Pros: Balanced sound with wow factors, spacious soundstage, and excellent transparency. The supple cable, the included tips, and the housing material.
Cons: Heaviest earphone I've ever own. Prone to smudges, oil, scratches, and dent. Mid bass could have little more presence or "oomph".
Hello head-fiers! Now, you’re going to read a review of a spectacular earphone named Dunu DN-2000! It’s a hybridized earphone consisting of two Balanced Armature (BA) drivers and a 10 mm dynamic driver; although the driver configuration isn’t specifically described in their main website, I assume it has one TWFK (or two-in-one BA) driver that covers the treble and mid-range and a dynamic driver as the woofer. Hybrid earphone was considered a breakthrough in earphone technology back in 2012 and the famous one I know was the AKG K3003 which was my main coveted hybrid earphone but sadly its price was bloody expensive, costing at $1300, for such little piece. As I waited in hope that the price of AKG K3003 would drop to at least $300 (laugh as you may), recently many Asian-based companies like Dunu, T-Peos, and Sony have stepped up into the hybrid technology and thankfully, many affordable yet exceptional hybrids have been released. I finally had the opportunity to own my first ever hybrid-based earphones yet Dunu's top-tier earphone named DN-2000. Although it is still expensive ($300), it does sound really good as most head-fiers say and honestly its performance exceeds my expectation for the price I paid!
Before I begin, I am sure some people know what is good with the hybrid but for those who are new, the hybrid combines the main strength that the BA and dynamic driver have while covering the weaknesses that the two drivers possess. For example, BA drivers provide excellent details and accuracy but its frequency bandwidth is limited and tends to have roll-off on certain regions, like the bottom-end, so for people who are used to listen to dynamic-based earphone or beginners might find the bass extremely lacking in single-BA driver ones. Even in multi-BA earphones, though they have their own separate driver dedicated for woofer, the bass impact never be as equal as the dynamic because they tend to be tight, short-decayed, or less boomy - I believe the BA bass is engineered for accuracy than being lively. As with the hybrid’s, the woofer configuration of dynamic driver complements the inadequate bass of BA driver with impactful bass which gives overall fun and excitement while maintaining excellent detail and accuracy.
Although the addition of impactful-thumping-wub-wub bass may sound tasty for some, I've ventured through many reviews that most hybrid earphones tend to have a V-shaped signature which means they have strong emphasis on treble and bass, leaving the mid somewhat recessed. Yet, they are likely to have bright tonality and have emphasis on peaky treble, which may be a big problem for treble-sensitive listeners. For example, some can have recessed mid and peaky treble like Atomic Floyd’s superdarts titanium 1 . Some can have sibilant and nasal midrange yet piercing treble like H-300 2,3. For first- hybrid owners or beginners, it is recommended to pick the one that is more balanced that does not have nasty-crash-rustic treble but still pleasantly bright with clear midrange and impactful bass. I am lucky that the one I picked, DN-2000, definitely sounds great without offending my ears! But anyway, let's get on the review - I've got lots of things to say about this earphone.
Observe: the Dunu DN-2000 package. It is understated, simple, and bold. But it is somewhat bland; If customers were walking down the store and see this, they wouldn’t be attracted to it but hey, it is a diamond buried within a rock – let the earphone speaks for its value instead of the package design.
As I take the covering on the right side, the earphone is beautifully placed in the black foam and shows the end of the housings with engraved letter "D", and below is the carrying case where the included accessories are put.
The Carrying Case and Accessories.
First is the carrying case. What I like is that the case is light, spacious, and solid. What I don't like is that the case is little too big to be put into a pocket; yet, it does not have a zipper for a secure storage. Regardless, the lid fits very firmly and will not likely to open up spontaneously. However, the "pull-out" type lid can be little difficult to be removed and may be a hassle because once opened, all the contents may burst out from the case. This will not become a problem if one opens the lid carefully or puts each contents into a designated plastic bag as shown in the right, but do bring the needed accessories or else there will be no space left to put for the earphones!
Image above shows the comparison of Dunu case to Westone's in center and Audio Technica IM03's in the bottom (on left image). Based on the size and practical use, the Westone's is my most favorite because it is small, can be fitted to a pocket effortlessly, and has a zipper. The Audio Technica is bigger yet bulky but it can hold up to 2-3 earphones, and rather be put into a bag than a pocket, but still is my favorite because of the zipper. The Dunu's, for me, is rather be used as a storage to hold all the accessories.
