One of the biggest surprises for me at 2013 CanJam @ RMAF was a product I had no idea would be making a show at the event: the Oppo PM-1 planar magnetic headphone prototype. For those of you not familiar with Oppo, they're best known in the audio world for their high-performance, high-value digital universal disc (DVD/DVD-A/CD/SACD) players. Over the years, some of the Oppo universal player models have been considered industry standards, despite their reasonable prices. Their reputation has been sterling...for disc players.
Now Oppo is going to try to earn the same accolades in the headphone space with the upcoming Oppo PM-1 planar magnetic headphone. And, though I don't know what the PM-1 is going to be priced at yet, I would expect that Oppo is fully intending to bring their high-performance, high-value mindset to their first headphone.
At CanJam @ RMAF, Oppo CTO and Vice President of Product Development Jason Liao let me listen to one of the PM-1 prototypes, and it was certainly impressive. It has a mild bass lift (but still with good control); rich, detailed mids; and the treble sounded articulate and extended to my ears. Are they off to a good start with this prototype? My goodness, yes. It's clear--by listening and looking at them--that a lot of work has already gone into it.
The planar magnetic driver is an exclusive design, and unique among the current planar magnetic headphones on the market. The magnets are arranged concentrically, as is the trace on the diaphragm. If I recall correctly, the diaphragm is oval-shaped. I'll have more details about the Oppo PM-1's driver soon.
One of the things that struck me about the Oppo PM-1 is that it is one of the most comfortable planar magnetic headphones I've yet worn, with very even distribution of pressure on the plush earpads, and a surprisingly light feel on the head.
I know there exists another prototype version of the Oppo PM-1 that has a more neutral bass response, and I'm looking forward to hearing that one. We'll be receiving a prototype at Head-Fi HQ soon, and releasing more information about the Oppo PM-1, including more information about its development.
2013-10-20 1339 EDT UPDATE: Pre-production prototype of the OPPO PM-1 arrived at Head-Fi HQ. New photos added. Click on the following link: OPPO PM-1 headphones (additional photos)
Here are some photos of the Oppo PM-1: