Delicate, Unique N Utmost (DUNU), is a Taiwan-based company, perhaps most known in Head-Fi for it’s popular bang/buck IEM Trident (DN-12).
In 2007, DUNU released the first ever Chinese BA-based IEM, the I3C.
Priced at 599RMB (roughly ~100$), it was dirt-cheap for a BA at that time, but sadly never gained popularity outside of the country.
Now, DUNU has released an upgraded version of the I3C, the DUNU I3C-S, a single BA transducer on each ear, priced at 499RMB, it’s even cheaper than the first generation, but the competition are also catching up, with more similarly-priced single BA like MEElec A151, SoundMAGIC PL50 popping up, and newly announced company flagship Astrotec AM-90 fighting for the top spot.
Without further ado, let me introduce you, the DUNU I3C-S
Driver: Single Balanced Armature
F. Response: 16Hz~22KHz
Impendence: 10 Ω
Cord Type & Length: 1.2m L-Plug
Hard Metal Case (UE like)
Soft pleather pouch
3.5 to 6.5 adapter
200Ω noise attenuator, which, if used with a amplifier, is said to, and I quote "give you different experience of superior quality, recognition and pleasure."
Sony Hybrid-like tips 4 pair (S, Mx2, L)
Single-Flange tips 3 pairs (S, M, L)
Bi-Flange tips x1
Nozzle size is 3.5mm, and features a metal mesh filter.
Cable is rubbery, but is tangle-free and memory-free, also never absent is the DUNU patented cable wrap.
L-Plug is beefy, adequate strain relief on the jack.
Strain-relief on the phone however, is a little bit too rigid for my liking.
Cable Guide is more rigid than VSonic’s… I’m not sure which one I like more, as I almost never use cable guides.
Even without the cable guide, the cable doesn’t fight on my ears, but it helps to use the cable guide while doing rigorous movements like jogging or any other sports.
The inclusion of cable cinch also helps a lot.
Build quality is excellent, and attention to detail is typical DUNU, nearing perfection.
Short Nozzles prevents a deep insertion, but the small body helps, I’m able to push them in a little, but perhaps someone with a smaller ear will need bi-flanges to achieve maximum isolation.
Source: iPod Touch 4th Gen
Amp: Fiio E11
One of the limitations of a single full range BA driver is that they strain to reach both end of the spectrum, and this reflects on the I3C-S lower-end, which rolls-off around the sub-bass area.
Bass is punchy and fast however, and is heard more than felt.
I find the description of the mids very similar to Joker’s review of another China’s BA-based IEM, the SoundMAGIC PL50.
Smooth, and seems like the focus of the presentation because of the smoothness across the entire spectrum.
Presentation is more intimate than the CK10, which is the only other BA IEM in my possession.
Can also sound a little thin at times.
Smooth, perhaps with a little bit sparkle, not the focus of the presentation.
I want to say that there is no sibilance, but then again, I never had sibilance even with the GR07, so take this with a grain of salt.
Imaging is average, not good, but not bad either.
Detail is good, but perhaps can sound smoothed out on very busy tracks.
Clarity is top-notch, just like a BA should be.
It is also surprisingly transparent.
Soundstage is average, and doesn’t have the layered feeling of a dynamic driver like the FXT90.
Natural timbre, too, isn’t as good as FXT90, which is the best I heard from any IEM, but is good for a BA.
Instrumental Seperation however, is excellent for the price.
The I3C-S is very efficient, especially for a BA, which usually requires more power, and doesn’t explicitly needs amping.
Using the Fiio E11 brings tighter bass however, but for unknown reason, give them a muffled-like sound.
After a few months of experience, I've come to realize that usability plays an important part in the "portable" world.
Assuming that you're buying an IEM for the sake of portability, this makes the usability of the IEM very important.
A great sounding IEM with horrible microphonics and mediocre isolation won't let you 100% enjoy your music on the move.
So, I'm pleased to say that I have no usability issues with the I3C-S.
Mostly thanks to the over-the-ear design, microphonics is low to non-existent;
decent isolation, and easy-fitting also helps usability
Almost all of DUNU’s higher end lineup consists of BA-based drivers, and it isn’t surprising.
The last few years technology has advanced pretty far, which results in BA drivers coming down in prices, and enables budget BA-based IEM’s to pop out here and there.
The I3C-S is one of them, bringing Hi-Fi Sound under 100$ is quite an achievement, and I applaud DUNU for making quite the budget BA.
Coupled with excellent build, a bundle of useful accessories, and great costumer service, it isn't hard to say that this is a great deal.
Based on Joker's Multi-IEM review comparison, Score is about (7.5~8/10)
I decided to skip on using the 200 Ohm Impendence Adapter to review because even when using the Fiio E11 with High Gain and maximum volume, it’s still very hard to achieve normal listening levels, and as I don’t have a more powerful amp, I got no other choice.
Bass can be quite underwhelming for some
Special thanks to Rocky Wu from DUNU, to whom which gave me the privilege of reviewing this particular IEM.
Edited by Xinn3r - 6/11/12 at 6:18am