The JPS Labs: Abyss AB-1266 Impressions Thread
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simorag

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I think this is an interesting presentation but i will be honest in that I still do not understand the allure of huge bulky enormously heavy speaker amps that cost a fortune for a HP setup...I personally own a Mcintosh 452 which weighs about 200 pounds and sits in my living room attached to my loudspeaker system....my HP setup which includes the TC along with the dave/blu2 and the formula s /powerman is in my bedroom where i relax and listen to music.....I suppose if somebody only listens to their music in a living room area a speaker amp could be attached to the chord dave etc but somehow it seems like such inconvenience and overkill....the cost is yet another consideration of course....I certainly do not fault anyone for curiosity and testing of a speaker amp but to me it is like the car that can drive 200 MPH but of course you can never find a place to go 200 mph lol.....just my 2 cents and god bless all those who are willing to do all involved to use the speaker amps
In my specific case, any amp that fits into my rack would match fine my listening spot on the side of my couch in my living room. That includes all amps (headphones or speakers) under 35kg and 550×550mm footprint.

Of the amps I have tried so far, the AIC-10, Thrax and ATM300 clearly outperformed by a significant amount (while in different ways) my previous XI Audio combo in terms of pure sound quality, to my ears.
They are also much more expensive, unfortunately.

Now, I don't believe this is because they are speaker amps per se (the AIC-10 is actually a headphone amp with additional speaker taps), but just because they are better suiting to my personal sound preferences.

There may be lots of headphone amps that could be even better, I admittedly have a very limited experience. Unfortunately, auditioning higher echelon headphone amps in Italy is basically impossible, while speaker amps are - relatively - more accessible. Another advantage of speaker amps is that they are easier to find (and resell) in the 2nd hand market, at least in Italy / Europe.

As for the rated power, I am not sure that looking for 100W+ (speaker) amplifiers to drive the Phi TC provides an advantage because of 'additional headroom', possibly (??) because the first few watts - i.e. what is really needed for the hp - are provided with very low distortion figures and in pure class A, but I am just speculating here as I have neither direct experience nor technical competence to substantiate this.

You could, but the latest configuration already comes with Takatsuki TA300's in the box. I would say that anything in production is going be a downgrade from those.
For what I know , the ATM-300R list price in Europe is 15k + tubes. Basic 300B tubes (what I heard in Amsterdam) are Electro Harmonix (+1kEuro) and maxed out Takatsuki TA300 tubes are offered with a +3.5kEuro supplement.

I heard Z reviews mention on one of his newest videos regarding RMAF that Abyss is planning to show a system that would rival the Orpheus? Sounds interesting
Now that would be a perfect timing for me as long as the headphones on such system are the AB-1266TC and not a new model :thinking:

I am exactly in the opposite way. I like so much the Empyrean with a full silver cable from Norne audio on the Viva 845, it is actually my best headphone with the D8000 and the 009S from Stax.
As you know, I am not a big fan of the Abyss TC on the formula S or on the 845. Except the excellent soundstage I find the abyss a very rude and uncomfortable headphone.
Not a big fan of the Susvara I sold after less than 1 month.
Very interested by the Raal. I tried the Mysphere 3.2 but i founded it uncomfortable with distorsion at high volume and a big loss of bass.
This could be the typical case of 'different strokes for different folks' most likely.
That said, I honestly would need much more time with the Empyrean to make an educated judgment of them against the Phi TC.
Perhaps next time I will come to Paris I could visit you, Jean Michel :wink:
 
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popof94

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Of course Simone, you are very welcome if you want to visit me and you will be able to listen all my headphones with égalisations created by a very reputable membre on tellement nomade.
 
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mt-hifidelity

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"This could be the typical case of 'different strokes for different folks' most likely.
That said, I honestly would need much more time with the Empyrean to make an educated judgment of them against the Phi TC."

