Dunu is a Chinese earphone brand. They have had some notoriety even outside of China with their Itube armature earphones. Starsonic is the OEM for Dunu. I previously bought the Starsonic HDDS earphones to try out. I was recently contacted by Starsonic to try out and evaluate some of their latest products since they agreed with my feelings/criticisms on the HDDS phones. They sent me the Dunu Ares(DN-11) and Crius(DN-13). Thanks to Vivian of Starsonic for sending them out to me.
A Look At Them(Maybe not the best pics; battling the wind and increasing clouds)
Packaging consists of an outer sleeve housing a black cardboard box with a magnetic latch on the side flap. Inside is a felt covered plastic tray displaying the earphones.
The Crius comes with a semi-hard zip case and brown drawstring pouch. The Ares adds a third thick felt pouch with a magnetic snap closure.
Tips include standard bi-flanges, 3 pair firmer/longer tips(smaller opening), and 3 pair softer/shorter tips(larger opening).
High quality angled plug, machined aluminum Y/slider, and built-in cable wrap.
As it looks in this pic, the Crius tube end is 1mm wider than the Ares(6.5mm vs. 5.5mm). Red and blue rings for the L/R indicators.
Attention to detail. You can see Crius laser etched into the rim of the housing.
I didn't ask what Vivian would be sending me so I did not know what to expect. I was quite impressed upon opening the Ares and Crius.
Quality build, solid feel, and attention to the little things. A quality cable(similar to TD100 style but slightly softer) with very nice Y joint, cable slider, and plug. A neat movable cable wrap on the cord which I find unobtrusive and comes in handy. Solid and hefty metal housings with good reliefs and nice fabric mesh screens that have survived plenty of tips changes without incident. They are a sealed design capable of above average isolation(YMMV, of course). There are no readily apparent vent holes. Fairly weighty overall but just a nice solid feel to them. The smallish housings have some heft but stay fine in my ears.
Both are equipped with armature drivers
10Hz - 20KHz Frequency Response
20 grams weight(Crius), 25 grams(Ares)
26dB is the claimed isolation
Sensitivity is not given on the box but the Starsonic spec says 95dB
1 year warranty
Both phones are well extended, balanced, clear and detailed. They seem to extend fairly equally on both ends and both drop off quickly at the ends. The highs and lows don't fade on either end more than just kind of stop. This is good as the treble stays apparent and crisp while the bass doesn't fade or weaken but stays pretty full and competent as low as it will go. The balance on both is fairly even between bass, mids, and treble.
If you have read Joker's description of the Pioneer CLX60 it is a good reference. The sound of these earphones is extremely close. I own the Pioneer, so I have A/B'd the three phones. The Crius is slightly more clear and clean while the Ares is slightly more full, rich sounding. The CLX 60 is ever so slightly mid-forward of the two. They are eerily similar and at one point of my burn in, I could not tell the Ares and Pioneer apart. So, both phones are closer to neutral sounding family with the Ares being more full sounding of the two. RE0 and RE-ZERO would be the same type of relationship for the Crius and Ares.
Their sound is a rather unique presentation that is fun and also analytical; Ares slightly more to the former and the Crius slightly to the latter. The soundstage size the phones have is slightly above average height and depth and good positioning within the image. Crius a slight bit better at pinpoint imaging and separation due to being a bit cleaner/tighter. The stage width and height can be better depending on tip used. The longer smaller opening tips give better depth while, you guessed it, the wider opening tips give more top to bottom height.
Two things I find worthy to note. I like my treble and the Ares and Crius have enough treble and sparkle for me to enjoy without any EQ. The other thing is that they do take EQ quite well and they sound extremely nice when tweaked to my liking.
I was sent the phones to evaluate and suggest improvements. I have to say, the well thought out and well finished products they sent me made it harder than I thought it was going to be. I only have a few things to note that are all minor and not deal breakers.
1) The earphones are more shallow insertion phones. I can use two or three of the included tips well, the large softer flange and the medium/large longer flange. I take medium tips on a majority of phones so larger ear canals may have concern. Not a deal breaker since both phones do well over the ear where deeper insertion works well and the problem no longer really applies. The previously mentioned Pioneer phones add larger size tips for the Western markets and Starsonic could do the same as Vivian mentioned that they want to try other markets themselves. I suggested maybe a second larger bi-flange and possibly the shiny style foam tips to make a very complete fit kit.
2) In the picture above you can see the Ares package has Bass Hyper Sound on it. They just don't have the amount of bass that the package might suggest. Good quality bass similar level to the CLX60, more than the RE0/RE-ZERO, just not matching the definition of the word hyper.
3) The cable has a bit above average microphonics. A bit of nit-picking. it is a good cable. The cord slider reduces it while wearing them down and over the ear wearing eliminates most of it.
That's It. No real deal breakers at all. I thought I would get some early prototypes of some kind but I actually got a finished product that is hard to complain about. The Ares/Crius are budget priced but perform solidly on the mid-level. The domestic price is ~$75 for Ares and ~60 for the Crius. The price for other markets such as the US or Europe, while yet to be determined, should be in that vicinity making them a nice deal. Again, I was told they plan to try the US/Europe markets.
I posted to let others check them out and comment on them. Starsonic seems to want the feedback as well. Like with the HDDS earphones, they are slightly harder to get outside of China ATM, but they can be had as well. Certainly worth having, IMHO.
Edited by jant71 - 5/19/11 at 2:54pm