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The JPS Labs: Abyss AB-1266 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by scolaiw, Jun 5, 2013.
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  1. matthewhypolite
    Check out my TOTL review in my sig of the TC and Susvara, I've compared both against each other there.
    BreadMaster likes this.
  2. lambdastorm
    From my personal experience hifimans just really like power, be it the HE6, HE5LE or the Susvara. Doesn't matter if it comes from speaker taps or a headphone jack, as long as you feed it more than 10 watts per channel it'll be happy to sing. Abyss on the other hand requires much more finesse. It doesn't just like power it likes fine power, so if you just feed it a couple watts straight from the speaker taps it will sound coarse and shouty.
  3. JLoud
    I will check out the review. Thanks for the link. I currently am using a Woo WA5le. Always thought that would be powerful enough for the Susvara. It has plenty for my Tc. Opinions?
  4. EndGameSearch
    I owned the WA5 LE and it drove both the Phi CC and Susvara very well. I'm using the Formula S / Powerman for the Phi TC and Susvara now and it too has plenty of power. I think people get carried away with power requirements for Susvara. Yes, it can apparently scale endlessly as you throw more power at it, but it doesn't take a speaker amp (or 10 watts) to make it sing. I keep trying to decide which I like better, Susvara or TC. In reality they are both top of their class and actually complement each other very well. My favorite is generally the one I'm listening to at the time. As a side note, I am thrilled with the improvement of TC over CC. It is not a subtle improvement.


    I'm sure it's buried some where in this thread, but can you share any other details on the actual changes you made with TC? Specifically, did you use a new thinner membrane? I simply do not remember CC being this incredibly transparent, clear and fast. Love them!
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Alarickc likes this.
  5. mt-hifidelity
    I've been wondering about the Susvara as well. The TC seems head and shoulders above everything else, followed by the Abyss Phi and Diana Phi (in my opinion). The Audeze hp's are fun but I've always found them dark and lacking that last bit of resolution and soundstage that the Abyss excels at.
    Some of the Hifiman options are good but they are just in a very different class...when I switch to the HE1000SE after using the TC its a letdown. Sometimes I like its airy quality, and its generally more comfortable, but the TC wins out in every other aspect. I wonder how much Susvara differs from the HE1000SE...
    mulder01 likes this.
  6. EndGameSearch
    In my view it goes, Phi TC/Susvara then HEKv2 then LCD-4/z. Diana Phi (which I own as well) are excellent. I'd place them just ahead or just behind HEKv2. It's been a while since I've heard the v2 so it's tough to say. They are very different from one another so I'd gladly take both. :) The SE's were a disappointment. I found them to be more clear than the v2 but less transparent. It uses some of the tech from Susvara, but it always comes down to compromises in audio. The improvement in efficiently led to a loss in other areas. It's still an outstanding HP, but if transparency is a primary focus, then I'd look else where.
  7. llamaluv
    I had the Lazuli Reference for the Abyss Phi but didn't particularly care for how it synergized with the Phi compared to the stock cable. It made the headphones sound less lively, which was a deal-breaker for me. It was fully broken in FWIW.
    simorag likes this.
  8. llamaluv
    That's an interesting perspective on the Abyss with speaker amps. I've been actually wanting to get one of the Abyss's again with the intention of driving them with one or two speaker amps this time around, so I'll be keeping your observation in mind...
  9. GuyForkes
    So I had recently loaned out my Cayin HA-300 (300B SET headamp) to experiment with power amps. Both power amps I tried were used with the Rogue Audio RP-7 preamp. I tried connecting both amps directly to my TT2 dac and with a Schiit SYS passive preamp but found that dynamics were muted and music was less lively in both cases.

    Rogue Audio Stereo 100 (100w Tube Power Amp)
    The first thing I noticed when I connected the Abyss TC/Susvara was a very slight hum. To put it into perspective, the hum was a lot less audible than when I had plugged my old Focal Utopia into the Cayin HA-300. Can't expect a high powered tube amp to be completely silent on headphones (excl. SR1a) I guess. Other than that, the music was very dynamic, hard hitting and with pinpoint imaging.This amp exhibits none of the "warmth" tubes are known for, instead going for speed, liveliness and accuracy.This amp was the complete opposite of the HA-300 which tended to be fuzzier in imaging and transients but with a sweet tonality, thicker midrange and a spacious, multi-layered stage.

    Pass Labs XA25 (Class A 25w, Class A/B from 26w to 80w SS Power Amp)
    Bought this amp without trying after reading the near universal acclaim it received. First off, this amp is dead silent, no hum even when I'm straining to hear it. What shocked me was how close to a SET tube amp this SS amp sounded. I'll admit to having a bit of a bias against SS amps, they always sounded two dimensional and soulless to me. The XA25 got me reevaluating this notion. It was doing almost as well in all the areas that were the HA-300's strengths but with added dynamism and impact. I've never heard the Abyss TC punch harder than it did with the XA25.

