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[REVIEW] DUNU Ares and Crius

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

First, I’ll like to thank DUNU for the sample. DUNU, also known as TopSound, might not be a familiar name to most of the newcomer in the IEM world. But a few years ago, they built themselves a reputation not only as the first Chinese IEM maker to manufacture balanced armature based IEM under their own brand name, but also one of the major headphone OEM for big brand name. However, conflict between a few major share holders in 2008 forced the company to temporary cease all operation on their own IEM brand and instead, switched the attention into OEM business. With share holders’ issue being resolved last year, DUNU finally is ready to re-establish themselves as a major player in the ever growing Chinese IEM market. The first two models of the company, Ares (DN-11) and Crius (DN-13) which will be reviewed here, mark the first wave of multiple new IEM that will be launched within the year. Though DUNU current main focus is still on regaining their foothold in the local Chinese market, I think it is only a matter of time before we start seeing their product being sold oversea. Why? Let’s read on.

 

DN11-01.jpg

 

DN13-01.jpg

 

SPEC

Driver: Balanced armature transducer

Impedance: 26ohm

Sensitivity: 105 +/- 2dB

Frequency Response: 10Hz - 20kHz

Cable: 1.2m, 3.5mm gold plated stereo plug.

Retail Price (China): Ares - $75, Crius - $60.

 

DN11-02.jpg

 

DN13-02.jpg

 

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality

The word ‘pro’ popped into my mind when I first took these packages out of the shipping box. The level of finish and refinement on the packaging is closer to that of what you will expect from a big company. DUNU isn’t cutting any corner on the packaging, or anything inside.

 

DN11-03.jpg

The velvet soft pouch (right) comes only with Ares.

 

DN11-04.jpg

 

DN11-05.jpg

 

DN11-07.jpg

Left (blue) and Right (red) are marked by colors

 

Ares comes with 3 pairs of narrow nozzle single flange silicone eartips (S, M, L) and three pair of wide nozzle single flange (S,M, L), a pair of bi-flanges, a soft synthetic  PU leather pouch, a soft velvet pouch, and a hard glossy plastic case. There is also a special cable wrap attracted to the cable itself, a good plus there. Crius has almost the same set of accessories except the soft velvet pouch. All accessories are of good quality, to say the least.

 

Build quality is some of the best in business.  The mini plug feels really well made. The cable is solid but a little springy, though surprisingly not quite as memory-effect prone as I thought. The Y-splitter is covered with a great looking piece of aluminum, probably CNC’ed. The earpiece themselves look and feel great too. The finishing and attention to detail is second to none among all the Chinese IEM I have ever seen. In fact, Ares housing is gold plated while Crius housing uses titanium alloy - not the kind of things you will find on a pair of sub-$100 IEM, *anywhere. Isolation wise, Ares is about average and Crius is slightly better because it has a deeper fit. Microphonics is decent on both. They can be wore over-the-ear to further cut down any cable noise.

 

DN13-03.jpg

 

DN13-04.jpg

 

DN13-06.jpg

 

Overall, both pairs of IEM come out very strong as highly polished products. The only issue, if I were to nitpick, is the design. From looking at them, there is no doubt that one will see the shadow of Monster Turbine and Jam series, especially on the color scheme. Knowing DUNU is more than capable of making top quality IEM of their own, I hope they do spend a little more time on the design to truly differentiate themselves in the future and add more value to the brand. Another thing to note is the weight of the earpiece, especially on Ares. The full metal construction means it is a little heavy on the hand, but not enough to cause the earpiece to fall out randomly.

 

Sound Quality

Both IEM have been given no less than 50+ hrs of burn-in before the review. No major change was detected.

 

DN11-06.jpg

 

The sound signature of Ares is warm, full, slightly lower mid centric with a good vocal. Bass extends low but in a roll-off fashion. Slightly slow in speed, not the big bass type but still fairly decent in body and texture. Mid is where the strength is. Well placed, slightly forward and sweet but not overly so. Lush, textured and detailed, especially good in slow vocal. Treble also extends decently far, but too in a roll-off fashion, just a tad too smooth and can use more sparkles. Soundstage is above average and surprisingly good for the warmish sound signature.

