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Universal Fit item created by jacksonchansf, Jul 21, 2012
Pros - Bassy sound but still packing detail in mids and highs
Cons - Slightly analytical with poor recordings. Cable SPC degrades over time.
Dunu by Top-Sound has been known to have popular budget IEM's throughout all tiers of the level. Dunu now steps it up a notch and has unveiled their Dynamic Flagship IEM the DN 19 Tai Chi. This IEM uses damper's to control the bass, different type tips, and insertion of tips to modify its sound. The DN 19 is part of DUNU's silver impact series. The silver impact series uses silver covered copper wires as it can be seen from the images.
Other Dunu's like the DN 17 have had such a solid metal build that it was actually a con. They weighed too much and thus dropped like rocks. This could cause damage and chips. The DN19's now take a hard plastic approach at the driver housing. The housing itself is extremely light but static. The nozel can not be moved around to fit different ears. I will get into this later. They do feel like they will get destroyed if they are stepped on hard however as it is just very light.
Microphonics are the annoying sound made by the cables.
The DN 19 are meant to be worn over ear with the guiders or without. It is nearly impossible to wear them without going over and behind the ears. There is thus little microphonics. Moving the chin slider up virtually eliminates the rest of the cable moving sound.I don't keep the chin slider all the way up to my chin. With the cable tight, I prefer it about 1.5 - 2 inches beneath my chin.
The problem is a bit widespread but not too large. The nozzle can not be moved and thus the shallow insertion, big driver housing, the housing "hump" near the nozzle and the immobile nozzle itself causes fit problems for some. Next, the damper port is also another cause. If you can see from the pic's below, they are right near your ear. They can prevent your ear form getting a seal.
Shallow or Deep insertion? You pick:
I am a user of Medium tips always. I thought I was seeing things when I found the medium tips to be quite small upon first sight. In reality, they are. They do create a seal of sorts but are more of the tip to just barely be inserted as a seal at all but kinda sit on the ear opening after being inserted. I am fine with this kind of seal but I found that the large tips of both the black and gray allowed for different sealant pattens. The gray's went farther into the ear and were more hard and responsive to expanding inside the ear. I did a wide variety of tips and choices. I found the shallow mediums to fit me best. Why? Dunu's(not just them) are a bit more prone to the diaphram vacuum. This is where on insertion, the backwards suction after the seal is created, the diaphgram will itself get compressed or sucked up You can hear this as a pop of air when insertion or de-sertion of the IEM's. The shallows allow a lesser rate of that happening. But as to what sounds better for whoever, it is your call.
They don't tangle as easily as the DN19 nor many other IEM's actually. It may be due to a different cable composition. The DN17 also part of silver impact series cable feels different.
They don't leak much. But they do let in some sound in. They didn't isolate as well as the deeper inserting IEM's like the TF10 or the ones using tougher driver material. The IEM driver assembly and housing itself is extremely light. Harley's do penetrate the DN19 even on loud volumes.
In ear Feel:
Excellent. The cable guides have a patent pending but with or without them, they fit well. The shallow insertion (general) and static fit may cause a problem with some. I myself have a personal problem where my right ear's opening is different from my left's. I myself prefer no cable guides while at the desk and cable guides while going for a jog.
The cable guides have caught onto the wire itself or other things a few times while pulling them out but it wasn't really annoying. The cable itself is just solid, slick, long enough to not be an annoyance in daily activities while still being just long enough for use with a desktop unit that may not be too close to you. However the dampers are a problem. I realized why they gave you over 10-20 after my first week using them. The driver damper port is too small to be machined accurately(read: cost effectively) and same with the dampers. And thus you literally screw in the dampers with a clockwise motion. This will take a few tries at first. However I have noticed that the dampers screw plastic mold will sometimes break. I have had this happen twice where they become useless because the screw mold is gone so they won't hold.
These do not need an amp for volume but they do exhibit noise on many amplifiers and units that even support its 16 Ohm impedance.
Very easy to drive but a bit sensitive to what amp or unit is used with it or else it will produce noise.
Sound Quality Introduction:
I was not deeply impressed with the DN 17 Crater but I am with the DN 19. The main lesson from the DN 19 is that Dunu can craft a beautiful looking, feature packed and good sounding IEM at a competitive price. Now before I reveal my thoughts, lets get into the part we all wanted to read.
A problem the DN 17 had was that its highs were all over the place and EXTREMELY bright and fatiguing. I wish to announce that the problem for the most part has been rectefied. It still is not as smooth as I want it to be but the DN 19 delivers crisp highs. It needs to smooth out some flucuations in the highs. They are crisp and articulate but don't go too too high either. This is good and bad. It depends on what type of person you are. Some can't stand highs that (don't have sonic problems) burn into your brain. And some want more. I have heard enough of IEM's and headphones that try to deliver highs on a tech sheet but don't go back to engineer them. And that is why for this range of a product, I will welcome an item that has an engineer high frequency range(yet one that doesn't sounds that high freq lovers will want)
But a problem that still remains un-rectified is the harshness that shouldn't be there at times. It doens't happen often but the Dunu's may still produce a very high ptiched sound that really is fatiguing and may not work for lower quality rock groups. (Rammstein, most punk rock etc).
