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Portable closed-back planar magnetic headphones: The OPPO PM-3 combines true audiophile...

OPPO PM-3

Rating:
4.25/5,
Tags:
  • Portable closed-back planar magnetic headphones: The OPPO PM-3 combines true audiophile performance, elegant styling, noise isolation and portability into a pair of sleek lightweight Planar Magnetic headphones. With the PM-3, users can easily recreate the experience of listening to a pair of flagship headphones on a flagship amplifier or a high quality 2-channel speaker system in an optimized listening room, but in a portable form factor that can be taken anywhere. Tipping the scale at just slightly over 10 oz., the PM-3 is the world's lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones. This makes the PM-3 the ideal headphones for a person who is always on the go. Its elegant styling and exquisite workmanship make the headphones a pleasure to wear in public, and its light weight and exceptional comfort make it easy to listen for hours on end. The closed-back nature of the PM-3 provides isolation from the outside world, blocking out the surrounding noise while avoiding sound leakage from the headphones.
reddog likes this.

Recent Reviews

  1. thepiper92
    A beautiful experience every time I put them on.
    Written by thepiper92
    Published Jul 9, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Neutral sound (I prefer flat sound for the most part and play with it from song to song), Top tier build quality, good isolation without clamping, comfortable, easy to drive.
    Cons - Cable is too long
    I just picked up a set of PM-3's about a week and a half ago. Actually, the pair I'm using isn't mine, but the store owner tossed me the demo to use while I wait for my brand new set to come in. This is my first venture into planar magnetic. I was looking at the PM-2, but he wouldn't budge on the price much considering they are discontinued and the one set he had was a demo. I also heard the PM-2 are nowhere near the PM-1, and open back did concern me for listening at home (mom nagging because I do listen to music quite loud). I went into this set expecting a closed in sound, as magic is not real and one can not produce an open sound without some sort of back venting.

    What first drew me to these phones, apart from being planars, was the impeccable quality and looks. I know know there is no leather on them, but the faux leather is of a better quality than real leather on other phones. When I slipped them on in the store, I felt immediately comfortable, no clamping, yet the outside world is blocked out. Some have stated they get hot wearing for long periods, but I've listened to them outside at work for 30 minutes in 30 degrees Celsius and have no complaints. The rest of of the cans look sturdy, well designed and...well essentially a Chinese company showing it can kick the quality of other manufacturers who have their stuff built in China. Now I'm not a lover of Chinese stuff, but I firmly believe manufacturers put effort into their stuff when it is made where the company is located.

    Setup: I have been using an iPod with FIIO amps since I began getting into higher end portable audio. Currently I'm using a FIIO E12, and a 30 pin to lightning DAC adapter to my iPod. I hope to eventually get a DAC that works with OTG from my LG G5, but the E12 (and whatever the colorizing of sound it does) is my standard for now. Much of my music is lossless, a lot of it 16/44.1 or 24/44.1. There are a few 320 quality mp3 songs. My main listening includes jazz classics (Paul Desmond, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, etc), some more modern jazz and funk, classical, classic rock, classic pop, and 90s and early 2000's hip-hop/ rap. There is also some metal in there like Rammstein, and some celtic music, ranging from pure bagpipes, to celtic rock.

    Bass: The bass on the PM-3's is somewhat strange. They clearly aren't a bass headphone, but they are capable of massive (to me) bass. With classical music, jazz and most rock, I find bass full and proper, not bloated, but there is the odd song where I feel the need for bass gain to be used on the E12. Now...put on Wiz Khalifa On My Level, and these cans rumble. There is no distortion even with this level of bass, and they extend below audible bass levels, to the points where you hear nothing for the most part, but feel the drivers going. Now, I'm no basshead, apart from the odd tune here and there, but the PM-3 surprise me a lot. On first listen, one would expect neutral, light bass, and with other similar signature phones, you can hear them fall apart when pushed. The PM-3 however, they can dish out what you want.

    Mids: The mids on the PM-3 are extremely clear and detailed, to the point where breathing comes through, or even quiet background noises. The soundstage is the only thing that hurts the mids a tad, but the soundstage is about as good as it gets for closed back. I found the mids to be really present in the Bach Cello Suites, where every note sounded with power, yet every note rang distinct. With the business of many parts of the cello, such clear sound is not easily produced in other headphones that I have.

    Highs: The highs are very clear, although slightly laid back on these headphones. I believe my E12 does have a warmer amping, or at least I've read it does, so this may be causing the highs to be recessed more than a neutral amping. Listening to Vivaldis Four Seasons, however, the highs of the violins come in strong, brilliant and exciting, letting you really feel the music.

    I believe what the PM-3 represent is the superiority of planar drivers, with the ability to play without distortion, and to quickly produce sounds, where dynamics (unless multi driver with crossover) would fail.

    My one true complaint about the PM-3 (soundstage and separation not being one, as I cannot fault a closed back for not sounding open) is the cable length. It isn't so much that the stock cable can't be useful, but a second shorter, on-the-go length would be nice, allowing one to slip their player in their pocket and not trip over the cord while walking. After a short bit of research, I found the Moon Audio Blue Dragon, but I am undecided as to whether it benefits the sound enough...paying the price to get a better length is not worth it on its own.

    Overall, near perfection, open back is about all that would improve the sound, but that would sacrifice privacy and isolation.
  2. wylfsyn
    Mediocre sounding
    Written by wylfsyn
    Published Jun 6, 2017
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Good isolation
    Cons - Everything else. Lack of mids and treble.
    I've tried them several times, on fan meetings or audio expos. Sorry, but for this price they sound flat and terrible. Definitely no buy IMHO. They lack of mids and highs, everything what you can hear is bass. The one and only advantage was proper isolation. There are many better headphones, ie. Focal Spirit Pro/Classic, Audio Technica M50x/70x, AKG K553.
      bidn likes this.
  3. Aornic
    Superb build, Mediocre Sound
    Written by Aornic
    Published Jun 5, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Comfortable, build quality, soundstage width, detail retrieval compared to others in its form factor and price
    Cons - Need (little) amping, off tonality, poor imaging, no real identity

    Shoutout


    Again, a big thanks to Armand for lending me his PM3 for my honest opinions. This is the third headphone of his that I’ve reviewed and I truly appreciate the support for my YouTube channel and written reviews.

    Headphone 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 (without cable) 320 g (Black/White), 310 g (Cherry Red/Steel Blue)

    Included Accessories Carrying Case

    User Manual

    Driver Specifications

    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

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    Build Quality, Comfort & Features

    Jumping between three far heavier daily drivers, I found the weight of the PM-3 to be near-effortless by comparison. I can wear these for hours on end with no discomfort thanks to the light weight, reasonable clamp and plush earpads.

