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Nvm, got some demo units elsewhere!
Hi, I would like to participate and agree to the terms and conditions. Just bought the Oppo HA-2 and would love to try it with the PM-3's and compare them with my HE-400s. Thanks!
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I agree to the terms and conditions and would like to participate. Thank you.
Unit #8 is on its way to the next person in line.
I would like to participate and agree to the terms and conditions of the program. Thank you!
Thanks for sending them quickly. I got the pm-3 today Wednesday March 23rd, trying them out now.
Here are my thoughts on the Oppos (OP). I compared them to headphones I had on hand, the Audio Technica ATH-A900X (AT) and the Hifiman 400i (HF). I played FLAC’s off my Macbook into a USB DAC Astro MIXAMP, which is the only amp I have right now. I tried direct output from an iPhone 6 and straight out of the headphone jack of the MAC, but felt that in all cases, the USB DAC was superior.
I played the same tracks for each set of headphones. As I am not an experienced reviewer, I thought I’d just post impressions of various tracks, which I stick at the bottom due to the length.
Let’s get this out of the way. I have a big head. Once, my son was sent home from the pediatrician with a measuring tape to make sure he was genetically predisposed to a 99th percentile head. That being said, the OP was extremely comfortable, with very little space around the ears. If I had bigger ears, I might be in trouble, but I was fine. Foam was nice and soft. In comparison, the AT had much bigger earpads (circular), and there was plenty of “breathing” room. Foam was a bit harder. The AT pads press against my glasses on the side of my head, so the OP wins handily on comfort for me.
The HF is like the AT size-wize and it’s obviously got big circular earpads as well. With the velour surface on the pads, and the cushier foam, the HF was more comfortable for certain. On the other hand, I still feel my glasses a bit.
Pretty neutral overall. Beautiful vocals, female, operatic, folk. Symphonic pieces had excellent resolution. Remarkable consistency at fairly high volumes with a lack of any serious distortion, although I was bothered a bit by some hardness in the upper mid-range. Low end seemed satisfying, well controlled, but did not go low enough to play a truly convincing tympani or electric bass guitar (yet does not try to fake it with unnatural upper bass). I noted a tiny amount of graininess on complex timbres (e.g. string sections, choral harmonies), but it was by no means distracting.
I love the overall sound. Due to my experience with the AT, I expected to be bothered by resonances from the closed earcups, but was pleasantly surprised. Loved the detail and clarity. I hear similarities to the sonic signature of my electrostatic loudspeakers (never heard ES headphones). IMHO, the Oppo PM3 is a great full range, closed-back pair of cans, with good neutrality and speed. They are easy to drive and can be used on-the-go. I could live with these for a long time.
The HF goes lower (evident with tympani), but there seems to be a bit of uneveness in the bass, heard through the bottom strings of acoustic bass recordings and some male vocals. A hair better clarity. The HF also resolved complex timbres better than all the other headphones. Soundstage more open, spacious (not a surprise). Comparing the frequency responses of the OP and HF, the most notable aberrations to me were the OP’s upper mid-range harshness and the HF’s low-end bloom. Both were livable. If I had a choice between the two, I honestly wouldn’t know what to pick, as a closed-back phone is more versatile but I like the overall sound better on the HF.
The AT wasn’t in the same league. It had enough aberrations in the frequency response, particularly in the midrange that marred vocals. On the other hand, it had punchy bass and better high frequency extension.
The following are a couple of notes that should be taken with many grains of salt because it relies on my memory, recent and otherwise:
For many years, I used to own Sennheiser HD-600’s that were stolen in an office burglary. My ancient memory of them is that they were darker and less detailed. If I had $400, it would go to the Oppo’s.
More recently, I bought AKG Q701’s in December, but returned them to Amazon. They were very good, and the clear comfort winner from all the headphones I mentioned. They had a peakiness in the upper mid-range that I couldn’t get over, which was quite evident in brass instruments and the upper end of pianos. Although I could easily equalize it out, I decided to move on. If you aren’t sensitive to this type of distortion, I would highly recommend the Q701’s, but they were no match for the PM3’s.
INDIVIDUAL TRACK NOTES:
For those who might be interested in my specific impressions, here are my listening notes. I tried to keep note of anything I happened to notice. I didn’t include all the tracks, as I wasn’t too disciplined about listening to every track with every pair of phones.
