Note: Oppo has since stopped making products, although they still support existing ones and will occasionally provide firmware updates. This is sad news as I considered some of their products (the ones I tried) to be among the best. These include this fantastic Oppo PM3 headphone, as well as their HA2 Amp that I’ve also reviewed.
A+ price to performance ratio. These things are worth every penny that they’re sold for. I really don’t say that often, but in this case I truly believe that they represent a perfect price point where you receive the value that you gave.
Incredibly detailed sound. This is a headphone that articulates every note with pristine clarity and accuracy. I really wasn’t expecting this at all. Ever had trouble making out the rhythm guitars in the Allman Brothers’ Blue Sky? Have no fear, the PM3 is here. 🙂 You can clearly hear the moment when the rhythm guitar turns into the second solo. Ridiculous.
The most textured and lively bass that I’ve heard. It’s not too heavy and not too light, but gives you just the right amount alright? 😛
The durability here is excellent. No plastic in sight, and they feel extremely solid in your hands.
Comfort wise, these are a dream. I haven’t once had to adjust them, and they don’t weigh you down or feel like they’re moving around too much. The clamp force is just right.
No need for an amp. Just plug these babies into your mobile devices and you’re ready to go.
Great Soundstage for a closed back model, or any model for that matter. The sound has this knack for jumping out at you without being in your face. Doesn’t make much sense I know, but trust me. There’s this uncanny presence, as if the band is a lot closer to you.
Versatile. I love these with all genres and they work because they have an overall balanced signature with a touch of added warmth. They are just a bit north of neutral which makes them incredibly enjoyable rather than being too clinical.
Introduction & Summary
What is it about bass that enamors us as humans? Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by it. Is it because it gives music a satisfying punch? Is it because it completes the song or fills in the gaps that our brains desire?
I have no idea, but what I do know is that bass response is extremely important when it comes to headphones. In fact, it can make or break a pair, and can be the difference between 1) a boring pair with no bass, 2) an over-hyped bass which is essentially useless, and 3) a perfect pair with an articulate but tight response. In short, this is what the PM3’s deliver.
In listening with the PM3’s, I’m starting to really understand the way music is supposed to sound. I’ve listened to many different types of headphones and the better the headphone, the more clear things become. Think about a bad pair; they might only present to you about 45% of what you’re listening to. You literally have no idea what the other 55% is. You’re not even aware it exists because the headphones do not reveal it.
Now think about a pair that is around 65% – 75% accurate. This is the majority of headphones out there in my opinion. I believe this represents a mostly V-shaped sound: Big bass, treble sparkle, and a somewhat recessed mid-range. It’s a typical bass-head experience. Not bad, but not exactly what we’re looking for.
A pair like the Oppo PM3 fills in the gaps, or that last 25% that most headphones lack. This is the best way I can describe higher end cans. Perhaps “mid-tier”, as audiophiles like to call it. This should be the standard of a bass-heads headphone: Bass that you can actually hear. The beauty of them is that the bass is so darn articulate that I can’t stop writing about it.
It’s amazing what our ears can miss with cheaper stuff. You start to really appreciate the work and musicianship that goes into a well made song with talented artists. Case and point: Chon just recently came out with a new album called “Homey.” Upon first listen, I thought it was excellent. But after I put on the PM3’s and listened again, the music takes on another dimension. Suddenly you can hear each an every bass note, and I am not exaggerating. On “Sleepy Tea” There’s a point in the song when the bass line becomes very apparent. This is pretty audible with nearly any pair of headphones. But starting at 2:04 with the PM3, I can literally hear every single note that he’s playing. This astounded me.
How could I have missed that before? This is what good headphones give you. There’s a clarity and precision about this pair that cannot be overstated. They never become sibilant, and the bass never feels too heavy. It sits perfectly in the mix, but still has crazy impact.
All in all, every nook and cranny seems to come out with these. It’s a truly enjoyable experience.
They are supremely crafted, and just may possess the most efficient headband and swiveling ear-cup mechanism in existence. Everything about the build exudes pure elegance and functionality. The ear-cups rotate a full 90 degrees, and feel extremely durable in your hands. The chord is detachable and feels solid. The headband has just the right amount of padding, and overall it doesn’t seem like the protein leather will break down or peel over time.
Astounding. I don’t think these could get any better in that regard, and I haven’t had to take them off or adjust them at all.
Crystal clear sound. Laser like precision.
Great mid-range. Vocals and instruments really have life to them.
Soundstage is astounding for a closed back model. There is so much space and separation between sounds and instruments that I was shocked. There are open back models that don’t do this as well.What is Soundstage?