The vocals are not overly forward. They are in between in the forward role and taking a backwards role. This also highly depends on the song but with practice one can put it at where it lies. I have to say that it would be one that is just slightly behind the mid based instruments and other parts of the track. They are clear and on the warm side. The bass can sometimes be so strong that while it won't muddy up the mids, it will make it a bit hard to "hear" what is being said. (Will talk about dampers later). It is a very sweet sounding vocal.
Very clear, seperated with good timbre. Some strings do come off a bit metallic or just streak off but for the majority of the time, the DN 19 produces instruments clearly and accurately. It is generally above the vocals and boy does the guitarist let you know that he is in the front.
The low freq range is not like a car bass. It isn't tight but just because a low freq responce is not tight in its execution mean it is more like a car bass. It punches along with a rumble and hit every now and then. I can't say that I dislike it as I listen to a lot of modern mainstream music(I tested with plenty of oldie favorites now). The mid bass and upper bass is extremely prevelant and has quite the rumble that will sometimes overtake the vocals and mids as the front row man(but won't distort them). They do have a decent sub bass extension that would do well with the IEM. It isn't specially deep but does create the sub rumble that accompanies the massively delicious bass on these IEM's.
Much more controlled. I may even say that the sub bass may itself be affected a bit negatively with it. For those that want less bass, this is a good solution as these things on bassy songs will really start rocking.
Dampers and gray tip combo:
Dunu recommends Dampers and gray tips for a more clear and "neutral" combo. That is exactly what they do. The dampers reduce and "engineers" the bass a bit and the deeper inserting gray tips seal off your ears but also make the entire mid range clearer. This has a negative consequence with it however. I found that with this combo and many others that I tried (dampers and black tips) that it would increase fatigue. Anything from the default dampers and medium tips will increase the fatigue that these produced. The mid instruments became more metallic with them and vocals a bit too bright for my liking. It would be up to your choice. Try them out.
These IEM's are a bit more on the analytical side even with the warm sound. It will sound bad with badly recorded tracks. Tracks that were recorded ok and play well with forgiving cans will also be a disaster with these. So pair them well.
The standard config of no damper and medium tips still provides a bit of fatigue to me. So they aren't totally perfect. The damper and gray tip combo proves worse with this.
This isn't a Dunu if they don't give a nice to decent soundstage to go along with it. From the moment you put in the IEM with a good fit, if you spent time with other IEM's you will notice the soundstage. It isn't a very large artificially spacey sounding one like the Monster Inspiration. It at first sounds a bit un natural to the ear as everything is moved farther away but after a few moments, you forget about it. I would say it is slightly above average and has nothing to really dislike about it. As a gamer, I welcome this.
The DN 19 Tai Chi proves that Dunu is stepping up its game. It is warm and fun sounding but also on the analytical side. I like to differentiate between earbuds and IEM's where the IEM needs to at least be up to my own self made standard on it sound. Well the DN 19 by my standards is an In Ear Monitor. I must congratualte Dunu on this stepping stone in their company. Using it is easy and listening to it is pleasant(until the ear fatigue kicks in). This is not the end of Dunu's journey. While they do deserve such praise, they must also fix the sometimes metallic sounding nature of their IEM's and its fatigue. It is finally competetive but still behind the fence from other $120-$150 IEM's. I wish Dunu the best of luck and am excited to see what else they can come up with next.
Driver size: 10mm
F responce: 16Hz - 26KHz
Sound Pressure Level: 100+/ 2 dB
Impendence: 16 Ohms
Noise Attenuation: 26 dB
Plug type: 3.5mm
Cable length: 1.3m
Build Quality: 8.5/10
In ear feel: 9/10
Sound quality: 8/10
Pros - Very agreeable sound, great build
Cons - Treble issues, midrange could be better
DUNU has been one of the IEM world’s rising stars as of late. In just two years, DUNU has released a lineup of great IEMs, ranging from the entry level Trident (my favorite budget IEM), to the mid-level Tai-Chi. In fact, the Tai-Chi is what’s to be reviewed today.
The Tai-Chi’s packaging is similar to other IEMs in DUNU’s range. It’s a simple two-part packaging, with a sleeve covering a box with a magnetic flap, which opens to reveal the Tai-Chi’s in their full glory. Inside, there are a great number of accessories, including two (!) cases, an airplane adapter, a 6.3mm adapter, and a mysterious box. Inside this magical box are six pairs of tips, a microfiber cloth, an additional pair of ear gliders, and many pairs of acoustic dampers, which I will explain later.
