Dunu DM-480 - Reviews
Pros: Great build – Bass performance – Comfort and ergonomics
Cons: De-emphasized upper treble – Potential to be very tip sensitive – No foam tips included
Greetings!

Today we're checking out one of Dunu's most recent releases, the DM-480.

Dunu is far from new to the audio world, having been an OEM/ODM prior to firing up their own earphone brand in 2006. Around the time I was jumping feet first into the hobby, they were delivering some pretty groundbreaking products like the Titan 1, 3, 5, and the DN-2000. The Titan 1 started my love affair with the brand and it still finds its way into my listening rotation today. It was also my first real step up from the hyper budget gear I spent most of my time with, and remains one of my favorite purchases to this day. The Titan 3 remains “the one that got away”. The pair that was sent over as part of a review tour in 2015 holds a special place in my history with iems, and probably helped to define my personal preferences.

The DM-480 is a completely different beast than the Titan models I love so much, but that's not a bad thing. Let's look at why the DM-480 is deserving of your attention.

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What I Hear Bass on the DM-480 was a bit hit and miss for me at first; another reason to roll with foam tips. After posting some comments in the Head-fi forums about sub-bass roll off, Dunu PM'd me and reminded that the shell is fully sealed which can lead to pressure build up and a change in sound perception. Made sense given my observations were not lining up with the majority, nor their measurements. I suspect that for the first couple weeks of testing this is likely what I was experiencing. Initial thoughts were that the issue was simply volume; i.e. the DM-480 needed lots of it (80+dB) to “wake up” the low end. Turned out I was getting too good of a seal causing pressure build up and the resultant low end roll off. I didn't think anything of it because normally it is quite obvious and uncomfortable, particularly when removing the iem, plus I've listened to other iems using the same or very similar shells and this was never an issue. It never crossed my mind that this could be the problem. However, per Dunu's suggestion I pulled out some foam tips and they immediately resolved this issue.

Note that I always test with foam tips, though usually later in my test cycle. I would have figured this out on my own, but thankfully Dunu accelerated the process for me. Bass does indeed dig deep and has plenty of sub-bass presence. Not quite sub woofer-like, but still very deep. In addition, these dual dynamics display excellent texture and control with a reasonably linear move from sub to mid to upper bass. Mid-bass is lean and not particularly prominent, falling into the “just right” category for my listening preferences. It is punchy and quick with no bleed into the mids.

The DM-480's midrange is lean which isn't going to satisfy certain listeners. Detail is prominent with little warmth. The somewhat cool, dry presentation benefits male vocals greatly while female vocals come across more sterile than I prefer. While the midrange is quite linear from lower to middle, upper mids are peaked resulting in sibilant aspects of tracks standing out. On the plus side, sibilance isn't deposited into areas where it doesn't already exist. When it comes to timbre, the DM-480 isn't particularly accurate with instruments commonly sounding dry and on the artificial side. For the most part it's accurate enough to avoid being a distraction, but in the end it seems to work best with mainly electronic works.

Moving into the upper ranges, lower treble is elevated and somewhat harsh with silicone tips that use a stiffer material. I highly recommend buying some foam tips which really smooth out the DM-480's presentation, or silicone tips that use a softer material (Spinfit, Final E-Type, JVC wide bore, Sony hybrid, etc.). In general the DM-480's presentation is detailed with good control and only a hint of splashiness present. Upper treble is de-emphasized and continues that somewhat dry presentation heard in the mids, yet the DM-480 retains a satisfying amount of air and space between instruments and notes. I never found the presentation congested. Notes also hit with aggression and decay quickly resulting in a rapid, agile presentation.

When it comes to sound stage the DM-480 is pretty good. It does a nice job placing sounds just around your head space and occasionally fooled me into thinking there was someone calling for me, or at least in direct vicinity. Imaging is quite good with sound moving accurately from channel to channel, while layering and separation are also up to snuff. The DM-480 was a nice companion for gaming since I could easily track opponents as they moved around me.

Despite my initial misgiving with the low end, I was enjoying the DM-480. Fixing the low end issues only served to improve impressions further. This style of bass-focused, u-shaped tuning is technically competent and plenty entertaining, though the somewhat dry, lean note weight through the mids and treble might be a turn off for some.

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Compared to a Peer

Shozy Hibiki Mk.2 (65.00 USD): The single dynamic Hibiki Mk.2 (just Hibiki from here on in) has a low end that competes well with the DM-480 in terms of performance and presentation, but falls a little short. Sub-bass extends nearly as well but doesn't have quite the presence of the Dunu. Notes hit with a little less urgency and linger a bit longer. Texture and detail are also just a half-step behind. The Hibiki isn't quite as linear with the midbass seeing a more aggressive lift giving it a thicker, warmer sound. This weightier presentation carries through into the mids, to their benefit. As a result the Hibiki's mids hold a similar emphasis (without the upper mid peak), but carry more presence thanks to the additional weight and warmth. This gives it an edge in female vocals, while I still prefer male vocals out of the DM-480. Timbre goes to the Hibiki which, while not perfect, is closer to accurate. Where the Dunu is somewhat dry and artificial, the Hibiki is a bit warm and plasticy. When it comes to treble the Hibiki has a more linear presentation with a similar upper treble roll off. Lower treble could use a hint more presence in my opinion, and as a result means the Hibiki falls behind in terms of raw detail. Sound stage is also slightly smaller in both width and depth, but they're both plenty capable of tossing sounds well off into the distance. Imaging performance is similarly good, with the Dunu shining a little brighter in terms of layering and separation, probably due to its leaner, lighter presentation.

These two definitely compete with their u-shaped signatures. The DM-480 is technically the more impressive model, though I find myself enjoying the Hibiki a little more because of the extra midrange note weight and more linear treble presentation. Tuning preference plays a big part when choosing between these two.

In terms of build the Hibiki is good, but the Dunu is better. Smaller, more ergonomic shells with notably improved fit and finish (see Hibiki face plates peeling off). I'll give the Hibiki's cable a win though. Ports on the Hibiki are recessed offering more protection from abuse. The sheath is a little stiffer, possibly thanks to the braided design, but it also seems to hold up better in cooler weather. No cable noise either. The inline mic will be a turn off for some though.

Tin HiFi T3 (69.99 USD): The hybrid T3 follows TinHifi's typical tuning of neutral-bright meaning when comparing low end quantity, the DM-480 is clearly the more bassy of the two. While the T3's extension is great for a T Series model, it falls short of the DM-480 and is incapable of providing the same level of physical feedback. Mid-bass quantity is actually quite similar though, with the DM-480 having a hint more texture and slightly better control, while the T3 provides a bit more kick. Mids on the T3 are notably more forward and similarly weighted, but with a better balance of upper and lower presence. As such, performances from any gender are represented more equally. While the T3 doesn't add sibilance to tracks in my experience, unlike the DM-480, it's also a lot less forgiving of existing sibilance and low quality or poorly mastered tracks. Where you can get away with mediocre files sounding good out of the DM-480, you'll want to avoid them with the T3. Part of that is the treble which is notably more extended on the T3. The brilliance region is rolled off on the DM-480, while there is a peak on the T3. I find this helps provide a larger sound stage and improve actual clarity over the DM-480, though treble sensitive users will certainly find the DM-480's presentation more to their liking. In addition to having a larger sound stage, the T3's imaging, layering, and separation are all improved over the DM-480.

These two are more complimentary than competition given they cater to very different audiences. If you enjoy a robust low end with thumping bass, you'll definitely prefer the DM-480. If you like to listen critically and prefer accuracy over entertainment, get the T3.

In terms of build, both are wonderfully constructed. The aluminum shells of the T3 do not fit nor isolate as well as the DM-480's 3D-printed shells, but they get the edge in terms of durability. The T3's cable is much flashier and more impressive with it's thick braids and attention grabbing gold and while colour scheme, though there is something satisfying in the DM-480's more simple, straightforward cable.

