DITA Audio Dream XLS

Enticing musicality.

PROS: Neutral-natural tonality, highly detailed yet easy going, build quality, OSLO-XLS cable, good selection of accessories, general attention to detail.

CONS: Need time to run in, fit might not work equally well for everyone.

Disclaimer.

I would like to thank DITA Audio and Project Perfection for providing me with the DITA Dream XLS in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.


Dream XLS

  • Driver: Single Ultra-linear 10mm Dynamic Driver Gen. XLS
  • Frequency response: 10-25,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB
  • Impedance: 22 Ohms
  • Connection (Plug End): DITA Awesome Plug 2.5mm TRRS, 4.4mm TRRRS and
    3.5mm Single Ended
  • Connection (Earphone End): XLS 2-Pin
  • Cable: OSLO-XLS Cable
  • Chassis Material: Aerospace Grade Titanium with Sapphire Crystal Faceplate
  • Splitter: Stainless Steel and Sapphire
  • Colour: Obsidian Black
  • Price: US$2,299

Links:


Preamble.

As a reviewer I enjoy trying out all sorts of gear from companies with a wide range of different philosophies behind their products and I love exploring that diversity. It is fascinating to get in touch with the people behind the product, some of whom are mad scientists, while others very talented artists or they just radiate passion for their work. Some companies though resonate with me more than others and those are companies like DITA Audio. DITA make products that steer away from short product cycles with lots of hype, instead they take their time to develop “perennial” (sorry, I’ve been gardening a lot lately) products with meticulous attention to detail. I deeply appreciate that. It is a sort of paradox that while I review because I am interested in exploring many products, I am also someone who loves to cherish things. Many of the items I have bought for my various hobbies go through their entire life cycle while I own them. So as a reviewer I am biased towards products that I feel have a lasting value. I am also a sucker for single dynamic driver IEMs, so naturally DITA is a company that stays firmly on my radar.

Unboxing.

This is usually the section of my reviews I add mainly for the benefit of those readers who are interested in seeing what comes in the box. For myself I generally don’t care too much about it and just want to get to the good stuff ASAP. I have seen a few nice presentations with the packaging and occasionally did secretly enjoy it, but I can’t really remember having an experience quite like I had with the Dream XLS. Perhaps it is because the box has a unique layout (as far as I have seen, anyway) or perhaps because it is a big box with loads of stuff or maybe it is because the box has a complete sticker set hidden away at the bottom. In any case, it genuinely impressed me and made it abundantly clear a lot of thought went into creating packaging that is befitting a >$2k pair of earphones.

The Dream XLS come in a large white box with minimal details in which you find the box proper. It is a large flat black box with golden details that opens up to reveal the Dream XLS monitors a ‘service pack’ covering the cable and a card with a personal note from Danny and Desmond, the co-founders of DITA Audio. Underneath the card are boxes with the hard case, the soft case and one containing a selection of tips and additional balanced plugs (both 2.5mm and 4.4mm) for the Awesome plug. The service pack has the manuals and importantly a metal card with the serial number on it. Once all the boxes have been removed a set of stickers is revealed on the bottom of the box.

I think the selection of items included is very good. The soft case is familiar to those who have owned other DITA products, as I have seen similar cases with (for instance) the Truth cables. The hard case looks like it was uniquely designed for the Dream XLS, made from tough leather with a cord so you can carry it around easily. I preferred using the soft case because I have the Dream XLS stored away safely in my designated audio drawer, but the hard case naturally offers more protection for on the go. The selection of tips is modest, but sufficient, with Final E-tips (my most used tips) and slightly wider bore silicone tips. That DITA included both 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced plugs in addition to a 3.5mm single ended plug is great and what I would expect at this price point. It is such an important aspect of what makes the Awesome plug so versatile that leaving it out would have been a real miss.

I really enjoyed the unboxing experience and think DITA did very well to make it feel special and how you want it to be when spending this much money on a pair of IEMs. The only way to top it would be the sort of opulent wooden chest I have seen with the Vision Ears Erlkönig, which are twice as expensive.

Build quality and fit.

That DITA have a meticulous attention to detail is abundantly clear from the build quality of the Dream XLS and the OSLO-XLS cable. The Dream XLS is based around a completely new ‘ultra linear’ 10mm dynamic driver that is housed in a solid titanium shell. A long long time ago, in a different life (sounds like I am starting a fairy tale here), I learned how to machine various types of metal and so it was very interesting to read the ‘XLS Production Diaries’ that DITA have published on their website. In those diaries they explain a bit more about the CNC machining and finishing of the titanium shells. It is not an easy process and precision is paramount to the performance of the monitors. When you look at the final product, you can really see how precisely the work has been done, as the units look flawless… just as long as you don’t touch them with your bare hands because the ion plated obsidian black finish is a fingerprint magnet. The titanium shells have also been fitted with sapphire glass to cover the DITA logo for added durability, as well as a very clean look. I think it looks stunning and oozes quality. There is no doubt in my mind that these are built to last a long time.

Images courtesy of DITA Audio

dita_dream_xls-IMAGE_12

The cable that is included is based on DITA’s previously released OSLO cable, although specifically adjusted to fit the sound characteristics and looks of the Dream XLS. It has the same Oil-Soaked Long-crystal Oxygen-free (OSLO) wires and Awesome plug as the generally available OSLO cable, but the parts all match the colour scheme of the Dream XLS very nicely. The only parts that do not perfectly match are perhaps the clear XLS 2-pin connectors. I think it might have been nice if those had matched to obsidian black of the shells, but that is really nit picking. The connectors themselves are a great quality, nothing elaborate, but functional with a solid feel. The y-split matches the shells very nicely, as does the gold accent on the Awesome plug. The cable as such is fantastic and I love using it. It is very supple and comfortable, and together with the Awesome plug it deters me from trying any other cable, which is quite a statement for this pathological cable-roller. It is so convenient to have a cable that scores top marks in every aspect.

The Dream XLS are a joy to use and the fit works really well for my ears. I am aware that this might not be the case for everyone, so if you have issues with a shallower fit -the Dream XLS don’t sit very deep- then it might be worth specifically checking if the fit will work for your ears. I have gone back and forth between the two types of tips and ended up settling with the wider bore silicone tips mainly because of a slightly more secure fit and tighter seal.

Source.

All listening was done with the Lotoo PAW6000, a neutral DAP with excellent transparency for hearing subtle differences. I did not use any of the PAW6000’s PMEQ or ATE settings.

Page 2 – Sound analysis.
Page 3 – Comparisons and Conclusions.

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