The Tai-Chi is a beautifully made IEM, especially at its price range. The cable is stranded silver and is very pleasingly thick. The plug is the typical right angled plug DUNU has, and the same Y splitter. My favorite feature of the cable is the brilliant cable organizer built right into the cable. It's genius. I wish other companies would adopt this idea. It'd probably save a lot of IEMs' lives. It sure will save these for me. It gives me a reason to wrap them rather than balling them up. I mean, an organizer is built in; might as well use it or else it gets in the way.
Now up to the IEMs themselves. One thing I haven’t seen in pictures is there is actually a Tai-Chi on the IEMs themselves, which probably influences the IEMs’ name. The IEM’s body is a nice rounded shape that fits perfectly within my ears. However, the bass port sometimes jams itself into my tragus, which gets irritating after a while. I doubt there would be many ears that the Tai-Chi would not fit, but it should be a factor one must consider before purchasing a pair of these
Now about the bass port: the Tai-Chi has this fantastic feature that allows the user to slightly alter the amount of bass the Tai-Chi puts out. Without the dampers on, they sound slightly muddy, with slightly better extension. But all in all, I don’t feel that, for my tastes, the dampers are necessary. But it’s wonderful that DUNU allows the option in the first place, and I’m sure many people will love the sound without the dampers. However I do worry that I will lose all of my dampers at some point in time. I've already lost 4 because they tend to come out by themselves.
Before going into the sound, I would like to address that the Tai-Chi’s laid-back, dark sound is basically the opposite of my sound preferences, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt. I’ll be writing this review in the point of view of someone who wants to seek sonic nirvana through sound signatures other than my preferred, mid-range focused sanctuary.
The bass with the dampers was a little more pronounced than I thought it would be, even when I looked at DUNU’s supplied frequency chart and viewing it as an idealized result. It’s north of neutral, but south of what I’d call “bassy.” For example, the nice rumble that I expect in the JLE Dub Mix of Puscifer's Indigo Children is not as pronounced as I wish it was. However, I did find something I like in the lower regions. I found that the Tai-Chi rendered string bass much, much better than the T-Peos H100. The timbre was just so much more right than the H100. The Tai-Chi has a certain sense of air that allows for the small details to sing. The little twangs of the strings are fantastically rich for an IEM in this price range.
With the bass dampers off however, things start to fall apart just a tiny bit. I finally got that rumble I was craving for electronic music (It's starting to approach Monster Turbine Pro Gold levels) but it also starts to muddle up a bit. The timbre that I so loved with the bass dampers on just wasn't there after the dampers were removed. It's an excellent lesson in physics.
The midrange with the dampers on was not my favorite. But for reference, my main headphones are the Beyerdynamic DT48, which is a headphone that is basically only midrange, so the bar is set pretty high. Despite this, the midrange wasn't the worst (again, better than the T-Peos H100), and was actually rather soothing. It's clear that DUNU was aiming to make a pleasurable IEM when one hears what was done to the midrange. I find vocals to be somewhat subdued, bordering on veiled, which at times got annoying (For example, an artist like Allen Stone, who basically requires a rather bright headphone, sounded muted and didn't have the impact I was hoping) but that's a trade off that must be taken. However, jazz wasn't that great with the Tai-Chi as a result of the muted mids. Trumpets almost sounded like they had mutes on; saxophones suffered the same fate. But the timbre that I so enjoyed in the bass extended itself to other instruments. It wasn't perfect, but much better than both the H100 and Sennheiser CX985. I'm liking these.
Without the dampers, the midrange, like the bass, suffered. The newly boated bass started intrude into my mids, which is one of my pet peeves of any sort of headphone. It was one of my main complaints about the Audio Technica M50, it's the reason I bashed the T-Peos H100 so much, and why I'm so uptight in general. It's getting increasingly hard for me to recommend that the dampers not be used because with the dampers on, the sound changes from “ack” to “yum.”
The treble, like the midrange, is slightly subdued. Granted, it may be because my main headphone for the past two months has been the treble-tastic Sony SA5000, but I find the Tai-Chi's treble to be mostly smooth, without being sparkly or anything. It's certainly nothing to complain about compared to other IEMs that have awkward peaks that make them nearly unlistenable, but I must note that the Tai-Chi also has a few peaks that can get slightly annoying at times. But it's certainly not enough to complain too much, especially because I've never encountered sibilance.
With the dampers off, there is the slightest bit of sibilance (not sure why...), and after I heard the sibilance, I tried not to concentrate too much on the treble. But it retained the general smoothness of the damped sound, just with a little less smoothness.
