Abyss Diana, Anyone Interested?

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by mtoc, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. Aeron

    Aeron Acquaintance

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    @Maxx134, Joe says the current pads fit 70% and he has deeper ones that will be out shortly. I have a loaner pair incoming, looking forward to comparing them with the Abyss 1266 and Utopias.
     
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  2. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Hey Guys,

    I should preface these impressions by saying that the Abyss sound, and looks/comfort is not for everyone. I *really* like the Abyss sound, it just works for me and my ears. I’ve also never found their headphones uncomfortable, but I know some do so please take that into consideration. The Diana Phi is likely going to fit and be comfortable for more people than the original Diana due to the new ear pads and tweaked headband, but still, try them if you can before purchasing :)

    These are also very initial impressions that might change over time. I will report back with further impressions in a couple weeks or whatever.

    All the comparisons with the AB-1266 Phi are from memory, so take them with a grain of salt. I’ll do my best.

    Ok with that out the way.

    Since I sold my Abyss AB-1266 Phi, I’ve been hoping to eventually end up with another pair at some point. I’ve been waiting until I was able to get the money together, and then the Diana Phi was announced. Having tried the original Diana, I was very intrigued by the possibility of the sound of the AB-1266 Phi in a smaller, more comfortable package. I never found the big Abyss uncomfortable, but they are definitely on the chunkier side of things. Have Abyss achieved this? Pretty much, yes :)

    I think that part of the AB-1266’s sound is a result of its very unusual frame and ability to

    A)Rotate the Pads

    B)Angle the Frame

    C)Bend the Frame (slightly)

    D)Expand the frame

    It has the biggest soundstage I’ve ever heard, and the best imaging. I think that the Diana Phi is never going to exactly match its big brothers sound signature exactly, as it is limited by its much more conventional frame. However, is this a trade off worth making for extreme comfort, and light weight? I think it might be.

    Abyss headphones do bass right in my opinion. Big with lots of presence. However, it is never boomy or bloated sounding. Really precise and accurate.

    The mids are a little bit less present on the Diana Phi than on the Hifiman Susvara. They are a less warm headphone.

    The treble on the Diana Phi is a bit sparkly, and maybe a tiny bit less elevated than on the AB-1266 Phi. I’m going from memory here though, so I could be wrong. However, I haven’t noticed any sibilance yet, which I did notice occasionally at higher volumes with the AB-1266 Phi.

    The soundstage is a bit smaller than the AB-1266 Phi which was to be expected. Imaging is very good though. Real pin point precision.

    Detail seems to be really great across the board, just like her big brother.

    Compared to the original Diana, pretty much everything seems to be improved, and the original Diana is a seriously great headphone in my opinion.

    Very, very comfortable. Light clamping. Spacious ear pads. 350grams, so they are very light.

    My one complaint so far is that the cable could be longer. Thats about it.

    I’ll stop there for now as it is still very early days. However, so far, I’m very happy with the Diana Phi. It has taken most the AB-1266 Phi, and put it into a much more user friendly package. Will I purchase a pair of AB-1266 Phi CC in the future? Maybe, as they are such a unique headphone, but for now the Diana Phi is giving me much of their sound, in a headphone that feels like its not there at all on your head :)
     
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  3. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Abyss Headphones Diana Phi

    [​IMG]

    Hi Guys,

    This is my first attempt at a full review, so please forgive any errors or lack of detail. The reason I am writing this review is I am so impressed with the Diana Phi. I warn you in advance, this is going to be a positive review, which makes sense as I wouldn’t purchase a product I don’t enjoy.

    My preferences are below

    -Weird Electronica, Jazz, Rock, and some Metal.

    -Lots of quality bass, not too warm, and lively treble.

    To be honest, its sort of like Abyss Headphones general sound signature is made for my preferences, hence I enjoy their headphones so much.

