Oppo PM-3 Headphones - The Affordable King of the Closed-Backs

The Oppo PM-3 rock the 'Closed Headphones Under $500' category with a strong mix of technology, style and great sound.

We haven't seen a lot of truly exceptional closed/sealed-back portable headphones in the $200-$500 range.  But recently the Oppo PM-3 has been making news in knowledgeable headphone circles with its uniquely smooth tonal approach and wallet friendly price. The versatile PM-3 delivers impressive audio accomplishments at a surprisingly affordable cost.

Of course, planar magnetic drivers are hot in today’s premium headphone market thanks to their unparalled  ability to deliver sound with low harmonic distortion, huge dynamic range and great detail clarity. The Oppo PM-3 manages to do what only a few other headphones at this price have accomplished which is to wrap up brand-new planar technology in well-built, stunning looks and a highly functional design.

The PM-3 are constructed with a strong but light aluminum headband frame and proprietary leather cushions. The lines ooze urban sophistication with refined fit ergonomics that deliver excellent ambient noise isolation and very good portable listening privacy.

Putting the Oppo PM-3 on the head is a pleasure thanks to the widely adjustable fit, extra-soft enveloping earcup padding and stable, secure feel. The PM-3 are also more efficient than your average planar magnetic bear, and while a headphone amp is still a good idea, the PM3 will sound surprisingly strong un-amped.  And lest we forget, Oppo has managed to produce all of this goodness at a price lower than most other comparable headphones. 

'Portable' is a relative term but the PM-3 are a listening room for the road.

Oppo PM-3 headphonesThe Oppo PM-3 are positioned as a portable headphone and for the typically 'huge-&-heavy' planar magnetic category, the PM-3 can indeed be considered very portable.  Oppo describes their design as 'lightweight.' However, some wearers might deem them a tad on the heavier side at 320g, or just over 11 oz. The heft gives them a beefy feel, yet the PM-3 remain quite travel-friendly thanks to their sleek build, fold-flat design, hip selvedge denim travel case and choice of Apple or Android-compatible mic'd headset cables.

If you're an urban audiophile on the go who doesn't want to sacrifice comfort for sound, the Oppo PM-3 headphones could be your perfect match. And at the end of a long day, the PM-3 will work nicely plugged into a home audio system as a 'Top-Dog Headphone' (or 'Cat’s-Meow Headphone' per your animalistic preference).  

Let's get down to it:  How do they sound?

Our Headphone.com review team thinks the Oppo PM-3 sound excellent; you’ll note that many other reviewers agree. The PM3 are uniformly smooth and cohesive top to bottom with a good soundstage and excellent overall tonal balance. They're perhaps a stitch laid-back in the upper highs, which may or may not be considered beneficial depending personal listening tastes and the particular recording. We think perhaps a bit more punchy low-end emphasis could also help deliver an improved low-end presence.  But this is nitpicking; at this price, our team marks the PM-3 high for its surpemely evenly-toned, non-fatiguing presentation. Here's our Headphone.com staff takes:

Jamey: "These headphones are all about three things: sound, sound, sound!  If I were looking to buy a new set of affordable headphones today, these would be it.  Their closed design isolates very well, allowing me to enjoy great music wherever I may be while not disturbing others.  Compared to my reference open-back Sennheiser HD650, the Oppos sound a tad leaner in the bass but maintain a nice tonal balance in the mids, while sounding smoother in the highs.  If I had to be picky, I would say their weight could make them a bit uncomfortable for some users during long sessions.  I also hope that replacement ear pads are offered down the road."

Mike:  "The Oppo PM-3 are a great affordable portable headphone option for the audiophile on-the-go. They have outstanding build quality, although their fit is a bit tightly clamping for my big head's liking.  The PM-3 have a smooth, dynamic sound with decently detailed highs, but I found the bass a tad weak and lacking solid impact.  But their overall soundstage and imaging was excellent, and so was their isolation for the size. If I were tied down and forced to choose between these and my Sennheiser Momentum headphones, the Senns would probably edge them out due to the stronger bass slam, more personalized fit - and slightly cheaper price.  However the PM-3 really are fantastic headphones!" 

