Disclaimer: Oppo Japan provided this OPPO PM-3 for the purposes of this review. They did not, however, give me the feeling that I could really give the PM-3 a pummelling before I sent it back. Also note that I didn’t have time to take awesome images of it. Sorry. Fortunately, Oppo hired a very talented commercial photographer (not me) and made use of Lee Shelly (one of our own), for their atmospheric image seen at the bottom of this page. The PM-3 goes for 399$ USD. You can find out more about it here. OPPO is a site advertiser.
The Bowled-Over-By-Oppo train ain’t stopping anytime soon. Oppo’s HA-2 bowled me over with its exquisite workmanship, packaging, branding, and sound; the PM-3 wiggles the barest of fingers against my manly chest, and plop! down I go.
For 399$ bones (USD), the PM-3 feels, looks, and deserves the consideration typically reserved for longer established, more expensive, brands.
But before I get intractably deep in plaudit, I’d like to niggle a bit. Here are the PM-3’s problems:
1. The rubbery cable is nearly a 1:1 copy of the USB cable that comes with the iPhone. Ditto its stress relieves. I’m no chemist, but I know what my eyes see. And my eyes see future painted by unraveling rubber sleeves, and general breakage.
2. Both the ear pads and headband are über comfy. But they are synthetic. When the temperature goes up, they become sweaty, nasty things on your ears. And they can’t be hot-swapped.
3. (Reserved for when I find something truly dastardly about the PM-3.)
The first is quite the charge; the second an extreme annoyance, especially at the PM-3’s price. If I’m wrong, and the first is a mere cosmetic rip-off, pish poo. But the second really is a bugger. I want leather, or velour, and I want it before summer hits Tokyo.
But there is a lot more to like than there is to dislike.
Like the HA-2, the PM-3 is peerlessly thoughtful and exquisitely finished. There is no planar magnetic headphone out there south of a grand that can contend with it. It’s headband adjustment is as thoughtfully designed as the Momentum’s and is snug on even the narrowest head out there. If your noggin is a biggun, it will be snug. Fortunately, stretching it is easy as pie. Its hot-swappable 3,5mm jack trendily sinks into the left headphone, making it a breeze to wear out and about, and by swapping from the 1,2 meter cable to the 3 meter cable, it is great for hitting the comfy chair, whisky in hand. (Evidently the PM-3 comes with a mic’d remote cable. Headfonia’s loaner came with no such cable. For the sake of thoroughness and bravado, let me assume that it is just as white, and that my few quibbles apply.)
The PM-3 is compact and pretty enough that hardcore comfy-chaired whiskers may turn up their nose a bit. Headphones should be harder to enjoy. They should be heavier, and less wieldy. I disagree. And to boot, the PM-3 comes in a fine zipper case. The token 3,5mm to 6,3mm converter plug is thrown in along with beautiful literature and packaging that is beautiful, compact, and well worth keeping. Well done.
PM-3’s cups rotate 180º. Even when scrunched to fit the smallest head, the lead cable keeps several millimeters between it and the band yolk. There’s no way even the most exuberant headphone scruncher will cause it to fray.
The color choices are as polarizing as they are dyadic. Truthfully, I’m either not that much into white, or that much into black. Unfortunately, it’s one or the other. Another thing is that at 320g, the PM-3 isn’t super-duper light for out-and-about use. For the sake of comparison, my Audio-Technica ES10 weighs 200g. And, the ES10’s awful synthetic leather pads can be swapped out for the ones that come with the ESW11LTD.
Suffice it to say that the PM-3 is an eye-catcher. If you like that, and don’t mind the extra 100 grams, it is one of the best portable headphones out there.
One reason for that is that it isolates like a champ. I’m back at Starbucks, sipping a latte. The atmospheric volume of Starbucks in Japan lies between caustic Korean levels, which ring with you for days after, and their could-be-quieter Canadian counterparts, which rat-a-tat with the poundings of wannabe writers. Merely donning the PM-3 cuts down half the noise. Feeding it Shpongle, or Infected Mushroom, or Faithless, does away with all but a coffee mug shattering against the tile as another patron does an about-face without checking behind her. And that at an iPod Nano volume of 66%.
No amp, you say? Hell no. And no real need. Neither at normal listening volumes, nor at Starbucks volumes does the PM-3 doesn’t tax the iPod Nano in any way. No fizzy distortion, no bottoming out of bass, no closing of the sound stage.
Sound impressions after the jump: