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OPPO PM1 Planar Magnetic Headphones - Expert Review

"OPPO PM1 Planar Magnetic Headphones - Expert Review The OPPO PM1 gives the impression that it's no rich man's toy or passing fancy. It means business."

OPPO PM1 Planar Magnetic Headphones - Expert Review

Intro

OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetic Headphones

The name Oppo is perhaps better known for smartphones produced in Asia; but Oppo Digital, which produces these headphones, is a Californian company and quite separate but for its distinctive (and licenced) logo.

An unconventional arrangement then, but does this 'out of the box' thinking translate itself to the headphones? Well no - because the headphones do come in a box, albeit a rather fine one. It may be one of the nicest boxes we've seen headphones presented in; it's rather reminiscent of a Jaguar X-Type dashboard, and opens like one too. Well, the glove-box anyway.

It may be worth noting however, that for a considerable saving you can opt for the Oppo PM-2 version which has a few of the extras and details omitted. For instance, where you might have a chrome trim on the PM-1, the PM-2 uses plastic, and it does away with the presentation case.

They do have the same drivers and will have a very similar sound signature, so if you are as happy with good champagne at £30 per bottle as you are with the best champagne at £120 per bottle, then consider the PM-2.

PM1 & HA2 1Pictured with the OPPO HA-2 Portable Headphone Amplifier & USB DAC

 

Design and appearance

The good impressions don't stop with the box; it's entirely in keeping with the rest of the design and feel of the PM-1. They've gone for a chunky yet light feel with plush generously-sized earcups held by large aluminium yokes, and a steel headband tempered by a soft, yielding leather padding.

Durability & build quality

The materials may be plush, but the Oppo PM-1 gives the impression that it's no rich man's toy or passing fancy. It means business and can produce the goods.

The cable is a good example; covered in a close-woven black fabric, it's reminiscent of goods made in a bygone age. They are certainly high quality.

The Oppo PM-1 headphones looks like they're more at home amid the tantalus cabinets and antique davenports of a West London penthouse; and likewise they have the solid feel of an item which will stand up to years of enjoyment.

Comfort

The earpads are big enough for the appendages of most people, but if earcup size has been an issue before, these may be on the snug side. The earpads are perforated and breath a little, so things shouldn't get too moist under them.

The Oppo PM-1 headphones are held on by equal pressure between the plump earpads and equally generous headband padding, and wearing glasses doesn't pose any problems.

Suitability for intended application

The Oppo PM-1 is definitely meant for relaxing and enjoying the music with few distractions coming either from the headphones themselves or from without; the open design will allow audio out and exterior sound to penetrate so a nice quiet space is ideal in which to get totally lost in the music.

Portability

The handsome case which these headphones arrive in is of limited use if travelling as the accent is on quality and presentation, but there is a travel case offered for the PM-1 in the packaging so if you are planning to travel with them you won't be disappointed. The earcups fold flat on the PM-1 so they can be packed without being too hungry for space.

Also included is a small one metre cable with a 3.5mm jack for enjoying the headphones from smaller players and amps;

Sound characteristics:

(Used with Chord Hugo DAC/Amp & FiiO X3)

Bass:

Bass is as you'd expect from a planar magnetic design; it reaches low and fills the bottom part of the audio spectrum nicely. It's not overblown; it's just enough to tickle your eardrums and be felt as much as heard. Higher up, the bass is as strong and impactful as is called for by the audio with all the quality hinted at by the PM-1's outward design.

Mids (e.g. vocals, acoustic instruments):

The midrange gives the impression that the PM-1 is slightly on the 'fun' side of neutral - but it's subtle. The midrange has as much presence as the bass and treble, but the Oppo PM-1 does not sound neutral, perhaps 'sumptuous neutral' is more like it. There is plenty of space and very little congestion amid busier sections of music. Anything here can be paid attention to, and zoomed in on for all those tiny details.

Both male and female vocals are given a slight prominence and backing vocals are just as present in the mix, with definition and details easily giving added realism.

Treble (e.g. high hats):

Treble is smooth. The Oppo PM-1 headphones are not dark (at least when paired with a Chord Hugo) but they allow a comfortable, non-fatiguing listen. There's enough treble here to add the upper harmonics to instuments and shimmering qualities to percussion and not quite enough to cross the threshold into uncomfortable territory.

Given that the Oppo PM-1 is provided with a smaller 1m 3.5mm cable, the headphones were tried with a similar sound source, the Fiio X3. The slightly warmer nature of the X3 was apparent on the PM-1, but the combination still gives a punchy and involving presentation. The PM-1 does respond well to lower-powered devices but my cheap android phone could have done with going a couple of notches higher in volume. Apple iPhones and brands such as Samsung/HTC should not have any issues though.

OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetic HeadphonesPIctured with the OPPO HA-1 Balanced Headphone Amplifier & USB DAC

Soundstage & Separation

There is a lot of room in these headphones! Anything recorded in a studio with separate close miking and mixed is as wide as the producer envisioned, but live and classical recordings are given a real treatment. The listener is virtually surrounded among strings, woodwinds and flutes.

Separation is likewise superb; the Oppo PM-1 is like a pair of opera glasses for the ears. However with a lot of classical recordings, the shuffling of feet and turning of music pages will be noticeable, along with the odd click of a woodwind key.

Music genres good for and why:

Everything was tried with the PM-1 from Harry Richman to Herb Alpert, and it all sounded great. The PM-1 is another one of those all-rounders which doesn't even blink in the face of audio adversity; the obvious result of good breeding, no doubt.

Pros:

High quality in every way Comfortable to wear and hear Exceptional sound quality Travel pouch

Cons:

Some may prefer more 'sparkle' or brightness

 

 

About Shaun Gostelow

Shaun is co-founder of hifiheadphones.co.uk and spends most of his time dealing with the business side of running the store, but still loves listening to music with headphones just the same as ever.
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