Soundstage is okay for an IEM. It isn't spacious, nor is it excellent at spatial abilities, but it spreads out sound about a foot forward and 2 feet across. Detail is much better than I expected for a laid-back IEM, but pales in comparison to my ACS T15 (modeled as a warmer Etymotic ER4) and even my Monster Turbine Pro Copper. However, it does beat out the T-Peos H100 and Sennheiser CX985. It's about even with the Monster Turbine Pro Gold and from memory, just a little behind the Brainwavz B2.
The Tai-Chi comes with two different kinds of tips. One type is a Sony Hybrid clone, which has a tapered tip. There is also a grey pair that is not tapered. Surprisingly, the difference is quite noticeable. Both have their merits and faults. The black, tapered tips have a little more upper mids, possibly because of the shorter tube. There's more midbass, but it's not of the clean sort. The grey tips sound more fleshed out than the black tips (as in no awkward accentuations, more like everything is accentuated than anything) and sound more natural. The hybrid tips have a similar effect as removing the bass dampers, except the upper mids are even more pronounced, which is just really annoying overall. I can certainly understand the appeal for those looking for a fun sound though. Black tips plus open ports provides a sound signature that's similar to an Ultrasone (from memory).
Overall, the Tai-Chi has proven to be my favorite sub $150 IEM, despite my predisposed ideas of them. Like I noted early in the review, the laid-back sound signature of the Tai-Chi was something I initially expected to not like. However, their smoothness has bewitched me. Despite their faults, I can listen with the Tai-Chi for hours and not feel any fatigue. If I could ask for anything though, I'd love if DUNU could squeeze in just a little more midrange. I like my vocals. However, for about $120, I'm quite hard-pressed to recommend against these. They've surpassed my two most recently reviewed $150 IEMs with ease, and are more comfortable to boot. While these have only managed to whet my appetite for a laid back sound, I'm liking what I'm hearing. If DUNU can do this with a $120 IEM, I can't even imagine what a high-end IEM would sound like. In merely two years, they've managed to, in my opinion, take both the $50 section and the $150 section with ease.
And thanks to DUNU for the sample!
Pros - Durable Build, Generous Accessories, Hard Case.
Cons - Will not fit my ears properly. If the Sound Nozzle was 2 to 4mm longer it would solve the problem.
DUNU Tai Chi DN-19
Review by TrollDragon of Head-Fi.org
In this review I will be looking at the Tai Chi DN-19 from DUNU.
DUNU is a Chinese manufacturer of earphones with headquarters in Taiwan. They have been in the OEM manufacturing business for years and have just recently started making their own brand of earphones.
I would like to present to you their Flagship model the DUNU Tai Chi DN-19.
Opening the box on these earphones, I was immediately impressed with the attention to detail that DUNU puts into presenting their product. Once you remove the outer sleeve of the box, you find an inner box with a magnetic catch on the side. Under the cover flap the earphones are presented in a very aesthetically pleasing way.
The earphones are in the velvet molded carrier, with the hard case just below them.
Upon removing the carrier from the box, there is a very generous collection of accessories included for these earphones.
The beautiful DN-19 Earphones.
A velvet lined and crushproof metal hard case.
Soft leather like draw string pouch.
3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter
Flip top accessory kit
The attention to detail that DUNU puts into the accessories is impressive.
The metal hard case is divided by a rubber insert and is lined with velvet. The DUNU logo is stamped into the cover, with the companies web address on the bottom.
The soft leather-like draw string pouch has the company logo stamped into the material with a name tag sewn into the side seam. The drawstring is knotted and the ends are melted to prevent fraying.
The flip top plastic accessory case is stamped as well with the company logo. Upon opening the case, you are presented with a multitude of goodies in a velvet lined box.
3 pairs of Grey silicone tips in Small / Medium / Large
3 pairs of Black silicone tips also in Small / Medium / Large
Another set of Medium tips come preinstalled on the earphones.
20 “Port” plugs for sound tuning
Spare pair of ear hooks, one pair comes preinstalled on the earphones.
Retaining clip for the wire
Soft, cleaning cloth with the companies logo and web address stencilled on.
Moving on to the main attraction The DN-19’s themselves.
The Specifications of the DUNU Tai Chi DN-19
SPL: 100 +-2dB
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Frequency Response: 16Hz~26KHz
Noise Attenuation: 26dB
Cord Length: 1.3m
Plug Type: 3.5mm (Right Angle)
These earphones are beautiful. The shape is very pleasing to the eye with a faint Yin-Yang symbol on the back of each one. The bodies are moulded in a glossy brown plastic with a metallic speckle finish. The cord is not detachable from the body but has a nice strain relief where it enters the body. On each associated strain relief is a very small R & L to mark the Right and Left earphone. The Left strain relief has in Braille three vertical dots, which is the symbol for L. Mind you, the dots are very small and I don’t really know it they could be read by someone who reads Braille.
