Horizon Doom Basic – An Enigma


The Horizon Doom Basic is a fairly efficient IEM, adaptable to low-powered sources. For listeners who exclusively use a trusty smartphone and a dongle DAC/Amp, the Basic pairs favourably well without obvious sacrifices in quality. I am one of those types of listeners.

However, sources that typically favour linearity, neutrality or harsher over-tones exaggerate the fundamental flaws (or strengths, YMMV) of the Basics. For the treble-averse, I highly recommend a warmer source/pairing for favourable synergy. More importantly, an IEM of this stature commands (and deserves) a quality source.

The Basics are a serious piece of listening kit. As with all quality IEMs, a good transducer demands adequate wattage to achieve a solid damping factor. A solid damping factor is achieved through strong amplification and a low output impedance. Tick those two boxes, and you’ve got yourself a high-performance setup for life.


Dita Audio Project M


325 USD


Dita Audio shares remarkable similarities with Horizon Doom as bold maisons with a staunch dedication to simplicity and perfection. Instead of reinventing the wheels that turn in the audiophile industry, both micro-ateliers opt for a single dynamic driver as the impetus that propels sound.

Project M, is then, an anomaly. Market demand is determined by what consumers want. The explosive preponderance of Chi-Fi is a telling sign that the general market craves value. Project M’s inception was a calculated response to those pangs. Priced at 325 USD, the M is a fraction of the cost of its siblings, the Perpetua, the Dream XLS and all its forebears.

This time around, the engine under the hood has been revised to include a single Knowles armature, following a more progressive hybrid architecture. The Basic, is, in admittance, multiples in cost relative to the Basic. Price notwithstanding, I think both IEMs share more similarities than there are differences.

Sound Performance

Project M’s sound signature is a modest U-shaped signature, with a gulf in the lower midrange. Upper-midrange presence is surprisingly accurate despite the artificially recessed lower-mid floor. Bass is tactile, fast and heavily-textured. Ultra-fine details are detectable and discernable to the naked ear, with flagship-level dynamic slam. Microtransient performance in the upper registers is vibrant, clean and shimmery. There is some mild sibilance to be had on dynamically compressed tracks, but those minor bouts of discomfort do not overstay their welcome.

Surprisingly, the M’s PM1+ dynamic driver is just as capable, if not more capable than the Basics. The M’s ability to highlight textures amidst sub-bass frequencies is clearer than the Basics. The Basics ‘romantic’ bass character emphasises deeper sub-bass frequencies and volume, but contrasting between note strikes moderately lacks subtlety and nuance. Moreover, the M’s bass is more tactile and deft, with a shorter sustain. Impact and slam are more visceral and commanding.

The Basic is more capable in the midrange department, with a fuller-sounding lower midrange. The technical chops of the Basic surpasses the M in this regard. The slower sustain highlights ambience and echo, further strengthened by the softer overtones of the lower-mids. The M is still a remarkable contender in this realm, with soft notes rendered gracefully analogue manner. Just not as much.

The M and Basic share clear commonalities in the presence region. North of bright, shimmery, sparkly and effervescent, both IEMs are larger-than-life in their boisterous presentations. The M is gratuitous in its highs, languishing in hyper-reality with female vocals, with elevated extension. The Basic is no slouch either, featuring a treble section that is similar albeit mildly constrained. Momentary bouts of sibilance or abrassiveness, are as frequent on the M as it is on the Basics.

The biggest point of distinction between the M and the Basic is the ‘inward nature’ of the M’s lateral staging, and the expansive headroom the Basic delivers. The M is intimate, a result of the angled positioning of its driver array. The Basic’s ‘triple standing wave suppression system’ creates a vivid and lively stage that laterally extends far away from the listener’s ears. Imaging between the M and the Basic is similar, but the Basic’s mastery of Z-axis height and lateral separation leaves little to the imagination.

Conclusive Remarks

The Basic is a thoughtful interpretation of Mr Kagehiko’s meditative philosophy on portable audio. There are many celebratory characteristics of the Basics speaking to Mr Kagehiko’s intellect in the audio field, but 12,800 HKD is a huge ask for even the most seasoned audio veterans. The big question I have to ask myself is: is the Horizon Basic Doom an IEM worthy of the exorbitant price tag?

The positive attributes of the Basics, such as its grandiose staging capabilities and awe-inspiring W-shaped presentation represent the height of sonic engineering. However, there are nagging flaws detracting from the Basics, such as its sparse accessories, unergonomic design and artificiality in the presence region.

The Basics excel in traits that mid-Fi IEMs have yet to exemplify, but there is room for improvement.



Picture of Kevin Goh

Kevin Goh

Raised in Southeast Asia’s largest portable-audio market, Kevin’s interest in high-end audio has grown alongside it as the industry flourishes. His pursuit of “perfect sound” began in the heydays of Jaben in Singapore at the age of just 10 years old. Kevin believes that we live in a golden age of readily accessible, quality audio.


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