OPPO PM-3 - Reviews
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.
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.
  • Like
Reactions: bidn
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



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.




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.


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.
  • Like
Reactions: slapo and bidn
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).
IMG_20170310_114237.jpg
 
IMG_20170310_114220.jpg
 
IMG_20170310_114154.jpg
 
IMG_20170310_114127.jpg
 
IMG_20170310_113922.jpg
 
IMG_20170310_113718.jpg
 
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).  
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.  
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]
Hardertaskthinking
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. 
bcarr112281
bcarr112281
@gardibolt - I too primarily listen to classical music, and I certainly appreciate your review. Thanks!
mikesale
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. 
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.  
k4rstar
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.
  • Like
Reactions: slapo
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
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!
  • Like
Reactions: trellus
ryanjsoo
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.
jinxy245
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??
ryanjsoo
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.
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 – 



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.











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.










 

Design – 

P7









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.



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.



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.










 

PM3











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.









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.

 

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.




 

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 – 



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/

PinkyPowers
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.
ryanjsoo
ryanjsoo
No problem, glad it`s helping people out, wished there was more in-depth comparison when I chose to buy the PM3`s.
Pros: Build quality, realtively easy to drive, addictive sound signature
Cons: non-replacable earpads
       Having participated in the Oppo PM3 lending program, I was afforded a good amount of time to demo this headphone more extensively and under better conditions than in a store or headphone meet. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. All the usual suspects in reviewing were chiming in with positive reviews, yet here on Head-Fi, I noticed a number of opinions counter to these. The most common observation I read was that of the headphone being boring, or lifeless. Once I spent some time with these ‘phones in hand (and on my ears) I decided I’d give my 2 cents as well, since I found them to be very capable headphones.
 
       The accessories included are a semi-rigid denim carrying case, a screw-on 6.35mm adapter and 2 cables (if you order through Oppo). One is 3 Meters long and there’s a shorter Android or IOS compatible cable with an integrated remote and microphone both of which are terminated with a 3.5mm jack. This seems an adequate, if not a particularly plentiful lot of accessories for this price point ($399 MSRP), but considering this is the bottom rung of the Oppo headphone ladder, one can argue that adequate is…well, adequate. My one small grip would be that it’s necessary to unplug the cable for storage in its case. The case itself appears to be sturdy and is thin enough to toss into a backpack or potentially even a briefcase.
 
       One of the benefits of participating in a lending program or “headphone tour” is that if you’re not one of the first to get the headphone, you get an idea of how durable it will be, and burn in is not an issue. I found the build quality to be excellent, with not much plastic, actual aluminum, and high quality pleather that I wouldn’t guess to be synthetic by look or feel (you can smell the difference). Some would expect genuine leather, however I find the better quality synthetics to be just as durable & comfortable. There were some small smudges on the ear cups, but they wiped away easily with a moist cloth. The biggest nit I have to pick, and this may be a deal breaker for some, is the omission of user replaceable ear pads. This is something I expect from any headphone priced north of $100, and so seems particularly hard to swallow here.
 
       The use of metal does add some weight, as these are 320 g., or just over 11 oz., but I never found them to be too heavy for long listening sessions. Clamping force was damn near perfect for me, (ymmv) and the adjustments were easy and familiar. The sliders adjusted with a solid click and held the position well. The ear cups are on the small size, so there is contact between your ear & the pads, but this was never uncomfortable for me, and likely created a better seal for noise isolation, although I could see a problem for those with larger ears. I found the isolation to be just about the best of any closed back that I’ve had experience with, and with music playing, the world just slips away. (I’ve owned the Sony ZX-700, Shure 840, Beyer COP [possibly a tie], and I still have the 1st gen. Momentum and Torque t402v).
 
       Before I offer my listening impressions, I’ll start with a little about myself. I’m pushing 50 and have less than perfect hearing (50 is pushing back). I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember, and I learned to listen a little more critically during the few years I sold audio equipment. My fascination/infatuation with headphones began about 3 years ago, and has only gotten stronger. The majority of my listening was done listening to FLAC, WAV & various MP3s with my Fiio X3 (1st gen.) or through my HP all in one PC and Audioquest Dragonfly, occasionally assisted by a 2nd hand ALO National (which proved to be unnecessary). My musical taste is fairly eclectic (rock, punk, metal, jazz, folk, blues, world, dubstep, classical etc.) but the majority of my listening was with classic rock, jazz and instrumental (rock/fusion).
 
       I’ll begin with the bass, which I found to be the most addictive quality of this headphone’s sound signature. The bass was on the neutral side, with a boost in the sub bass region, adding just the right amount of rumble for my taste. Although I would caution that Bassheads need not apply, I personally never found the bass lacking. There wasn’t as much mid bass “wow factor” as the Sennheiser Momentum, but I found the bass tighter and no less pleasing. There were occasions I thought the bass to be a tad loose, but I soon discovered that only occurred with lower bit-rate recordings, and even then I didn’t find it to be bothersome.
 
       The midrange is very well done (IMO) dancing elegantly between very articulate/detailed, and smooth/mellow. This was particularly engaging with acoustic music, accenting finger scrapes and bow plucks without any unnatural punctuation. Vocals, both male and female sounded natural and had plenty of detail. Many have said that music lives in the midrange, and the Oppo delivers admirably in that department.
 
       The treble I found to be subdued for my tastes, but articulate none the less. I usually enjoy a little more zip in the treble, but I still found plenty to enjoy. There was no veil to speak of, and I never felt detail was lacking. I sometimes had to listen a bit harder for some of the cues I can hear more readily with brighter headphones, but it was all there.
 
       Soundstage was wider than deep or high, but also immensely enjoyably. I didn’t experience the confined feeling I usually get with closed back headphones, which is something I usually find bothersome with the Momentum. Listening to a Binaural recording of C.C. Coletti reimagining Led Zeppelin songs was particularly revealing. Like all binaural recordings I’ve experienced, a wide stage is cast in this recording, and the PM3 conveyed that beautifully.
 
       I found myself enjoying my time with the PM3 and I wanted to reconcile the “boring” comments I’ve read with my experience listening to the Oppo. As I reflected on the disparity, the word cohesion kept coming to mind, and so I looked it up (thank you Dictionary.com). “Cohesion: cohering or tending to cohere; well-integrated; unified.” That hit the nail on the head for me. I’m not sure there is one thing about the sound of the PM3 that is particularly stellar. Sure, I loved the bass, but I’ve heard deeper (Ultrasone comes to mind) as well as tighter/ better defined (some offerings from AKG, Sennheiser etc.). I can make similar observations about the mids, treble & soundstage. They’re all good (very good IMHO) but I think it’s how it all works together that really draws me into the music.
 
       The more I used them, the more I just simply listened. I wasn’t amazed by details, or wowed by thunderous bass; I simply enjoyed whatever was playing. Getting “lost in the music” is a cliché often bandied about in reviews, but I find that phrase particularly appropriate here. I’d sit down, start the music, and the next thing I know an hour (or two…or three) has past & my wife is wondering What am I doing for so long? That is one very important thing I look for in this hobby. A way to escape, or rather engage in the music. There is no higher praise I can give than to say that a pair of headphones is able to achieve that…and the Oppo PM3 deserves it.
jinxy245
jinxy245
No doubt the M50xs are a great headphone...everyone's ears are different though. 
jinxy245
jinxy245
@Amplicific BTW, IDK why I didn't mention it before, but Why don't you sign up for the listening tour? Unless your location isn't supported by Oppo, it's a great way to get a 1 week audition.
beyerdude
beyerdude
I initially paired the PM3 with a Fiio X5 2nd Gen and found them to be a little boring/flat - still great, but the pairing with the HA2 which I now use is definitely not boring - there is an initial feeling that there could be a little wider soundstage, a bit more sparkle in the treble but then .....whoa.......suddenly you are engrossed in the music and it's several hours later in the day - to me this is preferable than being initially wowed by the wideness of the soundstage and the sheer clarity but having to remove the headphone 1/2 hour later because it's too damn fatiguing. My other impression is that despite being billed as a portable headphone and usable with iPhones etc any experience I have had based on this would have had me sending them back/selling them in an instant - it's just not possible to experience these headphones at even a fraction of their potential unless you have a very capable source/amp (whether portable or home based)
Pros: Great sound, great lows, mids and highs, wore headphones for 7 - 8 hours without any pain, very isolating.
Cons: Needs to have two cables one to each can so you can used balanced cables.
I originally purchased the PM-3 cans back in July from OPPO and thought they had no bass response and just did not sound great, so I sent them back.  Since then I tested vmoda M100's, Sennheiser 280's and Momentum 2.0's.  I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD 700 that I love.  The vmoda's were very good sounding headphone with lots of bass and they covered the sound spectrum fairly well, but the highs were just a little subdued but not to much.  Comfort for the vmoda's was not great.  If the cans had more movement to fit your head better and a larger opening for the earpads they would be much better.  Did not spend a lot of time with the 280's because they just did not impress me very much.  The Momentum 2.0's were very good as far as sound quality but just were not very comfortable.  Also, everything was tested with and without a vmoda Verza amp which I think is very good.
 
