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Abyss Headphones Diana

  1. ufospls2
    Abyss Headphone Diana Phi-The Best of Both Worlds?
    Written by ufospls2
    Published Dec 28, 2018
    Pros - -Sound quality
    -Comfort (if the fit works for you)
    -Build Quality
    Cons - -Length of stock cable
    -Fit may not work for some people
    Abyss Headphones Diana Phi

    IMG_0583 2.jpg

    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.




    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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_0584-1 2.jpg


    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.


    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_0590 2.jpg

    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.


    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 :)
    1. PeteSTRADAMUS
      I'm really interested to see how these compare to the Empyrean.
      PeteSTRADAMUS, Feb 11, 2019
  2. third_eye
    Flagship Performance, Portable Size
    Written by third_eye
    Published Sep 4, 2018
    Pros - Transparent, "speaker-like" presentation
    Highly engaging and realistic tonality
    Fantastics looks and build quality
    Cons - Earcups might be too small for some users,
    Provided 5' cable more suited to portable rather than desktop use
    Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the chance to hear various iterations of the Abyss Diana through their development, and was really excited to finally hear the production version earlier this year at CanJam NYC 2018. Although my audition at the time was a relatively short one, it was enough to pique my interest in spending some time with this headphone and I’ve now had the chance to spend time with a production review sample for the past few months.

    First a little background on Abyss Headphones and the Diana project. High end cable manufacturer, JPS Labs, formed Abyss Headphones, and their first product, the Abyss AB-1266 took the headphone world by storm back in 2013. The headphone was a serious attempt at creating the best sounding headphone in the world and developed a strong fan following for its unique ability to create a strong sense of realism, and perhaps, the most “speaker-like” sound of any headphone. While the AB-1266 has seen further refinements over the years with the AB-1266 Phi (and the most recent AB-1288 Phi CC), one of the common points of discussion among Abyss fans, has been the ergonomics of the AB-1266. It’s an extremely large headphone, a headphone that requires a proper fit (and the requisite patience) needed to achieve this, as well as a headphone that requires a significant level of upstream gear in order to maximize its enormous potential.

    It seems that with this in mind, Abyss Headphones set out to develop a headphone that would preserve much of the sound signature of the larger AB-1266, while addressing some of its ergonomic points of contention, while enabling an overall lower point of entry in terms of its price. Enter the Abyss Diana.

    The Diana is a semi-open back design, features large 63 millimeter planar magnetic drivers, and has an impedance rating of 40 ohms. The build quality is second to none, with beautifully machined aluminum ear cups that are finished in ceramic and come in a choice of 3 colors: black, coffee, and white. The headphone is surprisingly light and compact with square shaped leather ear pads that magnetically click into place. And although the Diana is not a true circumaural fit for me, the Diana is light and I found the overall comfort level to be high. The leather and alcantara headband along with a very satisfyingly smooth adjustment mechanism completes a very refined package. One thing to note, the Diana ships with a 5’ cable (with the termination of your choosing) which while great for portable use, might be a tad short for home/desktop users.

    I’ve been using the Diana in the following configurations:

    • As a portable headphone driven by an Astell&Kern SP1000

    • As a portable headphone driven by a Hugo 2

    • As a desktop headphone driven by a DNA Stratus (2A3 tube amp)

    Despite the 40 ohm impedance rating, the Abyss Diana will happily take as much juice as you can give it and its sound quality belies its more common “portable” descriptive tag. This is very much a “full” size flagship headphone in a “portable” package. With that said, in order to achieve this full size sound, I would at the minimum recommend using a portable amplifier such as the Hugo 2. A further and distinct improvement was heard when adding the beefier 2A3 tube amp into the chain.