KB EAR Diamond (79.00 USD): Starting with the low end, the single dynamic Diamond is warmer and bassier with notably more mid-bass presence and similar sub-bass depth and grunt. This gives it a thicker, heavier sound, with a slower response to quick basslines. The DM-480's bass is more textured and detailed. DM-480's mids are notably more forward (upper particularly), more lean and cold, and to my ears better suited to male vocalists. Upper mids are more boosted and display mild sibilance which is not present in the Diamond. Diamond's timbre is more accurate with the DM-480 sounding somewhat metallic and artificial in comparison. DM-480 has more lower treble presence giving it a more detailed presentation, but the lack of upper treble just adds to the somewhat dry presentation. The Diamond has more upper treble presence and sparkle. Despite this, it doesn't do anything to reduce the sound stage edge of the DM-480 which sounds wider and deeper with added space between notes and instruments. Imaging is equally pleasing on them both, with the DM-480 having a negligible edge in in terms of layering and separation.

The DM-480 is more balanced and technically impressive, but gives up timbre quality and realism to the Diamond. These two qualities, in addition to a complete lack of sibilance, means the Diamond gets my vote.

In terms of build and comfort, the DM-480 is smaller, lighter, isolates better, is more comfortable, and has better fit and finish. Both look fantastic. The Diamond's cable is certainly the more premium of the two, however, and the two-pin setup KB EAR went with provides better protection from bends.

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In The Ear The DM-480 is Dunu's first 3D-printed earphone, and they did a fantastic job selecting their shell. The printing quality easily rivals my benchmark, the FiiO FA1, in that you'd never know it was 3D-printed unless you were told. There are none of the usual tell-tale signs of the printing process and as such the housing is smooth and blemish free. The metal nozzles feel very securely attached and not like a weak point, while the abalone-like face plates are smoothly integrated. My only complaint about the build is the lack of support for the 2-pin connectors. Much like TFZ's usual implementation, the plug sitting flush with the receptacle is the only protection it gets from bends. As such, these are not an iem I feel comfortable tossing into a pocket without first being placed inside their protective case.

The cable is very similar to one of my old favorites (see Penon BS1 Experience and AKAudio Light T2), but not quite as plush, and more subject to stiffening in cold weather. Still, it looks great with its silver sheen shining through the clear sheath. It doesn't pack the same sort of wow factor as the multi-strand offerings you commonly see from other brands, like the cable included with the TinHiFi T3, but that's okay. This cable is lighter and arguably more comfortable, the metal hardware looks good (but with minimal strain relief) and shouldn't break, and you even get a chin cinch. This last feature is wonderful to have because some cable noise is present, and the cinch goes a long way to mitigating it. Overall and fairly standard cable, but one that is quite pleasant to use. Two thumbs up.

Wearing the DM-480 is a pleasure thanks to the ergonomic design, small size, and light weight. The custom-like shell is very similar to those we saw cropping up a few years ago with products like the Kinera H3, but is much smaller and more compact meaning this shell is compatible with a much wider variety of ear sizes and shapes. Keep in mind the shell is sealed though, so pressure build up is a risk. Sometimes it's uncomfortable, and sometimes it can effect the sound negatively (as I experienced). On the plus side, a sealed, highly ergonomic shell means isolation is excellent, well above average for your typical dynamic only earphone. These were a joy to use in noisy places like my local coffee shop, and would be a great companion for those who routinely find themselves in areas of high noise pollution.

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In The Box As a packaging aficionado I've always appreciated Dunu's premium materials and the unboxing experience that went along with their products. While the DM-480's packaging is more befitting of the price tag, it still scratches my unboxing itch thanks to a simple, fuss-free disassembly experience.

On the front of the exterior sheath you see the DM-480 earpieces in both orange and black colour options. Potential buyers are also given a glimpse at the 2-pin system. Off to the side, somewhat hidden by bokeh, are the metal plug and y-split. Flip to the back and there are two paragraphs that tell you about the driver technology and manufacturing process for the 3D-printed earpieces, measurements highlighting the linear bass and mid-range response benefits of the “dual-push” dual dynamic setup, as well as a list of specs. Outside of the box being a little on the large side, this seems like a very retail-ready package since it does a great job of showing off and telling you about the product inside.

Slipping off the sheath you find yourself starting at a fairly standard matte black box with Dunu printed in silver foil being the only other item of note. Lifting off the lid reveals the two earpieces set within a large foam pad. Lift that out and you find a very high quality, Dunu-branded carrying case set within even more foam. Inside the case are the rest of the accessories. In all you get:
  • DM-480 earphones
  • 0.78mm 2-pin silver-plated OFC cable
  • Clam shell carrying case
  • White single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Blue single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Shift clip
Overall this is a nice accessory kit. The carrying case is compact but spacious enough inside to comfortably hold the earphones and spare tips. It is also made from premium looking and feeling materials. The included tips are very comfortable, especially the blue set. They seal well and are quite durable as I found out with the red version I got with my Titan 1 back in the day. The only thing missing is a set of foam tips, a bummer of an omission given Dunu's partnership with Comply, and with how well foam tips pair with the DM-480.

When it comes to the packaging, it does seem a bit wasteful. It could easily be about half the size and still get the job done. Knowledge Zenith did the same thing in 2018 with packaging for their AS10 and BA10 models; that being, they provide them in largely oversized packaging. With the later AS06 the packaging was identical, save for being just over half the size. Dunu could likely do the same down the road for the DM-480. Still, the materials Dunu used are recyclable so this is more of an observation than a complaint.

Final Thoughts Despite a rocky beginning, the DM-480 wormed it's way into my psyche and grew into a pretty kick arse little earphone. They've got a comfortable, ergonomic, highly isolating shell utilizing a common 0.78mm 2-pin system to satisfy cable rollers, a quality accessory kit, and a well-tuned sound with some impressive bass. I remiss the omission of foam tips which help counter potential issues caused by the sealed shell, and the upper treble is a bit dull for my preferences, but when those are someone's only major complaints, that's a pretty big win for a product that runs you only 70 bucks.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Dunu for the chance to check out the DM-480.

- B9

Disclaimer Thanks to Vivian with Dunu for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the DM-480, and for arranging a sample for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions and do not represent Dunu or any other entity. At the time of writing the DM-480 was retailing for 69 USD: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/dm-480 / https://www.aliexpress.com/store/5001057

Specifications
  • Driver: 8mm, titanium-coated, isobaric dual-dynamic
  • Impedance: 20ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105 +/- 2dB @1kHz
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • THD: <0.5% @ 1kHz
Devices Used For Testing LG G6, LG Q70, XDuoo Link, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, Periodic Audio Nickle, Shanling M0, Hifiman MegaMini

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark's Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
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Pros: Quality of the sub-bass.
- Clean, clear and bright sound.
- Good stage and separation.
- Great packaging and fantastic transport case.
- Comfort and lightness
- Very suitable for Tip-Rolling
- Isolation and ergonomics.
Cons: Slightly recessed mids
- Limited analytical capacity.
- Emphasis on high frequencies may be a bit excessive in some situations or for sensitive people.
Introduction

Dunu is a classic brand, which needs no introduction, as it is well known to all fans. Specializing in designing drivers and tuning them, on this occasion Dunu presents two IEMS in its new low-cost series, called DM. Within it, there are the DM-380 and the newest DM-480, product that I will comment in this review. This is a 8mm dynamic dual driver, with titanium diaphragm, mounted in a "dual-push" isobaric configuration. Both work in tandem, to reduce distortion, improve linearity and increase extension. For the manufacture of the capsule, Dunu has contracted an external company, which has created a capsule via high resolution 3D printing, offering an ergonomic and relatively small piece, which has been designed based on a multitude of human ear shapes, in order to best fit each of us. Finally, they have used the classic 0.78mm two-pin connection, attached to a high purity silver plated cable, totally oxygen free.
I will now break down, in more detail, the rest of the questions concerning this new model.

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Disclaimer

First of all, I want to thank Vivian, from Dunu TopSound, for having the courtesy to choose me to write my humble opinion about this model DM-480.