Next is the included accessories, plenty of stuff I might say! Dunu throws four different ear-tips and bunch other stuff but since this section has been reviewed by others in details 4,5, I will be discussing the most important ones which are the "secure fit" rings and the ear-tips.
- The bi-flange has the smallest bore of all - one can see it from the image above. Also, I couldn't get a decent fit with it.
- The clear and the dark tips have nearly equal bore diameter; yet, I cannot find big differences of sound between the two.
- The dark tips are more rigid and stiffer - the sound is little brighter with these. In my ears they fit and seal too tight for my liking.
- The clear tips are the softest of all - it's the first ear tips attached to the earphone; yet, the clear tips fit best to my ears.
- The foam has same diameter and has material similar to the Comply-tips.
The Earphone: Appearance, Cable, and Build Quality
Meet the earphone itself, the DN-2000! The housing follows a straight-barrel design and a straight nozzle; yet, I am surprised how small it is for a multi-driver earphone. Such simplicity allows the earphone to be worn without hassle nor continuous adjustment. The diameter and length of the nozzle is just right and never be too small and short (like Westone W4) nor too long (like in ATH's IM70). The cable is made from rubberized material with a chin slider and a cable wrapper. However, the cable is not remove-able and does not have remote control, but it is good so that the earphone can be worn over-the-ear. The cable jack is reinforced with strong strain relief and ends with 90 degree fashion. As one can see from the image above, I use a cable clipper from a different brand (The Dunu's clipper is used for the W4).
The housing of the earphone demonstrates the quality of what top-tier earphone should be - it has a luxurious finish and smooth touch. It is made from a metal and overall housing is solidly made. None of the ridges or edges are sharp; yet, the silver ridges of the back housing shine under a light. However, it has one major problem: it is the heaviest earphone in my collection - it is even heavier than the heavy V-Moda Vibrato. The weight problem can be greatly reduced by wearing over the ear but the main problem is that the weight, combined with the supple cable, causes the earphone to fall easily from one's hand leaving a dent to the housing, if one was careless. Lastly, the housing is prone to scratches and oily smudges so it needs careful handling and daily cleaning. So, get yourself an eyeglasses cleaner cloth for a daily maintenance. Do not leave the earphones dangling because the housing will smash one another and creates more scratches and dents - hold the earphones upon your palms.
Above image shows a dent caused when the earphone fell about 10 cm from my hand into a hard granite table. This happened in three months after I first own it. I cannot imagine what would happen if the earphone fell from my standing height (5.6 ft or 170.6 cm) into the floor. I wish it could have an earphone silicone casing, like a cell-phone casing, to protect it from dents, but having that would be ridiculous and unthinkable.
Furthermore, the attached yet "patented" cable wrapper is a huge plus so one can neatly store the earphone after use as shown in the image above. I always have a habit of wrapping the cable around after use and put it into my pocket or a carrying case. The wrapper prevents the cable from getting tangled when stored. The wrapper slides along the cable but I never find it bothering; however, the wrapper cannot be removed from the cable unless if one cuts the cable (who the heck gonna do that!!).
Size: How Small is the DN-2000?
Honestly, I have to say that it is relatively small for a hybridized earphone. I am impressed that Dunu designers manage to cram the complex three-configuration of dynamic and two BA drivers into a small straight barrel shape while other hybrids earphones tend to be bulky and have bizarre designs; one famous example is the "Frankensteinic" shape of Sony's Hybrids lineups. Yet compared to other multi-drivers earphones I have, the Dunu's is also smaller than them too, the only earphones that are smaller are Yamaha EPH-100 and Klipsch X10. The following images demonstrate size comparison of DN-2000 to variety earphones like W4, IM70, IM03, FXT90, Piston, EPH-100, and Klipsch X10 - hopefully these will give an idea for those who own the mentioned earphones.
One can see that the IM03 and the IM70 are surely larger and wider than the Dunu, considering that they have multi-drivers set up too.
The W4 appears little bit bigger than the Dunu but the design of W4 allows to sit flush on my ears concha though it requires lots of trial-and-errors to get comfortable fit.
The FXT90 is about as equal as the Dunu - quite impressive for a dual-dynamic driver. Dunu has the cylindrical shape while the FXT90 has vertical housing with angled nozzle.
The Dunu has evolved from the Piston! They do have similar size and shape but the only different is the weight - the Piston is far lighter than the Dunu.
The only smaller earphone in mind is the Yamaha EPH-100. But both still share similarities: straight barrel housing with strain relief that is perpendicular to the housing - this allows for easier to loop over the ear and comfortable over-the-ear wearing.
