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Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC Review (Headphone)

If Amir wants to try a set of empryeans he can borrow mine. Saw it earlier in the thread. Also, I have verites closed back from zmf and a ton of others if he's so inclined.
And the TH900MK2 since it's on your extensive list :)
 
When looking to buy headphones a few years ago the Abyss model was the one I didn’t even bother to try, based on looks alone, it looked to me to be an instrument of torture (“,)
Just torture to your wallet. )))
 
If Amir wants to try a set of empryeans he can borrow mine. Saw it earlier in the thread. Also, I have verites closed back from zmf and a ton of others if he's so inclined.
Send em! I'd love to see measurements of the Empyrean especially.
 
This is a seriously broken headphone without equalization.
I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.
 
I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.

Honestly, I like my Abyss Diana V2s, but at medium volumes the bass tends to distort and it really ruins music ( I'm a future funk / Vaporwave kind guy) . At low volumes it performs much better, but all bass heavy music cause them to struggle.

And the TH900MK2 since it's on your extensive list :)

Yeah, I have both the emerald and sapphire mk2s. Maybe he can measure the difference in tuning between the two models.
 
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I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.

The brain trumps the ears man. If you want to really like a thing, you will. Grew up in a cult, I've talked myself into crazier shit and seen others do likewise.
 
So while, "a boatload of professional reviewers like a thing and the people that paid dearly for it also like it" doesn't sway me, I also doubt that the standard measurement set for audio gear really captures all of the useful data that we need to objectively assess a headphone. I just don't know what those are. Example: I know that Dolby Atmos for headphones for gaming does an amazing job at letting me position sound cues in a 3D space. There's clearly an algorithm that reliably works to create sound stage, but it's baffling to me that the reverse isn't true to allow us to analyze sound stage our of headphones (granted this would be VERY computationally expensive, like how it's easier to create an image with software that it is to ID objects in images).
 
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I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.
Nah. You are just hearing blunt views from me as opposed to hodgepodge from other listening tests. Take Tyll review of the original: https://www.stereophile.com/content/jps-labs-abyss-ab-1266-planar-magnetic-headphones-page-2

"There were two areas where I felt the AB-1266 fell a little flat however. I heard a modest mid-range and low treble coloration, which wasn't very apparent listening to the headphone alone but was readily heard when switching between the AB-1266 and the HD 800 and SR-009. The other two had a more neutral response to my ears, and switching to the AB-1266, I found a mildy hollow sounding mid-range, and a somewhat recessed low treble. (~2-5kHz). This fault was quite modest in listening though, and I felt it integrated quite nicely with the overall sonic character of the headphones.

The second fault I found much more problematic. High frequency information was lightning quick and articulate, but was accompanied by a haze of low level, high frequency noise in the 10kHz area. Cymbals, brushes on snare, the breathiness of wind over a flute emboucher hole were markedly unnatural when compared with the three competitors. This character, coupled with the somewhat recessed lower treble tended to significantly raise the perceived pitch of some treble material. "

"One recording I use for evaluations is a slow shuffle where the drummer alternates brush strokes on the snare and high-hat closes, with the AB-1266 I simply couldn't tell them apart. "

He them mixes the above with stuff that has no foundation in audio science:

"The sound is spectacularly fast with very good bass heft and control, and a gentle U-shaped response from mid-bass to upper-mids makes it a wonderfully fun listen. "

Fortunately he finishes with:

"However, the very high price and problems with treble response will keep them off the Wall of Fame. "

So definitely not overwhelmingly positive. All of the flaws of the headphone can easily be observed and found in frequency response measurements. And there, we would have objective proof of them than some undefinable thing as "fast bass."

So no, you do need to put trust in a comprehensive review that combines power of measurements with proper listening tests. The truth comes right out as indicated by the fact that with equalization derived from measurements allowed me to heap a bunch of praise on it as well.
 
That actually looks pretty decent. If you match the target at 4k instead of 1k it looks like it has decent ear gain. You'd just need to drop the mids and put in a high shelf to tame the upper treble. 2-3 filters and it's pretty close to Harman.

The 'increase' above 10kHz is not real. It is caused by 'correction error'.
Only up to 8kHz is kind of reliable.
It measures substantially different from Oratory despite both being measured on 'standard' rigs.
 
I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.

If you have a science background, you should know that you need to also consider the brain and the subjective bias of the reviewer. Measurements tell us what sound is produced by the headphone. And there is no magical mystery, we can measure everything our ears can detect. But our brain ultimately devices what we hear and the brain is easily influenced by external factors.
 
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I have a science background, and this site has taught me a lot about measurements of frequency response. It has also taught me that there must be more to listening pleasure than what these scientific measurements are telling us. Outside of Amir, it's hard to find anyone who has listened to the Abyss who says "this is a seriously broken headphone". The vast majority of listening reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Maybe measurements are not telling the whole story. I wish they did.
It's surprisingly easy to acclimate to weird FRs if you're not constantly swapping headphones. I find most reviewers tend to understate problems, possibly either to avoid offending people who get overly emotional about their purchases (a majority of audiophiles) or because they're deaf.
 
