DUNU VULKAN

General Information

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BRAND: DUNU
MANUFACTURER: DONGGUAN TOP DEN ELECTRONICS CO. LTD.
MODEL: DK-X6 (VULKAN)
NET WEIGHT: 17 g
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
IMPEDANCE: 15  at 1 kHz
SENSITIVITY: 109  1 dB at 1 kHz
TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION: < 0.3% at 1 kHz
DRIVER UNITS
DYNAMIC DRIVER UNITS [2]:
8 mm Cross-Linked Polyethylene Structural Foam Cell Dome
with Soft Independent Surround [1]
8 mm Nanocrystalline Titanium-Coated Diaphragm [1]
BALANCED ARMATURE UNITS [4]:
Knowles Mid-High Driver (×2) [2]
Knowles Dual Supertweeter (×1) [2]
CABLE SPECIFICATIONS
WIRE MATERIAL: 4 Core, High-Purity, Silver-Plated OCC Copper Type 1 Litz (DUW-02S)
LENGTH: 1.2 ± 0.1 m
CABLE CONNECTOR: Patented Catch-Hold MMCX Connector
PLUG CONNECTOR: Patented Q-Lock PLUS Quick-Switch Modular Plug System
INCLUDED PLUG TERMINATIONS:
3.5 mm TRS Single-Ended
2.5 mm TRRS Balanced
4.4 mm TRRRS Balanced

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Latest reviews

o0genesis0o

100+ Head-Fier
Dunu Vulkan - Unique and Engaging
Pros: - Unusual tuning that actually works
- Big and physical bass
- Soundstage with good size and depth
Cons: - Vocal is forward / intimate, which can reduce the illusion of soundstage depth
- Hot mid-treble in certain tracks
- Rolled off upper-treble / air
- Resolution is only adequate
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Do you feel Chi-Fi IEMs are evolving to be better yet more similar? Just pick any recent hype train. You would likely find forward upper midrange that more or less follows Harman target, relatively flat or suppressed lower midrange, and sub-bass focused shelf. These tuning choices inevitably lead to a forward, wide, relatively flat soundstage.

On the one hand, this trend is good for average consumers because their likelihood of running into a wonky IEM has reduced substantially. On the other hand, such convergence reduces your chance of running into interesting sound signatures that you didn't know you liked.

Within this context, let's discuss Dunu Vulkan, one of the more unusual recent releases in the AUD $550 bracket.



Forewords


- I like highly detailed IEMs that can produce a three-dimensional soundstage illusion and large bass without compromising tonal accuracy too much.
- My music library covers nostalgic pop music, epic orchestral music from Sci-fi shows, classical violin performances, piano, lo-fi beats, and a few rock songs.
- I rate IEMs by A/B tests them against a few benchmark IEMs, regardless of price point. If a $1000 IEM scores the same as a $100 IEM, then either the more expensive one underperforms or the budget one is a gem. See the methodology for more detail.
- I use frequency response measurements to double check my subjective impressions.
- I don't EQ when testing IEMs. However, I highly recommend EQing to fine-tune good IEMs to your ears and taste.
- Rating database and measurement database can be found on my IEM review blog.



Non-sound Aspects


Vulkan possesses an interesting driver architecture: 2 dynamic drivers + 4 Knowles BA drivers. The drivers are enclosed in metal shells and face plates that sport engraved patterns. The shells feel rugged yet not very heavy. The nozzles are short and chubby, so your fit greatly depends on your ear tips.

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In usual Dunu fashion, Vulkan is accompanied by a generous set of accessories. You have
- 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (the same sets that come with Dunu Titan S)
- 1.2m MMCX cable terminated with the interchangeable plug system of Dunu,
- Carrying case (seems similar to the one that comes with Zen Pro and SA6).

The cable is thick, strong, and well-behaved. It terminates with Dunu's famous interchangeable plug system featured in their high-end models, not the lite version that comes with Falcon Pro. Vulkan does not feel like a fancy artsy product like the Meze Advar I reviewed recently. Instead, it feels like a decked-out, technology-centric audio product.

