Oppo PM-2 – Adjust Your Aerials!

Disclaimer: I purchased the PM-2 from Oppo’s Australian distributor, Interdyn at a discount. Thank you Interdyn. The Oppo PM-2 regularly goes for 699$ USD. You can find out more about it here. Oppo are a Headfonia sponsor.

No one expected the Oppo Inquisition. Admittedly, the radar here for headphones from a bluray manufacturer was thin at best.

So, it’s meet to say that whilst reviewing the Oppo PM-3, my socks were knocked so far off that I ended up purchasing a pair post-hoc. The Oppo HA-2 DAC/amp, while not as awesome a product, wore my socks threadbare. And now coolly naked, I’m a proud owner of the PM-2.

Honestly, I’ve never, ever, been so happy to put on a pair of headphones.

The feel

First, the design reasons: the PM-2 are über comfy phones. And, they are über well-designed. You know: 180º swivelling ear cups, brilliantly plugged fast-switching pads, dual detachable 2,5mm mono cables, smooth edges, perfectly machined aluminium skeletals, a nighttime-friendly raised L-side nub indicator, a chunky, fabric-sheathed 6,3mm home cable (plus a dinky, rubbery one for out and about). The dinky one sucks. And, I should mention, is pointless. The PM-2 is an open headphone. In order to get it to play loud enough to overpower even a quiet park, you’ll have to bump up the volume to ear-hurting levels. If you try the same thing on the metro, you’ll be murdered by a violent noise pollution hater. The name of that noise pollution hater is Bartholomew. He’s from Sicily, but not originally. (His past is murky and I’m doing my journalistic best to suss it.) But then again, the PM-3’s cables were just as shyte. It’s one of the few real bads an Oppo headphone fan should expect.

The tote case is basically the same as the PM-3’s, just larger. The literature is as neatly arranged, legible, and properly copy-edited. And while not as terse as Apple’s, Oppo’s is clearer, conciser, and easier to read than just about anyone else’s – an envious second place if I do so say.

Quality and follow through are Oppoian hallmarks. As are the small, silly misses.

The stock, faux-leather pads are the first. They are comfy-ish in cool weather. But come May, they cling stickily to whatever stickiness you have shining around your jaw and ears. They are good for nothing until November. As a natural, and profuse sweater, I lost no time, switching them for Oppo’s ~60$ PM-2 lambskin pads. The change was brilliant. Fake leather wasn’t good pre-protein. It isn’t any better today. It’s stupid to try.

The PM-2 clamps a bit less than does the PM-3. For a planar magnetic, it is light, pretty, and nerdy not in the least. No, it would not survive a toss through a properly winterized window. No, it would not win a pit fight with the IzoPhones-60. But no, even after university 101 science-for-dummy-arts-students-long hours on the head, it never hurts, clamps, presses, or rubs. Largely, it just turns into a noticeable pillow around your ears. And that, combined with its wonderful (if not perfectly tuned to my preferences) sound, is the main reason that time after time, I can’t wait to put it back on.

It is the most comfy and handsome mid-to-high-end headphone I’ve seen; it certainly is the nicest one I’ve worn.

The sound

The most perplexing thing to me is that despite not absolutely adoring its sound signature, I absolutely adore the PM-2. It’s not that it doesn’t sound good to my ears. It’s just that I prefer more high-frequency accent, more bite, more space.

The PM-2 is pretty flat, pretty neutral. It’s not dark, but next to the IzoPhones-60, and certainly next to the DT880 it just sounds laid back.

Treble has energy and a bit of what I shouldn’t call plastic wrap, but which for the sake of time, I will. It’s 22:20; I need a shortcut. It’s the sort of sound that smooths over the toppest of spikes with a thin layer of nylon. Grado-like crystal clear organic or electronic percussion are out. In their place is a bit of haze, but only just so. That haze doesn’t stick out, nor does it worry your favourite tunes. And treble extension is as good as any headphone I’ve heard. It’s just not emphasized with an abundance of sound pressure.

Mids run flat, tracking perfectly to the bass. They’re well-defined, well-resolved, and pretty spacious. But the contrast from them into the treble isn’t super huge. Maybe that’s why the PM-2 doesn’t sound as open as its design would lead you to believe. And they’re not overly organic. Neither are they aggressive. They’re comfortably blasé either preference.