Also, the Klipsch X10 is so much smaller than the Dunu. But I hate how the cable came out in curving fashion so wearing over-the-ear is difficult ( if I did that, I'd look like Mickey Mouse).
For last comparison, the size of the Dunu is just as equal as coins displayed above, only little bit bigger than a penny.
Comfort and Isolation - Important elements in an earphone!
I immediately wore the earphone over-the-ear when I first got it and did not even bother with the fins and the ear-guide hook. Overall, the fit is less fussy thank to the small sized, straight cylindrical shape, and supple cable. With the right ring and ear-tips combination, which are the silver ring and clear silicone 1K tips, the comfort is excellent - I could wear the earphone up to 2-3 hours without being fatigued. The clear ear-tips is so soft it does not create much pressure inside my ears. The housing stay seated in the ear concha and never hit the tragus. Yet, the end-housing ridges do not irritate nor bother the ears as far as I concern. Furthermore, I use the included clipper so the cable can glide along my ears without touching the surface of top ear. But, the weight of the housing is still bothersome and it requires little adjustment in insertion until it reaches to a sweet spot.
Isolation is just great. I drive around and commute while using this earphone ( don't try this!) and road noises are greatly reduced. Its isolation easily blocks most noise from Dyson vacuum cleaner, TV, people conversation, annoying songs and grunts at a gym; yet, the isolation allows me to listen songs on low volume without external noise interference. But its isolation never be as equal as the Shure's olive tips though. Lastly, I haven't tested its isolation on a plane but will report when I did.
The Dunu sits and seals just fine when I walk around, cycling, and do stairmaster and eliptical. The Dunu still retains a secure seal even when running and jogging, but the noise transmitted from hard floor and asphalt still can be heard and bothersome - this problem is common for all earphones I used except headphones. The seal becomes a problem when performing exercises that require lying down like bench press and intensive sit-up. Also, whenever I make face expression, grind my teeth, or grunting from a heavy lifting and pull-ups, the seal can be off too. Above all, I'd use the Dunu for a stationary cardio-exercise but I wouldn't recommend using it as a main workout earphone because the seal can be off when performing strenuous exercises. Yet, the housing durability can be a major concern because it's prone to scratches and dents. Lastly, the housing protrudes little bit but it never produces wind noises. But I cannot use this when sleeping in side posture.
During the course of listening, all of my observation is derived primarily from one source: Sansa Clip zip (non-rockboxed). I don't use any amps nor equalization at all as I prefer the natural, unmodified sound of earphones. All my music files are 320kbps and some are FLAC files.
I find that the earphone is easily driven. Most songs can be played loudly enough on 1 to 2 volume bar under 'normal volume' setting in Sansa clip zip. So one needs to be careful when using these with non-sensitive volume bar like the Samsung S5, where the loud difference between bar is very big. Although I find no hisses in the Sansa, I actually do hear them from Samsung S5, especially when a song nearly ends. I preferably listening the Dunu from the Sansa clip because it has better volume handling. The earphones have been burned for about 1-2 days and I find the peaky treble has mellowed out and no change with the bass, but still adequately bright. Speaking of the treble and brightness, it could have been that my ears have gotten used with it since I have this for four months.
*In the following section, I have included songs from Youtube.com to give better understanding of DN-2000 sound characteristic; however, I am afraid the quality may differ from the one I listen from my Sansa, which are in 320kbps and FLAC. So if one curious and wishes to have the same quality I listened to, I'd be happily to provide them upon request.
Audio Technica ATH-IM03 with Sony Hybrid tips and Lunashop's cloth cable, for the better fit and seal - $300, not including the Sony tips and lunashop cable
- The IM03 is absolutely larger than DN-2000, but the IM03 is far lighter and sits flush on my ears.
- The lunashop cable is significantly more supple than the Dunu, but it's more prone to tangle.
- Both bass are similar in which they are tight, focused on sub-bass, and have less mid-bass presence. However, the Dunu has more sub-bass quantity and has better rumbles and texture.
- The Dunu has more energy and more delicate (free of bothering peaks).
- Compared to the Dunu, the IM03 mid is more recessed. drier, and less lush. Vocal sounds more distant and instruments are less fleshed out.
- IM03 has tendency of being sibilant. The lower-treble / upper mid like "Ts-ts-ts" and cymbal crash have more presence. I notice the cymbal sounds splashy and lack of definition in Insomnium's The only one who waits. The cymbal crashes linger longer, my God. The treble of Dunu is far more polished, refined, and quicker decay than the IM03.
