive headphone! Well built, it's super easy to carry around and by far one of the most comfortable headphones I've worn in a while. Plus it's easy to drive and voiced beautifully.  It's a headphone that has a unique but easily adaptable sound signature, that makes it a real pleasure.












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