Pros: Good build quality with beautiful packaging and great accessories
Cons: Better sound quality can be found elsewhere
I am writing this in the perspective of the general consumer who does not use an amplifier and with mediocre sources such as the computer. Also, this review will try to cover as many genres as possible to show how the IEM covers each genre.
The packaging is very professionally done. I think it really shows the class of the product. It gives the Ares a high class feel, and makes you feel it is worth much more than you paid for.
The outer cover slips out to reveal a black inner box with the word DUNU in front. This adds to the high class feel of the product.
The box is held closed with the use of magnets, which is quite cool, as it is easy to open. Opening up the packaging, you can see the Ares along with the with the glossy clamshell case. The presentation reminds me of a necklace in a jewelry box. The presentation is just high class from start to finish.
Underneath the plastic covering is where the other accessories are kept.
What you first get is 7 pairs of tips. 1 of the tips is attached to the Ares itself. There are 3 pairs of narrow tips in S/M/L, another 3 pairs of wide tips, again in S/M/L. In addition, there is a pair of bi-flanges as well. Well, there are many tips included, which is good. However, sometimes I just wish that they have included a few pairs of foam tips as well.
In addition, there are 3 IEM cases inside as well. The first one is the glossy clamshell case. The glossy clamshell case is just beautiful. The second case is a faux leather drawstring case. This case reminds me of the faux leather case that comes with the Koss PortaPro, only smaller. The final case is a velvet case with magnetic metal buttons. This case is also pretty classy to me, though not as classy as the glossy clamshell case to me. I think three cases for one single IEM is a bit excessive, but for the price, quite good having three cases for your personal use.
The first time I saw it in a picture, it really looked like a more rounded copy of the Monster Turbine Pro Gold. However, looking at it in person, the Ares really looks beautiful. It is made of metal and feels nicely polished, shining brightly under the lights. Red and blue rings in the middle of the Ares make it easy to identify left or right. It might be more difficult to identify in the dark, but who wears IEMs in the dark anyway?
The L/R splitter is made of metal, a departure from the plastic I see in many IEMs.
The cable slider is also made of metal, and flush with the splitter. I would say it is a really classy implementation by DUNU.
There is a cable tie between the splitter and the jack. This cable tie allows users to tie their Ares more neatly for storage without searching around for things to fasten them together. I feel this is a great innovation in DUNU’s part.
The 3.5mm jack at the end is angled at 45 degrees. I feel this design brings the best of both worlds from the straight 3.5mm and 90 degree 3.5mm jack, offering flush insertion of the IEM into some recessed earphone jacks while offering some of the compactness of the 90 degree jack. I like this implementation, but overall I still prefer Soundmagic’s implementation of the 90 degree jack.
Build quality is excellent. There are hardly any loose parts, and the whole IEM itself looks solid. I am unsure whether the gold layer on the IEM itself will last, but overall I feel the Ares will be able withstand some abuse and last a few years.
Comfort and microphonics
The Ares is made of metal, so it feels heavier than most other IEMs. When wearing cord down, you can feel the weight of the metal pulling down the IEM, so it is not as comfortable. Microphonics are also there when worn cord down.
Wearing cord up, over the ear is much more comfortable. The weight of the IEM does not feel like it is pulling down the IEM anymore. Microphonics are almost gone when cord up. Personally I find cord up to be much more comfortable.
Because this uses a Balanced Armature transducer, there are no visible vents around. This means that it should be more isolating than most dynamics around. Isolation is great, since the tips can be inserted quite deeply, but do not expect Etymotic-like isolation. My favorite tips would be bi-flanges since it gives me a better seal, especially when worn over the ears.
Now come the most important part, the sound of the Ares.
For testing, I would use a computer with integrated sound to show what a general user has to expect. The music used will be 320kbps MP3, FLAC or WAV.
The bass rolls off slightly at the extreme end. The bass is quick and punchy. Bass speed is faster than dynamics but slower than some armatures. Overall, it is not a bass heavy IEM for bassheads, but bass should be sufficient for most people.
The midrange offers good clarity and resolves a good amount of detail. Mids are slightly forward; however it is slightly less forward than the PL-30. It is slightly warm but less warm next to more bass heavy sets.
