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What should be my next headphones after owning the Oppo PM-3?

  1. sidereal316
    I currently own two headphones Oppo PM-3 & Sony WH1000XM3.

    I've realized, for the PM-3s, the bass and terble are recessed and that the mids are forward. The bass and treble are neutral. The mids are slightly warm. Since the bass is neutral it sounds a little recessed to me. Maybe it really isn't recessed. It's just the lack of warmth. I am noticing that the treble can be a little harsh and there's some sibilance. This especially happens if I use an amp, FIIO Q5 with AM3A or AM5. Straight out of my phone I can hardly hear any treble. That's with my s7 and note 9. The note 9 is better than the s7. In spite of the harshness I'm preferring the sound with the amp, since I can hear the treble, but it is fatiguing.

    For the Sony's, the bass and treble are forward and the mids are recessed. The bass is warm. The mids and treble are neutral. Having read the glossary for the forum, I might say the Sony's are fun. The noise cancellation is great, and they'll perform well when I'm working at client sites.

    I like the warmth of the bass on the Sony's and the warmth of the mids on the PM-3s. Instruments sound great on the Sony's. Not so much for the vocals. Vocals sound great on the PM-3s.

    Why did I buy the PM-3s? The glowing reviews. Don't get me wrong. They're great headphones. I've had many instances of, "I've never heard that before!?", but I've listened to the song a hundred times before. Now that I have the Sony's and the FIIO Q5, I'm noticing the differences, and starting think I want something different.

    If the treble were better on the PM-3s, less harsh, I probably wouldn't be looking for another headphone. My biggest concern is the detail. I don't just want the next headphones to sound a certain way. I want to also have all the details that I've been hearing my PM-3s.
  2. megabigeye
    Wow, your experience with the PM-3 is very different from mine... Kind of. Under ideal circumstances, my experience is that the:
    • bass is pretty full and pretty linear (I've said before that I thought it rolled off at the bottom, but I think that was just me giving into other people's impressions and not actually how I hear it);
    • mids are slightly below the bass but more or less linear with a dip at 250-500Hz;
    • treble is quite recessed though, as you say, a bit harsh; I'd probably call it slightly "tizzy";
    • overall impression is of a dark, downward slope.
    However, my impressions are closer yours if I'm unable to get a good seal, like when I'm wearing glasses/sunglasses. My experience when I'm unable to get a good seal are that the:
    • bass is thin and rolls off quite early;
    • mids are pushed forward relative to bass and treble;
    • treble is pushed forward relative to the bass, but still recessed and tizzy;
    • overall impression is mids-forward presentation.
    Do you wear glasses, by any chance? Or do the earpads sit on your ears rather than around them? Is there anything else that could be keeping you from getting a good seal with the earpads, like a thick beard, earrings, maybe a head or face shape that interferes with the pads? See if you can make adjustments so that it changes the sound. What about the condition of the pads? I've not experienced it, but I'd imagine that if they're worn down and complete mush they might not create a proper seal.
    Anyway, these are just some ideas.

    As for recommendations for other headphones, I might not have any, but it'd help others if you tell us a little more about what you're looking for. Do you want headphones that are:
    • for on-the-go or at home use?
    • opened- or closed-back?
    • around-ear or on-ear?
    • would you be willing to try IEMs or earbuds?
    • What's your budget?
    • What type of music do you listen to and what else will you be using them for (E.G., gaming, movies, etc.)?
  3. sidereal316
    I do wear glasses. I'll have to try the PM-3s without the glasses on. That's just to see if they sound any different. I've thought about trying contacts again, but I am not very optimistic they'll workout. I literally tried a dozen different brands of soft lenses, and none of them were even came close to my glasses. Also the pads on the PM-3s are in great shape.

    Anyrate, I don't like earbuds. They're not very comfortable.

    I'm willing to spend up to a grand.

    I'm looking for closed back. I'd prefer no one hearing what I'm listening to. But I'm open to suggestions.