Comfort is alright. With my Whizzer tips, Vulkan does not rest against my concha. Instead, it dangles, held by the ear tips and ear hooks. Such fit might create wind noise when you use Vulkan outside. However, there was no comfort issue during my long critical listening session.



Sound Analysis



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Frequency response of Vulkan compared to Andromeda 2020 and my preference target. Measurements were done with an IEC-711 compliant coupler and might only be compared with other measurements from this same coupler. The resonance peak was aligned at around 8kHz. Such a peak might be larger on the graph than in real life. Measurements above the resonance peak might not be accurate. Visit my graph database for more comparisons.

If I have to describe Vulkan's sound with one word, it would be "large".

The bass tuning of Vulkan is somewhat "old school", eschewing a distinct bass shelf for an elevation across the lower frequencies. It is not done to the degree of Andromeda or some JH Audio IEMs, but the bass shelf is not as distinct as something like Blessing 2 Dusk or Variations. You might think Vulkan's bass tuning is "wrong" because the bass "bleeds" all over instead of making distinct and sharp punches. However, I would say this tuning has merit in terms of impact and realism. Kick drums spread across and rumble the entire soundstage. Cellos, contrabasses, and orchestral drums are audible with a strong rumble, lending a realistic and physical sensation to orchestral music.

Vulkan's upper midrange and lower treble (i.e., the entire ear gain region) are pretty interesting. Vulkan peaks at 3kHz, thus unabashedly pushing the main vocal forward and strictly in-your-head. Therefore, you would think Vulkan is "intimate" if your library is vocal-focused. However, the climb from 1kHz to the peak at 3kHz is much more relaxed. This tuning creates the illusion that some instruments are pushed away from you toward the background. Therefore, Vulkan can have a large soundstage for certain orchestral pieces. Of course, a relaxed upper midrange tuning for enlarging the soundstage is usual. Peaking at 3k to sharpen the vocal as a counterpoint is something I have not heard before. Hats off to Dunu's engineers for such cleverness.

Treble is where Vulkan tumbles, IMHO. The first problem is the mid-treble region around 6kHz and 8kHz, contributing to both "sparkles" and sibilance in music. Vulkan's mid-treble is quite forward, to the point of adding an edgy and metallic tine to the timbre of violins, flutes, and even vocals like Ed Sheeran's. The second problem is the weak upper treble. This region highlights decays, room reverbs, micro-details, and other good bits that create an "audiophile" sound. Lacking upper treble leads to a lack of air and separation between layers of instruments in the soundstage.

Vulkan's resolution is adequate for its asking price. Note attacks are a bit blunted. Micro-details in the tail-end of notes are very subtle. The lack of upper-treble "air" also reduces the separation between layers of instruments in the soundstage. Vulkan is still better than its competitors in the budget range in terms of resolution. However, it is slightly below other heavy hitters like Blessing 2.

Of course, an enjoyable listening experience requires more than resolution. Let's listen to some albums, and I will point out the strengths and weaknesses of Vulkan along the way.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons by Janine Jansen


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- Apple Music
- Spotify

The Four Seasons album was released in 2004 and has been chart-topping ever since. Unlike other recordings of these famous concerti, Janine Jansen plays with a chamber ensemble made up of friends and relatives rather than a big orchestra. The soloist and the ensemble interaction is also a bit different and interesting. For example, there is a back and forth "conversation" between violin and cello at the beginning of the first movement of Autumn.

Vulkan renders the concerti in an interesting way due to its upper midrange tuning. On the one hand, the soundstage is undoubtedly large and decently deep. On the other hand, the soloist is quite in-your-face, more than what I hear from other good soundstage performers like Andromeda. Despite my nitpicking, I find that Vulkan is still successful with these concerti, thanks to its soundstage depth and the rumbly cello that keeps the rhythm.

