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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. astrostar59
    I am sorry, I didn't mean to offend at all. I never mentioned Aries Cerat in that post, in fact I own 3 R2R DACs all single ended and only one is Aries Cerat.

    My point stands IMO, we seem obsessed with balanced topologies, it is the same in the 2 channel forums. I heard the WA33 and Abyss on the Woo stand, so make no apology for the DAC they used. It was best sound in that show, but there was only one other stand I heard with the Abyss and that was the dCS Bartok, which was clearly behind the WA33. I heard my own 3 test tracks off the streaming DAC they had on the Woo stand.

    On marketing, I have not directly asked anyone to come to my place to demo anything, buy anything. It is a tiny market in headphones for 10K+ amplifiers, so I don't bother. In fact, I have banged on about the very nice Moon 600i for the last 6 weeks, and I am NOT a Moon dealer.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  2. EndGameSearch
    I owned and loved the WA5 LE w/ vintage Western Electric 300b’s fed by Dave. It was an exceptional amp and I regret selling it. I came close to buying the wa33 and would still love to own one, but suspect it would ultimately not fit my preferences. With the right tubes the wa5 LE gives you that wonderful 3D holographic soundstage you can only get from tubes while maintaining incredible levels of detail, transparency and clarity. I primarily listen to classical so that was a perfect fit for me. My understanding regarding the wa33 is that you get more “tubey” goodness that may be better suited for other genres.

    Question....... Has anyone come across a frequency response graph for the TC? I absolutely love mine and feel Abyss corrected the areas where I felt CC fell short. That said, I’d still like to tweak the signature a bit with DSP and would like to compare what I’m hearing to an actual graph. However, I image this is a very hard HP to measure consistently so won’t hold my breath.
  3. Ciggavelli
    I’m running balanced out of my TT2 and everything sounds amazing to me. I think I have some rca cables somewhere, so I can try everything out with unbalanced as well, and see what happens.

    Regarding the WA5, I’ve not heard it. My previous tube amp was an LTA MZ2. The WA77 has that meaty sound, with more impact than the MZ2. I feel like it does everything the MZ2 does, but a bit better.

    I think there is a bit of fuzziness like the other poster was saying, but it’s a trade off I don’t mind. I also feel that I can remedy that with better cables or a tube dampener. We’ll see how I feel in a couple of weeks, when I’m sure I’ll have bought upgraded tubes and my new XLRs come in.

    But, I’m very happy with the WA33. Well worth the money for me. And since I’m using an M-Scaler and TT2 dac, I can go solid state when I want (best of both worlds type situation).

    I’ll provide more comments on the TC/WA33 combo as I continue to listen
    astrostar59 likes this.
  4. CreditingKarma
    Has anyone tried the hifan he adapter with a speaker amp and the ab1266?
  5. astrostar59
    Good question, I have not seen one. HPs are notoriously difficult to measure, and the Abyss frame and it's multi adjustable fit can make the FR change a lot especially the bass response and level of bass, plus the soundstage. I panicked a few weeks back when I got the Moon 600i and hooked it up, as I thought - where's the bass gone. But it was the fit I had overlooked. A few minutes of fiddling and all was returned to it's superb level of sound quality and linear response.

    The LCD4 and other cup type flush fit headphones create a more fixed FR which may be good, or bad. I am happy with the Abyss fit, once you get the 'personal fit' right for you, heaven awaits. I find a small opening / low contact at the bottom of the cups is good to my ears, and the general pressure overall from the frame and cups is a 'light touch'. So maybe the Abyss if fairly unique in this regard, it does give the owner flexibility for both fit, comfort and sonic performance.

    Another positive for me has to be heat, having the cups in a light touch fit massively reduces heat build up and increases long term comfort. This is not always obvious to clients trying the Abyss at shows for 15 minutes. It is a thing to get used to once you realise the potential and payback in performance.

    Back to the measured FR, I can hear an incredibly deep sub bass response to the Abyss, then a similar mid and upper bass to the LCD4. This sub bass is a bit like having a separate active sub woofer in the headset. I haven't experienced this in any other headphone yet. To pull that off, and have the speed and detail close / as good as electrostatics, planar smoothness and planar dynamics, all from a single driver... an amazing feat really.

    I was also impressed with the RAAL headphone at Can-Jam, with it's world class soundstage. But was less convinced by it's mid-sub bass response, it obviously was bass light and a bit 'tipped up' in FR. It was going back towards my 009 system so was not something I would go down now.
    simorag and attmci like this.
  6. Litlgi74
    Not sure about how go about asking this question... so hopefully I able to communicate my concern.

    When listening to music... At what point does it get distorted for you? Is it (at or past) when the volume is to loud for your ears to handle or does the music get distorted before you you reach a volume that is simply to loud?

    Sometimes I want to listen at elevated volumes... But the music falls apart before I get there.

    Ideas, opinions?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  7. tholt
    @Litlgi74 , still having distortion issues? So it's not just that one song you cited earlier? IME, I never hear distortion (unless it's in the recording). The Abyss are perhaps the cleanest headphone I've ever heard. Were I to push it to distortion, it would be insanely loud and I would be afraid I'd blow out the drivers when I got to that point. I guess I'd be surprised if anyone was regularly experiencing this either, given how incredible the Abyss performs.

