DISCLAIMER: DITA Audio and Project Perfection provided me with the OSLO in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the company in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank DITA and Project Perfection for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.
DITA Audio is a Singaporean company most known for their single-DD universal in-ears. The Truth and Answer monitors were their debuts into the scene, and fantastic ones at that. But, unknown to us then, it also retroactively served as their entry to the upgrade cable world. The only distinction between Truth and Answer was the former’s premium conductor; custom-made by Dutch stalwarts van den Hul. It eventually became its own standalone product called the Truth cable. Now a half-decade later, we have with DITA’s first in-house cable: The OSLO. Bespoke Japanese fabrication, swappable connectors and unique oil-soaking techniques bring to life a cable with warmth, musicality and performance to spare.
DITA Audio OSLO
- Wire composition: PC Triple-C oxygen-free copper
- Default configuration: 4-wire
- Key feature(s) (if any): Squalene oil soaking, Awesome Plug swappable plug system
- Price: $599
- Website: www.ditaaudio.com
- Buy the DITA Audio Oslo Cable on Amazon.com
Build and Accessories
DITA have made a name for themselves through immaculate design and presentation, and the OSLO is no different. It comes in a black, textured, clamshell case adorned throughout with gold accents. The top cover features the company logo, as well as an OSLO emblem. And, wrapped around the bottom half is gold foil with your connector configurations printed on top. A particularly neat touch they’ve included is a Sealed Package warning to ensure the product you receive is brand-new and pristine. I think it’s a wonderful touch that shows excellent forethought and care for the consumer.
Inside the package is first a user’s manual. On it, they’ve thoughtfully included instructions on how to safely cable-roll with a myriad of connectors from 2-pin, to MMCX, etc. This is also true for the Awesome Plug, which we’ll get into later on. Below that is the OSLO cable enclosed within its royal blue, faux leather case. I absolutely adore the craftsmanship and detail that’s gone into this pouch; from the stitching to the logo embossings. It’s the type of accessory one should expect with a product this costly, and I’m glad to see DITA haven’t skimped out. Finally, at the bottom of the box is the included OSLO Contact Enhancer, as well as the two balanced Awesome Plug terminations recessed in foam cut-outs.
If I were to add anything, I’d love to have the next iteration of this case take the Awesome Plug into consideration. A slightly larger case – or, an additional hard case even – with small pockets to keep the alternate terminations would allow users more flexibility on the go. But really, all that DITA have provided here is already a cut above its peers.
The OSLO cable is an immensely premium-looking and premium-feeling cable. Unlike the weaving, helix-like braids I’ve grown accustomed to, the OSLO is more pipe-like; consisting simply of a single jacket from the connector to the Y-split, before branching off to two smaller jackets. It’s a wire structure I’ve never seen before and it goes to show how bespoke the OSLO truly is. Unlike wires you can buy off the shelf and braid, the OSLO is a specialised piece through and through.
The result is a more compact form factor, which heavily aids ergonomics. And, it also ensures that it won’t unravel when twisted a certain way. The conductors inside are a gorgeous, shimmery bronze. The sheer thickness of the jacket creates a cable that isn’t perhaps as bouncy and light as those from Effect Audio or PlusSound. But, this does serve dividends in preventing kinks, as well as ensuring it doesn’t bounce around when you’re using it in motion; walking, for example.
The OSLO is supple and smooth throughout with little-to-no memory whatsoever. The heat shrink near the connectors are appropriately shaped for comfort, and they visually match the insulating jacket to a tee for perfect visual continuity. Speaking of visuals, the OSLO possesses some of the most gorgeous hardware I’ve ever seen. The engraved, polished, stainless steel 2-pin connectors are particularly striking. Following is the circular, metallic Y-split, which acts both as a giant OSLO emblem and a callback to the original Truth cable with its seamless choker. Near the plug is a capsule with OSLO and Made in Japan engraved. It’s purely cosmetic, but it can also serve as a weight to keep the cable firm in place.
