Pros: Overall sound quality, Massive selection of accessories
Cons: Upper midrange is a bit recessed, tip rolling limited
First of all, I would like to thank DUNU for choosing me as the winner of a contest to receive a free pair of DN-1000s.
The DUNU DN-1000 is a part of a relatively new and evolving class of IEMs, known as “hybrid” IEMs because they have not only balanced armatures but also dynamic drivers inside. In most cases, the dynamic driver is assigned to the bass, and the balanced armatures to the mids and treble. The DN-1000s are no different. It’s hard enough to make a good sounding IEM using just a dynamic driver or one balanced armature; adding more drivers (especially dynamics and BAs mixed together) has more of a risk of ruining the sound quality, but has bigger rewards such as better high/low frequency extension and better overall sound quality. From what I can hear, the DN-1000s definitely fall in the latter category.
What’s in the box:
The box for the DN-1000s is fairly bland and Engrishey, but the amount of accessories they include in the box is simply staggering. While it does kind of feel like they just threw a bunch of tips in the box without fully testing them to see how they affected the frequency response of the IEM, or if they even fit at all (the foam tips were really tough to get off the IEMs, and I received three medium tips of one type, and only one large tip), you shouldn’t have a problem finding some tips to fit your ears.
The housings on the DN-1000 are some sort of shiny metal. It doesn’t feel like it’s made of any particularly indestructible material, but it also doesn’t feel like wrapped up tin foil either. The housings are relatively large, and do stick out of your ear a bit. I wouldn’t sleep with these in my ears, and I would also advise those with smaller ear canals to try and demo these before purchasing, because the shells can be quite large and obtrusive, especially if the included rings are not used.
There is a complete lack of any sort of rib to help hold the tips on the IEM shells (probably so that the o-ring system could be implemented), which makes the tip rolling for the DN-1000s quite limited. If any other tips are used and you can actually get them on the bore, they will probably fall off. I will also go ahead and say it now, but I think the o-ring system is a good idea in theory, but without them, there is no way these will be comfortable in very many people’s ears. They still aren’t the most comfortable to my ears, but they are tolerable for a few hours.
The cable is the same one I’ve seen on the DUNU DN-23s. It’s not very thick and feels like it may eventually break, but it’s nice and soft and doesn’t retain very much memory. The strain relief on the housings is fairly small, but it looks like it should do its job. The Y-split is nice but has no strain relief on either side. The 3.5mm connector is 45 degrees, and while this isn’t my favorite angle for a headphone connector, it’s implemented fairly well. The strain relief allows the cable to bend a fair bit while also doing its job, so it could theoretically be bent into a 90-degree connector.
The isolation is above average for dynamics; I don’t see any major vents letting in a lot of outside noise, but since tip rolling really isn’t an option with the DN-1000s, I wasn’t able to try out Meelectronics tri-flange tips to really push the isolation to the limit. And honestly, with the bi-flange tips included, I thought the DN-1000s didn’t sound as good, so I never bothered seeing how good the isolation was.
Please note that the following sound quality impressions were taken with the single flange reinforced gray tips and red spacers.
Most IEMs I’ve heard that use balanced armatures don’t quite deliver enough punch for my tastes. The bass on the DUNU DN-1000s, however, is delivered by the dynamic driver. It’s a bit north of neutral and has fairly good punch, but generally stays in the sub-bass in the form of rumble. The real bass emphasis ends at the lowest notes of a bass guitar, so kick drums and deep bass lines on electronic, and the rest of the bass is fairly tame and controlled. I never heard it overpower or bleed into the midrange, probably because that’s where the balanced armatures kick in. This isn’t the most detailed bass, but it’s very fun and good for on-the-go listening.
The midrange is, for the most part, right where it should be. Instruments fairly natural and don’t sound distorted or out of place. Male vocalists sound clean but have the appropriate amount of heft to sound natural. My only complaint would be with the upper midrange and lower treble area, where female vocals are prominent. Like all the other TWFK IEMs I’ve heard, this area sounds a bit soft, and while female vocalists don’t necessarily sound recessed, they are lacking a bit of clarity and texture. This is a very common area to place a dip in the frequency response though. It seems for whatever reason that a lot IEMs put a cut in this area of the frequency response or have a painful spike further up in the treble response. Given the choice, I’d much rather take the dip in this area.
The treble is similar to the other TWFK-based IEMs I’ve heard and owned, such as the Heir 4A, Ultimeate Ears UE900 and Brainwavz B2. The first two are what I would classify as properly dampened TWFKs, with the latter being an example of an improperly dampened TWFK driver. When there isn’t enough dampening on the TWFK driver, there is a sharp spike in the 8-10k area that is quite painful to me and makes sibilance quite bad on most recordings that have any form of it. However, both the UE900 and 4A are dampened enough to dissipate this spike while retaining enough of an emphasis in this area to sound dynamic and exciting. So where does the DN-1000’s TWFK dampening lie in comparison? To my ears, they use almost exactly the same if not the same filter as the UE900s. While the treble isn’t quite as extended as in the UE900, the rest of the treble area sounds quite similar, which is great for the most part. While it does mean that in comparison to the bass and midrange the treble is a bit softer overall and isn’t the most detailed or clear sounding treble, it still retains enough of the 8-10khz elevation to sound “dynamic” and relatively clean and clear. While it doesn’t have the same detail level as some other IEMs that are brighter overall, it doesn’t lack clarity by any means, and those other brighter IEMs are either painful to listen to for long periods of time, or simply don’t have as much bass.
The only disadvantage to this TWFK treble is that sometimes the 8-10khz peak area can make some tracks sound a bit “steely”, or simply a bit artificial when compared to IEMs that do not have as much emphasis in this area.
To me, the DN-1000s have a fairly decent soundstage. It’s nothing that will blow your mind or make you think you’re listening to speakers, but it’s also better than the lower end IEMs I’ve heard at portraying a sense of space. I generally don’t write very much about soundstage though, since most of the music I listen to doesn’t have very much soundstage, and in-ear headphones have always sounded like in-ears to me…
The complimentary forum post can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/700957/dunu-dn-1000-review
~More to be added later, including any comparisons anyone wants me to make to anything I own~