I'd first like to say that this will be an interesting review as I'm not much of a basshead and these are definitely bass oriented IEMs. So I'll be trying to understand my fellow bassheads in this review, as well as get the most out of these IEMs. I would also really like to thank DUNU audio for this giveaway, I really appreciate it.
Shipping and Packaging
I think the shipping deserves mentioning. Quite simply it was the fastest shipping from Taiwan I have ever seen! It got to my house near Pittsburgh PA, 4 days after it was shipped from Taiwan! Thats insanity and I give DUNU props for getting it here so fast.
As for the packaging it was definitely better then I thought it was going to be for a pair of headphones in this price range. The box is actually quite useable as a storage box and has magnetic latches which are very nice. The box has a very attractive simple, but to the point design which I enjoy.
Appearances and Accessories
It includes the following:
DUNU leather pouch
DUNU carrying case (shown)
Ear hooks for different wearing style
Ten different pairs of IEM tips/earpieces
In terms of appearance I'm not sure I'm a fan of the flames but those may be removable I'm not sure on that though. I would also like to note that these are one of the heaviest pair of in ear headphones I've ever felt. This adds a sense that its worth its weight in gold and that its built strong. I'd also like to mention the cord, the cord has a strap that you can use to wrap your headphones up with and keep them from getting tangled which is very useful.
Comfort and Isolation
Comfort wise these average the reason being,is that sometimes the flames can hit the side of your ear and are not the most comfortable when that happens. I'm not saying these are bad at all, other then the flames I think that they fit into my ears near perfectly. If the flames are removable, and they may be, then I would say that these have an excellent comfort level, more so then the HIFIMAN RE 272s! The stock tips that where already on the headphones also fit perfectly and I did not have to fiddle around with tips at all.
Isolation is slightly above average, its not as good as the HIFIMAN's RE 272s but its not bad either and competes well to isolation levels found in this price range.
Soundstage: The soundstage is a little odd, much like this headphone in general. It has a very wide sounding stage but with absolutely no depth. The separation is ok good for an IEM in this price range. But it is quite odd to listen too sometimes, it feels like its right up in your face but that the instruments are at large angles to each other.
Bass: The bass is done surprisingly well, and I think thats the key to these headphones is the lower frequency reproduction. It contains quite good detail and though it is definitely exaggerated in quantity it does not sound too boomy. These headphones are definitely geared towards the people coming from Beats,M50's or other bass heavy users, though I thought the bass on the M50s where much more detailed and much tighter sounding. Don't get me wrong these are pretty good for IEMs in this price range and I think they compete well in terms of bass reproduction. The bass has pretty good impact and ok extension. It seems to drop off some around the 30Hz mark.
Mids: This is where things start getting a little weird. Yes the excessive bass does bleed a little into the lower mids but its actually quite controlled and not as bad as you would think. This is one of the better examples of boosted bass that I've heard in that it does not ruin the lower mids. However I do have a problem with the upper mids. The upper mids are greatly recessed around the 4-7Khz range I would guess that they are down by about 3DB's. Being someone who listens to a lot of female vocals this annoyed me some, not to mention I probably got used to the K702s upper mid peak.
Highs: The highs are also very weird and not too pleasing to my ears. The lower mids are exaggerated which when combined with the upper mids being recessed adds up to make quite an odd tonal balance. The highs can also get painfully bright on certain tracks and a tad grainy.
Sound Signature: These have the well known V sound, meaning that the highs and the lows are both boosted leaving the mids recessed. It also had an overall very odd sound to it and odd tonal balance. This worked towards some genres and against others. If I had to pick, I would say that these sound like a pair of Ultrasones got into a fight with some Beats by doctor Dre. Which might be your cup of tea depending on your taste however I don't think they are mine, at least for the most part. I say this because there are some things that these do very right and sound great with.
Genres that these sound good with:
Genres that these do not sound good with:
Muse – Black Holes And Revelations – Soldier's Poem: The beginning where the drum starts kicking is one of those moments with these that you feel like you have your head right next to the port on a subwoofer. It really kicks and does so with a good amount of detail! The vocals are only, just noticeably recessed. There is a little grain to the voice and the highs are sibilant. Not perfect but decent.