    Have you tried to troubleshoot your gear and/or connections?
  8. Litlgi74
    Yep... I've changed the cables... Tried the headphone out from the RME ADI-2 DAC, tried both SE and balanced outs from the Cayin iha-6... Same distortion.

    The only other headphones I have are my son's Dekoni Blues... i don't really hear the distortion with them...but they are no where near as revealing as the 1266s.

    I am not using conversions of any kind in Roon that would potentially alter or distort the sound.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  9. simorag
    This is a very interesting question, I am curious to hear what people has to say as well!

    In my case, when listening to headphones I have experienced mainly three types of situations:
    a- artifacts obviously related to distortion, like clipping, ringing, blurring / smearing of notes etc.
    b- feeling that the music becomes a confused wall of sound, and soundstage collapse.
    c- tonality shifts, where by cranking up the volume the tonal balance of the HP changes, typically towards a brighter presentation.

    Not sure if -b- and -c- go strictly under the definition of 'distortion', by the way.

    With the AB-1266 specifically, I occasionally face clipping with very quietly recorded music (e.g. classical) and high range recordings (20dB+) when directly driving them through the DAVE, and - very rarely - even with the Formula S. This was at a high yet still bearable - for short stretches of time - volume.

    This type of distortion was not there with more powerful amplifiers, not necessarily high end ones. For example, the Audio GD NOS 11 (about 8W at 47Ohm) was not exhibiting any clipping with the Abyss.

    As for type -b- issue, this is the trickier one IMO. Here I found that the quality of the amp matters as much or even more than its sheer power output (assuming at least 2W of available juice). Being able to keep composure, control, instrument separation, soundstage breadth at very high listening volume (90dB+) is not an easy feat. The Riviera AIC-10, and especially the Octave V80SE were very good at this, for example.

    Type -c- (tonality change) has not been an issue with the Abyss for me. It was with the HD800S and Utopia, possibly because of sub-bass roll-off becoming more apparent to my ears at high SPL.

    Overall, in my experience the AB-1266 are not the limiting factor as long as distortion is concerned, as they remain very clean and linear at volumes way above what I could bear, when properly driven.
    attmci likes this.
  10. Ciggavelli
    I’ve found that ear pad placement greatly affects distortion with some songs. The further away the ear pads are from your ear, the more bass you get, but distortion creeps in. With metal, rock, pop I don’t really have distortion with the pads further away from my ears. With rap though, I do get distortion with the ear pads further away. The distortion goes away if you position the ear pads closer to your ear though
  11. Litlgi74
    I guess that is the problem I am having... I don't get close to unbearable volume before distortion takes over the music.

    According to your description... I think I am experiencing type a. The music blurs and sounds ugly, and broken (if that makes sense). Not enjoyable at all. Almost as though the bass becomes the mid-range.

    The Cayin iha-6 can produce 7 watts in balanced mode... But I can barely get the volume knob to the (12 o'clock) half way point.

    If I put the RME in High Gain.. and use the SE output of if the unit's HP amp.. I get the same result.

    I don't experience any noticable distortion at low volumes... But I can here distortion contaminate the music as the volume rises... Even before unbearable volumes.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  12. simorag
    That is very odd.

    Did you have the same experience when you demoed the Moon 600i?

    With which type(s) of music is this behavior more apparent?
  13. Zhanming057
    The thing is, the WA33 is something that you will need to sort out on your own. The stock tubes are meh, they're sensitive to power and DAC pairings and all that.

    Every time I've heard one in Woo's own Canjam showroom it sounded far worse than some of the better sorted setups from actual users. I'm guessing it's a combo of no power conditioning in the showroom and Woo's insistence on using a subpar Sony DAC/streamer instead of a real DAC. That applies to the WA5 as well - at a bare minimum, I recommend swapping out the stock 300b's and 274b's.
  14. astrostar59
    This is odd. I experienced a bit of bass looseness if the pads are well away from the ear, i.e. driving into mid air if you like. But then the bass was way to high in level because of that to the rest of the FR. IMO if you get the pads slightly off your face at the bottom of the cups, but touching the top and sides of the cups, it is fine. To then get any bass distortion you need to play it beyond comfortable level i.e. hearing damage levels.

    So I think there could be 3 things going on.
    1. You have the pads too far off your face, possibly to augment a perceived lack of bass in the material you are listening to.
    2. Your amp is lacking current or drive / control / damping factor into 50ohms and is struggling. It is not just gain / volume ability, it is current demand as well.
    3. You have applied some bass lift in EQ, which is a no no. Modern recordings are generally at 0db already,especially in the bass / high energy areas, so any bass lift will clip as it outputs your server.

    If the FR is changing, going bass light or shifting the response up as you crank up the amp, that sound like the amp is struggling to me.

    The Abyss is a fiddly HP to get right, and we all like more of the nice bass drive if possible (generally). Maybe we want more than is possible? A balanced FR is key, not go for the bass boost option. Anyway, my thoughts. I do think the Abyss can get flabby and loose in the bass from a lesser amp, both power reserve and quality. Not unlike a top speaker would really?
  15. Litlgi74
    I didn't experience it with 600i because I was afraid to turn up the volume.:)

    I'd say it happens with all types of music.

    I have the pads at 1 and 11. They gently touch my head behind my ear.. just above the base of my skull. I have a small opening/gap of the pads at about the tragus of the ear.

    Like this. Lol
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