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Oppo PM-3 : The Portable Planar - Impressions

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  1. zensanjay
    Hi,
    thanks for all the replies. Its just the headband that cracked and I wonder if its the mintop product, that it came into contact with.

    I ordered the following two protectors and will post the comments once I try them out:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DRG23YG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The second one is

    Dobato Universal Replacement Headphone Headband Cover/Cushion/Sleeve/Pad, Headset Top Beam Protector Compatible for Sennheiser, Bose, Sony, Beats, AKG, Audio-Technica (Black)

    Sold by: DouBaTuo

    currently out of stock.
     
  2. Nostoi
    Hi all, apologies if this has been asked previously - does the PM3 open up a little more when run in balanced mode? I find it a little congested as it is, maybe because it's so mid centric. Thanks
     
  3. Slim1970
    The only way I've gotten mine to open up is with a all silver or silver plated cable as they attenuate the treble region.

    I sold my first pair of PM3's. But I recently reacquired them as they were my favorite portable headphones. Right now I'm using the Schiit Loki with Gilmore Lite Mk2 and they sound phenomenal. But all the dials on my Loki are turned to adjust the frequency bands to the positive side. Especially the treble as I wanted to fill in some of the rolled upper frequencies on the PM3's.
     
  4. dougi
    Have not tried w balanced, but will as soon I find some solder trrs right angle plugs I like (can’t find an 8” balanced cable for es100->pm-3, so will just have to make my own). Having said that, I’ve found using the es-100 eq with a right-heavy soft V has a more open sound while retaining beautiful mids. Will post again once I make the balanced cable and free my pm-3s from the shackles of long cables (the es-100 is so small/light it clips nicely to the headband and essentially turns the pm-3 into a great wireless headphone... just need to build my own cable to make it balanced).
     
    SteveOliver likes this.
  5. megabigeye
    I don't know if this happens to anybody else, but every fall and winter my ears get... just kind of bad. I always have tinnitus, but come November it generally gets a little worse until March-ish. They often feel a little congested. In the past it mostly has manifested itself in only being able to listen to headphones for an hour or so before my ears just feel tired. This year, though, it's been a little worse: the ringing is worse, the congestion is a little more painful, but worst, my headphones haven't been sounding as good as they usually do. My DT 1990 are just piercingly bright, my HD 650 are shouty and even a bit bright, and my PM-3 have just been sounding horribly congested and shouty and yet dreadfully dull with my DFR (which is how I usually listen to them). It's actually been bad enough that I've wondered if I should finally just sell them on, especially since I'll be getting new IEMs for X-Mas / my birthday.

    I'd been reading the Modhouse Argon thread, thinking maybe I'd like to try those out, or maybe some other T50RP mod (preferrably one less dark than the Oppo). There were a couple people saying how much those headphones like a good bit of power, so I thought what the hell. I've got a Bottlehead Quickie + Quicksand setup that I've lightly modded to use with the DT 1990-- it's 4W into 8Ω and 6W into 6Ω, so that's... whatever power into 28Ω. A fair amount, anyway. It sounds like crap with the HD 650, so I honestly was expecting to listen with the PM-3 for all of a minute before having to switch it off.

    Holy crap. No. No. You don't understand. Ho. Ly. Crap. H-O-L-Y C-R-A-P. Holycrap. These things sound absolutely @#$#^@%^@ phenomenal with this setup. The soundstage is nearly as wide as my HD 650 and DT 1990 (okay, those two don't have the widest soundstage, but cut me a break here) and the imaging is pinpoint precise. They sound smoooooooth from top to bottom and back again. On the DT 1990 the Q+Q has a way of bringing the vocals slightly forward and dropping the treble just a touch and the bass is *muah* molto bello. It does the same things on the HD 650, but the result is the opposite of what you'd want, but pretty much exactly as you'd expect. On the PM-3? I don't know what magic is at work here, but holy Stromboli does it work. The bass = pure bliss. The mids (which I usually find to be slightly recessed and cool) = amazeballs. The treble... Ah, the treble. Ever the source of boredom, my reason for constantly turning these headphones up and up and up, aural ennui. But now? The treble = terrific! Tantalizing! Textural! I don't doubt that it has something to do with how sensitive my ears are currently, but it was just right. So right. Goldilocks right. Normally I find the detail on the PM-3 to be fine, pretty good but not exciting. On the Bottlehead, though, it's like... it's like... I dunno what it's like, but it was awesome. I honestly don't think I've ever heard these headphones sound so damned good.

