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Oppo has created a great successor to the old vintage Yamaha and other orthodynamic (planar) headphones with the PM-1.

A Review On: OPPO PM-1


Rated # 89 in Over-Ear
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Posted · Updated · 39364 Views · 21 Comments

Pros: High quality design, light weight with an excellent selection of accessories and a lush sound. Scales well with better equipment. Readily portable.

Cons: "Dark" sound wont be good for everyone nor all types of music.


It was certainly a big surprise to find out that the company famous for multi-media everything-and-the-kitchen-sink players had come out with a pair of headphones and planar ones at that. With the revival of planar (orthodynamic) headphones we have had had one consistent thing: Weight. Audeze’s and Hifiman’s headphones have been heavy and that hasn’t always been good. One of the endearing things about the old, circular diaphragm planars from Yamaha and others was that they were light and portable and pleasant to listen with. Oppo’s PM-1s, on the other hand, are light and more like a conventional pair of headphones in size. They are beautifully finished and their design is well thought-out, from the all-metal construction and soft, but firm ear pads to the clamping force that is just spot-on.  The ear pads themselves also come off and are put on easily, with a non-leather pair included for people who don’t like leather.


That allows the PM-1s to act as a pair of portable headphones. The ear cups swivel flat and a zip case is included. Likewise, as well as a long, full-size cable they also include a short cable for portable use. Both cables connect using a 2.5mm TS plug to each cup. For balanced amp use, especially important now Oppo is also selling the HA-1, a balanced cable with a 4-pin XLR plug is available for purchase.


That ends up making the PM-1s a super-flexible pair of headphones, either for home use or portable, especially given the number of more powerful portable amps out there now planars have been around a few years. The downside is that they have a dark sound signature reminiscent of the old LCD-2s and the LCD-X that will not be to everyone’s tastes. One man’s lush is another’s muffled. Comparing them to the LCD-Xs I didn’t find them to be less detailed overall than the larger headphones, but the smaller diaphragm seemed to give the feeling of a smaller soundstage. The LCD-Xs have a large, precise presentation that the PM-1s don’t quite match. They are, however, quite a bit more money and quite a bit heavier.


As a pair of portable headphones I tried the PM-1s out of my iPhone 5 with better than expected results. If anything, the more muted treble mated nicely with the slightly sharper sound from my iPhone, which was at maximum volume when I was listening at a bit higher than my normal moderate volume. 


What was interesting was when I plugged the PM-1s into my Hugo after listening with the HA-1. The level of detail jumped up as I would have expected from the switch to better equipment, suggesting that the PM-1s can scale. Much of that likely has to do with the modern take on the old-style circular planar diaphragm. The diaphragm itself is corrugated and reinforced to ensure precise movement and the sound is channeled through a “mandarin” plate to focus the sound waves hitting your ears.


When I first tried a PM-1 prototype I was asked how much I thought they could be sold for. I replied I thought that if they priced around the LCD-2s they’d give them a serious run for their money and I think I was right. If there is a real successor to the old and legendary Yamaha and other planar headphones, this is it.


Thanks to Oppo Digital Japan for lending me the PM-1 and HA-1 for review.


Nice review! Some have reported that they find them lacking in treble and air compered to Audeze. What’s your opinion on that?
Nice review. I think I will like them ; 'dark'.
I really enjoyed this video Amos. Very detailed review with great presentation and telling exactly what the great features of the Oppo PM-1 does
Very informative review. Thanks.
Informative review, thanks.
Any comments about how they sound, driven directly off portable sources, without a dedicated h/p amp, compared to other high SQ cans? 
ITS HIS FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not sure Why I am so surprised by that, 
but UGH another DARK sounding planar >.>, but if they aim to steal some LCD 2 customers I suppose that's a good move on their part 
I've got a demo LCD 2F atm, it's not a bad headphone, and even with Fazor it's still a touch to dark for my tastes and all of my music 
HE-6 is not dark, and it's planar, and it's detailed.  Problem is you need a powerful amp.  People driving them with speaker amps.  Very informative review.  Thank you.
Very nice and balanced review...well done! Many thanks.
@ Silver Ears, yea I know the HE 6 is not bright, the issue is ofc with getting a powerful enough amp, I enjoy my HE 4 very much, but I doubt my Audio GD 10ES2 will do the HE 6 the justice it needs, although people say under powered the HE 6 is brighter lol [which sounds about right for what I like in a headphone] 
Given my experience with the PM-1, I would not categorize them as "dark".  They are not treble-leaning in character, but neither are they "dark" with respect to falling short on resolution of treble detail and/or obscured by the treble being swallowed up by disproportionate bass levels . To the contrary, the PM-1 fashion the treble like fine filigree.  The treble is there with delectable detail, but not in a forward manner.  Plus the PM-1 are comparatively balanced on the bass side so as not to create a lop-sidedness versus their treble levels.  
To me, the LCD 2.2 ARE dark, and sorely lack the treble sophistication/deftness of the PM-1.
+1 to SilverEars' comment on the HE-6.  A very clear and balanced presentation, in just about every respect, when powered adequately.
Thanks...very nice, informative reviews!
Planar Revolution!
Very nice job or presenting data and giving enough information to make our own determination.  Solid information and I am always pleased when someone gives their own opinion on a headphone review.
Thanks for the comments everyone. @DougD Good point! I forgot to mention portable listening. I'll write something about that shortly. 
Great review mate.
Is Jude off-loading his HF TV to Amos? :P  Will we get weekly reviews from Amos?  Would be nice.  Daily would be nicer, as Amos will have 365 phones in a year reviewed.  Jokin.  It's nice to get video reviews.
Nice bit of signage on the wall there mate!  ;)
@warrenpchi: No thank you! It is my first ever meet sign!
Thanks for yet another great review!  I need to figure out how to adjust my settings so that I only see your posts and reviews when my will to be responsible is strong and/or my budget can withstand the onslaught, you (and Jude) have talked me into an AK240, some Roxannes, UERM's, Audeze, etc.  Thank goodness my wife doesn't correlate me watching your video's with the strange rapid decrease in our checking account funds, or I think I would be banned from Head-Fi :P.
Not to nit-pick, but you mention that the PM-1's come with a balanced cable, but with my purchase that was an optional purchase from Oppo direct (2M for $129 or 3M cable for $149 USD), they only came with the SE cable for $1099 USD.  Perhaps it is a different package from where you purchased?
@craftyhack I know all about wallet emptying, so I totally sympathise! Thanks for letting me know about that mistake in my review, I've edited it and added an annotation to the video about it.
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