Sennheiser IE800s ($999)
The IE800s is one of twins’ most logical competitors, as both offer their own interpretation of a neutrally-tuned single dynamic driver. The IE800s constructs a wide stage, which feels especially spacious due to its leaner note structure. In addition, its vocals take a laid-back position, and are relatively small in size. Even so, a slight midrange bump gives them just a bit of density to prevent them from sounding diffuse. As a result, it creates a particularly airy stage with an effortless separation. While it is a somewhat V-shaped tuning, it has a relatively smooth character. Combined with its high resolution, it provides a rather refined sound.
The IE800s’ bass has good bottom-end extension, is tight and controlled, with a rather quick decay. As with the twins, it has a rather neutral quantity, although the twins have a bit more sub-bass quantity. The IE800s constructs a wider but flatter stage with a more airy feel, in part due to its leaner midrange. By comparison, both the twins have a more forward vocal presentation, with especially the Fealty providing more engaging vocals. Tonally, the twins are brighter, with the IE800s being a bit smoother. Taken together, the twins provide a more captivating midrange with a touch of sparkle, while the IE800s’ best quality is perhaps its presentation as a whole, which offers a great deal of finesse.
Campire Audio Atlas ($1299)
Campfire’s new single dynamic driver offers a new variation of Vega’s successful sound. Despite being a dynamic driver as well as tuned with a 5 KHz peak, the Atlas couldn’t be more different from the twins. The main reason of course is the bass tuning. As was the case with Vega, this is a type of sound that is destined to be primarily adored by the more bass-enthused. The Atlas offers a more or less omnipresent sub-bass, resonating like a powerful heartbeat in the signature. The bass creates a thicker note structure, which provides fullness to the sound. A 5 KHz peak serves as counterweight, which increases the clarity and articulation of its notes. As a result, the Atlas sounds fairly detailed despite the weight of its bass, with a neutral vocal presentation in terms of size and stage position.
Where the Atlas’ bass doesn’t mind kicking down the door, that of the twins remains polite and somewhat hesitant. As a result, the Atlas sounds powerful and dynamic, with a slightly thicker instrument note. The twins in turn switch the instrument-first presentation of the Atlas for a vocal-forward tuning. Especially the Fealty offers a more bodied and forward vocal presentation, with the Fidelity’s vocals being closer to the neutral vocal position of the Atlas. The twins’ tonality is a bit brighter due to an upper treble lift. Even so, the Atlas’ lower treble can be a bit sharper on occasion for sensitive listeners. And while the Fidelity occasionally displays some sibilance in the recording, the Atlas tends to do so more regularly. Overall, the Atlas provides a powerful, slightly thicker sound. The twins in turn position the midrange more forward, and are a bit smoother.
Rhapsodio Galaxy ($1350)
The Galaxy’s bass holds a special place in my heart, as I still find it offers one of the most technically capable bass for a dynamic driver: excellent bottom-end extension, great balance between sub- and mid-bass, and quick in pace. Despite being relatively neutral in quantity, it’s an engaging bass due to its combination of performance and impact. Even so, the rest of the signature could never quite do it for me. Rhapsodio tuned the Galaxy with detail in mind, by means of a linear midrange with a pronounced 5 Khz peak. As a result, the Galaxy places heavy emphasis on the articulation of its notes, but lacks the body behind: vocals sound thin and distant, and fail to engage. For detail-fanatics though, it’s a heavenly combination with the quality of its bass.
The twins construct a cube-sized stage with even dimensions between width, depth, and height. The Galaxy’s stage is a bit wider, but lacks a bit of height and depth by comparison. Its bottom-end extension is better, as is the balance between sub- and mid-bass; the twins mid-bass is a bit laidback by comparison. Their midrange however improves in quality; vocals are more forward, denser, and larger. Especially the Fealty provides more captivating vocals, although the Fidelity still offers a good deal more vocal size and presence. The Galaxy in turn sounds a bit brighter and more articulate, gearing more prominently towards a detail-oriented sound, even compared to the Fidelity. Overall, the Galaxy betters the twin with its bass and detail, but sounds sharper, while offering less balance throughout the signature.
DITA Dream ($1799 – discontinued)
The Dream paved the way for the twins, with the acquired know-how passed on to a more production-friendly proposition. The Dream produces an inspiring bass, with not only great extension, but excellent balance from sub- to upper-bass. A linear bass, with a darker touch. An exceedingly natural bass in terms of texture, tone, and impact. In addition, the Dream creates an especially wide and deep stage, with a somewhat laid-back vocal position. While its midrange lacks a bit of power, the Dream excels with a rather effortless presentation of detail due to its precise imaging, spacious stage, and slightly bright lower treble, which increases the articulation of its notes.
While the stage of the Dream is a bit wider and deeper, the twins construct a taller stage with more even dimensions in all three directions. Their bass is more neutrally-tuned, especially with respect to the mid- and upper-bass. As a result, the bass sounds cleaner and tighter, but less organic. They improve however in midrange tuning. While brighter in tone, even the Fidelity’s neutral vocal position is more forward than the laid-back vocals of the Dream. Overall, the Dream presents an especially spacious stage and natural bass, while the twins offer a more bodied midrange and treble sparkle.
The DITA twins are a prime example of a neutral-done-right tuning; a remarkably clear sound, without compromising on midrange body and power. The bass might be laid-back for bass-heads that turn to dynamic drivers for that raw sense of impact, but it’s a functional sacrifice in service of the midrange, and general airiness of the sound. DITA chose an interesting route by offering two variations within that signature. Personally, I wouldn’t view the choice as between ‘bright vs. warm’, or ‘detailed vs. emotional’, as their general characteristics are very similar. Rather, it comes down to whether one prefers a more bodied and forward midrange, or cleaner and more articulate sound – the difference resides in the presentation of their notes. Altogether, the twins successfully pass on the legacy of the Dream, in their own way.
DITA Audio Fealty / Fidelity
Design: Single Dynamic Driver