    My one disappointment is that the Quicksand has been discontinued, so not many people that are going to hear this setup. But there has to be something else out there. Get these things some tubes, get these things some power. These headphones really deserve it.
    ...Oh yeah, it's also disappointing that Oppo has been discontinued. Phooey.

    At the end of Cornelius' Point there's series of drawn-out, high pitched notes which get subsequently higher and higher, but then is punctuated by a deep, resonating piano chord. I've always thought the high notes were like being burned by a match and the piano chord like jumping into a pool of water. This autumn, all of my headphones have been like a match burning in my ears. This setup with the Quickie + Quicksand + PM-3 is like jumping into the most gloriously beautiful, quenching pool you can imagine.
    Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!.....
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  6. JM1979
    So I’ve had my PM-3s for many years (love them) and I just read that they are wired to work with a balanced cable.

    Can I run a balanced cable from an unbalanced amp? Are their any negative side effects to that? I’d be looking at a 3.5mm TRRS connector but it would not be going into a balanced amp.

    Any feedback is welcomed.
     
  7. SDBiotek
    There would be no benefit in putting a balanced cable if you're using a single ended amp ( and you would need a balanced to single ended adapter as well).
     
    JM1979 likes this.
  8. PaganDL
    Hi @JM1979,

    As @SDBiotek stated, there is no real benefit to PM 3 or any other headphone running a balanced cable though I will add a few things from my own subjective & personal experience where this is concerned.
    Some more than likely will disagree but this is my humble opinion.

    Since the beginning, I have run the PM 3 with the Oppo branded balanced 3.5 mm cable, which for me does alter the way the sound is presented over stock, wider rear facing sound (balanced) over narrow front facing (unbalanced).
    I prefer this particular tuning over the stock cable as that tends to be my preference sound wise.
    From an sonic &/or electrical standpoint, balanced vs unbalanced is highly debatable & usually down to personal preference though some will certainly argue the point till they are ready to pass out but I digress...
    At the end of the day, all a balanced connection, be it in the headphone/IEM &/or amp, does is make the audio signal stronger.

    in general terms, this can be a good thing, there are many factors which determine whether this is 'better'...

    On the headphone/IEM side in no particular order :

    Sensitivity
    Impedence
    Power Handling / Rated Power
    THD
    SNR
    Tuning (the most elusive unquantifiable value)

    Of course, there are amps subjectively which to some will have a better 'sound' &/or experience which run single ended/unbalanced.
    Once again this is debatable so it all depends what you yourself as the listener is looking for & whether it matters to you enough.

    So in answer to your question, would a balanced cable or more accurately, the connector, run from a unbalanced amp, potentially yes, depending how the amp is wired at the head out circuit, how much power it puts out (though this depends) & what sort of connector(s) it has at the head out.
    Some fully single ended amps, CTH comes to mind here, have a balanced out, more for convenience, for those with balanced connectors but at the circuit, still runs single ended.
    3.5 mm TRRS or balanced, is the safest to run on an amp &/or source which runs a balanced 3.5 mm out, if not wired for balanced at the circuit, the source &/or amp will only have sound on one channel.
    XLR on the hand, as usually balanced, is not recommended to be used with any XLR connection which is not wired correctly, that is with no connection to ground otherwise this will prove hazardous to the user, not to mention damage said equipment.
    A number of amps & cables run 3.5 balanced whether intentionally or unintentionally.
    I myself use 3.5 mm balanced on several gear & I generally prefer the 3.5 TRRS plug to 2.5 mm but then that's just me.
    As a sidenote, 4.4 mm connections are getting a lot of traction for gear to make things even more complicated.