    The construction of the headphone itself is a great selling point. These aren’t the tanks that the V-MODA headphones are, but they aren’t flimsy plastic rubbish like the Beats by Dre are either. They are very capable, and indeed I can tell that Armand has used these quite a bit (he told me that they were a bit older and he has used them as beaters) – but they retain all functionality and, besides a few dings here and there, their looks.

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    I highly commend both the packaging and the inclusion of a very fetching denim carrying case. There are a number of cables included, so more props for having detachable cables, including a 3m cable that is definitely for home use. I, honestly, have no complaints on the build quality front…however.

    Sound

    The PM-3 is a little confusing to me in how it goes about presenting itself to the listener. It has superior detail retrieval than I have heard from other headphones of this form factor and price range, but it is only brought out properly through amping. It does not take a lot to amp this however, but don’t be fooled by the included cables for use with phones – it will sound slightly hollow out of your smartphone.

    In a price range with a big emphasis on what I like to call “consumer-focused tuning,” with bass taking front seat to anything else – the PM-3 goes in another direction entirely. The bass has some speed to it, but it is muted – lacking in impact/slam. This leads to a really waffling sound in punchier genres of music where instruments like kick drums get lost in the mix. Not only that, but you get a feeble sound out of kick drums as well – leading to a sound that is too tonally off to sound realistic and too weak to sound like a studio construction with drum machines. The sub-bass extension is also chopped at a point, but that does not bother me as much as the above complaints.

    The lower midrange is not emphasized either, but it is not drastically dipped as was the case with the Soundmagic HP150. That being said, it reduces the resonant wood of acoustic guitar bodies into plastic constructions – as in there’s no depth to their reproduction. They actually sound very tonally off, which I must admit bothers me as a guitar player myself. It didn’t matter if I was listening to my own acoustic guitar track recorded using a mere MXL 990 microphone or a track being played on the Rumours album by Fleedwood Mac – both were reduced to being hollow sounding.

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    To the PM-3’s credit, it does manage to have a decently wide soundstage – with instrument separation from left to right channel being a strength. There does not seem to be much going for it in terms of depth and accuracy in imaging. A lot of sounds are hard-panned on either channel or directly in the centre.

    The midrange itself also feels quite a bit uneven and, quite often, I’ve find that some instruments sound better to me than others in the same mix. Hard-panned vocals actually sound decent, which makes listening to the Beatles on the PM-3 oddly well-paired due to their (at least in the 2009 stereo remasters) manner of hard panning vocal tracks. I also found Pink Floyd’s The Wall album to be a good listen on the PM-3 due to it not requiring the most dynamic of headphones – just don’t expect any of the tracks’ sound effects (like the cars in One of my Turns) to sounds especially well placed imaging-wise or pan accurately.

    The upper-midrange seals the PM-3’s fate to me however. Not only does it lack air, but it leaves the above complaints without redemption and instead renders this headphone as quite “dead” sounding. I’m actually not someone who absolutely insists on having heightened presence in this region, but this headphone is a lesson in just how many layers of dullness can be stacked without a light at the end of the tunnel. The other headphones that lack in this region make up for it in other ways: bass slam, punchiness, midrange character or accurate imaging and detail retrieval.

    I honestly wonder how the PM-3 does not achieve any of that to a level where I personally enjoy.

    To sum up the frequencies overall, there’s a random jump in the treble somewhere that actually manages to be sibilant at times, which is really out of place with the rest of the headphone. Things falling in this region are heightened, if not hot at times, but the rest of the treble sounds in line with the rest of the headphone – dull.

    Conclusion

    I find the “darkbright” nature of the PM-3 to be something I can’t quite overlook, which is a shame because these are very, very comfortable and light headphones at a price range where most of the portable competitors are even less refined in their presentation in their drive to showcase a certain type of sound signature that is supposed to appeal to the masses. To go against that grain, I guess I have to commend Oppo to an extent, but the existence of the Meze 99 Classics for around the same price means I would pick the wooden headphone out of the two if I had to choose – at least with the old pads, haven’t quite heard the new ones or the Neo.

    The PM-3 is, ultimately, a headphone with a confused identity to me. It is not tuned to emphasize bass or warmth and it isn’t tuned to provide air or fine detail. The midrange is uneven and dull and then a sudden jump in the treble leaves me scratching my head. It comes with cables for smartphone use, but sounds hollow out of one.

    At least you can wear it for long periods of time, I guess.
      bidn likes this.
  4. MarvyMarvy
    Best Closed Back Planar Magetic Headphone Under 1,000$
    Written by MarvyMarvy
    Published Apr 15, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Flat Frequency Reponse, Smooth Treble, Very Detailed, Well Built, Attractive Looks And Aesthetics, Comfortable, Passive Noise Isolation, Sound Leakage
    Cons - Reccessed Highs, Closed In Sound (Normal For A Closed Back) Non removable Earpads (Replacable By Manufacturer).
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    Simply Put, these are the best closed back headphones on the market period. At least for me anyway. They do everything right with minor quibbles (Recessed highs take a little excitement away from music). A minor Problem that can be solved with EQ or amplifier colorations. I use these for mixing alongside my Jbl Lsr305s and Vintage three way speakers (For mastering). They give a very honest representation of the music and show every single flaw which to me is a good thing, although now i can't enjoy poorly made electronic music on them any more sadly because they show all the errors made in the production of the song.
     
    Build Quality : These are built to a very high standard for any headphone, They can even withstand  direct contact to rain and snow. Although the pads get dirty very fast so be careful and mindful of that please.
     
    Looks : Very attractive design that betrays their audio quality which is so good they should be costing much more.
     
    Sound Quality : I would describe the sound as Very neutral and natural sounding, revealing every flaw made in the music (Which i like). I wish the highs had a little more sparkle as they are very cool sounding but energetic in the mids and fast in the bass. The first impression i got when i got them was that the sound is very clean and pure, without a hint of edginess or serious coloration, they just hit the mark perfectly for me. The bass is fast and detailed but not as bottomless as the Sennheiser Orpheus he 1 which i tried at Sennheiser SoHo, The Orpheus He 1 simply just has a more effortless and well extended sound that is the most realistic i've ever heard. But these in my opinion come close because they are so neutral sounding. What i've also found is that the soundstage is actually pretty good if you get the fit right, just got to get the drivers facing the middle of the ear perfectly and the sound opens up just a little.
     
    Accessories : I really love the denim travel case they come in, it's durable and allows me to take them wherever i want without worry about them getting broken or dirty. The cables are two cables they come with are nice but the portable cable with remote looks a little cheap, however the long cable is very nice.
     
