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OPPO PM-3 Portable Planar Magnetic Headphones Loaner Program

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  1. ZABrock
    I've had the opportunity to listen to these a bit, so I want to post some impressions. I'm in no way an expert in the headphone world or really an audiophile - this is the first set of cans above $200 I've heard and my only other reference point is a pair of Westone IEM's - so please bear with me. Though hopefully this nooby perspective can help my fellow audio novices.

    At first listen, to be honest, I kinda felt the same way that the one guy who thought his set of cans had been blown somehow - I'm not sure what it was, but it sounded like something was wrong. The thing that was wrong must have been my ears, though, because I got accustomed to them and I think I'm sold. They're so CLEAR. The bass isn't booming, but the attack is so fast that it has thump, especially in electronic tracks like Madeon's "Imperium". I think my ears have accustomed themselves to the balanced sound some and that helps - I've been used to bigger bass and these did sound bass-light at first, but a little EQ (I use the Rock or Latin presets on an iPhone 6 and iTunes mostly) and some acclimatization have settled me in. Jed Whedon's "Drones" was a pleasure to listen to - every instrument and sound is easily distinguished and sounds clear, crisp, and tight.

    Watching movies brings out some extraordinary detail. I watched the Podracing and duel scenes from The Phantom Menace and the quality was amazing, though the soundstage is small. Gaming can sometimes feel anemic in my view because the bass isnt boosted, but I did notice a lot of detail I hadn't heard before, and perhaps some EQ'ing or amping could solve the issue of low bass - I don't yet own an amp.

    The build quality is excellent on these cans. They look and feel like a premium product. As part of my testing, I took them down to the Apple Store to compare them against a couple other pairs of headphones I'd heard were good: the M&D MH40's and the Bower and Wilkins P7's. While both sets had noticeably bigger bass, they sound muddy in comparison. They're easier to drive than the PM-3's and I felt the P7's were more comfortable, but the PM-3's had better isolation and the MH40's made me feel like there was a strange pressure differential around my ears that I didn't like and were difficult to attain a good fit with for me. My access to different test units for headphones is pretty small, but out of these three, the PM-3's won based on their clarity and comfort, and sounded like enough of an upgrade from both sets that I feel like I'll be hard pressed to find a dynamic can that can match the PM-3's clarity.

    Overall, for me, the PM-3's give you great clarity and level of detail at the cost of some volume and boom in the lower range. For me, that cost is worth it. I'm sincerely happy with these cans and will probably be purchasing a pair soon. Thanks so much to JiffySquid and Oppo for this program!

