In this review we check out the Abyss Headphones DIANA MR headphone, selling for $2,995 USD.
Disclaimer: JPS Labs sent us the Abyss Headphones DIANA MR in exchange for this review. JPS Labs / Abyss is not related to Headfonia in any way.
JPS Labs / Abyss Headphones
Abyss’ parent company, JPS Labs LLC, has been around since 1990 in the business making high performance digital and analogue cables. After many years they have started to dip their toes into the über high end headphone segment and started developing their own planar magnetic drivers and planar headphones. After years of research and development they have introduced the Abyss AB-1266.
Introduced in 2013 the original AB-1266 was unlike any other headphone on the market. I am sure many of you have seen them, and once you did, you could pick them out of hundreds of headphones and know for sure it’s the Abyss. Its looks are very uncanny and some say it resembles a medieval torture device. One thing is sure though, that’s the best brand marketing you can do. Everyone who loves headphones, like we do, immediately knows your name.
In 2017 Abyss introduced their second model – the DIANA. Unlike the 1266 it’s much lighter and more compact. I never had a chance to try this one out, but I’m sure it sports the traditional immersive Abyss sound. Since then, Abyss has brought out new driver technologies and has upgraded their AB-1266 and Diana to Phi models. The AB-1266 has even seen some additional iterations, the latest being the AB-1266 Phi TC. Recently Abyss released the Diana TC, and it’s the unit we’ll be looking at today
Earlier in spring of 2019 we have checked out the Diana Phi in a comprehensive review. We looked at the DIANA V2 headphones back in January of 2020. Check out their reviews here:
In August of last year I was so lucky to review the DIANA TC myself, you can find that review here:
I actually granted the TC our Recommended Buy award. At the last High-End show in Munich I discovered the DIANA MR pre-production model and it absolutely rocked. Today it finally is time to review this latest creation, so let’s get started!
The DIANA MR is the latest member of the DIANA series. You can find its dedicated website here.
According to the team behind the DIANA MR, this newest headphone are designed to connect audiophile and head-fi aficionados with professional audio mixing and mastering engineers.
The team at ABYSS developed this highly universal full-range planar headphone with ultra-low distortion, near flat frequency response, and smooth addictive clarity to sound.
The MR is still using the a 63mm planar driver but it has been modified and now has an impedance of 30Ohms and 93dB impedance. The MR is made for portability and as such will play great no matter the headphone source or amplifier you connect it to. It doesn’t require a lot of Voltage and will sound great on anything. That being said, it will scale up nicely with the better amplification. The noise floor of the DIANA MR is also pretty spectacular.
Purely looking at its design, they look very much like the previous model as the biggest changes were done in the inside. Looks wise, Abyss is still using the same headband and ear pad system, but more on that later in this article. The DIANA MR is available in different color finishes and there probably will be even more later on in the products’ life cycle. The actual options are the following: Carbon weave, Sapele wood, Forged Carbon and Carbon weave with Vegan Soft UltraSuede Ear pads. The vegan version also uses Cactus leather for the headband. The connector choices are: 4-pin XLR, 4.4mm, 6.3mm and 3,5mm. The length of the stock cable is 1.5m, though Abyss also offers aftermarket options. The version we received it the Carbon and Vegan one, as you can see in the pictures.
You can check out Abyss’ MR video right here:
Comfort, Design & Isolation
The DIANA headphones have a unique and special design, and it of course depends on your personal preference if you like this typical design or not. I quite like it because it’s a rather unusual headphone, and the black and Carbon weave finish of our sample is oh so classy. The Polymer ceramic finish of the DIANA MR is stunning. JPS Labs / Abyss are calling it the thinnest boutique headphone in the world, and they actually might be right about that. I also still really love the Fibonacci side hole pattern, which actually tunes the sound while following a natural flow of air.
Comfort-wise this headphone is also special. It might not look like a comfortable headphone, but it certainly is. With its 390g, the DIANA MR isn’t the lightest of headphones, but a lot of the higher end headphones are on the heavier side. The EMotion headband, does a really good job of evenly distributing the weight over the top of your head. Abyss also offers extra padding that you can add to the headband, elevating the comfort to an even higher level which comes in handy for longer listening sessions. Adjusting the headband is a piece of cake.
When you start using the DIANA MR, it’s probably more a matter of getting used to the typical shape of the spacious in-house made earpads. The pads are removable and Abyss works with an easy to use magnetic system. The pads are deep enough not to have any side pressure on your ears, it’s quite well-designed system really. The pads might look a bit weird, but they work and our vegan friendly version looks and feels very comfy. The Vegan version comes with a cactus leather headband and UltraSuede ear pads. These ear pads have a subtle softening of upper frequencies that for most listeners complement this headphone and systems nicely. Abyss suggests to use the lambskin ear pads if you prefer to maximize detail retrieval. You can also order additional DIANA magnetic ear pads including bass ported versions at any time to tailor the sound at will.
The clamping force of the DIANA MR is on the normal side, but that logically depends on the shape and size of your head. I would still describe the clamping impact as comfortable and the headphone stays perfectly in place when moving around. I really find this to be a very comfy headphone, especially with the extra padding. The 1.5m cable the DIANA MR comes with, is flexible and not too heavy. It’s easy to use and comfortable, as it doesn’t drag the headphone down in any way.
The DIANA MR is a fully open headphone so don’t expect anything special isolation-wise. Sound leaks out, noise leaks in, so a quiet environment is fully recommended.
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