Abyss is a unique little brand, just as famous for it’s massively sized flagship cans as it is for it’s distinctively portable Diana line-up. Over the years, the Diana has produced a few versions of itself. And the most recent release, the Diana MR, is designed with relatively flat tuning, offering a profile that might serve audiophiles and audio professionals alike. What can you expect in terms of sound signature and performance?
What’s in the Box?
- Abyss Diana MR Headphones
- 1 Cable of your choice (4-pin XLR; 4,4mm balance; 3.5mm; 6.3mm)
- Hard case
- Extra padding
Look and Feel
The Abyss Diana MR has to be the most comfortable planar magnetic set of cans I’ve ever worn. Reasonably light, with a super forgiving (almost loose) clamping force, you forget you’re wearing the Diana MR after a couple of minutes. The leather headband is austere in its padding, but it felt perfectly comfortable on the head (extra padding also available), while the ear pads are notably soft and accommodating.
Given its compactness in size alone, the Diana MR is one of the most portable planar magnetic headphones on the market. In fact, the only other headphone in this echelon that might compete in terms of portability is the Dan Clarke Audio series. That said, there’s an undeniable durability to the build of the Diana NR. Sporting a high-tech polymer ceramic and custom fiber finish, the Diana MR exudes a firm and minimalist, almost industrial aesthetic. (Wood finish is also available.)
The Diana MR sports a 63mm planar magnetic driver under the hood. One of the best elements of the updated design is that the Diana MR is super efficient at only 30 Ohms, and is able to even run through a dongle connected to your phone. However, in my testing, it seemed that the Diana MR benefited from a little extra driving power. For this review, I paired the Diana MR with the SR 35, which still gave me plenty of headroom.
|Specifications||Abyss Diana MR|
|Driver||63mm Planar Magnetic|
|Frequency Response||10 Hz – 30 kHz|
The imaging is spectacular on the Diana MR. Instrument placement is uncompromisingly precise, and, especially on fun mixes, the play between various angles and points of depth create an uber-colorful listening experience. Most notable is the depth field, allowing you to feel instruments being placed as far as the back of the neck. That said, there’s little height to this soundstage, which is the only shortcoming in this department. And still, the incredible definition and separation combined with a depth in tone ensures that no element is lost in the mix. With the help of some relatively flat tuning combined with a richness in resolution, even the most insignificant elements in the song are given room to shine. In short, what the Diana MR may lack in “grandness”, it compensates for with its entertainingly vibrant depth and stereo imaging.
While the sub-bass creates moderately visceral effect in the ear canals, it never feels heavy or dark, taking a relatively modest place within the musical arrangement. But though the same touch of reservedness is true for the lower to upper-bass, there’s plenty of warmth here. And there was certainly enough punch to the bass on modern tracks that called for it. Listening to classical instruments in this range, it quickly becomes clear how damn transparent these cans are. Cellos reveal a sandpapery texture (more texture than I’ve heard in some time) of their lower notes, with even the most minute timbral elements apparent in the performance, while double basses uncover remarkably nuanced resolve. At the same time, there’s a smoothness to the sound that becomes increasingly more addictive.
Given the somewhat flat frequency response, the mids have a good amount of room in the mix. The first thing that hit me in the mids was the intimacy of vocals. They sit close up, with the tiniest details revealed in the timbral qualities of the voice. The result is a highly emotive and vulnerable performance where nothing is able hide. The overall delivery is also highly musical, with note progressions moving with ease and fluidity. Given that there is little upper-midrange favoritism, the presentation feels full bodied, and perhaps less lively than a sound signature with more dynamic tuning. Still, there is an energetic momentum to the Diana MR that becomes more perceptible the longer you listen.
Love the sparkle up here. And again, there’s a skillful balance between smoothness and transparency in this range. I should note that there was a touch of sibilance on certain occasions, though it didn’t really detract from my listening enjoyment. Certainly, the treble extension can border on uncomfortable at rare moments. For example, when listening to hip-hop snares, there’s often a sharpness that can be too much at times. But for the most part, the fantastic resolution is the final impression you’re left with.
Smooth and musical with commendable transparency, great treble extension and entertainingly holographic imaging, the Diana MR is a fun and impressive listen. And although, in terms of character or personality, the Diana MR may be less than ostentatious, there’s no question that it still delivers its own highly pleasing and distinctive flavor. Given it’s tuning, the Diana MR may not be as eager as some would prefer, but for those who like to feel immersed in sound and hear every single element in the mix, the Diana MR will deliver it in spades. Finally, if portability is a factor in your buying decision, or you just don’t want to deal with an amp, the Diana MR might be the most optimal choice in its class.