Jeremy:  "I love these headphones; so much so that they might even be my favorite closed-back affordable headphone right now.  The PM-3 have a tight, controlled and articulate bass with vocals & mids that sound clear and precise.  The highs are fairly crisp without edginess or brightness. While I really like my Sennheiser Momentum cans, the PM-3 are slightly better from an audiophile perspective with tighter, more controlled bass, clearer mid-range and more transparent high frequencies.  I’ve always really enjoyed the very expensive Fostex TH-900 cans, but I think these almost sound slightly more musical for my tastes - and are much more portable."

Jorge: "The Oppo PM-3 isolation factor is excellent for portable listening on the road without ambient environmental noises leaking in to disturb the music - or my jamming tunes leaking out and disturbing people next to me. They're not quite "noise-cancelling" headphones per se, but they certainly blocked out the world around me pretty effectively. I thought the soundstage was perhaps a little narrow or 'vertical', but they ably handled 70s classic rock and instrumental jazz recordings better than any other headphone I've heard at this friendly price. A terrific bang-for-the-buck headphone."

Ivy:  "I was really surprised at how much I liked these headphones.  I felt their overall build quality and fit was on par with much more expensive headphones. Compared to a typical (non-planar) headphone, these feel a bit heavy at first but Oppo was able to overcome this with careful attention to the weight balance and fit ergonomics.  They literally feel good to wear on the noggin; 5 stars for comfort in my book!  The Oppo PM-3 sound quality was balanced and neutral; maybe a bit more contained overall compared to my Sennheiser Momentum.  And while something like a Sennheiser HD800 or, my personal favorite - the Fostex TH-900 - provides a more lively and engaging experience, the fact that these headphones are only $399 puts them in a very sweet spot on the price-to-performance scale."

Oppo PM-3

Bottom Line?  The Oppo PM-3's deliver solid sound and design at a great price.

When it comes to premium headphones in the $200-$500 range, the Oppo PM-3's are probably some of the best headphones we've recently reviewed. If you're looking for features like a closed-back, travel-friendly design, sophisticated looks and mic'd smartphone cables, the PM-3's come fully loaded. If you're also wanting this nice package to deliver reference-type sound quality... well, all we need to say is helloooo, planar magnetic punch!  Audiophiles who find themselves on the road a lot should certainly consider the PM-3 for their nice wearing comfort, superior sound quality and solid isolation.  

All this adds up to why we think the Oppo PM-3 could be a category leader - the PM-3 does a lot of things quite well at a very attractive price.  And while no one headphone is perfect for every single person, chances are the PM-3 are not likely to disappoint most music lovers on the go.