The only missed visual opportunity I feel is on the Awesome Plug. The matte black finish is unlike the rest of the cable, and it runs the risk of breaking visual continuity. But, with that said, that plug has immense function to compensate for form at the end of the day, and that small nitpick does not take away from the OSLO cable’s overall stunning aesthetic.
The Awesome Plug
The Awesome Plug is a swappable connector system DITA conceptualised all the way back in 2015, finally making its way to the Truth cable in 2017. All cables equipped with the Awesome Plug system come terminated in a female 4-pin socket. So, you have the ability to attach whatever plug you want onto it – whether it be 3.5mm TRS, 2.5mm TRRS, etc. The pins allow both single-ended and balanced connections, so you don’t have to purchase a whole new cable, source adapters or ship the cable back for retermination every time you purchase a new device. For security, the plug also has a screw-on locking collar. Included with the OSLO are 3.5mm TRS, 2.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm TRRRS, giving you ultimate flexibility.
OSLO Contact Enhancer
The OSLO cable also comes with a product called the Contact Enhancer. Based on the very same squalene oil the OSLO conductors were soaked in, the Contact Enhancer aims to improve sonic performance by lacing the audio chain’s contact points with the OSLO’s nanoparticles of gold and silver. Although this may seem like an extremely alien concept, its not unheard of in the audiophile realm. Brands like PHONON, Furutech and DeoxIT have contributed to the popularity of contact enhancement. Personally, I’ve tried some of these products to surprising results. I’ve observed improvements in layering and separation, among others. I’ll talk specifically about the OSLO Contact Enhancer’s effects on the next page.
The OSLO is unique in that it almost emulates the effects of a vintage mastering compressor. Like a limiting amplifier, it gently soothes peaks and infuses warmth, but without compromising cut, snappiness or definition. While it’s not the most clinically-nuanced cable out there, the OSLO does manage to pair its musical, harmonic wetness with outstanding resolution. The stage it posits is admirably large, but more impressive is its stability. More dynamic-sounding monitors like 64 Audio’s A6t won’t lose any of their spunk. Rather, all that impact is now set upon a rock-solid background with heaps of headroom. The technical work it’s able to accomplish without altering tone or dulling transients is masterful.
OSLO brings a warm, organic timbre to the low-end. But, uniquely so, in that it does this whilst preserving the airiness and definition of the bass. This isn’t a low-end thickened, bloomed or smeared to amplify presence. Rather, it’s given an analog meatiness and improved tightness in equal, complementary measure. There’s a slight mid-bass tilt, which makes the OSLO a particularly good pairing with sub-bass-oriented IEMs. As you’ll probably tell by the end of this review, the A6t-and-OSLO pairing is one of my recent favourites. Kick drums sound meaty and three-dimensional, but they sound airy and open as well. Bass guitar possess a similar balance of resolution and volume. You’re given room to analyse and the tone to enjoy all at once. That it intrudes on neither the midrange nor on overall transparency is the cherry on top.
I’m very much taken by the OSLO’s lower-midrange. They’re expressive, textured and vibrant, without that dense, heavy cloy-ness that typically plague cables with a similar tonality. Listening to the pianos and toms on Stevie Wonder’s Do I Do on the A6t-and-OSLO pairing is an unrivalled pleasure. Those instruments are punchy and enriched just enough, without any loss in transparency. The same goes for the toms on Gallant’s Doesn’t Matter from his In The Room sessions. Though they’re panned left and right, they’re as dynamic as the centre image. By comparison, the upper-mids aren’t as excited. Returning to Do I Do, the least dynamic instrument in the mix is ironically Stevie Wonder’s vocals; sung in a higher pitch. Thankfully, they never feel sucked out, and the OSLO’s stability allows you to keep track of those vocals effortlessly.
