DUNU SA3 - Reviews
A new format
Pros: Beautiful hand-painted shells
High-quality detachable cable
Accurate timbre from top to bottom
Excellent vocals reproduction
Non-fatiguing highs
Cons: Treble is a little subdued
Bass lacks gusto
Shells are large for a 3-driver unit
DUNU is an IEM manufacturer with a great track record when it comes to producing high-quality earphones. They recently launched their Studio series in-ear monitors and in this review, I’m looking at the entry-level model, the DUNU SA3.

The SA3 has 3 balanced armature drivers per side, a 2- electronic crossover and gorgeous 3D-printed shells. Let’s see how it performs.

DUNU website: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/

This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

DUNU SA3

  • SA3 box front
  • Box rear
Package and Accessories
The SA3 box comes wrapped in a dark blue cardboard sleeve which has the model number on the front and a specifications list on the back. Inside the box, you’re presented with the leatherette carrying case. Underneath the case is a smaller box which holds the rest of the accessories. Let’s break down the contents of the box in a list.

  • DUNU SA3 earphones
  • Detachable silver-plated OFC 0.78mm 2-pin cable
  • 9 pairs of silicone eartips
  • Cleaning tool
  • Leatherette carrying case
  • Documentation
  • DUNU SA3 unboxing
  • SA3 box contents
Design, Comfort & Noise Isolation
The SA3 shells are 3D-printed photopolymer resin with gorgeous hand-finished Hokusai blue faceplates. Speaking of the faceplates, each one has been hand-painted, meaning that every individual unit is unique.

Apart from the white and blue Hokusai paint, the left faceplate has the number 3 in gold while the right side has DUNU branding. It’s a relatively simple but striking design and colourway.

DUNU SA3 Hokusai faceplate

In terms of comfort, the DUNU SA3 is about average for a 3D-printed shell. They are a bit large considering there are just 3 drivers inside. However, I find the ergonomics pleasing and the SA3 has slightly above-average passive noise isolation thanks to its closed ventless design.

They’re perfectly suitable for noisy environments and that passive noise isolation would also be really beneficial if you were performing live and using these as your stage monitors.

The included SPC OFC cable
Cable
Cables are something that DUNU has traditionally done extremely well. I’m happy to say that the SA3 cable is also really nice. It’s a braided 27 AWG Kevlar-reinforced, high-purity silver-plated OFC cable with transparent insulation.

At the top, the transparent plastic 2-pin connectors are mercifully straight (I HATE those angled ones!) which is a godsend for people like myself who have larger ears. The standard heat-shrink ear guides are present but thankfully not too aggressively curved which makes the fit more natural.

The chin slider, Y-split and matching straight 3.5mm plug are all ringed aluminium and look pretty slick. In terms of handling, this cable rocks: it’s very malleable, drapes nicely and has minimal microphonics (which can be mostly eliminated using the cable cinch). It’s good to see that DUNU still make some of the best cables out there when it comes to universal IEMs.

View of the BA drivers inside DUNU SA3
Sound

Gear used for testing
  • iPhone with Shanling UP4
  • iBasso DX120
  • PC -> iFi Audio ZEN DAC
With a low impedance of 13 Ω and sensitivity 112 dB, the DUNU SA3 has been designed to work with any source. Indeed, it can be driven with just about anything including phones, PCs, tablets, DAPs and does not require any extra amplification.

The SA3 has a neutral presentation with a slight emphasis on the vocal range. It has above-average clarity and good detail. But what really stands out is the accurate timbre and uncoloured nature of the sound.

This would certainly be a good set for monitoring midrange instruments and the human voice but it’s not the most engaging presentation when it comes to music listening. Having said that, certain music genres such as vocals-based, acoustic and classical can sound great with these. For other types like hip-hop, electronic and jazz etc., it doesn’t fare so well.


DUNU SA3 frequency response graph
Bass
The SA3 bass is neutral and quite linear albeit with a typical balanced armature sub-bass roll-off. The mid-bass has a touch of warmth and has great definition, control and speed but very little overall impact.

This is not an IEM for bassheads; the quantity of bass just isn’t there and basslines sometimes have difficulty contending with the midrange. However, in terms of speed, texture and control, the BA drivers excel as expected. Furthermore, the lightness of the bass prevents any bleeding into the midrange which allows that region to shine.

Mids
Continuing the generally neutral character of the SA3, the midrange is uncoloured and accurate in tone. Vocals in particular, really stand out and sound, in a word, exceptional. Male voices are lean but natural although they might sound slightly gravelly on leaner sources.

Female vocals are intimate and intoxicating. In Above and Beyond’s “Can’t Sleep – Acoustic” Annie Drury’s voice sounds pure and articulat and floats effortlessly above the music. The piano and trumpet notes appear vibrant and clear without being glaring and the violins have a nice, natural resonance.



Treble
The treble is slightly laid back and emphasizes the lower treble range to give it sufficient spirit. However, the large dip starting at 9.5kHz draws some of the energy out of the treble, along with some of the detail one would expect to accompany a lean tonality such as this.

It’s a fairly safe treble tuning that doesn’t offer much in the way of sparkle or shimmer but on the plus side, it’s non-fatiguing and doesn’t show any signs of sibilance. Even inherently sibilant recordings such as The Pineapple Thief’s What We Have Sown album are tolerable on the SA3, despite having so little bass weight to counterbalance its upper registers.

Soundstage
The soundstage dimensions are about average in width and depth. The stage position is somewhat forward, making vocals intimate and fairly close to the listener. Imaging is good and there are good positional cues but layering is just moderate. Thanks to the fast transients of the BA drivers, the stage feels organised and doesn’t feel congested.

DUNU SA3 with box
Comparisons
NF Audio NM2+ ($169)

DUNU SA3 (red) vs NF Audio NM2+ (grey).
The NF Audio NM2+ is a single dynamic driver IEM. The reason I’m comparing this with the SA3 is that it’s also aimed at musicians and has a reasonably neutral tuning. Although the graph above suggests these 2 IEMs have a similar bass quantity, that is not the case.

The NM2+ has better overall bass impact and extension, particularly in the sub-bass where the NM2+ has a rather exciting deep rumble and reach. The bass hits harder, moves more air and provides a more stable platform to counterbalance the raised upper midrange. It’s not quite as fast and isn’t as textured as the SA3 bass but it feels more natural in terms of the overall tonal balance.

Vocals aren’t as forward as they are on the SA3 but are slightly smoother in comparison. Those looking to specifically monitor vocals would be advised to use the SA3 for their neutral transparency and vocal nuance.

TenHz P4 Pro ($150)
DUNU SA3 (red) vs TenHz P4 Pro (grey).
The TenHz P4 Pro is a 4 BA driver unit. Both IEMs share similarities but the P4 Pro has a more dynamic presentation with increased lower bass and treble quantity. P4 Pro’s sub-bass gives produces a more tangible sub-bass rumble although the SA3 has slightly better extension. The SA3’s bass has superior definition and texture but is pushed back further in the mix.

When it comes to vocals, the SA3 is in a class of its own in this price range and it comes off more nuanced and articulate than the P4 Pro. Midrange resolution goes to the SA3 too due to its more linear bass and subdued treble. However, the P4 Pro has mildly better detail retrieval thanks to its extra treble presence, in addition to a more vivid attack on percussion instruments.

Both IEMs have average soundstage dimensions but I’d say the P4 Pro has a bit of extra depth because vocals aren’t so upfront as the SA3, giving the P4 a little more breathing room.