    My conclusion was that going to a power amp does provide benefits in terms of dynamics and slam but what matters most is implementation. A good amp is still a good amp and I never felt like the HA-300 lagged behind the other two, that's why it's on loan rather than on sale. So for those that will be sticking with their headamps, good for you and I hope that I've helped to reduce amp FOMO :)

    Pics or it didn't happen
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    mulder01, ciukas, bozebuttons and 3 others like this.
  10. simorag
    After selling my XI Audio stack (Formula S / Powerman) last month, my quest for my next amplifier for the Abyss TC (plus speakers) continues.

    A very fine candidate amp is the Riviera Labs AIC-10 integrated, which I was eyeing since many months given the outstanding reviews and direct feedback from fellow audiophiles I trust.
    The AIC-10 is a rather unusual hybrid design, with a mix of solid-state devices and an 12AU7 / ECC82 tube output stage, operating in pure class A with zero global feedback.
    On paper, the AIC-10 has all I am looking for: plenty of power for my TC, practical form factor, a more than decent speaker output and the possibility of fine-tuning its sound signature by rolling the output tube.

    Thanks to a series of fortunate coincidences (thanks @biscottino!) I was able to get the AIC-10 at home for an afternoon a few days ago, together with a bunch of tubes to play with.

    Below are a few pictures of the AIC-10 from the internet, pretty pointless I know, but sorry guys but I was so taken by the audition that I forgot to take actual photos on my system :frowning2:
    aic-10-1.png aic-10-2.png

    I must say I have been profoundly impressed by the AIC-10, as it has produced the best sound I have heard from my AB-1266 to date, easily outperforming both DAVE direct and the XI Audio combo in many ways, tonality and harmonics richness being the most apparent.

    Given the extremely high price point, this result was neither a surprise per-se nor even remotely proportionate in terms of price vs. sound quality increase terms.
    But it has been the demonstration to myself that I could get much closer, with the Phi TC, to the type of ‘ideal’ sound I am looking for if price was no object.

    For example, with the AIC-10 and the most euphoric sounding tube (a Mullard NOS) I have heard for the first time the TC presenting vocals in a most naturalistic fashion, devoid of any hints of hardness or harshness yet very solidly sculpted, palpable, holographic.
    Bass control was as good as I have heard, whereas transient attacks and speed in general were less impactful while still very satisfying due to added bloom.

    Out of curiosity, I tried the TC on the speaker taps (10W / channel) and I did not find any beneficial effect. On the contrary, I found the headphone out more refined and three-dimensional sounding. Furthermore, there was a slight yet audible background noise.

    Unfortunately, my budget does not stretch to the price of a new AIC-10, and they are non-existent on the used market, so I must rely on a fluke to afford one :)

    My next audition will be an Air Tight ATM-300R next week. I look forward to it - although it exceeds my budget as well - as it should define the ultimate pairing of the Phi TC with tubes, thus providing another useful reference point to my head-fi journey.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
  11. mt-hifidelity
    Looks very nice and the reviews are all stellar. I've been happy with the Formula S but I'd be interested in any amp that can expand the soundstage, preserve transients, and double down on bass texture...and that is under $5000. Which is why I stuck with the Formula S (so far).
  12. cj3209
    So this is a speaker amp that has a headphone jack which sounds better than connecting though the speaker connections. Is that right? Lol...
  13. FLTWS
    I have 3 SS HP amps currently and with 3 others owned at various points in time, The Formula S (+ Powerman) is the right SS HP amp for me, and the perfect counterpoint to my several tube HP amps. And it sounds excellent not just for my Phi. My Utopia and HD800 sound as good as I've ever heard them. For me it was just a matter of pairing the right HP to the right HP cable that suited my ears and preferences. I'm curious to hear if there will be a 2nd generation "S".
  14. simorag
    Nice to hear about that, the XA25 is on my to-audition list, as another very fine candidate to my HP + speaker amp with warm-ish tone.

    Actually the AIC-10 is a headphone amp with speaker output, so it is expected that the HP out is as good as or even better of the speaker taps, by design.

    I was very happy with the Formula S / Powerman as well. The striking thing was that when passing from DAVE direct to DAVE through XI Audio the timbre and tonality of the presentation was (almost) totally unaffected, which is the definition of a neutral amp in my book. The loss of transparency was more than worth the additional driving capability needed to handle demanding music genres (as symphonic) with adequate ease, layering and control.
    Arcabonne likes this.
  15. astrostar59
    Have you considered the Viva Egoista 2A3? It is around 7.5K euros.

    If using tube speaker amps, the Genus is the best I have heard, really incredible. But I understand it is both huge and 15K euros, so out of your budget. BUT it is a world class SET for speakers as well, and I am talking Kondo beating level....
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