I'd be interested in your take on the Empyrean. I only heard it for a short time at a CanJam but my initial take was that it sounded a bit veiled compared to the Abyss.
 
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Mikey99

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Here is my comparison of the Abyss and Empyrean from a while back

I have compared the Empyrean and the Abyss AB1266 using a wide variety of music that I usually use for comparisons. Amongst others this includes: Master and Commander, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Lou Reed Walk on the Wild Side, various Joni Mitchell, Guess Who Follow your Daughter Home, Gotan Project Chunga's Revenge and La del Russo, Miles Davis Kind of Blue, Klaatu Little Neutrino, Interstellar, Inception, B52s, various Zappa. I used iMac / Roon> optical>Chord Hugo M-Scaler>Chord DAVE > XI Audio Formula S with Powerman. The Empyreans are very efficient in comparison to the Abyss and are easily driven direct from the Dave (unlike the Abyss). But to minimise variables I went from the Formula S for both for this comparison.

They are beautifully packaged, best I have seen for headphones. Funny thing, opening the case and taking them out I couldn't help thinking of a hitman assembling a gun. Build quality is amazing, I almost didn't want to handle them because they looked like a work of art. Nevertheless they are solid and can be handled without fear. Really well assembled and a lot of attention to detail. The cable however is poor: stiff, fiddly, a bit microphonic.

Wearing them they look a little odd (alien torture device), comparable to the Abyss (medieval torture device) in that respect. They are light and comfortable. Overall initial comfort is a bit better than the Abyss (which are heavier, but have no clamping force), and a bit less than the HD800 (which are lighter and have less clamping force). I have not worn them long enough to judge comfort for extended listening, it will come down to the clamping force (more) vs weight (less). Note this is comparative, in absolute terms these are amongst the most comfortable headphones I have worn.

I have listened to them all day. My initial impression was a dark, rich sound, with solid bass. This remained throughout the day and across all music. Overall quite pleasant and non-fatiguing. Really an excellent set of headphones. But overall I preferred the Abyss. Here are some of the main points of comparison:
  • Tonal balance is noticeably darker for the Empyreans. The Abyss actually sounded a bit thin at times compared to them
  • The amount of bass is excellent, with same kind of slam as the Abyss. Great slam without being excessive
  • The bass is however thicker and not as well defined as the Abyss
  • Transients are not quite as crisp throughout the frequency range, which I can readily hear on percussion
  • Detail is better for the Abyss
  • The Empyreans are more closed in, with less depth
  • Instruments are a bit less localised
  • The above add up to less presence, noticeable on e.g. vocals, saxophone
I also quickly compared to the HD800, in this case the Empyrean was my preference.

It has been a while since I heard them, but perhaps they remind me of the LCD4. I will have to compare back in at my dealer's.
 
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@popof94 That's a beautiful amp!!

@simorag I stand corrected. Stefan gave me the impression that the amp came in his config out of the box. 300b rolling is a bottomless pit, of course...something like 845 or EL84 is easier on the brain and wallet :)
 
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845s can be expensive if you get the better tubes. KL Audio for example. EL84 are cheap, but IMO you won't get the drive for the Abyss in triode, and I would avoid push pull if you want speed and transparency. I have yet to hear a better sound than through my Genus..... still waiting......
 
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Olumm

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Ok everyone. I wanted to provide an update to the cable for the 1266 that was made by Periapt. Let me first say that I am not affiliated with Periapt in any way, nor did they ask me to write anything about this cable. I have purchased several cables from them over the years, but I am by no means being asked to provide a good review, nor am I keeping this cable... more on that below.

jxs4jmK.jpg


First of all I would like to address the stock able that came with the 1266. Now, I assume that this cable was from the earlier models of the 1266, as I checked with Abyss and my serial number was produced in June of 2016. The cable, sound wise, is fine. I do not hear any issues in either driver and it appears that it has held up well over the last few years. The issue I have with the cable is how janky it is, and there is no strain relief, split or any creature comforts at all. This is by far the most bizarre cable I have had on any headphone. It's a stiff cable that just refuses to lay at all in a calm manner. It's not microphonic or cumbersome, but I just can't live with something like this on a quality headphone like the 1266, and I believe that JPS could/should have done a better job with it without asking people to spend an extreme amount of hard earned money on another cable. That's it... rant over.