    The sound quality of the Diana can be described as open, transparent, punchy, and with fantastic tonality. These headphones will immediately grab your attention with a “speaker-like” and three dimensional presentation that is overall similar, albeit “smaller”, to its bigger brother, the Abyss Phi. The Diana has a more intimate soundstage than the massive soundstage of the Abyss Phi and one that is closer to the Focal Utopia. And while the aforementioned Utopia can, at times, have a “too much of a good thing” type of tonality, the Diana remains remarkably balanced.

    Overall, the $2995 Abyss Diana is a flagship headphone that should a must audition for those looking for this level of performance and in this price category. The fact that the Diana is also portable, is icing on a very sweet cake.
  3. chimney189
    Abyss Diana V2
    Written by chimney189
    Published Nov 4, 2019
    Pros - Sound
    Cons - Possibly comfort
    My first encounters
    with the Abyss Diana headphone was at an audio-store called F1 Audio. At the time I was more interested in listening to the HEK-SE, so I didn't have enough time to listen to the Abyss headphone, but it clearly left some impression with me. Fast forward 2 months and I'm sitting on a barely padded chair at a meet in Chicago with the Abyss Diana Phi on my head and I'm waiting until my iPhone is left with at least 5% battery in case someone needed to call me or there was an emergency... priorities, right?

    The Abyss Phi, once again, left an impression with me. Although this time it would be long-lasting: I simply did not want to stop listening to my favorite music, or even music that I've never heard before. I know many audiophiles know what I'm talking about and how after an experience like this it's difficult to not start looking at your financial state. As I was listening to the Diana Phi I went on Head-fi.org and quickly posted an AD for both my ATH-ADX 5000 and my Sony MDR-Z1R. It felt impulsive, but it also felt right. I tried to use both of those headphones as portables but they just didn't cut it out with their size. I've always wanted a true high-end portable, and the Abyss Diana Phi tickled that fancy.

    Before I made the final decision to sell two great headphones I went to the F1 Audio Store the next day. I believe I was there 10 minutes after it opened, and the employees were constantly walking in and out of the store in order to unpack all of the audio-gear they presented at the ZMFestivus in Chicago. It felt a bit awkward, but they let me stay in a quiet room on a plush couch with my iPhone 6 and FiiO A5 amplifier that the Diana Phi was plugged into. I finally tuned into the speed, finesse, details, impact, dynamics, cohesiveness and overall 3D-effect that I've actually never heard in a full-sized headphone, at least nothing that had all of these qualities in one package. I was sold.

    I decided to sell the 2 headphones, however, I decided to purchase a Diana V2 instead of the Diana Phi because the Diana V2 was more affordable, had the same fit and comfort as the Phi, had an upgraded driver that was built off the Phi driver's strengths, had more color options (the Diana Phi color is terrible in my view) and was said to be more warm and not overly-detailed like the Phi was. This sounded like a true, all-around headphone for portable use.

    I apologize for the long build up, but the build up to eventually diving into a headphone purchase cannot be ignored in my opinion. So, let's actually begin this long review:

    The package
    of my coffee-colored Diana V2 came in a nice, small package. There was an outer sleeve to the actual box that contained the Diana V2. Inside the box there was a small, brown carrying bag with the Diana logo on the front: I'd like to point out that I have yet to use this bag. It has a nice foam cut-out where one can put the Diana in so it remains stable, but I just haven't had the need to use it. Inside this bag was the Diana V2 and a stock 2m cable, terminated in 3.5mm and a 6.3mm adapter at its side. All of these items were zipped up in separate zip-lock bags, which I thought was nice. Compared to the unwieldy Sony MDR-Z1R package I thought that the Abyss Diana package was well-made and really made an emphasis that this headphone is primarily meant for portable use.