Specifications
  • Titanium-Coated)
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 40 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 105 ± 2 dB @ 1 kHz
  • Impedance: 20 Ω
  • Distortion Ratio: < 0.5% @ 1 kHz
  • Jack connector: 3.5mm Audio, gold-plated.
  • Cable length 1.2m
  • Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
  • Weight: 7.8 g
  • Capsule material: Bio-Compatible Photopolymer Resin

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Packaging

The DM-480 come in a rectangular box, with dimensions 135x160x76mm. It is wrapped in a decorated cardboard, on the front of which there are realistic photos of the capsules, in their two colors, black and orange. You can also see the cable, the brand and model, as well as the Hi-Res Audio logo. On the back side there is a text with the characteristics of the model (English and Chinese), another realistic photo of the capsules, the frequency response graph, the specifications and a sticker with the seal of authenticity. After removing this cardboard sleeve, you can see a completely black box, with the letters DUNU inscribed in silver, in the middle of it. When the box is opened, the capsules are shown embedded in a large black foam mould. Under it, there is a dark, semi-rigid transport box. It has a zipper, its shape is oval and on its upper side is the brand logo, with black plastic letters. Its exterior is made of textile and its interior is velvety. On one side there is an elastic band and on the other side there is a half mesh bag. Also, on the box, there is a guarantee certificate and a card with QR codes, with links to Dunu's website and Facebook. The rest of the accessories are inside the transport box. In short, the complete content is:

  • The two capsules.
  • The transport box.
  • Warranty certificate.
  • Card with QR links.
  • The cable.
  • Three pairs of white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
  • Three pairs of black silicone tips, with blue core, sizes SxMxL.
  • One clip.
The packaging, of medium size, is worthy of a great brand. The number of accessories is more than correct, some foam tips are missing. But the carrying case is absolutely fantastic: many brands, even on more expensive models, are not able to present such a well-finished case, as the one coming this time.

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Construction and Design

The capsules are made of biocompatible photopolymer resin. Their color is dark, but they are translucent, except on their external face, which simulates a pearly pattern. In the center of each face, the brand logo is inscribed, with silver letters. The 2-pin connection is superficial, molded in hard transparent plastic, and it comes out a couple of mm. You can see the inside of each capsule, observing the connection cables from the 2pin connector to the driver, located at the base of the nozzles. The rest of the cavity is empty. The drivers, in their outer packaging, are marked with the letters of the brand.

The shape of the capsules is a semi-custom type, of medium size. The weight is minimal.

The nozzles are metallic. At the outermost end, the ring has a diameter of 5.2mm, while in the middle, it is 4.5mm. There are metal grids to protect the holes. Near the base of each nozzle, there are some inscriptions in silver paint, where you can read "dunu Dual Dynamic" and the side of each channel.

The cable is covered with a transparent plastic, which allows you to see, on the inside, the silver-plated braided strands of cable, free of oxygen. The plug is 3.5mm, gold-plated. Its sheath is a small, thin metal cylinder. The dividing piece, with a larger diameter and manufactured in the same way, has white inscriptions of the brand logo and the serial number. The pin ring is made of one piece of hard, transparent plastic. The two-pin connectors have a square, translucent plastic cover. On one side there is a coloured dot, indicating the channel: red for the right side, blue for the left. The cable, in this area, has a semi-rigid and transparent covering, which gives it a shape over the ear.

The design is practically the same as another model I recently analyzed, the Auglamour T100. It seems that the manufacturer of the capsules is the same. In this case, the pearly pattern on the outside, seems more successful to me. Also the cable is of better quality.

Finally, the capsules are very light and relatively small in size.

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Adjustment and Ergonomics

The capsules are quick to fit, very lightweight, and easily fixed. They allow a quite extensive tip-rolling, being able to use simple, double or triple tips, as well as foam tips. The degree of isolation will depend on the type of tips used, but with simple tips, it is already quite good.

Really, the ergonomic work done has paid off, producing comfort and a fairly high degree of satisfaction.

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Sound

Profile


The Dunu DM-480 has a profile halfway between V and U, with a greater emphasis on the sub-bass area, than on the high area. But these are not purely bass IEMS, despite the remarkable level of sub-bass.



Bass

As I indicated in the profile description, the sub-bass is the star of the show, not only for emphasis, but also for its quality. The predominant note, is the control it offers in the area: despite the power it has, the deepest part is very well contained, with no leakage into the mid bass, much less into the midrange. The linearity of the sub-bass extends towards the middle of the range, to gently fall towards the mids. This characteristic releases the typical pressure, which generates the elevation of the central bass and moves its profile away from the typical V or a more bass profile. In this way, the concentration of energy in the more abyssal area results in a cleaner sound, as well as a wider acceptance, since the bass is not perceived as violent. But it also doesn't lose all its viscerality, something that can be noticed in those songs where the sub-bass is very present (as for example in the song "Three" from "Massive Attack").

The texture is not very complex, but it has a pleasant roughness and its beat is dry, fast, defined, has good efficiency and remarkable power. The recreation of the sound planes in this area is acceptable and improves the deeper they are. The level of resolution is according to its price range, without standing out in this technicality more than in the control, where it is revealed more remarkable.

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Mids

The tendency of its U-profile and the cleanliness of its sound in the central area, clears up the voices, tuning them and simplifying them. Its body is not very dense, but rather light, subtracting exuberance and fullness. The advantage, is the absence of darkness and the high appreciation of width that shows the midrange. The voices enjoy a light, which prevails over their backward position, compensating for this situation. Its texture is fine, smooth and soft, without reaching the point of velvet or the most liquid silk. Rather, his proposal is realistic and not forced. The expressiveness is not too high and its face does not possess the emotion that the sub-bass does. But, on the other hand, its sonority is quite permissive with many genres. This virtue is linked to the sensation produced by mid-range instrumentation, since it is never intrusive, nor obtuse, because it enjoys that great openness and amount of air. The descriptive capacity, however, still presents a medium level, without offering a very high refinement, but maintaining a good level of detail and definition.

The midrange has a recessed presentation, preventing the perception of the resolution level from being higher. This fact can invite to increase the volume, with the excuse of wanting to appreciate better its virtues. However, this is not always a recommended action, since the natural emphasis that the high zone of the mids has, becomes rougher and more crispy.

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Treble

The good extension of the high zone, favors that all the sound is shown with a great sensation of air and separation. The feeling of clarity and cleanliness, which persists in all ranges, could not be less in the high zone. But here, too, the DM-480 exhibits control, despite the amount of energy offered at the beginning of the range. This contributes to a fairly crisp, sharp and fast start, with thin flashes, but no drilling, as they are rounded off at the end, when the volume is right. The definition is not excessive, but the fun factor and the vivacity of the treble is maintained, thanks to the dynamics of the segment, which is able to offer a good dose of speed, thus highlighting details and nuances with ease.

After the initial phase, the DM-480 softens the range, in order to avoid sibilance and a more marked and hard V sound, but without losing the extension, which offers air and sparkle in the higher notes.

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Soundstage, Separation

The scene is described wide and with good depth, something that is favoured by the U-shaped profile of these Dunu. The certain distance from the mids and the immediacy of the highs, draw a semi-circular stage, but without too much height. The separation is above average, reinforced by the clean and clear sound. However, it is true that the most vivid and marked representation of the high zone has a tendency to agglutinate the notes, melting or, rather, relatively veiling the micro detail. It is, in this aspect, when a point of definition is lost, or where these economical Dunu (it is worth remembering), suffer from a higher resolution, more reserved to more expensive models.

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Comparisons

Auglamour T100


The Dunu DM-480 and the Auglamour T100 have many similarities and some controversy. It was clear, then, what the first comparison was going to be.

The similarities begin with the capsules, which appear to have been manufactured by the same external company. There's even talk in some forums that they share a driver, which Dunu herself denied. The reality is that the T100's driver is made of graphene and the DM-480's driver is coated with titanium, both of which are dual. From here, the similarities can be seen, also, in the frequency response, being quite similar, from 1500Hz onwards. However, up to that point, the sound differences are clear and palpable. And they become fully apparent after listening to them.