However, there are two problems. Firstly, I hear a slightly edgy and metallic tone in the violin's timbre. The timbre is not entirely off but not as natural as I expected. Secondly, Vulkan comes off a bit blunted in busy sections of the concerti. The third movement (Presto) was a challenge for Vulkan. It has difficulty keeping the layers of instruments separated while revealing all the natural nuances of the string instruments. However, this track is one of my library's "worst-case scenario" tests. The IEM generally holds it together throughout the concerti.


Shall We Dance by Andre Rieu and Johann Strauss Orchestra


- Spotify

Let's listen to The Second Waltz as an example. This piece sounds similar to some classical CDs back in the 1990s, which place the orchestra in front of rather than around you. Therefore, headphones and IEMs tend to struggle with this piece. For example, my Blessing 2 tends to place the whole orchestra on a flat but wide plane in my head rather than projecting the sound forward.

How does Vulkan sound?

Decently successful. In the first 30 seconds, I can hear the snare near the centre, but a bit further to the background, whilst the cello and bass it near me, just a bit to the right. And then the saxophone comes, located right between the nearer bassline and the snare at the back, slightly to the left of the stage. The woodwind section comes after the saxophone, roughly at the same distance but tilted to the right of the stage. The positioning of instruments from closer to further away is apparent, but the separation between layers is not very strong. When the music swells with the introduction of the string section from 0:45, the stage starts to mesh together. However, the bass is still clear and physical. You can waltz with IEM.

Ed Sheeran Tiny Desk Performance


- YouTube

This performance is excellent for checking the detail retrieval capability of an IEM because you can see the band.

Let's focus on the Visiting Hours (from 14:15). This song has chime sounds at the beginning and lots of backing vocals. Unfortunately, both chimes and backing vocals are slightly hazy. Of course, this slight haze does not ruin the music or the enjoyment. But it shows that Vulkan lacks that last bit of technical performance to reach the top tier.

The tonality is more troublesome, though. To put it bluntly, Vulkan produces sibilance in this song, which is one of the mildest in his album. Given how sharp Vulkan reproduces Visiting Hours, I did not dare to listen to the whole Shivers (the first song).



Comparisons and Rating


Resolution, Detail, Separation: 3.5/5 - Above Average


Resolution, detail retrieval, or "technical performance" denotes how finely and crisp an IEM or headphone can reproduce audio information. Resolution manifests itself in various aspects: (1) how clear and precise the attack of musical notes are, (2) how pinpoint musical notes are in the soundstage, (3) how detailed and nuanced the decay and reverb of musical notes are, (4) how clear can you hear background elements of a mix, (5) how separated similar sounding instruments are, and (6) can you hear the whole band or orchestra.

Vulkan is adequate. You wouldn't mistake it for a budget IEM, but I think the jump from a high-performing budget IEM like Titan S to Vulkan is not that big of a leap. If you index resolution heavily in your IEM purchase, then perhaps this IEM is not for you. I rate Vulkan 3.5/5 for resolution, putting it between Aria (3/5 - Average) and Blessing 2 (4/5 - Good).

Percussion Rendering: 4.5/5 - Very Good


Percussion rendering reflects how well the tuning and technical performance of an IEM work together to recreate realistic sound of a drum set. Good drum hits have clear attacks (controlled by frequencies from 4kHz to 6kHz), full body (midbass frequencies around 200Hz), and physical sensation (sub-bass frequencies around 50Hz). Good technical performance ("fast" driver) ensures that bass notes can be loud yet detailed. IEMs that cannot control bass very well tend to reduce the bass' loudness to prevent muddiness.

Vulkan renders percussion instruments and bass with realism and physical rumble. It's better than the textureless bass of Blessing 2 (3/5 - Average) and the deep-hitting-but-no-body bass of A4000 (4/5 - Good). However, it cannot challenge the thunderous bass of a properly driven E5000 (5/5 - Outstanding) or Zen Pro. Therefore, I rate Vulkan 4.5/5 for percussion rendering.

