Pros: Good level of detail, good frequency extension on both sides, sound has good balance.
Cons: Some of the included tips are too large to fit on the nozzle, artificial sounding mid range most noticeable on modern or poorly recorded albums.
Preferred Genres: The revealing qualities of these makes them best suited for well-mastered classic rock albums, I’ve mostly enjoyed stuff like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.
Home: Musicbee (WASAPI) -> ODAC -> O2
Portable: iPod Classic
If you own another DUNU product, such as the Ares or Trident, then you should know what to expect from DUNU and their packaging design team by now. A thin sleeve houses the box and shows relevant information to someone who would be looking to buy these off the shelf somewhere. The front of the box has a nice shot the I 3C-S on a black background showing both sides of the housing with just a DUNU logo and the model name sharing space giving a minimalistic look. One side of the sleeve shows technical specs, the other shows some information about the IEMs. The back of the sleeve expands on the information given while also showing the accessories. Nothing really attracts my eye to this, but everything is very clean and easy to read, there’s no clutter.
The box slides out of the sleeve vertically to reveal a black box with just the DUNU logo in the center. The box opens on the side and is held closed with a magnet. The package opens up like reading a book and inside the I 3C-S sit securely in a velvet-esque covered plastic casing with a grey metal carrying case held below it. The accessories sit tucked away below the casing.
Now let’s talk accessories, the I 3C-S come with a hard shelled carrying case that seems like it may be water proof to some extent and should be comfortably enough to carry in most pockets, unless you wear tight fitting jeans. The interior is lined with black velvet, but isn’t padded. DUNU also includes their brown leather carrying pouch that other DUNU owners should be familiar with a drawstring on top to make sure nothing falls out. A 100 ohm resistance adaptor is included and while there’s no use for it with my O2, it is a very nice and welcomed addition especially for those who want to use their I 3C-S with desktop amps with a lot of output impedance. Rubber ear guides are included to help guide the IEMs over the ear, as well as is an airline adaptor. One interesting inclusion though is the 1/8’’ to 1/4’’ adaptor, this combined with the resistance adaptor is showing that DUNU wants users to not only enjoy these on the go, but also at home. A good amount of tips are included, from wide bored mushroom tips to narrow Sony Hybrid-esque tips, but one problem I had with the tips is that some of the included ones not only didn’t sit securely on the IEM, the dual flanged tips don’t stay on at all. The bore is far too wide and the tip falls off, this is the case for all of the wide bored tips actually. I’m not sure if these are the intended tips DUNU sent or if the packaging got mixed up on the tips, but they certainly aren’t useful. The last thing included is a little, I think, satin cloth that looks like a mouse pad without the padding. I’m not sure why it’s included and haven’t found a use yet.
I’ve always liked DUNU’s packaging, even if it is a bit bulky and not as environmentally friendly as others. The packaging gives off a feeling of the IEMs being built well and the design is done rather well, in a clean fashion. I love the included home conversion accessories that DUNU has included, but the tips are a big mistake here as they don’t fit. I’ve seen better packaging and I’ve seen worse, I do like that DUNU is remaining consistent though with the look and feel of the packaging.
Design and Build Quality
To be quite frank, DUNU really took a step down in their design here. The housing shape and color is uninspired as is the bland font choice and chemical sounding name. This is a huge step down from previous products like the Ares or Hephaes which were colorful and eye catching, these remind me of cheap IEMs I would buy at a flea market. With that said the housings do feel rather durable. The IEM is designed for over-ear use with a slight angle at the nozzle to help with insertion. The IEMs are made from a shiny metal looking light weight housing that is actually plastic. I 3C-S is in in a white font on the outside and a side indicator is on the back of the IEM while on the other side the small nozzle has a black fabric (nylon?) mesh filter that is not removable. A hard black rubber stress relief is built into the body of the housing. Everything about the housing feels very sturdy and well built, but I can not get over the generic design.
The cables are a dark grey on the outside and are made from silver. Now I don’t know if the silver is actually doing anything, other than being a selling point, but despite the thin cable the quality of the cable seems good enough to last for a while. The cable is thin, yet flexible, and I have no worries about it. DUNU has their name on one side of the black hard rubber y-split and they have included a cable cinch, which is much appreciated. The two thin cables become connected at the y-split and rather than become one bigger cable, they remain separate entities, which I am not a fan of. A cable wrap is on the lower half of the cable to hold the cable together when wrapped up and the cable terminates into a black plastic l-shaped 3.5mm plug that has the DUNU logo on it.
As always the I 3C-S received at least a total of 100 hours of burn-in/use before commenting on the sound. The I 3C-S saw minimal changes to the sound through the burn-in process, nothing I would consider major. As for amping, I’ve noticed no huge difference despite it or using the 100 ohm adaptor. I’ve chosen the DUNU mushroom tips, mostly because they are all that fit.
Like most balanced driver IEMs I’ve experienced the DUNU are best described as a detailed oriented IEM that overall has a balanced sound throughout that suits well-mastered albums over modern day masters. The ends of the frequency spectrum are represented in a balanced manner with decent extension, though the extreme lows are lacking. Let’s get into a little more detail though.
The lows extend well with decent presence, that is to say they extend well unless you find yourself listening to a lot of sub-bass intensive music then they are severely lacking. I’m not sure exactly where the frequency drops, but somewhere in the extreme lows they simply disappear. For most genres the bass is represented well, even for hip-hop tracks I found the bass to be adequate, but the bass quantity certainly won’t satisfy those who want a big thump from kick drums or that deep sub-bass for the dubstep wobbles. The bass quality is rather decent though, I found no signs of distortion despite the frequency, unless the headphones were far too loud, which shouldn’t be an issue to many and I found out by mistake. Lastly the I 3C-S do a decent job with speed. They are no Ad2000, but I don’t feel as if the bass is lagging behind.
The mids are the focus of the headphone as I would put the I 3C-S into the slightly mid-forward category, but there’s a huge problem with the mid-range here and it’s that it has a tendency to sound very artificial at times destroying the natural timbre of acoustic drums, vocals, guitars, and pianos, to name a few. I’m not exactly sure what is causing the problem, it may very well be the I 3C-S revealing flaws in the recording, but I will say that even on well recorded masters I’m not fully convinced that I’m hearing real instruments. The instruments tend to have a plastic sound to them, as if the band were using cheap instruments. This isn’t constant, but it’s a bother enough to turn me off from these for most tracks. The mids also have a slight grain to them that is present in any recording. The good news, though, is that sibilance is not a problem here, sure sibilant heavy recordings are exposed, but no more than they should be.
The highs are extended well without being harsh, but they also suffer from being a bit grainy as well, though not as much as the mids to my ears. The highs are well balanced with the mids and lows which is especially noticeable in Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb during the ending guitar solo, but they do sound a bit restrained at times. Perhaps I’m just used to my Ad2000 which are a bit bright. The highs have good presence, extension, and a decently clean sound from them, which is really all you can ask for at this price range.
The soundstage is on par for others I’ve heard in this price range. The width is decent and listening to some songs that benefit greatly from instrument separation shows that there is ample room for the instruments to have their space. The depth of the soundstage is very shallow though and I am thinking that hurts with the overall tonality in the mid-range as it feels a bit compressed due to this.
At first I really hated these IEMs, I was turned off by the lack of fitting tips, the artificial mid-range, and the lack of sub-bass, but these have turned out to be decent IEMs. Unfortunately decent does not cut it at this price range and I think that there are better options in the price range. There is too much here that rubs me the wrong way here and I feel DUNU has greatly missed the mark that their Ares and other IEMs have been able to hit.
Come see more pictures here.