Oppo PM-3 Review (vs. the Sony MDR-1As)
Oct 15, 2015 at 3:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5


Headphoneus Supremus
Oct 6, 2014
Chicago Suburbs
So I started reading all these reviews on the Oppo PM-3 planar magnetic headphones. The reviews were consistently strong, with some saying they're the best headphones (at least closed-back with an opened-back sound headphones lol) out there for under $500, and one site even said $1000! lol One review in particular's "Our Verdict" really got my attention. This definitely piqued my curiosity, so I decided to try them out vs my Sony MDR-1As which I also love very much, and see which one would be better. The PM-3s sell for $399 (1As are $299), but I was able to find a site that sold them for only $369, no tax or shipping either. So then they showed up................
Packaging: The packaging of the PM-3s is pretty nice. Easy to open box, looks premium enough, etc. All contents are packaged neatly in the box too. You get all the cables you need, including a couple regular cables (3 meters and 1.2 meters) with 3.5mm connectors, a larger connection adapter for home stereo amps and systems, and a really nice denim jean hard case. If you order from Oppo (which I did not), you also get your choice of a free Android or iOS in-line remote cable (1.2 meters I believe). I have no interest in in-line remote cables, so this was not an issue for me at all. I really liked that they included a hard case with the headphones. Don't really like having to buy that separately. Headphones fit perfectly in the case with room for cables too. 
Looks: In terms of appearance, the PM-3s reminded me a little bit of the B&W P7s, which I recently pitted against my 1As, and although close, they didn't have quite the same "bass PUNCH" the 1As did, so I just returned those. Aesthetically-speaking, the P7s are still my favorite, but the PM-3s do resemble them. I do love the looks of the 1As too, or else I wouldn't have kept them for as long as I have. I'm a big fan of Sony in general anyway, so that played into me purchasing the 1As too (I own SEVERAL of their products and love all of them.) 
Comfort: I found the PM-3s to be very comfortable. My 1As however are slightly more comfortable though, which has mostly to do with weight. The PM-3s weigh less than a quarter pound more than the 1As, but even with that tiny of a gap, you still can feel the difference. However, despite all that, the PM-3s still fit and feel great on my head, even after a few hours. You can always stretch them out on some books too if it's an issue as that might help, but they're nothing like my old Sennheiser HD 598s (my first premium headphones), which I had to return not b/c of sound quality (they sounded great), but simply b/c they were clamping too tightly on my head. Far from it really! So even with the 1As being a bit more comfortable, this wasn't an issue for me so it's all good. I should also mention that the PM-3's planar magnetic neodymium speaker driver units on each side are 15mm larger than the 1As' are (55 vs 40), so that definitely plays into the weight difference as well (Correction: The PM-3's speaker driver units are 55mm, not 40mm.). They also tend to be heavier than regular traditional neodymium or ferrite magnet drivers units. 
Design/Build Quality: Excellent! These headphones look and feel very premium, with plenty of metal all over the exterior to make it perfectly clear that they are TOTALLY worth their asking price! They say there's a little bit of plastic on there, but I'm not really sure where from looking. You can tell it was very nicely put together as the hinges don't squeal when you rotate or move the headphones around at all. Much like my 1As, they were designed to impress!
Sound Quality: So I did my usual thing where I play several different song clips on each headphones, playing each clip twice in order to compare the two. My setup was the Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone and my Celsus Sound Companion One portable amp/DAC, which, shouldn't really need an introduction at this point anymore IMO. lol And of course the 1As vs the PM-3s. I noticed right away that the bass was a bit weaker on the PM-3s, so I made a custom EQ for them with more bass and a SLIGHT bump in mid-range too. Not sure if I needed the mid-range bump, but I just did it anyway cuz my gut told me to. The EQ I had was custom for the 1As, so I felt tweaking it a bit was necessary for their rivals. Everyone kept saying the clarity on the PM-3s was incredible, so if a little extra mid-range brought that out, then so be it! 
Anyway.................I played a couple CD-Quality FLAC tracks, but mostly Hi-Res content on both headphones. The songs ranged from mostly rock.... some hard rock, some soft. Once I applied that new EQ on the PM-3s, they sounded pretty much equal to the 1As to me. After several songs, I felt like the bass might have better control and isolation on it with the PM-3s than on the 1As, since bigger driver units will do that, but I'm still not sure. What I WAS sure about was that when I played the very hypnotic & awesomely bassy intro to The Eagles' "King of Hollywood", but MOST ESPECIALLY when playing the intro to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "You Tell Me" (both in Hi-Res), that the 1As had a BIT more audible hiss in the quieter parts of those clips, even with the volume being at the same level (I had to put the volume level up a bit higher on the PM-3s for it to be equal). Even with the PM-3s having that slight mid-range bump from my custom EQ which may (or may not??) have risked bringing on extra hiss, I was surprised to find that the PM-3s were quite "dark" where the 1As weren't. THAT was it for me. I went back and forth several times just to make sure I wasn't imagining it, and especially on "You Tell Me" it was extremely obvious that the PM-3s simply offered noticeably more clarity!
Conclusion: Overall, the PM-3s beat out the 1As in pretty much every category. The 1As do have a slight edge in terms of comfort and weight, but it was definitely not enough to overlook the PM-3's strong points. The 1As have kept me VERY happy for close to a year now, but the PM-3s simply bring a little bit more to the table. And with the price difference being less than $100 (in my case anyway), the decision to keep the PM-3s and sell my 1As was an easy one. 
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Nov 28, 2015 at 9:48 PM Post #3 of 5
You're very welcome! Sounds like a plan! 
I've actually switched to the Oppo HA-2 amp/DAC which is much cheaper than the Companion One. I highly recommend getting an amp/DAC for these (or any) headphones. The amp part isn't that important here since the PM-3s are pretty sensitive already, but the DAC is where the magic happens and is a must-have (but you can't just buy a DAC alone that I know of). If you're playing off a good DAP player then you don't need this, but if you're like me and playing off your phone (ANY smartphone), you definitely want something like this. 
Depending on how much you wanna spend, here are some options. All are good, but some are better than others. 
Cozoy Astrapi - I've tried this out and it works really well. Only uses 5% of your phone's battery an hour. Made of metal. Only option here that uses phone battery instead of its own, but also means you don't have to recharge it. (Best price is on eBay) It's so tiny that others might almost mistake it for the in-line remote on your audio cable. lol 
Oppo HA-2 - This is my current portable amp/DAC. Awesome sleek & easy-to-carry design. Casing is genuine stitched leather. Volume knob is nice too. Does a great job....... I love it! Also has rapid charging and doubles as a battery pack for your phone. If you use an iPhone, you can charge and play music at same time. If Android/Windows, it's one or the other. 
Chord Mojo - Supposedly it's better than the HA-2, but it's twice the price, and sold in the UK. I can't vouch for it, or say you will even notice a difference, but just letting you know about it. (The seller on the link for Mojo delivers to U.S. for free)
Lemme know if you get one and how you like it, and also how you like the PM-3s too! 
Dec 6, 2015 at 1:55 PM Post #5 of 5
Jazz and everyone, 
After auditioning the AKG K553s after receiving a tip from a new friend on here, I have decided that I actually PREFER them to the Oppo PM-3s! Yes, this was very unexpected since the K553s cost about $169 on Amazon where the PM-3s run about $399! But in the end, the K553s simply got the better of me! See my posts in this thread for more. Please respond there if you wish and not here. (I will still recommend people try out both headphones as your specific sound signature preferences may differ from mine! Both headphones sound very similar, which is why trying them both out is recommended.) 

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