The first impression, and despite what the numbers say, is that the T100 moves a little more easily than the DM-480. The second, and this is devastating, is the size of the lower zone: in the T100, the bass is much wider and more extensive towards the mid zone, than in the Dunu. And this is demonstrated in the sound, the power that describes the T100, in the lower range, makes it a bassist IEMS, with a darker and warmer tone. While the Dunu is perceived as much cleaner and clearer, in this first part of the sound spectrum. And this is something you can feel at all times, and it's totally evident in the voices. In the T100, they are impregnated with that darker colour, feeling closer, but also thicker, less defined, more blurred and muddy, comparatively speaking. The DM-480 offers the cleanliness and luminosity that characterizes it, moving it away from the earthier and denser sound of the T100. But this isn't just something that reaches the midrange, the early highs also feel much more liberated and descriptive in the Dunu, sounding fuller and more defined. Whereas, in the T100, they are perceived as duller, blunt and backward, less present, less extensive and fainter. It is clear, then, that the level of detail and resolution is more limited in the T100 than in the DM-480, which proves to be more revealing in many ways, moving away from the less refined sound of the Auglamour.

In a similar sense, the recreation of the scene is expressed: the greater amount of light, which the Dunu offer, opens up the image to a higher level, showing itself to be more extensive, wider and deeper. Meanwhile, the T100, are perceived more dull, closed and narrow. At the same time, the separation suffers the same path in both IEMS: of course, there is more air in the DM-480, as well as a higher level of detail and better technical capabilities, to reconstruct the image with greater precision.

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NS Audio NS3 Bass Enhanced Version

One of the best proposals I had the pleasure to try last year, was the NS Audio NS3. Its profile is not the classic one, but it is quite balanced, with a certain mid-centric tendency and quite soft highs. In the sound comparison, you can see big differences, starting with the profile of each one. The DM-480s have more impact in the bass and, above all, in the sub-bass area. The NS3, despite being the Bass Enhanced version, has a very linear and balanced low zone. The texture of its bass is velvety and sweet, with a lot of nuance and descriptive capacity. The Dunu is a little more visceral and rough, less linear, more focused on the sub-bass. The lower zone of the NS3 sounds more complete and extensive, very round, smooth and tight, has a more beautiful bill. The Dunu offer a more imposing and somewhat rougher bass, but fast and compact.

The mid zone generates more differences. The U-shaped profile of the Dunu can be seen instantly and the greater distance from the central segment can be distinguished at a glance from that offered by the NS3. However, in the voices, the greater weight of the bass of the DM-480, generates more body in its lower zone and a certain warmth, which the NS3 does not have, flatter, balanced and cold, but also wider at the top, rich in texture and nuances. In short, the Dunu extends the voices into the low zone and the NS3 into the mids and high zone. There is more presence and neutrality in the instrumentation offered by the NS3, also more coldness. While in the Dunu, their presence remains in that second plane, enjoyable, but not so vivid or remarkable.

The treble sounds more present and marked in the Dunu, while on the NS3, it is softer, being perceived as more distant, less evident and more relaxed. The first highs are more excited in the DM-480, against a more refined, softened, harmonious, but also more sacrificed and less extensive feeling, offered by the NS3. Even so, the level of detail and ability to reveal nuances, is higher in these NS3, as they have greater resolution and definition, shaping the music more analytically. The Dunu's approach, in this sense, is more simplistic, but less complete.

The scene, in both IEMS, is wide and deep, but has more height in the NS3. Also, the stage is perceived as bigger, because it is able to generate more music in the central zone, as well as more details. There is also good separation in both, thanks to the good amount of air they have. But the greater analytical capacity of the NS3, reveals itself determinant to improve in this aspect.

In terms of weight, both are very light. It may seem that the wood gives a heavier character to the NS3, but this is not the case. The Dunu has a greater insertion capacity and allows more freedom when selecting tips. The NS3 offers a more superficial insertion and its body, a little more stubby, fits more closely to the ears. The cable is very similar in both, silver plated, with plugs very similar in size and shape. The NS3 has a 4-strand cable, which is somewhat thicker and more handy.

The packaging, careful in both, is superior in the Dunu, offering one of the best transport boxes in its price range. In the new version of the NS3, a round transport box has been included, while in the version I own, there is only a velvet bag.

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Conclusion

Dunu renews its low range in search of universality, both in form and sound. The DM-480, presented in a great packaging, offers a U sound, very enjoyable and affordable, open, wide and shiny. The marking of both the sub-bass and the treble, although evident, does not polarize the sound and offers a distinctive, attractive and pleasant seal. This sub-bass is remarkable, both for its quality, and for its speed, definition and control. The treble is vivid and exciting, fun. The mids, despite their greater distance, are very clean and clear. The sound generated, is very open and well aired, is another of its strengths. Finally, the ergonomics, accessories and comfort round off a product that is very well cared for in all its aspects.



Sources Used During the Analysis

  • Burson Audio Playmate
  • JWD JWM-115
  • ACMEE MF-01
  • Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus



Ratings

  • Construction and Design: 85
  • Adjustment/Ergonomics: 80
  • Accessories: 85
  • Bass: 85
  • Mids: 82
  • Treble: 81
  • Separation: 84
  • Soundstage: 83
  • Quality/Price: 88

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Pros: - Subbass is an absolute beauty.
- Great clarity with excellent details.
- Soundstage and instrument positioning.
Cons: - U-shape too prominent; piano's and guitars sound thin.
Introduction.
Dunu approached me and offered me a chance to review their new DM-480, a dual 8mm dynamic in-ear with a removable cable. They retail for around 63 euro's and come in two colours. It's been a while since I reviewed some gear, so this was a nice opportunity to return to the game.


Disclamer:
Dunu offered me these IEMs without any charge, however all opinions are my own.
Burn in: 24 hours on the cooker before listening.
Source: LG V30 & Dragonfly Red + Spotify premium / Youtube
My acknowledged bias derives from my music preference (Indie/alternative/rock), my preferred sound signature (neutral with a touch of subbass) and previous audio gear (see profile).

Review:

Specifications
:
Cable length:1.2m
Frequency Range: 20Hz-40kHz
Impedance: 20ohm
Pin connector: 0.78 2 pin.
Housing: 3D printed shell structure (around the ear).


Package:
Nice cardboard package containing two sets of 3 different size tips. White silicon tips which are more olive shaped and more traditional blue top silicon tips.

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Build, design and fit:
The DM-480s look and feel great. I received the orange coloured ones, or 'Twilight Crimson' as Dunu calls them. The shell feels solid, looks sleek and I've got no indication of them breaking down anytime soon. They survived three weeks being tossed and dragged around through some backpack across Asia. The supplied cable likewise feels and looks top-notch. When first connecting the cable I was a bit sceptical about the seal, however the connection is solid and reliable.

The fit was a bit of a puzzle for me, I haven't used many around the ear headphones and I find the sound quite tip dependent. Without a proper seal they lose a lot of bass and the sound consists mostly out just treble. Usually the M size tips give me the best seal, this time however I had to use the L size of the white tips. The isolation is quite good when you’ve found your seal.


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Sound:
The sound signature strikes me as a quite hefty U-shape. I'm not a huge fan of the U-shape since guitars and piano lose body. I found myself turning up the volume in order to hear the middle frequencies.
Partly due to the U-shape the sound is airy and clear. The soundstage struck me as quite wide. The biggest surprise of all was the excellent instrument separation and position. Guitars, sound effects, whatever you might throw at it, the DM-480 finds a place for it. This is especially apparent in electronical music. “Ben Böhmer's - Ground Control”, makes you feel you’re right in the action. When switching between the LZ A4 and the Dunu DM-480, the latter has a bit of a metallic sound to them at first. After a few minutes of listening, it’s not that apparent anymore.


Treble:
Clear and quite natural while maintaining excellent resolution and detail. The high-hats, crashes and cymbals in “Foals - 10,000 feet” sound accurate and lively. No hints of sibilance here. The clear treble also complements the toms and guitars with great detailing and musicality. My only gripe is that the treble is too prominent for my liking. When the drummer goes banana's, the other instruments get run over. As a consequence, I catch myself turning up the volume in order to hear the other instruments, which only makes cymbals even more aggressive. This is likely due to the U-shaped sound signature, which is not particularly my preference. So do take notice if you are not used to U-shaped IEMs like me.