- Tonality, the IM03 sounds darker than the Dunu, with peaks included
- The IM03 soundstage is good but the Dunu's stretches out more and has better 3Dness, depth, and width.
- No competition, the Dunu has better transparency and layering.
- The W4 is lighter and absolutely has better comfort but the fit can be finicky.
- The cable of W4 is frustrating - it hardens overtime and stiffens, making harder to loop over my ears. This happens on the 2nd warranty too.
- Overall sound is warmer, more delicate, and less energetic than the Dunu. The Dunu has the "Wow" factors while the W4 doesn't.
- The W4 has more mid-bass than being sub-bass, which is somewhat rolled-off. Thanks to the mid-bass, it has more bass body than the Dunu. Also, the bass of W4 is unique; it has pleasant body and buttery smooth and yummy impact.
- The W4 mid is more lush than the Dunu; however, the mid is more veiled or recessed, I think. Instruments and vocals are less "upfront " than the Dunu, but still instruments and vocals are presented in good clarity. Female vocals sound captivating, sweeter, and more lush with the W4. I prefer W4 for a good vocal.
- It has peaks in the lower-treble regions, sounding a little metallic and tingling. But it never be too offensive, only if not played too loud. It can be bothersome in some tracks with repetitive cymbals.
- W4 sound less spacious, but still above the average. Again, the Dunu wins in transparency.
- The EPH-100 wins in comfort department: small, non-obstructive, and faaaar lighter.
- EPH-100's overall sound is far more fun because the bass is simply tasty - deep, impactful, and lots of bass. Yet, EPH-100 treble is smoother and the mid is far less energetic. In other word, EPH-100 is simply warm sounding earphone that is friendly and easy to the ears.
- The EPH-100 can be played loudly, louder than the Dunu without hurting my ears - probably the mid is less forward and my ears handle bass better than other freqs.
- EPH-100 has far boomier, deeper, and more impactful bass. It still has good texture, decays realistically, and never bleed to other frequencies. Yet the bass never be overly-dominating like its successor, EPH-M200, which I reviewed last time. The Dunu's bass is lacking compared to the EPH-100, however the Dunu has better bass clarity than the EPH-100, or tight I might say.
- One of the earphones I can safely use when I want to listen a "God-speed-fast-kicking-double-bass-pedals" without causing my ears to bleed.
- The mid is clear and it's not recessed nor forward. The vocal and instrument sound more distant than the Dunu and less "in-your-face". EPH-100's guitar instruments lack of the bite and edges compared to Dunu.
- The treble is less brighter but has that small presence of low-treble / upper-mid. Still, the treble is far smoother and less hotter than DN-2000, yet less detailed too. Importantly, it never sound too peaky nor metallic.
- The soundstage of EPH-100 rivals the DN-2000. The EPH-100 has better depth probably because EPH-100 has more bass impact and quantity. The separation is nearly as good as the Dunu.
- One main problem with EPH-100 is its speaker durability. The speakers are prone of getting clogged with sweat. Yet after listening for a long time in about two hours, one side of the speaker, left side, have died out for four times, in which one side has reduced to 90% of the normal volume. However, the speaker resurrected on its own after waiting for a while, or being magnetized- possibly the speaker is prone of being fatigued and needed to rest.
- The FXT90 needs some time to get used with the fit and comfort is just okay. It requires shallow fitting. Yet, required long time for burn-in to soften that edgy treble, in about +200 hours. It has tendency to have driver flex.
- The Dunu cable has similar suppleness of FXT90's.
- The FXT90's bass is punchy but somewhat lacking in rumble compared to the DN-2000. The FXT90 has little more emphasis on the mid-bass but its sub-bass is less present than the DN-2000. I prefer the DN-2000 bass to the FXT90. Surprisingly, the Dunu has more bass impact than the FXT90.
- The mid feels more recessed with the FXT90. Though both has good liveliness and energy on guitar instruments, the FXT90 sounds little too harsh and edgier than the DN-2000 (noticeable when played loudly). Vocals are simply drier (especially in female singers) and more distant-sounding. It's tonality is less lush too. Both never sound sibilant.
- The treble of FXT90 is similar to the Dunu in which peaky cymbals are attenuated. However, it is less extended. The treble is bright but not as "pleasantly bright" as the Dunu. The treble is less refined and harsher in FXT90, in my opinion.
- FXT90 soundstage is average and not as expansive as the Dunu but the depth and height are good. The FXT90 retains excellent musical separation but the Dunu has far better 3D presentation.
- The FXT90 isolation is poorer than the Dunu.
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