Review: Oppo PM-3 headphones

Oppo makes a good smartphone and Blu-ray player, so what else can the company do well in? Let’s see how headphones go, as Oppo gives us a good play with a pair of planar magnet-based cans, the PM-3.

Features and performance

Much like phones, headphones aren’t created equal, and if you’re after a pair that can provide detailed and accurate song recreation, you always have to contend with other elements such as design, style, and comfort.

Fortunately, some pairs have all of this down in the one hit, and while they might not draw the attention of celebrities, they are simple and comfortable enough to the average Joe all the same.

Oppo’s PM-3 could well be the blend of this, offering an Oppo take on what a pair of headphones should perform like from a company that has spent a good portion of its time engineering some pretty impressive Blu-ray players, not to mention taking the time to break into phones with devices of genuine value.

In the PM-3, Oppo’s offering is a little bit more premium than even its smartphones, however, as the company embraces a different style of headphones against the vast majority of headphone makers out there, opting to use planar magnetic drivers instead of standard dynamic drivers.

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A technology typically seen in massive headphones — such as Audeze’s LCD2 headphones — this technology requires more space with larger magnets, which for many can be seen as producing a larger sound altogether.

We’ve seen this one in the aforementioned LCD2 headphones, a pair of $1300 cans that were far too large to be taken out into public and could hardly be driven by ordinary equipment, but in the PM-3, Oppo has found a way to shrink this technology into something small, all while closing the back and blocking much of the noise from both entering and exiting this pair of headphones.

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Design on the PM-3 is quite simple, with a body made up of metal framing, plush padding, and 55mm neodymium push-pull planar magnetic drivers, though from the outside, these cans will just resemble fairly basic and black and silver headphones with a brushed steel paint finish.

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The cup hinges are a little more useful than we’re used to seeing on headphones, and while there’s pivot flexibility for ear placement, you’ll also find the Oppo PM-3 cups can be swivelled to sit flat on either side.

That being said, even with this swivel action, they won’t fold up for portability. Just something to keep in mind when you’re stuffing them in your backpack.

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Pick them up and you won’t find the PM-3 to be the lightest cans you’ve ever seen, with the metal band encased in foam and pleather holding relatively mid-sized ear cups just big enough to be circumaural and fit around your ear.

Don them and comfort can be found easily, with the 320 gram cans a little heavier than the headphones we’re used to seeing here, but a design that encompasses most ears without putting too much stress or weight on them, which is always a good thing.

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Oppo is also relying on a standard cable type with the PM-3, and that delights us considerably, with 3.5mm replaceable cable here, of which two can be found in the box: one measuring a fairly comfortable pocket to headphone length of 1.2 metres, and one that goes the extra distance when you’re at a desk or near an amp with 3 metres offered.

We didn’t find a microphone on the cable that was supplied to us, but thanks to Oppo keeping the 3.5mm jacks standard on each end, we were easily able to replace it with one of our own with no problems, meaning if you have a cable with a microphone and remote, it wil likely work here, too. Fantastic.

With the cable good to go, it’s time to check out some music, which allowed us to switch to our 2016 playlist a little earlier, and this has us starting with a bit of electronic music.

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Imogen Heap’s “Headlock” was clear and bright, detailed as every beep and book was made by the electronic keyboard on a repeating pattern in the end, bringing to a full crescendo as the chorus kicked in, revealing a full and detailed recreation of the electronic pop track.

Bass wasn’t on full here with the mids and highs taking point, but through to the wordless chorus, you could still feel a punch from the bass, though it isn’t the strongest element.

Demi Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” was next, and the more modern club track provided more punch, as it’s engineered for today, and again the mids and highs took control, though the bass was still there, with enough sharp attack from the low end to still be enjoyable.

The same dominance from the treble sounds could be heard on The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face”, just as it could on the club track “Get Lucky” from Daft Punk, though in each of these there was more push to the bass, with rounded sounds that you could just feel.

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