Very nice packaging presentation. I really like the compact, hard denim case.
Terrific build quality and comfort. It really doesn’t get much better. The headphones are solid and made of brushed aluminum. They are also the perfect weight and rest comfortably on your noggin. The ear-cups are oval and conform nicely to your ear.
Lively sound. There’s something about the music that jumps out at you but doesn’t feel overbearing in the slightest. The level of engagement is just exemplary. I feel like songs I’ve heard a thousand times before sound different somehow. It’s hard to explain.
I haven’t had any problems with them,but here are a list of items that may or may not be of concern depending on your own stature. This is all from my own research.
Big heads need not apply. If you have big Ross Perot ears, you may be in for a world of pain like Smokey from Big Lebowski. Lol. The elongated ear cups may cause discomfort depending on the size of your melon.
High end not as crisp as some cheaper phones. A tad subdued.
Could have benefited from deeper ear pads. Your ears may touch the driver assembly causing some minor discomfort.
Because the ear pads are made of synthetic leather, they may become warm and sweaty after prolonged wear.
These all seem like minor nit picks to me, but I had to point them out regardless.
All credit to Lachlan!
These don’t need an amp and will sound good from a mobile device. However, they take on a new level of clarity and resolution when you pair them with a capable one. I run the Schiit Magni/Modi combo and couldn’t be happier. How to choose a headphone amp!
If you really want to be blown away though, like 3 little pigs style, then the Oppo HA-1 Headphone amplifier is the cream of the crop here.
Know that instruments and vocals will be the highlights of this can.
I would like to point out that they sound good with Jazz, but not as incredibly revealing as with other genres. I found myself just kind of enjoying the music and not really getting immersed in it. Time will tell if my opinion changes however.
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
I’ve heard the song Estimated Prophet by the Grateful Dead about a thousand times. It’s one of my test songs due to the fact that it’s mastered extremely well and has some nice instrument separation, rhythm, vocals, and cool bass notes. I thought I had heard everything, until about 1:28. Right before he says “It’s gonna be just like they say, them voices tell me so” you can actually hear a weird vocal passage that sort of sounds almost demonic or ghostly. What I want you to do is make a small “O face” and then slowly open your mouth wider while making a sound. That’s what you can faintly hear in the background, and in all the years listening to the song I’ve never heard that before. Amazing! As mentioned in the open, these are the types of things you’ll start to hear, and they really tie the song together. It’s like The Dude in Big Lebowski says: “That rug really tied the room together.” Lol. So think of the PM3’s as that missing link between what you actually hear and what was recorded. You’re now able to discern everything.
In fact, If I can make another analogy. Think of the PM3’s as filling in those missing puzzle pieces to the song. You start to realize the intricacies of the arrangement, and music actually starts to become incredibly enjoyable again as a form of pure observation. Maybe in the past you thought to yourself that there must be more to music than this, or maybe you just enjoyed the songs for what they were. No longer. You’re going to appreciate music in a whole new light with the PM3.
I hate to say this, but on Fleetwood Mac’s “Say you love me”, I can clearly make out the rhythm of the keyboard. For the longest time I desperately wanted to hear exactly how it sounded, but couldn’t. Now why do I hate to say this? Because, well, my beloved HD600 which I consider the best overall open backed headphone could not achieve what the PM3 has done. I knew there was a specific rhythm to that keyboard, but my ears just could not follow the strokes of Christine McVie’s fingers with as much accuracy as I desired. I could make out some parts, but others became blurred together. Think about a drum sequence; you clearly hear bass, kick, bass kick. The keyboard is the same except you’re playing notes instead. At the beginning of the song, you can clearly hear the rhythm because there’s no other instruments. But when everything else comes into play, it becomes harder to decipher exactly what’s going on. The PM3’s reveal that and I honestly was blown away by it.
On The Allman Brothers’ Melissa, towards the end there’s a keyboard bit that is very interesting to me. It becomes very prominent and you can hear it well, but I always had trouble hearing it after it became a bit quieter. So, it gets louder, then quieter, but the sounds of the other instruments always blurred it to the point where I thought it just stopped playing altogether. Turns out I was wrong. I can hear it pretty clearly when the notes change now, but it’s very subtle. Again, the PM3’s are amazing in that they put a microscope to these small nuances that complete the sound.
An incredibly well built and supremely comfortable headphone with a startling sound signature that must be heard to truly appreciate. Bass is tight, deep, and perhaps the most articulate that I have personally ever heard. In fact, the overall sound signature is probably the single most detailed and warm one I’ve come across.
I think it should be pretty clear by now how I feel about these. Interested in reading some reviews?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.