My first experience with Abyss was at this year’s NYC CanJam. Among the crowd of excited audiophiles, I gave the Diana a quick listen. And although she sounded great, my first reaction was that Diana was way overpriced. But finally, I got a chance to sit down with her alone at work, and I have to say that after some listening, I just might be prepared to throw down 3 big ones for her. Let’s find out what makes Diana so special in this Abyss Diana Headphones Review.
Abyss Diana Headphones Review
IN the BOX
Looking at the design alone, I could already tell that I’d be into the fit. Though perhaps not as light as something like a Hifiman headphone, these minimalist cans have a no nonsense design that remains comfortable and unobtrusive on the ears and head. The fit is firm and lacks the plushness of an Audeze or Focal ear pad. I dig the feel, but folks who are sensitive around the jaw may find it a little too tight after long periods of wear. Toughen up and rock n’ roll.
Diana was designed to put Abyss’s large AB-1266 Phi in a small package. So, Abyss created an extremely thin but hardcore aircraft grade aluminum shell in a 100 gram frame structure. Abyss claims that the 63 mm Phi planar drivers with ultra-low mass diaphragm produce “extremely fast bass impact and subtle lifelike details to music.” Abyss intended for the acoustics to sound huge on these cans, using a “Fibonacci” hole pattern. Let’s just say that this Italian mathematician understood sweet sound.
Diana comes with a reasonably sturdy detachable cable, though I noticed that the 3.5mm connection with ¼” jack adapter caused some interruption in sound when I moved the cable around. It sure looks pretty, though. If you want a balanced cable, you’ll have to buy it separately, which is the only thing that bothers me about these cans with respect to price. At $3000, you gotta throw in a balanced cable.
Diana takes some power to drive. I used my trusty iFi Black Label Micro, which I highly recommend as a combo.
Diana also comes in customizable colors. Check out Abyss’s website for details.
Overall Impressions: Perfectly balanced, detailed mids, smooth highs, killer soundstage.
Diana presents a unique bass profile, conveying a dampened and somewhat dry feel. This meaty low end should please those who appreciate richness and impact in this range without offending my buddies with bass-anxiety. Listening to rock, there was some nice warmth, but Diana kept things clean and well separated from the higher frequencies. String instruments had a lot of texture, and that sense of grip or absence of resonance helped the details really come through.
You’ll get a present and even midrange with full-bodied feel that, at the same time, avoids lushness. And again, this is a clean headphone. I always test guitar strums in the lower mids because few headphones master the separation, but Diana hit it out of the ballpark. And as you move up the frequency range, there’s a beautiful smoothness and fluidity that comes into play when listening to female vocals. At the same time, transparency is primo, and listening to Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic, I could hear nuances (like cracks) in his vocals that I had never noticed before.
Getting smoother here. And listening to strings, that smoothness slightly takes precedence over transparency. But moving on to pop, percussion is crisp without reaching any fatiguing brightness that you find in other popular audiophile headphones. Again, that slightly dampened quality just take off enough edge to make the sound extremely pleasing to the ear.
Wow. Very impressive here. Sure, the soundstage is spacious, but what stood out the most was the accuracy of the imaging, especially in terms of depth. Again, there was a sense of dimension that I’ve rarely experienced in a headphone, and one that truly surrounds you with a super colorful soundscape.
It takes some listening to realize how skilled and unique these cans are. At first impression, there may be no dazzling dynamic quality to Diana that makes it pop. But it only takes a few minutes to realize that combining the slightly dampened, clean, smooth yet detailed characters along with the crazy good soundstage makes for a memorable headphone, albeit a pricey one. And let’s not forget how beautifully balanced she is. Diana is also super easy on the ears. And if you’re listening for long periods of time, she’s a forgiving choice. It kills me to do this because Diana costs 3 grand, which may be pushing it, but I would be doing a disservice to audiophiles around the globe if I didn’t give these cans the MajorHiFi Gold Award. Peace.
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