SA3 with Shanling Q1 DAP
Conclusion
The DUNU SA3 poses a bit of a conundrum; On one hand, it has class-leading vocals reproduction plus excellent timbre, transparency and technical performance. Furthermore, the build quality, accessories and aesthetic are fantastic. On the other hand, the neutrality of its bass and the laid back treble ultimately result in a sound that oftentimes lacks engagement and fails to excite.

As a tool for midrange monitoring (particularly vocals), the SA3 is hard to match at this price. For music consumption, however, it works for certain genres but falls flat with others. That’s not to say this is a bad in-ear monitor, just that it’s not really ideal as an all-rounder.

Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Impedance: 13 Ω
  • Sensitivity: 112 ± 1 dB at 1 kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.5% at 1 kHz
  • Shell: High-Precision, 3D-Printed Biocompatible Photopolymer Resin
  • Faceplate: Handmade Photocurable Resin
  • Cable length: 1.2 ± 0.1 m
  • Cable connector: 2-Pin (0.78 mm)
  • Plug type: 3.5 mm Single-Ended TRS
  • Cable Material: 27 AWG Kevlar-reinforced, High-Purity Silver-Plated OFC
  • Product weight: 12.5 g
DUNU-Topsound
DUNU-Topsound
Thanks for the review! We agree that the Studio SA3 doesn't have the pomp and circumstance of most in-ears. Rather than listening excitement, it is voiced to 'disappear' --- hence the tempered bass and non-fatiguing highs, but without loss of vocal clarity. Emphasis is indeed on vocal articulation, i.e. consonant intelligibility and lexical tone. Interestingly, while we don't necessarily tune the Studio line for professional applications, we learned from our Thai distributor that a local musician, Palaphol Pholkongseng, chose the SA3 as his stage monitor of choice.
Pros: Overall really mature tonality
Natural timbre
Female vocal presentation
Engaging yet smooth
Detail and clarity
Imaging and layering
Build
Fits and comfort
Accessories
Cons: Slightly light and lack on bass punch
Introduction
Dunu is the Chinese company founded in 1994, they have been in audio market for the long time and well know by audiophiles community. The SA3 is their entry level IEM in their Studio line up. The Studio series is their brand new line up, and it is also the first time they using the all BA set up in their IEMs. The price of the SA3 is $139USD, the driver configuration is 3BA.

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Disclaimer
I would like to thanks Kevin from Dunu for given this opportunity, and the review will be based on my honest opinion through the music I listen to.


Package & Accessories
The SA3 come with the small and compact box, there are the brand name, model name and series name located at the front cover, whereas the specifications at the rear side of it. After remove the cover, there is the black box with Dunu logo, and it contain the carry case with IEM and cable inside. There are ear tips and cleaning tool on the bottom of box after removing the cover.

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Accessories list:
1 pair x DUNU SA3 In-Ear Monitors
1 pcs x 0.78mm 2 Pin Detachable Cable with
4 pairs x Blue Silicone Eartips (size S/2xM/L)
3 pairs x Grey Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
3 pairs x White Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
1 pcs x Blue Leather Case
1 pcs x Cleaning Tool
1 pcs x Manual + Warranty Card

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The accessories it come with is really good for its price range. The carry case include is nicely made with leather and finished in blue color, there is the fluffy material inside for better protection.

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The SA3 come with three different types of ear tips for provide the best fit and sound to the users. It also come with the additional cleaning tools, which is nice to see that in the price range.

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The SA3 come with the 4 core high-purity monocrystalline silver plated OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) cable, it has 3.5 mm straight connector in silver metal finished. It features the 0.78mm 2 pin connector with L&R to show left and right. The Y-splitter are in metal shell, whereas the 2 pin male connector are made with plastic material. There are cable slider in silver metal finished. It is overall well looking and flexible cable.

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Design & Build & Comfort
The shell on SA3 has a semi-custom style design. The shell are in blue color with slightly transparent design. It is made with the 3D printed biocompatible photopolymer material, while the faceplate are made by Photocurable Resin material. The faceplate has beautiful design, with a white brush painted on the blue faceplate, which is the hand painted. There are golden Dunu logo located on the left earpiece, while the 3 in gold color sport on the right earpiece. There are L&R mark on the inner side of the IEM to indicate left and right. There are no vents on the SA3.

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The build quality on SA3 are really good and feel solid, especially for its price. The shell are well rounded, with out any gap and sharp edges. The SA3 has resin filled in at the sound bore part to about 1/2 of the IEM for holding the components. The BA driver in side are perfectly placed at the place, while the wire inside are well organized. There are two sound bore in the IEM, with a metal filter at the nozzle part for prevent the dust. The 2 pin female connectors are tight, and do not have sign of wear and tear after I swapped few times of cable.

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The SA3 are on the large side and the nozzle are bit short, but it doesn’t effect the fits in any way. The fits on SA3 are really good, thanks to the semi-custom shell design, and it has above average isolation. The peoples who own the small ear may find out it fit really tight, but not the problem for regular size ear at all. There will be the pressure build up after listening for a hour.

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Technical Specification
Frequency response: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
Sensitivity: 112 dB
Impedance: 13 Ω @ 1 kHz
Total harmonic distortion: <0.5% at 1kHz


Sound

Paring

I use the blue ear tips with stock cable run through my music library on the Fiio M11. The blue ear tips has fuller and forwarder midrange presentation follow by white one then black one. The black one has more balanced presentation, while the white one has more emphasis on bass, the blue one has more emphasis on midrange. The treble has sparkle and airiness on blue tips are better follow by black one then white one.

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Overall tonality
The Dunu SA3 has close to neutral and slightly warm tonality, presented in smooth and engaging manner.

Bass
The bass is linear and close to neutral, with moderate amount of sub bass. It has moderate sub bass extension with quick decay speed. The Bass has average impact, rumble and punch, While the clarity and detail retrieval are really good. The Bass has good level of speed and control. It is overall clean and tight bass.

Mids
The mids is close to neutral and well balanced with slightly warm tuned. The low mids has moderate amount of bodies with good level of depth presented in clean and clear manner. The upper midrange has well emphasized with great transparency levels, it has good amount of bodies and presented in vividly and engaging manner. The midrange show really good levels of detail, clarity and transparency without sounding too thin or fatiguing.

Treble
The treble has good levels of brightness, but it never get harsh or fatiguing. The treble is smooth and well controlled. The upper treble has good amount of sparkle with average amount of crisp. The treble has good amount of airiness.
The detail retrieval and clarity are really well.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage has average depth with good level of width.
The imaging are really good, especially for its price.



Comparison
IKKO OH1 ($139USD)

Bass
The OH1 has more sub bass and bass quantity compare to the SA3. The sub bass has better extension on OH1. The bass has more weight on OH1, and it has more impactful rumble and punch on OH1. The bass are warmer on OH1, While the SA3 are smoother and has better speed and control. Both have similar amount of detail, while the SA3 offer better clarity.

Mids
The midrange are more recessed and warmer on OH1, whereas the SA3 are more balanced and fuller. The lower midrange has slightly fuller bodies on SA3, while the OH1 are cleaner. The upper midrange has more lively but thin presentation on OH1, while the SA3 are fuller and more realistic in my opinion. The transparency levels are both pretty good. They have similar amount of detail. The OH1 has better clarity.

