However, Abyss addresses issues of comfort and fit in several creative ways. First, at the centre of the upward bow of the headphone’s U-shaped frame, Abyss provides a milled aluminium, friction-fit, slip-joint that allows users to adjust the side-to-side spacing of the headphone’s ear cups. By design the friction-fitted joint requires significant effort to adjust and once the desired spacing is achieved the frame resolutely remains in the position the user has chosen. Second, to allow for correct vertical positioning of the AB-1266 ear cups, Abyss provides an elliptically-shaped leather headband pad that is suspended by beefy elastic bands from the side-arms of the U-shaped frame. Abyss spent considerable time working out the exact composition of the leather pad and bands, settling upon a design where the pad nicely conforms to the curvature of one’s head and where the support bands provide a just-right amount of tension to hold the ‘phones at whatever height the wearer might choose. While the AB-1266 is a relatively heavy headphone, I found the support bands served to mask the weight of the ‘phone fairly effectively, provided the listener remains seated in a more-or-less upright position (if you tilt your head far forward, backward, or to one side, however, the weight of the headphone becomes more apparent).
Finally, Abyss has come up with a clever means of achieving a comfortable and acoustically correct fit between the AB-1266 ear cups and one’s ears. Abyss, like a handful of other top tier headphone manufacturers (e.g., Audeze) equips its headphones with flexible, lambskin-covered ear pads that, by design, are thicker on one side than the other (viewed from the side, the ear pads appear wedge-shaped). The clever part, however, is that the Abyss pads are magnetically attached and held in position by locating pins on the driver frames, meaning users are free to remove and reposition the pads so that the thickest parts of the pads best fit the contours of their heads. With the Abyss system, the drivers do not tilt or swivel; instead, the pads move in order to achieve a firm but surprisingly comfortable, personalised fit. Does all this emphasis on providing a rigid, low-resonance driver platform really make a difference you can hear? I think it definitely does, judging by the extraordinary resolution.
Everything about the AB-1266’s packaging is top-shelf. Thus, the headphones arrive in a beautiful felt-lined wooden presentation case whose lid is stained a deep aquamarine blue and is silk-screened with a silver Abyss logo. Inside, one finds the headphone, a set of JPS Labs signal cables (separate left and right cables are provided), plus two Y-shape connection yokes—one terminated with a high-quality four-pin XLR-type balanced connector and the other terminated with a ¼-inch TRS plug for use with single-ended amplifiers. Completing the package is an Abyss-labelled aluminium headphone stand and a thick leather carry pouch (or ‘man bag’) embossed with the Abyss logo. While this is undeniably an expensive headphone, one cannot help but sense the careful attention that has gone into even its smallest details. But does the headphone’s sound quality justify its stratospheric price? The simple answer is that it does, and in spades.