Reviews

23 comments

Thomas

Thomas

Great review! I would agree with your findings… I’ve owned a pair of the limited production slate blue PM-3s for about a year. I’m a Permanently Disabled Vet (& dedicated audiophile/Electronics Tech for over 45 years) and I use audio as a therapy tool to “get away” from the severe pain I experience daily. I have owned SO many diff. brands, designs, & technologies (over 45 years) I find it intriguing how companies still find ways to innovate/engineer/design new concepts in HD technology! So many choices, but still have only my 2 ears to impress, lol.
I’ve owned Koss, Signet, A/T, Sennheiser, AKG, B&O, KEF,…… you name it, I’ve probably auditioned them…if not own them. I took a chance after reading many reviews, and bought a mint-used pair of PM-3s, without ever auditioning them. WOW…. they hit a sweet spot (between my ears 🙃) I did not know existed! The build quality, design, comfort, & ..of course.. sonic quality blew my mind 🤯! As I always do, I started listening to my reference media to get my own “take” on the sound reproduction, without any other amp, DaC, or cable. Being an audiophile, I strive for cans that emit a flat, reference curve. Then, when needed, I can tweak them by using Amp, DaC, cable, EQ, etc…. I think I may have finally found the perfect cans for ME! Without being more exhausting, the PlanMag drivers Oppo engineered to use in these are phenomenal. I agree that the treble is a bit subdued, but I can’t listen to cans that bring out the ultra-glistening highs anymore, as they cause hearing fatigue and becoming almost painful too soon. I suffer from an inner ear disorder and have tinnitus anyway, so I’m sure this is why. That being said, the bass is very tight and balanced, not muddy and the mids….oh those mids….the PM-3s finest quality, IMO. I found that they present a very open, uncluttered sound stage and when a certain instrument is heard, you can tell Exactly where it Is! More so than any other closed-back OTE can in my recent memory.
Now…. I must be honest, b/c I have owned a few of Oppos older DVD-audio & Blu-ray Players and loved their innovation, reliability, and tech support….so I was already an Oppo Fan. But, after 6 months I was disappointed on how fast the “protein” leather 😤 ear pads and headband pad deteriorated! And then when texting support for info on replacement ones, they only had the same animal friendly “protein” pads available. They do have leather ones for the prior PM-1 & PM-2 though??? I was also “advised” to send my PM-3s in to have the ear pads professionally replaced, by Oppo Service Techs, or I could possibly damage the PlanMag drivers. Went on YouTube and found a guy that posted a video on how to replace them! Just pull up to unsnap the old pads in 6 locations and reverse process. Easy-cheesy! Now….only problem is I need to order new ear pads every 6 months! I really wish they would have come up with a better solution or, at least, a better option! Maybe it has something to do with them shutting down 1 month after replacing my last pair? That sucks… I think I’m going to come up with my own “home spun”- hybrids by buying some Brainwavz sheep skin replacements? They are very close to OEM dims, but I’ll have to perform surgery on some old pads and take the hard plastic, snap-in fastening plate out and implement them into the Brainwavz pads. No other way around it. Unless you want to just superglue them on…NOT!
Sorry for the novel I wrote! My passion for feeding my Audiophiliac addiction got the best of me.
You boast one of the best Headphone review sites I’ve had the pleasure of perusing……Thanks! 🤙🏻✌🏼👂🧠👂

Alex McNeil

Alex McNeil

I agree with other commentors that the M500s are better. Such good EQ over all volume levels.

John

John

The OPPO PM-3’s are incredible!
Sound quality for the price is best in class.
I’ve teamed them with the HA-2 Amp “heaven” is all I can say!
No specs, no charts no graphs – just put them on with your favourite music.
Next minute……you’ll be enjoying music & drifting away!

Eugene Jyoder

Eugene Jyoder

I recently purchased the Bose Quietcomfort headphones and i tell you I love it. It gives the best sound quality. Obviously maybe because it’s Bose. And the best quality is that it shuts off all the sounds around and helps you concentrate only in the music you listening to. And upon all it costs only $329.95. I have previously used lots of headphones but haven’t loved any of them so much. I love this headphone and I’m really enjoying it.

Richard Reid

Richard Reid

Here’s my dilemma: two superb headphones are at the top of my list, the Oppo PM-3 and the Sennheiser HD 650. I would like to use my Sony stereo receiver phone output rather than buy a dedicated headphone amp. Although the HD 650 reaches deeper into bass, it is a 600 ohm unit, and may be difficult to drive with the Sony receiver. Even though the PM-3 has a nominal impedance of 26 ohms, and should be easy to drive with my Sony receiver, its bass, though refined and detailed, does not match the bass extension of the HD 650. Which headphone, given my circumstances, would be best? Thanks.

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

I am actually returning my PM-3s to Oppo after purchasing these cans and comparing their sound with my Kef M500s. I expected the Oppos to win the comparison; but as I listened to a variety of musical genre…Classical, Jazz, Country….Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, etc., it became obvious for my ears that the M500s provided superior quantity and quality of bass while requiring less cranking of the volume to hear a satisfying balance of mids and treble.

I appreciated the build quality of the Oppos and the carrying case is uber cool. My musical interfaces included direct to iPad Air and iPhone 6 and direct into an Audioengine DAC. I was most surprised by my experience after reading so many glowing reviews of the Oppos (and my love of the Magnepan speaker sound). YMMV….

Linuxprophet

Linuxprophet

I own a pair of PM-3s and they are only 2nd to my reference IEMs, the Shure SE846CLs.

No disappointment whatsoever. But strangely, they sound better with the combo of FiiO X5/E12A than iPhone6/HA-2 used with the USB Cable.

Winnifred

Winnifred

Hey guys, could you have this headphone on the graphs also. I’m considering a generally flat frequency planar magnetic headphone and I was looking at this one; but I don’t know what the graphs for this is like.