    Comparing the Sony's and the PM-3s, a little warmth in the bass and voice, and no harshness in the treble is what I want... I guess. I wish I had more data points. Again, comparing the two, I think this is what I'm looking for. I really don't like the harshness.

    They'll be used for music. Is there a difference between listening to movies or listening to music?

    I'm guessing, since I wear glasses, on ear would be better than over ear. Especially if the glasses are causing a problem with the sound.
  4. PopZeus
    As a fellow glasses wearer, your options to compensate for reduced bass response is to either get cans with bigger pads, or get cans with bigger bass. I think bigger pads can minimize the bass loss, but you seem to prefer smaller over-ear headphones. And there are plenty of options for cans with bigger bass, so the issue is usually too much bass.

    I will say, the Audeze Mobius definitely is an excellent wireless headphone with rich and forward mids, and great, deep bass response (with the proper EQ setting) even while wearing glasses. The Meze 99 Noir (also with proper EQ) definitely can deliver clear, slightly recessed mids, and big boomin' bass, but it won't be as tight as planar bass. I guess one could call the Meze's treble harsh but the tuning is fairly non-fatiguing. It is slightly grainy in texture though.

    ETA: If you wanna get bigger and less portable, there is always the Ether Aeon Closed or Ether CX from Mr Speakers, or the ZMF Atticus (which is more than $1,000). I guess my point here is that closed backs at that performance level can get pretty expensive quickly.
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  5. megabigeye
    Yeah, try without your glasses. It might make them better, it might not. Though, to be honest, if I were in your shoes I wouldn't want to change my habits to accommodate wearing the headphones. My advice is to not make yourself uncomfortable just to make the headphones work better for you. You'll just end up having an overall unpleasant experience.
    Contacts can certainly take a while to get used to. I remember they always felt like they were going to fall out (and they often did) when I first got them. I think they made me dizzy, too.

    I don't know that either on-ear or boosted bass are the only solutions to your problem; my PM-3 are my only headphones that are so dependent upon the seal. My HD 650 and DT 1990 aren't nearly so fussy, but they're also open back, so that might have something to do with it.

    I don't do gaming, but I think people that do prioritize sound stage and imaging above fidelity.

    Anyway, good luck with figuring it out.
  6. sidereal316
    I'm tempted to change the question to, "What's the best open back headphones under a grand?".

    I'll be using them at home. So I could go open back. The PM-3s have a ton of detail. What open back headphones compare to the PM-3s?
  7. megabigeye
    You might enjoy something like the HD 650, if you're going open back. The best under a grand? Doubtful. Certainly a very competent headphone, though, and a great bargain if you get the HD 6XX from Drop.com (née MassDrop). I think I got mine for a little over $400 and I don't think I overpaid. To my ear they are every bit as detailed as the PM-3, though if you're used to the sound of one headphone, making a switch can be jarring.
    Since I'm enjoying making bullet lists, here's how I'd say the HD 650 and PM-3 compare:
    • HD 650's bass is not as linear as PM-3's (assuming a good seal), with the HD 650 having a slight emphasis in warmth and slightly less extension than PM-3, though overall quantity is similar; HD 650's bass is not seal dependent; If you're not able to get a good seal with the PM-3, the HD 650's bass is fuller with better extension;
    • HD 650's mids are more forward than the PM-3-- I find the HD 650's mids to be beautiful (and preferable to the PM-3), but if you prefer a somewhat "relaxed" mids region, you might not like it;
    • HD 650's treble is brighter than PM-3, though I'd never call them bright headphones; HD 650's overall treble presentation is very unaggressive; HD 650's treble might best be described as "sweet;" if you need a headphone that really displays, say, the grit and distortion of an electric guitar, this might not be the headphone for you-- but from your description, this is something you're sensitive to;
    • HD 650's weakness is it's inability to play aggressively;
    • HD 650's strength is its very natural and inviting tone that is rarely fatiguing or grating.
    Alternately, I've found that tubes fix most of my complaints with the PM-3. I use the Bottlehead Quickie + Quicksand combo (sadly, the Quicksand was discontinued) and it's currently one of my favorite setups.

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