Bettye Lavette, I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise, Little Sparrow
OP: Devastating Dolly Parton cover by an incredible interpreter, this track reveals quantity and quality of mid-bass. The OP seemed to go reasonably low (but not as low as my reference loudspeakers, which are flat to 25hz). A sonically muddy track, the vocals come out quite clearly. Impressive.
AT: Bass seems to be comparable, but vocals are not close: cupped and echoey in comparison.
HF: More visceral impact bass-wise. Notice the reverb more on the voice. Quite clear, maybe a bit darker than the OP.
Chopin, The Complete Etudes (Earl Wild), Op. 10, No. 1 C Major
OP: Excellent Chesky recording. Wonderful clarity, but a bit clangy on the upper octaves of the piano. Not bad enough to be bothersome, even at high volume.
AT: Immediately darker sounding. Still a bit of harshness on the upper octaves of the piano, but not as pronounced.
HF: Seemed quite balanced up and down the keyboard. Not as clangy as the OP, but an occasional bass note seems emphasized.
Sonny Rollins, Plus 3, What A Difference A Day Makes
OP: This track features prominent electric bass for straight-ahead jazz, and the 00s Sonny had a more pinched tone that thankfully, these headphones don’t exacerbate. Overall, the tenor sounds warm and full-bodied Nice, extended high-end evident by cymbal splashes mid track.
AT: Again, darker tonal balance. Softer transients evident. Cymbals are respectable, and a bit brighter.
HF: Cymbals sound more spacious and real. Unevenness of the bass evident as the bass walks up and down.
Marilyn Mazur, Elixir, Bell Painting
OP: ECM recording. Great imaging and clarity. Satisfying high frequency extension from a track of pure chimes.
AT: Interesting that although the sound is clearly “slower”, the AT’s seem to have more airiness or extended upper high frequencies.
HF: Hearing more detail than the OP, with some better delineation of the overtones and shimmer of the chimes.
Jason Isbell, Southeastern, Cover Me Up
OP: Dramatic shifts in volume by Isbell often reveal midrange harshness, and the OP did admirably with low and almost live levels.
AT: Somewhat shouty vocals in comparison. Acoustic guitar rendered well.
HF: Tiny bit of harshness on the dynamic vocals evident, but similar to the OP. Very realistic presentation.
Lucius, Wildewoman, Go Home
OP: Not a great recording, but fun harmonies by the vocalists. Mild graininess evident during chorus.
AT: Softer bass evident, cuppy vocals with graininess.
HF: Cleanest harmonies of all. Can hear the two vocalists distinctly.
Cassandra Wilson, New Moon Daughter, Love is Blindness
OP: Outstanding overall balance, as Wilson’s deeper-than-typical female voice can get drowned out from other instruments. Nice.
AT: Grainier vocals, tonal colorations more evident. Murkier overall, but still respectable.
HF: Some bass bloom showing through, but amazing vocal reproduction. Noticing quite a bit of detail.
Miles Davis, Complete Miles Davis at Montreux, Time After Time (1988)
OP: Live late-era Miles. Never able to hear what Miles says in the microphone, until now. Open horn trumpet blasts blissfully lacking in distortion.
AT: A touch murkier, but respectable performance. Low and high ends seem more extended on this track than the OP.
HF: More realistic crowd. As with the OP, great horn sound. Most spacious soundscape, with “air” around the individual instruments.
Pat Metheny, What’s It All About, The Sound of Silence
OP: Beautifully recorded custom guitar that has additional bass strings. Realistic rendering.
AT: Lack of high end evident, and occasional harsh notes.
HF: Best sound overall, with some harmonic shimmer coming to the forefront.
Luciano Pavarotti, Arias, Nessun Dorma
OP: Classic performance (from the 70’s?), with Pavarotti in fine voice. Very smooth up and down the octaves.
AT: Some uneveness evident. Again, a slight hollowness to the vocal.
HF: Best overall, with no prominent colorations.
Next user on my list, your pm-3 is in the mail and on the way. Enjoy, Robert (onitafmw55)
Interested to test the headset, I agree to the terms and conditions of the program. Thank you!
Luca from Italy
I've already sent the representative a pm that I can no longer participate in the loaner program.
If anyone has my address with the city and state ORLANDO FL and my middle name Del. Please do not send me the headphones
received a PM-3 Unit #8 on Friday, looks like from onitafmw55. enjoying these so far, looks like your up next judzillah.
I would like to join the PM-3 loaner program. I agree to the terms and conditions of the program. I look forward to participating!
Thanks. Good review.
Interested in joining the PM-3 loaner program. I agree to the terms and conditions of the program.
Looking forward to it! Thanks.