    Abyss started out, as most of you know, with the AB-1266. Not the most conventional headphone, but a sonic wonder. However, it is a no compromises headphone. Its big, a bit unwieldy, and sounds awesome. Second up from Abyss was the Diana. The complete opposite from her big brother, the AB-1266. Very light, flexible, and much less expensive. However, Diana, whilst still retaining the Abyss sound signature, did make some concessions in terms of ultimate resolution and detail. She also has a bit of a friendlier sound signature, making rough recordings a bit easier to listen to. This is to be expected as Diana was built to a lower price point, as was also supposed to be a transportable Abyss. Diana was, and still is, a superb headphone, worthy of anyones consideration at the $3000USD price point.

    With all of that being said, the question that still hadn’t been answered was could the AB-1266 (now the AB-1266 Phi) be turned into a very comfortable and light headphone like the Diana, whilst retaining the detail, resolution, and overall greatness of the original Abyss. I wasn’t sure if it could, due to the originality and uniqueness of the AB-1266’s frame and adjustment capability. However, with the effort Abyss has put into the new Diana Phi’s pads, adjusted headband, and the transplant of the AB-1266 Phi’s driver technology and materials, Abyss Headphones has managed to get close. Damn close.

    I have owned both the AB-1266 and AB-1266 Phi (not with the CC pads however) but I don’t have a pair currently so I can’t do a direct comparison. I will do my best at the end of the review from memory, as well a quick comparison to the original Diana from memory.

    The sound of the Diana Phi is…palpable. Thats the best way to describe it.

    pal·pa·ble

    /ˈpalpəb(ə)l/

    adjective

    adjective: palpable

    1. 1.
      (of a feeling or atmosphere) so intense as to seem almost tangible.
    Yup, that pretty much describes it.

    The tonal balance of the Diana Phi is pretty much exactly the same as the AB-1266 Phi, as one would expect as they use pretty much the same driver.

    Bass

    The bass is a bit elevated, but not overly so. It gives the music a sound that is closer to reality. I am a drummer, and pay close attention to how bass is portrayed as it is so important. Both kick drums, and bass lines. The interplay between the two, and how present it is in the recording is very important. The Diana Phi’s bass hits massively hard, and doesn’t have a hint of woolliness, or roundness to it. The attack and decay are crazy, it hits, and gets out of the way for the next punch. If you don’t like bass much, and prefer bass light headphones, these might not be the right choice for you. As I have said before, for me and my ears, Abyss does bass right.

    Mids

    The mids are very similar to the AB-1266. A tiny bit pulled back, but not overly so. They don’t sound sucked out at any frequency, at least not to my ears. This tuning works especially well with electronica/rock/ and metal, which makes up most of my listening time. They don’t have the warm, smooth and musical sound you might find on an Audeze pair of headphones. They are, pretty much, the exact opposite of that. A colder, more exacting, and precise listen overall. Think of a butter knife vs. A surgeons scalpel, both great tools that have their uses, just different.

    Treble

    The treble has detail on par with the best headphones on the market. In fact the detail of all areas of the sound signature are well…epic. I have owned most, and heard pretty much all of the top of the line headphones out there, and the Diana Phi presents detail with the best of them. The treble is very fast, perhaps not matching the speed of the SR-009, but damn close. I think there is a little peak in the treble somewhere, but I haven’t found it problematic thus far. The treble doesn’t drill into your eardrums, and I haven’t noticed any sibilance yet. This is the one difference I have noticed vs. The AB-1266 Phi, which would sometimes have a little bit sibilance at higher volumes. I wonder if there has been a tiny bit tuning done to the Diana Phi with regards to this? I’m not sure. There is a good sense of sparkle (for lack of a better term) and presence to the treble. It isn’t rolled off, and extends well. Two thumbs up.

    Soundstage

    Now, the one area I was really worried about with the Diana Phi was the soundstage, vs. The immense sound field the AB-1266 Phi projects. As expected, the Diana Phi’s soundstage is smaller, and is about on par with the Hifiman Susvara. However, likely due to the new larger pads, the Diana Phi has a larger soundstage than that of the original Diana, and is both wider and deeper.

    Technicalities

    As mentioned above, the detail retrieval of the Diana Phi is top of the line. Both macro and micro detail are superb in my opinion. You can tell that the headphone is doing its best at extracting as much information from the recording as possible. Dynamics with the Diana Phi are very similar to the AB-1266 Phi.

