The JPS Labs: Abyss AB-1266 Impressions Thread
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Joao Paulo Martins

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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.
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).

Thank you for the explanation.

The intention is to buy from second hand since I live in Brazil. Is the original and the Phi version competitive with the susvaras ? Or just the TC ?
 
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mulder01

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Thank you for the explanation.

The intention is to buy from second hand since I live in Brazil. Is the original and the Phi version competitive with the susvaras ? Or just the TC ?
I listened to the susvaras and thought they were good, but that's about it.
I only owned the original version of the Abyss and I think that it was still better than the susvaras (any 1266 version > susvara), but others may have a different opinion...
Also, IMO there wasn't a massive difference from 1266 original version to phi, but I have not heard a TC. Abyss availability in Australia has dropped off, and I've scaled back to a mid-fi system. So I can't offer any opinion on whether or not I think the second hand price difference between TC and previous versions are 'worth it'...
 
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tholt

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astrostar59

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Wow, the Abyss really scales up with more powerful / better amps.

600i-1.jpg


Rough photo for now, but more to come later. I am on my second system, so Audio Note DAC, and relaced my V281 HP amp with the Moon 600i Integrated.

After 2 or 3 hours warming it up, all I can say is WOW. AMAZING.

Everything has moved up a LOT, it is a shock. I estimate it is really close to my Aries Cerat Genus now, but on SS amplification not big bottle SET.

This amp refuses to go harsh in vocals, cymbals, anything. It is very very smooth but has the details as well. It is down to better design, better parts, massive power supply ect.

The soundstage is cavernous, really huge. I can sit in it and it is all around me, width and depth. Some tracks I know have crazy effects where things appear in the room, not in the headphone. On the 600i it is right against the room perimeters, it is amazing.

The V281 was a great amp for 2K but not at this level. It is not just parts quality and design, it is about drive, current and control. And really glad I didn't pursue the tube HP amp route, I think few tube amps would have enough control or current for the Abyss. The 600i has 125W and is on 40 on my pot with 2V input. I think the amp has 20W at 50ohms, so really ticking over on the Abyss, piece of cake for it. The amp top is barely warm, it feels like it is ticking over.

I can't trip up this thing, playing various problem tracks with treble issues, it just sails through them. There is a huge amount of detail and layering no matter how complex the music gets, it is very natural and unstressed. The bass has super detail, texture, speed and crucially control. It is very fast as well. I got the feeling on some HP amps I have tried with the Abyss is got a bit loose and sounded separated from the main image. The mids have also come up, and fit into the soundstage better. Vocals and piano are superbly natural, no exaggerated edges or hint of harshness.

Another point, why do so any HP amps have no balance control, that is stupid. As many have one ear less sensitive than the other. With headphones that is really important, or the image is ruined.

Really, so far I can't fault the 600i, it is a superb amp, probably the best I have ever heard on SS. And the features fit very well for headphone use, such as the e-vol 520 step pot, remote control, ability to set a max volume level per source, balance control, input level adjustment, mute and standby feature. A great design IMO, and no wonder it had won many awards.

So highly recommended for the Abyss, it isn't cheap at £8K new, but used MK1s are around for much less. Mine is a Mk1 and 3 years old.

Many thanks to Beolab for his insight, a small Abyss / Moon amp club emerging?
More to follow.
 

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Hoegaardener70

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6 weeks abyss ab-1266 phi tc owner here .... after a difficult start with the frame I found the right setting for my head and positions, and now I couldn’t be happier. This is definitely the most fun headphone I ever listened to and I feel privileged to own it. My utopia and empy get very little time now although I think they both bring different things to the table.

I am using the ifi Pro iCan which i think is a splendid pairing with the ab-1266. I am running it in tube mode .... anybody else using this with this seating?
 
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Olumm

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Well, I am now fully operational with my 1266 through my setup. I am using the AudioGD R-28 now as a source for the ALO Studio Six. I had some initial troubles with the Studio Six when it arrived (one of the 6v6 tubes was dead, and then the rectifier tube went belly up), but after about a week I am happy to report that all tubes have been replaced and the amp paired with the 1266 has become my favorite way to listen.

