Pros: Extremely realistic and accurate timbre, technically very sound, yet wonderfully musical
Cons: Might be potentially harsh on poorly recorded tracks
Before we begin, the unit that i have was purchased with my own money. I have used it almost everyday for about 7-8 months, done comparisons to many other top of the line custom in ear monitor demo units (yes, I acknowledge that they probably wouldn't sound as good as the actual custom iem), and thus come to the conclusions that I have on what is, in my opinion, one of the finest earphones in the market.
The first Dita earphone that I tried was the truth. It is a wonderful looking earphone, aesthetically pleasing, looked good in and out of my ear, had this nice unique cable, as well as a sharp looking plug. On top of that, I heard that it was a startup from the very country that I'm from, Singapore. I started to like it before I even had the chance to try it on. I wanted to like it very much.
Well I didn't, I wanted a huge soundstage, I wanted crisp, sparkly trebles, I wanted a tight, controlled bass and lush mids. I didn't feel any of that. Nothing impressed me, and thus, I put it off my radar. As luck would have it, I decided to give it another shot. This time, I decided to try the cheaper model, the answer. Again, I was thoroughly unimpressed, nothing was really great about the answer either. I did prefer it to the truth though, finding a slightly fuller midrange in the answer. Apart from that, it really didn't seem to have the dynamics that I was looking for and that left my violins sounding a bit flat, especially when compared to my then go to earphone, the philips fidelio S2.
I went through a few songs though, a couple of classical pieces and broadway pieces, and to my surprise, I found myself liking the answer more and more. Gradually, the details crept up on me, the soundstage materialised, and the treble sparkled and shimmered. And that bass, oh it was powerful, deep yet tight and controlled. I switched back to my Fidelios, and to my surprise, they suddenly sounded shouty, harsh and coloured. I gave the answer a few more goes, and well needless to say, I was a happy owner of the answer just 3 days later.
The answer is impeccably built. It has a CNC milled aluminium housing which is free from blemishes. It is lightly anodized to a smoke gunmetal colour, and in the light, it glows a classy metallic sheen. It is one of the most beautiful earphones that I have ever seen. The 'fat cable' as the guys at Dita call it, is thick, sturdy, and strong, yet very supple. It inspires much more confidence than most non removable cables do. The plug is another thing of beauty, the carbon fibre artfully molded into its design. Unlike most flagship earphones, a considerable amount of attention was actually given to the way it looked. I like that. The Dita guys don’t just want you to have something that sounds good. You’ve paid for it, and they want you to have the best damn product in every possible aspect.
The build is incredible, and it looks gorgeous, but none of that would matter if it didn’t sound good. Well as I did mention above, it sounds very very good, and I shall try, with my limited ability, to convey to you the magic of the Ditas through my words.
The answer is a very well balanced earphone. Some might consider it to be slightly bassy, and other consider it to be V shaped, but when I listen to it, it sounds tonally accurate, and that’s what really strikes me. The violins sound like violins, the cellos sound like cellos, and the voices of the singers come across realistically. Some people like heavy coloration to their music. The piano fortes, for example, are pretty well loved among those who have tried them. If that is the kind of sound that you like, the answer is, perhaps, not for you. It would be difficult for me to quantify the signature of the answer, but if I must, compared to the UERM, which is commonly considered the benchmark for a neutral sound, it has a bigger, harder hitting bass, and less pronounced upper mids. However, the answer sounds way more natural to my ears. When I hear a cello on the answer, it reminds me of what I hear in real life. When I hear a cello on the UERM, well yes it’s neutral, but the cellos in my memory don’t sound anything like that.
