Abyss

AbyssHave you ever wondered how a headphone would look, feel and perform if modern technology & engineering was applied to an extreme level? Inspired by the single-minded vision of Joe Skubinski, ABYSS High Performance Luxury Headphones design, create their extraordinary headphones using the finest materials from their manufacturing workshop in New York.

Patented planar speaker drivers deliver music to your ears with a speaker-like performance no other headphone can match. Solid aluminium frames, minimal moving parts, soft lambskin leathers and Italian Alcantara. The AB-1266 Phi TC is considered by many to be the best sounding headphone money can buy. So if you’re serious about headphone sound quality… and we mean REALLY serious… then look no further. Abyss headphones are designed for you.

Abyss AB-1266 Headphones

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Designing the AB-1266

For Joe Skubinski, the founder of JPS Labs, the project to develop the AB-1266 was all about the sound. The goal was to capture the sound of the finest speaker systems and music rooms in the world, conveying music as naturally as if you were sitting in the room with the band in front of you. This was a huge undertaking for a small company.

The first thing you notice when you hear the Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphone is what the human brain is so good at recognising….natural sounds, musical flow and realism. The headphone is completely convincing. It is not producing sound that tells the brain it’s a headphone. Instead, you hear cymbals ring out in time without harsh metallic artefacts, classical guitar strings resonate inside the guitar’s wooden body, not some vague box. Drums have real impact…you hear the rolling of the drum skin, not just a thump.

The journey started with the most important component – the dynamic driver. The AB-1266 driver must transform an amplified signal into a sonic wave so your ears hear only music, not some vibrating plastics or metallics. Getting it right here is the most critical and most challenging part of the design. Abyss started from scratch with an open mind and devoted nearly 5 years to create unique materials, magnetics and a design never before implemented in any full-range headphone driver. This patented driver design is unique and hearing them in action is always a thrill.

Next up was the structure or frame upon where to mount these fabulous drivers. Joe used his extensive knowledge of high-end loudspeaker design in conceiving a new way of approaching headphone design. The finest loudspeakers have minimal cabinet resonances, meaning they do not vibrate and produce a sound of their own that would interfere with the clarity of the drivers. Typically with loudspeakers this equates to a very heavy multi-layered highly damped cabinet… not something you can wear as a headphone!

Abyss Headphones and whisky

Headphones tend to be riddled with lots of plastic bits and moving parts…all sorts of loose-fitting components that can all translate into rattles and noises that interfere with the purity of the music. To avoid that, the AB-1266 was designed with a lightweight rigid frame, machined from solid aluminium. Dozens of prototypes were built and with each incarnation, the improved anti-resonant construction resulted in greater resolution and detail.

Machining to this level of detail requires the best of machinery and expertise. Abyss purchased their own CNC machines and set up an uncompromising manufacturing facility in Western New York. It was the only way to control the finished quality of what was to be the world’s finest headphone.

Once the main frame components were engineered, catering for flexibility and adjustability was necessary. Every person’s head shape is different, however the more adjustment points that are provided in the design, the more opportunities are created for vibration, noise and fatigue. The brief was for the AB-1266 frame to withstand almost any abuse, never requiring maintenance or repairs due to broken parts. Durability was paramount. A single pivot-point on the top of the headband was engineered and it took another six months of refining this design to create their unique screw and slot design that allows not only width adjustment, but also height, toe in or out, and clamping force. Simpler is better.

The next challenge was how to adjust for fit and provide a comfortable user experience. The AB-1266 had to rest on top of various head shapes as comfortably as possible. In essence, it had to float and act as a suspension system isolating head motion from the music. Inspired by the concept of a hammock, the Abyss team worked on perfecting the strap system. The shape, adjusting leather, foam thickness, suspension and all the small details were designed so this relatively large headphone can sit on any head feeling light and comfortable.

Last but not least was the acoustic tuning… how to create a near perfect miniature acoustic space as if you were listening to your favourite band in an open room. Ear pads, foams, surface shapes and dimensions all had to be experimentally derived over many hundreds of hours of listening to many different genres of music. The goal was to ride a fine line between ultimate resolution and musicality while recreating as best as possible the original acoustic space.

In the end, all that is heard is the beautiful sensation of music from the drivers coupled directly to your ears in an acoustically fine-tuned space, experiencing the subtle details of the instruments, voices, and the room the microphones picked-up during the recording. Lose yourself in your own private musical space. Lose yourself in the abyss.

Abyss Diana headphone draped over a steering wheel

Designing the Diana

DIANA headphones are engineered to play the delicate nuances of piano and violin yet pound your head with clean powerful crescendos when called upon. ABYSS began with their world class AB-1266 Phi headphone and then worked to develop a new speaker transducer customised for the thinnest headphone profile possible yet still delivering a world class sound.

Retaining the amazing speed and impact of the large AB-1266 Phi while miniaturizing the entire headphone package proved to be a huge engineering challenge. ABYSS spent two years toggling between Solidworks 3D software and machining prototypes to reach a point where the DIANA headphone could be no thinner. The ultimate result is an ultra-thin yet rigid shell that begins as a 1kg block of aircraft grade aluminium and finishes as a 100g frame structure.

The standard DIANA headphone comes well presented in a choice of two elegant finishes, and the higher performance DIANA Phi comes in titanium grey with sporty red pin stripes (Diana can be customised to suit your tastes at an additional cost). A hard polymer ceramic finish gives her metallic parts a customizable colour, and just as in the finest of sports cars, soft leather and breathable Italian Alcantara® cradle your skin.

Abyss Diana Phi detailAbyss Diana Phi detail

Acoustic performance is superb. ABYSS’s expertise with materials made it possible for them to fine tune the room between your ear and the driver resulting in speaker-like performance around your head. The open back Fibonacci hole pattern was tuned to match the speaker drivers perfectly, allowing sound with like-life realism. Open back means more of a sense of space and you-are-there presence while allowing you to still hear your surroundings while on the go. Lower volume settings let you carry on a conversation with others while playing relaxing background music, then you can raise the volume to dissolve outside noise. The proximity of the natural sounding drivers to your ears allows the brain to focus on music with an illusion of floating outside of your head.

As with any ABYSS design, longevity and lack of moving parts are very important traits for final sound quality to prevent squeaks and the need for repair. The sliding headband was optimised while observing fit on thousands of people to a point where the DIANA can adapt to nearly any head shape. The headphones are equipped with a flexible magnetic headband that adjusts smoothly and cradles your head comfortably without pressure and lambskin ear pads are interior contoured to cradle your ears. You’ll completely forget you are wearing headphones.

DIANA headphones are comfortable, stylish and deliver that exalted ABYSS world-class sound.

Abyss DianaAbyss Diana Phi headphones

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