The OPPO PM-3 is my first delve into both OPPO's headphones, and planar magnetic headphones in general. Being fairly new to the hi-fi audio crowd, the $400 I forked over for these cans are the most I've ever spent on a pair of headphones, and I did not do it lightly. My wallet is still a little on the thin side, but I am happy to report that these headphones well warrant their price, and they are really are great.
Packaging, Accessories, Etc.
The PM-3 comes in a stylish dark grey/black box that has a sort of grain feel to it with a silver OPPO logo placed in the bottom right corner of the top. Inside the box is a hard denim carrying case which houses the headphones themselves. The headphones come with a 3 meter cable and an additional cable for portable use, chosen by the buyer while checking out. I chose the android cable for use with my S5, but an Apple variant and a straight cable are also available. The extra cable comes in it's own packaging, while the longer cable comes in a small drawstring bag which also holds the included 3.5 to 1/4 adapter.
The headphones themselves are a combination of metal, plastic, and synthetic leather. The headband and the parts that hold the ear cups are all metal, but the ear cups themselves are plastic. The back of the ear cups have a nice brushed metal look, which I like much better than the original glossy design that OPPO had on the prototypes. The headband is not hinged, and therefore it does not fold inward, but the PM-3 does fold flat either way to become more portable. The ear pads and headband I believe both use the same type of synthetic leather, which, might I add, is the most comfortable synthetic leather I have ever felt. The ear pads are nice and thick while the material within is supple and soft, which makes these headphones very comfortable to wear. While I don't know the exact measurements of the openings on the headphones, I can definitely say my ears fit very comfortably inside the headphone, albeit with little room to spare.
To reiterate what I stated above in the Build Quality section of this review, I find the PM-3 to be very comfortable. The clamping force is a little high, but the pads are soft and thick enough to sort of mold onto the head. My ears fit within the openings on the ear cups, so that also is a big plus.
Overall the sound quality of the PM-3 is very neutral, though a teensy bit of coloration was added to give a bit of excitement to the signature. I find the sound signature to do everything very well, but even within the category of "very well," there are still certain things the PM-3 does better than others.
The highs on the PM-3 are smooth instead of sharp, which means that you will be hard pressed to find someone who finds these headphones fatiguing in regard to treble. The tradeoff, however, is that they are not as airy and clear as some other headphones. Even though the highs are smooth, this is definitely not an indication that the PM-3 lacks detail or clarity, or that OPPO threw these characteristics out the window when designing the PM-3, because they definitely do exhibit good detail and clarity. I believe the designers of this headphone tried to find a sweet spot between an overly bright treble and a veiled treble, and I believe the resulting signature is very pleasing, though your opinion may differ.
The mids definitely stand out on these headphones, as vocals and stringed instruments are clear, detailed, and accurately represented. I discovered new things I had never heard before, and even when I didn't, I was still blown away by how well each instrument presents itself separately instead of being blended into the track. Suffice to say, if you like music with a lot of instrumentation, you are in for a treat.
The bass is a bit mixed for me, as it is very tight and accurate, but I feel as though it is a little lacking in respect to the rest of the frequencies. The extension is very good, with most of the low frequencies being picked up without a problem, but I found myself wanting a bit more of a slam in some songs. That being said, I would rather have too little bass than too much bass, so I am completely happy with the signature in that regard.
The soundstage is another place where the PM-3 falters a little. The stage definitely isn't as wide as an open back pair of headphones would be, but when the noise isolation and ear cups are taken into consideration, it is much easier to forgive this shortcoming. Even at loud listening volumes, these headphones leak little to no sound.
These headphones can definitely travel. They hit all the checkboxes that one could have for a pair of headphones to leave the house. The PM-3 are stylish, they are easy to drive, they isolate excellently, and they come with a very nice carrying case.
The PM-3 is rated at an impedance of 26 OHMs, which means that any smartphone or ipod should be able to sufficiently drive them. In a completely silent room on my S5, I can get to around 11/15 before I have to turn it down because it is too loud, and I listen to music loudly. They might not go loud enough unamped if you were to use them in very loud scenarios.
I don't have much in the ways of amplification, but I have been using a portable Fiio E6 with my phone, which can actually make the PM-3 go VERY loud. The second bass boost setting on the E6 (the blue one) is also very good with the PM-3. At home on my desktop I use my O2, which definitely brings out more bass and detail in the headphones. In comparison to just the S5, both the E6 and the O2 make the headphone sound better.
The OPPO PM-3 is a wonderful headphone definitely worth it's price of $400. With it's wonderful build quality, stellar sound quality, and great portability, the PM-3 nails every mark it sets out to. Though the bass could be a little more present, and the soundstage a little wider, these are minor gripes in comparison to the PM-3's many strengths. If you are looking for a great portable headphone, I would highly recommend these.
This is my first review on Head-fi. If you have any advice or suggestions, please let me know.