The Answer is also one of the most dynamic earphones I have tried. As you might have noticed, I do listen to a lot of instrumental tracks, classical pieces especially. I find that very often, earphone manufacturers struggle to find a good balance between an aggressive and laid back sound. Earphones are often described as sounding aggressive or forward, or laid back. With the Answer, I find it hard to quantify this. The answer is one of the few iems which get this right to me. I wouldn’t say that it is forward sounding, nor would I say that it is laid back; it is both. Let me try to explain this. When you listen to a piece of music, there are some things which are going on in the background, and there are other things which happen in the foreground, that star of the show. Everything else in the background serves one purpose, to bring out the best of that star. The answer handles this distinction very well. For instruments and sounds in the background, it tends to give them a softer touch. This allows those instruments to meld smoothly into the background to allow it to better play its supportive role. For instruments in the foreground, and vocals, however, it brings them forward, giving them the energy and power to hit hard. To me, that makes for a wonderful, cohesive musical experience, where every single sound in the song just comes together to support the lead. The Answer is able to touch softly and effortlessly, yet when the song calls for it, it comes down and hits really hard, full of life and energy.
The soundstage of the Answer is wide, deep and spacious. Layering and imaging are good. There is a good sense of air to the stage. On large orchestral pieces, everything comes together very well to throw a large stereo image. No matter how complex the pieces are, no matter how large the scale of the piece is, the answer handles it with ease. It never once sounded congested or overwhelmed by complex arrangements.
The Answer isn’t an earphone for everyone, though. Compared to many top of the line custom earphones, some find the Answer to be lacking in the sheer size of the staging, as well as the razor sharp precision of imaging, separation and layering of some of the other top custom earphones. However, I actually find this to be one of the strengths of the Answer. When I listen to an orchestra live, I’m pretty sure that I cannot pinpoint each instrument with such razor sharp accuracy. I’m pretty sure that each of these instruments do not radiate sound from a single point like some of these top custom earphones portray them to, and I’m pretty sure that the different instruments do meld together to give some diffusion and fuzziness as to the actual placement of the sound. And that’s what happens with the Answer. The image is sharp and well defined without being artificial. And to me, that makes for a much more cohesive and realistic musical experience. Yes, it may not have that razor sharp separation and imaging of some other top custom earphones, but that just makes it even more realistic. And never once have I felt that the Answer was sounded congested or overwhelmed. It handled everything with ease.
The Answer is an extremely resolving earphone. It is incredibly capable of gobs of detail. This can sometimes result in a perceived harshness in the trebles. I realised though, that this was simply a display of its ability to resolve imperfections in recordings.
The Answer sounds great out of just about anything that I have plugged it into. Out of the humble iphone or macbook, or my fiio X5 driven through the vorzuge pure 2, it sounds brilliant. The answer also scales up brilliantly. When you upgrade your source, or your amp, it really shows.
When I spoke to Desmond about the tuning of the Ditas, he told me that the star sr-009 was the reference with the Resonessence Invicta as the DAC. I never once put the Stax and Dita sound in the same category. The Sr-009 was, in my opinion, while brilliant sounding, not quite the most impactful or punchy on the low end. The Answer, however, has always been an iem with a big bass to me. Out of the Invicta though, the Answer was completely transformed. The bass tightened up so much, the transparency went up a few notches, the soundstage opened up, and lo and behold, I was almost hearing the Sr-009 out of those tiny earphones! The ability of the Ditas to scale was almost frightening. If people got to hear the Answer driven out of the Invicta, any doubt that they had that the Ditas weren’t top end earphones would be readily erased.
The Answer is a brilliant earphone. It is the most natural, realistic sounding earphone that I have ever heard. Technically, it is very very capable, and on par with, if not near to the level of the top custom earphones. Compared to many of them though, it remains a far more accurate, yet realistic earphone, and that, to my ears, is a true winner. Looking back at why I was impressed with it at the start, it all came together and started to make sense. I was looking for something special when I first tried the Ditas, but the Ditas don't have that. Well alright perhaps they do. Their specialty is in being so natural sounding, that nothing stands out on first listen. Give it a bit of time though, and you will grow to love it. Once you do, there's no turning back.
I have a Noble K10 coming in soon, but the Answer is here to stay. Yes, it’s that good to my ears.