– DITA Fealty –
The DITA Fealty have in recent times been my most used IEMs and so I was very curious to see how the Dream XLS compare. In pretty much every way the Dream XLS feel like a step up. Even though the Fealty have excellent build quality, the titanium shell of the Dream XLS feels even more solid and is finished to a higher standard as well. Both have excellent quality cables and it feels quite close here, but again the OSLO-XLS cable feels suppler than the Fealty’s Fat cable and has a slightly more luxurious finish. The Fealty have one advantage in that they are a bit lighter in weight.
Sound-wise I hear a lot of similarities and would describe both as neutral-natural. The Fealty are a hint warmer throughout the signature with a smoother feel to them, making them a touch more forgiving. The Dream XLS are a little brighter, but without sacrificing the natural tonality. In technical performance the Dream XLS are a significant step up from the Fealty, offering a bigger stage with a lot more detail, texture and in general revealing more of the information in the music with greater clarity. I love what both have to offer and never feel like I am missing out when I listen to the Fealty, but I absolutely see the Dream XLS as a step up.
– FiR Audio M4 –
Where the Dream XLS are based around a single dynamic driver, the M4 are based on a hybrid setup with three balanced armature drivers alongside a dynamic driver in a completely tubeless design and with FiR’s ‘Atom’ pressure release system. The M4 are more U-shaped compared to the Dream XLS with an outstanding bass that goes a lot further to soothing my inner bass head, combined with a brighter overall signature.
Earlier I used the word ‘unexcited’ with the Dream XLS, but with the M4 the term ‘excited’ is more appropriate, although they are not over-the-top either. The bass of the M4 is still exceptionally well controlled and offers a lot of detail, but now with a proper rumble and great physicality. The mids of the M4 are leaner and the treble has a more prominent lower treble lift. Here I find the M4 less forgiving than the Dream XLS and it actually hits my treble sensitivity a bit too much with some recordings. Like the Dream XLS, the M4 offer a spacious stage with perhaps a bit more width and less depth by comparison.
Due to their different signatures I find the Dream XLS and M4 to be quite complimentary and I often find I have a clear preference for one or the other based simply on the music I want to listen to and the mood I am in.
– Empire Ears Phantom –
The Phantom might be designed around five balanced armatures, but I have always felt they had an almost dynamic driver character to them because of the level of texture they have on offer.
The Phantom again present something I would consider complimentary to the Dream XLS, although equally they can be seen as alternatives based on personal preferences. The Phantom offer a much more intimate stage, warmer signature and lusher mid range, compared to the spacious stage and neutral-natural tonality of the Dream XLS. The Phantom are much more coloured and add a sense of drama to the music. Timbre is excellent with both, but the Phantom add a fullness to the instruments that makes the mid range warm and comforting. They have outstanding transparency, but not the clarity and detail the Dream XLS offer. The Dream XLS make it easy to pick up details, whereas the Phantom reveal them more slowly. Both are very easy going, but they achieve it through different means and I am not sure which I prefer. I love the warm intimacy of the Phantom, which is great for jazz, but when I listen to the same music with the Dream XLS I am drawn into it just as much. Both can at times ooze musicality, although I would say that the Phantom are more versatile because they work for most types of music. For classical though I do prefer the spaciousness and balanced signature of the Dream XLS.
With the Dream XLS DITA Audio have achieved a complete package that offers everything from excellent build quality and sound to a great selection of accessories and the convenience of the Awesome plug. The Dream XLS have a neutral-natural tonality that is very easy going, but does require plenty of time to run in. Set in a very large ‘out of the head’ stage, the Dream XLS offer all the information in your music with great clarity and accurate tonality, while never pushing anything forward. As I said earlier, the Dream XLS entice you into the music and reward you plentiful if you let them.