Ok, so what does Periapt bring to the table? Well, first of all they bring a much better looking cable to the table. The cable is fabric covered and soft. You can see in the picture above that it's a breeze to shape in to a nice loop, where the stock cable just wants to tangle up (I guarantee that at least one of the connectors has looped through the wire in the picture above). The cable that was sent to me is grey and terminated in to a 4 pin XLR which works perfect for me and the AudioGD R-28. If I had one minor criticism about the Periapt cable in the looks/functionality area it's the y-split that they are using. It's large and occasionally gets stuck on the edge of my desk, but I have been ordering cables from these guys for quite sometime without the 3D printed splits, and I much prefer it that way. Their cables start at 5 feet and can be made to any custom length that you choose.

As for materials they are using Japanese "Mogami" copper for their wire, Neutrik connectors and custom 3D printed splitters (I would advise just ordering with heat shrink, but that's my opinion).

Sound...

I cannot tell any difference between the stock Abyss cable and the one from Periapt.... at all. I must say that I also don't subscribe to the concept that cables can change the sound signature of headphones for my ears. I mean, if your cable is changing the way something sounds, then chances are likely that something is wrong with that cable. I have owned bad cables before, and I can confirm that changing a cable in that scenario will improve things, but I have also tried pure silver cables and heard no difference at all. Maybe my ears just aren't up to the levels as some...guess that's a blessing to my wallet. :D

Here is the really special piece. Periapt offers a tremendous value to anyone that is wanting to have a custom cable created for their 1266. Their pricing starts at $65 for a 5 foot cable and will go up from there. I get the fact that I am running a nearly $5k (when new) headphone from a $65 cable, but I honestly cannot tell a difference to my ears and on my gear.

I have to say thank you to Periapt for this opportunity, and if they are willing I would love to send this over to anyone else on this thread that would like to try it out. I will be ordering a 10 foot variant of this cable from them, but in one of their custom colors called 'snake', which is basically a desert camo color option.

Again, if any of you would like to try this cable out with your 1266 please let me know.
 
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I believe you're the first person to call the cable bizarre, not the headphone.ABYSS_SMILEY_tiny.png

The cable has appropriate stain reliefs. Your stock cable was apparently used to hold the headphone up on the desk, from your photo it's obvious the headphone was standing on the cable ends. We see this when the stand is too short for the headphone.

One thing to note, you need to lay both leads flat before connecting to the headphone. If you twist a cable when connecting to the headphone it will for sure not lay right to the other cable. It's the nature of the desirable trait of each channel having it's own cable in the name of improved sound quality, that and we have many customers running dual 3 pin XLR connectors.

If you send us an email someone would be happy to offer instructions on sending your cable our way... We would be happy to replace those beat-up ends.
 
ABYSS Headphones We engineer, machine, and build our headphones from scratch in New York, USA. Stay updated on ABYSS Headphones at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/AbyssHeadphones https://twitter.com/AbyssHeadphones https://www.instagram.com/abyssheadphones/ https://abyss-headphones.com/ info@Abyss-Headphones.com
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Here is a really interesting video just posted by Pierre Paya:


He's done a direct comparison between the TC and the Susvara, by using the Viva Solista speaker amp.

For whom cannot understand French, of for you lazy guys :), the supershort summary of his findings:

- Susvara is definitely his favorite for midrange and vocals, but the TC has narrowed the gap compared to previous AB-1266 revisions;
- TC is his preference at deep bass, speed and dynamics;
- TC has the more spacious soundstage (widest and deepest).

