Effect Audio Cleopatra (S$999)
The OSLO is palpably warmer than the Cleopatra. The rich heft along the lower-mids are more subdued and relaxed on the latter in favour of crisper transients and more apparent clarity. This is echoed in the top-end as well. Although the Cleopatra similarly smooths peaks for less stridence, it doesn’t refine quite as much as the OSLO. The latter is the smoother and more agreeable of the two, but that doesn’t mean the OSLO is less extended by any means. Despite its smoother, warmer touch, the OSLO possesses equal resolution to the Cleopatra. Imaging precision is perhaps a hair more clear-cut on the latter by virtue of its low-mid response, but spatial performance is similar for the most part.
Down low, the Cleopatra is more sub-driven than the OSLO. There’s a greater emphasis on bass texture than presence, warmth or musicality. The OSLO is the more vintage-sounding of the two. This extends into the midrange too. Again, the OSLO possesses a richer, fuller lower-midrange. Although this means the Cleopatra possesses more apparent clarity, the OSLO has the edge in top-to-bottom coherence. Some pairings will leave the Cleopatra feeling a bit too relaxed in the lower-mids relative to the top-end. Whereas, the OSLO brings a more even balance between the transient and body of a note. At the end of the day, the battle between these two simply comes down to preference – whether you prefer the OSLO’s vintage, nostalgic, yet technically-sound musicality or the Cleopatra’s elegant, refined and tasteful clarity.
Han Sound Audio 8-wire Aegis (S$899)
Han Sound Audio’s 8-wire Aegis possesses a similarly warm, euphonic and rich sound profile. And, because of its 8-core configuration, it emulates the same airiness, blackness and stability that the OSLO does as well. But, there are a few aspects that separate the two; namely dynamics and note structure. The Aegis imparts a more laid-back signature compared to the OSLO. The centre-mids are more withdrawn on the Aegis, which creates calmer instruments. This then ties into note structure. Not only are the Aegis’s instruments calmer, they’re more compact as well. Because of this, the space between them is emphasised, resulting in a perceived blacker background and a more palpable sense of depth.
Down low, the Aegis has a warmer, more natural timbre. Bass notes sound guttural and buttery. But, the headroom and stability it has prevents this from hurting resolution. Although the OSLO has a tighter, airier tone, the Aegis competes very capably in terms of clarity and texture. The OSLO’s midrange has more presence around 1-2kHz, which is why its instruments trend larger than the Aegis’s. But again, this gives the Aegis more headroom and dynamic range, allowing it to scale further with technically-capable IEMs. At the end of the day, the OSLO and Aegis possess similar sonic palates. Both strive to add warmth, whilst preserving technical performance. If you crave a bit more forwardness and energy, the OSLO is your pick. If you want the more laid-back and vast one that lets the IEM do most of the talking, the Aegis is it.
Obviously, apart from sound, the two have differences in ergonomics as well. The Aegis with its 8-wire configuration will be heavier. Despite Han Sound Audio’s impeccable braids, it’s simply physics. With that said, many individuals – myself included – don’t mind the extra weight; even on-the-go. So, this is a mere extra note to aid you along in your purchase.
The DITA Audio OSLO is distilled Motown Magic – a Fairchild 670 in cable form. While conductors that sweeten, warm and beef up are a dime a dozen, the OSLO’s open, airy quality is wonderfully unique. The same can be said for its refined cut and polished attack. Roll-off is non-existent, allowing the OSLO to pair exquisitely with more enthusiastic in-ears without compromise in dynamics, stage layering and resolution. IEMs like the 64 Audio A6t gain headroom, richness and long-term listenability without losing an iota of pizzazz, sparkle or definition. Add to that stylish, robust packaging and build, and you have the best of all worlds. DITA’s OSLO is a marvellous feat, and yet another star in their decorated repertoire.