Treble
The treble are slightly brighter and smoother on SA3, while the OH1 are and more open. The treble has thinner and dryer presentation on the OH1. The upper treble has more sparkle and airiness on SA3, whereas the OH1 are less prominent here. The detail retrieval are both pretty similar. The OH1 has better clarity.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are slightly wider on OH1, depth are better on SA3.
The imaging are better on SA3.


Final audio E4000 ($149USD)

Bass
The E4000 has more sub bass and bass quantity compare to SA3. The sub bass has better extension on E4000 with slower decay. The bass has more weight and rumble on E4000, whereas the SA3 has better impact and speed.
The E4000 has warmer and smoother bass, while the SA3 also has smooth bass but more cleaner. The SA3 has better control on bass along with better clarity and detail.

Mids
The midrange are both smooth and slightly warm. The midrange has more engaging presentation on SA3 compare to E4000. The lower midrange has more bodies on E4000, whereas the SA3 has more clarity. The upper midrange has more emphasis on SA3 and sound more forwarder. The SA3 has more vividly upper midrange, both are pretty natural in term of timbre. The detail retrieval and clarity are better on SA3.

Treble
The treble are more brighter and has better extension on SA3. The E4000 has more laid back presentation. The upper treble has more sparkle and airiness on SA3 and feel more open, while the E4000 are more smooth here. The detail and clarity both better SA3.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider on E4000, deeper on SA3.
The imaging are better on SA3.


BQEYZ Spring 1 ($139USD)

Bass
The are more sub bass and bass on Spring1. The sub bass has better extension on Spring1, the SA3 has quicker decay speed. The bass has more punch and rumble on the Spring1. Where as SA3 has better speed and control. The bass are fuller on Spring 1, while the SA3 are smoother. The bass on both have similar amount of detail retrieval and clarity.

Mids
The midrange both smooth, but the SA3 has fuller and more natural timbre. The lower midrange has more bodies on SA3, whereas the Spring1 has more clarity. The upper midrange on both are push forward, but the SA3 has fuller and more vividly presentation. The detail retrieval are better on the SA3. The clarity are better on Sphttps://www.dunu-toring1.

Treble
The treble are brighter on Spring1 and extended further, while the SA3 are more smoother and fuller. The upper midrange on both has good amount of airiness and sparkle. The treble on both have good detail retrieval. Both have good levels of clarity.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider on Spring1, where as SA3 has depth.
The imaging on both are similar.




Conclusion
The Dunu SA3 are well build IEM with unique looking, especially for the price range. The tonality on SA3 is really well done, it has engaging yet smooth presentation. The female vocal is realistic and well position, probably the best for its price. The SA3 will be added to my top tier for best $100-$150 USD list.
Thank you for reading, HAPPY LISTENING!

Dunu official website: https://www.dunu-topsound.com
Dunu SA3 product link: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/sa3-detail

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Attachments

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Vocal reference
Pros: Highly coherent tuning
Remarkable vocals with great presence and spot on tone
Engaging and fatigue free treble with good extension
Very good instrument separation and precise imaging
Well extended sub bass with good rumble
Very good resolution
Cons: Leaner lower mids on reference sources means less engaging presentation with weaker bass line (SA3 sound much more engaging with beefier sources!)
Product Page : https://www.dunu-topsound.com/sa3-detail
Price : 139$​

Fit, Build & Isolation
The SA3 shell are made of a transparent blue lightweight 3D printed biocompatible photopolymer resin. The shell is a bit surprisingly bigger than the 6 drivers SA6, and is ergonomically shaped with a metal grille to protect the bore.



The SA3 feature a 2pin 0.78 connector which the choice Dunu made for all Studio IEMs in the lineup. As usual with Dunu the SA3 comes with a nice 27 AWG kevlar-reinforced, high purity silver plated OFC with a (fixed) 3.5 termination (as opposed to the SA6 interchangeable plug system).



The cable is supple and nice to wear and of high quality for an entry level IEM.


Introduction

Dunu is a well established brand in the audiophile world, which started as an OEM for famous brands. Since 2014, Dunu builds its own IEM and now has a fairly complete lineup of dynamic and hybrid IEMs (Titan series, DN series, DK series and the flagship Luna I reviewed recently) but until the launch of the Studio series with SA3 and SA6, no full BA IEMs.

The Studio series is a totally new lineup and the SA3 targets a new market segment with an entry level reference tuned 3 BA IEM.

I was curious to see how the first Studio series IEM sound, let’s check this out!




Sound

From the very first second listening to SA3 it’s clear that Dunu has built a reference IEM with subtle touches. The SA3 sound very clean, articulate and fast with no particular emphasis on any part of the range with the notable exception of a clear vocal emphasis. Background is black and totally exempt of hiss and the resolution is quite good. The soundstage features very good width but average height and depth but is very good considering the price range. The stage is coherent and imaging is very precise with good layering.

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper!



Bass
Bass is quick and clean with a snappy attack and quick decay, ranging from a bit lean and dry (DX160) to just north of neutral and more organic (Lotoo PAW S1).

Sub bass is well extended and for a BA a fairly impressive rumble, I didn’t expect this out of the SA3 but given the shell size and what I can see I’d say the balanced armature driver is on a bigger side which in my experience does help.

Relatively to the sub bass, the mid bass presence is lesser and I felt myself wanting for a bit more slam there out of the DX160. Switching to the Lotoo PAW S1 there is quite a bit more mid bass presence with more power to the bass line with better toe tapping factor. The AAW Capri DAC/cable for the iPhone fell somewhere in between the leaner mid bass of the DX160 and the fatter ones of the PAW S1. On the flipside the SA3 packs very nice detail and impeccable control as well as excellent speed.

Mids
The mids are on the leaner side out of DX160 with a slight lower mids dip for clarity but not so much that it would sound hollow or thin.

Again the source affected how I heard the SA3 and the Lotoo PAW S1 is adding just a little more lower mids presence which makes the SA3 fuller bodied, straying from the pure reference presentation of the DX160 but I feel the S1 is more natural sounding. The AAW Capri cable again fell somewhere in between the DX160 and PAW S1. The upper mids are consistent across sources and the SA3 sounds very articulate with good separation of instruments and nice bite with a safe tuning and no peaks.

Vocals are remarkable on the SA3, as I hinted above there is a clear vocal emphasis and vocal stand out with great vocal presence and a very faithful tone as well as plenty of detail. Female vocals convey good nuances and emotion with a slightly sweeter twist on the PAW S1, and male power have good power on the PAW S1 but can be lacking there with the DX160 lacking a bit of body.

Treble
The SA3 treble is a display of a well mastered tuning : it packs enough lower treble energy to be exciting and engaging yet is neither agressive nor fatiguing. I found the lower treble tone to be spot on and unlike bass and mids, unaffected by source.

The upper treble on the flipside was significantly better on the DX160 with better extension and more presence with airier and more refined presentation. The DX160 retrieves more detail and shows what the SA3 is capable of there and I was very pleased by its performance. Combined with its black background the SA3 exhibits very good resolution and even more so considering the price point.


Verdict

The launch of a new lineup is always a very exciting time, and I looked at the Studio series launch with anticipation. After a fun acclaimed hybrid range and a stunning dynamic driver flagship, what would Dunu do with all BA IEMs with a reference tuning?

If you’ve read my SA6 review you know I loved it’s reference tuning with its beautiful organic touch. The SA3 is a purer reference with a clear and beautifully done vocal emphasis. I must say I love how complimentary the Studio series is to the DK Line.