Now to the PM-3's.  So, after testing all of the above I decided to try the PM-3's again based on all the newer reviews since I had purchase them back in July.  Well, I have let them burn in for 24 hours and they are just amazing cans.  I find they sound better with audiophile music with the amp but they are not bad even with the iPhone and no amp.  The bass shows itself when needed and some say the highs are subdued but I find with the vmoda amp the bass and highs come alive.  The mids are spot on.  I have used my mac as well with audiophile music and they sound awesome.  The soundstage is small but very clean. I slept the last two nights with the PM-3's, fell asleep and woke up in the morning with music still playing with the cans still on my head without any pain and actually was nice waking up to quality music on my ears.  Some might say the cans are a little tight but give them a chance and you will find that they find there way to become more and more comfortable as time goes on.
 
 
 

PinkyPowers
PinkyPowers
How do you compare them to the Senn Momentum 2.0 in sound quality... unamped?
Pros: Comfort, Sound Stage, and Portability
Cons: Ear pads aren't owner replaceable at this price point
Why did I purchase the Oppo PM-3?
My current portable set of headphones for the last couple of years has been the B&W P5. I recently started searching for a suitable over ear closed design to augment or replace the B&W P5.  I typically listen to my headphones while traveling or before going to bed and needed something that wouldn’t allow much if any music to escape. When researching my next set of portable headphones, I was considering the Audeze EL-8, Sony MDR-1A and the Oppo PM-3.  Based on reading several reviews, in-store listening sessions and taking the price point into account I decided to purchase the Oppo PM-3.
 
The Fit and Finish
The Oppo PM-3 arrived double boxed, with a very nice selvedge denim case, 3.2 meter “long” cable, 1.2 meter “short” iPhone cable, and a 1/4 adapter.  I am very pleased with the overall fit and finish of the PM-3.  I feel that the reviews that I have read have actually done the PM-3 justice in this regard. I had extremely high expectations based on the glowing reviews that I read and I personally expected this headphone to come up short.  The ear cups are extremely comfortable and fit exquisitely snug on my head.  The weight is really unnoticeable in comparison to the Audeze LCD-2 and the overall design actually allows me to rest my head comfortably on a pillow.  The black and silver accents are very classic and professional.  I chose this colorway specifically as a result of not being able to replace the ear pads, which was noted in the reviews.  I figured the white ear cups of the others would age and show wear significantly over time, so I decided to error on the side of caution.
 
Source & Connectivity
For this review, I used the following configuration:
Flac -> Windows PC -> Schiit Audio PYST USB cable à Oppo Digital HA-1
 
Sample Music
·         Adele – “Hello”
·         Alabama Shakes – “Dunes”
·         Regina Spektor – “Blue Lips” (Live)
·         Regina Spektor – “Hotel Song” (Live)
·         Musica Nuda – “Imagine”
·         Modest Mouse – “Ansel”
·         MGMT – “Kids”
·         The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
·         Ray LaMontagne “Gossip in The Grain”
·         MAGIC! - “Rude”
·         Club Des Belugas – “Wild is My Love”
 
Comparisons (Audeze LCD-2, B&W P5, Grado 225E)
Right off the bat the Oppo PM-3 sounds more open then I would have expected from a closed back design.  The resonating of Adele’s voice during “Hello” is immediately noticeable.  When comparing the music quality against streaming from Amazon Prime Music to playing a Flac file of this song it becomes apparent that the headphone isn’t the shortfall, but the compression of the music is.  This isn’t a dig on the headphone, but a statement that what you feed the Oppo PM-3 will be accurately represented to your ears.  The streaming quality was enjoyable, but there was a noticeable difference in the delivery. While listening to “Dunes” I could hear the separation of the voices and instruments with the hum of the amplifier nestled in. This was quite impressive for the $400 price point that these sit at.  The atmosphere of the venue really becomes apparent in the live versions of “Blue Lips” and “Hotel Room”, the vocal and instrument separation is night and day between that of the B&W P5.  Additionally the resolution is very clear in comparison.  I really didn’t expect this much noticeable difference between the two headphones.  Several elements that set this headphone apart from the others really become apparent during “Imagine”.  The vocals and strings really shine here and I can’t help but smile. This open, airy and resolved presentation is what really makes the Oppo PM-3 shine above the B&W P5 and Grado 225E respectively.  I find that the PM-3 has very controlled bass and I really don’t find anything sloppy about its representation of the low end.  I am continually drawn into this headphone’s grasp the more I listen. During “Ansel”, the PM-3 remains collected and composed with a lot going on in the music.  The same remains true during “Kids”.  I as I continued to progress, it became more challenging to remove the PM-3 to conduct the A/B comparisons of music.  As “Such Great Heights” ran through the cans, I just sat back and smiled.  Tempo, control and placement are all right!
 
When listening to the same music through the LCD-2, I noticed a wider, deeper sound stage and more detail in the music itself.  I felt the same when I did A/B comparisons specifically with the B&W P5.  The LCD-2 in general just provides more substance to the music that keeps it at the helm of my desktop system. This observation says something about the LCD-2 and it isn’t necessarily a dig on the accomplishment of the PM-3.  The LCD-2 is over twice the asking price of the PM-3 and I feel that it delivers the premium.
 
Final thoughts
The Oppo PM-3 is money well spent in my books. The headphone has brought me to a level of enjoyment that I have been experiencing with my desktop setup (Oppo Digital HA-1/Audeze LCD-2).  It has achieved this at a fraction of the price and is portable and cost effective. I am very pleased with the Sony Walkman (NWZA17SLV) combination and feel that if there is any component that is lacking it would be the amplifier section of the Sony. The unfortunate result of purchasing this set of headphones is that I will now be testing other portable media players to determine if there is better synergy.  Until then, I will continue to enjoy the music with this combination. 
  • Like
Reactions: Evshrug
Rob49
Rob49
Thanks, I have the ZX2 & wondered how the PM-3's paired ?
Hifi Enthusiast
Hifi Enthusiast
Right on, what do you think of the amp section of ZX2?  What headphones have you paired with it?
Rob49
Rob49
If you're saying does it need an amp, I'd personally say no. I've tried it with a Fiio E12 & I prefer it without. Presently, I'm pairing it with Sony MDR-1RNC headphones, which I'm finding very enjoyable, but I'm seriously considering buying the PM-3's
Pros: Fantastic Build Quality, Zip case is amazingly useful
Cons: Cold lows, Subdued bass, Trebles lack sparkle
INTRODUCTION:
While I have been an audio enthusiast for many years, I have only just recently discovered my love of planar magnetic headphones. To me, the typical sonic signature of planar’s are exactly what I am looking for in a set of headphones. I was originally looking between a set of Hifiman HE-400’s and the Oppo PM-3’s as my next set of over ear headphones a few months back. A great deal prompted me towards the HE-400’s which I love, But I always wanted to know if I made the right decision. Was the Oppo PM-3 the better choice? Finally, the opportunity to really determine if this is the case! 
 
DISCLAIMER:
This review was made possible by a tour provided by Oppo and Jiffy Squid. I would like to thank both for the opportunity to listen and provide my honest opinion of the PM-3. In no way am I affiliated with Oppo, nor have I been compensated for my review. Instead, I was allowed 1 week with a loaner device to write this review.
 