Stereo Imaging (Soundstage): 4/5 - Good


Stereo imaging or "soundstage" is a psychoacoustic illusion that different recording elements appear at various locations inside and around your head. Your brain creates based on the cues such as the loudness and phase differences between left and right channels. Most IEMs do not differ significantly, nor can they compete with headphones or loudspeakers. However, some IEMs offer a more spacious soundstage than others. Best IEMs can create multiple layers of sound from closer to further away and make some instruments float slightly above your head.

Vulkan's soundstage is difficult to rate. It cannot project the centre image (voice, solo instrument) in front of your like other high performers (Andromeda, U6t, U12t, Trio). It also lacks that airy, floating instrument illusion of IEMs with strong upper treble performance. However, Vulkan does have a large soundstage and produces a better illusion of depth than an average Harman-inspired IEMs like Blessing 2 or Aria (3/5 - Average). Therefore, I rate Vulkan 4/5 for soundstage.

Tonality: 3/5 - Average


The tonality of Vulkan is also tricky to rate. The clever and different tuning of Vulkan works most of the time. In my book, unconventional tuning that works deserves a high rating, perhaps even more so than a target hitter. However, Vulkan's mid-treble peak can be a deal breaker for listeners of harsher genres. Such treble tuning also impacts the timbre of some orchestral instruments negatively. Therefore, I rate Vulkan's tonality 3/5 - average in the grand scheme.


Conclusion


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If this review appears to be harsh, it is because I have a high expectation for Vulkan, given its long development, unusual driver topology, and pedigree as a Dunu IEM. Against such expectation, perhaps any IEM would come up short. If you are looking for a highly technical IEM with fun tuning, Vulkan might not be the one.

However, suppose you are looking for an epic-sounding IEM that differs from most new releases. Suppose that you are looking for a well-built IEM with great accessories. Suppose that you are looking for an alternative to Blessing 2. In those cases, Vulkan gets a recommendation from this reviewer.
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samandhi
samandhi
You had me at the opening statement (which I totally agree with)... :)

Very nice review! Thanks for taking the time (which looks like it took quite a bit of to do).
o0genesis0o
o0genesis0o
@samandhi thanks for reading. I write so slowly that I start when a hyped IEM first arrives and finish when people have already moved on to the next hype

SherryLion

New Head-Fier
Review Of DUNU Vulkan
Pros: Bass is prominent and big in performance.
The vocals are clean and pleasurable to listen to.
The treble is clean and crisp.
The head stage is really big.
The imaging is nice.
The stage is placed very accurately.
Cons: The treble extension is not so great
The vocals have limitations
The soundstage is not that wide.

Review Of The DUNU Vulkan


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Introduction

Well DUNU is a known premium chifi brand with cool and success releases like Zen Pro, Falcon Pro, SA6, EST112, Titan S etc. One of their newly released IEM is DUNU Vulkan and yes these looks so cool and awesome. So today I’ll be reviewing be these IEM. If you want to own one, these are available on this site :-

https://conceptkart.com/products/dunu-vulkan-dk-x6-wired-iem#

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This is my second review on a DUNU audio gear. If you want to check my other review which is on the DUNU Titan S, the link below will take you there.

https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/dunu-titan-s.25504/reviews#review-28888

Disclaimer

* This is a review unit, courtesy of Concept Kart. Thank you for providing me with this unit to review. But still each and every thoughts below mentioned are my personal own thoughts and they are not fiddled with any outside influences. Link for the DUNU Vulkan is below :-

https://conceptkart.com/products/dunu-vulkan-dk-x6-wired-iem#

*I will be referring these IEMs to as 'Vulkan' for the rest of the review.
*And at last I will only be reviewing the Vulkan on the basis of their performance, I do not care what these are made of or packaged with when newly purchased unless it affects the sound in any sense what so ever.