    Edit:Speaking of not having an amp/DAC, has anyone tried pairing the Oppo PM-3 with the Audioengine D1 or a similarly priced unit? It looks to have what I need and I'm curious to know if anyone could tell me how they pair.
  2. istirsin
    I agree to the terms and conditions. I'd like to do it provisionally (in Ontario, Canada).
  3. Tequilasunriser
    I'd like to sign up for the loaner program. I agree to the terms and conditions.
  4. RedJohn456
    PM3 Canada Unit 2 shipped off to @geetarman49 
    Thanks @Jiffy Squid  For having an awesome program like this. I wasn't too happy with how the PM3 sounded until I heard it properly amped and I have to say the headphone is really growing on me. I am going to a local Oppo dealer on saturday to try out demo units of both the PM3 and HA2 along with the HA1 and the entire PM3 line up!
  5. fishpatrol
    Here's the TL;DR version of my review. I agree with what others have said about the clarity of sound. I really enjoyed listening to the details in familiar recordings, though I had to turn up my USB-powered DAC (Arcam rPAC) up fairly loud. Bass tones didn't get muddy, and with the right recording had good oomph. 
    I have a Stax SRS-005ii, and the Oppo pretty easily outshone it. Both had great highs, but mids were much cleaner with the Oppo.
    I didn't find that I was bothered by the clamping force, but the weight of the PM-3s did wear me out after listening for a couple hours, a couple days in. 
    The biggest strike against them, for me, was the lack of attack. I'd listen to a recording with acoustic guitar. Notes start--they sound great--but there's no pluck. They begin out of nothing. This happened pretty well across the board. Vocals, piano performances, drums. My guess is that it's a planar tech thing. For whatever reason it bugs me quite a lot, puts me in an audio uncanny valley.
    I took my little rig (ALAC>rPAC) to the Apple Store. Not a great listening environment, but the PM-3s do a solid job of blocking outside noise. I listened to B&O's H8 (so boomy! No H6 open for demo), B&W's P5 wireless (nope), MH40 (no no no) and B&W's P7, which was my favorite of the group. Not, "This is the one!" But I liked the sound signature, and it was clear that when notes began, some action had been taken to start them.
    This 6 minutes of Audio Quirks Radio brought to you very generously by Oppo. I had a great time listening. Thanks for this loaner program.
  6. AudioBear
    Odd, I'd like to hear more from others. I didn't tweak on this characteristic in my week with them. I thought they were very quick but maybe we're not talking about the same thing.
  7. sheldaze
    I can almost visualize what he's saying, though I may not phrase it any more clearly. It is as-if a planar has no weight associated with each note. There's just a quick sound and then gone. To my ears it was definitely the speed that took the most time to adjust to during my rental period with these headphones. I should probably focus more on comparing the fast dynamic drivers, such as the HD800, at the next headphone meet I attend, and compare with the planar headphones.
  8. AudioBear
    I understand what you mean.  I guess I am not analytical enough. You would think with a larger area moving air than a conventional dynamic driver that it would be the other way around.  I wonder if the coherence of the planar takes away some of the effect we are accustomed to in the dynamic presentation.  The dynamic will be more smeared in time which could give the effect of --for want of a better way to say it--putting more meat on the notes.  They would seem to last longer and maybe have a more poly-disperse envelope of frequency and distortions that give the notes their musical flavor.  In a sense maybe less accurate reproduction in the time domain is more likeable since we've been listening to dynamic drivers all our lives.
    Having said this I realize I am not taking into account time-alignment issues associated with driver size, geometry, and variation in distance from the tympanic membrane.  So what I conjecture above may have nothing to do with the difference at all.
  9. DrawTheLine87
    This train of thought reminds me of something similar with movies. A few movies have recently been released at 48fps... which despite being a more accurate depiction of what we see, has been frowned upon by (many) film enthusiasts. I assume this is because most people are used to watching films at 24fps (roughly).

    It would seem accuracy and enjoyment can sometimes be two different things.
  10. AudioBear
    There is both a slight frame rate flicker at 24fps and a softness that is often called the look of a movie or cinematographic look.  Change anything and people miss the old look and sound.   Look at the love for vinyl and tubes....old cars, etc/
    Yes, it may be very analogous.  A more accurate reproduction is not necessarily appreciated if it's not in our memory or comfort zone. 
  11. wega03
    I just open the pm3, I love the construction and isolation, time to listen some music
  12. Blueshound24
    PM-3 unit #4 received. Thanks for setting up the the loaner program jiffy-squid!
  13. ZABrock
    PM-3 Unit 2 was just delivered for shipment. That was the fastest week of my life :frowning2: but now they're headed off to another lucky tester.
  14. istirsin

    I'm trying to decide between the MH40 and the PM3. I haven't heard the latter yet but the MH40s had a fun and punchy dynamic sound with plenty of attack. Considering that you ruled out the MH40, how much worse was it than the PM3?
  15. money4me247 Contributor
    this closed portable comparison may be helpful. http://www.marco.org/headphones-closed-portable
    I don't agree with everything, but generally good overview :)
    imo, the mh40 has more coloration to its sound signature. really just depends on personal preference which one you prefer. cheers!
    istirsin likes this.
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