OPPO PM-3 headphones
YOU’RE a music lover with audiophile leanings who can’t sit still. You listen to your music collection on the move – while commuting, on holiday, jogging… you get the picture. The downside of this – those earbuds/in-ear ‘phones you’ve been using just don’t cut it. You crave for better sound and a more comfy pair of cans. Let’s see… how about the OPPO PM-3?
The latest product from this renowned manufacturer is a closed-back, planar magnetic design that sits on the ear, shuts you off from the world outside for some peace and quiet, and doesn’t cause you any great physical discomfort over long hours.
Best of all, the OPPO PM-3 won’t cost you an arm and leg. Well, maybe just a little finger… but you probably won’t complain.
BITS AND PARTS: The PM-3 is light, weighing a mere 320g, and elegantly designed… fit and finish are of a quality you’d expect of a premium manufacturer these days. OPPO claims the PM-3 is the world’s lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones.
The 55mm circular planar magnetic driver is a derivative of the design found on OPPO’s award-winning PM-1 model – features include a seven-layer double-side voice coil diaphragm and optimised neodymium magnet system, which keep the weight down while maximising sound quality.
The system is optimised for maximum sensitivity and consistency, and as a result, the PM-3 isn’t that difficult to drive – your standard digital audio player’s on board amp will have no trouble with its 26-ohm nominal load. The PM-3 has a sensitivity of 102dB, and a frequency response of 10Hz to 50kHz.
While OPPO describes it as a circumaural design, it isn’t as large as, say, my resident Final Audio Pandora Hope VI… nor are the ear pads as small as those found on a typical supra-aural design, which sits on the ear. Ah well, maybe it’s just my ears…
A 3m detachable cable is provided, and it comes with a 3.5mm jack and 6.35mm adaptor. Also in the case is a 1.2m “portable” cable. Users can choose the cable best suited to their mobile devices. Available are a cable with microphone and controls for Apple devices, one with mic and button for Android and Windows phones, and one without mic.
A carrying case is included, into which the headphones fold flat.
IN CONCERT: There are headphones that sound very shut-in, but with great dynamics and bass, and there are models that sound open and relaxed but with less urgency in their drive and not as much impact in the lows. The PM-3 manages to pull off a trick – it has healthy bass and dynamics, and yet, there is enough air in the sound to please the fussier headfi enthusiast.
These headphones don’t sound as closed in as, say Sennheisers, but the bass quality is impressive – it is bass that doesn’t go all over your head and interfere with the rest of the frequencies, as with some of the cheaper cans. The bass here is tight and tuneful, going reasonably low, in fact, lower and punchier than the resident Hope VI. Playing Dire Straits’ eponymous debut album, I found the PM-3 to deliver full and resonant lows in tracks like Water Of Love and Six Blade Knife.
The Hope VI, however, has a more spacious stage and is significantly more holographic in its presentation that the PM-3, but this is not to take away from the OPPO – the Hope VI, a balanced armature hybrid, gives you a freakishly out-of-the-head experience that’s a rarity, but at the expense of some bass. The PM-3 is more conventional in its staging, but it pays close attention to detail and accuracy, and has a smooth balance in the frequencies further up. There’s a very organic quality to the midrange and highs that entices you to stay plugged in to these cans for long sessions.
The PM-3 tackles a variety of music material with gusto, plus its isolating qualities allow few external factors to distract you, unless the noise is particularly loud or strident. Being targeted more at the music fan on the move, I guess there has to be a balance in this area as well. There is, however, no two ways about this – the sonic experience the PM-3 delivers is sweetly satisfying.
APPLAUSE: These are a hugely enjoyable pair of cans, providing comfort and an audiophile approach for the price… there may be cheaper dynamic designs that deliver an experience almost as engrossing (I can think of the Audio Technica ATH-M50x) , but the PM-3 has the edge in the mids and treble, and in the area of realism.
BUT…: I didn’t find much to dislike about these headphones, although they’re a bit of overkill if your format of choice isn’t above MP3 resolution.
FINALE: The OPPO PM-3 is beautifully finished piece of work for the price, and delivers a solid, punchy and musical performance that will keep audiophiles on the move enthralled for long hours. If you can look beyond the slight inconvenience of the size – compared with the earbuds that most travellers are most likely to be equipped with – then these will provide enough high-class musical entertainment to keep the lonesome blues away.
Apple iPod Classic, Toshiba Windows laptop running foobar2000, Marantz CD-6005 CD player, Chord Hugo DAC/head amp, Final Audio Pandora Hope VI headphones
Malaysian price: RM1,619
Review unit courtesy of Stars Picker Audio (+603-6156 1984, closed on Wednesdays) / Find your distributor.