Mids:
Like the treble, natural and clear, but as mentioned before, lacking in volume. The keyboard in "London Grammar's - Hey Now” is missing the warmth that makes this version. Guitars miss their roar, piano's miss their hit. When there are no high frequencies playing in the song, the mids sound highly detailed with great resolution. Proving the DM-480 are technically very capable of producing some stunning audio, but are being let down by their U-shape tuning. On the other side, voices are reproduced and positioned clear and life-like. They are presented in such a manner that they take the centre spotlight while the other instruments seem dance around them. Unfortunately, they too miss a little bit of body. In “The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” the voice of the lead singer misses just a touch of depth and warmth.


Bass:
The real star of the show and right up my alley. Deep, extremely tight and pleasantly present. Look all you want, but you won't find a trace of bleed or bloat. The texture and resolution of the bass is incredible. Bass guitars can easily be distinguished and the kick-drum has its own place on the podium. The bass in “Bob Moses' - Heaven Only Knows” resonates with such an ease which makes me rewind the song solely for the bass. When listening to EDM, the lack of midrange is partly compensated for by the beautiful bass. There is a cleanness to this bass that makes it sound completely separated from the rest of the sound. I don’t know if this is due to the “Dual-push isobaric titanium driver” or that Dunu possesses some sort of witchcraft, but I love it. Unfortunately, nothing in life comes free, and the price for putting the sub-bass on pole position, is that the mid-bass has to deal with second place. The mid-bass is certainly there, but not as present as some might like. It’s enough to fuel the beat, but won’t blast out any windows. In the “CRi – Never Really Get There” the drop is much more imposing when listening to the more mid-bass gifted LZ A4. However, I’ll take Dunu’s bass implementation any day of the week, since the ‘seperated sub-bass subwoofer effect’ is highly addictive.


Compared to the LZ-A4 (Black tip, red rear; around $150):
The LZ A4 is more of a V-shape compared to the U-shape of the DM-480. The LZ shows quite a bit more midbass and midrange. Resolution and detail wise the DM-480 comes very close, which is impressive for a headphone which costs less than halve the price.


Conclusion:
The DM-480 is a very capable IEM with a 10/10 subbass bass, great details and resolution. While technically being very capable, the U-shape tuning is a bit of a let-down for me since it doesn't do guitars and piano's any favours. I wished DUNU produced a more balanced version of the DM-480, which might quite be a show with these drivers.

This is all just my opinion, even though it seems like I have stated is as a fact at times. It just reads easier.
Pros: Great technicalities (imaging, clarity, details, instrument separation), best in a pure DD setup below $100
Great subbass extension, and high quality bass (in accuracy, speed, texturing).
Non fatiguing, no harsh peaks/troughs in tuning - very good for long listening sessions.
No sibilance.
Wide soundstage width.
Comfortable, ergonomic, great sturdy build.
Superb isolation.
Stock tips/cables good to go out of box.
2 Pin connection - better lifespan than MMCX.
Suitable for most genres.
Cons: Thin note weight.
Average timbre for acoustic instruments in mids/treble frequencies.
Drivable from smartphones, but may need amping/higher powered sources to fufill best potential.
Disclaimer #1:
I would like to thank DUNU for providing this unit for an objective review.

Disclaimer #2:
I tested the DUNU with stock tips and stock cable. Burn in of 24 hours was done prior to reviewing.

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Specifications:
- Driver: 2 X 8mm Titanium Diaphragm Dynamic Drivers (coaxial with isobaric dual push configuration)
- Sensitivity: 105dB +/-2 at 1kHz
- Frequency response: 20Hz - 40kHz
- Impedence: 20Ω
- Cable: 2 pin detachable cable


Accessories:
In addition to the IEM, it comes with:
1) SPC cable -> the cable is on the thinner side, nil microphonics. Personally I would have preferred something thicker, but it is very usable OOTB. Chin slider is a bit loose and occasionally drops down the cable. I liked that it is a 2 pin set, which generally has better lifespan than the MMCX variants.

For non cable skeptics, after cable rolling about, I prefer a copper 8/16 core cable paired with the DUNU DM-480. To me, copper cables tame the treble a bit and increase the midbass thump to near basshead levels.

2) Semi rigid case -> quite good quality and sturdy. One of the better ones for sure in the sub $100 USD CHIFI.

3) Shirt clip

4) Multiple silicone tips
-> there are 2 types of stock silicone tips in different sizes, one with longer nozzle (white tips) and one with shorter nozzle (black tips). Both are very well fitting, no need to mess around with aftermarket tips unlike some other CHIFI that expouses Oppoty, Letting Music Burn, and Never Giving up. The longer nozzle eartips gives better fit and isolation for me, and hence better bass response, but YMMV as we all have different ear anatomies.

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Build/comfort:
The DM-480's shell is of good resin quality, it looks and feels like semi customs. It has a concha protrusion, which some may like or dislike, but it doesn't poke my ears, unlike some other sets I have encountered with concha protrusions.

DUNU says the DM-480 is their first IEM to be manufactured via high-resolution 3D printing, using 3D modeling software to design the most optimal shell shape from a large database of scanned ear shapes. Indeed, the DM-480's shells are light, well fitting, ergonomic and comfortable. The longest I have used it continuously would be about 5 hours in a row with no discomfort.

I did not note any driver flex.


Isolation:
Superb. Estimated about 25 dB isolation using stock tips. This makes the DM-480 a superb transit IEM IMHO. My gold standard transit IEM is the Audiosense T800 (8 BA) with ~ 30 dB isolation, and the DM-480 comes very close for a pure DD setup.

In fact, I've never had a pure DD config IEM that has such good isolation. I missed my stop on the subway while listening to the DM-480 cause I couldn't hear the announcement over the train's intercom with the DM-480 in my ears. I used to think that multi BA sets generally had better isolation due to their smaller shell size and being unvented, but the DM-480 can beat some multi BA sets in the isolation department. There's minimal loss of bass frequencies in noisy environments with the DM-480, which is usually the first frequency to be lost.


Soundstage:
Wide soundstage width.

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Drivability:
The DM-480 can be driven from a smartphone but scales much better with amping in terms of dynamics, details and soundstage. The DM-480 is quite power hungry actually, considering the specs (impedance 20 ohms), it takes about 10 - 20% more juice to drive than some of my other IEMs of similar impedance.


Sound:
The DM-480 has a U shaped sound with boosted bass/treble.

The DM-480 actually sounds more like a multi BA set in terms of resolution and technicalities than a typical DD set, probably because of the unique isobaric dual-push configuration. DUNU says the two dynamic driver units "work in tandem to improve overall linearity, extending bass and treble response, and filling gaps in the mids for richer vocals, crystal clear and lasting sound", and I don't think that's much hyperbole. The bass and treble (especially the latter, for a pure DD setup) extends very well.

The DM-480 has excellent technicalities (imaging, instrument separation, clarity, details) for a pure DD setup, it sounds much closer to a pure BA setup in technicalities than a DD one, as above. I would say it is better than the 3 most technical DD sets I have (TFZ No. 3, Semkarch SKC CNT1 and KBEAR Diamond). I generally would only use multi BA/hybrids for EDM, but the DM-480 can ace some complex EDM riffs with multiple instrumentations.

The DM-480 inherits the technicalities and resolution of a multi BA setup, but unfortunately, also the timbre of said BA setups. Usually at the budget to midfi segment, I dig DD timbre compared to multi BA/hybrid timbre, and the DM-480's timbre is very accurate for the driver handling the bass frequencies, but the driver handling the mids/treble frequencies has an average instrument timbre. Timbre wise, it beats most similarly priced multi BA/hybrid CHIFIs, but it loses out to some DD sets like BLON BL-03 and KBEAR Diamond (though these 2 sets have weaker technicalities compared to the DM-480). Note weight is on the thinner side, I personally would have preferred thicker notes for voices and instruments.

