Dunu DN-19 Tai Chi Review: A tunable flagship
The Tai Chi is the latest, and probably, the best of Dunu´s line, at least for what their universal dynamic IEMS line goes (until I get a chance to try one of their Customs, that is ). And has a special feature that allows the sound to be tunable by preference, up to a certain limit.
So, for some change, let´s start directly with the Sound.
As said the sound can be tunned, so this section would take more time than usual.
It comes already in the NO-dampers + Black Hybrid style eartips configuration, so let´s start from that.
As seen on the graph, this setup provides a more bassy or V-shaped freq. curve. And in fact, that´s pretty accurate. Well, actually a more U-shape.
Here, with the bass ports open AND using the black tips, the bass is very, very present. A warm, powerful and hard hitting low end, which sometimes can be too boomy. Sub bass reaches deep and Mid bass has quite a rumble. It´s truly fun, but might be overwhelming for some. It´s more of quantity than quality, lacking some control and tightness, and can be a bit tiring.
Coming to the mid-range, as expected, there is a bit of bass bleed into the mids, adding more weight. Vocals while full, are definitely not forward, but also not recessed at all, and in fact, a bit veiled. Still, the details are maintained.
Finally, the high end, is very smooth, yet detailed. Luckily no sibilance nor harshness. And maybe lacking a bit of energy, mostly due to the big bass.
Now, with the dampers ON, sealing the bass ports.
While it´s suggested by Dunu to use the gray eartips when ports sealed, and so having 2 different sounds, the black tips + dampers already change enough the sound to be called 3 different sounds.
In this configuration, obviously the bass takes a big step back. You get a more controlled, tighter and with no doubt a better quality low end. It´s still very present and the whole sound keeps its warmth, but with a different presentation, becoming a more mid-centered to neutral and airy sound.
Mids are much more forward, not veiled as before, and carry more detail.
Upper mids and lower highs are the most changed here. For example, electric guitars have more energy and cymbals more sparkle (but wait for the last and “official” setup).
Finally, the last configuration using the gray eartips and keeping the bass ports closed.
Now, you get more flat FR curve. Bass is much lighter, tight and just punchy, but not to be called ´bass-light´ like some analytical earphones (but it´s what you feel after listening to the previous tunings).
The midrange keeps its forwardness, but less thick. A more airy sound, with better separation. Vocals are colder but more detailed. In fact the whole sound is more detailed.
Highs reach further and roll of later.
Like this it´s more suited to classical music, for example.
Soundstage is well-rounded, but depending on the setup, it´s wider, deeper and/or higher.
All in all, a great all-arounder sound, to user preference. A very versatile product, which works good with most music genres (even more with the tuning system), and doesn´t excels in something in particular.
On a side note, my main listening was via a Sansa Clip+, like other earphones, and it was good enough. But it´s worth mentioning that when plugged to my notebook, and using the black tips + open ports, it sounded much better. Better speed and more quality bass and more clear sound overall. Which is only a plus.
Now for the formalities.
Package & Accessories:
Like with previous Dunu´s products it comes in a black and quite large box (well protected btw), and with a nice accessory set.
4 pairs of hybrid style black eartips in 3 sizes (1xS, 2xM, 1xL)
3 pairs of gray eartips (S,M,L)
1 metal hard case
1 carrying bag
Earguides (2 (?) pairs, 1 already on the earpieces, and an extra on the small box)
3.5 to 6.25 plug a adaptor
AND the small bag with lot of small tiny dampers. Really tiny.
Very nice, typical of Dunu.
Build & Design:
Again, like their previous models, these are very well built. Not of metal but plastic, but very well made.
The L plug is well relieved.
And the cable of good quality as well, thick and sturdy. BUT, while it has ZERO microphonics, it´s very hard to handle as it´s very springy. The shirt clip feels like a must.
And of course, it has the Dunu cable wrapper attached, which is very useful.
On the earpieces plates there is like a ´tai chi symbol´ design, which looks very classy (can´t get it with camera).
Fit & Comfort:
For an over-the-ear design the fit is a bit tricky and might take a while to find the best angle. Once the right fit, it is very comfortable. For some, the bass ports can get in the way, but I had no problems. The earpieces are of low profile so they won´t stick out from your ears, and can be used for long period of time.
As made of plastic, and not from metal like previous models, they are very lightweight too.
(I found them most comfortable with the black tips, but not so much with the gray ones, which I had some issues to get a good seal and fit.)
Isolation is pretty decent with the black hybrid tips, but just average (or less) with the gray ones, even being longer.
No driver flex and no microphonics.
Driver: 10mm Dynamic
Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 26 kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Sensitivity: 100 + 2 dB
Wire Length: 1.3m
Noise attenuation: 26 dB
Price: $127 (MSRP)
To sum up. It´s a very well built, comfortable and fairly tunable product. It won´t be your bang-for-back, at least not for SQ alone (for neither setup), specially in the $100+ cathegory, but taken as a whole package it´s a good buy. Even more if considering making a gift.
On a final word. A BIG Thanks to Dunu and Rocky for the chance of reviewing this last product. Hope you find this helpful as I enjoyed writing it.
Some short comparisions:
Round 1 VS FA Eterna V1:
With the black tips and open ports, it reminds me quite a bit of the Eterna. A very fun bass with warm mids.
Being the Eterna more colored on the lower end, and the Tai chi having a bit more forward mids.
Round 2 VS HSA Crystal:
(Again with the same configuration)
Both share a slight U-shaped signature.
The Crystal have a much thighter and accurate bass, but also thinner mids, specially the vocals.
Still, the HSA win when it comes to clarity and micro detail (not a Hifiman RE0, but close).
Highs have more sparkle on the Crystal, while the Dunu´s are smoother.
The Hisound are also need more power to shine.
Round 3 VS Dunu DN-17 Crater:
Now, with the black + closed ports.
Like this I find the Tai Chi being a great upgrade from the Crater. While keeping the forward mids and sweet vocal, the Tai Chi are fuller on both ends, and so a much better all-arounders.
Edited by Zelda - 7/3/13 at 11:02pm