The Dita Audio The Dream is a bit of a unique iem in this lineup, which warrants a few extra words. The first aspect is that the Dream’s signature undergoes a bit of a metamorphosis after an extended period of time. I first heard the Dream at 100 hours, as mine was already pre-burned by Dita. That week, I wrote these brief impressions.
However, after many more hours the Dream’s signature changes, primarily as a result of a more controlled bass response. For this review, the Dream was burned between 400-500 hours, partially because I used it to burn the Sony WM1Z.
The second notion is that the Dita Audio The Dream requires more power than a regular multi BA iem to be driven properly. A lack of power results in a more laidback midrange, and a brighter tone resulting from a relatively more prominent 5 KHz peak. I’ve stated at the begin of the shootout that the descriptions and scoring is based on the RW AK380cu.
However as a compromise, for this occasion I will base my impressions on the WM1Z and Lotoo Paw Gold, besides my standard RW AK380cu. The reasoning is that the Lotoo Paw Gold has sufficient power to drive the Dream, but the pairing isn’t as natural as the WM1Z due to its inherently brighter tone. Therefore, the combined impressions from these three sources balance each other out.
Packaging & Accessories
Both editions come in virtually the same packaging but this is probably one of the best IEM retail packages I have yet to come across outside of customs. The packaging is really stylish and not just style over function, it also comes packed with plenty of accessories and one of the finest airline adaptors
I have yet to try and use, and I have used it twice already. Dita really though this one out and if you want a marketing nudge to think premium this is how to do it.
Inside you also get a wide range of tips in small medium and large single bore as well as a single pair of double flange tips which are my usual go to if available in the stock packaging. You also get a quarter jack adapter alongside the custom airline adapter and two rather nice carry cases. The first carry case is your typical elongated semi stiff pill type case for out and about and the second is a more executive type leather carry case which folds rather than zips much like a miniature Aurender Flow case.
The poser in me wants to use the leather folding case at all times regardless. Aside from all that you get a small user manual and all of this is neatly laid out in a custom cut foam layer to maximise the initial wow factor when you open it all up. It’s quite masterful actually and not something I was expecting in an IEM package so well done Dita.
Build Quality Dita Audio The Dream
Dita Audio The Dream headphones have a slightly more old school design than the Westone’s and Shure’s of this world but they are incredibly solid and well made. These are not run of the mill round type IEM chassis with a 10mm driver stuck in it; you can get that anywhere at a much cheaper price. Both these units are in fact hand crafted in house and designed in house and as such reflect a much higher standard of finish that I actually expected.
Dita have machined these units from solid T6 aluminum blocks with no plastics to minimize unwanted colorations from the materials themselves during playback. Both have very clean lines, a quality raised logo created with a laser and chemical etching process on the front plate that is free of blemishes and with easily distinguishable left and right markings.
Weight & Durability
Both are also heavier than normal shells so these are by no means lithe and discreet products like say a W60. The good news is they can take a bit of a beating and still perform 100%. I should know, I have dropped them on more than one occasion and our cat has tried to chew them up with no success. If they can pass the gravity and pet test then they get my vote.
Best earphones Dita Audio The Dream’s in-house 10mm dynamic drivers that are designed specifically to be able to cover a very wide range of frequency as well as keep a decent speed by using light weight rigid or stiffened design. These are also drivers that Dita claim will match with any genre and run out of just about any source. A hefty claim indeed and once which you can read more about in our sound impressions but suffice to say at 16ohms and 102db it’s not the most sensitive of IEM’s I have tested before but it does pretty well out of a wide range of sources.
Though bigger than your average IEM 3.5mm jack, they are indeed durable looking and lighter than you might initially think. They are straight plugs though so those preferring right angle small profile plugs might have some challenges if stacking with some of the smaller portable amps out there today such as the PHA-1 or Vorzamp Duo.
Dita Audio The Dream comes with the most expensive stock cable in this shootout, the Truth SPC consisting of silver-plated copper wires with patented 3T technology by Dutch cable specialists van den Hul. The Truth SPC has good low-end extension, resulting in a deep bodily feel of the bass. In overall quantity, the bass is neither enhanced nor attenuated.
As a result, the Truth SPC has a fairly linear signature in tone, and it isn’t particularly warm. There’s a slight emphasis on the upper midrange between 4-5 KHz, which benefits the overall clarity, although the cable doesn’t sound bright altogether. Rather, it results in a more pronounced articulation of notes. Its vocal presentation is neutral in tone, and could be a bit warmer to sound natural.
Importantly, the Truth SPC creates a spacious stage, adding both width and depth in comparison to a stock OFC cable. Its top-end extension can be considered roughly average.
The specific pairing with the Dita Audio The Dream has its own advantages and disadvantages. The SPC cable contributes to to a well-defined image based on the clarity of notes, the Dream’s unique bass response, as well as its excellent three-dimensional stage. However, both the SPC and Dream share a similar signature, resulting in its characteristically articulated sound: it provides a precise, detailed, and highly separated presentation, but in doing so, trades a bit of warmth from its timbre, as well as its vocal density – an extra emphasis on the upper mid region is traded for the lower midrange.
Nevertheless, it’s a purposeful design decision reflecting Dita’s choice for a reference tuning, which they have more than successfully accomplished.
Dita Audio The Dream – Sound impressions
With the Dream, we embark on the first true reference tuning in the shootout. The term ‘reference’ commonly has the connotation of being dry, and somewhat lacking warmth or emotion perhaps.
And admittedly, this is also partially true for the Dita Audio The Dream. Its midrange isn’t particularly warm, or forward for that matter. But it would be a mistake to confuse reference for analytical, for there’s an important distinction to be made – it might not be warm, but the Dream isn’t bright. It simply provides a clean and uncolored presentation of the music.