 

DN13-05.jpg

 

The sound signature of Crius is slightly warm, clean, a little bass light and slightly upper mid centric. If anything, Crius is the clean version of Ares, better at detail but loses some of the lushness. Bass is neutral and rolls off completely at the lower end. Mid is still where the strength is. A little sweet, but not as forwarded. It exchanges some of the texture and lushness for a better sense of space. While not abundantly more than Ares, treble gets better presented due to the reduction of mid and bass. Top end still slightly roll-off, but more sparkle and better micro detail. Soundstage loses some of the intimacy from Ares but gains better in transparency and imaging, still a slight win overall.

 

While Ares and Crius might not sound same, they do feel alike. It is the same warmish tone that gets presented differently. One is being lush while the other one is being analytical, and both have a good mid range and sound signatures that don’t offend. They are relaxing to listen and sound especially good with slow music, like female jazz vocalist. If you don’t mind a little EQ, some treble boost for the Ares or bass boost for Crius will make them much more versatile.

 

Verdict

While neither Ares nor Crius has a killer sound quality in their price range, they do have a lot of things to love for.  Combining an easy going sound, great build quality and accessories all in a highly polished packaging, DUNU has not one but two IEM that well worth their price, and they are only two of the first four models that have been launched to the market so far. With DN-16 (*said to have even better sound quality than the previous four models) now on the horizon, and the dual dynamic DN-20 in its final stage of prototyping, we can expect more to come from the house of DUNU. Hopefully by the time they will have expanded to international market too.

 

For numeric rating, check out the Concise Multi-IEM Comparison in my sig.


Edited by ClieOS - 5/10/11 at 8:18pm
post #2 of 24

Nice review, as usual. I agree 100% on the impressions. Do you feel, like I, that they are better sounding with the thicker, narrow opening tips? Seems to keep resonance a bit more in check.

 

Had lJokersl Xcape V1 for quite a while. Two days before I sent the Ares/Crius to Rawster and then to lJokerl and for a couple days after I got the DUNU back. Not as good technically as the Xcape but every time I preferred the sound of the Ares. The "lush"(to quote you) sound is just more enjoyable to me each time.

 

I believe the English packaging is near finished and more samples are on the way to the US. So, the international release is not that far off anymore.

 

I believe they will follow, the correct, higher model numbers have better sound scheme. So, 16-20 will be better than 11-14. Their top model dual dynamic will be quite interesting. That's just the dynamics. There are possible armatures as well including a multi-armature top model also. Hopefully they will come to fruition.

Dunu.jpg

 

Looks good and hopefully they will become a major player again. More good stuff for us.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post

Nice review, as usual. I agree 100% on the impressions. Do you feel, like I, that they are better sounding with the thicker, narrow opening tips? Seems to keep resonance a bit more in check.


...

Yep, I do end up using narrow opening eartips on both of the.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post
...

Looks good and hopefully they will become a major player again. More good stuff for us.


L3000.gif

 

post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

 

SPEC

Driver: 8mm dynamic transducer

Impedance: 26ohm

Sensitivity: 105 +/- 2dB

Frequency Response: 10Hz - 20kHz

Cable: 1.2m, 3.5mm gold plated stereo plug.

Retail Price (China): Ares - $75, Crius - $60.

 

 

 

Hi guys, this is DUNU official account. You can call me Mr. DUNU or just DUNU that would be fine.

 

Thanks ClieOS and Jant71 for great reviews. However, there is data needed to be corrected.

 

Actually, DN-11 Ares DN-13 Crius are Balanced Armature earphone.
 

 

And great news for you that DUNU is going to have a sponorship in Head Fi.

 

Now DUNU can provide you more product information, discount, leaking news, and also response to your questions.  