    Build

    The build quality of the Diana Phi is among the best I have experienced from any headphone manufacturer. It is very solid, and maintains Abyss Headphones goal of minimising moving parts and resonance from the frame of the headphone. The pads are made from real leather, and everything seems to have been thought about. The headband is covered with Alcantara, which should stand the test of time very well if my past experience is anything to go by. The size adjustment clicks are just tight enough, but not hard to move. The Diana Phi is manufactured from aluminium, and the frame is very thin. This is especially evident when you take the pads off and looks at the ear cups profile.

    The headphones weigh 350 grams, which is very light for a top of the line piece of gear. There are lighter headphones out there, but I think Abyss has managed to strike a nice balance between weight and durability (I hope.) The headphones connectors are 2.5mm TRS plugs, which is the same as my Hifiman Susvara. These are not my favourite connector as they are a little bit fragile, and don’t always have the best connection. However, Abyss has moulded a bit plastic at the bottom of the connector to make sure they sit securely and flush with the frame of the headphones. It is a really small detail, but much appreciated. The supplied cable could be a bit longer, but it is nice and supple and well made. I definitely prefer the Diana cable to the AB-1266 cable, I just wish it was half a metre longer, thats all.

    [​IMG]

    Comfort

    The Diana Phi are a very comfortable headphone, due to their weight and the new ear pads. However, I know some struggle with the fit of the original Diana. I found the original Diana comfortable, so it might be best to try the Diana Phi prior to purchasing if you didn’t get on well with the fit of the original Diana. It took me a few hours to get used to the fit of the Diana Phi, as with all things Abyss, its a little bit unconventional. The headphones don’t clamp as hard as some others, and just feel a bit foreign on your head. However, once you get used to how they feel, its almost like wearing nothing at all. The one complaint I have in terms of fit is that they do seem to be comfier if I’m not wearing glasses. I think this is due to the edge of the pads being a bit stiffer than most other pads I’m used to, pressing against the glasses frame. With the Susvara for example, glasses are not a problem at all. I haven’t found it to be a problem in terms of creating a hot spot or pressure point that hurts after a long period of time, but it is something to note if you wear glasses. Again, best to try them if you can.

    Comparisons

    I’ll do my best to compare the Diana Phi to the original Diana, and AB-1266 Phi as I suppose that is what most people are interested in. Please keep in mind these two comparisons are from memory, and to take them with a pinch of salt. I will also do a quick comparison to the Hifiman Susvara, as that is the other pair of headphones I have here.

    Original Diana: The original Diana sounds a bit less dynamic. It is also a little bit warmer. It doesn’t have the same level of detail retrieval of the Diana Phi. However, compared to other headphones in the $3000 range, it is perfectly acceptable in terms of detail, the Phi just takes it to that next level. The original Diana seemed to work better with poorer recordings, as it has a little bit less transparency. The original Diana is probably the better choice of headphone if you just want an all rounder, and the Diana Phi is the better choice if you want a dedicated hardcore top of the line headphone. A part from the extra bit warmth on the original Diana, the tonal signature is very similar. The original Diana was comfortable for me, but for some people I know it isn’t. The original Diana’s pads were over ear for me…just. However, for people with larger ears, they may be more on ear than over ear. The Diana Phi pads should solve that. The Diana Phi also has a tweaked headband that should provide a fit for more head shapes than the original Diana.

    AB-1266 Phi: The AB-1266 is, for me, and all or nothing headphone. Its big, brash, and makes no compromises. I have always found it comfortable, but again, I know some people don’t. The Diana Phi is much lighter and comfortable than the AB-1266. However, you do lose out on a bit sound stage and imaging precision with the Diana Phi. This is to be expected as you can’t manually manipulate the angle and width of the frame like you can with the AB-1266. Tonally the Diana Phi is pretty much the exact same, apart from the lack of slight sibilance that I mentioned earlier. If you want the full on Abyss experience, consider purchasing the AB-1266 Phi CC. There is nothing else like it on the market. If you don’t mind a little bit less soundstage, and want a lighter headphone that can be worn all day comfortably, consider at least trying the Diana Phi. You really aren’t missing out on much, in my humble opinion. Might I still purchase a pair of AB-1266 Phi CC? Perhaps. However, it is a lot of money to spend when I feel I am getting most of the experience with the Diana Phi. Time will tell I suppose.

