The bass of the Fealty is quite different from anything I have heard so far. It seems almost schizophrenic in a really exciting way. It is a very tight and extremely well controlled bass that comes nowhere near the mids. However, it is at the same time capable of coming up with tremendous authority. It extends deep and has that characteristic feel that only a dynamic driver can deliver. It is tight, yet organic and bass instruments sound surprisingly full, resonant and impactful. It was one of the things I loved so much about the way the Fealty presented the Nutcracker. The story of the Nutcracker is dramatic and an emotional roller coaster, it is ballet after all, and the nature of the bass really emphasizes the dramatic turn of events. It comes out of nowhere with incredible authority, quickly darkening the mood, only to disappear completely when the drama is over. I have heard really good presentations of this before, but the Fealty do it with clinical precision. Which is ironic because it is exactly why the Fealty sound anything but dry and clinical. With the other IEMs I have heard so far the bass would overwhelm the rest of the signature to varying degrees, certainly adding to the drama, but also losing something in the process. The Fealty avoid that. Everything is there, presented crystal clear in the layers in front of the bass, and while the bass dominates those section where events turn dramatic (as it should) nothing else gets lost to it. All the layers seem to maintain their clarity and detail really well.
I think much of the character of the Fealty come from this bass. It is a very powerful, yet exceptionally well controlled bass, and through this level of control the Fealty add just the right amount of excitement. Caro Emerald’s Acoustic Sessions (an album I can’t seem to get enough of lately) also shows this level of control very well with the double bass sounding thick and very presents, but firmly placed in the background. The kick drum of the Rolling Stones? Present, impactful and yet placed neatly at the back. Throw in some EDM and the bass does not disappoint in terms of presence and impact. Exceptionally well controlled and balanced with the rest of the signature.
The mids of the Fealty are clean, airy and exactly the reason why I advise a longer listening session, especially if you are like me and more used to warm, lush mids. The mids of the Fealty have what I would call a delicately natural tonality. I usually listen to the Empire Ears Phantom, which to me set a standard for a “natural” tonality. By comparison though the Phantom slap you in the face with their naturalness, while the Fealty gently stroke your ears. The Fealty does not have very full sounding instruments, but there is enough body to avoid the instruments sounding thin. I particularly love listening to pre-romantic classical music, such as Dido & Aeneas (17th century), which benefits from the more neutral tonality because of the type of instruments used. Not to forget the crisp and clear vocals that sit in the centre of attention.
Vocals with the Fealty are very good, though slightly favoring female vocals over male. I can’t really complain about that because most of my vocal music is female singers. There is a lovely crisp clarity to vocals, they sound very natural and yet there is also an understated smoothness to them that I really like. It works great for choral music, such as one of my recent additions, Bach’s Magnificat, which is a very layered choral piece. The combination of the wide stage, excellent layering, vocal clarity and smoothness gives a truly heavenly result. Brighter than I am used to, but even on high notes immensely enjoyable because of that smoothness. It has something silky that is very delicate and maintains wonderful clarity, making all the voices flow like a choir of angels.
Indeed, I think that soprano Elin Manahan-Thomas has never quite sounded so clear, yet so smooth. This, I think, is a great indication of just how good the mids of the Fealty are and why I ended up feeling so compelled to write a review of them. There is a gentleness to the Fealty that makes them thoroughly enjoyable, even if (like me) you usually gravitate towards warm and smooth IEMs. Dita have really done something quite special to the Fealty’s mids and I would have loved to compare these to the Vision Ears VE5. I do not have them around anymore, but the VE5 were the first IEMs that taught me that warmth is not a prerequisite for smooth. The Fealty prove that point once again.
At the high end the Fealty have been very surprising for me. They are brighter than all of my own IEMs, yet the treble is so lovely and easy-going. I do not feel the Fealty have a very sparkly treble, instead it is more refined and well-placed. Instruments such as cymbals do not rise high above the rest to demand attention; they sit within the image and are clearly defined and well rounded. I consider this important with music such as metal, where an overly excited treble can push cymbals too far forward, making them distracting more than anything else. Not so with the Fealty. While listening to Disturbed’s The Lost Children album I could clearly hear the cymbals, but they were still placed perfectly within the image, adding excitement, but not distracting attention. It is very easy to enjoy and I do not think it will cause many issues for more treble sensitive people.
There is still plenty of sparkle for pieces such as the aforementioned Nutcracker. It definitely feels sufficiently Christmassy to invoke images of sitting by a roaring fire and opening up presents to find that Santa brought me my very own Dita’s… Sorry, Freudian slip there. It is not a sweet treble, which I do like with the Nutcracker, but the Fealty instead present a very clear treble that has a coolness without a hint of sharpness. Very nice!
There is also a little bit of bite that I personally feel is important for string instruments, and the Fealty do string instruments such as violins very nicely. It is quite articulate and I sometimes miss a little of the thickness I get with the Phantom, but it is still very good to listen to Paganini’s bow bouncing across the strings or the violins in Beethoven’s 3rd being emphasized to add speed and excitement to the symphony.
Empire Ears Phantom
As different as chalk and cheese? There are certainly differences, but also some similarities. To me at least both these IEMs present a type of naturalness. The Phantom are warmer, fuller sounding IEMs where the naturalness comes through very prominently and organically. The Fealty offer a more neutral sound that maintains enough thickness to sound natural, but it is not presented as prominently as with the Phantom. It is a more gentle approach that took me a little time to acclimatize to, but ended up enjoying tremendously.
With the stock cable the Phantom are also more intimate sounding. The Fealty’s stage extends wider and deeper, while the Phantom feel more holographic (cube shaped). Separation and detail are certainly the Fealty’s strength, but I would give resolution to the Phantom. The thicker notes feel more complete, allowing the texture of strings and resonance of instruments to come through more clearly, more completely. The Fealty in that regard sit a little more on the articulate side.
Rhapsodio Galaxy V2
I did not have the stock cable for these, so take this comparison with that side-note. I did try out various cables and it gave me a good indication of the characteristic of the V2, which has some similarities to the Fealty. The V2 are also more neutral, detail-oriented and with a very capable bass. However, the V2 are much more detailed and the bass of the V2 is something really special that the Fealty do not match. It is more prominent and of a very high quality, resulting in a more exciting sound. The Fealty is relatively speaking more even and sounds more natural due to the V2’s more articulate notes that result from the increased emphasis on detail. On my first listening I found the V2 to be the more clearly characterful IEMs and I naturally spent more time with them because of that. The Fealty simply took a little longer to acclimatize to, underlining the understated nature of their qualities, and yet they ended up inspiring me to write this review.
What does it say when IEMs come in that compel me to write a review and write it in pretty much one single afternoon? It means that those IEMs have something truly captivating and I think Dita did just that with the Fealty. The Fealty are close to neutral IEMs that are clear, airy and characterful. They offer a more neutral take on a natural tonality and while more neutral, they still take full advantage of the qualities that a dynamic driver can give to the bass, adding excitement and dynamism. One word of caution, they ideally need a longer demo to fully appreciate their understated qualities, but the demo will be worth it.