DITA the Dream XLS is the kind of neutrality anyone can get behind. It possesses a full-bodied, luscious tonality, with each region of frequency represented, and impactful. Slight warmth carries the signature along, revealing a great amount of air and atmosphere. ”Natural” is the best word to describe it, for the XLS does not feel sculpted by man, but wrought of the fluidity found in the wilderness.
Treble is soft-edged and inoffensive. It extends fully, bathing the stage in revealing light and exposing the subtlest of details. Yet instead cold treble, as found in brighter gear, this light comforts you with its warmth, as if cast by the sun. It feels good on the ears, lacking the harshness found in more aggressive signatures.
Vocals stand large on the stage, even with the instruments, neither behind nor in front. They are full and rounded, sounding highly organic. They have a solid, tangible quality. Certainly not wispy or thin. Strong articulation gives voice to the idiosyncrasies of your favorite artists. The females are imbued of a light lushness, the males, a healthy boldness.
Instruments exhibit the perfect balance of soft and sharp, warm and aggressive. They are beautifully bodied, whilst capable of such energy. Electric guitars have mean crunch, and cymbals can be thoroughly vivid. Whereas acoustic instruments convey all the richness and harmonic overtones needed for true timbre.
DITA’s bass is particularly wondrous. It can be tame and innocuous when it’s not meant to be noticed, and then dazzle you with impact and texture when the track summons it. Most of the time the lows are there filling in the cracks, completing the ensemble. Other times, it’s the showstopper. Whether delivering righteous attacks or goosebump-inducing rumbles, the bass from XLS is always correct, the tonality always scrumptious.
The Dream XLS creates a soundstage no one will complain about. Cubical in shape, it stretches deep, wide, and tall in equal measure. The sensation is that of sitting front row in a concert hall. Imaging and separation are utterly top of the line. As are resolution and detail retrieval. These monitors truly perform at world class levels.
I currently have the Astell&Kern T9iE ($1,299) in for review. As it is another single dynamic in-ear of truly high-end pricing and performance, I’d say it’s a good comparison. Their voicing is not terribly dissimilar, both holding to a warmish-neutral. The T9iE, however, takes a more sculpted approach. You can hear a thickness in the lower-mids/upper bass, and a light edge to the notes, indicating a treble spike somewhere in the presence region. It’s carefully done, and inoffensive, but when comparing the two monitors, the AK presents the less natural sound, as a result. Still, I gotta say, it’s an enjoyable sound and thoroughly pleasing to the ears. Plus, the T9iE has the wider soundstage, which is always welcome in my book. Nonetheless, The Dream’s smoother, more lifelike render wins me over every time. Is it worth the extra money? Hard to say, but I do consider it the better product, not only for sound, but also build, ergonomics, and cable design. I REALLY don’t like the Astell&Kern cable.
While the DUNU DK-3001PRO ($469) is not a single-driver setup like the others, it does share much of the same form factor and tuning. My brain grouped these all together, and I’m convinced they compare well. Actually, the DK3001Pro is even more like The XLS than the T9iE. DUNU’S tonality is remarkably close to DITA. I hear a little more bass and warmth from DUNU and a little more transparency and resolution from DITA. But the vocals sound about the same, the soundstage is very close, and the treble is smooth, silky, and airy. Yes, your ears can tell there’s a price difference. The Dream is on a different tier of realism. Yet the DK3001Pro is so musically true, when they’re in my ears, I never feel like I’m missing out on something better. So if you’re looking for that Dream sound, but can’t afford the XLS, these bad boys will get you most of the way there.