About the Author
Eddie Hsueh is a hobbyist and reviewer from Taiwan who has been an active, prominent member in some Asian audio circles for over 10 years. In this review, he shares his thoughts on DITA Audio's new OSLO cable, delving into how it stands out from his own cable collection, talking a little bit about the Z1R x OSLO pairing and taking a dip into the nature of the OSLO contact enhancer.
Click here to see the original review (in traditional chinese)
Translated by Asher Yeo Xin-Yi
As earphone manufacturers go, DITA Audio is quite the outlier. In an industry ruled by colourful BA CIEMs with custom faceplates, DITA focuses on a single product type, the dynamic driver. All of DITA’s products are powered by dynamic drivers of different makes and materials, installed in different chassis. This fact is also quite apparent from their creatively built Canjam Singapore booths each year.
OSLO is short for Oil-Soaked Long-Crystal Oxygen-Free. Its conductors are made of oxygen-free copper (OFC) from Japan.
Comparing the sonic properties of OFC to OCC, the listener might notice that OFC sounds less detailed, slightly warmer and more fluid in nature.
Because of the way the copper is formed, OFC tends to have boundaries between its crystals, leading to flaws and impurities mixed in with the material. OCC on the other hand, tends not to have grain boundaries and possesses a higher level of purity.
Despite many Japanese manufacturers seizing on the OCC as the audiophile’s choice and using OCC in many of their products (Wagnus’ Silence Sheep, Brise Audio’s Yatono and Rozenkranz) many hobbyists still love Japan’s OFC for its warmer, gentler nature.
In the OFC vs OCC question, its often not about what’s right or wrong, but merely a question of preference.
Differences Between OCC and OFC
OSLO is made from a Long Crystal OFC known as PC Triple-C, this concept dates back to 1975 when
Hitachi created its own method to reduce grain boundaries.
Extruded copper is heated and cooled, caurisng the grains and crystals within the copper to become larger and longer, reducing impurities trapped between grain boundaries, making it a cut above normal OFC.
Another thing that differentiates OSLO from its competition is that the conductors have been soaked in a squalene oil containing gold and silver nanoparticles that fill in any tears and flaws that may have appeared on the cable on a micro-scale. The effect of this oil can be compared to Furutech’s contact enhancer.
The OSLO cables comes with the Awesome plug outfitted with a 3.5 single-ended connector. Also in the package are 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced connectors with a bottle of DITA Audio’s own contact enhancer. The splitter is a round metal disk with no visible screws, the cable itself is also soft and pliable, formed of 4 copper wires of 30 AWG each.
I have quite a lot of cables myself and so I initially wanted to compare the OSLO cable with cables of other materials. Perhaps the Toxic Medusa 17 and the Crystal Cable Double Duet with their Gold and Silver alloys, the Toxic Gold Widow with its gold-plated alloy and the silver Crystal Cable Double Duet. Or perhaps the mixed Aegis 8 and NUNDU. But these cables are far too different in character from copper cables and so I felt that doing these comparisons wouldn’t be particularly meaningful.
So I’ve decided to use the copper cables in my collection, in the OCC corner we have the PWAudio 1960k and Toxic BW22 V2. In the OFC corner we have AG’s Black Panther.
Player: Lotoo Paw Gold Touch
Cables: DITA OSLO/ Toxic BW22 V2/ Audio Genetic Black Panther/ PWaudio 1960k
The DITA OSLO vs the Toxic BW22 V2
We begin with Toxic’s BW22 V2. This is a type 4 OCC Cryo 7N Copper Litz wire with a 22 circumference. It’s one of the best cables I’ve ever heard when it comes to resolution, detail and the extension of mids.
Listening to Fly Me to the Moon with the BW22 V2, the strumming in the introduction is clean and clear, with a large soundstage. The vocals are appropriately centred, despite being slightly recessed, with beautiful extended highs.
Switching to the OSLO cable, the instrumentals in the introduction become more fluid albeit with a smaller soundstage, Olivia’s vocals are moved forward, becoming gentler and sweeter with a bit of warmth. The resolution of the OSLO cable is on par with that of the BW22 V2. While the extension of the BW22’s highs are more extravagant, the OSLO cable’s highs stop at a point, but prove to be smoother than the BW22’s.
I’m a bit surprised at the OSLO’s performance here, when I pit other OFC cables, like the Wagnus Silence Sheep and Brise Audio’s Yatono against the OCC BW22 V2, I’m left feeling like their resolution is a bit on the low side, glossing over a lot of detail. The aforementioned two do have their own character, but the OSLO succeeds in maintaining its resolution and succeeds in holding its own against the BW22 without sounding weaker while, at the same time enhancing the mids and warming the vocals ever so slightly.
