Also not an expert on stains, but I have had my share of staining attempts over the years, some more successful than others. A couple of things I have learned
1 - the stain is never as dark on the wood as it is in the container, especially on oak. If when you said you got the perfect color, you determined this by how it looked in the container, you need to go with much darker stains.
2 - the way to get the darkest stain is to make sure you apply plenty of stain and leave it on the wood as long as possible. Higher quality stains will have finer pigments, which will absorb better.
3 - gel stains tend to stain darker than liquid stains and give you better color control. I think they must be a cross between a glaze and a stain, because they work better on top of other finishes.
I can't speak at all to dies because I have never used them, but my understanding is in line with what has already been said.