    Ad that concludes my review (Sorry it's short and poorly managed but i'm lazy haha).  
  5. Mikualotic
    Planar closed-back.
    Written by Mikualotic
    Published Oct 2, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Planar closed back. Great sound signature.
    Cons - Small sound stage.
    First planar headphone. I heard new sounds. Great sound isolation. They look fantastic and sound amazing. I would consider it the answer to the stylist audiophile headphone.  
  6. gardibolt
    OPPO PM-3 Reviewed and Compared on Classical Music
    Written by gardibolt
    Published May 31, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Wide soundstage, exceptional sound on solo strings, fine clarity, performs well on problematic sources, great build quality
    Cons - Ear cups a bit small
    I spent a week with the OPPO PM-3 through the head-fi loaner program, and got the chance to try them out on a variety of pieces. 99% of my headphone listening is classical music of one type or another. My principal source is an iPod Classic, with a solid state drive upgrade to 256GB, with most mp3s at 256k. So I'm not starting with the highest quality sources. On the other hand, at my age I no longer have much of any hearing above 10kHz, and I like historical recordings, so the source often isn't the greatest in the first place. The main goal was to simulate my typical listening anyway, so this testing accomplished that. My other headphones are low-mid level, and these are the first set I've had access to that are more on the high end so I was interested to try them out. Since these have already passed through many hands, I've assumed they have all the breaking in that they need. Many thanks to Oppo for making these available.
     
    My first impression on opening the box was that these things are built like a tank. They're incredibly solid compared to any other headphone I've had or used. Serious build quality that's quite impressive, and there's a clean and attractive design. The pads are a shade small for my big ears, but even though I have a very large head I had no difficulty getting a good fit. The nice thickness of the pads helped the comfort level substantially. I listened to two acts of Wagner's Die Walküre without discomfort or getting warm and sweaty, and that's close to three hours straight. 
     
    The cables were one-directional, which took me by surprise. When I first plugged the cable into the phones, I only got sound out of the right channel. When I reversed the cable it fit much better and I got both channels. Oops.
     
    I then used a variety of pieces to test the PM-3 against two of my other headphones: AKG K550 and Sony MDR-7506 (unmodified). These both came highly recommended from several sites and I've been happy with them most of the time with classical music. I also often use a Fiio E11K portable amp with them; the K550 generally doesn't need the oomph but the 7506 definitely does. This is my first time A-B-ing, let alone A-B-C-ing, multiple sets of headphones; I truly was not expecting to hear substantial differences between them but I quite clearly did. The OPPO unsurprisingly performed at least as well as the others, and often did substantially better.
     
    Here's the breakdown of what I listened to for testing and what the results were:
     
    1. J.S. Bach Cello Suite #1 , BWV 1007 Janos Starker (Mercury). For this comparison I didn't use the amp, but fed the headphones directly from the iPod Classic, just to see what would happen. The AKG had a mellow, throaty quality, and felt a bit blurry; there was a room-filling reverb to the point of almost being claustrophobic. The harmonics, especially at the end of the Courante are nice. It feels like a cello in your head. The Sony is lighter, with a thinner, airier texture. It felt less cramped but also more distant than the AKG, as if the cello is 2-3 feet in front of you. The harmonics are less pronounced as is Starker's breathing. The sound is pleasant but limited. 
     
    The OPPO provides the best aspects of both, with a vibrant immediacy but absent any cramped feeling. It offered very nice subtleties in volume changes. It's a much smoother and subtler experience. The harmonics on the Courante are still excellent but a bit less in your face. One thing I learned from the testing sessions was that the OPPO handles solo strings such as violin and cello exceptionally well. After I finished testing I flipped through many solo string pieces from baroque to bluegrass, and it was one delight after another. The harmonics and the scratch of rosin on the strings comes across marvelously well on the OPPO, amplified or not.
     
    2. Richard Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra op.30, Leonard Slatkin, Lyons Symphony Orchestra. This is a live recording that has a number of problems associated with it (poorly miked, noisy audience, etc.), so I was interested in seeing how well the various headphones handled them. For this and all the remaining tests I had the amp on and kept it at a constant setting. The AKG shone on the deep bass of this piece, with the famous organ pedal in the introduction in particular coming through loud and clear, but occasionally getting a little rumbly. The timpani comes across very hot and the rolls are smeary. The audience coughs a lot, but the AKG kept that fairly well in the background. The Sony MDR-7506 was weak; it just can't handle that low C pedal at all, and overall it's lacking in presence. The all-important timpani sounds distant. Overall, the performance comes across crisply and with pretty good clarity, but it's at the expense of all the drama.
     
    The OPPO had no problem with the big organ pedal, which is nice and solid, but the sound doesn't rumble as it did on the AKG. What struck me most was that unlike the other two the OPPO had a HUGE soundstage. There was a definite feeling of a very large orchestra spread out in front of you. Again, the crescendos come across much better on the OPPO, as do the pizzicati. The coughing was amusingly pinpointed; while the others just offered up an annoying cough somewhere, with the OPPO I was amused to note that I could tell *exactly* where the offenders were sitting (I'm not sure that's a good thing, but it help points up the accuracy of these headphones). The woodwinds, particularly the oboe, come across best. This recording has issues with the brass being smeary and poorly miked, and unsurprisingly none of the headphones were able to do much about that. The violin solo and the clang of the tubular bells are worthy of particular mention; they are vivid and quite wonderful through the OPPO. Even though the source material is dodgy to be charitable, it sounded best from the OPPO, so high marks for dealing well with a problematic recording.
     
    3. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A, op.92; Claudio Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic (DGG). I am a Beethoven aficionado (I am Project Director of The Unheard Beethoven website) and I listen to a lot of his work, so I wanted to try out a couple of Ludwig's pieces on these headphones. I selected the third movement Presto from the 7th symphony; Abbado takes this at a frantic rate, with the high potential for loss of clarity, but it's an excellent recording. The AKG acquitted itself quite well, even though it presented a fairly narrow soundstage. I particularly liked its treatment of the menacing bass line in the horns, which came through clearest on these phones. There is a sense of added reverb. The flutes and oboes are on an even par. I didn't however, get a very big contrast between the pianissimo and the forte parts of the movement. The Sony had more emphasis on the lows and also brought forth a sweet and clear sound, with generally well-defined instruments. The flutes felt subdued compared to the oboes, and the timpani sometimes felt a bit blurry. But given the very high quality source, there really wasn't a huge difference between the three headphones.
     
    On the OPPO, the strings are very well-defined and the woodwinds are exceptionally clear and immediate; the timps are crisp and unblurred. Where the OPPO really came to life was on the crescendi; for some reason the volume variance was much more substantial on them--which may account for the horn bassline feeling a bit distant or recessed. By comparison the dynamic ranges on the other two feel highly compressed, and that's an issue for Beethoven, who delights in dynamic contrasts. Both the AKG and the OPPO did very well on this piece in different ways. 
     
