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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. simorag
    Well, Viva Egoista 2A3 or 845 (I believe) don't have speaker output. I am considering the Solista instead, which can be found in the used market at around 7.5kEuro, so within my budget.

    Apart from cost, problems / concerns with Solista are: (a) not easy to arrange an audition - even if VIVA Audio is an Italian company, (b) challenging heat management, (c) sound signature is reported as very neutral and non-tubelike, whereas I tend to appreciate some - unobtrusive - euphonic coloration.
  2. astrostar59
    There are other things to watch out for with a tube speaker amp from it's taps.

    1. What is the power rating at the respective level for the headphones, in the Abyss at 33 ohms.
    This can be more of a problem is on 200ohms for example.
    So typically a 12W speaker amp can end up being <1W on 200 ohms.
    2. Noise level. Absolute base noise is not such an issue with speakers, unless used with 100dB efficient horns.
    3. Protection. Having the output drive HPs directly may be an issue depending on the amp design. i.e soft start for example. Class A run wide open of course i.e. flat out.

    The Genus has both soft start, a tap of the OPT is designed for Headphones, and has extremely low residual noise.

    Many of the above also apply to SS as well of course.

    On sonic colorations
    Tubes well designed can bring more realism to the table, not the other way round IMO. Timbre, accuracy of tone, body and weight, 3D imaging. Conversely we could say SS brings colortations, such as switching noise, especially at low level, flatter soundstage and colder treble presentations.

    Of course this is a huge subject, and I don't want to get off topic or create a big SS v tubes debate.
    And it doesn't apply to all designs either, there are bad tube amps and bad SS amps of course. And great tube and SS amps. It is really up to each individual to find his or her own path and what they like at the end of the day.

    The particular aspects, or annoying traits in my view of SS is why I now prefer tubes on speakers, and in particular SETs. And am coming to realise the same seems to apply to headphones. YMMV.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
    simorag likes this.
  3. m17xr2b
    Why? What makes the voltage and current gain of tubes better/worse/different than a mosfet or jfet implementation considering the same power supply?

    Soft start for heaters, B+? How is this actually done, shunting? What about a circuit to gently cool down the tubes, that's as import as the startup.
  4. Volker
    I'm a new member. So I just start to learn how it works from the perspective as active member. Based on my new account I just started a thread which covers my experience with the Abyss AB-1266. The Abyss AB1266 is my favorite headphone, especially being driven by the AudioValve RKV III tube amp. In my thread I compare Abyss and AudioValve to other components (STAX, Audeze, Cavalli, Headamp Blue Hawaii, ...).

    Now that I understood that I am allowed as newbie to post in existing threads and as in this moment I detect this very large thread I'm afraid I better should have included my post in this thread. To not double my longer post I give you the link:


    Will need some time to read all your posts of this thread :)
    Kind Regards,
  5. astrostar59
    Welcome Volker! Have you jumped in at this level, or been working up to it?
    Volker likes this.
  6. Volker
    It was a long journey. I started with my first hifi components and headphone more than 35 years ago. During that long time some individual issues were continuously rising: my ability to perform listening tests and to hear subtle differences, my requirements, my willingness to accept higher budgets - and not to forget the time I had to work hard to be able to pay the increasing bills :wink: But I think the rise of the component quality was as strong as my personal development curve. When I was young there were four ultra high end headphone models which come into my mind spontaneously: STAX Lambda, Sennheiser Orpheus and HE 60 as well as a little bit forgotten model from Switzerland: Jecklin Float.
    zenlisten likes this.
  7. tholt
    @Volker welcome! Wonderful write up, appreciate you taking the time and sharing your insights. I had a similar journey -- finding Stax was a revelation at the time. I started modestly with the L-300 and SRM-252S amp, and worked up to 007 mkII paired with the KGSSHV Carbon (never have heard the 009, but did own the L-700 and read that it was similar to the 009). Initially, I loved the lush, warmish sound of the 007 mkII, but over time found myself bored with it. It didn't have very engaging dynamics, had a very narrow soundstage, it could actually feel a little 'slow' (surprising for electrostat) and sometimes was just too smooth. Especially for my music tastes, which contains a lot of electronica, the 007s just didn't have the jump factor, quickness nor the incisiveness to do that genre justice.