Alex McNeil

Alex McNeil

I agree with other commentors that the M500s are better. Such good EQ over all volume levels.

John

John

The OPPO PM-3’s are incredible!
Sound quality for the price is best in class.
I’ve teamed them with the HA-2 Amp “heaven” is all I can say!
No specs, no charts no graphs – just put them on with your favourite music.
Next minute……you’ll be enjoying music & drifting away!

Eugene Jyoder

Eugene Jyoder

I recently purchased the Bose Quietcomfort headphones and i tell you I love it. It gives the best sound quality. Obviously maybe because it’s Bose. And the best quality is that it shuts off all the sounds around and helps you concentrate only in the music you listening to. And upon all it costs only $329.95. I have previously used lots of headphones but haven’t loved any of them so much. I love this headphone and I’m really enjoying it.

Richard Reid

Richard Reid

Here’s my dilemma: two superb headphones are at the top of my list, the Oppo PM-3 and the Sennheiser HD 650. I would like to use my Sony stereo receiver phone output rather than buy a dedicated headphone amp. Although the HD 650 reaches deeper into bass, it is a 600 ohm unit, and may be difficult to drive with the Sony receiver. Even though the PM-3 has a nominal impedance of 26 ohms, and should be easy to drive with my Sony receiver, its bass, though refined and detailed, does not match the bass extension of the HD 650. Which headphone, given my circumstances, would be best? Thanks.

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

I am actually returning my PM-3s to Oppo after purchasing these cans and comparing their sound with my Kef M500s. I expected the Oppos to win the comparison; but as I listened to a variety of musical genre…Classical, Jazz, Country….Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, etc., it became obvious for my ears that the M500s provided superior quantity and quality of bass while requiring less cranking of the volume to hear a satisfying balance of mids and treble.

I appreciated the build quality of the Oppos and the carrying case is uber cool. My musical interfaces included direct to iPad Air and iPhone 6 and direct into an Audioengine DAC. I was most surprised by my experience after reading so many glowing reviews of the Oppos (and my love of the Magnepan speaker sound). YMMV….

Linuxprophet

Linuxprophet

I own a pair of PM-3s and they are only 2nd to my reference IEMs, the Shure SE846CLs.

No disappointment whatsoever. But strangely, they sound better with the combo of FiiO X5/E12A than iPhone6/HA-2 used with the USB Cable.

Winnifred

Winnifred

Hey guys, could you have this headphone on the graphs also. I’m considering a generally flat frequency planar magnetic headphone and I was looking at this one; but I don’t know what the graphs for this is like.

