Pros: Balanced Sound, bassy, but detailed
Cons: Harsh upper mid, and weight issues
Dunu by Top-Sound is famous for offering well made and accessorized earphones to IEM's to the market. They are popular on Head-Fi and around the world. With earphone offerings from a wide range of features and prices, many can usually find one that fits their needs. Today we have the new Dunu DN 23 Landmine to review. It is one of the upper echelon's of Dunu products to come out in recent times. It looks a lot like their other earphones and uses many build qualities of their siblings, but make no mistake. For this IEM is about to set off a landmine of its own. I wish to thank Rocky for sending me this review sample.
The Red Driver is the 'right' side and the Blue Driver is the left side. You can remember this as Red is right.
The Dunu DN 23's build styles are similar to the DN 22M Detonator and various other earphones that Dunu offers. This means that the driver is thickly made of a metal substance, and the wire is thin and exits straight down without offering any obvious over ear features before terminating into a 3.5mm plug. But of course, the Landmine features its own differences. The driver housing as usual, is heavy, ergonomically sized, and armed with slight colors to back the metallic look. However there is a convex dent in the driver this time around. This doesn't add any weight inbalance issues or anything, its just different from the smooth driver shapes that Dunu usually offers. There is nothing bad to say about the build of the driver unit itself. It's well built with no obvious weakness in structure or anything.
The driver housing although, with its dab of color, great feel, and look does have the same issues that its siblings have. It does get a bit oily after a bit of touching it (depends on your hands of course) and its weight works against it. Dropping the Dunu's down onto the table or anything is not recommended. The weight of the unit also means that fall damage is increased or is an actual cause for concern now. Most people can just let their earphones drop to the table with no problems. But the weight of the drivers is just enough for it to be a cause for concern if dropped while not being enough to cause any slipping out or heaviness while in the ear. I have noted this on every single review sample I have received from them.
The cable is nicely made and is one of my more preferred styles. The cable is silky like angel hair spahgetti, but also offers enough hardness to keep position without whipping around everywhere. It isn't micro-fiber braided and so can offer a bit more water resistance if some does get on it. It is also easy to clean and feels of good quality. The neck slider and cable splitter section is made extremely well. Immediately opening the package, I noticed how good the neck slider apparatus was. It's made of plastic but looks like metal with a silvery DUNU brand sign on it. It looked great, and unlike the DN22, the neck slider went all the way up.
The termination for the plug is V shaped and is made of hard plastic to prevent damage from long term use. The metal cuff at the end near the plug also adds great asthetic values to the units.
This unit is mainly microphonics free. Microphonics is the sound of the cables moving or rustling as you move around. The silky cable eliminates most of it as long as the earphones are fitted properly in the ear. Pulling up the neck slider while going on jogs will eminate the rest.
Isolation and Leak:
The Dunu's are closed and do not offer any ported openings. The heavy metal construction also prevents the majority of leaking or any problems. Of course this is entirely dependent on the user's fit and volume they are listening at. But the DUNU's do a good job of isolating most things in the world.
The DN 23's are some of the easiest headphones to use, put away and store. They do not offer an over ear design, so the driver unit itself is just those two units. The cable is fluid, and the case is small and ergonomic. Putting the units away is as easy as pinching the two unit cables together near the drivers themselves and wrapping them around your hand. Then you just put them in the soft-shell case taking note of the indent and voila. The V jack also helps when used on the go with PMP's so that it doesn't 'poke' around your pants if upside down and what not.
These are pretty sensitive. Thus, they do not need an amp to drive, but depending on who you are and how loud you listen. It could be good to use an amp to get lower volumes. As an iPod at half volume already outputs a good amount of sound through these. So be wary and always start with very low volume as you initially listen.
The DUNU DN 23's were used with my custom Project-H amplifier, iPod Touch 2G, FiiO E12 and FiiO X3 DAP. They were burned in for about 15 hours before this review was done.