    4. Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata #32 in C minor, op.111, 2nd movement (Arietta). Sviatoslav Richter (Decca). This was an interesting piece to try since Richter plays the first section very slowly and calmy, so it gave an opportunity to hear how well the various headphones handle overlapping slow decay from the piano. The most striking difference between the three headphones was that it felt like Richter was playing in an entirely different room on each. The AKG felt the biggest, probably 30x50x20, a huge open room with a fairly high ceiling. The recording flaws were noticeable, and Richter's pedal releases were very obvious. The boogie-woogie variation is nice and crisp, with good volume changes (in fact, all three handled the volume changes quite well indeed). The Sony felt more forward, cleaner and crisper almost to the point of being antiseptic. It felt like a quite small room, perhaps 10x20x8. The recording flaws (particularly the hiss) are least noticeable on the Sonys, and it felt more lifelike than either of the other two, albeit in a somewhat cramped space. I can't say I liked the sound, though.
     
    The OPPO had a soundstage that fell right between the two, and felt like a room about 20x30x12; while it had a broad and realistic soundstage, it was still quite focused. Richter's pedaling was not nearly as noticeable as on the AKG. All three handled the decay of the piano and the harmonics just fine so I was pleased on that count. But it was a very different experience listening to the piece on the three headphones. None of them were bad, and each had some merits. I'm calling this one a draw, with perhaps a slight edge to the OPPO.
     
    5. Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto. Maria Callas, Tullio Serafin, La Scala Orchestra (Pristine Classical), Gilda's lovesick aria "Gualtier Maldè" from Act I. I am also a Callas fan, and while her voice isn't exactly beautiful, it's nevertheless an amazingly expressive instrument. This recording is a reworking of the 1955 EMI recording by Pristine, cleaning up some noise and pitch variation problems, and adding their "Ambient Stereo" processing to the mono recording. That's a fairly subtle treatment that opens up the recording some without the extravagant "electronically rechanneled for stereo" treatment that usually gives nightmarish results. Hiss was prominent on the AKGs. The flutes in the orchestra are a bit too forward. Callas' "little girl" voice here comes across very well.  Callas' enunciation is reasonably forthright, but her high notes are a bit piercing. The upper register just feels a bit hot, although Callas' portamento glides lusciously. The Sony again had a much thinner sound, with Callas' voice being much more forward. Sony apparently is having none of the "Ambient Stereo" business; it feels like mono in these headphones, with just a slight fringe of stereo on the edges. Again, the flutes are hurting and there's a bit of a warbly sound to them. On the other hand, Callas is clear as a bell and the voice seems cleaner and her words are much easier to understand than on the AKGs. Her high notes have no unpleasantness.
     
    The OPPO again provides a very broad soundstage; Ambient Stereo is A-OK with the OPPO. The hiss is still there if you listen hard but it's not very pronounced. This time, the flutes are almost too forward. Callas' voice is again very clear and with an excellent immediacy. Her trademark sound is almost emotionally overwhelming here. The high notes are big but controlled, without piercing. Again, the OPPO does well with crescendos, which are much more noticeable. The series of descending intervals in Callas' voice is breathtaking. While the Sony did well on this aria, the OPPO just destroyed it in bringing out the extraordinary colors of her voice so well. After the test I went back and sampled a number of other Callas opera and aria recitals. I got that same feeling from the studio recordings of her voice that are well done. Her live performances don't have enough sound information to be able to get that feeling across, but the Callas studio performances are really a delight listening to with the OPPO.  I wish I had time to listen to several complete Callas operas with these. If you're a Callas fan, these headphones are a real treat.
     
    6. George Gershwin, Piano Concerto in F, third movement Allegro agitato. Eugene List, Howard Hanson, Eastman Rochester Orchestra (Mercury). The Mercury Living Presence recordings are all excellent, and this is a particularly vibrant and fun performance. The repeated hammering of the piano on a single note or chords offered a special challenge to the headphones. All three headphones offered a very wide soundstage. In the AKG, the orchestra is almost too big, and the piano has an equally big sound. It's almost overpowering. The rat-a-tats in the piano are a shade unclear, and the glockenspiel is lost in the orchestra. The muted trumpets do come through nicely. This recording has a ton of edits, and they're almost obtrusive in the AKG. The thumping bass is aggressive and the strings are a shade whiny, but the stereo effects come across exceedingly well. The violins' main theme comes across as syrupy. This was a bit of a disappointing listening experience. The Sony is again more subdued as far as the orchestra goes, and the piano is brought far foward. The piano sounds less brittle than on the AKG. The edits with the Sony feel less prominent, while they're still clearly present. Where the Sony really excelled was differentiating the varying pressure as List hits the keys; nothing mechanical here. The violins' theme comes through much less syrupy and a shade subdued.
     
    The OPPO not only brings the piano forward, but also the percussion. It's lively, but not out of balance. The winds also feel more discernable. The edits are the least annoying on the OPPOs. I heard a quiet glissando on the piano that was buried completely on both of the other headphones. The violin theme is smooth but not saccharine. The forward percussion also allows the OPPOs to impress with the decay of the gong at the climax. While the OPPO again comes out ahead, this time the Sony isn't far behind.

    ==========
     
    So in summary the OPPO did at least as well as the other two headphones I tested against it, and in some cases, particularly for solo strings and for voice, it just crushed the other two. I was surprised at the wide variance between them on the same source material, which was far beyond what I was expecting. The difference in the soundstages, especially on the Richter, was particularly shocking. The OPPO came out best in that aspect every time. The OPPO does very well with classical music generally. If you listen to solo strings or chamber music, the OPPO truly shines there. The OPPOs acquit themselves with credit when dealing with problematic source recordings as well. I'm very pleased with the opportunity to have tried them out and I suspect I'll be searching for sales on them in the not too distant future.
     
    UPDATE Nov.2016: I bought a refurb set of the PM-3s from OPPO a few months after writing this review, and I love them. Whenever I am doing serious critical listening, I turn to them. I'm still astounded by the clarity of the soundstage on recordings I thought I knew well. [Some small edits for typos in the above review]
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Hardertaskthinking
      Hi gardibolt, Thank you for the review.  I also use the PM-3 and I also listen primarily to classical music.  I agree with you that it's a very good pair of headphones.  Period.  When one considers the price, it's easily one of the best recommendations. 
      Hardertaskthinking, Jun 6, 2016
    3. bcarr112281
      @gardibolt - I too primarily listen to classical music, and I certainly appreciate your review. Thanks!
      bcarr112281, Jun 6, 2016
    4. mikesale
      @gardibolt Great Classical-focused review! I enjoy my PM-3s on the road or when I'm in an environment where closed HPs are the better choice (e.g. airplane, coffee shop, cube farm) where isolation is key. I prefer the similarly priced HiFiMan 400i if I don't want or need closed HPs. 
      mikesale, Jun 18, 2016
  7. T Bone
    Nice Build, Lackluster Sound
    Written by T Bone
    Published May 27, 2016
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Comfort & Build Quality
    Cons - Lackluster Separation and Highs
    As part of the OPPO PM3 loaner program I had a chance to evaluate the PM3's for a few days.
     