If you’re looking for an engaging entry level reference IEM with solid technical foundations and an emphasis on vocals, along with good sub bass extension and rumble then the SA3 should definitely be on your list! If you want a more organic take and can afford mid tier pricing then check out the SA6.


Listening notes
I spent approximately 20 hours with the SA3, listening on iBasso DX160, Lotoo PAW S1 using the stock cable and also the AAW Capri lightning cable out of the iPhone.

Special Thanks
Thanks to Kevin at Dunu for providing a review unit of the SA3. As usual, this review is my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.

Accessories
  • Three Sets of Ear Tips (S/M/L each)
  • Cleaning Loop
  • Blue Leatherette Carry Case
Specifications
  • Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 112 dB
  • Impedance: 13 Ω @ 1 kHz
  • Cable Connector: 2-Pin (0.78 mm)
  • Cable Material: 27 AWG Kevlar-Reinforced, High-Purity Silver-Plated OFC
  • Cable Resistance / Capacitance: 0.5 Ω / 300 pF (max.)
Pros: Good detail retrieval, fantastic stock cable, laid back sound.
Cons: Laid back sound wont please those looking for extreme clarity. All BA design means no thumping low end. Iem shell is a little large.
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While I personally love hybrid iems over pure BA iems, I’ve been recently surprised over the last few years by all BA iems like the Campfire IO, my older Andros and the Moondrop S8. After catching wind of the new SA3 and SA6 I wanted to give them both a shot. This review will cover the SA3 which is a triple balanced armature iem coming in at $139 here in the US.

Shoutout to Kevin from DUNU for sending me the SA3 to test and review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers, it never affects my review.

Onto the review of the sound! My personal preference is a dynamic hybrid iem where I get good hitting bass and have a brighter treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.

Gear used

IPhone 12 pro with headphone adapter, lotoo PAW s1, IFI hip dac, FiiO Q3, S.M.S.L. su-8/sh-8 combo.

Looks and fit
I really enjoy the looks of the SA3. It has a solid build quality and with my ears I can get an extremely deep and tight seal. The feeling is somewhat like a CIEM fit which caught me off guard. Normally I run medium to large tips and with the SA3 I can run the small tips that came with them and get a crazy good deep seal. Isolation is very good. Once a good seal is achieved, the outside world is drowned out. Comfort is so-so as the shells are on the bigger size. My listening sessions can be a little excessive so finding discomfort at 4 hours straight could be considered fine for the amount of time.
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Packaging and accessories
The packaging is very nice for a sub $200 iem. It comes in a small package compared to some other iems such as the IKKO oh10 or FiiO fh3 which come in rather big boxes. They also include a rather nice leather case(maybe fake leather), iem cleaning brush, three different types of tips in small, medium and large sizes. Overall I really like the presentation and unboxing experience of the SA3.
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Sound
Lows

The SA3 uses a dual BA unit to handle lows and mids. It has a typical “BA low end” which has good low end quality but lacks the bite and thump of a nice dedicated low end dynamic driver. Bass heads or those wanting some punch to their bass won’t be all that thrilled listening to the SA3. That being said with certain amps such as the hip dac with it’s X-bass, you can get some good low end without any distortion.

Mids
Mids are handled fairly neutral on this set. Vocals never really pop or get sibilant. Everything feels warm and relaxed. This makes for a good iem to sit back and relax to. Those looking for a hardcore mid ranged iem or something that really focuses on vocals may want to look elsewhere.

Highs
Highs are also fairly tame and laid back. Detail retrieval is however very good. While the sparkle I like from the top end is fairly stepped back for my tastes, I was really surprised how much of the little details in music came through that I normally only notice on my higher end iems. Those who are super treble sensitive but still want good detail retrieval may find this a good set to look at.

Imaging
The imaging was fairly good and matched well with the better detail retrieval of the SA3. There weren't any dead spots on side to side sweeps I test for and it was easy to pick out the placement of sounds.

Soundstage
The soundstage was about average overall. Width and depth are both just wide and deep enough to make me happy. Nothing to complain about honestly but I do feel a wider soundstage would have made this set really stand out. Especially with its laid back sound and better detail retrieval.

Cable rolling
I ran a few different cables. I ran DUNU’s own chord cable in balanced, three different null cables in balanced and a few standard iem cables in single ended and came to the conclusion that the silver plated cables gave me the best sound for the SA3’s laid back sound signature. Copper cables gave a darker tone which I felt didn’t really help the sound signature of the SA3. The stock cable is silver plated so no real need to swap cables.

Stock cable
The stock cable is pretty good. It has the serial number engraved at the Y split so I’m not sure if that’s the serial for the iems or the cable itself. The cable has a loose braid which looks and works fine. Doesn’t tangle easily and has no microphonics. Sound quality vs other cables is very minimal so this works great as a stock cable and I recommend sticking with this over other cables unless a balanced cable is important to the user.
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Tip rolling
The three types of tips included are black/blue small bore bass tip, all blue normal sized bore tips which I’m guessing are the middle of the ground balanced tips and finally a white stiff bore tip which is a little more focused on highs. All three made small differences but I appreciated the assortment of tips. The sound bore of the SA3 doesn't have a big lip so tip rolling was a hassle and I settled on the all blue stock tips as it was the middle of the road in height and bore size.
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Amping Combinations
Since I find this to be a more relaxed iem I tested it mainly with the FiiO Q3 and IFI hip dac out of my iphone mostly propped up on my couch. Below Ill give my impressions out of the sources I used.

FiiO Q3
Using the Q3 with the SA3 gave the best neutral experience of the bunch. The bass boost was a little much so I left it off for the rest of my testing. I think the Q3 makes for a good relaxed combo for sound. Running balanced had a nice and quiet background which made this a great pairing.

IFI hip dac
The hip dac produced a little more sparkle up top. It also had a slightly wider stage and gave the SA3 a little more life. The X-bass feature of the hip dac really does well with SA3. I had a blast with the deep bass from the X-bass which I usually find to be way too much added bass but it worked out great here. Running balanced came with some hiss but it wasn’t a show stopper. I would run this combo in single ended to avoid any hiss.

Lotoo Paw S1
The paw S1 makes for the smallest combo out of the group and like the Q3 and sounded very neutral. Due to the SA3 not needing much power there were no issues volume wise from the S1. The floor noise via balanced was very quiet and I think for the smallest package the S1 wins. The drawback is the S1 is the most expensive of the portable DAC/amps I tested.

S.M.S.L. su-8/sh-8
The smsl desktop stack had the best detail retrieval and gave the best performance overall. While the desktop stack was the winner in terms of sound quality for the SA3, I don’t use iems at my desk often unless I’m doing critical listening as I rather bust out my over ear headphones for desktop use. The SA3 also isn’t what I would consider a critical listening iem either IMO. Desktop use with something like the SA3 I think will be a personal preference.

Amping thoughts
Overall the SA3 is super easy to drive and I really didn’t find a need to go balanced. Doing so on some noisier amps does produce a faint hiss that goes away with music but it’s something to note. I don’t think amping is necessary but if you wanna add some flavor to the SA3 then something like the hip dac from IFI is my recommendation.

