Oppo Digital, which is based in Mountainview, California, announced the release of the PM-1 planar-magnetic headphones, their first personal-audio product. Up until now, Oppo has been known for their topflight disc players. According to their press release on April 2: “The Oppo PM-1 utilizes a unique and pioneering planar-magnetic driver that sets it apart from the majority of headphones on the market. The Oppo PM-1 driver features a seven-layer diaphragm and an FEM-optimized high-energy Neodymium magnet system. The diaphragm has a spiraling pattern of flat conductors etched on both sides, and the double-sided design allows twice as many conductors to be placed within the magnetic field, which leads to higher sensitivity, better damping, and even drive force. The magnetic field and conductor patterns are optimized for maximum driving force and consistency of the applied force over the radiating area, and its circumaural (over-the-ear), open-back design provides the best in sound quality and comfort. These aspects of the Oppo PM-1’s design combine to provide high sensitivity and extremely low distortion, delivering a transparent, highly dynamic sound that exhibits well-balanced tonal qualities. The high sensitivity and low weight also allow the headphones to be used freely with portable devices without requiring additional amplification.”

The PM-1 headphones will be priced at $1099 and will be available in limited quantities by mid-April. Oppo plans to release a more cost-effective version, the PM-2, by summer 2014 at a price of $699. According to the same press release: “[The PM-2] utilizes the same planar-magnetic driver, the same acoustic design principles and tuning techniques, the same tight tolerances for quality control, and its lower price is achieved without sacrificing acoustic performance. Certain metal parts that require many hours of machining time and have relatively low yields in the PM-1 have been replaced by materials and processes that are more suitable for quantity production, and the luxurious hand-picked lambskin found on the headband and earpads of the PM-1 has been replaced with synthetic leather that offers similar comfort and durability at a much lower cost.”

Oppo Digital website