As such, due to the excellent technicalities and U shaped tuning, the DM-480 is pretty versatile across most music genres. Though if timbre is the main focus of your music (eg classical, jazz, acoustic), then there are better DD sets out there than the DM-480 solely in the area of timbre, but I haven't heard any pure DD setup with better technicalities under $100 USD. So pick your poison depending on your preferred sound preferences and music genres.


Bass:
Bass is linear from midbass to subbass. With stock cables, the DM-480 has no midbass thump/bump unlike the BLON BL-03, TFZ No. 3 and KBEAR Diamond. The subbass really goes low with a visceral grunt (that is felt rather than heard), and sounds like a subwoofer. I think I can hear it reach 30ish Hz or lower.

Quantity wise, the midbass is not at basshead levels, but definitely north of neutral. Some might find the midbass quantity lacking, especially if you are coming from bassier sets, but I found copper cables increase the midbass quantity by a tinge (thanks to Dsnuts for the pro tip). Amping and higher powered sources also increases the bass quantity, unlike driving it from lower powered sources.

Quality wise, the DM-480's bass is tight, textured and accurate with no midbass bleed. It has a decay that is on the faster side for a DD bass, and every bass note that is supposed to be in a recording will be heard accurately. I usually do not use a DD setup for EDM due to the weaker technicalities and bass speed compared to multi BA setups, but the DM-480 is suitable for EDM cause of the good bass quality and good technicalities.


Mids:
Mids are recessed, but still retain good details and clarity. Instruments seem to be more forward than vocals, but vocals are still very intelligible. I find male and female vocals are about equally forward.
There isn't a large 2 - 4 kHz sawtooth peak typically seen in CHIFI tuning that can cause some upper mids fatigue, which I appreciate.


Treble:
Lower treble is boosted relative to upper treble. Microdetails are good, it extends relatively well for a DD setup (better compared to say BLON BL-03 and KBEAR Diamond), though there's a higher treble roll off. But because of this, it is not fatiguing or harsh, with no sibilance to my ears. I am borderline treble sensitive but managed to listen to female vocal music for long sessions with minimal fatigue. I think only the most ardent trebleheads will find the DM-480 lacking at the higher frequencies, but the vast majority of lay consumers should like the non fatiguing listen.


Comparisons:
1) BLON BL-03:
- The sound signature of the BL-03 is harmanish with a midbass bump. Midbass quantity of the DM-480 is less than the BLON BL-03. Though the BLON BL-03's bass is slower and not as accurate, and not as well layered/textured as the DM-480's bass.
- Timbre and tonality is better on the BLON BL-03, with thicker note weight.
- Technicalities (clarity, instrument separation, imaging, details) are handsdown better in the DM-480.
- The BLON BL-03 has a narrower soundstage.
- The BLON BL-03 has much poorer isolation.
- The BLON BL-03 has more distortion than the DM-480.

2) TFZ No. 3:
- TFZ No. 3 has more subbass quantity/extension and is more basshead than the DM-480. There's a midbass bleed on the No. 3 unlike the DM-480. The No. 3's bass is also slower, less accurate and has more bloat than the DM-480's bass.
- TFZ No. 3 has about equal note weight and timbre.
- Technicalities wise, clarity and details are poorer on the No. 3.
- No. 3 has a smaller soundstage width than the DM-480
- No. 3 has poorer isolation than the DM-480.
- TFZ No. 3 has peaks at the 2 - 4 kHz and 8 kHz which can be fatiguing with longer listening sessions compared to the DM-480.

3) KBEAR Diamond
- Bass speed and accuracy is slightly better on the DM-480.
- Note weight is thicker in the Diamond. Timbre and tonality is better in the Diamond also.
- Technicalities wise the DM-480 is better.
- Soundstage is wider in the DM-480.
- Isolation is better on the DM-480.


Conclusion:
The DM-480 is a great sub $100 USD CHIFI. It sounds more like a multi BA/hybrid setup than a conventional DD setup due to the unique isobaric dual-push configuration.

It may concede in the area of note weight/timbre in the mids/treble frequencies compared to other DD counterparts, but the DM-480 makes it up in spades by trumping most other DD setups under $100 in the area of technicalities (eg imaging, instrument separation, clarity, details). The DM-480 has great subbass extension and accuracy, with wide soundstage width and minimal treble harshness/sibilance and is suited for long listening sessions.

I can see this being my daily transit IEM due to the superb isolation and comfortable build, it is definitely in my top 5 favourite DD IEMs.
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F700
F700
Good review. Now, as a great chi-fi consumer as you are, if you could keep just one of the last IEM you have, which one would you keep? KBear Diamond, BL-03, DM-480, TFZ n°3 or something else? No bang for bucks, just the musical pleasure that matters here, which one?
baskingshark
baskingshark
Well for pure DD sets, I would keep the KBEAR Diamond for its great timbre and tonality, as my usual music genres are jazz, acoustic and classical. How bout you friend?
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F700
F700
Thanks for your answer! On my side, it would be a very hard decision between the Final E5000 and the Fibae Black, as I dig a warmish/smooth sound signature.
Pros: End-to-end extension
- Good sub-bass reproduction
- Great detail retrieval in the midrange for the price
- Extended treble that's not fatiguing
- Good soundstage and imaging
Cons: Mid-bass is a bit too lean
- A bit of metallic timbre in the midrange
- Recessed lower-mids (intended signature in this case)
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It’s been quite a while since Dunu has released a new “budget” IEM.

Their last budget model, the Titan 1es, has been around for over two/three years now, and in this period the recent chi-fi boom has over-saturated the <$100 market to the point of exhaustion. Forget Flavor of the Month, it’s Flavor of the Week nowadays. Thus, Dunu decided to finally revamp their entry-level lineup, and the DM-480 sits just above the DM-380.

Bucking the trend of dynamic + BA or similar hybrid configurations, however, Dunu decided to go with a rather unique isobaric dual-push driver system (titanium diaphragm). While AudioTechnica has done the dual push-pull driver IEMs long ago, I can’t quite recall a similar system in consumer IEMs, let alone at this price point.

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image courtesy: audiojudgment.com

In theory, this kind of magnet-to-cone driver placement will allow the DM-480 to have increased efficiency (sensitivity in this case) while also improving low-end extension and not needing a large housing due to the unique driver configuration. How well that translates into practice?

Let’s find out.

Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Definitely the expectations from a $15 IEM won’t be the same as a $150 one, and that’s the approach taken while assigning scores. Dunu was kind enough to send me a unit for review, and obviously didn’t sinisterly force me into writing flowery prose.
Disclaimer
Sources used: Questyle QP1R, LG G7, iPhone SE

Price, while reviewed: $69. Can be purchased from Dunu’s AliExpress website.
Full specifications: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/dm-480


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Build: And once again we encounter yet-another-resin-shell. The design is kind of derivative, especially the protrusion at the back is something I’ve often seen in other IEMs (mostly KZ stuff). It’s not bad per se as the shell is quite clear without any visible artifacts. The backplate is pretty cool as well. The metal nozzle has a lip to grip onto earpieces and most eartips fit, though I stuck with the default white ones. The internal wiring is a bit curious as it seemingly uses both Copper and SPC wires (as can be seen in the picture). You can also see the proprietary driver assembly under good lighting with “DUNU” etched on them. A pretty nice touch.
As for the rest: the 2-pin connector is solid, is properly recessed and should last a while. My personal quibbles with most resin shells aside — these have a great build quality.
4.5/5

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Accessories: You get nearly everything you will need: 6 pairs of tips (two different bore colors: white and blue), a good SPC cable (with rather soft memory wire that doesn’t need constant readjusting), a shirt-clip, and a semi-hard carrying case. The accessories are of good quality, and the only omission I can think of is a 6.3mm adapter which is kind of a moot point due to the high sensitivity of these IEMs.
4.5/5

Comfort: These are mostly comfortable, but there are times when the protrusion on the inner-side can rub against the ear. They don’t disappear into your ears, unlike some barrel type IEMs in this range (Final E2000, for example).
Other than that, nothing major. They are also rather suitable for jogging or running outdoors, thanks to the over-ear fit and really good noise isolation.
4/5

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Now, onto the sound. The overall signature is a slight V/U-shaped one, but there’s more to it than that.

