Pros: Bassy sound but still packing detail in mids and highs
Cons: Slightly analytical with poor recordings. Cable SPC degrades over time.
Dunu by Top-Sound has been known to have popular budget IEM's throughout all tiers of the level. Dunu now steps it up a notch and has unveiled their Dynamic Flagship IEM the DN 19 Tai Chi. This IEM uses damper's to control the bass, different type tips, and insertion of tips to modify its sound. The DN 19 is part of DUNU's silver impact series. The silver impact series uses silver covered copper wires as it can be seen from the images.
Other Dunu's like the DN 17 have had such a solid metal build that it was actually a con. They weighed too much and thus dropped like rocks. This could cause damage and chips. The DN19's now take a hard plastic approach at the driver housing. The housing itself is extremely light but static. The nozel can not be moved around to fit different ears. I will get into this later. They do feel like they will get destroyed if they are stepped on hard however as it is just very light.
Microphonics are the annoying sound made by the cables.
The DN 19 are meant to be worn over ear with the guiders or without. It is nearly impossible to wear them without going over and behind the ears. There is thus little microphonics. Moving the chin slider up virtually eliminates the rest of the cable moving sound.I don't keep the chin slider all the way up to my chin. With the cable tight, I prefer it about 1.5 - 2 inches beneath my chin.
The problem is a bit widespread but not too large. The nozzle can not be moved and thus the shallow insertion, big driver housing, the housing "hump" near the nozzle and the immobile nozzle itself causes fit problems for some. Next, the damper port is also another cause. If you can see from the pic's below, they are right near your ear. They can prevent your ear form getting a seal.
Shallow or Deep insertion? You pick:
I am a user of Medium tips always. I thought I was seeing things when I found the medium tips to be quite small upon first sight. In reality, they are. They do create a seal of sorts but are more of the tip to just barely be inserted as a seal at all but kinda sit on the ear opening after being inserted. I am fine with this kind of seal but I found that the large tips of both the black and gray allowed for different sealant pattens. The gray's went farther into the ear and were more hard and responsive to expanding inside the ear. I did a wide variety of tips and choices. I found the shallow mediums to fit me best. Why? Dunu's(not just them) are a bit more prone to the diaphram vacuum. This is where on insertion, the backwards suction after the seal is created, the diaphgram will itself get compressed or sucked up You can hear this as a pop of air when insertion or de-sertion of the IEM's. The shallows allow a lesser rate of that happening. But as to what sounds better for whoever, it is your call.
They don't tangle as easily as the DN19 nor many other IEM's actually. It may be due to a different cable composition. The DN17 also part of silver impact series cable feels different.
They don't leak much. But they do let in some sound in. They didn't isolate as well as the deeper inserting IEM's like the TF10 or the ones using tougher driver material. The IEM driver assembly and housing itself is extremely light. Harley's do penetrate the DN19 even on loud volumes.
In ear Feel:
Excellent. The cable guides have a patent pending but with or without them, they fit well. The shallow insertion (general) and static fit may cause a problem with some. I myself have a personal problem where my right ear's opening is different from my left's. I myself prefer no cable guides while at the desk and cable guides while going for a jog.
The cable guides have caught onto the wire itself or other things a few times while pulling them out but it wasn't really annoying. The cable itself is just solid, slick, long enough to not be an annoyance in daily activities while still being just long enough for use with a desktop unit that may not be too close to you. However the dampers are a problem. I realized why they gave you over 10-20 after my first week using them. The driver damper port is too small to be machined accurately(read: cost effectively) and same with the dampers. And thus you literally screw in the dampers with a clockwise motion. This will take a few tries at first. However I have noticed that the dampers screw plastic mold will sometimes break. I have had this happen twice where they become useless because the screw mold is gone so they won't hold.
These do not need an amp for volume but they do exhibit noise on many amplifiers and units that even support its 16 Ohm impedance.
Very easy to drive but a bit sensitive to what amp or unit is used with it or else it will produce noise.
Sound Quality Introduction:
I was not deeply impressed with the DN 17 Crater but I am with the DN 19. The main lesson from the DN 19 is that Dunu can craft a beautiful looking, feature packed and good sounding IEM at a competitive price. Now before I reveal my thoughts, lets get into the part we all wanted to read.