The treble also rolls off slightly at the extreme end. It is presented in a more laid back manner, not harsh and sibilant on most tracks.
Soundstage is about average, with good width and average depth, with some air. It works well with lighter tracks, but might become slightly congested on more dense tracks.
Now the sound of the Ares will be tested on various types of genres, mainly ballad-like slow songs, Asian Pop, American Pop, Rock, Metal, Contemporary R&B, Electronic, Trance, Classical and Country.
Ballad-like slow songs
Music used: Good Person by T-ara
It is not weird that I started with an Asian song, for I am Asian myself. This song is a mainly vocal song, with a sad piano progression as the main instrumental behind.
The slightly mid-forward signature allows the vocals to stand out quite well. The vocals are warm and have a good body to it. The instruments are a bit closer than a more mid-forward IEM, say a PL-50.
Music used: Goodbye Baby by Miss A
This is a typical K-Pop song, but it is well-produced, thanks to Park Jin Young who also produced songs for American artistes such as Will Smith, Mase and Cassie. This song is mainly pop with rapping elements in between.
The mid-forward signature of the Ares allows vocals to be presented strongly. Bass in this song is quick and punchy, and does not have the rumble found in most dynamic based IEMs.
Music used: Baby by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber has a large share of both fans and anti-fans. However, I think this song would be a good gauge of a typical American Pop song today.
I think the mid-forward signature works well with his vocals, providing a good amount of body and clarity. The bass is quick and punchy, though I feel the bass is slightly slower than other armature based IEMs. Ludacris’ rap is great as well; the IEM makes his rap sound clear and quick. The instrumental is brought slightly forward as well.
Music used: The Pretender by Foo Fighters
This music has a good amount of guitar riffs and drum beats, coupled with a powerful voice. It should be a good gauge of how rock songs will perform on the Ares.
I would say Rock is not a strong suite for the Ares. The instruments are brought quite forward, a bit too forward to my liking I would say. There is also a problem of congestion, as the tracks become denser the Ares starts to become more congested. Otherwise, drum kicks are good and instrumentals provide a good amount of power.
Music used: The Only by Static X
This song is loud, coupled with heavy guitar riffs and solos, drum beats and synthesizers. I believe this to be a good gauge for a metal song.
Like rock, metal is also not a strong suite of the Ares. The mid-forward signature does bring out the vocals, but also brought forward the instrumentals. The problem of congestion is also seen here. However, like metal, drum kicks are still quite good and the guitar riffs do have a good amount of power to it.
Music used: Confessions Part II by Usher
I think Usher’s voice is slick here, one of the best R&B voices I come to enjoy.
The voice is presented very smoothly and clearly, warm with a good amount of body. I think the sound signature works well with R&B songs like these. Instrumentals do not creep too far forward here. Bass is quick on impact, without affecting the smoothness of the mids.
Music used: Kalimba by Mr Scruff
This is the sample music from Windows 7. This music has a good mix of electronic beats along with symphonic tunes.
This sounds good on the Ares. The symphonic tunes are warm and have good body, sounding full and powerful. The electronic parts are detailed and clear. Bass is quick and not too impactful or overbearing.
Music used: Urban Train by Tiesto
I think Tiesto is one of the best trance DJs in the early 2000s. Urban Train is one of the nice works by Tiesto.
The instrumentals have good amount of detail, sounding powerful. Instruments are slightly forward. Bass has some impact here but it is quick, though not as quick as the dynamics.
Music used: Symphony 40 in G Minor by Mozart
I think this piece is familiar to many, one of Mozart’s better known works.
The Ares work great on the Ares as well. The string instruments sound full and have a hint of warmness to it. The music is clear and detailed yet smooth. I would say the Ares does really well at Classical.
Music used: Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus is one of the people who spread country music worldwide.
The Ares presents his voices smoothly. The drum kicks are great and the guitar riffs are not too overpowering.
Best with: Less congested genres like Ballads, Pop and Classical
Not so good with: More congested genres like Rock and Metal
While providing decent sound for its price, I believe there are other choices out there with better sound, like the Meelec A151. Much of its value lies in the packaging, the build quality and some of the innovations in the Ares. It is a good choice for people who would like a slightly warm mids with a good amount of clarity. The Ares are for you if you want a decent, slightly warm IEM with great build quality.