Pros: Incredibly addictive midrange and vocals, superb bass and treble, and excellent everything else
Cons: Non-rounded rear edges could be slightly uncomfortable depending on your ear size and shape
First of all, a big THANK YOU to @rockywu for providing the review unit. It is much appreciated, and my humble ears are feeling so incredibly honoured to be included as one of the first reviewers
This is the second triple hybrid IEM from Dunu (DN2k), and the third hybrid overall; the first one being the well-regarded, the legendary DN-1000 triple-hybrid (DN1k), and there’s also the mid-centric DN-900 dual-hybrid.
When I first heard about DN-2000, @rockywu boasted that this will be an improvement over the DN1k, and overall will be a better sounding unit. I was rather sceptical to be perfectly honest as I was not sure how to improve something that is already incredibly good-sounding IEM. As we all know (or at least those of us who’ve heard or owned DN1k) upon its release, DN1k ‘set’ the standard to hybrid IEM in terms of sound and value. In my humble opinion, it really did smashed many of its similarly priced competitor, as well as some of the higher-priced competitors
So, upon receiving the DN2k, my expectation is kind of high, and the most intriguing thing for me is finding out how this is tuned.
The components that I used for this review are as follows
- iPod Classic (straight, and through C&C BH)
- Sansa Clip+
- Desktop (through Aune T1)
- MacBook Air (straight out, and through Dragonfly)
- 320k MP3’s, 16/44 and 24/96 FLAC’s
Packaging and accessories
The packaging of DN2k is very well made, very well designed, and can easily be displayed in retail stores and shopping centres. The usual hard carton outer with book style opening, which reveals graphical information on the other side of the lid, and the right side displays the unit itself with a transparent plastic cover.
Tips wise, you literally get tons of them; the clear silicone ‘bass/liquid’ tips (S/M/L), the grey silicone ‘delicate/resolution’ tips (S/M/L), the dual-flanges silicone tips (S/M/L), and a pair of foam (M)
Further on, you also get few pairs of fins and wings, airline adaptor, large adaptor, 3 sizes of spacer rings (owner of DN1k and DN-900 will be familiar with these), a pair of ear guides, and a shirt clip
Last but not least, the silver carry box. It does feel solid, however, personally I still prefer the Pelican-esque yellow case that comes with DN-900
Build Quaility, Isolation, and Comfort
The body is barrel type, almost identical to DN1k. Feels incredibly solid and can withstand some rough treatments
In general, the weight is slightly lighter than DN1k, however, for some reason the rear outer ring body, where the Dunu logo is, DN1k feels smoother and rounder, whereas this feels a little rougher. As a result of this, it feels slightly more uncomfortable compared to DN1k, especially during long session. Thankfully, Dunu has included some fins and wings to add to comfort, as well as holding the earpieces in.
Isolation is on par with DN1k, and to some extend it can depends on the size and depth of your canal, for those whose canal is deeper and bigger, you can push this right in for deeper fit, and hence isolate slightly better to those who can only do shallow fit.
A quick note here before we go on to the sound, historically I like using large-bore tips whenever possible, mainly because of the bigger soundstage, and enhanced bass effect to some extent. The same applies here, for the purpose of this review, I am using the grey turbine style tips that came with DN1k, to me, this is one of the best silicone tips that I have ever used. I also use the UE single flange, and MEElec single flange, all of which are large bore
First and foremost, this is not for basshead, it has less impact and power compared to its sibling, DN1k. I would say that the bass is tuned in the middle between neutral and DN1k level, but the best thing is that it can really slams hard and leave you breathless when called upon, for example in tracks such as Estelle’s Make Her Say, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Cowboy Boots
The timbre and extension are just nothing short of superb, the way it renders the bass drum in Jack Johnson’s ‘Upside Down’, and ‘What You Thought You Need’ leave you wanting for more, just the perfect quantity. The bass extends way down to sub bass level and almost beyond, as I can hear the bass all the way down to 10hz without any problem whatsoever. H-300 and DN1k for example, I can only pick up the bass from around 15hz.
Hip hop and RnB lovers, I can understand that they might be hanging for more, as unlike H-300 and DN1k, there is almost no lingering decay. EDM lovers however, in my opinion this is perfect for it, in Pryda’s ‘F.A.T’ the bass hits deep, hard, and fast.
This is the centre showcase of DN2k, the midrange is slightly forward, incredibly detailed, clear, and oh-so-sweet, and overall, it’s just absolutely addictive. Ever since I received my unit, and after the first listen, all I want to do is just to listen to vocal tracks, especially live, acoustics, jazz, or unplugged albums. In comparison to DN1k, the latter sounds warmer, slightly thicker, and a touch muddy. Have a listen to Natalie Cole’s track ‘Walkin’ My Baby Back Home’ and you will know exactly what I mean about how addictive the midrange and vocal are.
Vocals are renders beautifully and so sweetly, full of energy, and incredibly airy, especially female vocals, and it’s free from peaks and distortion, so much so, when listening to album such as Diana Krall’s Live in Paris, Peter Malick Group feat Norah Jones’ The Deluxe Collection, or Natalie Cole’s ‘Still Unforgettable’, after every tracks, it makes you just want to repeat the last song you played.
I can almost say that I almost can’t fault the midrange at all, however, there are some occasions where I picked up slight peaks when I turn the volume up too high to an almost unhealthy level., but then again, not many people would listen this loud
The treble is clear, has excellent extension, has the perfect amount of sparkle, brightness and warmth, and yet, it is clean from peaks and sibilance. It sits nicely just behind the midrange, a good example of this can be heard in Diana Krall’s ‘I Love Being Here With You’ from ‘Live in Paris’ album, the cymbals sit behind the guitar and vocal. In comparison, something like H-300 renders the cymbals pretty full on in your face
This is one area where the similarities to DN1k can be heard, though in the case of DN2k’s, it is a bit more detailed, and has slightly more sparkle
People who are sensitive to bright treble should not be concerned at all, as I can listen to this all day and night without getting fatigued. Also, just like the midrange, it is free of peaks and sibilance.