Thomas

Thomas

Great review! I would agree with your findings… I’ve owned a pair of the limited production slate blue PM-3s for about a year. I’m a Permanently Disabled Vet (& dedicated audiophile/Electronics Tech for over 45 years) and I use audio as a therapy tool to “get away” from the severe pain I experience daily. I have owned SO many diff. brands, designs, & technologies (over 45 years) I find it intriguing how companies still find ways to innovate/engineer/design new concepts in HD technology! So many choices, but still have only my 2 ears to impress, lol.
I’ve owned Koss, Signet, A/T, Sennheiser, AKG, B&O, KEF,…… you name it, I’ve probably auditioned them…if not own them. I took a chance after reading many reviews, and bought a mint-used pair of PM-3s, without ever auditioning them. WOW…. they hit a sweet spot (between my ears 🙃) I did not know existed! The build quality, design, comfort, & ..of course.. sonic quality blew my mind 🤯! As I always do, I started listening to my reference media to get my own “take” on the sound reproduction, without any other amp, DaC, or cable. Being an audiophile, I strive for cans that emit a flat, reference curve. Then, when needed, I can tweak them by using Amp, DaC, cable, EQ, etc…. I think I may have finally found the perfect cans for ME! Without being more exhausting, the PlanMag drivers Oppo engineered to use in these are phenomenal. I agree that the treble is a bit subdued, but I can’t listen to cans that bring out the ultra-glistening highs anymore, as they cause hearing fatigue and becoming almost painful too soon. I suffer from an inner ear disorder and have tinnitus anyway, so I’m sure this is why. That being said, the bass is very tight and balanced, not muddy and the mids….oh those mids….the PM-3s finest quality, IMO. I found that they present a very open, uncluttered sound stage and when a certain instrument is heard, you can tell Exactly where it Is! More so than any other closed-back OTE can in my recent memory.
Now…. I must be honest, b/c I have owned a few of Oppos older DVD-audio & Blu-ray Players and loved their innovation, reliability, and tech support….so I was already an Oppo Fan. But, after 6 months I was disappointed on how fast the “protein” leather 😤 ear pads and headband pad deteriorated! And then when texting support for info on replacement ones, they only had the same animal friendly “protein” pads available. They do have leather ones for the prior PM-1 & PM-2 though??? I was also “advised” to send my PM-3s in to have the ear pads professionally replaced, by Oppo Service Techs, or I could possibly damage the PlanMag drivers. Went on YouTube and found a guy that posted a video on how to replace them! Just pull up to unsnap the old pads in 6 locations and reverse process. Easy-cheesy! Now….only problem is I need to order new ear pads every 6 months! I really wish they would have come up with a better solution or, at least, a better option! Maybe it has something to do with them shutting down 1 month after replacing my last pair? That sucks… I think I’m going to come up with my own “home spun”- hybrids by buying some Brainwavz sheep skin replacements? They are very close to OEM dims, but I’ll have to perform surgery on some old pads and take the hard plastic, snap-in fastening plate out and implement them into the Brainwavz pads. No other way around it. Unless you want to just superglue them on…NOT!
Sorry for the novel I wrote! My passion for feeding my Audiophiliac addiction got the best of me.
You boast one of the best Headphone review sites I’ve had the pleasure of perusing……Thanks! 🤙🏻✌🏼👂🧠👂

Alex McNeil

Alex McNeil

I agree with other commentors that the M500s are better. Such good EQ over all volume levels.

John

John

The OPPO PM-3’s are incredible!
Sound quality for the price is best in class.
I’ve teamed them with the HA-2 Amp “heaven” is all I can say!
No specs, no charts no graphs – just put them on with your favourite music.
Next minute……you’ll be enjoying music & drifting away!

Eugene Jyoder

Eugene Jyoder

I recently purchased the Bose Quietcomfort headphones and i tell you I love it. It gives the best sound quality. Obviously maybe because it’s Bose. And the best quality is that it shuts off all the sounds around and helps you concentrate only in the music you listening to. And upon all it costs only $329.95. I have previously used lots of headphones but haven’t loved any of them so much. I love this headphone and I’m really enjoying it.

Richard Reid

Richard Reid

Here’s my dilemma: two superb headphones are at the top of my list, the Oppo PM-3 and the Sennheiser HD 650. I would like to use my Sony stereo receiver phone output rather than buy a dedicated headphone amp. Although the HD 650 reaches deeper into bass, it is a 600 ohm unit, and may be difficult to drive with the Sony receiver. Even though the PM-3 has a nominal impedance of 26 ohms, and should be easy to drive with my Sony receiver, its bass, though refined and detailed, does not match the bass extension of the HD 650. Which headphone, given my circumstances, would be best? Thanks.

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

I am actually returning my PM-3s to Oppo after purchasing these cans and comparing their sound with my Kef M500s. I expected the Oppos to win the comparison; but as I listened to a variety of musical genre…Classical, Jazz, Country….Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, etc., it became obvious for my ears that the M500s provided superior quantity and quality of bass while requiring less cranking of the volume to hear a satisfying balance of mids and treble.

I appreciated the build quality of the Oppos and the carrying case is uber cool. My musical interfaces included direct to iPad Air and iPhone 6 and direct into an Audioengine DAC. I was most surprised by my experience after reading so many glowing reviews of the Oppos (and my love of the Magnepan speaker sound). YMMV….

Linuxprophet

Linuxprophet

I own a pair of PM-3s and they are only 2nd to my reference IEMs, the Shure SE846CLs.

No disappointment whatsoever. But strangely, they sound better with the combo of FiiO X5/E12A than iPhone6/HA-2 used with the USB Cable.

Winnifred

Winnifred

Hey guys, could you have this headphone on the graphs also. I’m considering a generally flat frequency planar magnetic headphone and I was looking at this one; but I don’t know what the graphs for this is like.

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