    Overall, I was very impressed with the packaging, build quality and finish.  The brushed aluminum is exquisite and the earpads & headband are soft & supple.  They fit my basketball-sized skull quite well.   
     
    The cable is sturdy and terminated with nice accents - great attention to detail.  The phono plug adapter fits well and provides a solid connection when using a desktop amplifier.
     
    This headphone is geared towards high-end mobile play and I think it does well in that regard.  However, that's not quite the setup and listening environment I use.  I have an Oppo HA-1 DAC/Amp combo to which I stream high resolution audio from my PC over a USB connection.  I don't expect anyone to buy these headphones to pair with a $1,200 amplifier.  However it does provide an interesting way to drive them harder and with better resolution than you can with your phone.    
     
    One of my favorite test tracks is "Tied Up" by Yello.  It's a brutal track, with deep lows, shimmering highs and lots of sharp detail.   I was immediately impressed with the PM3's bass response.  Next up was the track "Lies" on the same disc.  I was missing that wide soundstage - it felt closed in - the air was gone.
     
    I switched gears and queued up The Black Keys "Stackshot Billy".  I felt like the PM3 completely fell apart on this track.  It was as if the guitar and vocals got tossed into a blender and frappéd into an audio slush - zero separation.  The cymbals were practically non-existent and the guitar work butchered.  For me - this was the worst track I played on the PM3. 
     
    I switched to something I thought would be better suited to the PM3 - The Talking Heads live performance of "Psycho Killer" from their Stop Making Sense album (one of my favorite Talking Heads tracks).  The PM3's kept pace with the bottom end, but the guitar lacked detail and brilliance.  "Heaven" is the next track on that album and the PM3's just weren't nailing that live guitar sound.  
     
    I dug up two tracks to test vocal playback.  Norah Jones performing "Don't Know Why" and Queen's "Somebody to Love".  Norah Jones' vocals sounded good, but that open airy ambiance I've come to expect was gone.  Freddy Mercury's vocals were strong, but somewhat muzzled.  The bells on "Bicycle Race" were just flat wrong.   The PM3's did a better job with the darker and more aggressive "Another One Bites the Dust".
     
    So overall, I can say that the PM3's are extremely well built and comfortable.  Sonically, they're just not my cup of tea.  I found them lacking in soundstage, presence and detail.  
      bidn and bcarr112281 like this.
    1. k4rstar
      Agree with most of what you said in this review. Got my pair and tested them with some of The Corrs greatest hits. Vocals and instruments just became a mush in the mid-range and it was impossible to focus on anything. At first I thought it was because I was driving them from a phone; tried an amp and only a marginal improvement.
       
      Shame, as the build and design is really top notch.
      k4rstar, May 27, 2016
  8. The_Terminator
    Great closed headphone
    Written by The_Terminator
    Published May 13, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sounds great, mostly comfortable, works great with laptop and with iphone, detachable cables, folds flat, easy to carry
    Cons - not fully circumaural, gets a little warm after a while, slight pressure on ears after a while
    I participated in the loaner program and just finished a very short week with these headphones. Not much to say because it's pretty much all been said already, but a few points are in order:
     
    Firstly, I liked them enough that I am considering buying a pair. They are small for a circumaural headphone, but they were comfortable enough, and had great sound.
    I was expecting a different type of sound as this was my first planar magnetic headphone that I ever listened to, but honestly, if somebody wouldn't have told me, I would never have known.
    I thoroughly enjoyed them straight from my iphone, but I'm easy to please. I thoroughly enjoy my HD650 straight from the iphone as well. I may be excommunicated for saying that, but too bad. I'll repeat it again for those who can't believe it: The HD650 sounds great straight out of the iphone. So does the HD800, but let's save that for a different post. :wink:
     
    In any event, I loved the size and portability of the Oppo PM-3, and I loved using it with my phone and the correct headphone cable that includes iphone controls. The fact that it sounded so good with great bass all in a closed headphone makes these truly a portable solution for office, train, plane, etc.
    Thank you for having this loaner program and allowing me to particiapte. :)
    -Mark
  9. Sophonax
    Outstanding Choice for Portable Use
    Written by Sophonax
    Published Apr 28, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clear, balanced sound; engaging mids; deep bass extension; excellent build quality
    Cons - Comfort -- they fit more like an on-ear headphone than an over-ear
    Introduction
    I was able to demo the PM-3 for a week as part of OPPO's loaner program. This is the second OPPO loaner I've tried (also auditioned the PM-1), and once again I'd like to thank Chris and the good people at OPPO for organizing this opportunity!
     
    The PM-3 is the least expensive of OPPO's three headphone offerings. With its closed-back design and high sensitivity, the PM-3 appears to be targeted for mobile use. What makes it unique compared to other mobile offerings is the fact that it uses a planar magnetic driver. What does that mean in terms of sound and the overall listening experience? I'll do my best to explore this in my review.
     
    Design and Build Quality
    As with the PM-1, the PM-3 is built to very high standards. The materials on the PM-3 aren't quite as premium as those on the PM-1, but they are still assembled to the same fanatical level of fit and finish that is all but unmatched in the portable market. The headband and ear pads are made from a very soft leatherette -- certainly one of the better leather substitutes I've seen, but still not quite as nice as the real thing. The adjuster mechanisms, swivels, and gimbals are crafted from a gray, matte-finished metal that looks and feels solid. The ear cups are made primarily of a high-quality plastic, with a black metal back (presumably a brushed, anodized aluminum?). The overall build is very impressive at this price point, and the only other headphone I've used near this price that could possibly compete in this sense is the Bang & Olufsen H6.
     
    The design is very meticulous and thoughtful. The PM-3 sits close to the head, without any parts sticking out weirdly like you see in some other headphones. That, combined with the elegant but quiet black and silver color scheme, gives these headphones a mature look. The adjuster mechanisms are very nice, operating consistently and with solid clicks for haptic feedback. The swivels and gimbals rotate smoothly and freely without any creaking or slack. The detachable cable is single-sided, which is nice for portable use, and it connects securely to the left ear cup using a stereo 3.5mm plug. The only minor disappointment in the design for me was that the PM-3 doesn't offer the same excellent ear pad mounting system that is used in the PM-1; in fact, I believe that the ear pads on the PM-3 aren't meant to be user-replaceable at all.
     
    Being a closed-back headphone with a fairly firm clamping force, I found the PM-3 to isolate from external noise very well.
     
    Overall, I'd give the PM-3 very high marks for design and build. If the PM-1 is a perfect 10, the PM-3 comes in just behind at a 9, due to the lack of user-replaceable ear pads and the slightly less-premium materials. Considering the difference in price, that's a very good showing for the PM-3.
     
    Accessories
    The PM-3 comes with pretty much everything you would want with a portable headphone, and nothing more. The headphones come with a very nice zippered selvedge denim carrying case, which is lined on the inside with a soft velour. The case cradles the headphones securely and seems like it should offer solid protection. As with the PM-1, the detachable cable must be removed in order for the PM-3 to fit inside the carrying case.
     
