Pros: Bass, Separation, Soundstage, Overall Sound, Accessories
Cons: Cheap Inside Box, Non-detachable Cable
Dunu has been in the audio industry for a while now as an OEM/ODM supplier but only recently have they started making earphones for themselves. A lot of their IEM models are metal and they have quite a reputation on Head-Fi, many reviewers praising their lower end models for their awesome build and their value for money. Anyway, recently Dunu introduced a new model into their product line, the DN-1000, and that is what I will be reviewing today. The DN-1000 is their new flagship and costs just over $200 and is the model above their previous flagship, the DN-19 (Tai-Chi).
It all started when Dunu generously arranged a giveaway on Head-Fi which I entered and luckily, won. So I would like to say a huge thanks to Rocky from Dunu for arranging this. For a long time there have been ongoing debates as to whether BAs or dynamic drivers are better. Personally, I have always preferred BAs because they have more detailed, but I always had a soft spot for dynamic drivers’ bass. Because of this, I am particularly fond of hybrids and the best IEM I have heard is the 1plus2, which also happens to be a hybrid using the TWFK drivers + a dynamic driver like the DN-1000. For this reason, I have been quite intrigued by Dunu’s new offering.
**Disclaimer** I won these in a giveaway and this review will be as unbiased as possible. Thanks, of course, to Dunu.
Unboxing & Accessories
The DN-1000 came in nice box sealed with plastic wrap, which is nice. Tearing the wrap off, you then slide out the inner box which is actually rather hard. The inner black box feels rather cheap but once you open up the box, all is forgotten because you are greeted with the wonderful DN-1000 and the case. Taking the compartment off, there is the rest of the accessories and a few manuals. Overall, the unboxing experience isn’t special in any way, but it certainly isn’t bad.
Surely, the DN-1000 has to have the most accessories that I have ever seem come with an IEM. First, there is the metal TF-10 style case (which is actually my favourite IEM case). Then, there are a ton of tips, the metal rings, the sot pouch, a shirt clip and the ear loops. I actually don’t use any of the tips because I think that the Heir tips are better and sound more spacious. I also prefer the cable without the ear loops. Also, I use the red filters because I feel like those have the most spacious sound and the largest soundstage. Dunu certainly made sure there are enough accessories for everyone!
I feel like you really do need a better source and quite a bit of juice to make the DN-1000s shine. Through a smartphone or an extremely entry level Clip+ they sounded quite lifeless and dull. The iPod Nano + E6 was a step up, but they really started to shine when I tried them on my DX50. The superior clarity, soundstage and separation really started to show. On my Clip+, everything sounded a bit closed in and they really didn’t show the potential of the Dunus at all. Also, on better sources the bass became harder hitting and faster with no bloat whatsoever.
I would recommend at least something like an X3 or RoCoo BA for these. They do not sound good with lesser sources. This review was done using the DX50 with the red/pink rings and “Heir” tips.
Design, Isolation & Cable
The DN-1000 reminds me a bit of the RHA MA750 that I reviewed recently. It has a metal body and a brushed silver Dunu logo. They can be worn both straight down and over the ear, but I prefer wearing them over the ear because that way they are less microphonic and you don’t have to use a shirt clip. Another thing I have to mention is the incredible build quality – it is simply the best I have ever seen on an IEM. I don’t feel nervous about breaking the Dunus like I do with other IEMs since they are all metal. They don’t seem to scratch easily either. However, they are a bit heavy because they do, after all, have a metal enclosure but it doesn’t fall out of my ear or anything so that is not a problem.
The isolation is about average and surprisingly, there was no vent, none that I could find anyway. These are fine for public transport and should be fine on a plane (will get to test that soon) but you can’t really hear the music playing at normal volumes when mowing the lawn. It is probably just ahead the MA750 and the GR07, both vented dynamic driver IEMs. I think these would be something like a 3.5 on ljokerl’s IEM review chart.
The cable is very nice and easy to use. I is soft and has just about no memory effect which is a huge plus for me. The thing about cables with memory effect is that after putting them in a case for a while, you have to straighten them out again which can be a bit annoying. The plug is a 45 degree one and gold plated with nice strain relief. One thing that is a bit concerning is the lack of strain relief on the Y-split and on the part that connects to the housing. It really should be fine though and nobody seems to have had any cable issues. One of the better cables I have seen.
No matter how good the build quality or how good a headphone looks, it really boils down to how good they sound (with the exception of Beats). I’ve heard quite a few IEMs that looks great and has good build quality but sounds pretty bad, but the Dunu certainly isn’t one of those. Just like all of my other reviews, the sound section will be divided into three main sections – the bass, midrange and treble followed by a few others like accuracy, detail, soundstage and imaging. Here we go!
I must admit I really love well done dynamic driver bass and the DN-1000 has definitely done the bass right! As I mentioned in the introduction, I prefer BAs generally, but for bass I like dynamics more and the DN-1000s really reminded me why. It hits hard but it still stays extremely fast, only lagging just behind the UM Miracle, which does not hit nearly as hard. It has about the same impact as the MA750 but it is much faster and has a lot better detail. The sub-bass really does rumble when it is needed, but I have never encountered the sub-bass or mid bass bleeding into the midrange or blocking details. Compared to another hybrid, the $400 Astrotec AX60, the bass isn’t as heavy and I find it a lot cleaner. Personally I prefer the DN-1000’s bass, but the AX-60’s bass has great potential if it was EQed down a bit. Compared to the RDB v1, it is not as good, but the RDB v1 is 3 times the price. Overall, I feel like the bass is probably the highlight of this IEM and I have yet to find an IEM which does bass better than the DN-1000 under $400.