 

So any event or news would you want for our first post?  (DN-16?)

 

Please leave me message or reply on this post first wink_face.gif.

 

http://www.dunu-topsound.com/

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DUNU-Topsound View Post

 

...

Thanks ClieOS and Jant71 for great reviews. However, there is data needed to be corrected.

 

Actually, DN-11 Ares DN-13 Crius are Balanced Armature earphone.
 

First post corrected. Wow, never thought they are BA driver. Are Hades and Trident both BA driver too?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DUNU-Topsound View Post

 

...

And great news for you that DUNU is going to have a sponorship in Head Fi.

...

Welcome to the HF community!!! Will love to see more great products from you in the future.
 

 

post #6 of 24

Nice review ClieOS. I agree with just about all of it when I had the loaner Ares and Crius.

 

Also that is really surprising that they are BA drivers. They sounded so much like dynamics and never would have thought them to be BA.

post #7 of 24

Same here. Never would have pegged either one for a BA. Amazing.

 

Thanks for the review, ClieOS.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Nice review ClieOS. I agree with just about all of it when I had the loaner Ares and Crius.

 

Also that is really surprising that they are BA drivers. They sounded so much like dynamics and never would have thought them to be BA.



 

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the comments, guy. I never really saw any official spec that has the full driver detail on either models, but almost all the discussion over at erji.net on both models seems to suggest their are dynamic driver. I won't assume otherwise.

post #9 of 24

I am rubbing my eyes to confirm but don't they look like MTPG and Jamz?

 

It is interesting to know these are actually BA driver-based than dynamic.

post #10 of 24

Yea looks like monster turbine but that "leather" wallet pouch sure pretty! :p

post #11 of 24

These actually look pretty nice. It's interesting how they managed to tune a BA IEM to sound like a dynamic.

 

Also, those tips look like exactly the same ones that came with the GR07.  Interesting.

 

(oh, also, the background music on erji.net is awfully annoying, please make it go away. :P)

post #12 of 24

Thanks for the confirmation on the armatures. I had just heard that and was waiting on some confirmation. Quite impressive with the more expensive driver choice adds to the list of higher quality materials used.

 

Sorry for any misleading on my part. I was originally told they were dynamic. But there was, AFAIK, changes to original plans and these are quite different now. Hence some of the confusion on materials and even price. At least its turning out to be better. Many times we're let down.

 

Now, thinking back, it makes more sense how they thin out and go toward the Xcape signature with added impedance. I rarely hear dynamics lose that much "weight" with the P->S adapter. Also how they never gave hint of any driver flex.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 

Ah, I just love their build quality, even compared to the MTPC I received a few weeks ago. I know DUNU is looking into multi-BA universal as well, just can't wait to see an Ares-like dual or triple driver in the future.

post #14 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

 

First post corrected. Wow, never thought they are BA driver. Are Hades and Trident both BA driver too?

 

Welcome to the HF community!!! Will love to see more great products from you in the future.
 

 


Thanks ClieOS for the quick correction and warm welcome wink_face.gif .  DN-11 Ares,  DN-13 Crius and Hades are all BA type, not including DN-12 Trident .

 

DUNU will certainly briing more products on the market. Besides DN-11 Ares DN-12 Trident DN-13 Crius and DN-16 Hephaes,

 

We are now working on DN-10 DN-14 DN-17 and  DN-20 with advanced "Two driver units", more DUNU news will be coming soon lol. Here are some pics related to  DN-14,  cover draft and covering. I won't put too much pic or  information on this thread. after all this is A review article lol.   News would be update on DUNU website and facebook page as well.

 


DN-14 cover draft.jpg

DN-14 covering.jpg


 

post #15 of 24

hi clieos

donno if this already was asked. can you compare the Ares (and Crius) size(s) with the Xcape IE or Xcited? 

i got the Xcited and i found them longer than the Re0. not much but enough to say that the Re0 are comfortable and i can get a good fit , and the opposite with the sunrise

thanks

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