Pros: Build, enveloping sound
Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my new favorite budget IEM. Most recently, it was the MEElectronics CW31 with its warm woody sound, but it has been dethroned by a new challenger. What’s the catch? It really doesn’t do anything technically perfect. If that’s so, why is it so good in my opinion? Well, honestly, I DUNU, but the DUNU Tridents just…work. Wait! I can explain!
But first, the readers always need some appetizers before the main course.
The packaging of the Tridents is quite nice, but it’s way too similar to the Turbine Pro packaging than I’d like, mostly because the DUNU packaging is so much cheaper-feeling than the Monster version. However, one has to keep in mind that the Tridents are 10% of the Copper MSRP. But since the opportunity arises, I’ll scrutinize the packaging and compare it to the Monster packaging. Skip this if you simply do not care, but I find the situation rather funny.
I find Monster’s presentation pretty much my favorite IEM packaging of any kind. I find it reasonable that DUNU makes an homage to it, but it really feels underwhelming in comparison. The thickness of the DUNU cardboard is about a third of the thickness of the Monster cardboard. In addition, the Turbine flap folds away from the box quite nicely due to a different method of folding out. There are two different sections. In contrast, the DUNU flap seems to want to take the box with it. It’s really not a big deal, but I wanted to hopefully get DUNU to fix this issue. I doubt a thicker gauge cardboard for their boxes would cost more than a dollar, and would really make the IEM’s package seem more upscale. At this point, it screams “Chinese crap,” which this really isn’t.
Where the similarities end, however, is how the IEM’s look. I heartily applaud DUNU for creating an IEM whose housing is completely different from any other IEM I’ve seen. There may be a slight similarity to the Monster Butterfly IEM’s, but it’s a stretch. I have found that many reviews have neglected to mention the finer details of the housing, which I will state, simply because I am awestruck by how nice they look for $40. The housings themselves are made of seamless titanium, as stated on the box flap (more on this in the conclusion; I have a proposition for the guys at DUNU). By seamless, I mean it; the nozzle is made from the same piece of titanium as the rest of the housing. I don’t know of any other IEM made of titanium, and for a $40 product, it’s pretty cool. In addition, the titanium housings have a machined ribbed design—even cooler. The back of the IEM prominently displays a big distinctive D, which many fellow students have asked me about, along with a gold plated outer ring.
As far as the build goes, I’m quite sure that they’ll be able to last a lot of abuse. I commend DUNU for basically over-engineering the Tridents. The strains on the housing side are the slightest bit too stiff, but the Y split and nice-looking plug are A-OK. The cable is sufficiently beefy, and hasn’t been too tangle-prone in my experience.
So I’ve been gushing about how they look, but that’s really not important since they’re in your ears where they’re impossible to see. The sound portion is next. This test involves a NaNite N2, and, for tehlulz, the Burson HA160D I have on loan to test how much they scale up.
For the lazy, the general sound signature is on the warm side, with occasionally peaky treble and slightly recessed midrange. The bass doesn’t reach impressively low and warms the lower midrange up almost too much. Do read the conclusion though, because that gives a better description of why I like the sound.
For the rest of you, a more detailed version, straight from the N2 (the Burson will come later):
The treble with the Tridents really isn’t all that impressive. Pianos lose their luster on the upper end, and flutes sound flat and dull as well. The treble really doesn’t extend very much, and drops off pretty quickly. At times, they can get shrill, especially with soprano vocals and the highest trumpet notes. Basically, they have lower treble issues.
The midrange is really a mixed bag. Most will find the midrange underwhelming at best because they are rather warmed up on the lower end, and plain funky on the upper end. Heck, they can even be called recessed .The Tridents have some weird coloration on the upper end that’s basically an acquired taste. I remember my old Audio Technica A500’s had a similar colorization. (Actually, they have similar midranges all around. I remember the A500’s had a slightly recessed midrange, even after modding, along with a warmed up lower midrange.) The Tridents’ lower midrange is, as stated, somewhat warm. This gives male vocals and lower instruments a body that is welcoming, but not as full as the MEElectronics CW31.
The Tridents seem to really like drums. They have a wonderful sense of portraying drum sets with surprising accuracy, especially bass drums, allowing for excellent space and air around it. It’s quite shocking actually, how nice bass drums sound—tympanis too. Bass (guitar) gets slightly muddled up with faster riffs—the Tridents are a slow IEM sadly. This seems to be a common drawback with cheap dynamics. For electronic, it also slightly suffers due to its slowness, but it’s listenable. I certainly wouldn’t pick it as my first genre for the Tridents though.
The soundstage is slightly above average as I never get any true out-of-headness with the Tridents, but positioning is better than most. Detail is rather iffy, as the treble is much too funky to extract any upper end detail, and timbre isn’t really its strong suit due to its strange upper midrange.
Now, for the section I’m sure everybody is at least slightly curious about: how do they scale up with an amp that’s 25 times more expensive than the IEM’s? Well, they do improve quite nicely. The bass tightens up to something that’s very manageable, without the muddiness I complained about. The midrange is a bit more forward, but still recessed. Sadly, none of the tonality issues are fixed. They still sound colored. Good think I like the coloration…
So where are we now? Well, the Trident is a very strange IEM. It doesn’t really do anything…right in a technical sense, however, as an IEM to just listen to, it is by far my favorite. Why you may ask? The Tridents just portray music in a sense that’s easy to listen to. They’re engaging in a way that makes one just get lost in the music and chill out in the enveloping bass and upper midrange that makes vocals ever-so-slightly more intimate than most would be comfortable with—female voices are, in a way, voluptuous. Let’s be honest. These are $40 IEM’s. Nobody expects the best of anything for $40. They expect an IEM they can just listen to, and the DUNU Tridents are just that.
As an addendum for DUNU, the English translations on the Trident box are absolutely horrendous. I’m willing to offer to fix the English translations for you guys for free—well, I may want to test some products for my trouble…I’m sorry, but the poor translation further contributes to the “Chinese crap” stigma ignorant people may give this product. With a good translation, they can learn to shut up.
For example, the box says (and I’ll include a better translation after):
-Loaded with high grade full frequency unit, it enhances the detailed of bass and presents crisp and crystal in mid and treble. It also provides you the high sound quality and the best recognition. (Full frequency dynamic driver presents detailed bass, crisp midrange, and crystal clear treble for excellent sound quality and enhanced detail)
-The earphone is designed with highly covered and sound leaking proof which can block the outer noises and only preserves the sound you desire (The housing is fully sealed to block outside noise, leaving only you and your music (this can be fixed to remove tense shift, but this sounds more presentable))
-With DUNU’s patent technology (F.R.E.S), the full frequency enhancing system, it presents you rich dynamic and extraordinary full range music incisively and vividly (F.R.E.S., DUNU’s patented technology, presents rich, dynamic, and extraordinary full-sounding music vividly and accurately)
And so on.