ABOUT ME:
I am a 26 year old music enthusiast, audiophile, music lover, whatever your terminology is for us with empty wallets and great tunes! In my obnoxious youth I could never understand why someone would drop the cash for headphones like ours. Over time I learned the differences in not just equipment, but in source files.
Suddenly I found myself spending some money on good gear, and over time it has developed into something more. Not only did I find myself enjoying my music more, but I found communities that share in my hobby.
I have a very extensive and eclectic musical library. I tend to avoid rap and heavy sided metal music. Otherwise, I am game. Most of my music comes from Folk, Rock (all kinds), Alternative, Singer/songwriter, and Acapella. I would say that I am a balanced listener, with perhaps a bit of a bass-head tendency. My library is comprised of mostly legally obtained Redbook 16/44.1 with a few vinyl rips done for me by a friend.
My DAP experience has been all across the spectrum, but has recently began the hi-fi journey. Starting with my original RCA RD2204 Lyra (the old days) and continuing to SanDisk Sansa’s, clips, Ipods, Iphones, Android phones (such as HTC one M8) and Windows Phones (Lumia 1520, 1020). Recently I have begun collecting my newer gear starting with my first Hi res dap as the X1/Q1, as well as testing the Sony A17.
My headphone use is primarily IEM with a few cans. My primary gear currently is my Shure SE-425’s and my Hifiman HE-400’s. I use my FiiO X1 with the Q1 DAC stacked as my daily driver currently. But enough about me!
 
ABOUT Oppo:
Here is an excerpt from Oppo’s website:
Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, OPPO Digital designs and markets high quality digital electronics that deliver style, performance, innovation, and value to A/V enthusiasts and savvy consumers alike. The company's attention to core product performance and strong customer focus distinguishes it from traditional consumer-electronics brands.
With products that speak for themselves and relying on word-of-mouth, OPPO Digital does not have any dedicated Marketing and Sales personnel. We have spent most of all energy on product design and customer service. We pride ourselves on servicing all our customers right here in Mountain View, California.
 
SPECIFICATIONS:
Type
Over Ear - Closed
Driver Type
Planar Magnetic
Driver Size
55 mm
Impedence
26 Ohm
Sensitiviy
102 dB
Cable connection
3.5mm stereo jack in/out
Cable
Detachable, interchangeable
Weight
310-320g depending on color
 
Full Specifications can be found on Oppo’s website at the following link:
http://www.oppodigital.com/headphones-pm-3/headphones-PM-3-Features.aspx
 
IN THE BOX:
As the Oppo PM-3 kit I tested was part of a tour kit meant to allow people to test out the kit there were a few accessories included that wouldn’t normally included. For example, I received 3 cables in my box. One for Iphones, one for Android/Windows Phone, and the standard included cable.
The box that included the Oppo PM-3 was nothing special to note. Nice design, simple, and elegant. In the box you will find the Oppo PM-3 and about the coolest zip hard case ever. Seeing this case made me wish I had something similar for the Hifiman HE-400. As far as I could tell, this was a standard, included accessory. You will also find a long audio cable with a screw attached 6.3mm jack.
 
WP_20151214_10_01_16_Pro_LI.jpgWP_20151214_10_01_35_Pro_LI.jpg
 
BUILD QUALITY/DESIGN:
The Oppo PM-3 is probably one of the highest quality feeling headphones I’ve had to review in a long time. The Oppo PM-3 screams quality. I received the steel blue color, which has a minimalistic yet stylish look. Metal hinges and size adjustment are easily adjusted without being too loose. Hinges for the rotating ear-cups are sharp with hard right angles that can pinch if you’re not careful.
The cups of the headphones are simple and only have the one 3.5mm in jack on the left ear. The cups are elliptical and can be rather narrow and short. At first it seemed to me that they fit well, but after 1-2 hours of listening my ear began to be sore.
The padding on the headband itself is very comfortable and caused no discomfort. The padding on the cups however were very soft, but due to the narrow and shallow cups combined with the material used I found my ears getting very warm after extended use. This did take approximately 2.5-3 hours to get to this point however.
One thing I did notice that I wasn’t the biggest fan of is that the pads in general for comfort or warmth. But even more so, I found that the ear-pads are not user-replaceable. Instead, if you need to have the pads changed you would need to send them into Oppo. This was a pretty big drawback for me.
 
WP_20151214_10_02_44_Pro.jpg
THE SOUND:
After putting the PM-3’s through their paces, I found that I was not a fan of the sound that they created. This was surprising as I was expecting a much different sound from the reviews that came in. I found that the lows lacked warmth. They were very cold and made much of my classic rock and singer/songwriter tracks feel very analytical.
I also noted a very specific lack of punch in my bass. Bass was subdued and lacked proper extension. This was noticed specifically when using the FiiO X1 and my Lumia 1520 playing music directly to the phones. When utilizing the Q1 amp the punch was brought in to what I would consider perfect levels, but this required the additional amp and the audio still lacked warmth.
Finally I noticed the treble was lacking proper extension. Treble was existent, and allowed instruments to be heard properly in this realm. However, the sparkle missing in the high end made much of my music fall flat, which was rather disappointing.
This doesn’t mean that all things were bad. Instrumentation was well separated. And while soundstage was smaller than I would have liked, it seemed rather open for a set of closed headphones. Mids played out well and had a natural sound to it. And male vocals came through with marvelous clarity.
Overall, I felt let down. Perhaps this has to do with the genre’s of music I listened to for testing. But I just couldn’t help but notice that I just couldn’t shake the idea that I’d rather be listening to my HE-400’s. Sure, they are hard to compare as one is open, vs the closed PM-3. But I just couldn’t get behind the music like I usually do.
 
CONCLUSION:
Overall, the Oppo PM-3’s just didn’t do it for me. Due to the fact that most everyone seems to like them, I fear I just may have a bad amp pairing with them, or possibly that the sound signature is not my cup of tea. The headphones are built extremely well and come with a fantastic zip case. But for me the colder low end and lack of high end sparkle just didn’t mesh with my ears.
Equipment used:
Oppo PM-3
Hifiman HE-400
DAP – FiiO X1, Lumia 1520, HTC One M8, Asus Zenfone 2, HP DV6t Quad laptop, Onkyo TX-NR626
AMP/DAC – FiiO X1
  • Like
Reactions: bcarr112281
T Bone
T Bone
A very good review and I would concur with your listening impressions.  In my review of the PM-3 I found the soundstage and "air" lacking.  I was disappointed with the high end - cymbals didn't shimmer and detail in guitar play was lost.
I felt that bass was "adequate" for a headphone of its size.
I loved the built quality and comfort though.  
Pros: Clear, natural sounding, attractive headphone where every genre sounds great.
Cons: slightly high head clamping force (for big heads) and excellent sound begs for a wider sound stage
Quick disclaimers. I am very new to the $400-$500 class of headphone so my experience is limited compared to many folks here. I drive my headphones from my iPhone only so I have only listened to headphones with a low impedance so I've had a strong bias towards headphones that don't require or are best suited to being amplified with a separate amp.
 
I pitted these headphones against the following: Sony MDR-1R, MDR-1A, PSB M4U-1, Philips Fidelio L2, Sennheiser Momentums (over-ears), Audio Technica ath-m50x, as well as several on ear headphones. I even tried the Oppo PM-1s and PM-2s. I vastly prefer the sound of these PM-3s over all of them. The PM-3s has an outstanding clarity and naturalness that were only rivaled by the much more expensive PM-1s and PM-2s. I preferred the PM-3s to those more expensive open backed brothers because I thought those two had a sound that was too laid back when compared to the PM-3s. If you could combine the sound stage of the PM-1/2s with the sound signature of the PM-3s, those would be my perfect headphones.
 
The PM-3s have the ideal emphasis on bass, mids, and treble. The treble sits lightly on clear mids and are complimented by rich, confident lows without bleeding into the mids. I listen to a variety of genres throughout the whole day and I love how there isn't a genre that sounds off with these. 
 
I debated their price tag for a while since I could find all the others for less than $200 on Ebay or Amazon. In the end, they were the only headphones I wanted to keep coming back to them. I don't want to listen to anything else unless the situation requires me to (running). 
 
Second place would have gone to the PSBs which seemed to really excel in songs with female vocals. Their low end was too weak and undetailed for me though and the PM-3s were more versatile in terms of genres. Oh, and the PSBs are hideous and I am fastidious about appearance of my headphones (which is admittedly strange)
 
If anyone reading this is curios, this is how I would rank them all. Bare in mind that I prefer clear, punchy bass, mids are my ideal zone in terms of emphasis, and I like my highs to be there and be crisp but not too forward and intense. And, all around I prefer a flat signature. I am excluding the PM-1/2s because of their price. 
 