The cable is of a very nice quality and has a good length to it. It’s 35cm from the start of the ear hooks to the Y splitter, continuing 80cm from the Y splitter through a very useful attached rubber cable tie strap to the right angled gold plated 3.5mm plug. The Y splitter has a slider to take up the slack if you so wish -- it kind of reminds me of the kids cowboy hat chin strap slider from years ago.
The information from DUNU states that the cable has “Patented silver wires transmission time fixing technology provides balanced extension and excellent recognition.”
I am not sure what that means exactly, but it appears that DUNU uses silver wire on these earphones. The wire with coating is 2mm in diameter and twisted from the plug to the Y splitter then it is separated out into a 1.5mm twisted pair to each earphone.
The coating on this wire is transparent and has a rubbery type feel to it but not so rubbery as to catch on your clothing. I am sorry to discover that it does suffer from a bit of a memory problem, which might disappear with use, but somehow I don’t think it will.
The right angled plug fits very well into whatever you are plugging it into. With a length of 2.5cm from the end of the tip to the start of the 90 degree strain relief, I don’t think you would ever encounter any device with or without a case that would not accommodate this plug. It clicks into place nicely. Some 3.5mm plugs just don’t feel right when you plug them in, they are sloppy and loose. DUNU has the specifications right with this plug though it clicks into place very nicely.
The Sound Tuning Feature.
The DN-19 is a “Tuneable” earphone, it has a sound port on the side of the body that can be blocked or left open to tune the “Sound” of the earphone to your liking. There are matching silicone tips that go with each tuning mode.
The black tips with the sound port open provide the greatest amount of bass on these earphones and the grey tips with the sound port plugged decrease the low end bass quantity.
I tested these earphones on my Rockboxed Sansa Clip+, iPod Nano 2[sup]nd[/sup] Generation, iPod Nano 3[sup]rd[/sup] Generation, HTC Desire HD and finally the headphone output of my Corsair SP2500 Control Pod.
All of these devices powered the DN-19 with relative ease. The headphone output volume was set at a moderate level, all except for the HTC Desire HD which has the most useless headphone output amplifier of the lot and had to be turned up quite a ways. I don’t listen to music through this phone so it was not a problem for me.
Here is the greatest problem for me with these earphones: no matter which configuration I try, which size tips, I cannot get a good fit. If the sound nozzle was 2 to 4mm longer I think these would be amazing earphone for my ears.
I have a deep set ear canal and cannot get these earphones installed without the body of them coming to rest against my cavum concha which in turn causes the sound port to irritate my tragus.
I’ve tried earclips on and off, all the tips supplied and even different tips from another earphone to no avail.
I contacted Comply to see if they had a T / Ts series that would fit the DN-19. Since they only provide recommendations for tips that they certify on earphones, I was told that due to safety / insurance reasons they could not recommend a Comply tip for the DN-19 since they don’t own one to certify the tips on.
I took a pair of hearing protectors, shortened them up and used a leather hole punch to make a tunnel, I attached them to the sound nozzle, rolled them up and put the DN-19’s in my ears. It was by no means perfect but provided me a bit better sound than with the supplied tips. After the Holidays I will look into get a set of Comply tips and experiment a bit.
Since I cannot get a good fit with the DN-19’s this section will be very sparse. Using the large black tips I am able to get a bass less sound from these earphones. (Tried all the tips and these provide the best sound to me at this point)
If I press on the backs of the DN-19’s while they are in my ears I can get bass to appear in the audio. *NOTE* This is by no means an accurate representation of these earphones and do not do them the justice they deserve. I will update this section when I get some foam tips and possibly a better seal.
Since I am new to earphones, I do not like earbuds as they will not stay in, and the only other pair of earphones I had was a set of Maxell Peanutz which went immediately into the trash after my limited attempt at hearing the DN-19’s. (I even tried the tips off of the Peanutz, both the double and triple flange.)
I put the medium black tips on the DN-19’s and gave them to the wife to try out… Well they are gone now, she has claimed them. She listens to a 2[sup]nd[/sup] Generation iPod Nano with some low bitrate music on it. I took her Nano and loaded it up with ALAC versions of her favourite music and had her listen to the DN-19’s with that.
Her Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, Little Big Town and 70’s Classic Rock favourites almost sounded like totally different music through the DN-19’s. She used to try and listen to her music through a pair of Sony MDR-V150’s.
It is really a great thing when your can help take someone’s music listening to the next level!
The limited sound I had the chance to experience with these was very good when I managed to get a reasonable fit.
The build looks and feels very durable
The accessory kit and hard case.
The only con I found with these earphones is the fit for me, personally, I believe if the sound nozzle was 2 to 4mm longer they would solve that problem.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rocky and DUNU for the sample I received for review.