The OSLO’s top-end affectations are my favourite bits. Despite the warmer tonality, you won’t find the generic roll-off cables often resort to to achieve this signature. Rather, the OSLO refines the top-end marvellously. Returning to the compressor analogy, the OSLO dampens any irritative peaks, whilst preserving the in-ear’s inherent snappiness and cut. With in-ears like Custom Art’s FIBAE 4 or 64 Audio’s A6t – where transients aren’t necessary harsh, but they can fill the image with energy rather quickly – you’ll get infinitely greater headroom for those treble notes to clash, ring and fizzle out. This means you won’t get constantly bombarded by tizzy cymbals every measure. Rather, what you’ll hear is a refined, elegant image where you’re more able to appreciate the track’s dynamic range, detail retrieval and imaging.
OSLO Contact Enhancer Impressions
With the Contact Enhancer applied, I heard several very subtle changes. The sum of those changes is a darker, more stable background, sharpened micro-detail retrieval and a deeper low-end. The darker background comes from quicker top-end decay. Notes here are tighter, cleaner and a hair sharper. On Do I Do, the little shakers and synth lines in the background become more focused and apparent. Though, you lose a bit of that vintage airiness in exchange. The sub-bass also gains texture and presence. So, it’s a less breezy, unified tone in favour of higher technical performance. To apply or to not apply the enhancer will come down to preference. But, to my ears, it’s a very subtle shift either way.
Now, since the Contact Enhancer is essentially the OSLO in liquid form, I wanted to know how it’d affect a cable from a different manufacturer. To that end, I decided to use PW Audio’s 2-wire 1960s along with Custom Art’s FIBAE Black. With this particular pairing, I noticed some carry-overs from the previous paragraph. The background did become darker, which caused treble notes and micro-details to pop more apparently. However, I also noticed a refinement of the FIBAE Black and 1960s’ 6kHz peak. That low-treble spike no longer sounded brittle at times. Rather, it became consistently tame. The Black’s low-end was much cleaner-sounding as well, with more sub-bass presence rather than mid-bass.
The OSLO’s meaty, vintage colouration makes it a fantastic complement for brighter, leaner IEMs. But, the technical performance it manages to achieve makes it a versatile pick as well. Here are three of its most notable attributes:
Clean, airy, resolving warmth: Unlike most cables of its ilk, the OSLO’s warm touch comes with an unprecedented amount of resolution, openness and air. That means, despite the extra body, you won’t compromise the in-ear’s cut at all. So, if you have a monitor you wish to beef up without losing any of its attack, the OSLO is a wonderful candidate to consider.
A balance between mid- and sub-bass: The OSLO’s lows are wonderfully defined and airy in spite of the extra girth it gives. This makes it a versatile low-end that’ll still fare well with warmer-sounding IEMs. But, it also makes an exceptional pair with sub-bass-heavy monitors, in order to balance that fun, visceral rumble with some melodic musicality and tone.
Treble-peak smoothening without roll-off: Again, the OSLO works very much like a vintage mastering compressor that rounds out brittle peaks for a more refined and smooth response. But, unlike less capable cables, the OSLO does this without rolling-off the top-end. So, resolution, imaging precision and stage stability are maintained with the refinement.
Obviously, the OSLO’s warmer tilt won’t please all. If your aim is to add energy, sparkle or crispness to your IEMs, the OSLO won’t necessarily provide. So, if the following two aspects are what you’re looking for, the OSLO may not suffice:
An intimate or forwardly-placed upper-midrange: The vibrancy and bravura along the OSLO’s lower-mids aren’t necessarily matched by the upper-mids, which are more laid-back. Although this calmness is beneficial in that it prevents the OSLO from sounding too energetic, it also means that it won’t do much for in-ear monitors with similarly laid-back upper-mids.
Clinical definition and/or clarity: The OSLO priorities body and warmth than sharpening and clarifying raw detail. Although the resolution, layering and stage expansion it possesses is very impressive, it’s not one to push nuances in your face.
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.