1. Oppo PM-3 (by a healthy margin)
2. PSB M4U-1
3. Sony MDR-1R (easily the best value as you can find these new for less than $150)
4. Sennheiser Momentum (great sound but too congested for me)
5. Audio Technica ath-m50x
6. Sony MDR-1A (too bassy for me but probably my choice for bass heads)
7. Philips Fidelio L2
 
I do think these are all excellent headphones that I would whole heartily recommend to anyone over more mainstream offerings. 
  • Like
Reactions: trellus
Pros: Natural and cohesive sounding; Well made; well thought of accessories
Cons: Just a little bit less bass than I would like; Treble not uber extended; Non user replaceable pads
The OPPO PM3, what’s there to say about it? Quite a lot actually. But I am going to try and cram everything into my... journey with this wonderful headphone.
 
 
First about me:
 
I am a music lover. I love music in general, and love listening. It doesn’t have to be the best gear for me to listen to music, but it must sound good to me, or I have trouble listening.
I live ‘out of circulation’ so to speak, in a small island nation, so I am not in a position to try anything much.
 
I also am not looking for open cans.I like the isolation that closed backs give me, and I don’t want massively large headphones. I listen at home, at work, and sometimes on the go. Home is a noisy environment, so open phones are out. And I have fit issues with iems and want to stay away from the trouble of maintaining them. So as you see my choice of headphones boil down to at most semi portable closed back headphones.
 
My gear list :
 
Amps:         Fiio E11K, Burson Audio Soloist SL
 
Sources:    Mac Mini running VOX and iTunes, IPod Touch 3rd gen. 64gb with Sendstation LOD, Schiit Modi 2 uber
 
Headphones:    Beyerdynamic DT235, Sony MDR-7520, OPPO PM3
 
Cables:    Blue Jeans LC1, Ecosse Conductor, Van Den Hul D102 MKIII, Surf Cables RCA interconnect and PM3 single ended headphone cable, Generic USB Cable
 
So as you can see, I don’t have that much…. I have more cables than gear 

 
I listen to a wide variety of music, which includes classical, rock, reggae, electronic, jazz, pop, alternative, soca, soul, R&B, disco and some others. I am not much of a country fan.
 
Remember all that I am writing is my opinion and just that.
 
 
Introduction:
 
With that out of the way, I first started hearing about the PM3 on this site obviously. I was following MacedonianHero’s thread on his quest for his ultimate portable headset. And saw his update as to when he considered the PM3 the king of his hill. I read his views and thoughts and came to the conclusion I needed to check this headphone out. I did more research and saw threads about it and it being compared to the Audeze EL8 and I read a lot of reviews. I must admit I got a bit conflicted after hearing one person saying these are rolled off in the treble, then someone else saying they were bright, but I kept reading, PMed a few people on their thoughts compared to different phones and decided…. What the hey?? Why not? 
Then I had trouble getting them, no store in the US would ship outside of the US, and I had to contact OPPO directly and do it over the phone.  I wouldn’t lie at the end of it all I paid US$650 for this headphone.
 
 
 
Packaging, build, comfort and isolation:
 
They were finally in my country and then I went to get them and pay the duties
. The Customs lady said open the box. So I did. In that box was another box sealed in plastic wrap and protected by packing and a much smaller white box that held the short cable. So I opened the big box. In that box was a white cloth like bag that held a denim case. I was then told to open that case. In that case were the headphones, the long cable in a draw string bag and the ¼” adaptor. The Customs Lady looked at all of this with an awestruck and exasperated look on her face at the same time. She could not believe the amount of packing and packaging of this thing. I was in awe myself and wished I had a camera to capture the look on her face. 
 
pp-601.jpg
 
 
Left Customs and headed back to work
. Yeah I had to do the work thing, but had the phones out and setup in no time. Took my time and examined it. The best built headphone I had ever seen. Previously that fell to the 7520, which has creaking issues. The PM3 felt just as solid and better put together. Everything was precise. The clicking of the headband adjustment, the buttery smooth spinning of the cups, the nice fake leather that felt really soft nice. I had to admire them. It didn’t have the locking cable attachment, but the cable still clicks firmly into place after almost two months of ownership and unplugging and plugging back in the cable almost every day. Nicely done. That it came with the hard denim case and had all of the nice little touches just made my owning it feel really sweet.
 
pp-595.jpgpp-597.jpg
 
 
 
 
Put it on, and It is comfortable. Not as comfortable as the Sony MDR-1R, but comfortable none the less. I can understand some people’s complaints about fit and comfort and even the clamping pressure, but for me it is good enough. It was heavier than I was accustomed to, clamped stronger than any other headphone I had maybe except the Senn HD497 that I had to stretch out, but it was not uncomfortable and I have worn it for a couple of hours straight and no real issues. I have also not have any seal issues and the sound does not change much with the turn of the head as it does with the 7520. Isolation wise, it’s on par with the 7520, maybe just a smidge better. Needless to say, once music plays, it’s all good.
 
pp-596.jpg
 
 
Sound:
 
Where do I start? As a whole, the PM3 is my best sounding headphone. I enjoy it the most. Everything just goes well together, I do not think there is any real stand out part of the sonic spectrum or any real deficiency to talk of. So with that out of the way, let me break it down a bit.
 
Bass:
After being accustomed to the 7520, these sounded bass light. I was a touch disappointed in this area, and I love my bass. It did not lack extension, quality, articulation, or any of those things. What it lacked was volume. And as I said, coming from the 7520, it was obvious. But truth be told, I modded my 7520 to reduce the bass. It had too much boom. But deep down I am a closet bass head. So it always left a smile on my face there. The more I listened to the PM3 however, the more I began to appreciate the bass. It was a bit truer to the recording than the 7520. If the song was bass light, it was painfully obvious. If the song was bass heavy, it let you know that as well. Many times I was listening to some music and found myself checking to see if the bass boost on the E11k was on. Other times I would reach for the switch and put it on. I would be lying if I said I did not wish for more bass, but at the end I can say I am satisfied. I do realize that the bass presentation of a pair of speakers with even 8 inch drivers with room reinforcement is going to be more visceral and much fuller sounding than most if not all headphones ever will be and I have learned to accept that. There are tracks whose bass will wow you on speakers, and leave you wanting more on headphones.
 
Mids:
I love these things here. Smooth, clear, rich, refined, natural. I don’t have a phone that sounds any better. I cant think of any better way to describe it than to do a comparison. I was listening recently to some Sting; The Soul Cages album. I had on the PM3 and was just enjoying the music. I was listening to flac via VOX, the M2U and the Soloist. When I switched to the 7520, the mids sounded a bit unnatural, not as full, clean or clear. Also the feeling realness I got with the PM3 was not there. In the mids, to me it was no contest. The difference was not night and day, but it was quite noticeable. I can still enjoy the 7520, and even though it has the PM3 beat in the bass department, it clock gets cleaned in the mids. Where there might be a little variation is in the male vocal range where it might be ever so slightly bumped, but I think that adds to the mids clarity and makes vocals sound great.
 
Treble:
Well I guess I have sensitivity to highs. I find absolutely nothing wrong with the highs of the PM3. Again they are clean and clear. No grain. They are cleaner than the 7520 highs and also extend a bit more. This is where there are a few slight short comings in my view. I do feel that there is a small hole in the transition from mids to highs and I do feel that at some times there is a slight emphasis to the middle part of the treble that can sound a touch harsh when pushed. Both issues do not really bother me and I guess I am now accustomed to them. Is the trebles rolled off? A bit, yes. It does not seem to extend as much as say the Shure 440 that I had the pleasure of sampling a while back. Lacking that last bit of sparkle maybe. But I am pleased with it. No complaints.
 
I do find that it has a naturalness about it that I just love. All the parts form a nice cohesive unit and that translates to me to give a nice sense of ambience, and presents a nice 3d sounding signature. I have no open cans to compare to, or even great speakers, but the soundstage does not sound all that wide. What you do get though is good instrument placement and a sense of layers in the music both vertically and front to back. The soundstage does not really leave your head and expand beyond the walls though, but it is the closest to speaker hifi in terms of soundstage and instrument placement that I have gotten out of a headphone. You feel like you are in an acoustic space all be it a small one.
 
