Things We Like for 2015: A Realist’s Guide to CES

ces headphones
The Wirecutter took a team of experienced editors and writers to CES 2015, the world's biggest electronics show of the year, and shared their list of recommended products. We're pleased to announce their list included the exciting new OPPO PM-3 closed back Planar Magnetic headphones and the new HA-2 portable headphone amplifier and DAC.

The items we picked are a mixture of things: those that we feel people will find useful or need in their daily lives, a few whimsical picks that we think will make life more enjoyable, and the things we suspect—but can’t definitely know until we test—might be our new favorites in their given categories. That’s it.

To come up with the list, we researched, interviewed, walked the show floor, and parsed the best news sites. We collected enough data to do as much blogging as other sites of our size. But we prefer to avoid writing up the superfluous, so we haven’t included the weird, quirky, useless, or nonsensical gadgets that most people don’t need or shouldn’t waste money on. Like a Wi-Fi router that is theoretically the fastest available, but that no existing laptop can take advantage of. Or a high-end music player from Sony that costs $1,200.

So don’t expect this list to overwhelm you with hype. There’s a lot of BS at this show, and we try to avoid being a part of that problem as much as possible by staying as quiet as we can. -BL & JC

Less expensive planar magnetic headphones


OPPO, makers of high-end open-backed planar magnetic headphones, generally have retail prices around USD$700-$1000. This spring, OPPO will be releasing the PM-3, which will be OPPO’s first ever closed-backed planar-magnetic headphones headphones. This is a big deal, because the PM-3 will also cost around USD$400, which is really inexpensive for headphones that use planar magnetic drivers. (Planar magnetic drivers are very sensitive and are known for their ability to have incredible detail and sense of space when playing music)

I got to hear the PM-3 at a private suite at CES. Yes, USD$400 headphones are somewhat pricy, but when you’re talking about very high quality drivers, that price range is really pretty great. Plus, having a closed back option is unique. Generally, when you want to listen to audio-enthusiast type headphones, they’re all open backed. This is great for at home, but don’t really work on the go.

Also consider that most planar magnetic headphones are huge. The PM-3 are made to be around the same size as the over-headphones most folks are familiar with, so they will go from home to the office or on your commute easily. And finally, they soundfantastic.

The retail version of the PM-3 won’t be available until the spring, so I have to withhold judgement until we get to give them a proper testing. But based on what I heard, they have a serious chance to take over as my favorite closed-backed headphones, and could be a step up from our USD$300 over-ear picks, the PSB M4U1. -LD

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