If Amir wants to try a set of empryeans he can borrow mine. Saw it earlier in the thread. Also, I have verites closed back from zmf and a ton of others if he's so inclined.
If he hasn't already PM you I'd drop him a PM. Im keen to see the Meze and some ZMF looked at as they consistently get recommended.
 
Nah. You are just hearing blunt views from me as opposed to hodgepodge from other listening tests. Take Tyll review of the original: https://www.stereophile.com/content/jps-labs-abyss-ab-1266-planar-magnetic-headphones-page-2

"There were two areas where I felt the AB-1266 fell a little flat however. I heard a modest mid-range and low treble coloration, which wasn't very apparent listening to the headphone alone but was readily heard when switching between the AB-1266 and the HD 800 and SR-009. The other two had a more neutral response to my ears, and switching to the AB-1266, I found a mildy hollow sounding mid-range, and a somewhat recessed low treble. (~2-5kHz). This fault was quite modest in listening though, and I felt it integrated quite nicely with the overall sonic character of the headphones.

The second fault I found much more problematic. High frequency information was lightning quick and articulate, but was accompanied by a haze of low level, high frequency noise in the 10kHz area. Cymbals, brushes on snare, the breathiness of wind over a flute emboucher hole were markedly unnatural when compared with the three competitors. This character, coupled with the somewhat recessed lower treble tended to significantly raise the perceived pitch of some treble material. "

"One recording I use for evaluations is a slow shuffle where the drummer alternates brush strokes on the snare and high-hat closes, with the AB-1266 I simply couldn't tell them apart. "

He them mixes the above with stuff that has no foundation in audio science:

"The sound is spectacularly fast with very good bass heft and control, and a gentle U-shaped response from mid-bass to upper-mids makes it a wonderfully fun listen. "

Fortunately he finishes with:

"However, the very high price and problems with treble response will keep them off the Wall of Fame. "

So definitely not overwhelmingly positive. All of the flaws of the headphone can easily be observed and found in frequency response measurements. And there, we would have objective proof of them than some undefinable thing as "fast bass."

So no, you do need to put trust in a comprehensive review that combines power of measurements with proper listening tests. The truth comes right out as indicated by the fact that with equalization derived from measurements allowed me to heap a bunch of praise on it as well.


Ever since Tyll did a grievous 180 on Beats Studios (which in writing came off as several 360s, in series, spinning off the road) I took him much less seriously. This had followed his damningly accurate appraisal of the muddy wearables; not long after, the next model miraculously showed stellar improvements...according to his review, which was unconvincing and pinched. The prose above is typical, and typically subjective.
 
It's surprisingly easy to acclimate to weird FRs if you're not constantly swapping headphones.
This is an important point to consider.
A lot of headphones that don't "measure up" don't sound bad. It's not like there's nothing to enjoy here: it's just not as good as it should be for ~$8000.

There's also a consumer bias that's not being considered. You can't compare someone that would buy an Abyss to someone that would buy a Sennheiser. There is a niche market for this headphone, and it's a market that is most likely supportive of the brand.
Brand image and loyalty is a very powerful tool. Anyone that's lusted over a headphone because "It's made by that uber-expensive brand that I heard about" knows this feeling.
 
This is an important point to consider.
A lot of headphones that don't "measure up" don't sound bad. It's not like there's nothing to enjoy here: it's just not as good as it should be for ~$8000.

There's also a consumer bias that's not being considered. You can't compare someone that would buy an Abyss to someone that would buy a Sennheiser. There is a niche market for this headphone, and it's a market that is most likely supportive of the brand.
Brand image and loyalty is a very powerful tool. Anyone that's lusted over a headphone because "It's made by that uber-expensive brand that I heard about" knows this feeling.

I think there's also just a lot of technical illiteracy. For a long time, making good products was expensive. But now, consumer electronics are high quality and cheap to produce. However some people still cling to the idea that if it's expensive, there must be a reason, so they go looking for 'it' until they find something. Generally if you look hard enough you'll find something, even if it isn't there. People want to believe there's a reason for $6k headphones, but there isn't.
 
However some people still cling to the idea that if it's expensive, there must be a reason,
I would say this isn't true for products on the cheaper end. Under 1k you mostly get what you pay for, but what you pay for might be better build, or better style, or better SQ.
That said, 1k+ headphones still have to hold their value and make you feel the money was well-spent. Abyss has evidently achieved that with the build quality and an imperfect yet competent sound.

However I think once you get up to that price you're in delusional territory. The figure is so ridiculous that I can't imagine my inhibitions wouldn't be suppressed just to hit the "buy" button.
This is all speculative of course. I don't own any kilobuck headphones.
 
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Time to care! We are watching. :)
It's not just that they don't care, they have clear and aggressive anti-pathy to it and are trying to create a weird sort of mythology around the CEO's deep and lived experience with different cable materials.

(Which they stopped measuring because they couldn't detect it in blind testing ... can't make that shit up)
 
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