More after the Click

Oppo PM-2 – Adjust Your Aerials!
4.1 (82.55%) 47 vote[s]

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

33 Comments

  • Reply May 19, 2015

    dalethorn

    “Favorite of all time…” – holy crap, what was the previous favorite?

    • Reply May 19, 2015

      ohm image

      Previously my favourite was the LCD-X. Soundwise, it’s hard to say which I prefer as the LCD-X was a borrow. But all-in, the PM-2 is my favourite.

      • Reply May 20, 2015

        dalethorn

        For just $700, that’s very interesting.

        • Reply May 20, 2015

          ohm image

          Remember, I prioritise a bit differently to you. Comfort above all else, then build and polish. Sound quality is assumed to be high unless otherwise aimed.

          But the PM-2 is great, if not quite bitey enough for me, and with a sound stage that is a bit laid back.

          • Reply May 20, 2015

            dalethorn

            Heh – some days, I just hope the thing works.

  • Reply May 19, 2015

    ohm image

    Since Day One I’ve been using it with a few amps, a few recording interfaces, and straight from an iPod.

    • Reply May 20, 2015

      Arnold Pangilinan

      Which is your favourite pairing?

      • Reply May 20, 2015

        ohm image

        I don’t have a favourite-sounding pairing necessarily. I love the Apogee Duet 2, the Audio Engine D3/D1, Vorzüge PUREII+, etc. Even from an iPod nano, the PM-2 sounds great.

        • Reply May 21, 2015

          Arnold Pangilinan

          I feel the PM-2 is forgiving with the source, however I have always preferred FiiO X5 compared to my Hidizs AP100 and Theorem 720 when paired with the PM-2. This must be my first headphones that I’ve liked the pairing with the X5. I generally like the sound of AP100. With the PM-2/X5 combo, I feel the upper mids to treble are being more accentuated so it seems I hear more details compared to PM-2/AP100 pairing. On my other headphones, the AP100 wins it for me. The Theorem 720 is very good but I feel the more forward vocals and the small soundstage of PM-2 do not gel well. I’m currently listening to Ottmar Liebert with PM-2 and Ragnarok as I type. 🙂 Now this is the best I’ve heard the PM-2 with…

  • Reply May 20, 2015

    Alexandre Nishikawa

    Have you heard the PM-1?

    • Reply May 20, 2015

      ohm image

      I have, but for a grand total of 10 minutes, if that.

      • Reply May 20, 2015

        Alexandre Nishikawa

        Any comments on some similarly priced headphones? Like HE-560 or EL-8? I always get a bit confused on which author has heard which phone here. :p

        • Reply May 20, 2015

          ohm image

          The resume is impossible to keep straight. I’ve heard the EL-8 for a brief few minutes only and the HE-560 never. Lieven is the man to ask about those phones. But not about the PM-2.

        • Reply May 20, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          With only 2 reviewers here it shouldn’t be that hard though 😉

  • Reply May 21, 2015

    SallyMaeSusan

    I was rather disappointed with the HA-2.
    For a start it wouldn’t accept a stream from the 30 pin out of my iPod Classic and only worked 3.5 to 3.5. The most I thought I could detect was a little less treble glare and perhaps a wider soundstage (listening through Ety HF3’s) but even that wasn’t clear cut.
    Next up I attached my iPhone 5 lightning to the Oppo and could detect no difference in listening to a lossless rip of Steely Dan’s ‘Babylon Sisters’.
    This was not what I had expected and hoped for; I had wanted to really like the thing and experience a whole new level of SQ.
    What DAC/Amp would knock my socks off? The Chord Hugo? Jus’ gotta win the lottery in the meantime.
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment and keep up the excellent work; this site is superb.

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      ohm image

      SallyMaeSusan,

      You are most welcome here. I’m sorry to hear that your experience with the HA-2 wasn’t good. Notice that I didn’t purchase one after the review. Truth be told, I’m not a DAC/amp guy unless stuck at a desk, with music spitting from a computer. Why? Because I’m a realist. Most modern DAPs are awesome. You won’t find the amazing upgrade in sound going from a DAP to a DAC. What will get you there is a headphone that meets your needs and is good enough to exceed your expectations.