Lows: The low-end has pretty good extension, with sub-bass being noticeable until 30Hz or so. The sub-bass rumble however isn’t as prominent and lacks physicality. The mid-bass tuning is quite curious, as it’s tuned at least 3/4dB below the sub-bass and leads to this bass presentation where the sub-bass seems detached from the rest of the frequencies, akin to the subwoofer in a 2.1 setup. I personally prefer a more even mid-bass tuning and for my tastes, the snare hits lack body while the double-pedals don’t sound as satisfying.
This works well on certain tracks though, especially the ones where the mastering has more mid-bass than neutral and this seems to clean up the mix in those tracks.
Bass decay and attack is quick, without any overly long decay. Bass texture is a bit lacking compared to certain other DD IEMs (Final E3000 for example) but that’s something I’d chalk up to the lean mid-bass.
If you are sensitive to mid-bass bloom, this shall be right up your alley. If you are even a mild basshead, however, this can be a pitfall.
4/5

Mids: Midrange is recessed compared to the lows and highs, but not overly so. The transition from lower-mids to upper-mids is smooth without any disorienting peaks or dips. Female vocals are more emphasized than male ones with a peak around 3KHz (as is a trend lately), again exhibited on Damien Rice’s Sleep Don’t Weep.
As for the timbre of the midrange, this is where I have some concerns as the DM-480 exhibits a “metallic” timbre. It’s mostly apparent when A/B-ing and not so noticeable as certain all-BA models. However, it’s there, and can be jarring if you’re used to something more “natural” sounding.
The detail retrieval is really good for an all-dynamic setup, and there were plenty of microdetails. Small nuances like the picking on fretboard (in acoustic tracks), the hum of the amp, or ambient noises in the recording studio were all picked up.
I didn’t encounter any instance of sibilance in the vocals, so really, apart from the timbre — not much to complain about here, but that’s something I’m picky about myself so there’s that.
4/5

Treble: The treble is the highlight of the DM-480 IMO, as the DM-480 is really well tuned in this aspect and is absolutely perfect for metal genres/sub-genres without being overly fatiguing.
The treble mostly emphasizes around the 6KHz and 8KHz region, and then there is a peak post 12KHz that gives some air in the cymbal strikes. The cymbals have a very natural attack and decay, especially the crash cymbals. Just listen to the instrumental solo section of Machine Head’s Aesthetic of Hate and you’ll get what I mean.
They become a bit fatiguing after hours of listening to fast-paced metal, but that’s something I experience with all but the rather laid-back IEMs/headphones (think HD650).
Aside from metal, violins and cellos can sound a bit sharp depending on the mastering, but again, nothing too distracting.
In summary: great treble, and apart from the utmost micro-detail pursuers or the ones who can’t have anything but laid-back stuff — this should satisfy the rest.
4.5/5

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Soundstage: The soundstage has really good width and height, definitely above-average for the price point. However, sound stage depth is not as impressive compared to some of the multi-BA stuff out there. Instrument separation is great and doesn’t get congested even in complex tracks.
4/5

Imaging: Instrument placement is precise apart from the very tricky cardinal placements (top-left, top-right). It does better than most IEMs on that regard, but can’t dethrone the best-in-class: Dunu’s own Titan 1. Due to limited soundstage depth, you don’t get the sense of distance between instruments as you do on certain hybrid/multi-BA IEMs, e.g. the good old Havi B3 Pro. Left/right separation isn’t as exaggerated as Final’s barrel-type IEMs, as a side-note.
4/5

Bang-for-buck: The DM-480 faces a stiff competition, and thus needs to stand out somehow to be of good/great value. Fortunately for Dunu, the treble response is great for the price-range, and the mid-range/bass is rather good as well (esp the sub-bass). The IEMs themselves are well-built with a good accessories package and are rather versatile in terms of genres, even though they work best with metal/rock (I didn’t put EDM/R&B here due to the lean mid-bass).
4/5

Source and Amping: Nothing to write home about here, these run off of everything without much fuss.

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Select Comparisons

vs Dunu Titan 1: The Titan 1 was released quite a while back, but still holds its ground on some regards, so let’s see how well the DM-480 surpasses its predecessor. First up — the bass response is definitely improved by a sizable margin, though the mid-bass being lean doesn’t make it a wholesale upgrade. The midrange sounds more “open” on the Titan 1, thanks to it being front-vented. Titan 1 has similar amount of microdetails, but has instances of sibilance and sounds even more metallic than the DM-480. As for treble, DM-480 edges the Titan 1 by having a less peaky response which is more suited to longer listening sessions.
Now, the soundstage and imaging are areas where Titan 1 still reigns supreme. The open design helps, and doesn’t really block outside noise because of that (a plus for the DM-480) but Titan 1 is still class-leading in those segments.
So yes, while the Titan 1 still haven’t been beaten at their imaging and staging prowess, DM-480 is overall a better buy in 2020, unless you are buying a pair exclusively for acoustic and live tracks, in which case Titan 1 is a no-brainer (though who knows how long they’ll be in production).

vs Sennheiser IE 40 Pro: The IE40 Pro has a similar v-shaped signature, but the mid-bass boost is way north of neutral, in stark contrast to the DM-480. Dunu handily beats it in terms of bass extension, and general end-to-end extension. The midrange is also more detailed on the Dunu even though I prefer the tonality and timbre of the Sennheisers. Treble is smoother on the IE40 Pro and facilitates extended listening, while it’s definitely more accentuated on the DM-480.
As for the rest, both have good build and comfort/isolation levels, though IE 40 Pro is a tad more comfortable with its more snug fit. Then again, that memory wire on the Sennheiser is a pain, so there’s that. Soundstage is wider on the Dunu, while imaging is about on par.
If you prefer a bassy, laid-back listen, the IE 40 Pro will suit you better. For a more fun, energetic sound — pick the DM-480.

vs Final E3000: The Final E3000 is an IEM I’m yet to fully review, but it will be done in the near future. In the meantime, a comparison won’t hurt.
The E3000 has more accent on the mid-bass and the sub-bass has slightly more rumble than the DM-480. The bass speed is however on the slower side with longer decay, so fast metal tracks sound a bit too busy at times.
The midrange tonality and timbre is better on the E3000, while the treble is definitely DM-480’s forte in this comparison, with the E3000 having a very laid back treble with even less extension than the IE 40 Pro.
The E3000 is more comfortable and the ideal IEMs to fall asleep with in a sense. The lack of detachable cable might be a deal-breaker for many, however, along with the open-back design that leads to some sound leakage.
In essence, the E3000 is a better suit for acoustic, singer/songwriter and live tracks, while the DM-480 can take care of the rest genres a lot better.

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Conclusion

It’s really difficult to stand out in this chi-fi crowd, and while Dunu DM-480 isn’t the most versatile <$100 IEM out there, it is a great option for certain genres, especially if you are a metalhead. Metalhead-friendly IEMs are not too easy to find, and these cater well to that particular niche.

For Dunu’s next release, I hope they focus a bit more on getting the mid-bass response right, which can be really tricky since it’s easy to overdo it. For now, the mid-bass leanness coupled with the slight metallic timbre of the midrange are the issues that keep me from rating these IEMs even higher. These new drivers seem to have potential and I hope Dunu keeps improving upon them.

In the end, these are a good buy, even if they are just a couple steps short of being even better.

#Recommended (for metalheads and such)

Test tracks (as Tidal playlist): https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7

Test tracks (as YouTube playlist, often updated):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLetb5RqtcrlXdSG4tSCjCJpvoszUb4OjG
F700
F700
Hi mate, great review, although this IEM doesn't seem to match my musical and signature taste. Great pictures, congrats.
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kmmbd
kmmbd
@F700 thanks mate! Yes, I think it's not really intended for your preference, mostly for those who want details and sparkles up top while not losing the sub-bass.
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F700
F700
Keep up the good work, you are a very good reviewer and afaik a real music lover. That counts a lot.
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Pros: Great Build Quality
Stainless Steel Nozzle
Extremely well done Sub-bass
Balanced Vocals
Detailed
Cons: 3 small peaks that might be sibilant for some treble sensitive people
Cable might be too thin for some
Bad chinslider
I prefer a bit more mid-bass quantity for a fun signature
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Disclaimer
: I would like to thank DUNU-Topsound for sending this free review unit. I am not affiliated or was given any incentives for writing a positive review.

