The Oppo PM-3 is a planar-magnetic over-ear headphone that will blow you away with its subtlety and finesse. At a $400 price tag, the PM-3 is Oppo’s third and lowest priced planar-magnetic headphone, which happens to be the most portable. Right out of the box, you feel like you’re opening a high-end product. The packaging is very Apple-like and minimal, yet luxurious. The headphones fold flat and come with a selvedge denim carrying case for easy portability. Two cables are included — a three meter long cable for in home listening and portable cable that has the best click controller/mic I’ve used. The controller has curved ends to press for volume that make it easy to know where you’re holding, and the center button was spot on. It should be standard issue on all headphones.
Critical listeners should find the PM-3 very detailed, crisp, and revealing. There is nothing overbearing. No over-emphasized bass. No harshness in the treble. The main reason you’ll want these headphones is to experience pure, uncolored listening enjoyment. Music sounded exceptionally clean, yet still emotional. Bass is fast and tight, and you don’t get over extended bass notes, which are very common nowadays. Instead you’ll hear the quick thump from a kick drum, or the airy pop of a snare drum. Cymbals you didn’t know were previously part of the track will present themselves. Best of all, voices were silky smooth. Sonic details simply emerge across the entire audio spectrum.
As much as I liked the PM-3, I can still nit-pick areas of improvement. Imaging could be better and bass could go deeper. But I feel a further explanation would only diminish Oppo’s accomplishments and overwhelming positives at the $400 price tag. Then again, I’d love for them to cost even less.
The PM-3’s two closest competitors that come to mind are Bowers & Wilkins P7 and Bang & Olufen H6, which are both well built over-ear audiophile-grade headphones offered at the same price. I have heard both before, but neither was on-hand for a head-to-head review. I seem to remember the P7’s offering the most low bass of the three. Although, I believe the PM-3’s have the most relaxed audio character. Otherwise, comfort and style could be the ultimate deciding factor. On the other hand, if you’re considering Beats or Bose, choosing the Oppo PM-3 should be a no-brainer.
The PM-3’s also get good marks for comfort and fit. Their fold-flat and adjustability options are designed exactly the same as the lower-priced Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 I previously tested. However, the PM-3 was more comfortable over the same periods of usage, and one of the most comfortable over-ears I’ve reviewed recently. I was able to listen up to two hours before pressure fatigue set in. In comparison, may other over-ears I’ve tried began to discomfort after 20 minutes.
The Oppo PM-3 is a true audiophile closed-back headphone offering amazing clarity, performance and build quality. It’s comfortable, relatively lightweight, but most importantly uncovers a tremendous amount of musical detail. I enjoyed my time listening to the PM-3’s and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. They come in black or white, and are appealing with an understated, modern aesthetic. Why not give them a try?