Switching to to Adele to look at the bass performance of the OSLO, it’s more spread out and is neither deep nor shallow. However, when the picks up pace, it seems apparent that the bass is slightly slowed, making Adele’s voice lose a bit of the explosiveness she’s known for. The BW22’s bass, while also spread out, extends down more naturally, and is slightly faster and brighter.
Having listened to this song countless times with different cables, the soundstage that the BW22 presents is also wider.
DITA OSLO vs Audio Genetic Panther Black
AG Panther Black’s character is typical of OFC cables, the vocals are airy but forward, the mids are warm and smooth but the sound is coherent and the extension of the highs is ideal. It’s more mid centric than the Brise Audio Yatono. The Yatono, however, has more character and more coherence.
Switching to OSLO, it becomes apparent that it performs better in terms of resolution while retaining its own unique character, its low-mids sit fat and forward with sweet gentle highs that make for a comfortable listening experience, with its only drawback being its slightly smaller soundstage.
DITA OSLO vs PWaudio 1960k
When pitting the OSLO against PWaudio’s 1960k, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two at first listen. Both cables belong to the more relaxed category, the 1960k loses out in the vocals department with the OSLO’s vocals being sweeter and more prominent. However the 1960k is more relaxed in general with a large soundstage where the OSLO is more focused.
The OSLO’s unique character becomes apparent after a few comparisons. It is a cable with great bass distribution, with sweet, prominent mids and natural highs, all while maintain a great sense of resolution. However it’s soundstage is smaller than the cables we’ve compared the OSLO cable. Perhaps owing to the effect of the OFC and the nanoparticle oil, the OSLO seems to fuse the merits of the BW22V2 and the 8-wireBlack Panther. The OSLO possesses vocals that are sweet, a sound that is easy on the ears and good resolution. However if you’re often listening to tracks with instrumentals with lightning-fast changes, symphonies which require a large soundstage or rock music with noisy instruments you might want to go for a cable made of a gold-silver alloy instead.
The OSLO goes well with high-resolution balanced armature earphones, these can help improve the hights and make the mids feel fuller. The OSLO cable goes well with SONY IER-Z1R: I’m posting the impressions I’ve previously posted on the group here.
The OSLO cable with the SONY IER-Z1R
My first impression of this pairing is that Olivia’s vocals seem sweeter, warmer and more forward. The sound is still characteristic of OFC cables, save for the fact that it seems to be more coherent with a more natural extension of the highs, the soundstage is natural and it maintains most of the details. I think I prefer it to the 3rd Wagnus Sheep cable, it’s no wonder its so popular. However CCDD is faster and Leonidas II is slightly more delicate in way it handles sound, with a bigger soundstage.
In conclusion The OSLO cables helps soften the harshness of the Z1R, warming and enhancing the vocals while keeping resolution intact.
DITA OSLO Contact Enhancer
The words “AG+AU Nanoparticle infused” and “made in Japan” are printed on the label.
Around 10 years ago, I shared my experience with the Furutech contact enhancer on Andaudio, back then we didn’t really have cables to try the enhancer on, everyone was using it on RCA Connectors, HiFi cable connectors as long as it’s a connector, the enhancer can be used.
I’m not quite sure how the DITA contact enhancer is different from the Furutech one, my Furutech contact enhancer is all dried up, perhaps I’ll buy another bottle when I have a chance.
DAP: Lotoo Paw Gold Touch 4.4 Balanced
Earphones: SONY IER-Z1R
Cables: SONY’s stock cable
I tried out the contact enhancer on the 4.4mm balanced connector, it leaves a coffee coloured film when you’re done. There’s no need to apply too much, and a little goes a long way. The contact enhancer doesn’t seem to dry easily,: I found this out when I left the liquid to set for for 5 minutes but it still comes off on my fingers when I touch it.
I couldn’t wait any longer and connected it straight to the LPGT.
The difference is substantial. The same Olivia Ong song on the SONY IER-Z1R now has markedly fuller vocals, the highs sound smoother and there seems to be slightly more detail, other elements remained largely unchanged. Plugging in is a breeze. If I have time in the future, I’d love to try the contact enhancer on other connectors. Other Z1R + OSLO owners can give this a try too!
The contact enhancer proved to be effective even after being dried overnight, this effect however will fade as the cable is connected and disconnected. With approximately 10 rounds of plugging and unplugging, the dried film begins to flake and the effect becomes greatly reduced.
Some hobbyists have suggested applying the contact enhancer on the earphone-end connectors instead, if you’re not into swapping cables regularly, the contact enhancer will stay on for longer. I've also found it quite ideal for home audio products, it can be used on the OPA and female connectors for better effect.
These are just some of my personal thoughts, feel free to take them as you will!