And I would like to thank anyone who actually read to the end of this review, this is my first review and first experience with a high quality earphone product.
Also, I am not a photographer.
Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Pros - great for the price, good in all areas, build quality and accessories, precise, musical
Cons - design not for all ears, choice between warm messy bass or refined & polite
DISCLAIMER: I am not an audiophile. This review is for ‘normal’ ears.
I received this unit from Dunu in exchange for a review. While I appreciate the opportunity, honest feedback is the best thing I can give to Dunu in return for the chance to review the DN-19.
After initially listening to the DN-19, I put it aside and let burn in over 100 hours on my iPod nano. After letting it burn in a bit, I resumed listening to the earphones and was initially very disappointed. Experimentation, however, pointed to this coming from the black silicone tips, not from the earphones themselves. Upon switching to the provided grey tips the sound improved markedly for me.
Therefor all my observations are made using the grey silicon tips, and not the black ones.
I have been using these IEMs for roughly 2-3 weeks.
A Starting point; This is what I like and what colors my review.
My Westone 4R with ACS silicone sleeves is my favorite in-ear-monitor. (IEM) I like ‘lush’ mids and impactful bass (which is what my JH16 is for), instrument separation is more important to me than soundstage, and I like musical headphones a smidgen more than analytical headphones. I use a Byderdynamic T1 for Classical, Techno and Jazz, but I like my Audezee LCD2 for most other genres. I like impactful bass…
REVIEW - TLDR version;
Good – The DN-19 is good with the dampers out for messy bass, fun mids, decent soundstage with genres such as pop, rock, or anything you want to sound musical rather than analytical. With the dampers in it sounds good with classical or other more “refined” music. If you drink wine after dinner and like to nibble on chocolates while listening to Tchaikovsky then you will enjoy the DN-19 with the dampers in. Build quality and accessories are top notch.
Bad – It tries too hard to be both a bass-head IEM and a refined analytical IEM. While it does both decently through the damper system, I’d really like to see what DUNU can do with this driver if they focused on one concept or the other. The design could use some revision as it may hurt certain shapes of ears. (It bothered mine a bit.)
Conclusion – A solid buy, especially if you swing between LL Cool J and Pyotr. With a bit of fiddling, this IEM can be used to listen to both in the manor to which they should be heard.
The DN-19 comes with so many accessories that you will probably end up using some of them with other IEM that short-changed you in that department. The DN-19 arrives fitted with two black medium tips (which I didn’t care for) an additional set of S/M/L black buds and a set of S/M/L grey tips. They include a microfiber cloth, an airline adaptor, a whole bunch of “dampeners” (more on that in the sound section), an extra pair of ear-fasteners (a soft rubber piece that affixes to the cable to help it naturally sit over your ear) a well-made faux leather pouch to carry your earphones, as well as a very nice metal case with a rubber seal in case you are worried about your earphone getting crushed. The wire even has a rubber snap-strap over the cable to help you coil your wire when you are going to store it. No other earphone I’ve unboxed has had so many accessories. Have I mentioned that the extra tips and what-have-you come in their own carrying case?
Build Quality (5/5)
Build quality for a headphone at this price is great. While I haven’t put it through ‘the wringer’ or protracted use, all the little touches are there. The proprietary Dunu 3.5 plug looks strong and well built, the part where the wire meets the earphone housing is covered with an extra layer of protective rubber, the plastic is a firm sort, and does not feel cheap. (Unlike the Westone W4R.) The use of silver in the wire is commendable, and I find it quite nice as I believe it contributes to the sound of the IEM. The wire feels solid (it is coated in some sort of slick plastic that helps cut down on microphonics) and bends easily, though it unfortunately remembers where it was originally coiled. Despite this, the build quality is so high for this price that I am giving it a five out of five.
Sound (7.6/10) – Even all my early notes before burn-in comment on the precision and detail of this IEM for this price range. The clarity and sound separation is nice. It also has a more ‘full’ sound to my ears than a single balanced armature IEM.
Overall, this is a good IEM and I enjoyed listening to it. However, it was made to be user customizable through the use of different silicone tips and a “damper.” The damper is a small piece of plastic that fits in a protrusion on the side. This protrusion is a vent that lets air into the IEM and changes the sound signature. Without the damper the unit loses some of its clarity, as the bass becomes warm but also muddy and fuzzy. With the damper the unit regains its clarity but the mid-highs and top end feels a bit more sharp and defined, yet I also feel like it loses some of its resolution and fullness. The best description I can think of is that it sounds “tin-like.” At the same time the bass tightens up and becomes refined, but at the price of losing much of its impact.
Honestly, I would have appreciated this headphone more if it did not have these options but was somewhere in between the two options of with and without dampers. A cross between the warm yet fuzzy sound without dampers and the very detailed analytical/tin-like sound with dampers would be more to my tastes than the two opposites you have to choose from. While I liked the instrument separation and detail of the DN-19 with the dampers in, overall I preferred the more musical sound without the dampers.
