Today, when it comes to full-sized headphones, there are a few major competitors when it comes to technologies: dynamic takes up the larger chunk, planar magnetic takes up a minority, and electrostatic takes an even smaller minority.
Generally, the latter two require much more power to drive properly. With the surges of HiFiMan to push sensitivity, Oppo and Audeze have both hit or surpassed 100 dB/mW.
This officially makes them easily driven by the likes of an iPhone. The Oppo PM-3 is a closed-back design that focuses on portability whilst keeping the smooth, refreshing sound that Oppo Digital is known for.
When it comes to planar magnetic headphones, design tends to take a slight back seat. Audeze has improved (from what pictures tell), but Oppo created the main push towards design. All three of their planars: the PM-1, PM-2, and now the PM-3, offer an aesthetic that looks gorgeous, mature, and subtle. The PM-3 offers a beautiful back that glimmers in the right light. Oppo offers this in two colors: white or black. While the silver has more of a sandblasted texture akin to the iPhone, the black offers a brushed appearance.
Portable listeners, audiophile or not, will be able to respect the sound that the Oppo PM-3 offers. The sound trades accuracy for smoothness, lushness, and a non-fatiguing nature. The trade off definitely does seem worth it; at the end of the day, the headphones sound great at home or on the go.
We’ll start with the low-end. It is the loudest part of the spectrum which leads to great presence. The sub-bass texturing offers fluidity to it while the body ends up creating a somewhat euphoric reproduction that entices the listener. Each impact that the PM-3 provides isn’t direct, it isn’t fast, it has some size and dimension to it. It’s not flabby or out of control, but at the same time, it definitely isn’t the tightest. Oppo trades some accuracy for some fun, and it pays off quite well.
The midrange continues with this warmth and is the focus of these headphones despite the bass being the loudest. The midrange offers a beautiful smoothness to it with excellent detailing that perplexes me (I’ve no clue how they do it). The clarity in the upper midrange does hold decently and offers good dynamics overall. Vocals carry over this signature being warm and inviting whilst still being able to hit the higher, more energetic notes.
As we do go up into the higher octaves, we do find that the PM-3 definitely would be better targeted for modern, louder tracks. In many songs, the headphones can seem a little too smoothed over. All the details are still there, and presence is actually still enough. Though the snaps really don’t cut the way they should (many prefer this sound though). Splashes are soft in texture and offer great separation and details. They don’t excite, but really don’t need to.
Oppo builds for looks, however, when it comes to build quality, the company that focuses on high-end equipment doesn’t hold back on their entry-level stuff (yes, this is their entry level) Oppo does include a denim case to store your headphones when not in use. The case has a semi-hard design and is about the size of a small purse. It’s large enough to hold the headphones and cables included.
The housings are mainly composed of plastic on the edges. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap or weak at all and feels firm throughout. The back plate is aluminum, actually, if it isn’t plastic, it uses aluminum or pleather. The hinges and moving parts of the housings are smooth and effortless.
The headband has a metal core that is then covered with pleather that is extremely soft to the touch. The headband offers good flexibility and is strong throughout. I don’t see this as a failure point.
Oppo offers two cables with the PM-3, one designed for mobile use (shorter in size) and one for home use (longer in size). The cables do use a rubber-like material but are thick enough when on the go. They don’t seem to tangle easily and are quite robust and sturdy. The cables do, however, terminate to a straight jack on both ends. I’d rather an angled one, though the gold plating is nice.
Foam padding is laced throughout the entire build of the headphone. Not only does it make the pleather feel softer, it also makes the headphones much more comfortable. The pads around the housing have ample thickness and are plush and squishy. The headband is the same way. For long listening sessions, these headphones should easily suffice.
These headphones retail for around 400 dollars. Before you pull out your pitchforks, I should put this into some perspective, the Beats Pro retail at 450. In contrast to others in its price range, from the HE-400i to the V-Moda M-100, these are either at the same level as its competitors, or above (in some instances, well above). That said, These do offer a pretty great value if you’re shopping in this price bracket. They do offer multiple cable options as well. This includes an audio-only cable, a single-button cable with remote and mic, and a triple-button cable with remote and mic (for Apple devices). For the price, these are a great value despite it’s high price.
I remember when I first heard the Oppo PM-1, I felt that the form factor was perfect for a mobile application. And in time, Oppo released the PM-3 which took the PM-1’s sound and placed it into a mobile environment.
They feel and look great; not only that, they sound it in the process.