Radiohead – OK Computer – Paranoid Android: This song is very good on these headphones. Quite a bit of detail in the highs, the mids could use for some more dynamics and the lower mids could do with some added clarity but bass is good. Its not to harsh though and I give it that, vocals come through very good a little on the warm side and its pleasing to listen too.
AC/DC – Highway to Hell – Highway to Hell: This song is a mixed bag for me. You start listening and you hear the great impact of these IEMs and the good detail. The voice comes in and it still sounds great good detail,clarity, maybe a little thin but good. Then you get to the chorus and thats where it goes down hill. The voice in the chorus are screechy,sibilant, and almost painful to listen too.
Pink Floyd – The Wall – Mother: Great sound with this one, truly. The added bass gives this song a nice warm song too it. The highs are retained fine without sounding sibilant at all, they have plenty of detail and are not grainy. The mids have clarity and body, and the lows are filled with detail. This is one of the songs that leads me to believe these things are for rock!
The Doors – Strange Days – People Are Strange: Perfection with this song as well. The highs are not at all to harsh, in fact they are close to perfect. The boosted bass adds body to the voice which usually feels a little thin with headphones. Imaging is good in this song as well and placement is very good. Lows don't sound over down nor boomy, great sound!
Where they lack in wide use applications they make up for by doing what they can do very well. I think that rock sounds absolutely great and I've been using these a lot for rock over the last few days. Since most older rock seems to lack some lower end the added bass on these makes up for it quite a bit. With the often almost screechy sound of some recordings the dip in the upper mids tends to fix this as well making these absolutely amazing for rock! If you like your electronic and dubstep head pounding these will do that as well. However is you want something that accurately portrays the music your going to want to look elsewhere.
The bottom line is this, if your a basshead or listen almost exclusively to classic rock I would say you should consider these when making a purchase. But if the above does not pertain to you then steer clear from these because these are not your cans! Luckily I do listen to a lot of classic rock and so these work good for that, just not everything.
Pros - Big bass, Top tier build qualty, Great Selection of Accessories
Cons - Bass might be too big, Less Accessories than the cheaper Ares, Outperformed by similarly priced earphones
First, I’d like to thank the folks at DUNU-TopSound once again for providing samples for review.
As DUNU’s current flagship IEM, the Hephaes has a lot to live up to. Competition in the sub $100 price bracket is stronger than ever, with strong entries from several companies such as HiFiMan, MEElectronics, Spider Cable, Eymotic, among others. So, does the Hephaes have what it takes to compete in this heavily contested group? Read on to find out.
Packaging and Accessories
I’ve already gushed about DUNU’s excellent packaging in previous reviews so I’m not going to go into meticulous detail here but I can safely say that the Hephaes does not disappoint in its price range (or beyond it, really).
In terms of accessories, the Hephaes ships with a pair of ear guides which will assist in over the ear fitment, several different pairs of eartips in various sizes and shapes, from narrow opening to wide and single and bi-flange tips in multiple sizes, which should be enough to cater to just about anyone’s needs. Two cases are included with the Hephaes, including the leather(ette) drawstring pouch and the shiny black hard case I like so much. I do find it odd that the suede case that came with the Ares wasn’t included with the Hephaes, as one would think such a case would be reserved for the highest end earphones in DUNU’s present catalog but I guess you’d be wrong. Not a big deal as the clamshell case should be more than enough to satisfy but I figured this was worth mentioning all the same.
Design and Build Quality
The Hephaes is clad entirely in metal with red accents resembling flames around the inner silver metal housings which is not just aesthetically pleasing, but serves as an additional buffer to help prevent unwanted reverberations within the housing. A bit more disappointing are the two stubby strain reliefs, similar to those on the V-Moda Vibe. These strain reliefs are simply too small to be very functional in the long run but thankfully, the cable itself is pretty robust, identical to those featured on DUNU’s lower end Ares, Crius and Trident.
The metal Y-splitter and cable cinch is very nice and I like the lettering on the rear of the splitter, spelling out “Hephaes”, in case you somehow forget what these IEMs are called. Frivolous? Sure, but a very nice touch nonetheless. L/R indicators are seemingly laser-etched into the sides of the IEMs and will be virtually impossible to see in the dark but are nice on their own.
