Pros: great design, light weight, comfortable, portable
Cons: pricey but with caveats
I was part of the Canadian leg of the Oppo PM-1 loaner program. For reference, my primary rig is my modded HE-6 (significantly “darker” than stock): regrilled, removed rear and front foams, J$ leather pads with additional front damping, modified “fuzzor”. Amping is from a pair of Nuforce HA-200 monoblocks. My dac is an Echo2usb. Most of the review will be point-form-ish because who wants to read a long blather of purple prose? I also haven't read any other existing reviews or impressions, so I'm coming at it rather blank slate.
My very initial reaction: “wow, I like these and I want one”. After a bit more time, my not-so-initial reaction: “ok the wow has worn off but I still want one, and the build quality makes me want to punch Audeze and Hifman in the face”
First impressions were that the sound was fairly clean, with good staging, though a bit dark sounding. Second impressions were that it was not quite as clean or distinct as the HE-6, the staging is cozier, still dark-ish but pleasant nonetheless for a low fatigue session.
- Very “polite” sound (ie: moderately downturned treble)
- slight bass rolloff
- more treble, more energy overall, a bit more tizz though which makes it a touch grittier
- holds lower energy better as well
- less bass, more upper mid/lower treble when compared to alt pads, feels cleaner but contrarily a bit more fatiguing
- to my ears the brightest of the pads, but still darker than my modded HE-6 which I hold as reference
best uppers: alt pads
best clean sound: velours (short term), alt pads (long term)
best bottom end: Vida Guerra? Uh, I mean the alternate leather pads
Comfort and Design vs the other big planars
- Everyone else go home. Seriously, the Oppo is lightweight and actually looks like a polished product, unlike the others that kinda look like they were cooked up in a high school shops class because they spent their R&D on drivers then panicked and got their kid to make a headband.
- Pads are not memory foam but still nice and soft and feel great
- Light clamp that doesn't put too much pressure and rests easily on my head for hours
Vs Hifiman HE-6/500/560
- The HE family is known for being a bit bright up top, especially in comparison to the PM-1 which I would characterize as moderately dark. The HE-6 hits the hardest in the lower bass, whereas the Oppo has a noticeable drop in the very lowest registers. It doesn't hit hard, but what it does have is smooth and not boxy or muddy. Comparisons in the upper registers are kinda apples to oranges as the Hifiman's in stock tend to be too much, and I feel the Oppo not enough. In terms of technical prowess and midrange/treble resolution, I would slot the Oppo somewhere between the 500 and 560.
Vs Audeze LCD-2
- I have honestly never been a fan of the Audeze family, finding them uncomfortable and way too oomphy in the bottom and too inconsistent in the upper mids from one headphone to the next. That said, the Oppo bass doesn't even compete in terms of extension or impact. Where I find it better is in that midbass to midrange transition where it is more even handed compared to the LCD hammer. Moving upwards... hey if I ever heard two Audezes that sounded the same then I'd be able to offer a decent comparison, but I can't.
Vs LFF Enigma
- I find the Enigma and PM-1 are much closer in tonality, with the Enigma sounding cleaner but even darker than the Oppo. Both have a relaxed signature, but I can relax better with the Oppo which is significantly more comfortable.
Vs Modded Fostex T50rp
- My own modded pair are actually tuned fairly close to the PM-1 sound. Mine perhaps have a touch more bass and the advantage of being closed, but other than that they're ugly and ginormous on my head compared to the Oppo. Really, the longer I have the Oppo the more I resent the size and weight of everything else.
- Holy cow these get uncomfortably loud from my little Sansa Clip+. That's practically unheard of for a planar magnetic headphone and starts entering into the realm of actual portable-ness (that carrying case is pretty sleek too btw).
- I'm serious, just run it off your dap of choice and call it a day
- A tiny bit recessed/spooky with female vocals, like in an empty chamber (good example: Eva Cassidy - Wade in the Water)... yet contrarily it doesn't sound like a big room. This lends to a soundstage that is only moderate in size; not cramped, just a nice intimate feel though with recordings that already have a lot of room reverb it might sound a bit off.
- Those open cups are neat. They're really more semi-closed with light isolation, but you can wave your hands in front and there's no change in sound which means they're actually designed to minimize outside interference. Cool beans.
- The cable came wrapped with velcro, but the velcro picks a bit at the cloth sleeving and leaves fuzzy tiny patches which nags at my ocd audiophile nature
- Very nice built quality, very low microphonics, I dislike TS shorting-style plugs into the cups but they have a little stub which makes them feel secure
- What's with the short 1/8” cable? Really needs another 6 or 12 inches.
Why you should get this
- You want that planar sound but don't want to carry a separate amp because you're not that crazy (yet)
- You want some audiophile cred and are willing to spend moolah, but also want it to not look ridiculous on your head
- You don't have a wrestler neck and would like something lightweight-ish
Why you should not get this
- because headfi is a terrible wallet draining hobby and you should escape now before you wind up with monoblocks like me and wondering how you're going to get your next upgrade fix
- but really, the PM-2 is the far better value because it's virtually the same headphone (as told directly from their rep) except the PM-1 gives you: really really fancy wooden box, nice headphone stand, better cables, three sets of pads instead of one (and real leather, not synthetic), all metal construction vs some plastic
- to be fair, considering the extras I think the PM-1 price is reasonable