    [​IMG]

    Hifiman Susvara: If the AB-1266 Phi CC is the ultimate expression of the Abyss sound signature, then the Susvara is the ultimate expression of the Hifiman sound signature. I truly enjoy both of these headphones equally. They are such a stark contrast sonically. The Hifiman is a bit more laid back, a little bit warmer, and quite a bit easier to listen to. It has a little bit less bass, and is a bit more like a warm hug, than the punch of detail and music you get from the Diana Phi. The Hifiman weighs about 100 grams more than the Diana Phi, but it is well distributed, and is also a very comfortable headphone, albeit a more conventional wearing experience. In terms of detail an soundstage I would say these two headphones are pretty much equal. In terms of tonal signature, the Susvara has a little bit less treble energy, and as I said, a bit less bass quantity. At the prices the Susvara can be had for nowadays, especially on the used market, I would highly recommend trying both, as well the AB-1266 Phi CC, if you are in the market for a pair of headphones in this price range. It will really depends on your needs, and tonal preferences as to which will work best for you. To be honest, at this level, its pretty much hard to go wrong, its more about you, and what you personally enjoy from a pair of headphones.

    Conclusion

    If you enjoy the sound signature Abyss Headphones provides, you owe it to yourself to give the Diana Phi a try. I realise that these are very expensive headphones, but even if you don’t want to spend this kind of money on a pair of transducers, give them a shot at your local dealer, or a local Can Jam if you can. They are a lot of fun to listen to.

    The Diana, Diana Phi, and AB-1266 Phi CC are a very impressive line up of headphones. Each offer something unique, and are worthy of consideration should you be looking for a pair of headphones in their price range. Abyss headphones aren’t for everyone, but if they work for you and your ears, they are hard to beat. The Diana Phi has taken the best of the Diana, and most of the best bits of the AB-1266 Phi CC, and put it together in a much more user friendly package. It sounds almost like a Phi CC….but is comfier than the original Diana. Whats not to like really? I don’t know what Abyss has planned for their next release, but I will follow along with great interest. Joe Skubinski and co. at Abyss Headphones have always been very helpful whenever I have contacted them with a question, and really do seem to be proud of their work. They stand behind it 100%.

    All in all, Abyss Headphones and their sound signature just work for me and my ears. I urge you to give them a shot, for all they may look a bit funny at first, they might work for you and your ears too :)
     
  4. spartacus

    spartacus Rando

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    To my ears, today the Abyss Phi and the Susvara are the 2 best HP's currently available...I have heard the Diana but not the Diana Phi which i am sure is outstanding....
     
  5. Greg Brown

    Greg Brown Rando

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    Thanks! I'm very interested in the Phi version, and there is very little info available. So appreciated!
     
  6. Bill13

    Bill13 Rando

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    Interested in purchasing another high-end headphone (Abyss Headphones are on my list of candidates).

    Looking at headphones that sound great for classical music especially solo piano works and small instrumental ensembles (including chamber music), yet provide clean bass-slam for home theater. My Focal Utopia lacks bass slam and has problem with trebles (apparent 6 kHz peak, and sounds bright to my ears).

    I'm bewildered by all the impressions reported on the internet and reviews.
    It seems that the Diana Phi, the AB-1266 Phi CC (heavy weight & is expensive), the new MrSpeakers Ether 2 (only 290 grams weight), and perhaps Audeze LCD-4Z and LCF-4 are also candidates. Was impressed by Susvara at last year's Canjam but it's just too expensive, IMO.

    I'm going to NYC Feb 2019 Canjam to try to hear the Abyss headphones, and the new Either2, etc.. Trouble is, Canjam tends to be a difficult noisy environment for any comparative critical listening.

    Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an Abyss dealer in my NJ area -- looks like I may have to pretty much rely on written reviews and impressions.

    Can anyone here on SBAF tell me if the new MS Ether 2 compares favorably to the Abyss Diana, or especially the bigger AB-1266 Phi CC -- for bass slam in action movies, and for small ensemble classical music?
     

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