Whether for the commute, some private listening at home or simply personal preference, most people need a decent pair of headphones in their lives. There is of course no shortage of headphones to choose from these days. However, very few come with what can be considered a perfect blend of audio technology, comfort and style.
The PM-1 headphones from Chinese manufacturers Oppo are just that, pure perfection in music transportation. With its flawless sound quality, supreme comfort and amazing build quality it is difficult to accept that these headphones were created by human hands.
It took a team of “passionate audio and acoustic engineers, chemical and material scientist, and audiophiles” several years to craft the PM-1s, and the result is an achingly elegant headphone that looks and sounds so good that it is can be considered perfect… Well almost.
Design and build
Judging a book by its cover is generally discouraged, but is it hard not to fall in love with the sleek, crisp exterior of Oppo’s PM-1. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design of these headphone, from the lambskin ear-pads (with a velour option included for those who do not like the idea of lambskin) to the high-grade machine crafted metal components.
These are a solid pair of headphones and Oppo have gone to great lengths to ensure that the PM-1 is sturdy enough to withstand a little more than gently handling while still retaining their comfort. None of these headphone leave the factory without having their clamping pressure measured with the “head and torso simulator”. This ensures that the clamp pressure is just right every time. Oppo guarantees a clamping pressure of 5 newtons for every single pair they sell.
The headphones also go through a rigorous regime in the factory to ensure consistency and robustness. They are stretched and flexed 20,000 times, extended and closed 20,000 times, twisted 5,000 times and the ear-cups get rotated 20,000. The PM-1s are designed to last.
These headphones are not just pretty showpieces. The PM-1 has the technological innards to match its extraordinary design. Planar magnetic driver technology is used because of its ability to convey super transparent, dynamic and frankly stunning audio reproduction.
This technology is generally found in high-end headphones. Instead of the traditional dynamic transducers the PM-1s utilize a thin membrane that has been layered with a conductor circuit and housed inside a magnetic field. The magnetic field within each ear-cup has the ability to create a more precise sound when it is fed an audio signal.
So the PM-1s have the look and the tech, but how do they sound? Well in a word, mesmerizing. The planar magnetic drivers give these headphones a sound that is clear, clean and precise. It has a purity in treble that cannot be found in headphones of lesser quality. With a full-sounding bass on top of that it is possible to hear every tone and fiber of every track played through these headphones.
It seems as though there is no track too tricky for the Oppo PM-1 either. Whether your preference is for Scissor Sisters or Sister Sledge the subtle tones picked up by these headphones will be absolutely captivating. The PM-1 manages to retain its audio clarity right through the volume ranges.
Price and verdict
So what are the downsides? Most of us have long since learned that nothing is perfect and this unfortunately does apply to the PM-1 headphones from Oppo. Sound and build are practically faultless but the main issue lies with the practicality of the headphones.
According to the manufacturers, the PM-1s are designed for all uses. However the open-back design is not conducive to travelling or using in places where there is any background noise. Any noise from things like traffic, people, or even the wind can get inside the headphone and pretty much ruin all the excellent audio work done by the planar magnetic drivers.
If you plan on using the PM-1s in a nice sound-free room, then yes these headphones are a perfect choice. It will be difficult to fully appreciate them if you plan to venture outside though. Sound quality will be rendered almost average with outside noise so you would probably be better off with a cheaper pair of noise-cancelling headphones for outdoor use.
In so many ways the PM-1 is a headphone made in heaven. However, the $1,838 (£1,099) price will bring most people swiftly back down to earth. If the price tag does not phase you these headphones will meet or even exceed the listening requirements of most audio lovers.
If you want to enjoy music the way it is supposed to and can connect these headphones to a decent audio source (although they still sound good on portable devices), then these headphones are worth it. Ultimately though, they are not worth raiding the children’s savings account for.