There are two major differences between a great vintage Strat® pickup and an average one: treble response and dynamics. A great pickup is clear and bright, but not thin-sounding. A great one makes the sound jump out of the amp when you pick hard and drop way down when you play softly, and the tone varies when the string is picked at different spots. The best pickup we've ever heard like this was from 1958, and that's what inspired the Area 58™, with two major differences. DiMarzio's Area 58 pickup has way less magnet pull for killer sustain, and virtually no hum.
The DiMarzio DP415 Area 58™ Strat pickup has obvious similarities to the Virtual Vintage® 2.1 it replaces, but there are several non-visible performance factors that have changed. Dynamic range and string definition are greatly increased, leading to improvements in both clean chord-playing and overdriven soloing. The Area 58™ is very sensitive to small height adjustment differences: close to the strings produces a fatter, slightly compressed blues tone and further away yields crystal clean sounds.
The final improvement is in noise reduction. All of the original Virtual Vintage® pickups had better hum cancellation than full-size humbuckers, but the Area 58™ is even quieter.