Specification


DUNU Vulkan has a hybrid driver configuration. There are two dynamic driver and 4 balance armature drivers. One of the dynamic driver is an 8 mm Structural Foam Cell Dome with Soft Independent Surround dynamic driver and other is an 8 mm Nanocrystalline Titanium-Coated Diaphragm dynamic driver. The balance armatures are from Knowles, where two are Knowles Mid-High Drivers and other two are Knowles Dual Super tweeter. The frequency response is from 5Hz - 40kHz and impedance is 15 ohms at 1kHz. The sensitivity is 109 ± 1 dB at 1 kHz and total harmonic distortion is < 0.3% at 1 kHz

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Sound

The sound the Vulkan is Neutral with Sub bass boost. Although Vulkan feels more fun and engaging sounding while being detailed. The sub bass emphasis literally puts me in a trance and the hits I take are purely raw, godly and yet controlled.

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Treble


The treble in the Vulkan is very much alive and in the mix. Though there is not so good extension in the treble and neither it is very much distinct sounding. The upper treble is very sibilant and hot to my taste. The vocals in the upper frequences limits themselves there and interferes with the mix in that region although in the lower mid range feels very well balanced not so warm and not so metallic. Coming to the instruments the snare hits sounds great but leaves “ss-tt” in the ends and same goes for the cymbal crashes, trumpets sounds very weird tonally. Although the mix still resolves and soon clears the variances made. This doesn’t mean the treble is bad. To be honest it is very revealing and detailed, only too much revealing for me.

Mid Range


Coming to the mid range, they are very much pleasurable to listen to. Just like in the treble not so much warm and not so much metallic in sound. The vocals in the upper as well as lower mid sounds pull backed, trying to be more melodious than upfront sounding. Well they would’ve been lean sounding if not the mid bass haven’t given them that gentle little touch after 300Hz.
Both male vocals and female vocals sounds very much blunt, in the sense that the sound feels drained like out of energy. The guitar in this range sounds very much light and clean but doesn’t sound very much rounded up, to me sounding like it bleeds out in the mix, very loose sounding. Well overall presentation in the mid range is favouring the treble and the bass as it is balancing them both.

Bass

Now the bass where they are the king. Looking at the presentation, there is more sub bass than the mid bass. Still the bass slams while being punchy in nature. For sure, due to the sub bass emphasis, bass rumbles with rich texture and details. And it hits hard yet controlled by not being over powering. The things I missed in my moondrop blessing 2. Well The note weight and density is totally justified, from which I meant is adequate to sound natural. But the bas is not organic or have a sense of loosing ends, rather the bass is fast. At last I would also like to add this that the bass has a clean representation no matter what they perform like.

Technical Performance


The technical performance of Vulkan is okay. Not too bad and not so great. It justifies this IEM, especially with the sound imaging and speed.
Yeah it takes a hit on resolution and soundstage but that is quite up to the preferences.

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Soundstage, Sound Imaging & Separation


Okay so the soundstage is more intimate than far sounding, due to the reason that the most mixes sounds more stereo in response that is mostly left and right and due to the fact that they are more far front and back sounding than left or right. Though still the soundstage is really nice and provide a better placed stage. Coming to the sound imaging, yes the details are quite great but aren’t sharp. The separation is still better due to better stage placed even after the fact that the sound is less far in the left and right responses. Of course it is really easy to pinpoint where each and every sound element placed.

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Speed & Resolution

The resolution is not fair for the price, to be honest the clarity is always there, but the detail retrieval is the very essence of clean and revealing sound. Well this is not the case for the speed as these are very tactile inn every note that hits, that is very fast resolving, the attack and decay of notes are very precisely and timely presented.

Conclusion


To conclude this review of the Vulkan, I’ll be honest, even though I look for more critical listening iems, still this one have my hands tied. The technical performance and tonality is great, And obviously there are more IEMS which may prove to be better in both but the feel of the over all performance and the response I get from these is definitely out of this world. Yes for the price they are being offered justifies. I totally recommend these to try out, especially to bass heads as these are very authoritative and engaging and fun sounding.