I had noticed when running directly off of the R-28 that female vocals tended to sound a little metallic to my ears, but the switch over to the Studio Six has worked that out, and now female vocals have a sweet, full and luscious presence in the music. Specifically, I had a hard time listening to anything from Melody Gardot on the R-28 only, but now she sounds like she should. There must be some strange peak in the response of the OG 1266 where female vocals are present that was making them sound artificial and metallic, but now running them through the Studio Six has sorted that all out.

Speaking of the Studio Six, there is an almost unlimited amount of power available. On the R-28 I had to run the 1266, through a balanced cable, on 40 out of 63 on full. On the Studio Six the volume pot is sitting below 10 o'clock on the dial. There is still 3/4 of the dial left... that's some scary power, no wonder why you can run speakers from this. The 1266 characteristics still remain running through an SET amp, but it does tend to push everything a little closer to a more normal response... which is a nice change of pace from the absurd (in the best way possible) amounts of bass the 1266 has on a solid state amp.

I am in awe of how the 1266 presents a stage of music. There is clear separation of instruments, and more than that each individual instrument has space around it. The 1266 presents such a large stage, that it feels like each instrument was located in it's own room during recording. There is also a fantastic depth to the music, which helps to further place space around each instrument. I have been in this hobby for some time now and I just don't remember any headphone presenting music quite like this... it almost turns recorded studio albums in to a live performance. This is such a wonderful party piece of the 1266, and one that I do not see talked about often enough. Yes, the 1266 probably has the best bass out of any headphone on earth, but it also stages and images better than any other headphone I have heard. I keep looking over at my HD800 wondering why I am still holding on to it. The HD800 is a freak of a dynamic driver... it's probably the quickest dynamic driver I have ever heard, but it just cannot compete with the speed of the 1266. The decay, if called for by the music, is just in a totally different league than the HD800. Quick bass lines in music tend to trip up the HD800, but not in the 1266. For instance, and I know that talking about Giant Steps is cliche, but this song is a stellar example of what I am trying to describe. On the HD800 you can hear the bass line, but it tends to get very muddy when John joins the music with his quick sax work. It's hard to hear each and every note of the stand up bass, but on the 1266 there is clear separation from each pick of his fingers, and more than that each note is present and easily caught. The 1266 is just a phenomenal achievement, and I am honored to own one.

I would urge any of you that can try out an ALO Studio Six with their 1266 to do so. I may have not heard the 1266 on a lot of different amps, but for me this is where I am ending my search in the audio world. I am more than satisfied with my current setup, and quite frankly I smile every time I sit down in my listening room to spend some time with my music. I am a lover of music, and this setup allows me to love the way that music is presented to me.
 
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astrostar59

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More hours on the mad Abyss + Moon 600i combo.

I am in heaven, what a pairing. It is addictive, so smooth and masses of depth. Layers of information, it refuses to get congested or confused.
Here are some areas where this amp excels on the Abyss:

1.Precise instrument placement
2. Huge 3D space, both width, height and depth
3. Dynamics that startle you
4. Creamy smooth mid range
5. Clean, fast and detailed treble with zero harshness or edges
6. Fantastic vocals, really clean and detailed, very realistic
7. Bass, a whole new ball game, fast, detailed, controlled and deep, down to sub frequencies, like a couple of SVS subs ready to act
8. Cohesion, the stereo image is really believable, as convincing as anything I have heard on any headphone

The whole presentation is so grounded, smooth, full and wide, effortless. It is like a top vinyl rig, i.e. natural and fatigue free, hours of late nights.....
600i-4.jpg
 
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ineztia

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More hour on the mad Abyss + Moon 600i combo.

The whole presentation is so grounded, smooth, full and wide, effortless. It is like a top vinyl rig, i.e. natural and fatigue free, hours of late nights.....
I couldn't agree more. A good SS amp is a good SS amp.

I A/B tested my Abyss 1266 phi (not TC) on both Formula S/Accuphase E480/FM Acoustics 711, after that I'd say Hi-end speaker amps won't let you disappointed. :dt880smile:

1266711s.jpg
 
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astrostar59

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I couldn't agree more. A good SS amp is a good SS amp.