Overall thoughts
While I really like the SA3 for its looks and laid back sound, the current top spot iems in the $100-$300 range for me personally are the FiiO fh3 and IKKO oh10. Both of those are hybrids and both have a “fun/exciting” sound signature. I think the SA3 does well for the price but It doesn’t really stand out either. Where the SA3 will beat out the hybrids is the sound isolation once a good seal is made. Both the fh3 and oh10 struggle with isolation due to the vented dynamic drivers in both units. I like the stock cable and accessories that come with the SA3 and I think it’s priced fairly at $139. I would give the SA3 a recommendation as long as you’re looking for a warm and laid back sounding iem that still has good detail retrieval. Another reason would be if sound isolation is an absolute must for the listener. Good job to DUNU on their first “studio” series iem and I look forward to the new SA6. Thanks for reading!

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Dunu Goes all BA for a new reference in-ear
Pros: good kit, great case, good detail and texture
Cons: Some distortion at high volumes, bass roll-off typical of balanced armature.


disclaimer: Dunu kindly offered the SA3 for review. I have no affiliation with Dunu or any of its subsidiaries, nor have any of them had any input into the review process. If you have an interest in purchasing the Sa3 or learning more about Dunu products, check their website or facebook page.

Unboxing / Packaging:
The new studio SA3 comes in a Blue outer carton with thee name on front and specs on reverse. Inside that, a black pressboard lift top style box protects the contents. A top foam layer cradles the earpieces while the rest of the kit hides inside a soft case that rests in the lower layer. The kit consists of earpieces, cable, case, cleaning tool, and 3 sizes of 3 different types of silicone tips. The tips offer different bore diameters and insertion depths to give listeners the most flexibility to find a good comfortable fit and seal. Foams are not included. I do want to give props to Dunu for the case as it is spacious enough to hold the cable and earpieces without cramping. Too many budget models include a case that is either useless or at the very least overcrowded and potentially damaging to the contents by forcing things to rub or scratch.




Build/Fit:
The Shell is a 2 part affair in the now common semi-custom shape with a 3d-printed resin inner shell that includes the nozzle and a handmade faceplate made of a photo-curable resin. The faceplates are all unique with a white pattern hand-drawn on the blue background in a wave or cloudlike pattern. The left faceplate has a large 3 while the right has the word Dunu in gold lettering. Nozzles exit the bottom front with no rake and allow for a fairly deep insertion and improves isolation a bit. Since the Sa3 is an all BA model, venting is not required or present. L/R markings are present on the top most point of the underside of the shells. Kudos to Dunu for molding the nozzles into the shells as many would have used an aluminum part for ease of construction instead. Nozzles are solid with a nice lip for tip retention and a single large bore with a screen at the exit to protect from debris. Size is on the large side for a 3 BA model and may present an issue for people with very small ears but was comfortable for me for extended periods with little or no physical fatigue.




Internals:
The SA3 is Dunu’s first all balanced armature in-ear to my knowledge as they started out making dynamic driver models, then stepped into hybrids, and now the new Studio series presents at least one all balanced armature model with more potentially on the way as the line expands. Drivers used are all Knowles made with two of the same driver handling the lows and mids (presumably a full range driver with a low-pass filter) and a single driver handling the highs. Crossover is listed as a 2 way damperless design. Dunu is being a bit secretive about which exact drivers are used and one can’t blame them as any competitive advantage they might have is lost if everybody knows exactly how they did it. Nominal impedance is listed as 13Ω with a sensitivity of 112 dB/mW which puts them into the easy to drive category and use bears that out as I found they paired well with phones, tablets, and lower powered sources and while they scaled a little qualitatively with improved sources, they really don’t benefit from additional power.




Cable:
The cable provided with the Sa3 is silver plated oxygen free copper in a 4 strand braid from the jack to the splitter and two strand twists from splitter to bi-pin connectors. The Jack is 3.5mm single ended connector in a straight metal casing. The jack casing is ringed for better grip and highly polished. The splitter and chin-slider share the same construction as the jack, which is a nice touch as often sliders are a simple bead or rubber-band. At the north end, pre-formed earhooks culminate in 0.78mm bi-pin connectors in translucent housings. My one gripe is that the connectors are marked L/R on the connector housing in a way that is near impossible to see in certain light and does not make it easy for indexing properly. While the cables don’t identify front pin with a dot like many do, the fact that the earhook enforces a single orientation more or less eliminates the need for that indicator.




Sound:



Bass:
Sub-bass has good presence but is typical of BA bass. It is fast, clean, well textured, but lacking a bit in impact and rolls-off a bit higher than typical DD models. Roll-off becomes evident below the 50Hz mark and pronounced below 40Hz. Mid-bass is roughly equal to the sub-bass and shares much the same character, it is fast, precise and well behaved but isn’t particularly emphasized. There is a bit more slam than rumble, but this is not the iem for bassheads but for those looking for a fairly linear, textured, and detailed low end, the SA3 does a good job of providing that.

Mids:
Lower mids and true mids are linear with the lows giving male vocals good clarity and detail and a fairly full presentation. Guitar growl is good as well with the driver having enough speed to make edges sharp and transients well rendered. The upper mids rise to become the dominant feature of the landscape when combined with the lower treble. Female vocals are a step ahead of their male counterparts but both cut through cleanly and make the Sa3 a good choice for vocal or choral pieces. Strings are well presented as well with good energy and detail and a near natural tone. While the boost in upper-mids gives the Sa3 a bit of brightness, it stops short of becoming harsh and I found not tendency toward sibilance or fatigue.

Treble:
After the lower treble boost, the Sa3 drops back and while it has fairly good extension, it is quite polite. Here again, the Sa3 has good detail and texture and quick transients help give it a nice clean sound. The Sa3 has more air than sparkle due to its tuning, but the trade off is an in ear with very little fatigue or harsh notes. It does a good job of smoothing a few rough edges in tracks that are strident by nature. Snare rattle is very tight and speed may be a little too fast on decay for a completely natural sound. Cymbals on the other hand have good tone, but lack that last touch of energy needed to sound entirely realistic.

Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is about equal in size in both width and depth but is not overly large in any dimension giving the Sa3 a fairly intimate presentation. Seating the orchestra is straight forward with good spacing between instruments. Imaging is good, but positions are somewhat imprecise particularly movements around the center of the stage. Layering is quite good at reasonable volumes and honestly is better than expected at normal listening levels. It does break up a bit at higher levels (95dB or so) so those looking to duplicate concert volume may find it less than pleasing.

Thoughts / Conclusion:
Dunu has made some impressive in-ears over the years. I was a fan of the original Titan when they were working solely with dynamic drivers and then again of the DK2001 when they started building hybrids. I guess it should come as no surprise that Dunu would eventually build an all balanced armature model as so much of the market is dominated by those. The fact Dunu is releasing two models, the Sa3 with Knowles drivers and the Sa6 with a mix of Sonion and Knowles drivers shows a pretty solid commitment to moving into this market segment. Shells also show a change for Dunu in that most of the previous models have been metal shells. The DM480 was the first 3d printed shell and now the Studio models adopt that same process in a bit more elaborate shell.

Technicalities aside, the Sa3 acquits itself well in both comfort and sound quality. It doesn’t necessarily break a lot of new ground as sound goes with a signature not atypical of other all balanced armature models. Having said that, the Sa3 has a fairly neutral signature with a vocal lift that will appeal to many and does little to fatigue either physically or sonically. The Sa3 has the kind of transparency and detail you expect from a multi-driver model and walks the line between neutral and the sometimes cold nature of balanced armatures. I think Dunu hit the target fairly solidly for a first attempt at an all BA and look forward to see what the Sa6 offers as its bigger brother. If it maintains the basic signature of the Sa3 and adds more low end and detail it too will be good one. I find the Sa3 a good choice as a daily driver as it handles most genres equally well as long as volumes are kept to moderate levels.