But it would be a far greater mistake to confuse ‘reference’ for dull or lifeless; if anything, the Dream is the opposite – it’s highly stimulating. The Dream relies on three key features to impress and even convince you; power, detail, and stage. For starters, it draws its power from deep down below, an impactful bass that only dynamic drivers can deliver.
The excitement results from its articulated sound: the definition of instruments, their positioning within the stage, and the high level of detail that arises accordingly.
The final aspect that instantly impresses upon listening, is the Dream’s excellent stage. It’s roughly average in height, but both its width and depth are larger than average, while shaped in almost even proportions. The result is a beautiful three-dimensional stage.
Besides, the Dream makes superb use of its grand dimensions. By placing instruments towards the extremities of the stage it stretches the space, while both its imaging and layering ability is precise. The result is a well-defined holographic image. And after its bass has settled in properly, it’s an airy stage. A vast stage, and precise imaging: it culminates in the Dream’s excellent separation, and overall precise image – one worthy of its ‘reference’ label.
The Dream’s bass can be considered roughly neutral, bordering on north of neutral – especially the quantity of its sub-bass. But dynamic bass isn’t quite the same as BA-driven bass, even when served in similar quantity. The Dream’s bass reaches very low, providing more of a bodily impact you can really feel rather than just hear, even when it isn’t prominent in the foreground.
In addition, there’s an excellent balance between the sub- and mid-bass. When power is required it sounds compact but punchy, rather than bloated. It’s the nice kind of impact you like to see. And although the tone of the bass has a darker touch, it’s timbre is fairly accurate. It’s definition is around average.
As usually is custom for dynamic drivers, this bass isn’t the quickest. The moment you speed up the music, the mid-bass can start to lag behind the general pace. But even then, the control of the bass is quite good. Which is crucial, as it only moderately warms the stage; more specifically, the warmth is confined to the central area within the stage.
As many instruments are positioned towards the extremities of the stage, the separation remains rather good, effectively making the most of its grand dimensions. But a lingering decay also has its advantage; with contemporary moderately-paced music, the lengthier timing adds a sense of naturalness to the decay of drums. Taken together, the Dream’s bass impresses with its low-end extension and the body of its sub-bass. It might not be the quickest, it is one of the most engaging.
The Dream’s bass is somewhat of a dissonant for a truly reference tuning; power over speed, yet in the most positive of ways. It’s due to its midrange where it earns its label. Dita Audio The Dream’s midrange isn’t bright, although it isn’t inherently warm either; it’s a clean, uncolored way of projecting its notes. In doing so, it takes a reference approach, favoring a technical sound over a warmer or thicker note production.
It’s a tuning that reveals its nature by a characteristic 5 KHz peak; an important tool for a reference-oriented signature, and this won’t be the last time we come across it. Emphasizing the 5-6 KHz range results in a cleaner sound, by stripping midrange notes from their warmth, and placing emphasis on the attack of a note – effectively creating a more resolving sound. In addition, by boosting this frequency rather than the higher treble regions, the presentation is able to maintain a relatively neutral tone.
The Dita Audio The Dream’s midrange is fairly neutral in terms of size and forwardness, although it is somewhat source dependent in this regard. Generally speaking, the sound is neither overly full, nor lean; instruments have a nice amount of body. In general, the midrange is relatively smooth, although there can be traces of edginess in the upper midrange based on the source, or the quality of the recording.
As a result of this upper mid emphasis, instruments sound clear and well-defined, with a slightly brighter than neutral timbre. It’s a tuning that works especially well for string instruments, even though their tone wouldn’t qualify as completely accurate. Or admittedly what I’d use it for in this case, electronic music.
The vocal presentation is somewhat laidback. Due to the depth of the stage, this results in an almost exactly central position within the three-dimensional image, which effectively benefits its separation. As with the rest of the midrange, the 5 KHz peak plays a determining role in qualifying the vocal presentation.
While the midrange is fairly linear up to that point, enhancing this region results in a laidback lower midrange. As a result, it’s a vocal presentation that focuses on pronunciation rather than depth; vocals sound clear, but there isn’t a great deal of body behind them, that throaty feel that provides the vocal power. They’re detailed, but their tone could be a bit warmer. Overall, it’s a vocal presentation that fits within the tuning by sounding clear, and contributing to the structuring of the stage and its separation.
As with the midrange, the Dita Audio The Dream’s treble is a bit source dependent for its timbre and smoothness. In general it’s a bit brighter in tone, although it hovers around neutral in overall quantity. Due the linearity of the treble, the treble notes have a nice amount of thickness.
Accordingly, it’s a treble that doesn’t shy away, and in doing so contributes to the overall high level of detail. However, as the treble itself isn’t enhanced, there isn’t an overabundance of light on the stage. It’s a tuning that provides clarity without brightness, while providing a modest touch of sparkle.
Its speed is roughly average; it isn’t the quickest, while it also doesn’t slow the pace. Similarly, its top-end extension puts it around the middle of the class: not bad, not the best. In general, I find it an enjoyable treble presentation, although it could be a bit warmer in tone to sound natural.
And while I personally wouldn’t describe it as harsh, I could imagine it being fatiguing for sensitive listeners, or when listening to treble-heavy music. Nevertheless, it’s a treble that perfectly matches the midrange, and the presentation as a whole: clearly articulated, and highly detailed.
Fit & Seal
Being a universal IEM the fit and seal is about 80% of that of one my better fitting customs but on par for a universal. The weight and cable did play a small role in acquiring a sweet spot particularly with the single bore tips which didn’t quite match my ear leaving a lack of depth and a fear they simply wouldn’t stay in. Of course your fitting experience may differ to mine but I did find a better level of comfort, depth and seal with the double flange tips over the single bores.