Overall, I am rather impressed by the build quality of the Hephaes. There is nice attention to detail and while I don’t think these are quite as durable as the lower end Ares due to the stubby strain reliefs, the build quality is certainly in the upper echelon.
Comfort and Isolation
The Hephaes is a comfortable IEM that, thanks to its large assortment of various sizes of silicone tips, should be a good fit for just about anyone. Wearing them over the ear was especially easy to do with these IEMs because of their stubby strain reliefs and the included ear guides and resulted in a fit that was relatively free of microphonics. Isolation was typical of vented dynamics in that it was average.
Burn in: These earphones were given upwards of 200 hours of burn in time prior to evaluation. The earphones did appear to be slightly more balanced and less bassy (but not very much so) after burn in.
Bass. Gobs of it. The kind of massive bass that only a dynamic driver could deliver. That is what the Hephaes specializes in. No doubt about it, bass heads will be in love with these as the sheer amount of bass these things can put out is rivaled only by the MEElectronics SP51 with the extreme bass ports in place. Listening to these for the first time, I was actually quite surprised by the level of detail and sub-bass presence these things were capable of. The Hephaes doles out a deep, textured and rich bass that’s surprisingly well extended. Even down to the lowest of lows, I could still hear (and feel) the bass rumbling. Yes, it’s bloated and a bit muddy due to the slow decay times but it’s a pleasingly bloated bass to me. If you don’t like your bass big and rumbly, look elsewhere. These earphones are not for you.
The midrange is warm and mostly smooth, expectedly warmed up by the low end which hurts clarity but not too much so. Neither forward nor recessed, the midrange is situated right where it needs to be and in a world of IEMs with big bass that tends to occlude the midrange, the Hephaes’ ability to present a midrange that’s mostly unobstructed by the low end is actually rather impressive, but one would expect that from a pair of earphones in this price range.
Unlike the lower end Trident, however, the midrange and treble presentation isn’t as smooth as I would’ve hoped. During testing I noticed that there are some sharp peaks in the midrange, specifically around the 3 – 5 KHz region which straddled the line between uncomfortably sharp and downright painful to hear at different times during my testing, particularly with vocals. The treble is similarly peaky in response, which I ended up having to EQ down. This is likely an attempt by the engineers to ensure that midrange detail isn’t lost under the weight of the bass these things pump out (it really can’t be said enough) but it just ends up being a bit unpleasant.
Presentation is about average, with a decently sized soundstage and decent imaging. Nothing spectacular but nothing terrible either, just…decent. The Hephaes is an earphone that I find a bit hard to quantify in terms of tonal balance. It’s not quite dark because of the midrange and treble peaks but it’s far from bright too. Pairing them with a cold or bright source (such as an iPod Touch) may not be the best choice as that will exacerbate the sibilance issues but probably not to one who isn’t as sensitive to peaks as I am.
On the whole, the Hephaes is a good sounding set of earphones that could be better for the price. To me, they are a guilty pleasure. They’re a set I reach for when I’m listening to Hip-Hop or Electronic music and want to be bombarded by big bass. They’re a “fun” set, not necessarily the best for a broad range of genres, but great for headbanging.
The DUNU Hephaes is available for about $99 or so on eBay and at that price, I honestly have to say, you can do better if you’re going for pure bang-for-the-buck performance and technical capability. These are for the bass lover who’s willing to spend a bit extra to get the biggest oomph. On a technical level, I’d recommend the RE0 or RE-ZERO over these and for sheer “musicality”, I’d recommend the Spider RealVoice or MEElectronics CC51, all of which are cheaper and are superior in different ways.
That being said, I can’t fault anyone for wanting to pick these up. Don’t get me wrong, they sound pretty good for the price and I love the bass thump but trying to be objective in my recommendation, I realize that there are better options. Few earphones out there will offer the end user the number of accessories you get with the Hephaes and the packaging is really second to none out of all of the sub $100 earphones I’ve reviewed. So, while the Hephaes doesn’t compete with the best earphones in its class for best overall value, they are still a very nice option for bassheads and pretty much anyone else who likes a bit (read: a lot) of “oomph” in their music.