    Also included are two cables -- a three-meter cable intended for home use, and a roughly one-meter cable for portable use. Both have a rubbery sheath and are of moderate thickness, just about right for a portable headphone in my opinion. Both cables are thicker than the portable cable supplied with the PM-1, and I found them to be much nicer. The three-meter cable is just a simple, straight cable with no inline remote. At checkout, the customer can select from three different options for the one-meter cable -- one with an inline remote for Apple devices, another with a remote for Android, or one without any remote. I'm not exactly what you'd consider to be a power-user of phones, so I only used the three-meter cable during my demo of the PM-3 and can't really comment on the operation of the inline remotes.
     
    Is there anything else I'd like to see included with the PM-3? Not really. Top marks for the accessories here.
     
    Comfort
    Alas, this is where the PM-3 falls short for me, and it's the reason I gave these headphones only a four-star rating. Comfort is of course very personal, but for me the comfort wasn't very good and would probably prevent me from purchasing a pair.
     
    The PM-3's ear pads have a rectangular opening, and my medium-large ears fit inside the openings just fine. The problem is that the ear pads aren't very deep and they're pretty compliant; the fairly firm clamping force is enough to compress the pads significantly and reduce the amount of depth available for your ears even further. The result is that even though the pads fit around my ears, the PM-3 ended up feeling much more like an on-ear headphone than an over-ear headphone, since my ears pressed pretty firmly against the screens in front of the driver baffles. I've never been able to wear on-ear headphones comfortably, so sadly this likely ends up being a deal-breaker for me.
     
    The PM-3 weighs in at a moderate 320 grams, which puts it in about the same weight class as many of the full-size dynamic driver headphones on the market. The underside of the headband is nicely padded, so I didn't have any problems at all with headband comfort. No hot spots or pressure points on the head at all, even with extended use.
     
    Overall, comfort was just OK for me. The lack of space for my ears had me wanting to take the PM-3 off after about thirty minutes of use. If you can comfortably wear on-ear headphones for extended periods of time, then you probably won't have any problems with the PM-3.
     
    Sound
    I used the PM-3 with two different systems -- my NAD M51 DAC feeding a Sennheiser HDVA600 amplifier (my home system), and directly with my iPhone 4 (my portable source). The home system offered somewhat better detail retrieval, likely due to the better DAC, but in terms of the amplification I think the PM-3 played happily on both. These headphones are very easy to drive, which is a remarkable accomplishment for a planar magnetic headphone.
     
    I like the sound of these headphones a lot -- which makes me even more sad that I can't wear them comfortably! The sound signature reminds me very much of AKG tuning. Think K701/K712 in a closed-back headphone, and you get the general idea -- but the PM-3 trades the expansive AKG soundstage for a stronger, deeper bass response. It's a very appealing sound signature that works well for a wide variety of genres.
     
    The bass on these headphones is tuned very well, with good impact and extension. I would personally say the bass quantity is above neutral compared to my neutral reference, the Sennheiser HD800S -- but this is almost a given, considering that the PM-3 is a closed-back headphone. The mid-bass is somewhat elevated when compared to the sub-bass region, which I find to help deliver that extra kick and punch that sounds good with percussion. Electronic music sounds great on the PM-3 largely in part to the tight and impactful bass response.
     
    The mids are where the PM-3 is most reminiscent of the AKGs for me -- they are wonderfully open and clear, with a bit of accentuation in the upper mids. That upper-mid emphasis makes plucked strings sound snappy and focused, which is a very cool effect for acoustic music. It also works very well with female vocals, imparting some additional energy and clarity. It may work slightly less well for rock music though, where electric guitars can sound just a little bit shouty and fatiguing at times. Detail retrieval in the mids is excellent for headphones in this price range.
     
    The treble response of the PM-3 is good. It doesn't really draw attention to itself, which in my opinion is often a very good thing. There is plenty of treble available to add the needed openness and clarity to the overall sound, but it's never bright, peaky, or fatiguing. Detail retrieval in the treble is decent, but extension is a little bit lacking, not quite adding that last bit of extra air on the top. I find the treble of the Bang & Olufsen H6 to bring more detail and extension to the table by comparison.
     
    Spatially, the PM-3 is just OK, but considering they are closed-back, portable headphones, I think this is forgivable. The soundstage is not particularly large, and in terms of imaging, I found them to have a little bit of that "three blob" effect -- where things sound like they are generically either left, right, or center, with not much space or continuity in between.
     
    Conclusion
    I enjoyed my time with the OPPO PM-3. In terms of sound, I think it's one of the best portable options on the market right now. I'd put it just above the Bang & Olufsen H6 for my preferences, which previously held the title for best-sounding portable for me. Build quality and accessories are outstanding, and you really feel like you're getting your money's worth with the PM-3. However, the headphones just didn't fit me comfortably, which sadly disqualifies them from my purchasing consideration. I highly encourage anyone who is interested to give the PM-3 a chance -- the sound is excellent, and if you can wear them comfortably, they may just be the perfect choice for on-the-go listening.
     
    Thanks again to OPPO for the chance to demo yet another pair of wonderful headphones!
      trellus likes this.
    1. ryanjsoo
      Nice review! Agree with your sound impressions and also with the shallow earpad problem. I found that some models have deeper pads, when I demoed the PM3`s in a store, they had almost 5mm thicker pads than the set I bought down the road. Oppo were kind enough to send me new pads which have larger openings than the ones I had, perhaps they were defective, or perhaps there are small revisional changes in some of the models.
      ryanjsoo, Apr 28, 2016
    2. jinxy245
      Very nice review. I never had any fit issues comfort wise, but everyone's ears are different.
       
      @ryanjsoo that is awesome that they sent you new pads! Kudos to Oppo. I too thought they weren't user replaceable. Are they more comfortable? Any significant changes to the SQ??
      jinxy245, Apr 29, 2016
    3. ryanjsoo
      Yeah, really good of Oppo to send me a replacement, though strangely the replacement set weren`t as deep as the store demos. The openings were larger than my original set however, my main issue was that one pad was pinched so the fit wasn`t great. I noticed more sub-bass and a bit more body to the sound, definitely different but not night and day.
      ryanjsoo, Apr 29, 2016
  10. ryanjsoo
    Well accomplished in all aspects, less exciting sound still impresses with abundant detail, punchy, extended bass and smooth high end
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Mar 20, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Comfortable, Build is very solid, Pleasing to the eye, Highly detailed sound, Portable planar magnetic technology
    Cons - Treble can be overly smooth and recessed, Very slight veil, Heavy

    Introduction – 

    Both Oppo and Bowers and Wilkins provide buyers with strong offerings within the under $400 USD price range. Both sport slick metal housings, closed back design and tout class leading audio performance. However while these two headphones might be similar on the spec sheet, their real world performances couldn`t be more different. This is a comparison I`ve thought up after a year of owning the P7`s and around 6 months with the PM3.