Soundstage, Transparency, Imaging, Timbre, and Amping
Soundstage is pretty big, wide, and has a decent depth. It’s not as deep as DN1k, H-300, nor AX60 however.
Transparency and Imaging, although they are excellent, they are slightly less refined compared to H-300, although I must say, I do think that the brightness and sparkle of H-300 are the reason why it sounds a bit more transparent
Timbre is also brilliant, tracks such as Jack Johnson’s “What You Thought You Need” and Maroon 5’s “Secret” sound unbelievable, as snare drum, and both bass and acoustic guitars are rendered superbly.
Amping, although is not necessary for DN2k, but it does help to some extent, especially in the bass department. By having a little bit more power pumped through its drivers, it certainly benefits the bass as it adds to the fullness of the bass.
COMPARISON TO OTHER HYBRIDS
T-PEOS H-300 (Triple Hybrid)
These 2 show how far hybrid IEM’s have become, and how good of a product you can get for around $300. With similar pricing, and released around the same time, there is no doubt that these 2 are competing for our hard earned money.
To start things of, in the bass department, there is one clear winner there, the H-300. With its big, thick, and deep bass, DN2k bass feels incredibly light and soft next to it. However, DN2k bass is tighter, quicker, and has much shorter decay, and therefore more suitable towards genre such as rock, metal, or even EDM. I also feel that DN2k’s bass has slightly better extension, and for a non-basshead, H-300’s may sounds a touch boomy.
Moving on to the midrange, DN2k trumps over H-300 with its clear, sweet, and detailed midrange. H-300 has this strangely tuned midrange that makes vocal feels constraints, and that annoying upper mid spike, which I was having some troubles with. Furthermore, vocals feel a lot sweeter and easier on the ear, and a lot less fatiguing, as there is no noticeable spikes anywhere in DN2k’s midrange.
To the treble, I think this is rather on par, depending on your treble preference, and your resistance towards bright treble. I love H-300’s treble with its amazing clarity and details, but at the same time, listening for a long session can cause fatigue. DN2k’s on the other hand, the treble cohesion with the midrange is just superb, it’s slightly bright too (though not as bright as H-300’s), has slightly better extension, and sits just slight behind the midrange. Despite the brightness, it is nowhere near as fatiguing as H-300, and I can absolutely listen to DN2k all day and all night without any fatigue whatsoever.
H-300 has slightly bigger and deeper soundstage compared to DN2k, imaging and transparency is just about on par with each other. I personally prefer DN2k, but I can see most bassheads would prefer H-300
Sony H3 (Triple Hybrid)
Another decent triple hybrid with its unique ‘Sony’s house sound’, first of the rank is the bass, compared to DN2k, H3’s sounds a little slow and boomy, though it has much bigger impact, and sub-bass is just about the same. H3’s bass is also warmer and slightly thicker
Moving on to the midrange, DN2k is yet again the clear winner here, as H3’s midrange sounds recessed, veiled, and grainier. The vocal of H3 also sounds distant and much less prominent compared to DN2k.
Treble wise, both of them have similar extension and detail level, though H3’s sounds slightly warmer and grainier, and on the other side of the coin, DN2k’s is brighter, and has better clarity.
AudioFly AF140 (Triple Hybrid)
I wasn’t going to do this comparison to be honest as I will be doing a full review of this very soon, but I thought since I have both review units with me at this moment, I thought what the hell, and decided to give AF140 a day dedication just for comparison purposes
Let’s start with bass, AF140 has bigger impact, though with its slightly boosted midbass, it sounds a little muddy compared to DN2k. It also has warmer and thicker bass, though DN2k wins in the sub-bass department and it also has better extension.
Midrange wise, DN2k is the clear winner here, AF140’s sounds a bit recessed, a little veiled, and the vocals sound a bit distant compared to DN2k, and DN2k is doing a much better job in rendering the vocals. Treble wise, AF140 has a warmer and darker treble compared to DN2k, and it also sounds mellower. Soundstage wise, width is similar, and DN2k has slightly better depth.
Rooth LSX5 (Five-drivers Hybrid. Universal)
One of my recent favourite, we compare the midrange to start of proceedings, which unfortunately sounds a little peaky and vocals sound a bit harsh compared to DN2k.
In the bass department, speed, extension, and depth are similar, though impact wise the LSX5 has the upper hand here, as well as having a warmer and thicker bass note.
Last but not least, LSX5’s treble also sounds a touch harsh and much more prone to sibilance, however, it does sound more refined.
How do you improve on excellence? The answer is DN2k. Dunu has done an excellent job here is the sound tuning of DN2k, as in my opinion, it is one step ahead of DN1k.
I honestly can’t fault this awesome unit, as I absolutely love everything about it, it I have to pick one fault, then it would have to be a non-rounded outer rear body, which can lead to uncomfortableness in over ear wearing, and straight down to some extent.
I can’t remember any other IEM that made me fall in love on first listen, except maybe Tralucent 1P2 (but let’s be fair here, this thing cost quadruple of DN2k’s), and perhaps UE TF10, which gave me an introduction to the world of multi-driver IEM.
Even at $315 MSRP, this certainly punches way above its price level, and leaves its similarly priced competitor on their wake, at this point of time, to be honest I prefer the sound of DN2k, even if compared to the more established and pricier 5-drivers hybrid competitors such as Rooth LSX5 and UM Merlin.
Well done Dunu, and I will surely be interested and intrigued on how are you going to improve the sound even further with DN-3000