Compared to the 7520, the PM3 just sounds better. The detail retrieval is not better, there is less bass in terms of quantity, it is heavier..... But..... it is more cohesive and natural and gives a realism that the 7520 just cannot match. They are both good headphones, but overall the PM3 is just better. If you really like your bass very hard hitting and visceral, the 7520 would be a better bet, although I am not sure how hard hitting even that is compared to some bass cannons out there. If you are after a more natural and better put together sound, of the two the PM3 wins hands down.
 
pp-598.jpg
 
pp-599.jpg
 
 
 
Conclusion:
 
Am I happy? Yep. No complaints from me. Except for maybe the AKG K81 DJ and in the end the Sony MDR-1R, I think I did pretty well with my blind headphone buys, and at the end did enjoy all of my headphone purchases that I have made over the years.
This one is my favorite though. Is it the best value? I would not think so. I do realize that there is most likely a premium being paid for the technology, the accessories and the build. I am sure there is great sound to be had for less. But in the end, I feel like it is worth the price and am happy that I own such a wonderful pair of headphones. It’s the total package, not just the sound quality, that makes this a wonderful product.
 
pp-600.jpg
L
lltfdaniel
I also agree that the pm-3 sounds great as i also own them.
DadRanger
DadRanger
Nice review. Just wonder how much is the sound different with amp and without amp. I use iPhone to listen music most of the time. Does PM3 sound the same driven by iPhone?
dudlew
dudlew
@DadRanger I do notice a bit of scaling.. It sounds good out of my ipod touch, but better with the E11K attached and better still through my Burson.... but its not something huge per say. I still think the sound is good out of my ipod and the characteristics of the headphone hold true in my opinion.. the differences to me come about in refinement and dynamics.. the better you feed it, there will be increases in dynamics and refinement. the bass becomes tighter and hits a bit harder, the sound gets a bit more focused, sounds clearer. But these are not huge leaps for me, but noticeable
Pros: Beautiful aesthetics, Great build quality, Planars in portable form.
Cons: Small earcups, Slight clamping force, Smallish soundstage, Low and high ends lacking in extension.
IMG_20150831_172009aa.jpg
 
Disclaimer
 
This unit was in my possession for about 10 days as part of the local tour. I'd like to thank @d marc0 for organizing and including me in this tour.
 
I listen at relatively high volume level, so my impressions will be based on this. Please be aware that there might be variations in impressions at different volume and issues present on different volume level may/may not exist on this product.
 
Package

- OPPO PM-3
- Clamshell case

Stock straight cable
- Silver-plated cable
- Small cable pouch
- 6.35 mm adapter
- User Manual
 
*As this is a personal unit what are included inside the package might vary from retail standard. 
 
Design and Usability
 
As far as looks go, the OPPO PM-3 definitely has the minimalist yet premium look. Everything looks eye-pleasing and feels very solid with a very clean and sleek design consisting a mix of metal and faux leather parts without being overbearing or flashy. Construction seems solid and no concerns over the build. The only minor concern is the rather sharp metal hinge edges. 
 
In terms of comfort, the PM-3 
felt a touch tight and constraining on my admittedly big head, especially at the top. To be fair, the PM-3 never caused me any pain or gross discomfort and I could listen to them for hours on end. But I was always aware of their presence on my head due to the slight clamping force
, and around my ears, which though the earpads were comfortable, the small earcup size was a bit too shallow as the inner pads barely enclosed my outer ears and seemed cramped to me with my ears just touching the drivers. 
 
Isolation was good, being a closed back headphone. Microphonics were minimal. Not much to complain about here.
 
Sound Impressions
 
Drive-ability: 
 
The PM-3 was easy enough to drive with my phone and Cayin N6, and it did sound a bit better feeding it with more power, but I wouldn't say that the addition of amps is compulsory to get good sound out of the PM-3.
 
Sound:
 
Overall the PM-3 has a pretty neutral sound signature that is laidback and easy to listen to for extended sessions. The bass is a bit of a surprise to me, as PM-3 being planar magnetic headphones, with a 55 mm diameter driver size at that, doesn’t exhibit the traits that planar magnetic headphones are supposedly known for, which is having great bass. It is very tight and accurate, and clean sounding, with good speed to keep up with the pace, but the sub-bass is lacking in extension, and could do with more bass impact and rumbling textures. I found myself wanting a bit more slam in some songs. Vocals sounded mellow, naturally-balanced, true to life, if a tad lean and could do with more weight and thickness. Stringed instruments are clear, detailed, and accurately represented. The highs are smooth, sweet and clear, but lacking in airiness and extension. I prefer a bit more sparkle on top in which I found the PM-3 lacking, but some may prefer it due to for extended listening sessions without feeling fatigued after a few hours. The soundstage though, is fairly unimpressive, sounding closed-in, with adequate height but quite narrow in width. Nonetheless, imaging and separation are quite good given the limited space with excellent transparency and layering.

 
Ratings & Conclusion
 
As Head-Fi shows overall ratings for the audio gear instead of my own, here is a snapshot of what I have rated:
 
2015-09-30_210107.png
 
The OPPO PM-3 is a beautifully designed, well-built pair of closed back planar headphones with a neutral sound signature that's easy to listen to without the need of extra amplification right out of a mobile phone or DAP. That said, there's room for improvement in that to me it lacked low and high end extension with a fairly small soundstage. If you've wanted the planar magnetic sound in portable form without compromising looks, the OPPO PM-3 is one to look into.
Vanheim
Vanheim
what would you say are the best full sized portable headphones for electronica and jazz under $400?
fnkcow
fnkcow
I don't actually dabble much into full sized headphones to be in the know to advise you on this, and I see that you already visited this thread http://www.head-fi.org/f/7840/introductions-help-and-recommendations But you still can create your own thread there with specific questions like the one you've asked me to seek for advice from more experienced people with full sized headphones
Pros: very comfortable fitment, excellent build quality, removable 3.5mm cable, smooth detailed sound signature, price.(for PM headphones)
Cons: soundstage is more typical of closed back dynamic cans, needs extra juice to bring them up to a full sound potential.

Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Oppo Digital (US) for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion. 
 
The official product page could be found here: http://oppodigital.com/headphones-pm-3/

 
I always enjoy reviewing new products that utilize the latest technology trends and find it fascinating when it's released by a newcomer.  In my recent review of EL-8C I mentioned how these "young" companies (Audeze, Oppo, Hifiman) became major audio players competing against big audio dinosaurs who have been in business for decades.  One of the reasons these companies are in a spotlight because they're pushing boundaries of the technology, exploring new frontiers beyond typical dynamic drivers, and paying close attention not just to a sound but also to a design style.  Since I'm partially biased to a portable audio setup, a lot of my headphone reviews are focused on IEMs or closed back full size.  But the ability to pack a technology of planar magnetic transducers (drivers) in a portable full size closed back design is something that definitely fascinates me.  Though relative to their LCD series, EL-8C was more portable, I didn't find it portable enough for a mobile use.  So when an opportunity presented itself, I was very excited to review the latest Oppo PM-3 headphones and their HA-2 portable amp.  I felt in love with this dynamic duo right from the start even before receiving these products (from the pictures alone), and this feeling hasn't changed after spending over a week testing them.  Here is more to explain my infatuation.
 
Those who follow high end A/V products are probably familiar with Oppo's popular Blu-Ray players, first released a little over 5 years ago.  Otherwise, I'm sure a lot of you have heard about their Smartphones that generated a lot of buzz in the last few years.  The birth of their high end headphones and amps happened only a year ago, and their maturity went from 0 to 60 in a record time.  In my opinion, this is not a coincidence.  A company that perfected the technology of A/V hardware will know a thing or two about sound quality, and being at the cutting edge of smartphone business - you will know for sure how to make a portable audio solution, clearly seen in the design and the functionality of PM-3 and HA-2.  As a matter of fact, I couldn't help but to wishfully hope for Oppo R&D to look into Android based DAP combining HA-2 with a smartphone interface.  I guess time will tell, and hopefully at the rate of their new releases we won't have to wait for too long to find out what else Oppo is cooking in their lab, but in a meantime let me start with PM-3 review, and then follow it with a separate HA-2 review.
 
