Taking a break from new earphones, today I’m kicking back in the MajorHiFi Review Offices with a bottle of Reisling and the Abyss Diana Phi. Retailing for a hefty $3995, the Phi offers a refresh on the staple Abyss Diana formula. But how does it stack up against other headphones at this price? And is it the right headphone for you?
Abyss Diana Phi Review
The Diana Phi comes accompanied by a carrying case, a removable cable, a 1/4” stereo adapter, and a nifty keychain ornament.
Featuring updated earpads and an updated headband, the Phi boasts a more comfortable listening experience than its older namesake, the Diana. However, the biggest feature on the Phi by far remains the inclusion of the same 63 mm planar drivers found on the Abyss flagship, the AB-1266.
Beautiful in its design and construction, the Diana Phi exudes an air of refinement. Featuring a ceramic build with carbon-fiber exenders for the earcups, these headphones feel like they could survive a nuclear blast and still crank your jams.
Genuine leather on the headband and earpads provides further durability without sacrificing comfort, which is good, because you won’t want to put this headphone down if you can help it.
Frequency Range: 6-26,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 91 dB
Unlike some other high-end headphones at this price, the Abyss Diana Phi offers some realistic-looking stats. The frequency range hints at a little extra emphasis on lows and highs. Fairly efficient, the Diana Phi sports a frequency range of 32 ohms. Surprisingly, my FiiO Q5 remains up to the challenge of driving it, though nearly at max volume. But a good DAC and a juicy amp should be considered standard kit to get the most out of this headphone. Supporting the need for an amp, Sound Pressure comes in at 91 decibels – light even for an open-back headphone.
The Diana Phi’s low end falls nothing short of breathtaking. Rich, deep, and emotive, the sound imparts a magical quality to rock, hip-hop, electronica, and low-heavy grooves. A solid, dense bass response punctuates this low end, lending a sense of gravity to every track. All-in-all, this low end offers an organic magnitude that puts other planar magnetic headphones to shame.
In the mids, the Diana Phi delivers a wealth of detail and fidelity, giving way to a highly accurate listening experience. Vocals and instruments shine with characteristic verve, but vocals seem to jump out. This results in a three dimensional sound, but one with stunning contrast and separation – a sound you feel as much as you hear.
Tempered but detailed, the highs feel somewhat smooth during my first listening session. However, the longer I listen, the more I’m able to hear very, very fine details in that high end. Less than rolled-off, the highs seem just a little relaxed, without the typical brightness I was expecting. Instead, the Phi keeps the detail while remaining mindful of peaky highs. Instruments sound immaculate, but vocals sound just as clean – with a certain edge or clarity allowing them to jump out from the surrounding notes.
Clarity, separation, space, depth…the Diana Phi has everything you need, bundled in a highly-resolving package. Every track attains a new level of dimension and space when played through the Phi, and more so than I’ve heard on other headphones at this price point. Closing my eyes, the luscious frequency range does real justice to any track, sculpting a world of sound inside my head.
More articulate than the Diana and less expensive than the AB-1266, the Diana Phi offers a compromise between two very good headphones. But it’s the first time I’ve found a compromise so agreeable (especially when it comes to audiophile sound). Yet, here we are.
Comfort wise, I could leave the Diana Phi on all day. During longer listening sessions, its all too easy to forget I’m even wearing headphones, especially when the Phi gets a good track and runs with it. Trust me when I say you’ll get lost inside the comfy pads and headband – maybe as much as you will get lost in the sound.
If you need the absolute best headphone, skip this and opt for the more expensive AB-1266 (at $4995). However, if you want to save a chunk of change, the Diana Phi offers the next best thing for a little less money.
On the other hand, for equal extension in the lows and the highs, you might consider the Audeze LCD-4 or 4z instead (both at $3995). Personally, I prefer the lighter-weight Phi, but I also may prefer that slightly relaxed high end.
For more mid-high emphasis, you could consider the Focal Utopia (at $3999). While more detailed in the high end, the Focal loses out on the rich lows that give the Phi its decisive edge.
Perhaps the closest competitor the Abyss Diana Phi, the Final Audio D8000 ($3799) does offer a similar sound. But the differences are hard to quantify and I think this is probably the only real contender when it comes to challenging the Diana Phi Sound.
The word “endgame” gets thrown around a lot in audiophile circles. And at $3995, the Abyss Diana Phi may sit well outside all but the most forgiving headphone budgets. But that being said, the sound here is truly one-of-a-kind, and all the more reason to afford yourself what may actually be the final word in high-end headphones.
Sure, you could pick up a Sennheiser HD 800S or something even less expensive from HifiMan. You could even tell yourself the less expensive Abyss Diana offers a similar sound. But if you really want to get the most out of your music – and hear every glorious minutiae in any given track – the Diana Phi is the sound you’ve been waiting for.
Pick up the Abyss Diana Phi for the best price here: