DD Audio’s DXB-04 is a creature of neutral-warm tonality, where clarity and smoothness sing together in harmony. These headphones have a very clean presentation, with an abundance of air imbuing expertly balanced tuning.
High frequencies are well-extended, leading an arc into great light and sparkle. It has smooth treble, which does not exhibit harsh peaks, yet is capable of sharpness when called for, thanks to its impressive linear extension. The DXB-04 is fun and lively up top, though it sounds surprisingly mature. I hear a measure of refinement unexpected at the price-point.
DXB-04’s vocals possess a hint of warmth, but are mostly uncolored. They sit quite neutral on the stage, though are rather large in scale. They have GREAT transparency. Articulation is high, and textures are well-detailed. Male vocals receive some bass-bleed, adding more warmth and color, while females come off ever so slightly dry in comparison. Neither the color nor the dryness goes so far as to make them sound anything but superb. Still, there is a change while moving up the mid-range.
Like with the treble, the bass is of a quality to satisfy those of us who lust for that particular frequency range. Its 50mm dynamic driver extends VERY low and has a most mouthwatering timbre. The DXB-04’s low-end is full and rich, and sits fatter than purely neutral. However, it’s balanced with the rest of the mix and does not cloud the mids. The bass has moderate speed and texture, not sounding too slow or muddy. It’s very rounded and natural in tone.
Soundstage is remarkably cubical, with equal width, height, and depth. It is large and spacious. Imaging is excellent, as is separation. Resolution is OKAY. Better than I’d except from this price, but not mind-blowing. Layering is above par, but not by too much. To boil it all down, this headphone performs well beyond its asking price.
The Klipsch Reference Over-Ear ($249) has a more closed-in sound. Not as large and expansive. It’s warmer and smoother than the DD Audio. This warmth is achieved not through extra bass, but tamer highs. It’s not as airy or extended up top. Resolution is about the same, though transparency easily goes to the DXB-04. The Klipsch is ever so slightly more comfortable, and quite a bit more solid and luxurious-feeling… in spite of its plastic.
For an obvious upgrade over the DXB-04, the Meze 99 Classics ($309) has you covered. It’s just as rich, full, and airy as DD Audio’s headphone, but even clearer, and noticeably bigger in soundstage. The lows may be a little more bloated, and don’t produce sub-bass as well, yet they do so much right it’s impossible not to love them. Vocals are more vivid and detailed, and reach a greater level of transparency. There is just an extra degree of refinement to the sound I can’t ignore. Like DD Audio, Meze deals in metal and wood, but they do it better, crafting a headphone that feels genuinely up-scale.
I forgot how much I love the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over-Ear (Discontinued). These were my first mobile cans, and they are truly enjoyable. But they haven’t aged well. Meze defeats it handily, and even DD Audio’s DXB-04 has a more transparent, detailed sound. The M2’s treble is far too rolled off, lacking the air, sparkle and clarity of the DXB-04. The bass is wooly, and does not extend very far into the lower registers. Vocals are sort of veiled. Still, Sennheiser takes the win in soundstage, as well as build quality and comfort.