    Hope this all makes sense.

    Hope you have a great day !
     
    JM1979 likes this.
  9. JM1979
    Thank you for all of the feedback. For reference, below is the "article" I read that lead me to this question and also caused some confusion. It's basically stating that they heard an audible improvement using a balance cable into the PM-3, but running from an unbalanced amp (HA-2)

    https://darko.audio/2016/05/get-more-from-your-oppo-pm-3-headphones-with-a-balanced-cable/

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    The PM-3 is OPPO Digtial’s most affordable planar magnetic to date – reviewed here – but perhaps not every owner is aware that their headphone is internally wired for balanced connectivity and therefore has more performance still to give. You just need the right cable.

    Smaller third party vendors have already stepped in to soak up some demand, largely from Astell&Kern owners wanting to tap their player’s 2.5mm TRSS socket, but Kono has had three differently terminated versions commissioned with the full approval of OPPO Digital HQ in China: a 2.5mm TRSS for A&Ks, a 3.5mm TRSS for the OPPO HA-2 and XLR for desktop headphone amplifiers.

    Each cables features a 6N-OFC core and is made in Japan. Samples are already in Russia, Singapore and Australia but readers are advised to discuss availability with their local OPPO Digital distributor.

    And yes, with a pair of PM-3 lassoed to an HA-2, the balanced cable sounds more micro-dynamically vibrant than the standard single-ended cable.

    No, the HA-2 doesn’t offer a balanced circuit. Think of its output as quasi-balanced. According to Emilai, the four pole 3.5mm socket is used to separate each channel’s signal grounding, which the tech wizards at OPPO HQ believe is more important to channel separation than the doubling up of amplifiers.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
     
  10. PaganDL
    Hi @JM1979,

    I remember reading that article & can understand your initial confusion, hope I was of help to you regardless...

    I did mention in my explaination along the lines of what Darko stated in the last part, balanced connection, especially cable wise, is more for good to strong signal path more than anything else & is the 'inexpensive' way to get the 'best' from an amp circuit for little effort, how it the resulting sound is to the listener, as said, is highly subjective & personal.

    Feel free to ask more if needed.

    Hope you have a great day !
     
    JM1979 likes this.
  11. JM1979
    Thank you @PaganDL . I think my biggest concern at this point is potential damage to an unbalanced amp (iFi Micro BL or Hugo 2) when trying to experiment with a balanced 3.5mm TRRS connection. Not sure it's worth the gamble.

    I like the idea of getting a little more boost into my PM-3s, and especially opening up the sound stage some, but not at the expense of ruining a good amp, when my PM-3s are really just for travel/air plane.
     
  12. SDBiotek
    Unless your amp happens to have the right and left grounds separated at the headphone jack, there would be no electrical benefit.
    You could always get a balanced cable, however, and a balanced to unbalanced adapter, and then you could use your headphones with single ended and balanced amps. That is how I use my PM-3.
     
    JM1979 likes this.
  13. JM1979
    Thanks @SDBiotek that is a good idea.

    I also just read that the iPhone lightning to 3.5mm adapter is trrs, so I may just buy a tees cable for the PM-3s, play around without an amp and go from there. I also like the idea of getting a trrs to trs adapter and giving the new chord more versatility.

    I appreciate all of the help.
     
  14. Sonic Defender Contributor
    Sighted listening tests mean absolutely nothing, they would have to do multiple trial blind listening testing. I owned the PM3 and had a custom balanced cable made to use with an Onkyo DP-X1 and I couldn't hear any difference at all, personally. I think people may be fooled by the fact that if they are now able to listen at higher volume because the balanced output is more powerful things sound better. It is a well established fact that if you play something louder, but not to the point of discomfort or causing distortion it will sound more engaging (better) than if the same music was played more quietly. There are individual preferences to take into account, but once all things are held to accommodate individual preferences the louder sounds better rule holds true.
     
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