Dunu Studio SA3
Dunu Studio SA3: A New Beginning
Pros: High quality 3D printed shells with unique, hand-painted face plates - Mature, easygoing tuning choice - Out of the box accessories
Cons: Large so not ideal for small ears - Upper treble could use a hint more emphasis
Greetings!

Today we're checking out the first of Dunu's entries into the all-armature market, the SA3.

Dunu was a pioneering brand when it came to affordable hybrids competing directly with the high-end market, and also produced their fair share of above average single dynamics. When they announced they were going to try their hand at an armature-only lineup, my ears perked up and I took notice. The DK-3001 Pro and old-school Titan 1 are brilliantly tuned products, and armature-only models like the Brainwavz B400, Astrotec Delphinus5, and Campfire Audio Andromeda dominate my list of favourites. I was surprised it took Dunu this long to try their hand at this style of product, and was curious to see what they would come up with.

I certainly haven't come away disappointed. Let's take a closer look at the SA3, shall we?

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What I Hear Way back in June Dunu posted the sound they were going for with the SA3, and it had me excited:

“..The SA3 will be more of a blank slate for us though. As a 3 BA, 2-way design, it's ideally suited for a warm/neutral-ish, non-fatiguing sound signature, so it has a flat bass shelf, a presence region that isn't overly emphasized, and relaxed upper treble. It'll be something that we hope disappears into the background when listening to music, podcasts, or anything else...

Can't go wrong with a relatively flat, fatigue-free sounding earphone. I've had the chance to spend a solid month with this review unit, and I gotta hand it to Dunu. What they said they wanted to deliver is pretty much exactly what we got.

Treble out of the SA3 is quite relaxed overall, falling in line with the low end in terms of emphasis. I found bias to be towards the presence region with shimmer and sparkle provided by the brilliance region to be fairly mild giving the SA3 a somewhat dry, muted, reasonably detailed colouring. This was evident running the SA3 through King Crimson's live rendition of “Cat Food”. While I found attack and decay on notes and instruments to be plenty quick, it comes across a little slower and more natural than other armature-based earphones on hand for comparison. Control is excellent though, with notes sounding sharp and well-defined, completely absent of any splashiness which can be very distracting and quickly take me out of “the zone”.

Thanks to bumps in emphasis around 1.5k and 3k, the SA3's midrange is its sweet spot. With a relatively thick, timbre rich presentation, vocalists cut through the instrumentals. The same natural attack and decay on instruments we heard above can be found here giving the SA3 an energetic but not fatiguing presentation. The SA3's ability to resolve fine details is a little less apparent than I would like for an all-armature earphone, however, it is still plenty detailed and the presentation fits in with the overall goal of this earphone being non-fatiguing. Thankfully, a lack of sibilance also caters to this. Tossing on Aesop Rock's “Blood Sandwich”, a sizzle-fest though most earphones, is met with a smooth, clean presentation with only a hint of aggressiveness appearing on the occasional s. Songs that are sibilance free remain this way through the SA3.

Dipping into the low end, the SA3 has a reasonably linear presentation with good extension for an armature, but emphasis does dip in sub-bass regions leaving the presentation somewhat lacking in the sort of visceral impact you feel, not hear. Those who enjoy the presentation of balanced armatures will be used to this so there is no point knocking the SA3 for a pretty standard behaviour inherent to the chosen driver type. Midbass regions provide a reasonable level of slam when called for, all backed with nice texturing and detail. The SA3's bass is neatly dynamic, avoiding any semblance of a one-note presentation thanks to clear variance as notes shift.

The SA3's soundstage is fairly average in size with an even balance of width and depth. The forward mids keep the default presentation reasonably intimate, but do not prevent effects from shifting fairly far off into the distance. Broad imaging from channel-to-channel is quite smooth and even with fine shifts, particularly those just off-centre, feeling like they could be a hint more precise. I did use the SA3 while gaming (COD, WOT, CS, etc.) and it performed admirably with only the tracking of subjects coming up from behind proving to be an issue. When it comes to complicated tracks, the SA3 does a good job keeping instruments separated with a depth to it's layering that also keeps things from becoming congested. That said, at volumes I'm not comfortable with the SA3 starts to lose composure somewhat, so I recommend sticking with moderate to low volumes. That should be easy given how well it isolates.

Overall the SA3 makes for a good listen. It provides solid detail retrieval, good bass extension, great mids, non-fatiguing treble, and a somewhat intimate but flexible soundstage. The only aspect of their original goal that I feel they didn't quite hit was the warmth aspect. While the SA3 is not a cold and unfeeling earphone, it is somewhat dry and neutral (by that I mean it feels between cool and warm) in tone. Still, it's a great all-rounder, daily driver, or whatever term with a similar meaning you prefer.

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Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

Tenhz P4 Pro (150.00 USD): The P4 Pro has a more balanced presentation than the SA3 thanks to lowered emphasis in the mids that put it more in line with the rest of the tune. Cymbals, chimes, etc. seem to have more shimmer and energy to them through the Tenhz, with the SA3 sounding a bit slower, more dense, and with a cleaner/tighter note presentation. Mids on the SA3 are more forward with a thicker, more weighty feel that matches its improved timbre. Detail and overall clarity are in the P4 Pro's camp. The P4 Pro's low end is more linear though it dips sooner in the sub-bass regions and as a result doesn't move air quite as well as the SA3 (though neither will satisfy someone that like the visceral rumble of a good dynamic driver). It is also a slight step behind the SA3 in terms of texture and slam. While its presentation is pretty decent, I definitely prefer how the SA3 handles the low end. Neither earphone has more than an average soundstage, though the SA3 does have an advantage. Width and depth are mildly improved on the SA3, with its more forward mids giving it a more intimate feel on vocal heavy tracks. Imaging quality on the two is very similar in overall quality. Sweeps from channel-to-channel are more apparent and satisfying through the SA3, while small movements off-centre are handled with more nuance on the P4 Pro. Track layering and instrument separation are on par with the P4 Pro having a light edge thanks to its improved mid and treble clarity.

Overall I find the P4 Pro a little better on a technical level. It provides additional detail in the mids and treble, extra upper treble shimmer, and generally improved staging nuance. That said, it lacks in low end dynamics compared to the SA3, treble looser and more fatiguing, it has a more confined sound stage, and it doesn't sound as natural. The improved treble and low end quality of the SA3 have me picking it up over the P4 Pro more often than not.

Shozy & Neo CP w/ alternate treble filters (169.00): The Shozy & Neo CP provides listeners with a similar low end experience. As with the SA3, extension is decent for an armature-based earphone. They are both reasonably linear in their balance with the SA3 stepping out with better texturing and slam. The CP has a slightly warmer edge to the presentation though, which I prefer. Leading into the mids the CP remains quite linear and lacks the bump of the SA3. As a result vocals don't stand out quite to the same extent as they do on the SA3 and blend more into the background instrumentals. The presentation is also a bit thinner and warmer with a hint more detail and similar timbre. They both have really nice mids. Treble is quite different in the presentation with the CP having a clear bias in the brilliance region thanks to a small peak. The SA3 peaks in the presence region, rolling off as you head into higher registers giving it a less vibrant, more easygoing presentation in comparison. Oddly, the SA3 retains a larger sound stage in both width and depth, though this is countered somewhat by the CP's additional air between notes that makes good use of the somewhat limited spacing. Imaging qualities are similar to the SA3 and quite accurate overall. The CP also matches it in layering and instrument separation, again despite the more confined staging.