NOTE ON VOLUME: This IEM doesn’t really sound good until you turn up the sound substantially. How substantial that is depends on the power of your source. With classical music on my Galaxy SIII, I have the volume comfortably at 75% in a low-noise environment. For Rock and Pop it sits at 50%. With the dampers in there is virtually no sound leakage to those around you, with the dampers out there is a little sound leakage but it’s minimal. For the Nano (4[sup]th[/sup] gen) the volume has to be at around 75% to bring out the layers of music. (dampers in)
Highs – I feel like this is the weak point of the IEM.
(without dampers): Without dampers, this IEM turns into a bass-head IEM. As you can imagine this muddies things up a bit.
(with dampers): I feel like they get lost in the mids as the mids are a bit more forward with the dampers in. The highs sound a bit recessed. They are present, but not as crisp or defined, and I feel like they simply disappear or loose a lot of resolution at higher frequencies.
Mids – The DN-19 sounds good with mids whether you have the dampers in or not.
(without dampers): Full, musical, forward, fun, exciting… in short, not very analytical, but enjoyable. This is in part because the lower mid and mid/upper bass seems to roll together to make for a good musical sounding presentation.
(with dampers): Clear, crisp, refined. More analytical than musical. It’s full, but not lush. It is an accurate portrayal of what is happening, but it is not engaging. This is the sort of thing that I look for with classical music.
Bass – This is where the difference between with and without dampers is most manifest.
(without dampers): Warm, messy, impactful, but the lower end of the bass seems to get lost in the beautiful warm fuzziness that is the mid-bass region.
(with dampers): Tight, refined, clear. Good representation, but no impact. There are hints of lower end bass but it doesn’t really have that oomph I want to have in a rock/pop/rap song.
Soundstage – It sounds like you’re sitting back about 5-10 rows form a performance. There is decent instrument separation, but it doesn’t sound like you’re in the middle of the stage. You might like this or not.
(without dampers): I feel like the soundstage opens up a bit without dampers. Maybe 2-5 rows back from the stage.
(with dampers): The soundstage is good with the dampers in, but it feels like you’re 10 rows back or so.
Outside certain issues with the sound, the biggest gripe I have with the DN-19 regards the placement of where they chose to put the “dampers.” For many ears, I assume that this little protrusion fits comfortably near the space at the bottom of the ear. For me, however, it pokes at my ear a bit, causing some irritation. I also had some issues with the tips provided, but the former is the main issue for me. They are quite a bit more comfortable than Sennheisers IE7, but less foam (Westone/Shure) tips. Sometimes it would take some wriggling to get a good seal. Silicone tips are generally not what I like to use, as foam is much more comfortable for me, as are silicone sleeves.
Mind you, I would give the Sennheiser IE7 a 1 for comfort. At least theses don't fall out of my ear or actively hurt them!
Isolation (3/5) – For a non-foam tip, it is as expected. It cuts back around 30-40% of ambient noise with the sound off. When the sound is on, it fairly quickly replaces ambient noise. (On my Galaxy SIII, I hear only music starting at about 25% volume in my quiet office.) This is for the grey tips. Whether it was due to being unable to get a good seal, or simply due to the material, the black tips did not isolate very well for me at all. They are about what you expect from a silicone tip.
Microphonics (4/5) – Minimal, unless you are wearing rough clothing. I didn’t notice much in the way of microphonics until I put the cable over my rough-cloth winter parka. At this point I could hear the cable bounce/rub against the cloth. Most t-shirts and sweatshirts did not produce much in way of microphonics. If you are moving around a lot of doing a workout to Jane Fonda with the wire over your cloths you will hear some noise. In short: Rubbing is not an issue with the smooth cable, but if the cable bounces around a lot you may hear some small noise due to the coating on the cable.
A solid buy. If you like lots of genres and want an amazing set of quality accessories to use with your future (or current) IEMs the DN-19 is certainly worth picking up. While I enjoy the DN-19 more with the dampers out, it is good enough with the dampers in to enjoy just about any genre of music.
Currently I don’t have many earphones in a similar range to A/B the DN-19 against. With what I have on hand, here are my impressions.
Shure 535 (Compared to the DN-19 WITH dampers): The Shure has better instrument separation, better definition impact-wise. The Shure feels more balanced. However the Shure feels like it has a bit less definition and sparkle, and compared to the DN-19 the individual sounds feel like they mix a bit more when there are a lot of instruments or vocals in the song.
(Compared to the DN-19 WITHOUT dampers): Without dampers the DN-19 has more impact in the bass section, with the bass sounding more warm, but also a lot less defined. The highs of the DN-19 loose that ‘tin-like’ sound and sound more full, but also less separated or defined, letting the Shure slip ahead in the detail and soundstage department.
