About the Author
While having fleshed out my headphone experience with having tried out or owning most mid/hi-fi cans, I’m not the most experienced person out there when it comes to IEMs. I skipped up the rungs from having a few pairs of budget-fi stuff to the Westone 3, then immediately made the leap into CIEMs. I don’t necessarily prefer a certain sound signature, rather my favorite headphones are those that allow me to really get into and enjoy the music. Bass heavy (TH-900) as well as bass light (Sennheiser 598) headphones have made a fan out of me, so the DN-23’s lean towards a bassy sound isn’t to its (dis)/advantage. Take everything in the review as IMO.
For the sake for transparency, please note that this is a review pair of DN-23s. The author was not compensated in any other way for the review.
Several years ago I had a good amount of credit left on Amazon and needed a pair of IEMs for portable use, so I picked up a pair of Audio-Technica ATHCK7s that were going for about $80 at the time. I was rather underwhelmed with the IEMs, and at the time thought, “Ah, this is what $80 gets me.”
More recently, I hopped on the HiSound Populars at about the same retail price tag and was similarly underwhelmed.
Fast forward to the present, and I’ve been sent a pair of Dunu’s newest earphones, the DN-23 for review. The amount of accessories they managed to package into an entry level IEM is pretty staggering. A shirt clip, a hard case, a soft pouch, a 6.3mm adapter, an airline adapter, and multiple pairs of eartips are all included in the purchase price.
But the biggest surprise came when I plugged the IEMs in. I had the same thought again, but this time it was thought with a much more positive feeling. “Ah, this is what $80 gets me!”
The quality of the build was a very pleasant surprise for me coming from my previous experience with an IEM of this price range. The DN-23 has metal earpieces that feel substantial, and the logo etching on the back looks pleasing to the eyes. The cable feels supple and strong, the Y-splitter and the 3.5mm jack both give me a sense of confidence that they’re in it for the long haul.
Very pleased, by far the best experience I’ve had in this price range of IEMs thus far.
I paired the DN-23 with several DAPs, including the Sansa Clip+, the AK100, and the iPhone 5.
Warm and smooth sum up the DN-23 concisely, but it’s a warm and smooth sound that is done right. As advertised, the bass is the hero of the IEM in that it hogs the lion’s share of the sound. The bass sounds nice and hits with good impact way down low, but the emphasis is slightly above that in the mid-bass region. There’s no harshness with the Dunus, I was able to listen to them for several hours without feeling fatigued. Also perhaps of note in regards to not being fatigued – due to the bass-heavy nature, I listened to these IEMs at a higher volume than what I normally listen to my other IEMs at.
Because of how upfront the bass sounds hits the ears, the mids and highs are content to take a back seat. The balance is significantly better than my expectations coming into the review. The Populars suffered from a near-complete absence of treble sparkle and heavily recessed mids, but the DN-23 manages to toe the line nicely.
The overall sound signature is U-shaped to my ears – a noticeable decline in the mids coupled with fair extension into the highs. Detail and background instruments/vocals on the higher end of the frequency range sound somewhat muffled compared to equipment I’m used to, but the emphasis on the lower end actually makes for an at-times excellent presentation. For some R&B and hip hop songs I listen to where there’s a lot of play on the bass line, the DN-23 give me an urge to toe-tap and dance. That’s something I’ve never had with previous IEMs in this price range, and is the reason I’m impressed with the Dunu IEM. It’s able to make me forget about the intricacies and finesse more expensive options give me, and makes me want to groove to the music. Good stuff.
These are fantastic for portable use. I enjoyed them in my at-times-rather-loud work atmosphere. They’re heavier than I’d prefer in regards to taking for extended runs outside, but were solid for jogs. Also great for stationery weight lifting and time spent at the gym.
I think they’re priced at a very reasonable point. For $80, I don’t think bass enthusiasts can go wrong. I have a friend at work that falls under this category – gave her a bit of time with the DN-23 and she was very, very happy with it.
My first impression of Dunu as a manufacturer is a highly positive one, and I’d like to give Dunu a warm thank you for showing me the value that lies in entry-level IEMs.
Edited by HideousPride - 6/19/13 at 4:13pm