There is no surprise that PM-3 arrived in an elegant packaging with just a minimalistic name logo of a company on the top - such gift box presentation distinguishes a product and makes you feel like you got something special in the box.  You won't find any flashy artwork, or a spec, or a list of accessories, so if you are not familiar with a product, this only enhances a surprise of the unboxing experience .  Under the cover of the box, you will find an envelope with documentation and everything else inside of a headphone case wrapped in a protective bag.
 
Unboxing.
 
oppo_pm3-01_zpsoobxyf3g.jpg   oppo_pm3-02_zps0egyatkl.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-03_zpspvduiv5k.jpg
 
Considering PM-3 has a removable cable design, the accessories include 2 sets of cables - 3m extended audio cable and 1.2m portable cable with smartphone controls (compatibility choice of either iOS or Android).  Both of the cables are very similar with a slim metal connector housing, a nice strain relief, and a rubbery slim cable jacket/shielding with minimum microphonics.  Audio cable also has a threaded end to accommodate the included 1/4" adapter.  On the earcup side Oppo made a wise decision to use a standard 3.5mm connector.  Though you will need one with a slimmer housing, it shouldn't be a show stopper for many aftermarket cables.  As a matter of fact, I tested a few of my upgrade cables and found that sound scales up a bit with a higher quality wires, and I will talk more about it later in a sound analysis section.
 
Regarding smartphone controls, I received one for Android phone with a single universal control button and a mic.  I'm guessing that iPhone version will probably have a volume control which is not compatible with Android, but universal control button should work with any phone for Play/Pause/Call with a single click and Skip with multi-clicks.  The in-line remote was placed close enough to the face for a better voice pickup during calls.  I did like its sturdy plastic design with a metal button in the middle which is easy to find by sliding a finger across concave side of the remote.  All these little details make one big difference in how enjoyable it was to use these headphones, and undeniably everything about PM-3 is full of such details.
 
But without a doubt a "star" of accessories in here is the case!!!  Portable headphone is meant to be transported and could sustain damage if not adequately protected.  Why so many companies ignore this fact and include a draw string pouch to protect their products is beyond me.  I raise this question in a lot of my reviews, and always mention that consumers would even buy a form fitted case as an add-on accessory.  Here, Oppo included a hard shell zippered case, made with a fancy Selvedge Denim and a little handle to carry it in style.  Inside, the case is lined with a soft material and has an insert (held with velcro side) with a little separator to keep headphones/earpads from rubbing against each other.  Of course, the ability of PM-3 earcups to swing 180-deg helps to maintain a flat storage and even allows a little space for a cable inside of the case.  Headphone itself has to be stored flat with a cable removed, and the included cable pouch is very convenient to store both cables.
 
Accessories.
 
oppo_pm3-04_zps7ywmoocc.jpg   oppo_pm3-05_zpswvurns2a.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-06_zps4ftx03ts.jpg   oppo_pm3-07_zps3cwkamrq.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-08_zpslpkfkzvp.jpg   oppo_pm3-09_zpshqdsh8zi.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-10_zpstpougwyu.jpg
 
When it comes to a planar magnetic technology used in PM-3, the idea of multi-layer diaphragm with spiral pattern conductors and neodymium magnets is a mouthful that can make you think there is no way it could be fitted in a lightweight portable design, but it actually is.  Based on a design of their flagship open back PM-1 headphones, the diaphragm is very thin and ultra lightweight where along with PEM-optimized neodymium magnets Oppo was able to reduce the weight of the transducers while still maintaining a high level of sound quality.  In combination with metal/plastic housing and use of artificial leather material, the final weight without a cable is down to 320g - evenly distributed thanks to a balanced design and a comfortable fitment with a perfect clamping force (the first time where I didn't have to use my kids soccer ball to stretch the headband).
 
Starting with headband, it's leather wrapped with a nice soft cushioning on the inner side which comfortably rests on top of your head.  The height adjustment has a nice click mechanism and expandable steel part of the band attaches to a uniquely shaped yoke connected to earcups that swing full 180-degrees.  One interesting detail I noticed, inside of yoke there was 2 tiny rubber feet/stoppers to prevent tilting earcups from touching the alloy metal frame.  Also, the left end piece where yoke is attached to the headband had a little id bump underneath of clearly labeled "L" so you can easily determine a correct side even in the dark by sliding a finger.  The same Left earcup also houses 3.5mm headphone jack.
 
Earpads are soft and plush with an opening large enough to comfortable fit my medium/average size ears without actually touching the driver.  Of course, fitment will differ for people with bigger ears or larger size head, but I was pleased with a fitment and was able to achieve a good seal and a decent isolation despite an even thickness of earpads.  With some headphones you do need angled earpads to achieve a good level of seal, while here it worked perfectly as is.  As a matter of fact, even so they had an artificial leather material, my ears never got hot or sweaty ever after hours of continuous use.
 
Design.
 
oppo_pm3-11_zpsthrxwdls.jpg   oppo_pm3-12_zpsvvubketi.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-13_zps0y6bw7bz.jpg   oppo_pm3-14_zpstbab7crq.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-15_zpss1fgt2nj.jpg   oppo_pm3-16_zpsbf2cezov.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-17_zpsm8gbvxrh.jpg   oppo_pm3-18_zpsu5ozzhom.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-19_zpsyq7odwpm.jpg   oppo_pm3-20_zpsjcbvm64t.jpg
 
oppo_pm3-21_zpsjsi8vtea.jpg
 
Fitment.
 
oppo_pm3-24_zpsyronz7m7.jpg
 
 
As I mentioned in my EL-8C review, the principle behind planar magnetic design has been around for over 40 years under different names, but due to a progress in research and development to make it more lightweight and efficient, we are seeing more releases utilizing this fascinating technology.  Nevertheless, I still recommend to read Tyll's article about the history and the background of planar magnetic drivers: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/how-planar-magnetic-headphones-work#kbqmeSG6IEbqKEBw.97.  Also, Oppo product page has a lot of interesting info if you want to get more into the details of the technology behind the design: http://oppodigital.com/headphones-pm-3/
 
Before my sound evaluation of PM-3, I put these headphones through 100+ hours of standalone burn in to condition drivers to their full potential, though to my surprise the change only affected the low end of the spectrum while mids/treble remained the same.  Still, I'm a strong believer in standalone burn in to avoid a brain burn-in when you listen out of the box.  The next observation came about source dependency and how PM-3 pairs up with DAPs, laptop, and my smartphone.  Yes, PM-3 has 26 ohm nominal impedance and efficient 102 dB sensitivity, but I found a sound to scale up not only with a volume but also with a driving power.  When I say "scale up", I really mean the clarity of upper mids and lower treble.  There is no problem driving PM-3 loud with a portable source, but if you want to have a better retrieval of details - you need to juice them up with extra power.
 
As an example, I had no problem driving PM-3 with my Galaxy Note 4, and bass had a great slam, but mids were slightly veiled.  Pairing it up with HA-2 took a sound to a whole new level!  With AK120ii bass quality and extension improved, and mids became clear but not as detailed, more on a smoother side.  The same with Fiio X5ii and Cayin N6 in low gain setting, but in high gain they scaled up very nicely with a noticeable improvement in detail retrieval.  QLS QA360 pair up was a notch above everything else with an articulate low end and detailed organic mids and even improved airiness in treble.  N6 in high gain came very close to that as well.
 
Cable "rolling" was another source of sound improvement.  Stock cable yields a deep low end, clear mids (baseline clarity), and slightly rolled off treble (lacks air).  Switching to ASEN OFC cable (it has a slim connector extension), I hear a touch less sub-bass, and a little smoother mids.  Next, with Lunashops slim connector silver-plated cable I also found a touch less sub-bass, mids being a little brighter but at the same time loosing a little details.  The most significant improvement was with Linum cable using a short (0.8m) interconnect I had for test purpose - a very articulate tight bass response, a detailed bright mids, and a treble that came out to play!  I wanted to try my Pure silver cable as well, but the connector was not slim enough.
 
Going back to a stock cable and using QA360 as my source, I hear PM-3 sound as neutral-smooth with a warm detailed signature. These headphones have an excellent low end extension, organic smooth mids with a great retrieval of details, and a nice smooth treble with a slight roll off.  All this makes a perfect combination of clear detailed sound wrapped in warm smooth blanket.
 