Westone 4R (Compared to the DN-19 WITH dampers): I feel like the Westone 4R is everything the DN-19 is trying to be with the dampers in. The Westone 4 has a good soundstage, slightly warm mids but a more neutral presentation, and a controlled precise presentation.
(compared to the DN-19 WITHOUT dampers): The Westone 4R feels like it’s lacking a bit of body when it comes to Pop music, the DN-19 without dampers is more engaging. As expected, there is a lot more bass as well. Vocals are good. For Pop and Rap I feel that the DN-19 is much more enjoyable than the Westone 4R due to the more musical and impactful performance of the DN-19.
JH16 w/t Whiplash V3 Hybrid 8 cable: Yes, this is a silly comparison. The JH16 is better. Pay $1600 more and the sound improves. Surprise! Yet with the dampers in, there is one area where the DN-19 comes close to the JH16 and that’s when it comes to listening to instrumental-only classical music. It’s not better, but sometimes it sounds closer than I would think it should for 13% of the price of a JH16/Whiplash.
Pros - Everything. Sound great and god help me I love that metal case. Can change the sound to suit your tastes.
Cons - Cable is a bit flashy and the dampener ports may stab you.
See full review at http://www.head-fi.org/t/634470/dunu-tai-chi-dn-19-review
Thanks to DUNU for the sample.
Dunu Tai Chi (DN-19) Quick Review
Brief: Dunu rising up the quality chain.
Specification: Driver Type HQ(10mm), Sound Pressure Level 100+-2dB, Impedance 16 Ohms, Noise Attenuation 26dB, Frequency Response 16Hz – 26KHz, Weight 18g, Plug Size 3.5mm Gold-plated, Cord Length 1.3m.
Accessories: A metal case, a baggie, a case to keep your accessories in, an airplane adapter, a 6.25mm to 3.5mm jack, ear guides, shirt clip, cleaning cloth, a bunch of dampeners 4 pairs of black hybrid type tips and 3 pairs of grey silicon tips. (Note I can’t find the airplane adapter or the 6.25 to 3.5 adapter but I’m sure they were there.)
Build Quality: Unlike its siblings these are plastic but fear not. DUNU have no trouble in this area, they feel nice and the cable especially is first class. I’m not keen on the little plastic dampeners but they give you a bunch for when you will no doubt lose one or two.
Isolation: Rather good. About average so don’t expect to want to use these in a long flight but good enough to make you road kill etc etc.
Comfort/Fit: I did have to remove to ear guides to be able to rotate them enough to stop the sticky out bit with the dampeners from stabbing me. That done it was all fine but all may not be so lucky. Otherwise these were fine, very light weight, felt practically weightless in the ear.
Aesthetics: The buds themselves look nothing special but the cable is just lush. Its gleaming silver covered with a transparent sheath. It could be a little flashy for some there is no denying its eye catching. Plus I’m a sucker for silver, always much preferred it to gold.
Sound: Top quality. First of all you can change the sound by changing the tips and using or not the dampeners. Essentially altering how open they are or not. I liked them with dampeners and the grey tips so giving a lighter, fractionally midcentric sound. The treble felt effortlessly extended and delicate. The lows were superbly controlled but then didn’t go as deep or be as full bodied as without the dampeners. Still it was very much to my tastes. Its all a very well integrated sound given you can alter it so. The mids is particular are very enjoyable. Full of detail and life, that lets you pick out what you want and still capture the soul of the vocalist. Regularly caused me to burst in to song while sat writing them up, not to mention dancing in the chair and looking like a fool.
Value: Great sound for the money and a truly exceptional accessory package.
Pro’s: Everything. Sound great and god help me I love that metal case. Can change the sound to suit your tastes.
Con’s: Cable is a bit flashy and the dampener ports may stab you.
Pros - Great for value, Tunable, some earphone just add tuning feature but somehow fails. It's with great price and loads of accessories
Cons - A little bit humble in the appearence. Brand is not so well know. It's not so easy to show oof your new toy.
Just give a general impression.
DN-19 is basically overall 4.5 out of 5 stars earphone. It 's pretty good in every aspects but can't call the most outstanding model in separated fields.It's not fancy enough to beat Monster. Not clear as ER4P etc. However, it has generally comfortable, neutral sound. It's not harsh at all. Low might be a little bit more than average. Tunable feature is yet another pretty cool feature. You can adjust it to get the sound you prefer without needing to pay two pair of earphones.
Considering the fact in earphone market that if you want to get higher performance, You have to pay at least 2 to N~~~~~ times of money to get the extra 0.5 star in the end. I guess it's one of the best to buy with $100 ~ 200 price range. Great choice to advance to Mid-end price range but with High end performance.