I reviewed and shared with you about a lot of different headphones, everything from a budget $15 to a premium $1500. Regardless of the price, every review raises a Question if my journey in search of that ONE special headphone pair is finally over. This time I can tell you with certainty, I found The Answer! I was fortunate to have a unique opportunity to review DITA Answer and to discover a new world of sound which has been encapsulated inside of a round tablet shaped headphone shell with a single transducer (driver). You have to believe me when I say that at $650 this is a bargain because I heard plenty of $350-$500 headphones that don't even sound half as good as DITA Answer. Here is what I found.
Since this review unit was loaned to me, I didn't receive the full retail packaging but have seen plenty of unboxing pictures to realize how much attention went into presentation of this masterpiece from DITA. Everything from a custom crafted flight adapter to a selection of fine eartips, and unique premium leather case and zippered hard shell case, including a signed card by two co-creators of these headphones Danny and Desmond - speaks very highly how much pride they take in their product. My review sample had only zippered hard shell case with two mesh pockets, and that alone showed a high level of details down to a stamped DITA logo and the quality of a metal zipper.
When it comes to headphones itself, every element of the design has been approached like a science project, and you can read more about the technology behind it: http://www.ditaaudio.com/index.php/technology.html . Starting with 3.5mm plug, this is professional quality gold plated connector with a carbon fiber body finish and a decent strain relief. It handles very well with a comfortable grip, and I found its universal fitment to work with any DAP or amp or smartphone even with a thick case. The cable from the plug to y-splitter is rather thick, but still has enough flexibility for easy management and durability to give you a piece of mind. Y-splitter shape matches a common design of the Answer's round tablet shape and features an etching of DITA name on each side. In addition to a short strain relief, you will also find a sliding cable cinch (chin slider) which integrates perfectly with a round edge of the splitter. The portion of the cable from the splitter to earpieces is thinner and equally flexible and durable.
I know a lot of the people expect headphones in this price range to have a removable cable, but there are other details to take into consideration. Cable attachment to the shell of the earpiece is usually the weakest point of in-ear headphone design where constant bending can break the wire. Here it looks like a special attention was paid to a strain relief design of the permanently attached "the fat" cable, including lead-free silver solder. The strain relief shape flows smoothly with the Answer over-the-ear cable fitment so there is no worries about stress of wire bending. The shell housing of the Answer is milled from a solid piece of aluminum, and assembled together forming a round tablet shape. The nozzle of earpiece is angled for a more natural fitment in your ear-canal, and there is a pinhole air port opening on the side. Back of the earpieces have a laser etched DITA logo. Though made out of a solid metal material which contributes to additional weight, once you put these into your ears - the weight disappears. The fitment did feel a bit shallow, but with a longer stem eartips or using double/triple flange tips you can achieve a good seal. Eartip selection plays a very important role in DITA Answer sound shaping where the bore opening can significantly alternate a perception of low and high frequencies.
Out of the box I found a set of eartips with a wider bore opening to be more appropriate to brighten a sound, but after 20+ hrs of burn in I had to do the opposite by going back to a narrow bore tips which helped me in shifting a focus on more bass as well as taming down treble since I'm a bit sensitive to a bright sound. Once I was happy with a seal, I actually started to appreciate how well these headphones can isolate outside noise. Not on a level of train and subway full noise isolation, but noticeably enough in a regular indoor environment. Another thing worth special mentioning is the whole round "tablet" design which fits comfortably inside of your inner ear to the point where you can lie down on the pillow and won't feel they are in your ears! As I mentioned before, the cable fitment is over-ear where you can use a chin slider for an additional adjustment to keep wires together. Also, I hardly noticed any microphonics.
This brings me to a sound test. Before I start with my usual analysis of different frequency bands, let me first talk about the driver itself. After reviewing a number of multi-driver IEMs, everything from dual dynamic or triple/quad balanced armature and even hybrids with combination of both, I was convinced that it's impossible to have a single dynamic driver design to cover entire frequency range while still providing a high level of details. That is a reason for multi-driver design where frequency range is partitioned with separate drivers fine tuned to tackle a specific range separated by a cross-over. It wasn't even a question in my mind, and I was just a bit skeptical how DITA will be able to "answer" to this challenge. Well, the Answer was loud and clear, and their ultra-wide bandwidth dynamic driver pulled it off! What makes it even more amazing, you can use ANY source to drive these headphones to their full potential. Sure, they sound nice with my E12A and C5 amps, but it wasn't really a night'n'day difference when for comparison I was driving them from HO of my X5 or even Note 4. Anything I was throwing at this pair of headphones, flac, mp3, streaming - I was getting the same positive Answer with a high quality sound.
I always try to compare my impression before and after the burn in. I do strongly believe in burn in, especially with dynamic drivers, but my philosophy is also not to go crazy with 100-200hrs of "cooking". Out of the box headphones usually at 80-90% of their final conditioning, and burn in typically helps to finalize that. As I mentioned before, at first I found I needed to use wide bore opening eartips to achieve the best sound quality which included a healthy amount of bass and treble. After completing 20+ hrs of burn in, bass settled down and upper mids/treble opened up more. As a result, I switched to a narrow bore opening eartips that helped me shape a sound back to my preferred sound signature.
The first impression when you start listening to DITA Answer is the amazing positioning and imaging with literally 3D placement of instruments and vocals, complimented with a rather big staging in both width and depth. And I was able to achieve this even without amping! The sound is full of airiness; very impressive considering these only have a small pinhole opening in each shell rather than some fancy semi-open design. The overall sound characteristics is neutrally balanced with a borderline reference quality, but it's not your boring "neutral" sound. The sound is full of life, energy, and micro-details with a very engaging quality that draws you right into the music. The layering and separation of frequencies felt like a multi-driver IEM. Bass was shining with quality where quantity wasn't exaggerated and somewhat controlled by tip rolling. Also, it was present only when called upon and had an extension going down to sub-bass level with a pleasant rumble and a fast mid-bass punch. I think the fast nature of these drivers becomes even more evident when you analyze retrieval of bass details. Next, mids are well controlled with lower mids separated from the bass and adding a nice level of full body details, and upper mids providing an equal amount of details and clarity while still sounding organic and not too bright. I found vocal delivery to be smooth but not a typical warm dynamic driver smooth, but rather more toward BA driver bright-smooth. Treble has a nice extension, sparkly and airy, very revealing, and yet not harsh or peaking. I found it to be great for non-fatigue extended listening.
Overall, just saying that I was impressed with DITA Answer would be an understatement. I used to be a strong believer that over $400-$500 price range you are dealing with diminishing returns on your headphone investment, meaning the price goes up exponentially but the level of improvement is not on the same level. Here, DITA Answer proved me wrong. When I look at the other multi-driver and hybrid IEMs in the $300-$500 range I have tested, I can honestly tell you that sound quality, design, and flexibility of DITA Answer justifies its price. I haven't dived into a world of CIEMs yet, so it's hard to tell if DITA Answer would be an absolute end-game headphone for me. But in comparison to my quad BA driver UE900 and W40 or my beloved triple BA driver ATH-IM03 (with silver-plated cable) - I can guarantee that Answer's sound quality, level of detail retrieval, separation and layering, amazing imaging/spacing, and super comfortable fitment makes their value to be worth double of the others. I'm not quite sure about The Truth edition of the Answer since I'm afraid their $350 cable upgrade will brighten the sound to a level beyond my tolerance, but The Answer is definitely an amazing value!
Here are the pictures.