    The fit and comfort
    of the Diana V2 is, at first, a bit awkward: the new pads fully cover my ears, but the outer part of my ears basically rest on the slopes of the inside of the pads. It's still comfortable, but still noticeable from time to time. The pads themselves are made out of lambskin leather and are fitted onto the headphone by way of magnets -- there are a lot of magnets built into this headphone. Out of the 4 adjustment levels I only had to adjust mine to level 1. These adjustments are made out of long-lasting carbon material and are controlled by magnets. I believe that this is a first in the headphone world, which is really wonderful and makes me feel like I'm holding a luxurious product. The headband is also made up of some type of magnet material that literally conforms to your head .. once again, another first -- although I do have to say that there are some listening-sessions where I notice a hot-spot on-top of my head and I have to readjust the headband positioning to feel relief. The clamping pressure feels just right for me, but for larger heads it MIGHT be an issue.

    The finish
    of the Abyss Diana is top-of-the-line. It is built like a tank, uses premium materials and it weighs in at under 350 grams. I can see this headphone lasting a long, long time. However, I'd like to point out that even after owning it for just about a month I am noticing tiny chips on the paint.. and I tend to take care of my headphones pretty well. It looks like setting them on a counter, even gently, is enough to damage the paint so I would recommend setting them on some plush cloth or on a stand if you want to keep these headphones in pristine condition.

    The sound
    of the Diana V2 is first and foremost, VERY balanced: nothing is missing, everything is included. I remember listening to the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory OST, and this soundtrack is a wonderful test of how a headphone can handle complex passages. The speed of the Diana V2 is bar-none spectacular. I think I said, "Wow," out-loud while I was listening to them at one point. The sound of the Diana V2 had my head spinning in circles. I then moved onto the Halo OST, and this soundtrack is especially good at testing how a headphone can handle highs and imaging. Yet again, the Diana V2 came through with winning colors. Nothing was ever sibilant, yet the extension and details in the highs kept me engaged throughout. There is one track where, with any other headphone, the imaging pans strictly right-to-left and back again. However, with the Diana V2 it was right-back-left-forward-center, etc.. there was layering within the imagining.

    For bass, I go to my go-to: Cannibal OX: Cold Vein. The bass is there, it is weighty, fast, precise, controlled and never bloomy unless the track calls for it. I'd like to say that this headphone lets you hear what the recording intended for the listener to hear. Yet it's not boring. It is neutral with a slight aggressiveness that keeps me engaged no matter what I'm listening to. The dynamics of this driver deliver in spades. From top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top everything has a sense of impact, yet it is still smooth at the same time. The center imaging and cohesiveness, the control and the depth and width of the sound-stage is where this headphone really shines. It just feels like this driver is in control and it never lets what you hear get out of hand.

    The mid-range is neutral to my ears. It's dead-to-rights center. This is especially evident when one listens to music at louder volumes. When listening to louder volumes with the Diana V2 nothing within the sound-spectrum crumbles, so be careful with how loud you are listening your music to! This also applies to vocals, male and/or female. You will hear things that you never heard before, which is cool. Live music is wonderful as well. I feel like I'm a part of the crowd that can be heard throughout the song.

    The portability
    of the Diana V2 is where some people might be turned off. Most of my listening has been done with iPhone 6 + DFR or FiiO A5, and they work AND are absolutely needed. This headphone will not run off of an iPhone or any other phone by itself. You would also need a very powerful DAP in order to get this headphone to higher-than-usual volumes.

    All I know is that I recently went out on a walk. A fall day, cool and a bit breezy. Just how I like it. While I was walking I was listening to the Diana V2 and never felt like I was wearing something ridiculous. This is a stylish headphone that screams "TRY ME!"

    Please do me a favor and at least audition these headphones before this world ends.
      project86, bidn, dsrk and 1 other person like this.
    1. Satir
      Nice to read from one who choose Diana V2 rather than Phi version. I have concerns on fit issues for those with smaller/thinner heads as this has been discussed by others previously. At these price points, long demo a must. You were wise to demo as you did.
      Everyone should consider that stuff can happen during return process. Always ensure you are covered in event return does not go smoothly with shipper and with seller.
      Satir, Nov 8, 2019