Being somewhat well-known, it is not unusual for me to be approached by manufacturers at the Tokyo headphone festivals, ushered into an empty corridor or behind the banners at a manufacturer’s display and asked to look at or try a prototype of an up-coming product. I’ve even been accosted in this manner in a headphone store in Tokyo the day before one of the festivals by someone who recognised me.
A couple of years ago a pair of gentlemen, Danny and Desmond from Singapore approached me to ask if I’d try a pair of in-ear monitors they were going to manufacture. Round, like a large pill, with an nozzle exiting at 45 degrees to one side, they fitted simply and sounded good enough with my current variety of music types that I said I’d take them on the spot as they were. Not only was it unusual to find a prototype of an upcoming product from a new company that seemed to get it right, but also to meet two people whom, with everything they spoke, were completely sensible with an excellent attitude.
Fast forward to today and DITA’s The Answer IEMs made a significant mark, especially in their home country, not the least for the non-detachable, Van Den Hul cable on The Truth edition. I asked Danny some time ago if he’d ever offer the cable separately and he was reluctant, but as the demand had gotten to the point that people were modifying his IEMs for this purpose, he decided he’d rather do it himself than see customers butchering their own solution.
What is more, as there were now multiple different IEM connectors on the market, he wanted to develop a system that allowed the plugs to be detached and replaced. The result of that is The Dream cables.
The cable itself is designed by Van Den Hul using their 3T technology at the core, surrounded by either silver extruded over copper, or copper*. which is likewise designed to be mechanically reliable even when wound tightly. Physically the cable is very rubbery and holds its shape well, which is necessary for it to sit well around the ears. Adjustments can be made by heating it with a hair dryer, though in use, if you examine the top of the splitter, you’ll find that it is a slidable choker. One major plus of the cable is that it is completely silent. It doesn’t transmit any noise to the ear pieces when touched or rubbing.
Compared to the original plug on The Answer IEMs, The Dream cable can be ordered with either straight or right-angle plug adaptors. The plug has 4 small pins inside of an open-notched and threaded section, while the cable has gold plated sockets for the pins, while itself acting as a plug. A screw head then slides over the assembly to attach everything. This makes it slightly bulky, but with the good fit-and-finish attached comfortably and easily and seems reasonably robust.
I used a prototype of the cables on a pair of Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (UERMs) for some time, then the final production version on the Campfire Audio Andromedas and Vegas. Compared to the stock cable, the DITA Dream cable was a sonic upgrade, the basic “silver” version having a sonically neutral affect on the tone, while seeming to allow the treble to come through with more of a “black” background, as if any harshness that was present with the stock cable had been removed. This made it a perfect match with the UERMs.
The cable was also a nice upgrade for the Campfire Audio IEMs. They already ship with a good cable, but the DITA Dream cable not only made it convenient to switch between listening with the Astell&Kern DAPs in balanced mode, and the Chord Mojo and Hugo 2 without having to worry about wearing out the connections on the IEMs themselves.
The “copper” version then, in turn, gave the IEMs a very slightly “warmer” presentation. While I don’t know the mechanism that causes this, I’ve seen quite a few people go for silver and gold IEM cables for similar reasons, so this alternative may be of interest to people who want to fine tune the IEMs they use this way.
Since I have the Campfire Audio IEMs here, I compared the Dream cable to ALO Audio’s Reference 8 cable for IEMs. There was very little between them, but the Reference 8 gave a slightly greater sense of space to the music and extended at both ends, much like my tube amps do, whereas the DITA cable reminded me of my Audio-gd amps, and Headamp Pico Power, which are more “flat neutral” in presentation.
Overall though, while a bit chunky, especially on the small and neat Vegas, the DITA Dream cable with its unique plug is a very good, if quite expensive accessory and a great example of the kind of quality product that the DITA guys and Van Den Hul are known for.
*One of the important aspects of how Van Den Hul makes cables is their process of applying silver to copper without using electroplating.