The DUNU's do not really feature the highs too prominently but they are there. They are hidden away for the most part and show up if the song needs it. They are sharp and bright. This adds to some songs, but they aren't a very proper high frequency range, the resulting frequency is just that. A high frequency noise the helps with the higher pops and hits of the song. The extension is where the majority of the issue or non issue lies. For there really is no high frequency extension past the first ranges of the frequency. Too often, a product tries to add all the frequencies in, this leads to a mess of how they interact with each other, and creates very fatiguing problems. The DN 23's are able to skillfully avoid the problem through its subdued high frequency range. It's just enough to show up and work with most songs, but not enough to be reference class. This however is a feature that I love and would rather most sub $100 headphones use. If you can't do it at this price range(most can't), then don't do it.
-hidden highs, little presence, but smooth for the ranges it does present, good as its non analytical-
The mid range of the DN 23's are quite prominent, instruments hit and they hit hard. Dunu is quite known for a spike in the upper mid range, and that is visible here as well. This allows cymbals, guitars, and other string instruments to have that sharpness to them. Rock genres benefit from the upper mid spike, however it is often done improperly. This happens when its not smooth, the spike is too high, or the speed of the mid range isn't able to keep up with the instruments. I am personally sensitive to upper mid spikes, these thus for most rock do get fatiguing for me. It isn't a problem if the mastering is good, but most modern rock isn't, and that is where the problem lies. The mid instruments are more prominent in presentation than the vocals and thus a bit more weight to them in how they sound.
The instruments own detail is quite average. You can indeed hear what is being played, but they don't personally stand out. The upper mid spark brings them alive, but they are still overall a bit dull. The seperation however is quite good if the recording is good. They don't mush together and do allow themselves to be discriminated from others.
Overal, I'd say that the mid range is done wonderfully and it is thanks to its slightly dulled qualities. This is not a reference earphone, however it does work well with songs that are mastered well. The slight dulling allows it to be more compatible with a wide range of genres. Bad mastered rock is still going to be a problem with the Landmine's due to the upper mid spike, but for the most part, it is masterfully done for a big range of genres.
-prominent mids, upper mid sparkle, average detail but upper mid instruments are sharp, multi-genre able-
The vocals are quite forward but are a bit dull. The lower and mid vocal range is a bit more laid back (its already forward) whilst the upper vocals do have that sparkle that the upper mid spike also gives them. This means that as they go to hit the high notes, the vocals do 'shine' and bring themselves out. This works quite well for classic rock genres and hip hop as it allows for the singer to be front and center. However, I would like it more if the vocals distinguished themselves from the rest of the song. The vocals are very close the the mid range instruments and the seperation is just enough to tell them apart, but not enough for a truly spacious feel.
-close to the mids, but forward and are brings out the singer, average separation, lack of space-
The DN 23's are a bassy headphone, but the bass doesn't overwhelm the rest of the ranges. The mid bass does slightly intrude into the vocal and mid range areas as they will get a bit muddied up, but its only slightly, and only if the song is a fairly bassy one needless to say. For the most part however, they work well with the song and provide bass when needed and don't go overboard when there isn't need for them. The mid bass thump is fairly prominent and is what is the most prominent in this range. The upper mids are there and offer a good basis for the low end after the mids, but the mid bass is really what is there. The sub bass and extension however is a bit poor after the mid bass, they don't dig deep and don't offer the same kind of presentation as the mid bass. The bass operates when a needed 'oomph' is required in the song, but doesn't intrude when there isn't a need for it. The bass is tuned wonderfully for the Landmine.
-mid bass centered, poor sub bass and extension, works with the song to fullfill the bass role without going over-
Overall: The DN 23's work well with a majority of genres. The upper mid spike allows for artists and instruments to sound sharper, but are personally too much for me and thus are fatiguing. Many are not like this, and with great mastered tracks, the upper mid sparkle is fantastic. Instruments are really brought to life and the artists are prominent in their sonic reproduction. The lack of high end extension or quality is fine with me, as its not totally gone and still helps well with the sound. Overall, I'd say that the DN 23 is a very well put together unit that balances the 3 ranges out well enough to sound good with a big portion of music. If you don't get fatigued by sharp mid ranges, then these are great headphones for you as they offer a good sound for the price
F Responce: 16Hz to 22KHz
Sound Pressure Level: 120+-2dB at 1KHz/1Vrms
Impedence: 16 ohms
Noise Attenuation: 26dB
Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold platted
Cord length: 1.2m
Build Quality: 8/10 (for drop potential)
In ear feel: 8/10
Sound quality: 8.5/10