As always, these are strictly my opinions.
I try to present these products as honestly as possible and try to describe them as best as possible.
As always, YMMV.
DUNU ARES & DUNU HEPHAES
DUNU ARES (DN-11) SPEC’S:
· Driver Unit HQ Dynamic 9mm
· Impedance 26 Ohm
· SPL 105 +/-2db
· Frequency Response 10Hz – 20kHz
· Noise Attenuation 26db
· Weight 25g
· Plug size 3.5mm Gold Plated Stereo
· Cord Length 1.2m
DUNU HEPHAES (DN-16) SPEC’S:
· Type HQ Dynamic 9mm
· Impedance 16 Ohm
· SPL 105 +/-2db
· Frequency Response 10Hz~20KHz
· Noise Attenuation 26db
· Weight 22g
· Plug size Gold-plated 3.5mm Stereo
· Cord Length 1.2m
EQUIPMENT USED ON THIS REVIEW:
- Please see my profile for a list of most of my equipment.
BACKGROUND & FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
Lately I have been getting requests to review all sorts of stuff for various manufacturers. Every once in a while I will get something that surprises me. When I saw the packaging and the presentation of both of these in ear monitors, I was blown away. The attention to detail, the high quality packaging, the build quality and the extras included within are nothing short of impressive.
This duo was a definite surprise for me…read on to see why….
Between these two IEM’s, I listened to quite a bit of music…too much to list. However, please see my other reviews to see what my normal demo choices are.
THOUGHTS ON SOUND:
The Hephaes (DN-16):
The DUNU Hephaes has one major thing going for it…BASS. Make no mistake about it, the Hephaes is made to deliver bass and it does so. As a result, the midrange is contaminated with the over-emphasized flabby bass and to a degree, so are the highs. The overall sound on the Hephaes is a dark, veiled sound that sounds slow and muffled.
Playing “Scar Tissue” on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album “Californication”made this extremely evident. The guitar sounded more like a bass guitar. The drums were muddy and a bit slow and the bass was flabby and had little definition. The distortion which is usually supremely evident on most IEM’s was barely there on the Hephaes. Moreover, the cable of the Hephaes is susceptible to microphonics. I was a tad disappointed to say the least.
After being disappointed with the Hephaes on nearly every single demo track, I decided to take a break and listen to something else. Later on that night I had a friend come over and we were talking about music. He pulled out his iPod to play something for me. The Hephaes was the nearest IEM I had available at the moment so I used that for a quick listen. For the first time…the FIRST TIME…the Hephaes sounded decent! The bass was low, the midrange sounded a bit better and the highs were present. So what gives!?
A few seconds of listening and looking at the iPod gave me the explanation I was looking for. THE MASTERING & GENRE!!!
Apparently the Hephaes doesn’t do well with well mastered recordings but if you throw the majority of modern recordings at it – especially in the electronic, pop and rap/hip-hop genres, the Hephaes sounds a bit better. It’s almost contradictory in nature but the Hephaes actually sounded better with bad recordings than it did with well mastered recordings. Interesting to say the least. The Hephaes sounds like it is made to play the newest singles from modern pop artists using modern mastering techniques.
The Ares (DN-11):
The Ares, thankfully for me and others, is the exact opposite of its sibling, the Hephaes. The Ares has a lot less bass, a nice midrange and a nice high end. While it will not handle the deepest bass of a modern hip-hop record, it handles well mastered recordings beautifully when compared to the Hephaes. Voices sound like voices, guitars sound like guitars and so on.
The sound of the Ares is smooth. Both extremes of the sound spectrum are rolled off but in a pleasant way. The main feature of the Ares which pops out is the lush mid-range which makes for a nice, pleasant sounding IEM.
Listening to various track excerpts from albums by the likes of Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Dire Straits, Chicago and many others, you can’t help but notice that the sound is pleasant and suited for various styles of music. Another nice thing about the Ares is the extras that it comes with. It comes with no less than 3 carrying pouches and 7 pairs of tips! Very nice!!!!
The Hephaes and the Ares are two siblings with different personalities. Which one you would want to buy depends totally on what kind of music you have and listen to and what your sound signature preferences are.
If you are looking for an affordable, natural sounding IEM between these two then the Ares would be the one to get. If you like your bass heavy and are looking for a very forgiving IEM that will make modern music tolerable, then the Hephaes is for you.
While neither of these has amazing, killer sound quality in their respective price ranges they should each find a niche to satisfy. Personally, I think the Ares could do with less packaging and less carrying cases and instead get a price cut. At $75.00 USD, the price is a little steep considering the sound quality. If DUNU could somehow price the Ares at $50.00 - $60.00 USD, I would think they would have a real winner and it would get a higher recommendation.
The Hephaes is priced at or slightly over $100.00 USD and while the looks are killer and the packaging and extras are very nice, I cannot see myself recommending this IEM to all but a very small portion of people I know. I know many audiophiles and music lovers and out of all of them I know of only one person who would actually enjoy the sound of the Hephaes. The Hephaes is more for people who enjoy listening to their Monster Beats and their modern music at 128kps in mp3 format. Being that this is Head-fi, I can’t possibly recommend the Hephaes to anyone here and retain a guilt free conscious. This isn’t to say the Hephaes is bad…it’s not bad…it’s just not Hi-Fi.
I can say that I will be watching what else DUNU puts out in the future. Their build quality, packaging and attention to detail is nothing short of fantastic. If they manage to refine the sound of their IEM’s, DUNU’s products will be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime however, I will be patiently keeping on eye on their products as they do show a lot of promise.
THE RESULTS IN SUMMARY:
Both headphones have awesome build quality that surpasses most efforts put out by other well known companies. The packaging and attention to detail receive extremely high marks as well!!!
The Ares: Recommended but shop around for the lowest price.
The Hephaes: Dark, muddy, flabby bass. Not Recommened if you want Hi-Fi sound. Perfect for the Beats crowd.