Pros: Build Quality, Bass
Cons: Some sibilance
Since the packaging is almost exactly the same as the Ares, here's my review of the Ares packaging:
First thoughts that came to my head was "professional." These headphones came in fantastic packaging that made the A151, RE0 and E30 look like toy headphones. It's not that the others had bad packaging, it's just that Dunu has held nothing back when presenting their flagship IEMs.
When you first open the carefully packed box your greeted to a white box with Chinese writing on it with the Ares huge on the front. Dunu's logo appears in the upper left with a website url and on the bottom it says in English, "Ares." On one side of the box a simply profile outline of the IEM and a UPC is shown, on the other side pictures of the accessories, cables, the 45 degree angled plug and cable splitter are shown with little descriptions of each. On the back a list of product features is displayed in English and Chinese along with specifications. There's also what I believe to be an authentication sticker on the back, but it's in Chinese so I'm unable to read.
This is all with just the cardboard sleeve surrounding the box. Once that is taken off you're greeted with a very sleek minimalist black matte cardboard box with Dunu's logo and website only shown. The box opens like a book, with a side hanging down on the right being held nice and snug by magnets. This is a beautiful touch. When opened you're greeted by the beautiful Dunu Ares IEMs in a soft velvet covered black plastic mold with one of the three carrying pouches provided. I personally find this one to be a bit gaudy and aimed more at girls with it's shiny look, but it provides decent protection at the very least.
When the velvet plastic mold is removed you're greeted with two other carrying pouches, one a soft pleather brown pouch that looks rather classy with a small Dunu logo and tag, it uses a string to tighten/loosen it. The other pouch is made of velvet and uses magnetic metal buttons with a Dunu logo appearing on the gold button. There's also a Dunu tag. Also included is a set of S/M/L Mushroom silicon tips, another pair or flatter mushroom shaped tips in S/M/L and a set of silicon bi-flanges.
This is hands down the best packaging I've seen in a pair of IEMs under $100, Dunu isn't holding back anything with it's flagship IEM.
The only thing to note of being a major difference is the lack of a velvet pouch. Everything else is pretty much the same and I say that in high regards.
Design and Build Quality
Again DUNU is offering another very well built product here. There's not much bad I can honestly say about the Hephaes as far as build quality is concerned. The red flamed silver housing is solid in every way with each IEM having a DUNU logo on the outside edge opposite of the ear tips and an indicator of left or right. My only complaint with the Heaphaes for build quality is the very short stress relief, which could lead to problems in the future. The cable feels solid and has enough flex to not worry about it. The Y-split is silver, aluminum and rectangular shaped with DUNU on one side and Hephaes on another with the cinch built into the split very sleekly. The cable terminates into a well built 45 degree angled 3.5mm plug.
The DUNU Hephaes have a rather deep insertion which with the provided single flanged tips I used they provided adequate comfort, but not enough to make them unnoticeable in your ears. They do provide decent isolation though blocking out about 50% of outside noises with music off and almost everything except heavy wind with the music on.
DUNU proves it is perfectly capable of making quality built headphones with every offering so far. There's a wealth of tips to choose from, two carrying cases to choose from, and built in cable management I've grown to love and wish every IEM had. DUNU is on top of the build quality, packaging, and design game. Hats off to them.
I gave the Hephaes well over 100 hours of use and burn-in time over the course of using these. Throughout the time I didn't notice any noticeable changes.
The Hephaes are describe as the fun bassy pair from DUNU and they definitely fit that role. The Hephaes have incredible bass for an IEM. The bass extends well down there able to reproduce anything our ear can hear. While being extremely well extended the bass has great control and while it's the star of the show here, it only slightly pushes into the mids. The mids have a nice clear sweet sound to them with decent detail working for rock music to rap. My only problem with the miss is that they can be a tad pushy in the upper frequencies bordering into the highs giving them a sharp edge at times with some sibilance noticed. The highs extend decently well, but seem a bit laid back at times and aren't as detailed as the rest of the spectrum. The highs are good, but certainly leave a little to be desired, though I feel this could be a result of a upper-mid peak that causes some irritation when listening.
The soundstage is intimate, but never feels cramped here. Everything feels punchy and has enough room to breath, I liken it to a small club. The Hephaes aren't the most detailed, but rarely do I feel as if I'm missing something and the clarity is certainly good here with only some grain. As for amping, I feel the Hephaes improve decently with an amp. Through my iBasso D4 the Hephaes feel punchier and a bit more open in comparison to my iPod. I would definitely recommend amping these, but I've greatly enjoyed them unamped through my iPod Classic.
Onto the songs:
Hot Chip - The Warning
This song is very clean sounding yet fuzzy at the same time with a good mix of highs and lows. The xylophone sounds very clear through the Hephaes as if it were in the same room as me, though it sounds a bit distant. The bass comes in and absolutely thumps, but not in an impeding way, a nice warm thump that sounds very clean. The piano comes in sounding very fuzzy and I mean that in a good way. The xylophone becomes very hard to hear as the vocals come in unfortunately, but to be fair they weren't very forward in the mix to begin with. The vocals are only slightly grainy with a good warmth to them, but there's definitely sibilance shown. Even with the flaws I'm very much enjoying the warm sense the Hephaes give this song with the excellent bass quantity and quality.
Sufjan Stevens - Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
I chose this song again due to the fuzzy piano that has a warm sound to it while a cold sounding riff is played. The piano sounds absolutely perfect, fuzzy and cold at the same time. The vocals are hushed, soft, and intimate, as Sufjan should sound. There's not much more to say about this other than it sounds great through the Hephaes.
Ratatat - Wildcat
Classic rock elements combined with electronic make this a fun song to listen to. The samples and various guitar riffs sound absolutely wonderful while the bass rolls along with authority and thumps my ears. This song has a lot of energy through the Hephaes, the highs blend perfectly with the bass and the synths have a perfect analog sound to them.
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Rage are known for their excellent mastering and production, so why not use them? Right away the guitar roars with authority as the kick drum emphasizes the attitude of the song. The song kicks in and honestly I may have never heard it this good. The bass is absolutely thumping, but polite about it. The guitars are fuzzy and full with attitude to fit the theme of the song. The vocals some in and there's sibilance again while being a little recessed, but they still sound good. The song definitely sounds very angry and energetic through the Hephaes.
Kanye West - Hell of a Life
I had to test rap through these. The synth sounds fat at the start and once the bass comes in it thumps with authority. Kanye himself sounds slightly distant, not as good as I'd like, but the bass is making up for it. The slight lack of detail takes away some of the focus from the samples, but they are still heard if listening.
The Hephaes are very fun to listen to with some of the strongest bass I've ever heard in a ~$100 iem. The build quality is near perfect with an excellent list of accessories. These are definitely for bass heads, but even a fan of the Ad900 like me is very greatly enjoying these as a mix-up to my usual mid-centric sound signature. For the $93 asking price I feel there's some kinks that could be worked out, sibilance and the upper mid hump, but I can't think of another IEM with the quality and quantity of bass the Hephaes have. Bass heads I'm sorry for your wallet!
Come see more photos of the Hephaes here!
Edited by keanex - 1/27/12 at 9:53am