The Dream XLS is DITA’s new flagship – a cumulation of experience throughout the years from the original Answer to the Dream Gen.1. By applying lessons learnt from the original Dream and with new technology implementation, the Dream XLS can definitely meet your expectation for a flagship model.
Established in 1971, Packagers Pte. Ltd, parent company of DITA Audio, has 49 years of research and experience in automation and engineering. DITA Audio adopts the experience and methodology from the parent company to build audio products that are supreme in both build and sonic quality. Besides the experience from Packagers, DITA is constantly driving collaboration ventures with potential parties in different sectors – to enhance design, engineering and manufacturing.
In 2015, the Answer was awarded the President’s Design Award for its exemplary quality in build and thoughtful user experience consideration. In Singapore, the President’s Design Award is the highest honor for designs across all design disciplines. The award recognises the outstanding contributions by a group of people that is working hard to yield a difference to the lives of both Singaporeans and people around the world.
DITA Audio did not stop there. With the recognition from fellow Singaporeans, DITA continues their journey to conquer the audiophile communities around the world. With the lesson learnt in designing the first generation of Dream and experiences from various collaboration ventures such as collaborating with the venerable Dutch cable company, Van Den Hul, DITA launched their latest Flagship, Dream XLS to update their current lineup.
From sound signature to design and appearance, every facet of the Dream XLS is a labor of love and DITA’s endeavour to bring all it knows to your listening sessions. Let’s explore the Dream XLS in this article!
- Neutral and balanced sound signature
- Excellent build quality
- Accurate and precise bass response
- Uncolored and natural midrange for vocal monitoring
- High quality stock cable
- Smooth and well extended highs
- Tons of useful accessories
- Awesome plug implementation to make stock cable usable for various DAPs
- Huge soundstage
- Might be bright for those who have lower tolerance to treble
- High price
Opening the heavy, luxurious box, the inside is separated into two sections – Dream XLS with cable attached is in the upper section and other accessories such as cases and ear tips occupy the lower section.
Here are the accessories that you can expect in the box:
- Oil Soaked Long-crystal Oxygen-free for Dream XLS (OSLO-XLS) stock cable
- Switchable Awesome Plugs (2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm)
- Hard leather case
- Soft leather pouch
- 5 pairs of Final Audio Type-E ear tips
- 3 pairs of stock silicone eartips
- 2 pairs of spare nozzle meshes
- A set of Dita stickers
- Service pack (paperwork and a warranty card)
- Driver Type: Ultra-linear 10mm Dynamic Driver Gen. XLS
- Frequency response: 10 – 25KHz
- Sensitivity: 104 dB
- Impedance: 22 Ohms
- Connection (Plug End): DITA Awesome Plug – Including interchangeable plugs for 2.5mm TRRS, 4.4mm TRRRS and 3.5mm TRS Single Ended
- Connection (Earphone End): XLS 2-Pin
- Cable: OSLO-XLS Cable
- Chassis Material: Grade 1, 6Al-4V Titanium
- Splitter: Stainless Steel and Sapphire
- Colour: Obsidian Black
Made entirely in Japan, the Dream XLS has an intricate, computer numerical controlled (CNC)-milled Titanium chassis with sapphire crystal faceplates created specifically for the XLS. For a dream class product, DITA only uses materials that their research deem worthy. For this expression of sound, titanium lends it’s flavor for exceptional smoothness and resolution. The chassis is hand polished to a mirror shine.
The build of Dream XLS is indeed very solid – a smooth surface with the titanium glowing. It immediately shows the flagship characteristic of Dream XLS. On top of the shell, users can find the recessed 2-pin connector. I did some cable rollings and 0.78mm 2-pin cables fit well with Dream XLS.
The titanium nozzle is in one piece with the shell. The diameter of the nozzle can be considered averagely wide. Most of my ear tips such as SpinFit CP145 and MandarinES Symbio F can fit the nozzle well. There is a lip on the nozzle to provide a secure catch to the ear tips.
The Dream XLS features the DITA Ultra-linear composite Dynamic Driver Gen XLS, which is specially designed by DITA for Dream XLS. According to DITA Audio, the improved composite dynamic driver improves resolution, sensitivity and emotional engagement. When the DITA Ultra-linear composite driver is paired with the titanium acoustic chamber, the driver is allowed to utilize the characteristics of titanium; fast, dynamic and control.
An Oil Soaked Long-crystal Oxygen-free for Dream XLS (OSLO-XLS) cable is specially optimized and provided for the Dream XLS. Based on a Pure Copper-Continuous Crystal Construction (PC-Triple C) high purity copper that is extruded and soaked in a squalene suspension of gold and silver nanoparticles, it results in smoothening microscopic surface irregularities and eventually yielding a better contact and smoother signal transfer.
The sleeve of the cable is improved to be smooth and easy to manage. The Dream XLS comes with the full suite of an Awesome Plug to suit your digital audio player (DAP) out of the box.
Fit and Isolation
The Dream XLS has a slightly shallower fit. I always prefer a deeper insertion for better passive noise cancellation and isolation. The provided Final Audio Type-E ear tips can provide a good fit for me but the insertion is slightly too shallow. After a series of ear tips rolling, I settled down with SpinFit CP145 and MandarinES Symbio F. Both of them are giving me outstanding isolation with deep insertion.
With suitable ear tips, Dream XLS can provide good passive noise cancellation and isolation. I managed to bring Dream XLS out for some walks before the circuit breaker implemented in Singapore. It’s able to block out most of the surrounding noise from buses and railway systems. I can enjoy my music with Dream XLS during commuting.