I A/B tested my Abyss 1266 phi (not TC) on both Formula S/Accuphase E480/FM Acoustics 711, after that I'd say Hi-end speaker amps won't let you disappointed. :dt880smile:

I heard the Formula S inc Powerman at Munich and it was very good. So what amp have you landed on now - are you at your 'destination'
 
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ineztia

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I heard the Formula S inc Powerman at Munich and it was very good. So what amp have you landed on now - are you at your 'destination'
Accuphase E480 is my current gear. FM 711(borrowed from my friend) is perfect however the price is "perfect" too, it's an ideal amp for me but now I can't afford it.
 
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astrostar59

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Accuphase E480 is my current gear. FM 711(borrowed from my friend) is perfect however the price is "perfect" too, it's an ideal amp for me but now I can't afford it.
OK. It all underlines how the Abyss can sale to new heights, just as a top level speaker can/should. I guess I should not be surprised. The Abyss to my ears and taste is tops, the best HP I have heard, and I prefer it to the Susvara, LCD4, RAAL, Stax 009. Those headphones do some things well, but IMO can't match the 'complete package' of the Abyss.
 
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ineztia

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OK. It all underlines how the Abyss can sale to new heights, just as a top level speaker can/should. I guess I should not be surprised. The Abyss to my ears and taste is tops, the best HP I have heard, and I prefer it to the Susvara, LCD4, RAAL, Stax 009. Those headphones do some things well, but IMO can't match the 'complete package' of the Abyss.
Exactly, just treat 1266/Susvara/HE6 and all those low-sensitivity top level planar HPs as speakers.

I think Formula S (without Powerman) is a descent HP amp, and particularly good for 1266 phi. It's clean, smooth, elegant. I'm not sure if it played some tricks to suppress the exaggerated treble from 1266 (at the cost of losing some transparency and treble extension), so as to be more friendly to your ears. Anyway it pairs wonderful with 1266, brilliant choice for enjoying the music.

E480 acts like an upgrade+ version of Formula S, they have similar tonal characteristics, but E480 has more bass texture, treble extension, fuller mids and more 3-dimensional soundstage (you can clearly hear those differences through the track "Yosi Horikawa - Wandering"). The only problem is also the treble which is too bright (I have to set treble level -1 or -2 on E480's panel).

The FM711 is of course better on naturalness, layering and dynamics compares to E480, but doesn't benefit 1266 as much (like it does to Susvara) as you'd expect, I'm quite satisfy with the situation coz it saves me a lot of money from further insane upgrading. lol
 
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hakiu1980

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OK. It all underlines how the Abyss can sale to new heights, just as a top level speaker can/should. I guess I should not be surprised. The Abyss to my ears and taste is tops, the best HP I have heard, and I prefer it to the Susvara, LCD4, RAAL, Stax 009. Those headphones do some things well, but IMO can't match the 'complete package' of the Abyss.
Agreed, I also sold both of my 009s and Susvara since I owned abyss Phi which paired with viva 845 amp -- Now also upgraded to TC.
 
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astrostar59

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Agreed, I also sold both of my 009s and Susvara since I owned abyss Phi which paired with viva 845 amp -- Now also upgraded to TC.
Indeed, and my point, the Abyss has an incredible performance envelope. If it didn't we would just not hear what we are hearing. I used to own Stax for years, culminating in the 009 + KGSShv Carbon driven by my Audio Note DAC 5. But in the end the weaknesses in the 009, namely unconvincing bass and midrange weight / body, along with ethereal treble and exaggerated micro / macro / plankton. This led my to the Planars with the LCD4 200ohm driven by the Violectric V281. This was for me better all round than my 009. Then found the Abyss, and looked at alternative HP amps.

IMO the Abyss can still be an amazing HP off a top HP amp is care is taken in choosing it, for example it is great out of the Formula S inc Powerman.
 
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astrostar59

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Agreed, I also sold both of my 009s and Susvara since I owned abyss Phi which paired with viva 845 amp -- Now also upgraded to TC.
You got some pics?
 
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