Edit: added Cable source

Edit: price is 70 usd

Specifications:

Frequency Response Range: 5 Hz - 40 kHz (HI-RES Certified)
THD: < 0.5% at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 105±2 dB at 1 kHz
Resistance: 20 Ω
Resin shell with 2x 8mm titanium coated dynamics in an isobaric push configuration.
0.78mm 2 pin SPC cable, sourced from Taiwan.

Accessories: (I didn’t get the full package so I don’t know what else you get,)

SPC cable

S/M/L wide bore silicone tips

S/M/L narrow bore silicone tips (Very good, on par with Spinfits CP100 except without the Spin feature)

Cable: The SPC cable that is included is on the thinner side, but it feels very unique to the touch and is actually decent enough to not need a “upgrade” cable from a third-party source. Only bad thing is that the chin slider barely works and slides down very easily. The ear hooks do have visible plastic on it, but due to the color on the cable it is perfectly camouflaged and not visible unless you really look close at it. The plug and divider are made of brushed metal making it seem very high quality, durable and prevents sliding. (I use a better cable because I have it and want to take the DM-480 to its limits)

Build: absolutely top tier work here, resin made body, no sharp edges and very high-quality nozzle made of stainless steel. There is a very good lip on it that makes even big tips that shouldn’t fit, fit and stay on with very little risk of falling off. The color looks like it was made from syrup/honey very unique.

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Fit: No worrying of falling off and stays on even with me pulling the cable. Sits a little bit deeper than normal. Top tier fit.

Comfort: Well this actually made me wonder if I got a custom iem, it fits me perfectly and doesn’t protrude much (you can almost use it for sleep, wouldn’t do it though). It is on the small size so people with big ears might have problems with it.

Isolation: This is my second best isolating iem and only loses to the Audiosense T800 but only by a small margin. Top tier and shows that DD iems can compete with BA iems in isolation. No vents on the build is probably why it achieves such a high level of isolation, but that can give you a bit less comfort in comparison if it would have vents.

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Setup: Fiio M11, Cable 175 (4,4mm), stock narrow bore Large

Lows: Very well controlled, tight and on the fast side (although LZ A6 mini and Shuoer Tape is faster). Clear U-shaped profile with a big boost on sub-bass that is on the fun side but stays away from being boomy. Sub-bass focused over mid-bass

Sub-bass: Oh boy this is fun, like really fun. This sub-bass reminds me of the Shuoer Tape, being very powerful, fast and still on the tight side. And can also rumble when called for it, although it still leans towards being very well controlled and tight. Extremely high quality, my kind of bass.

Mid-bass: Mid bass is probably my least favored part of the DM-480, while the sub-bass is very powerful and fun, the mid-bass is not as powerful in comparison. This does make the bass separate from the lower mids and don’t bleed at all. Still on the Tight and fast side though and quality is high. The quantity makes some rock/metal/Jpop less fun. (examples being Hiroyuki Sawano Perfect Time and Breaking Benjamin Blow me Away)



Mids: Very balanced between male and female vocals both are on the same quality level, rare because usually chi-fi iems have the 3k peak that makes female vocals the focus and sometimes higher quality.

Female-vocals: not sibilant at all and high quality, lifelike and natural.

Male-vocals: the male vocals are a bit better than female vocals, being more natural and lifelike.

Highs: Very high quality and extension. There are 3 peaks around 2-3k, 5-6k and 8k that can be a bit sharp on some tracks. Although the 3k peak is not a problem for me and doesn’t make it sibilant at all. The other 2 peaks can make some instruments a bit sharp for me, for example cymbals.

Soundstage: on the big side, makes live songs sound very good.

Tonality: is not as natural as some other single DD iems, due to the sub-bass and highs boost, but makes songs fun. More similar to a BA iem than DD.

Details: Top tier details, very impressive for a DD iem.

Instrument Separation: Top tier and easy to tell apart instruments, does not struggle even on tracks with a lot of things going on.

Songs that highlight the IEM: , ,
Good genres: EDM, Hip-Hop, quite versatile so many genres are ok with it.

Bad genres: slow/acoustic, instrumental.

Comparisons:

LZ A6 Mini (Black Filter): sub-bass is stronger on the DM-480 while being less tight and fast. Mid-bass sounds very good on the Mini, while the DM-480 does have similar quality I would have liked more quantity. Mids are better on the DM-480 when it comes to balancing between male and female vocals. Male vocals sound recessed on the mini while Female vocals is dominating, very bad balancing, although vocals sounds more natural on the mini. Highs are more extended on the mini and also have a bit better quality, it is however extremely boosted on the highs and therefore not very natural to me, does also make the mini very fatiguing to use. Due to the extremely boosted highs the details are better when it comes to the mids and highs, but the DM-480 has better sub-bass details. The Mini is extremely airy and that also makes it less natural, and the airyness and extreme highs also makes the soundstage feel bigger on the mini. Something that you need to keep in mind though is that the mini has 3 different filters that all have different sound to them, making them go from warm bassy to extreme bright.

Shuoer Tape: very similar sub-bass, it is tighter and faster on the Tape though (it can sound less natural due to the extremely fast speed). Mid-bass is a bit lower quantity in the Tape, while it is also a bit tighter and faster. It has a generally tighter and faster bass while being lower in quantity, less fun as a result (although I prefer tight and fast bass). Male and female vocals is also behind the rest but not recessed, very similar in balancing but that god damned giant 3,5k peak in the Tape makes it almost unplayable on some songs with female vocals (mostly rock/metal songs). Highs are very similar except the tape has one giant peak (3,5k) while the DM-480 has 3 smaller peaks at 2-3k, 5-6k and 8k. This does allow the Dm-480 to still compete with the Tape in details, but the Tape is one detail monster and the Dm-480 is still a few levels behind. The tape does however sound a bit less natural in the highs, not sure why but the driver sure has a unique sound to it.

TFZ No.3: sub-bass quantity is much higher on the no.3 but is MUCH more boomy and slower. This comes down to if you like boomy or tight bass, you like boomy go with no.3 if you like tight take the DM-480. Mid-bass quantity is similar but the no.3 still has quite the boomy bass, since I prefer tight bass this makes the no.3 sound quite bad to me. This has the typical chi-fi mids I was talking about earlier, leaning a bit more on the female vocals though not as bad as the A6 mini. Highs however does sound a bit more natural than both the Tape and the DM-480, due to there not being any noticeable peak. The sound in general however is quite bassy and boomy so the bass does bleed a bit into the male vocals, it sounds bloaty due to the boomy bass.



Conclusion: In conclusion, I believe that DUNU has done a very good job offering sound and build quality on par with stuff that costs at least 2 times the amount. (keep in mind that although the A6 mini is selling for around the same price as the DM-480 now, it was originally a 180 usd iem). Offering a well-balanced U-shaped iem in a time where the Chi-fi war is raging strongly. DUNU has managed to set their foot into and established themselves as a brand others have to watch out for and does managed to make me interested in how their pricier options sounds like when they already have something on this level for this price. TLDR: if you want a very good balanced U-Shaped Iem with tight, fast and powerful bass look no further this has become my number one recommendation for that kind of sound.

Cable source: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/resistance-of-cables-pics-comments-and-links.907998/
baskingshark
baskingshark
Try a copper cable with the DM-480 to boost the mid bass. I like the DM-480's subbass quantity and extension but also felt the bass was too linear, with a midbass that has less thump with the stock SPC. Using 16/8 core copper cables is perfect for my basshead tastes.
kmmbd
kmmbd
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@baskingshark I unfortunately do not have a pure copper cable that is on par with the hybrid 175 cable. So even the hybrid does everything better than my pure copper cable.
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