In more details, low end is rather articulate with an excellent extension down to a delicately textured sub-bass rumble underneath of a slightly enhanced mid-bass hump.  Mid-bass has an average speed (not too aggressive, but also not too slow), and an average decay.  Bass is not super tight, but it's well controlled without spilling into lower mids.
 
Lower mids have a nice full body, contributing to organic nature of the sound.  Upper mids are smooth, clear, detailed - there is no artificial brightness or harsh peaks, and a sound is very natural, but not super detailed.  Both female and male vocals are organic and smooth, detailed, and at the same time a little laidback.
 
Treble is also smooth, detailed, not as extended (a little bit rolled off), but still with enough clarity to give a good sound definition.  There is not as much airiness or crispy edge, so it's perfect for non-fatigue extended listening.
 
Soundstage has an average width and depth, not super spacious, thus creating a more intimate slightly expanded feeling which is pretty good for closed back headphones. Despite this staging intimacy, the positioning and imaging is actually not bad; not exactly 3D, but convincing enough to envision accurate placement of instruments.  Due to a warmer smoother nature of a sound, instruments and vocals separation is just average. I mean, you can easily distinguish instruments and vocals, but the layering effect is not as clear as in some bright sound signature headphones.
 
Since my exposure to planar magnetic drivers started with Audeze EL-8C headphones, they would be my first comparison example.  As a matter of fact, I got quite a few requests asking me about this comparison since both headphones are closed back and intended for a portable/mobile use.  Here in more details how they stack up against each other.
 
oppo_pm3-23_zpsbme6r9bl.jpg
 
 
PM-3 vs EL-8C: EL sound is brighter and has less body; bass is more neutral in comparison, lower mids are a lot thinner and upper mids are more detailed and brighter, treble is crispier and more extended.  Sound has more airiness and slightly bigger soundstage in both width/depth, while PM-3 feels more intimate in comparison.  So the biggest difference is EL being brighter, thinner, more analytical, and slightly more spacious while PM-3 is being warmer, more natural/organic, smoother, and more intimate.  PM-3 is more portable since it's lighter, smaller, easier to wear outside.  Both have the same level of passive noise isolation.  Also, a standard 3.5mm removable cable is a big plus for PM-3.  Furthermore, from a pricing perspective, PM-3 + HA-2 combined in price equal to EL-8C.  In my opinion, these headphones don't really compete, but rather compliment each other with their differences.  The only thing they have in common is planar magnetic drivers and closed back design, and a preference for either high-gain DAP setting or external amping.  Everything else is distinct to help you make a decision based on your sound preference and your intended application.
 
Comparing to some of the other headphones I have or tested in the past, here is what I found.
 
PM-3 vs MH40: MH40 bass is slower and not as articulate, it doesn't have the same sub-bass extension, lower mids are a touch thinner and upper mids sounds a bit hollow and a little artificial (in comparison) with less details and clarity, while treble is very similar.  MH40 staging has more depth, but overall sound is more veiled and not as refined.  Earcups are shallow and not as comfortable.  Both have a unique luxurious design, but MH is definitely heavier.  MH is not as picky about the source or the driving power.
 
PM-3 vs B&W P7: P7 has a stronger mid-bass hump which can overpower the sound, lower mids are similar but upper mids sounds a little more colored and less natural, and also treble has a better extension, but it could get a bit crunchy.  Soundstage is similar, on a more intimate average level.  Both have an excellent build quality with luxurious looks and materials, though I prefer a standard 3.5mm headphone connector vs proprietary 2.5mm under the cup in P7.  Furthermore, PM-3 has a more comfortable fitment with a more relaxed (without sacrificing isolation) clamping force.  P7 is not as picky about the source or the driving power.
 
PM-3 vs ATH-MSR7: MSR7 low end has a similar sub-/mid-bass balance but quantity is scaled down.  Also, low end is not as articulate.  Lower mids are thinner and upper mids are brighter and a little more detailed, though can get a bit harsher.  Treble has a much better extension.  Staging width/depth are a little better, but overall sound is thinner and less organic, while PM-3 is smoother and with a fuller body.  MSR7 is very efficient, easy to drive, and not as picky about the source.
 
PM-3 vs W60: I know, I'm comparing IEMs to a full size HP, but I just had to add this one for a comparison due to Westone's smooth/warm signature.  W60 has a very similar low end, and even some similarities in lower mids as well as treble extension where it also lacks airiness.  The difference is in upper mids where W60 is slightly recessed, a little less detailed, and a little smoother.  W60 also has a slightly wider/deeper soundstage.  Both are picky about the source, though W60 doesn't require any amping.
 
I already mentioned that I found planar magnetic drivers to require some extra power in order to shine, something that not every source can provide on its own.  Thus, here are some of the results testing PM-3 with different portable amplifiers and using Cayin N6 LO as a source.
 
With Cayin C5 (in low gain): excellent pair up, deep articulate bass, more clarity/details in mids, a little more airiness in treble, soundstage gets more 3D with improved width and depth, also I noticed an improvement in sound separation and imaging.
 
With FiiO E12A (in low gain): very similar improvement as with C5 (more articulate bass, more clarity and better retrieval of details), but soundstage is not as wide/deep as C5.
 
With Oppo HA-2 (in low gain): in this pair up the bass doesn't get deeper but becomes tighter and more articulate with a better definition.  Mids are more detailed but still remain smooth, treble extension improves and you get more airiness.
 
In a summary, I like HA-2 pair up better because it doesn't affect sub-bass as much, tightens the bass overall, improves retrieval of details without making sound brighter or harsher.  But it can't match C5 soundstage expansion.
 
With Note 4 vs Note 4/HA-2: HA-2 helps bass to become more articulate, tighter, faster/punchier, mids are clearer and more detailed, and even treble extension improves, becoming more airy.
 
Conclusion.
 
To say that I was impressed with PM-3 would be an understatement.  Everything from a design to a comfort of fitment and its smooth neutral signature put a checkmark next to my headphone requirements.  At the same time, it wasn't 100% perfect since connecting it directly to my laptop or my smartphone didn't bring their sound to a full potential and required usb DAC to kick it up a notch in order to bring out more details of upper mids.  With majority of my DAPs, either with high power output or using high-gain setting, it was just a pleasure to use PM-3 in a portable on-the-go setup.  But in general, it's not just a design and a sound that makes PM-3 so attractive, it's actually their pricing which puts them in a category with a lot of other dynamic headphones where Oppo definitely stands out from a crowd against most of it competition.  For a portable (closed back) use, these are the most affordable full size headphones utilizing the cutting edge of planar magnetic driver design, and paired up with Oppo HA-2 portable headphone amplifier - this becomes one serious portable listening combo that can go head-to-head with a more expensive competition, as long as neutral-smooth sound signature with a great detail retrieval is your cup of tea!
earwaxxer
earwaxxer
Great review - much appreciated! I have a pair on the way. 
kittisiri
kittisiri
@twister6
Now I'm using PM-3 with iPhone 6, streaming 320kbps music from Spotify, without any Amp/DAC.  Although I like the sound, it seems to be boring and not energetic sometimes.  I think I'm good with mids and highs but not satisfied with bass and sub-bass yet.  It's just perfect with jazz and bossanova, but bland with rock and EDM.
 
Which Amp/DAC will you recommend among Cayin C5, Oppo HA-2, E12, and others ?
 
Just need some guide before I drive a few hours to the store.
Thanks a lot !
KaspianXL
KaspianXL
Excellent review! I particularly appreciate the comparisons to different cans and the comments on how the Oppos sound with different amplification. This kind of information really helps paint a more complete sonic picture.
Pros: Never have I heard something closed sound so open. Sounds practically perfect.
Cons: If you want a bombastic, thrilling, party machine, this is not it.
 
 
Thanks to Oppo for the sample
 
Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/777779/oppo-pm-3-review-by-mark2410
 
Brief:  Eh? A portable planar you say???  Witchcraft, witchcraft I say!!!
 
Price:  RRP is US$400 or £350, trip to the US anyone?
 
Specification:  Lots see here https://www.oppodigital.com/headphones-pm-3/headphones-PM-3-Features.aspx
 
Accessories:  You get a hard case for them and I got 3 cables.  One with no mic that was 3m long, the other two were “Android and Windows” phone cables with mic’s, one white and one black.  I presume that one should have been an “Apple” one maybe?  I don’t know, the specs don’t really say either, weird.  Oh and a 6.25 to 3.5mm adapter too.  Doh, the big case too.
 