Overall I slightly prefer the CP. It's a little warmer and smoother sounding, namely in the mids, and I do like a presentation that tilts towards being somewhat thin or lean with a brilliance bias. It's just more in line with my personal preferences. You also get a some more variety in sound thanks to the interchangeable filters, a feature which is not found on the SA3. That said, I think they perform on basically the same level with emphasis shifts that cater to various preferences.

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In The Ear Dunu took their time selecting the right OEM to produce the SA3's 3D printed resin shells. The fit and finish is outstanding without a blemish to be found anywhere. The nozzle lip is small but prominent enough to hold 3rd party tips securely in place, something I often have issues with when it comes to earphones designed like this. The 2-pin ports on top are seamlessly integrated and the rest of the shell polished smooth as glass. L and R markings are molded into one of the inner stability protrusions and finished in gold, contrasting perfectly with the ocean blue resin. It's functional and aesthetically pleasing (especially for a Subaru WRC fan). The face plate is hand painted and flawlessly integrated into the rest of the shell. The design reminds me of waves crashing along a shoreline and looks positively fabulous. The brush strokes are very clear and give the SA3 a personal touch that you really only get with boutique products. Dunu outdid themselves with this shell and design.

While the cable follows a modern trend that I'm not a fan of, it's still a good cable. The quad strands are loosely braided (that's the trend) with a tough but flexible clear sheath protecting the silver wiring within. Noise caused by the cable rubbing against your shirt is effectively minimized, and you don't have to worry about it being bouncy or sticky. It's a very well-behaved cable. The hardware Dunu selected is also a plus. The straight jack contains plenty of knurling which gives you a good grip. Strain relief is stubby and a bit too stiff so it's not going to offer much protection, but I find relief is less important with braided cables so I'm not too concerned. The metal y-split and chin cinch carry on the knurled aesthetic. Leading up to the 0.78mm plugs are some aggressively shaped, preformed ear guides that keep the cable hugged tightly around your ear. I found they did a fantastic job of holding the cable in place even while sprinting or jumping. That said, I wouldn't really recommend using the SA3 for exercise since they're not water resistant. On the other hand, the shells are sealed and the metal nozzle grill quite fine so passive moisture resistance is probably quite good.

When it comes to comfort the SA3's ergonomic, lightweight, low profile shells are as outstanding as you'd expect. Like other shells of a similar design, such as those you'd find for the Kinera IDUN or TFZ Secret Garden HD, these earphones are a little on the large side. This is great for stability during excessive movement, and contributes to the impressive isolation (as does the lack of ventilation; the SA3 is fully sealed), but if you have small ears you might run into issues. They're fairly long and tall with prominent protrusions to help lock the housing under the antihelix of the outer ear.

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Packaging image provided by Dunu

In The Box The SA3 arrived without any retail packaging but Dunu was keen to provide a sample image for your enjoyment. With the SA3 you receive quite a few accessories. In all you get:
  • SA3 earphones
  • High-Purity, Silver-Plated Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) 2-pin (0.78mm) cable
  • Zippered carrying case
  • Cleaning tool
  • Deep-ish insertion medium bore tips (s/m/l) white
  • Medium insertion medium bore tips (s/m/l) blue
  • Shallow insertion medium bore tips (s/m/l) black/blue
Overall a nice selection of extras, as expected from the brand. While the included tips are similar, they do bring differing insertion depths which should ensure everyone should find something that works for them out of the box. The included case is the highlight for me though. I LOVE this thing. It is wallet-sized and fairly flat so very much pocketable with a secondary inner pouch to securely hold spare tips or a small device, like the EarMen Sparrow. Add to that a nice chunky zipper that manages to move smoothly and this is something I'd pick up a few more of if sold separately.

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Final Thoughts This is Dunu's first all-armature model, but you'd be hard pressed to tell. The entire experience is very mature and refined, from the gorgeous, hand-painted design and high quality 3D-printed shells, to the well-tuned signature that does basically exactly what Dunu said it would do.

Hybrid and dynamic driver lovers won't be wowed by the low end which is typical of an armature based unit, but the excellent timbre quality and amazing vocals are hard to dispute. Plus, the smooth treble is easy on the ears though I would like a hint more warmth throughout to counter the somewhat dry presentation. A bit more emphasis in the brilliance region wouldn't hurt either for my personal preferences, but that would pull the SA3 away from the relaxed sound Dunu intended for this model. I'll have to settle for some EQ prowess.

In addition to looking, sounding, and feeling great to wear (unless your ears are small), the SA3 comes with an extensive accessory kit that should provide most customers with everything they need out of the box. The quality of the cable is right in line with the competition, and there is decent variety in the included tips. I wouldn't have minded if they swapped out the white single flange set for some bi-flange or foamies though. Lastly, the included carrying case is one of the best in the business in my opinion. It's too bad they're not available separately because it is something I'd happy swap over all my daily drivers to.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the design and performance of the SA3. That fact that it also comes in at a competitive price of 139.99 USD is the icing on the cake. They could have released it at 199.00 USD and it wouldn't have felt out of place in the least. Lots of brands without the same name recognition and professional support are cropping up in this price range, so good on Dunu for keeping the price affordable and providing potential customers with an excellent product from a reputable maker.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Thomas with Dunu for arranging a sample of the SA3 for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on a month of consistent use. They do not represent Dunu or any other entity. At the time of writing the SA3 was retailing for 139.99 USD: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/product-page/studio-sa3

Specifications
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 13 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 112 +/- 1dB @ 1kHz
  • Driver: Three Knowles balanced armatures (2x lows/mids, 1x highs) w/ 2-way crossover
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO BTR3K, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, ADC Sound Shaper Two Mk II

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
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends
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DUNU SA3 studio quality IEM
Pros: Great neutral/ balanced signature , beautiful shell and great accessories. Very good build quality feels and looks premium
Cons: Some may want a little more Bass and treble due to the neutrality
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Opening the box one sees the SA3 first and at least to me they are a very pretty earphones , they have the look of a much more expensive custom IEM. The all resin shell feels solid and build quality is superb. The unit is a 3BA each earpiece configuration all of the specs you can find here

Build:
The accessories underneath are just as impressive with a beautiful matching blue case , a silver plated copper cable , three different kinds of tips.. white translucent , blue , and black with blue in various sizes. and a cleaner wand.
Comfort is excellent, they are very ergonomic even with their larger size semi custom and hand made back plate 3D printed resin shells. I found isolation to be very good just with the default tips.

Sound:
Bass: Is accurate and a little north of neutral, it has a fast response it is punchy when called upon but never overly done as it blends perfectly up into mids without intrusion into the midrange.
Mids; Mids are forward to a perfect space just in front of the Bass making them clear and clean, a slight warmth gives them some emotion and the tuning is refreshingly non shouty yet I find them rich and quite pleasant with some good micro details.

Treble: Treble is very polite and I find it smooth bet never harsh as it is a little reserved with some roll off , never the less it blends well and has a good amount of details and some sparkle when called upon.

Soundstage: Is wide and spacious, the SA3 does a great job of providing a larger than average and accurate soundstage and imaging.

In conclusion:
The Dunu SA3 is a very well build and gorgeous IEM that looks like ear jewelry or a custom monitor..Its both comfortable and the balanced / neutral signature makes it a great studio IEM for under $200 US.