      That said, certain amps and DACs really do sound different. Usually, it isn’t because they perform better than a DAP. Quite the opposite. High levels of distortion, closed stereo channels, blocked up dynamics. But that can really appeal to certain people. I review products against their marketing claims and to their target market.

      The HA-2 blasts past a lot of the compeititon in basic performance, which means that it has little ‘sound’ of its own to offer. If driving a really low-Ω earphone, or when (for some crazy reason) you need more power than yoru DAP can provide, the HA-2 is truly helpful. But otherwise, it is just a really really well thought-through and (apart from the awful and inexplicable leather), the best made, and nicest DAC/amp for many hundreds of dollars more.

      Contrariwise, the PM-2 is a great headphone. I don’t think it stcks up 100% in sound to some of the competition, but as an entire package, it is beautiful: great sound, amazing comfort, easily switchable pads, cables, etc., and it is made well, polished and feels, looks, and acts like a luxury product.

      I heartily recommend it.

      • Reply May 22, 2015

        SallyMaeSusan

        Thank you for the feedback.

      • Reply November 19, 2017

        Atticus Tayar

        What headphones in the competition would you recommend over the PM-2?

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      dalethorn

      I’d say the difference with my HA-2 is subtle. It’s best observed by listen with it for a little while, then without. Going the other direction it’s scarcely noticeable at all. It varies with the headphone and source. The more you can hear the ‘air’ frequencies above 12 khz the better the difference. The bad news other than the minor improvement is there seems to be no gain, and that’s in high-gain mode. Switching out high gain means less volume than the iPod Touch (latest gen) playing by itself. I tried the Line Out instead of the headphone jack, and the volume there was very low. I think for people with great hearing it’s a good deal, given the $300 price and good sound quality, but if you have one of the better DAPs like the iPhone6-plus, maybe not so much.

      • Reply May 22, 2015

        SallyMaeSusan

        Good point about the hearing, Dale; my ears are not as young as they were and low-level tinnitus can be a slight distraction!
        I DO like the look of the Companion One by Celsus; it WILL take a digital feed from my Classic, if I’m not mistaken…

        • Reply May 22, 2015

          dalethorn

          According to a headfi article it will – it even includes the 30-pin cable. What’s not so clear is the 160 mw total power at 32 ohms, which drops to 28 mw at 300 ohms. The HA-2 for example delivers 220 mw into 32 ohms and 30 mw into 300 ohms, besting the Celsus on power output. But for me the power of the HA-2 is minimal.

  • Reply May 23, 2015

    Aaron Mevorach

    How would you compare the sound of the PM-2 to the sound of the PM-3? In terms of soundstage, mids, bass, and anything else you find notable.

  • Reply May 23, 2015

    vick_85

    @headfonia_lieven:disqus

    Can we expect the review of the PM-1 any time soon??

    Thanks

  • Reply November 2, 2015

    Edward Lau

    How much sound leakage do these have? Also did you revisit the amount of difference (and kind of differences) between the 3 PM-x models?

    • Reply December 24, 2015

      ohm image

      They leak enough that you shouldn’t listen to them outside, but not as much as similarly damped headphones. The DT880, for instance, is more open.

  • Reply February 9, 2016

    Christopher Bui

    Good sir, I just purchased these (based partially upon your review), and let me just say that IMHO you didn’t do that “nylon wrap” quite enough justice. I like these a lot for rock and pop, but above all, I like my jazz and some classical, and that muffled treble sound is quite substantial and might just a killer for me; I might have to return it. The quality of the construction and XLR cable are phenomenal. Again, I do love it for rock and pop, but treble quality irks me. I’ll give it another couple of days to see whether anything changes with either it or me.

  • Reply May 24, 2016

    John Philip

    I have had these for about 8 months and love them ! They are not great … but do everything so well I always fall back to using them ! I also have PM3, Audeze El-8 Open, Grado RS1e and GS1000e … yet these are the most comfy easiest to use and listen to headphones I have ! For the most active ‘live’ experience the Grado GS1000e win … but to listen to and enjoy, relax and take in music these are the winners ! A clever combination in a world where many other headphones may be better – but for certain music only. These win on many levels and I am so glad I bought them !

    • Reply June 8, 2016

      ohm image

      Really glad we fall into the same camp. I also LOVE Grado headphones, my nicest being the PS1000.

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