     

    About Me – Some background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases

    I generally prefer a slight v-shape to my sound, but still closer to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity, but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound such as that on the X10`s. I prefer a more neutral midrange within a relatively tight tolerance, but I`m probably more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I`m not particularly treble sensitive and can tolerate large amounts without fatigue, though too much ruins the enjoyment. If I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review I will note that and describe the sound changes.

    Read More

     

    Accessories – 

    [​IMG]

    The unboxing experience is very professional with both headphones, however I`d give the P7`s a slight advantage here. The P7`s are beautifully displayed within a molded, silk lined plastic inlet with a pull tab that reveals the purse-like carry case, extra cable and papers.

    [​IMG]

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    The Oppo PM3`s on the other hand present less refined but more extravagant, packaged within an astounding 3 boxes. A plain protective shipping box contains a nice black box like the P7`s with a brushed textured box inside. The zippered denim hard case lies inside the inner most bod along with a 1.2m cable of your choice, a 3m cable with screw on 1/4inch adapter and papers. Of note, the P7`s come stock with an iPhone cable but include a non remote cable as well. Despite some reviews stating that you receive 4 cables with the PM3, I only received 2. Buyers have the choice of no remote, Android or iPhone cables (just have a different remote) and all units come with a 3m cable. So while the P7`s may present better, the PM3`s do come with a more usable selection of accessories.

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    Design – 

    P7

    [​IMG]
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    The P7`s immediately draw the eye with a striking design melding aluminium face-plates with embossed Bowers and Wilkins logos, lambskin leather ear cups and headband and very solid feeling twisted stainless steel links. The headphones utilize a sliding mechanism for the headband with almost unlimited amounts of adjustment between the end stops. The mechanism is perfectly weighted and holds its position well during use. The P7`s fold up completely and become quite compact considering their size. They don`t swivel much, but the metal links have some degree of flexibility for comfort.

    [​IMG]

    Although the P7 has thin ear pads, they are are still very comfortable, with soft and plentiful cushioning. In addition, the already supple lambskin leather softens over time, further increasing comfort. During usage, the P7`s are well-sealing and, as a result, can be a little hot. The ear cups are large and deep, fitting most people comfortably.

    The headband is less agreeable for me. Like the ear pads, the headband is quite thin, but is packed with much denser foam. This is no problem initially, but repeated long listening sessions (>2 hours) result in discomfort. Regardless, the earcups are encompassing and isolate all frequencies of external noise well. They are fully replaceable, and attach via two magnetic prongs. The earpads have built in acoustic chamber to augment bass response and seal with the drivers through a thin ring of memory foam. This also grants access to the hidden 2.5mm cable jack for replacement.

    [​IMG]

    They have a nice stock cable that is made of rubber but has a smooth finish that doesn`t catch on clothes. Textured aluminium trim enables easy manipulation of the plug and grip on the remote. Buttons are relatively easy to differentiate, the centre multi-function button is slightly raised above the volume buttons. Unfortunately the cable uses a proprietary, recessed 2.5m connector. It`s nice to have the option at least, but replacements will likely have to be purchased though B&W themselves.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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    PM3

    [​IMG]

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    The Pm3`s by comparison offer a cleaner look. Their less flashy build is very mature, almost equally well-finished as the P7`s and perhaps a little more solid in the hand. The ear cups employ an aluminium and plastic blend for weight saving, which feels just a little less premium than the P7 but chamfered edges retain an eye catching look. Notably they showcase no branding, only small Oppo and PM3 markings on the headband twisting mechanism. As a result of their symmetrical build, Oppo have added a small bump on the left frame, though with the single entry cable also on the left, it`s not too hard to differentiate between sides. The headphones do not fold like the p7`s, but fold flat, they are not as wide, but still take up more space in your bag.

    [​IMG]
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    The PM3`s are heavier than the P7`s and have stronger clamp force, but much wider ear pads spread the load more evenly and the softer, wider headband creates comfort even from the heavy headphone. Oppo claims that the earpads aren`t removable, but they`re actually not too difficult to change, you can see my video guide here and read more about earpad maintenance/conditioning here. The earpads have a plastic frame at the base that clips onto the body of the headphone at 6 points. In addition, replacement earpads can only be ordered directly from Oppo, you`ll have to contact their support e-mail to order a new set.

    The size adjustment uses a conventional clicker with 15 steps. It feels solid and is made from thick steel, but there are no markings on the slider which makes re-adjusting the headband a bit tedious (you have to shorten the headband all the way to use the included case). The Faux leather used is of high quality, it`s about as breathable as the p7`s but not as soft and they do not change over time. The strong clamp force and wide ear pads produce great passive noise isolation, about as good as you could hope for without active noise cancelling and better than the P7`s.  The ear cups are very plush, with adequate cushioning, but they are quite a bit shallower than the p7`s. Ironically, since the ear pads contact so much skin, the force is dispersed and comfort is retained as there are no hot spots. Some people may have issues with this, but the general consensus is that the PM3 is more comfortable than the P7.

     

    [​IMG]Like the P7`s, the PM3`s have a single side cable entry cable, though it uses a regular 3.5mm port. The port is slightly recessed but most case friendly cables will fit well,  I`m using a V-Moda speakeasy cable for reference. This is much more practical and makes cable upgrades a snap, especially pertinent since the stock 1.2m cable is pretty mediocre. All portable PM3 cables are rubbery and thin without adequate strain relief and the plugs are very smooth, making them difficult to use. A cable upgrade is almost a must and with the V-Moda cable I find that the sound is similar if not a little better whilst the build and usability is far superior.

    [​IMG]

     

    Sound – 

    This is where the headphones drastically depart. The P7 impresses with a mild V-shaped signature combining powerful bass and bundles of clarity. However the PM3 immediately flaunts a much flatter response, with increases in midrange details and presence, a superior sense of body and unmatched precision. The P7 has a very expansive soundstage for a closed back headphone which, in culmination with great bass extension, is ideal for classical. Imaging is great and instrument separation is spacious. The PM3 feels much more intimate, partly due to the more prominent midrange and partly a result of the slightly recessed treble response, at least when compared to the P7`s. This, in addition to the PM3`s slightly veiled mids, produces a sound that can be congested at times. Instrument separation suffers drastically but imaging remains quite good. The P7`s are slightly more sensitive than the PM3`s and neither are particularly prone to hissing. They both sound fine from a mobile device but scale nicely with a dedicated DAC/AMP. I feel that the PM3`s with their less sensitive planar magnetic drivers do benefit more from amping but the P7`s also gain a lot from a good source. They are both well suited for mobile use.