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Sources And Tracks Used


Sources


Apple iPhone XS Max
LG G8X
iPad (4th generation)
Apple Dongle Dac
Shanling UA1 Pro
Lotoo PAW S1
Moondrop Dawn
iFi HIPDAC
Venture Electronics Megatron
Apple Lossless
UAPP
Localy stored Flac and Wav Files

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Tracks


Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman
Earth, Wind & Fire - September
Earth, Wind & Fire - Let's Groove
Boston - More Than A Feeling
Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere(Remastered)
Toto - Africa
The Police - Every Breath You Take
George Benson - Affirmation
Daft Punk - Doin' It Right
Daft Punk - Derezzed
Daft Punk - Tron Legacy (End Titles)
GOJIRA - Amazonia
The Mars Volta - Inertiatic ESP
Fergie - Glamorous
50 Cent - In Da Club
Jay Z - Holy Grail
Erbes - Lies
Nitti Gritti - The Loud
Juelz - Inferno
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baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
DUNU Vulkan - Rumbling Volcano
Pros: Light, comfortable yet solid build
Very premium accessories
Cable has a modular swappable concept to give options for balanced and unbalanced sources
Easy to drive but scales with amplification
Excellent sub-bass rumble to please bassheads
Good timbre for a BA containing set
Great imaging and soundstage
Cons: 7 - 8 kHz area can be sibilant and fatiguing
Unique tuning may be too colored for purists
Not the most detailed mid-FI pair of IEMs
DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank DUNU for providing this loaner unit. The Vulkan loaner will be returned after this review.

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INTRODUCTION

The Vulkan are DUNU’s latest foray into the competitive Mid-FI segment. They sport a unique 4 BA + 2 DD configuration and bring a big sub-bass volcanic rumble to the table!

In many cultures, the term “Vulkan” refers to a volcano. Specifically in Roman mythology, Vulcanus was celebrated as the god of fire, volcanoes, forges and metalworks. The Vulkan IEMs we are unearthing today will rock the house down with a massive sub-bass that will please even the most ardent of bassheads!


SPECIFICATIONS
  • Drivers: coaxial 2x dynamic drivers (8 mm cross-linked polyethylene structural foam cell dome and 8 mm nanocrystalline titanium-coated diaphragm) and 4 x Knowles balanced armature drivers (mid-high driver and dual supertweeter)
  • Impedance (Ohm): 15 Ω
  • Sensitivity (dB): 109 dB
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Cable: 4 core high-purity silver-plated OCC (ohno continuous cast) copper type 1 Litz (DUNU DUW-02S)
  • Source Plug: Q-Lock PLUS quick-switch modular plug system with plug terminations for 3.5 mm TRS single-ended, 2.5 mm TRRS balanced and 4.4 mm TRRRS balanced
  • Cup/Shell Plug: Patented catch-hold MMCX Connectors

ACCESSORIES
  • DUNU Vulkan IEMs
  • 3 x grey balanced silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 x red core silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • 3 x black wide-bore silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
  • Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
  • Cleaning brush
  • Cable (DUNU DUW-02S)
  • Leatherette carrying case
  • 3.5 mm to 6.5 mm adapter (DUNU DC-16)
  • Airline adapter

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The accessories are really abundant for a Mid-FI set, there can be no complaints on this front!

Unfortunately no foam tips are included with the packaging, but one is spoilt for choice with three different types of silicone eartips on offer. Do explore tip-rolling to see what suits your preferences, as eartips are as personal as shoes; they can affect comfort, isolation and also the sonic perception of an IEM.

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I didn’t really like the wider bore (black) eartips, even though they gave better soundstage and resolution, they made the upper frequencies too hot, and as we will read below, the 7 - 8 kHz area can be overly spicy.

Between the other two pairs of tips, I enjoyed using the grey (balanced) ones, as they gave a good mix of sub-bass extension without overly boosting the upper frequencies.