In the end he says that the TC is the only headphone he knows that can play any kind of music genres (from massive bass and dynamics organ or rock / electronica to delicate, ethereal solo violin) to current-state-of-the-art level, hence the most complete of the TOTL available in the market today in his experience / opinion.

Not sure if Pierre participates here on head-fi forum, if yes he could add more or correct me if I have misunderstood his conclusions.
 
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popof94

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I saw this great video yesterday. You have perfectly translate what Pierre Paya said Simeone, congrat.
 
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ufospls2

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His videos always look great, and are filmed in a great setting with good editing but.....I don't speak french sadly :frowning2:

Thanks for the quick notes on the video :)
 
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Olumm

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I believe you're the first person to call the cable bizarre, not the headphone.

The cable has appropriate stain reliefs. Your stock cable was apparently used to hold the headphone up on the desk, from your photo it's obvious the headphone was standing on the cable ends. We see this when the stand is too short for the headphone.

One thing to note, you need to lay both leads flat before connecting to the headphone. If you twist a cable when connecting to the headphone it will for sure not lay right to the other cable. It's the nature of the desirable trait of each channel having it's own cable in the name of improved sound quality, that and we have many customers running dual 3 pin XLR connectors.

If you send us an email someone would be happy to offer instructions on sending your cable our way... We would be happy to replace those beat-up ends.
Hey Joe, and from another Joe I appreciate your insight on the proper way to attach the cable to the headphone. I didn't have a lot of insight from the previous owner, but I do agree with you on how the cable was treated previously.

The headphone is an amazing design. I love it's industrial look, and I appreciate the fact that it can be refurbished to keep it running for decades to come. I had several people over at my house last night and everyone took a turn on the 1266. The 1266 has given more astonishing looks at blank stares than any other headphone I have had the pleasure of owning, and it makes me wonder if the name Abyss had anything to do with the way people look while listening to it for the first time.

Your staff has been a pleasure. I had emailed them several times during my pre-purchase of the 1266, and they were always quick to respond and very helpful. I also appreciate that there is an upgrade path for my 1266. I may not be able to get it up to the TC, but getting the Phi drivers installed is something that I will be pursuing in the next few months. I will bring up the cable when I email you all about the Phi upgrade.

Thanks again.[/QUOTE]
 
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Joao Paulo Martins

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Hello guys, very interested on these headphones. I know that the 1266 has many versions. Can someone explain the differences between them ? I tried to search them but no sucess.

Best regards

Joao
 
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There have been a few revisions, but if you buy new, you will only get the newest revision

There was the original ab1266
Then the ab1266 phi - new drivers
Then the ab1266 phi cc - same new drivers, different earpads, different frame coating/finish
Now the ab1266 phi tc - newer drivers again, new frame design again
Pretty sure that's how it went anyway...

If you are looking to buy second hand, any of the older revisions are still extremely good.
 
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simorag

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Hello guys, very interested on these headphones. I know that the 1266 has many versions. Can someone explain the differences between them ? I tried to search them but no sucess.

Best regards

Joao
Hi Joao, the only current production version of the AB-1266 headphone is the AB-1266 Phi TC model, presented on February 2019.

Here is a brief history of the various design iterations:

AB-1266 OG (Original) - was introduced in 2013, only available in the 2nd hand market
AB-1266 Phi - introduced in 2017, had revised drivers, only available in the 2nd hand market
AB-1266 Phi CC - introduced in 2018, has same drivers of the Phi version, but updated earpads (perforated leather) and Ceramic Coated (hence the CC definition) frame. Some dealers may still have some ex-demo or brand new Phi CC in stock

The Phi TC has newer drivers (3rd generation compared to OG and Phi) and frame machining.

In order to check which model is a certain headphone, just remove the pads and look at the frame, where the model type is engraved (see example below).

Immagine.png
 
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