Here is where the BAs start kicking in and man, are the mids nice! From the 1plus2 and the AX60, which also utilise a dynamic driver and a TWFK, I really expected the mids to be recessed, but to my relief this wasn’t the case at all (I don’t like a too recessed midrange). Never have I ever found them to be recessed or veiled and that is quite a feat that even the Miracles can’t achieve on some occasions. Don’t get me wrong, the mids aren’t forward by any means, but rather they are quite neutral and certainly very natural. I feel like the vocals lean slightly to the thinner side, which happens to be my preference and reminds me of my Miracles. At very high volumes, ones that you probably shouldn’t be listening at anyway, there was very slight vocal sibilance, but it’s no big deal. Vocal clarity is extremely good and you can hear the singer breathe. Instruments have a natural timbre to them and are just behind the vocals. The midrange is absolutely exceptional on the DN-1000 and I love the tonality and positioning of the performers.
On all TWFK based driver IEMs the treble has been rather prominent and on some, a little out of control. A quick search on the internet for the DN-1000’s frequency graph yielded no results, but I can tell you that the DN-1000 has the most subdued treble out of all the TWFK driver IEMs that I have heard. How, this is not to say the treble is rolled off or anything, just that all the TWFK IEMs I have heard are mostly overly bright and the DN-1000 is closer to neutral. I feel like the treble is slightly less bright than my Miracles which are a bit bright, so these are probably just on neutral. Cymbals have very good decay and I haven’t experienced and sibilance yet, which is a huge relief because I was expecting some sibilance at least considering this is a TWFK driver IEM. The treble is still controlled at high volumes and doesn’t hurt your ears like the B2. I really think that the treble is very detailed, but it is quite forgiving of crappy MP3 tracks, much more so than my Miracles or the much more expensive 1plus2 anyway. Overall, I really enjoyed the treble, but I really do long for just that tiny bit of extra sparkle.
I have always been a fan of all the hybrids’ way of presenting music to the listener. All of the dynamic + TWFK IEMs I have heard (excluding the disastrous RDB 2v1) have presented music in a rather realistic way.
The soundstage is impressive (more on that later) You really do feel like the music is presented on a stage in front of you, but I can’t help but feel like some songs like “Lose Yourself To Dance” by Daft Punk have parts that feel like they are kind of in your head and not out in front, but that doesn’t bother me at all. Although these are actually quite detailed, these do not overwhelm you for detail. These are great when I just want to chill out and just enjoy the music.
There are two ways of perceiving accuracy – one is to see how neutral a headphone is and the other is to see natural and how realistic it sounds.
Straight away, I can tell you that if you are craving a neutral sound signature, these are definitely not for you. The bass is too heavy for it to even be considered neutral, but the midrange and treble are actually quite flat.
As for the latter option, the DN-1000 certainly does strike me as extremely natural and realistic sounding. I feel like drum beats need a slight boost to sound realistic and the DN-1000 does exactly that. Instruments are all very good and rendered realistically; classical music also sounds good. The DN-1000 really does sound good with a wide variety of music, and is not too revealing of badly mastered tracks.
From what you have read on this review, you may be under the impression that the DN-1000 is not detailed, but that it not the case at all. Yes, it doesn’t have the smallest microdetails present in the 1plus2 and my Miracles, but I don’t expect them to. Actually, from memory these seem to be slightly more detailed than the Astrotec AX60 which is almost twice as expensive. It does accomplish quite a feat by being detailed yet not fatiguing at all and not being too revealing of badly mastered tracks. The DN-1000 is very detailed, but just not so much as the top IEMs like the RDB v1. Upon the first listen they didn’t strike me as very detailed, but instead letting the details slowly sink in. It is great for just enjoying the music and not over analysing it like I do sometimes with my Miracles.
First of all, let’s talk about vocal separation. Some of you may know that I use a few of Fun.’s songs to test this and these certainly did very well, significantly better than anything under $200 including the MA750. These did better than my AX7 which I found had very impressive vocal separation. Considering that these are less than $50 more than the AX7, I feel like this is a significantly better value. The DN-1000 passed this with ease.
Regarding instrument separation, it is even a step above vocal separation, which is quite a feat. I hardly ever found these congested and testing them on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” track, these were only a tiny bit more congested than my Miracles. I will be testing them against the AX60 and perhaps the H-200 soon and I will post my findings on the DN-1000 thread.
Clarity & Transparency
As for clarity, these really surprised me because for some reason I was expecting these to be a bit dark and rather warm. The level of clarity is very good, especially vocals, where you hear just about every minute detail. The bass also has no bloat at all, not muddying things up. Overall, the DN-1000’s clarity is well out of its price range.
Sometimes music can sound like there is a blanket covering your ears, which results in a sort of veiled sound. I am happy to confirm that the DN-1000 doesn’t have that, but its transparency isn’t as good as the more expensive AX60. It’s not bad for its price range though.
Soundstage & Imaging
As mentioned above I am really impressed with the large soundstage. I feel like Dunu have really hit it out of the park with the soundstage, making it very wide with very good depth. Except for the fact that sometimes the music feels in your head (headstage), the soundstage on these is very big, but from memory not as large as the AX60, but I might be wrong.
Another highlight of the DN-1000 is definitely the superb imaging; it is certainly the best that I have heard under $300. On very congested tracks it is not hard to point out where everything is. The imaging is really top notch!
I must say that my short journey with the DN-1000 has been one heck of a ride and finally, it is time for me to end this long review. I find that they are a great buy, especially considering that these are the cheapest dynamic + TWFK driver IEM out there right now. They sound great and the bass, soundstage and clarity really does stand out. If you are a basshead who enjoys bass, likes clear mids and neutral, well-extended highs, than these are a great choice. Thanks once again to Dunu.