    Bass – 

    The PM3 has a more linear bass response with a small sub-bass boost, it`s flat elsewhere. The bass is very well extended with great texture and PRAT. It`s very punchy and well textured. Despite the P7 using smaller 40mm drivers (vs 55mm in the PM3), the Bass on the P7`s is equally well extended, perhaps even slightly more so, with much greater slam, favouring impact over speed. As a result of the P7`s large mid-bass boost and moderate sub-bass boost, it can get a bit flabby/boomy and bass gets lost quite easily in complex passages (not too noticeable unless comparing to a headphone such as the PM3 with a focus on accuracy and detail) but it is well suited to certain music. The P7`s have more bass quantity all round but it remains of great quality, the PM3`s do resolve a little more detail in the bass region however. I never feel that the PM3`s are bass deficient and it really does depend on preference, the bass response is very good on both headphones. Of note, the recessed midrange on the P7`s further accentuates the perceived level of bass and draws attention to the outer extremities of the FR.

    Mids – 

    A small dip in the lower mids saps a little body from the P7`s in favour of midrange clarity, producing a clear if slightly recessed midrange. Vocals can sound a little thin however. They are still quite detailed and refined, I find that the sound is smooth enough for any genre. The PM3`s have much more midrange detail and more presence. A slight lower mid boost gives the sound nice body but they do have a very slight midrange veil. I`d give the advantage to the PM3`s here any day, but they do sound a fair bit darker.

    Highs – 

    The highs are quite controversial on the PM3`s and whilst they are a little recessed, it is not to a great degree and there is still some excitement to the sound. The highs actually resolve a lot of detail, they are definitely not sparkly or shimmery,  but they do avoid sounding thin. The treble response is very good and non-fatiguing, it`s just a hair below flat with a slight top end roll off. The P7`s have a very good treble response that is more extended than the PM3`s with much more shimmer. They are a brighter sounding headphone that are very slightly brittle at the top end, but still very good. Treble resolves more details on the P7`s with almost equal body but much more air. It`s not overly accentuated and doesn`t fatigue during long listening sessions. I find the highs to be better overall on the P7`s, but those looking for a more neutral, smoother treble response with slightly more texture will prefer the PM3.

     

    Verdict – 

    [​IMG]

    The sound of the P7`s is extremely well sculpted and specifically designed by Bowers and Wilkins. Whilst not for accuracy, it does portray a reasonably realistic and wowing sound. The headphone is very dynamic and enjoyable, working with all genres of music, it avoids pursuing an overly bassy sound but it is on the borderline for me.

    Meanwhile, the sound on the Oppo PM3`s is masterfully designed, with slight deviations from ruler flat reference creating a headphone that is accessible to both audiophiles and general consumers. It is a sound that works with all genres and even directly coming from the P7, the PM3 immediately impresses with more midrange detail and presence and a tighter bass response, but treble sounds dull by comparison.

    Both headphones are a solid choice, I personally prefer the P7`s slightly more in terms of sound, but due to comfort reasons I use the PM3`s a lot more. The PM3`s have great sound quality that is technically superior to the P7`s but they lack the last bit of engagement that the Bowers and Wilkins provide.

     

    Accessories –

    P7 – 8/10, The P7`s are very well packaged and come with everything needed to get started, but the case is impractical for day to day use.

    PM3 – 8/10, The PM3`s come with many additions, the denim case works well but the stock cables are rubbish.

    Design – 

    P7 – 8/10, The P7`s have an exquisite and very handsome design, it is a little more flashy than the PM3 but still looks mature. The headband adjustment mechanism is spot on, isolation is good, the leather is of unbeatable quality but comfort falls short with a flawed headband design. Easily removable ear pads, but cables have a proprietary plug design. The headphones fold for travel.

    PM3 – 8.5/10, The PM3`s look great if slightly more inconspicuous. They have no markings on the headband clicker which is tedious however passive isolation is excellent, the pleather is still soft and comfort is superb. The cables are easily removable with a standard plug, but ear pads can`t be replaced by the user and have to be replaced by Oppo. They fold flat for travel.

    Bass – 

    P7 – 7.5/10, Boosted and lavish, slightly sloppy, but nicely sculpted. Mid bass is quite pronounced but mids are not overly warmed. Still sounds clean. Well extended.

    PM3 – 8/10, Flat bass with slight sub bass boost. Focus on quality over quantity, bass remains well textured and very enjoyable for all types of music. Very satisfying and punchy response. Equally well extended and not fazed by complex passages.

    Mids – 

    P7 – 7/10, Lower mid scoop leaves vocals without adequate body, slightly warm with great clarity. Vocals sound a little scooped but are detailed and clear.

    PM3 – 8.5/10, Not a lot of clarity, but more a focus on smoothness and details. Very refined and natural sounding with good body.

    Treble – 

    P7 – 9/10, Sparkly, airy and extended, not overly accentuated.

    PM3 – 8/10, Slightly recessed and rolled off, very smooth but also very textured. Might be a little dull sounding to some.

    Soundstage, Imaging and Seperation –

    P7 – 9/10, Among the best closed back headphones. Seperation and imaging are excellent, the soundstage has great width and depth.

    PM3 – 7.5/10, The soundstage is intimate, sounds a lot more like an iem than a headphone. Imaging remains spot on but seperation is compromised.

    Verdict –

    P7 – 8.75/10, The P7 is an excellent headphone in all regards. I would not feel compelled to upgrade or buy the PM3`s if not for my personal issues with comfort. They have a wonderful design, strong sound and great features for portable use. They are equally comfortable in the lounge chair running out of a dedicated source.

    PM3 – 9/10, Equally well accomplished in design and only slightly edged out in build, the PM3 although the heavier of the two actually maintains better comfort. The sound is less exciting but equally engaging with a fast paced, toe tapping bass response, hyper detailed yet natural midrange and non-fatiguing treble. The PM3`s are slightly better for travel on account of their higher passive noise isolation and more practical case. They are not as sensitive and benefit from a good amp.

    It does come down to personal choice in the end, they are equally distinguished, but the PM3 is a slightly better headphone overall. This means nothing if you prefer a bassier signature however and you are best to try and test both for comfort and sound reasons. They are both very polarizing with the P7 pursuing a hyper lavish and broad scale sound and the PM3 impressing with a very neutral, balanced sound signature.


    Thanks for reading! This comparison was taken from my blog, please have a look if you like my style of review, I frequently update it with new guides and reviews:
     
    https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/bowers-and-wilkins-p7-and-oppo-pm3-a-detailed-comparison-after-6-months-ownership/

    1. PinkyPowers
      Thanks for this thorough comparison. A lot of people, including myself, often look at these two headphones and wonder at which is superior. This is a very helpful review.
      PinkyPowers, Mar 20, 2016
    2. ryanjsoo
      No problem, glad it`s helping people out, wished there was more in-depth comparison when I chose to buy the PM3`s.
      ryanjsoo, Mar 20, 2016

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