First Reviews of Oppo PM-1 Planar Magnetic Headphones Coming in

The Beautifully Crafted Oppo PM-1 Planar Magnetic Headphones

Back in December of 2013 and again just a few weeks ago I previewed Oppo’s forthcoming PM-1 Planar Magnetic headphones.  The company, which has established itself as making some of the finest DVD and then Blu-ray disc players in the world, was jumping into the seemingly ever-expanding headphone market for the first time.  Because of stellar their reputation in the physical disc arena, expectations have been very high for Oppo’s first headphone model.

The PM-1s come in a beautiful wood case

Now, users are starting to get a taste of some first impressions as reviewers are beginning to get their hands on the PM-1s.  Chris Martens received his review pair a few weeks ago and posted his first impressions.  Chris noted that the PM-1s were very sensitive and therefore easy to drive.  He found them slightly on the warmer side with a nuanced and revealing midrange.  His initial impressions were positive.

Geoffrey Morrison did a formal review for Forbes on the PM-1s.  Geoffrey noted lots to like about the build quality—it’s solid.  The PM-1s, he noted, were significantly lighter than other planar magnetic models but just a bit heavier than most normal models.  He liked the open characteristic of the headphones that was a hallmark of both the open back design and the planar magnetic technology.  The bass didn’t go as deep as other models he’s heard but he liked the sound overall.

You can purchase an optional stand for the PM-1s

An interesting item in Geoffrey’s review was the comment, “So if your idea of perfect sound is something like Grados, you’re not going to like these.”  This was primarily due to the bass response and treble extension of the PM-1s in comparison to Grados.  Overall, Geoffrey Morrison absolutely loved the PM-1s.

Brent Butterworth, a veteran reviewer  who now has his own column on About.com also reviewed the PM-1s.  Brent took some measurements of the headphones.  However, as I’ve noted previously with research done by Dr. Sean Olive, the industry is still trying to figure out what’s what when it comes to valid headphone measurements.  Just because a headphone measures a certain way doesn’t mean you’ll perceive it that way.  Nevertheless, as a veteran reviewer, I would tend to trust Brent’s conclusions based on his measurements.

Brent had a few other pairs of headphones in for review and gave a direct comparison between the various models.  One interesting aspect from Brent’s review is his comment,

Even though the PM-1’s measurements show it to have a flatter response than the LCD-3 or the HE-500, its stronger bass output has the psychoacoustic effect of making the mid and upper treble sound a little softer. Everything’s still there — the click of the stick on ride cymbal, the impact of every little bead inside a maraca, the ring of the acoustic guitar strings on Adrian Belew’s “May 1, 1990” (from Here) — but it’s not as readily apparent as with the LCD-3 or the HE-500.

Once again, psychoacoustics always play a role in how we perceive the sound.


Finally, to round out the initial reviews there’s Steve Guttenberg’s on his Audiophiliac column on CNet. Steve gave a very positive review of the PM-1s and did some comparisons to other headphones he had on hand:

I next compared the PM-1 with my three-year-old Audeze LCD-2 planar magneticheadphones ($1,145). The LCD-2 had a brighter overall balance, and the treble was airier and clearer. The PM-1 was richer, with a slightly warmer and fuller midrange — so much so the PM-1 sounds like it’s hooked up to a tube amp, with my 100-percent solid-state Burson HA 160 amp.

The bottom line is that Oppo has a real winner on its hands.  At $1,099, the PM-1s are definitely high end.  However if you are serious about your headphones and want to sample what may be one of the best headphones available today, you owe it to yourself to take a listen to the Oppo PM-1s.

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