Build Quality:  Par excellence.  The metal construction is extremely solid.  The soft bits feel soft and of excellent quality for pleather.  The eye says tre premium and the hand agrees.
 
Isolation:  Adequate.  I’m not big on closed cans for outdoor use but you could.  Should be fine for on a bus or walking with normal traffic noises.  Not really what I’d choose for a Tube commute or a long flight but vastly better than nothing.  Still, a planar that is closed and svelte enough to be portable?!?!?  Just do try to not get too lost in the music, least you require scraping off the front of some bus you didn’t notice.
 
Comfort/Fit:  Mostly very good.  I did get a slight pinching on my left ear.  Not painful or anything, just a bit of pressure and after a few hours my ear wanted a break to breathe.  The cups were just that tiny bit not deep enough to not be just touching my ear. 
 
Aesthetics:   Ooooh, fancy.  Oh if only the black ones had bare metal backs (like the white ones are) then they would have been perfect.  Even photos of them in white and all that brushed metal, damn.  I normally hate things in white too but I do love bare metal.  They look as classy as they sound.
 
Sound:  A little bit unbelievable.  These are planar headphones, they are closed, they are portable and you can run them off your phone????  You would be forgiven for thinking someone was bull shi… err misleading you.  Yet they are, they actually sounded amazing out of the Iphone 5, double take amazing where I had to check at first I’d plugged the right cable into the right socket.  How????  I have no idea how they have done it, it makes no sense but they have.  These are just outstanding, for a closed headphone to sound so light and quick, so open and spacious.  They are so polite and smooth too yet having highly quick transients and superbly delicate uppers.  The lows too are so casually fast and sustainable.  So polite and reserved and accurately clean.  In my head I can’t stop myself thinking of the HD600 but these are better, lighter, faster and yet closed.  The depth is better too as open cans have massive issues reaching low but these being closed can get there with relative ease.  Tonally so politely balanced with just a slight peak towards the upper mids/lower treble region that very rarely got a little over assertive.  Still vocals are so wide, so spacious and elegantly polite.  Oh god it’s such a mature sounding, proper audiophile tuned headphone.
 
Value:  US$400 for US’ians or £350 for the home of Magna Carta.  VAT does not account for all that discrepancy.  Of course the PM-1 is £1000 so…….probably easier if you just give them your wallet and let them take what they want.
 
Pro’s:  Never have I heard something closed sound so open.  Sounds practically perfect.
 
Con’s:  If you want a bombastic, thrilling, party machine, this is not it.

  • Like
Reactions: altrunox and 435279
Pros: Great sound. Easy to listen to. Comfortable. Packaging is well thought of.
Cons: Hardware can be improved. A little bulky for being a portable. Still needs an amp to get the best out of the cans.
Never owned a Planar Magnetic headphones and have been wondering what the fuss is all about. Only impression I had on them were "expensive". But yet, over the period of time that I have read all the reviews here, it seems that everyone who owns a pair have nothing but good things to say. So when OPPO released the PM-3, it fulfilled two things that compelled me to get one. Price and Closed Ear Design. 

At US$399, this is a mid priced and reasonable asking price for something that is the "entry level for the high end". And since I only use headphones when I am traveling, closed design is very important for me. 

SOUND

The PM-3 is considered "neutral" for me, since I listen to music primarily on studio monitors when I am at work or at home. Easy to listen to at low levels, and no fatiguing. Bottom end is not boomy and the mids are smooth. The highs are pretty controlled, and overall detailed. I am sure using better quality amps will coax an even better sound from these cans. 

COMFORT

The clamp is comfortable for me, and the longest that I have worn these cans so far has been about 3 hours and they are very comfortable. 

BUILD

The build is good, something that is expected for the price one has to pay for these headphones. The only thing that I think could be improved is the connector on the headphones. For some reasons, I think adding a nice screw thread is not too much to ask for, and it will prevent one from pushing the plug into the jack too hard, and give a sense of "secured connection". Something I hope OPPO and other headphone designers will take into consideration in the future. Otherwise, it is well built, the ear pads are comfortable for long hours of wearing, and the headband is nice. 

I have only spent about a week on these cans and they are growing on me. I really like them. Hope that after running them in, the sound will get better. It should. In a few months' time, I should be investing into a higher end Planar Magnetic headphones, just because with these entry level ones, the sound is already so amazing. I cannot imagine how the mid-high end ones will sound. Time to find out. 
  • Like
Reactions: all999
kleefurd
kleefurd
Thanks for the "note" on how well the PM-3 performs without the need for an amp. I thought the PM-3 did gain some nicer bottom end with the TEAC HA-P50, but I do like how it sounds just with the iPod Nano. Looks like you are enjoying the PM-3 with your Note and iPod Touch 5g. Nice!
Mark Up
Mark Up
Nice review. I record, mix, master music also. I'll still prefer my custom mastering towers, or mixing setup (Dynaudio BM6A Mk1 Black with a -3 db treble cut the new grey series lack and a custom sub in a good space that gets down to 20 hz). Headphones for occasional alternative views. 

That said, I've auditioned probably a hundred pairs to settle on the Senn HD650, for a mid focused sound, easy on the ears, I wish they had 1 db more "air" (above 10 khz) and a low shelf boost  that peaks 2 - 4 db 20 hz (with a curve starting at 40-50 hz, since there is plenty at and above 50 hz), and the Shure SRH1540 when I want a more subs and clarity) but still better than average mids also.

Unlike the ATH-M50 they don't have the resonant build up, or their big treble spike, near 10 khz that makes them hard to listen to. I just wished the Shures had 1-2 db more at 20 hz, and maybe 1 db less in the higher bass area. They're not perfect, but a perfect closed alternative to the Senn. HD650 cans. So the PM3 have intrigued me. Have you heard the phones above? How do they compare?

I think many judge the bass quality on mid bass, and may not know what sub bass is (I don't mean you). I've heard some rave about some having great bass that did nothing under 30 hz. I work with every genre, but a lot of it is Hip Hop so I need to hear an 808 boom that is mostly at 20 - 30 hz, as they'll happen from time to time. It's not so much about boosted bass, but fully extended response. 
kleefurd
kleefurd
HI Mark, looks like you have a nice set up and studio going there. I think we have very different "ears" though. I started out as a blessed engineer, working from Quested, Genelac, NS10M (mono bloc driven) to large 3-way Quested, recently adding Adam S2A and Eve Audio 205s to my home studio. I never got used to working with Dynaudio or Genelac, though I love listening to music from them. 

In the studio, it has always been the AKG K240 Studio, nothing else, until recently when I ventured out and used HD25, Beyerdynamic DT1350 and recently the OPPO PM-3. They are "neutral" to my ears, as with Westone in-ears (although I think Westone is already very mid-heavy to my ears). So we pretty much reference things a little different. Probably also due to the fact that I am in Asia and sounds are a lot different from where you are. 

That said, I have heard the Sennehisers, Shure and AT headphones you mentioned, and I think they are all too mid-heavy to my liking. "Honky" is the word I used to describe them, probably because of the monitors that I have always been using, which is a little more flat. 

As for the OPPO PM-3, the 808s can be picked up, but they do not go crazy in your ears. To a fellow engineer, I would say the PM-3 is very "sweet" sounding, and quite "forgiving" even though at the same time it is revealing. It is a very strange sound, and I believe it is the technology behind these Planar Magnetics. As if there is a really Oxford-type transparent multi band compressors working in the background taming everything, until one really badly recorded track come on... When it sounds bad in the PM-3, it is "to the thrash", really really really bad. 

It is hard to describe the sound, you have to go listen to them. They are very fun, and I have been reaching for it these few days while tracking some demos. They are fun to work with, and I am able to get a cleaner rough mix with them (referencing to Eve Audio Monitors) then the DT1350. The bottom end of the PM-3 is quite clean and clear, so any over compression and enhancement will bite you and you know you have to ease off the fader/knob. 

I recommend that you go try them, they make a very interesting reference headphones. Not grossly expensive, and offer an insight as an engineer making music for the masses out there who are ever adopting the new technology and sound. I think this is the next step in headphones voicing, as more and more new headphones get tuned in a very interesting way. In a good way. They are very musical to me. 
Top