    On a whim I bought a used pair of original 1266. I had heard it only once before, and briefly under non-optimal conditions, at a CES years back. At first I wasn't sure what people were raving about -- it wasn't as impactful nor impressive as what I had read about. However, I learned that adjustment is key. Once I extended the headband and played around (extensively) with earcup rotation and other minor fitting tweaks, I found my optimal sound. It's an amazing headphone. No desire to go back to Stax :wink: Still looking for my ideal amplifier. It's been a long and sometimes frustrating journey! I've read about the AudioValve you use. Sounds like a great pairing.
    Volker likes this.
  8. Hoegaardener70
    I have the Dana Lazuli Ultra and love the fuller bass. Unfortunately I have to sell the ultra, but sound is great.
  9. Hoegaardener70
    I find the quality of the soundstage very different. The hd800s is very wide, but in my head does not create a huge room, it more or less spreads it out, a bit artificial. The tc indeed creates a real huge space, and you hear the instruments properly placed.
  10. MeetYourMaker
    My current headphones clamp tight to my head so I can lean back in the chair(recline) and I prefer this position. Since this headphones wont clamp as hard, my question is can I wear this headphones while leaning back without the headphones sliding off? Thank you.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  11. MaggotBrain
    I must admit I haven’t stood on my head while wearing the Abyss - but most other positions I have tried (sitting, lying down, walking even) and it is great lying down - in fact it dissipates the weight of the headphone on your neck. Try it and you will not be disappointed
    MeetYourMaker likes this.
  12. jlbrach
    i find the lack of clamping to be quite nice in terms of pressure on my head etc....on the other hand the feeling of the HP floating makes me a lot more conscious when i get up or bend so as to not have them fall of and potentially be damaged....in general i find the HP more comfortable than they look for sure!
    Hoegaardener70 likes this.
  13. mt-hifidelity
    I remember a post or article about an insert that someone developed for the 1266 that created a gap between the drivers and the earpads. It allowed the 1266 to fit securely and snugly on your head but still provided the sq benefit of the loose fit in order to create a bit of bass and soundstage expansion. Does anyone else remember that (and the link)?
  14. simorag
    As a follow up to my previous post, hereafter is a report of another full day of listening of the AIC-10 in my set-up. Hope it can provide some useful information to others in similar conditions of mine.

    This time the listening session has been extended to loudspeakers, and the ones I have at hand right now - the venerable Spendor LS3/5A - are not exactly an easy load with their 82dB sensitivity on 10 ohm impedance.

    Mr Luca Chiomenti, the designer of the AIC-10, has been kind enough to visit me and assist throughout the home audition, and I must admit it has been one of the most enjoyable and informative learning experiences of my audiophile life.

    First lesson learned: 10W per channel delivered through a well designed amplifier are more than enough to drive my LS3/5A, in my 30sqm living room, to subjectively satisfactory levels. We actually measured the power requested by the loudspeakers while playing quite demanding tracks, and we hitted 6-7W instantaneous peaks at loudness levels well above what I can normally afford in my condominium apartment before my neighbors call the police or my wife asks divorce.
    For me, this was the proof that the AIC-10 can indeed be the HP + loudspeakers amp I am looking for.

    Second lesson learned: the AB-1266 Phi TC are not as intrinsically bright-ish as I thought. With the right pairing, and the AIC-10 seems to provide just that, they produce a level of upper midrange / lower treble energy which is extremely refined and smooth, and totally consistent with that of the LS3/5A - which are known for a most neutral tuning in the vocals frequency range.

    Third lesson learned: apart from obvious imaging advantages (musicians location in front of you instead of around your head) and physical experience (sound impacting your whole body and not just the eardrums), it will take me a significant investment in a loudspeaker upgrade - possibly including a subwoofer - to match the AB-1266 resolution, detail retrieval and bass extension / articulation, thus providing a truly overall better listening experience. As a long standing loudspeaker guy, I still believe headphones are a trade-off driven by practicality considerations, but with gear as the Phi TC the bar is very high.

    Last lesson learned (old news, I know): always try to listen / compare in person instead of making assumptions based on reviews / reports (of course including this one :)) - I am a lazy guy and suffered in the past from this in first person, making fairly bad choices for my audio purchases.
    Arcabonne, ufospls2 and FLTWS like this.
  15. tholt
    @simorag just curious, what didn't you like about the XI Audio Formula S? I assume you sold it because something wasn't working for you. I'm considering it as my potential next amp. I would need to start with just the Formula S alone, and then work up to adding the Powerman if I liked the Formula S enough. Thanks
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