A problem the DN 17 had was that its highs were all over the place and EXTREMELY bright and fatiguing. I wish to announce that the problem for the most part has been rectefied. It still is not as smooth as I want it to be but the DN 19 delivers crisp highs. It needs to smooth out some flucuations in the highs. They are crisp and articulate but don't go too too high either. This is good and bad. It depends on what type of person you are. Some can't stand highs that (don't have sonic problems) burn into your brain. And some want more. I have heard enough of IEM's and headphones that try to deliver highs on a tech sheet but don't go back to engineer them. And that is why for this range of a product, I will welcome an item that has an engineer high frequency range(yet one that doesn't sounds that high freq lovers will want)
But a problem that still remains un-rectified is the harshness that shouldn't be there at times. It doens't happen often but the Dunu's may still produce a very high ptiched sound that really is fatiguing and may not work for lower quality rock groups. (Rammstein, most punk rock etc).
The vocals are not overly forward. They are in between in the forward role and taking a backwards role. This also highly depends on the song but with practice one can put it at where it lies. I have to say that it would be one that is just slightly behind the mid based instruments and other parts of the track. They are clear and on the warm side. The bass can sometimes be so strong that while it won't muddy up the mids, it will make it a bit hard to "hear" what is being said. (Will talk about dampers later). It is a very sweet sounding vocal.
Very clear, seperated with good timbre. Some strings do come off a bit metallic or just streak off but for the majority of the time, the DN 19 produces instruments clearly and accurately. It is generally above the vocals and boy does the guitarist let you know that he is in the front.
The low freq range is not like a car bass. It isn't tight but just because a low freq responce is not tight in its execution mean it is more like a car bass. It punches along with a rumble and hit every now and then. I can't say that I dislike it as I listen to a lot of modern mainstream music(I tested with plenty of oldie favorites now). The mid bass and upper bass is extremely prevelant and has quite the rumble that will sometimes overtake the vocals and mids as the front row man(but won't distort them). They do have a decent sub bass extension that would do well with the IEM. It isn't specially deep but does create the sub rumble that accompanies the massively delicious bass on these IEM's.
Much more controlled. I may even say that the sub bass may itself be affected a bit negatively with it. For those that want less bass, this is a good solution as these things on bassy songs will really start rocking.
Dampers and gray tip combo:
Dunu recommends Dampers and gray tips for a more clear and "neutral" combo. That is exactly what they do. The dampers reduce and "engineers" the bass a bit and the deeper inserting gray tips seal off your ears but also make the entire mid range clearer. This has a negative consequence with it however. I found that with this combo and many others that I tried (dampers and black tips) that it would increase fatigue. Anything from the default dampers and medium tips will increase the fatigue that these produced. The mid instruments became more metallic with them and vocals a bit too bright for my liking. It would be up to your choice. Try them out.
These IEM's are a bit more on the analytical side even with the warm sound. It will sound bad with badly recorded tracks. Tracks that were recorded ok and play well with forgiving cans will also be a disaster with these. So pair them well.
The standard config of no damper and medium tips still provides a bit of fatigue to me. So they aren't totally perfect. The damper and gray tip combo proves worse with this.
This isn't a Dunu if they don't give a nice to decent soundstage to go along with it. From the moment you put in the IEM with a good fit, if you spent time with other IEM's you will notice the soundstage. It isn't a very large artificially spacey sounding one like the Monster Inspiration. It at first sounds a bit un natural to the ear as everything is moved farther away but after a few moments, you forget about it. I would say it is slightly above average and has nothing to really dislike about it. As a gamer, I welcome this.
The DN 19 Tai Chi proves that Dunu is stepping up its game. It is warm and fun sounding but also on the analytical side. I like to differentiate between earbuds and IEM's where the IEM needs to at least be up to my own self made standard on it sound. Well the DN 19 by my standards is an In Ear Monitor. I must congratualte Dunu on this stepping stone in their company. Using it is easy and listening to it is pleasant(until the ear fatigue kicks in). This is not the end of Dunu's journey. While they do deserve such praise, they must also fix the sometimes metallic sounding nature of their IEM's and its fatigue. It is finally competetive but still behind the fence from other $120-$150 IEM's. I wish Dunu the best of luck and am excited to see what else they can come up with next.
Driver size: 10mm
F responce: 16Hz - 26KHz
Sound Pressure Level: 100+/ 2 dB
Impendence: 16 Ohms
Noise Attenuation: 26 dB
Plug type: 3.5mm
Cable length: 1.3m
Build Quality: 8.5/10
In ear feel: 9/10
Sound quality: 8/10