For this review, I listened to Dream XLS extensively with it paired to Lotoo Paw 6000, Lotoo Paw S1 and iBasso DX220. I did a 200 hours burn-in for Dream XLS with my Lotoo Paw 6000. My Paw 6000 arrived a few days before Dream XLS and I did the burn-in together. Kenneth from Project Perfection especially recommended me the Paw 6000-Dream XLS pairing.
Rated at 22 Ohms for impedance and 104db for sensitivity, Dream XLS is not hard to be driven. However, here’s my experience – I did audition with my Opus #3, which is less powerful compared to the three mentioned models. The sound signature of Dream XLS becomes thin and lean, which is quite different from the output of more powerful sources.
Then, I attached my Opus #3 to a dedicated amplifier, ALO Audio RX and the result is more promising now – close to what I get from the three mentioned models.
Feed the Dream XLS with sufficient power and you will not be disappointed. It will sing sweetly and smoothly. Tested and proven!
Dream XLS has a neutral and well balanced sound signature. You are not getting any extra decibels from any frequencies. The presentation is natural and lively – minimum coloration can be observed during this period of extensive listening with Dream XLS.
Let’s talk about the texture of Dream XLS. I will define texture as how the tempo, melodic, and harmonic materials are layered in a composition, thus determining the overall quality of the sound from the IEMs. Dream XLS has good thickness in terms of texture – instruments are well-layered and delivered to the users. The presentation has a rich body.
For those who are not aware, the term XLS in the model name stands for Xtra Large Soundstage, which is mentioned in the title of this article. Without disappointment, Dream XLS presents the music with bold and unexaggerated wide soundstage.
No congestion and collision, every note in the track has its dedicated position and delivered to the user accurately. This is how precise the presentation of Dream XLS is.
The presentation from Dream XLS is very accurate. I can identify the positions of instruments and vocals effortlessly. In more complicated genres like rock bands, Dream XLS can handle every note from different instruments well, delivering them in good layering, without congestion and sacrificion.
Unlike typical dynamic driver powered IEMs, Dream XLS does not have bombastic bass response. The bass characteristic of Dream XLS is lean and tight, which results in an accurate and precise presentation.
The Dream XLS has a fast attacking and decaying bass, which is different from conventional dynamic driver IEMs. This could be one of the dynamic driver IEMs with the least bass quantity I experienced. It’s definitely not a basshead-level IEMs.
The sub-bass has a good extension, creating a good depth in terms of soundstage. It hits tightly and deeply, without causing any effect to other frequencies. It’s like a good shadow to the track – present but not affecting. The rumbles from the sub-bass can definitely be felt. I would call it a high quality sub-bass.
Listening to Bon Jovi’s Brokenpromiseland, the ending sub-bass has very good rumbles and I can feel it.
The mid-bass is slightly forward compared to the sub-bass. The speed is as fast as the sub-bass. The fast decay controls the bass region very well, minimizing the bleeding towards the mids. The overall comment I give to the bass region is clean, clear and well-controlled. Precision is the key word to describe the bass!
Dream XLS shines with its astonishing mids presentation – natural, rich and transparent vocals won my heart.
I will definitely list the mids presentation of Dream XLS as its unique selling point. The mids have a rich body and are very natural – just like listening to a live presentation. It’s well-balanced between analytically dry and colored wet. The lower midrange is firm and well-penetrating. I have to recommend Dream XLS for this particular recording – The Greatest Basso from Zhao Peng. It created an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) effect for me.
The upper mids are transparent – spacious and airy. It has similar characteristics to the highs, which I will elaborate more in the next section. Listening to female vocals, the presentation is smoothly soft, tickling the eardrums. It has good penetration, just like the lower midrange.
I auditioned Norah Jones’ latest album Begin Again with Dream XLS. The vocals are presented with a rich body and preserved sufficient amount of air. The fidelity is outstanding!
The highs of Dream XLS is very well-extended and the decays have been handled controllably. There is no distortion in the high frequencies. There is sufficient air and space injected in the highs, creating a spacious soundstage that is full of air. This could be a secret weapon to create a Xtra Large Soundstage for Dream XLS.
The presentation of highs is natural – it’s not extended stiffly and exaggeratedly. Listening to Beethoven’s 5 Secrets by The Piano Guys, the woodwinds instruments used (flute and oboe) are presented smoothly and with rich texture. It is close to how those instruments should sound in reality. For string instruments like violin, the delivery is smooth, too.
I don’t experience any fatigue for long listening of three to four hours daily during the review period. I might have a better treble tolerance as I always prefer a brighter sound signature. For those who are fans of darker sound signature, the slightly forward treble could cause fatigue.
The DITA Dream XLS is, indeed, the flagship model from DITA Audio, in both build and sonic quality. The high fidelity presentation with astonishing build, Dream XLS can definitely challenge flagship IEMs from various manufacturers. If my bank account allows, I would like to acquire it without a doubt.
The cumulation of a decade of dynamic driver IEM work by Dita Audio: Dream XLS combines the best of all their releases with additional space and soundstage.
DITA Dream XLS is retailing at USD$2299. You can purchase it from DITA Audio Official Website.
With the launch of Dream XLS, DITA Audio once again proves to the world that the matured state of the dynamic driver used in audiophile-grade sound reproduction is a testament to the longevity and practical benefits of it. Well done, DITA Audio!