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DUNU SA3. First all BA earphones from DUNU
Pros: High quality semi custom all resin build. 3 Knowles BAs per housing in a coherent tuned with a naturally balanced tonality. Excellent stage good imaging and extremely well balanced from treble to bass. More closer to a neutrally tuned design.
Cons: Not the most resolving, slightly reserved treble and bass end.
Dunu SA3.
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The studio line of all BA earphones by DUNU. All BA designs have been a staple for the enthusiast and for a good reason. All BA designs have their advantages for earphones. Balanced armatures when done with a combination of a good tuning can represent music so well they are used in some of the highest end earphones. DUNU as far as I remember mostly did dynamics and more recently hybrid designs and I do believe the studio line of all BA earphones are their first offering for a multi BA set up in an all Resin shell.

I would like to thank DUNU for the review sample and these here are my thoughts about their newest IEMs the SA3. You can read about them on DUNUs home page here.
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The SA3 comes with a standard set of accessories for DUNU which is actually more than most manufacturers throw in their earphones. Their medium large sizable blue zip up case is large enough to carry around the earphones and a set of tips. I always appreciate DUNUs attention to detail with included accessories. You are bound to find a tip that will work for you. The included cable is a good looking 4 core SPC cable in single ended. Again for the price point a solid entry included cable.
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The build of the SA3 is a familiar semi custom all Resin universal design that is fairly common nowadays. This design works extremely well for all BA designs due to the housing being able to incorporate as many drivers as you can stuff inside the shells. The shells of the SA3 are somewhat larger in comparison to other 3 BA set ups but due to a great ergonomic shape, the shells fit perfectly in my medium sized ears. The SA3 incorporates 3 Knowles BAs inside the shells and the benefit of using a larger housing shows in the sound tuning. Sound stage and isolation is excellent for the SA3 as a result.
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I have noticed the marketplace is filled with more hybrid designs nowadays than single dynamics and the all BA designs seeing less and less releases. Might have to do with the trend of the market but BA designs are not seeing new releases like they used to. When asked if I wanted to try their newest all BA design. I jumped at the chance. The SA3 in person is a great looking solid all resin IEM. The dark blue translucent color is a beauty to look at but I was even more excited to give them a good listen. Sound of the SA3 was evaluated using my DAPs. Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s, Ibasso DX160 and Sony ZX300.
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SA3 has a foundational balance leaning more toward neutral in the tuning. The overall tonality using the stock cable is a touch of warmth over neutral. Overall tone sound is very natural. Not overly bright nor does it have a veiled to the sonics. The SA3 has its musical tuning toward a hint of a warmer mid range adding to it a crisp treble and an above neutral bass presentation. BAs inherent strengths are in full force on the SA3 with a good wide stage with a natural broad sound and excellent coherency.
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I was a bit surprised by the treble end of the SA3 which is adequate yet slightly reserved in its tuning. Something which is not too common with the recent trends among BA tuned earphones. It is represented enough to balance out the tuning with more emphasis in the lower treble vs the upper. However I am so used to hybrids that use BAs for treble that clearly let you know it is a treble first IEM. Not so much the SA3. The inherent slight natural warmth to the sonic signature is due to dips in the treble region that while seems ample in emphasis actually lets the mid bands take precedence over the tuning more so than showing a brighter peaky treble end.
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Treble has good detail and is presented in a crisp manner, has good tone and enough body to the treble regions to make music sound complete. It has what I call a medium or average amount of treble emphasis over the tuning which gives more of an even take on treble vs anything that stands out for the sake of resolution. Treble has a quick decay and while adequate lacks a bit of air and extension. Definition in the treble bands are just average but balances out the overall tuning nicely.
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The treble end falls in the non fatiguing category which is a good thing actually. Nothing says your faking detail like an overly bright in your face treble. Treble extension is average and stays safe in emphasis and does not encroach upon the rest of the sound bands like so many earphones do nowadays. The moderate emphasis and a slightly more prominent mid range means you will get a natural slightly warm tone to the sonics. Overall the treble blends seamlessly to the mid range and ultimately does not stand on its own yet more to compliment the mid range of the SA3.
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Mids have a spacious quality to it and here is where the SA3 is at its best. Vocals have good range and sound roomy with the wider stage of the SA3. You can’t expect the best resolution in the mid bands and considering what DUNU had to work with here at the given price point the mids have enough fullness and dimensional qualities to let you get immersed in your music. Mids I feel could have used a bit more in the way of height and depth with better instrument separation but for the most part, the mids are represented with good detail, weight and adequate imaging. BA timbre applies to the SA3 and if you're a fan of dimensional BA sound. The SA3 is a good example of what a traditional 3 BA in a housing can do.
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BA bass has always been hotly debated. Arguably the best natural bass end comes from dynamics but BA bass has their advantages. Speed for one and don't require air for the driver to represent bass to its full abilities. Usually resulting in better isolation. Since BAs are much physically smaller than dynamic drivers, this allows more room for the other drivers to be positioned better in a housing. Added benefit of the 3BA design is that coherency is better realized vs utilizing multiple types of drivers. Bass driver on the SA3 has adequate punch and an equal footing vs the rest of the sonic signature.
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Bass emphasis is leaning more on the mildly elevated from neutral vs anything forward or heavy hitting. Bass notes are represented well with that speed and tightness in the process but at the same time lacks a real sub bass rumble and reach. Which is to be expected. However the bass end is not a complete fail. It does have a good amount of punch and it has sub bass that sounds like sub bass. Rumble however there is not much of. Much like the treble end of the SA3 you won’t have to worry about bass encroachment into the mids as it clearly stays in it’s own realm. For true bass fans these are not going to do it for you. Sound balancing as a whole however is done very well on the SA3. A nice coherent even balancing of your tunes can be heard from treble to bass.

I think the greatest aspect of the SA3 has to be the stage presentation. These have a wider than average stage for earphones and that is not an easy feat for earphones in general. A lot of earphones lack that stage element and it was surprising to hear the SA3 having such a good wide encompassing stage. It has a more sideways oval head stage but again wider than average for earphones which lets you pick off a lot of details in live recordings. The proper BA positioning in the larger shells seems to be the factor in this immersive stage. Add to this solid passive isolation the nicely done balancing and these will get you into your music.
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In the end the SA3 represents a solid sounding 3BA based earphone and sometimes it is not all about getting the highest resolution, the hardest hitting bass or the sparkiest of treble. These will be excellent for a casual listen and folks that lean on neutrality for sonic reproduction. Enthusiast that are easily fatigued with too bright of treble or too much bass emphasis might need to check out a SA3. The SA3 has a great stage with a natural tone to the sonics and given the great looks, well built and well isolating factors of the SA3. These are good at the price and represent a 3 BA earphone done well. It is crazy to think 3 BA based earphones can be had at the price point nowadays. As always thanks for taking the time to read and happy listening

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Dsnuts
Dsnuts
$140 available on Aliexpress and Linsoul sells them on Amazon for $140
scottsays
scottsays
Another really beautiful item I would love to have----in this never ending release of glorious products. It has come to the point where I make my purchase decisions not based on price---but on the time factor--will this earphone get enough playing time or take away time for something that sounds better? SO many incredible products at ridiculously low prices--if you seriously consider what you are paying for. $ 140 usd for a DUNU high quality iem-----wow.
H T T
H T T
Stellar review writing as always. This would pretty much be the review I would write (If I could write well) for the SA3 except I would rate them 5 stars as they have such an emotional impact with vocals and guitar for me.
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