The Vulkan’s stock cable is a 4 core, 26 AWG, high-purity silver-plated OCC (ohno continuous cast) copper cable. The four cores are hand-braided via a Litz braid and this cable is also sold separately as the DUNU DUW-02S.

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The selling point of this cable is DUNU’s patented and exclusive Q-Lock PLUS quick-switch modular plug concept. At the distal end, there is a proprietary locking mechanism to allow one to interchange between 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm and 4.4 mm connectors. This concept is really nifty, as it allows users to swap between various balanced and unbalanced sources on the fly, without needing to get other aftermarket cables.

While I’m not really a fan of MMCX connectors (which may potentially fail with repeated cable changes), the modular concept of this cable should negate the need to keep changing cables. The MMCX connectors on the Vulkan and their cable seem pretty robust; these snap on and off easily, and are not too tight nor loose.

Quick switch photo 1.JPG


Quick switch photo 2.JPG


This cable is very well-braided, supple and comes with a chin slider. Microphonics are minimal. There are L and R markings on each end of the cable to identify the sides.

A semi-rigid leatherette case is included, with DUNU’s logo embossed on the front. The case is functional yet elegant. The inner layer is lined with a velvety material with some webbing too.

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The following review was done with the grey balanced ear tips and cable, so as not to add any aftermarket confounders to the sound.

BUILD/COMFORT

The Vulkan shells feature a serpentine igneous rock-like motif; this synchronizes perfectly with their volcanic namesake! In fact, the shells are inspired by mokume gane, which is a type of Japanese metalworking technique that is used in swords, jewelry and craftwork.

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The Damascus steel design also ties in nicely with Vulkanus, the Roman god of steelworks and forges.

The shells are fashioned from CNC (computerized numerical control) machined aluminum shells. DUNU advertises that they use a 3D printed acoustic wave-guide mounting bracket, which theoretically improves coherence of imaging.

The left and right earpieces are marked with a L and R lettering respectively. Despite being vented, isolation is above average and the Vulkan are well-suited for outdoor usage as such.

Weighing in at 17g apiece, the Vulkan shells are very light, yet of solid build due to the aluminum frame. They are very comfortable despite the larger size, ergonomics are top-notch and I did not experience any discomfort.

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DRIVABILITY

Using FLAC and WAV files, I tested the Vulkan with:
- Khadas Tone Board -> Schiit Asgard 3 amp
- Khadas Tone Board -> Topping L30 amp
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One WM1Z Plus v2 Mod)
- Sony Walkman NW A-55 DAP (Walkman One Neutral Mod)
- Questyle M15 DAC/AMP dongle
- E1DA 9038D DAC/AMP dongle
- Colorfly CDA M1 DAC/AMP dongle
- Tempotec Sonata HD Pro dongle (BHD firmware)
- Smartphone

The Vulkan are easy to drive, but they do scale with amplification, with a tighter and more extended bass and better dynamics when juiced adequately.


SOUND & TECHNICALITIES

Dunu Vulkan.jpg

Frequency response graph of the Vulkan via IEC711 compliant coupler. The 7/8 kHz area is a coupler artefact peak, but there is also an audible boost at this region on actual listening.

The Vulkan’s sound signature can be described as U-shaped.

In the technicalities department, imaging, instrument separation and layering are very good. Micro-details are decent enough, but not class-leading at the mid-FI bracket. Soundstage is expansive in 3 dimensions (especially in width), with music sounding spacious without much compression.

For timbre-freaks, there’s a very slight BA timbre for acoustic instruments, which is to be expected once BA drivers are used. But by-and-large, the timbre is quite well portrayed and sounds quite natural.

Bass

As per the graphs, the Vulkan are a sub-bass focused set, with a massive rumble and extension to the bowels of the earth. Assuming a good seal is obtained, on sub-bass heavy tracks, there is a visceral jaw-rattling rumble that goes all the way to the chest!

Bassheads will have a field-day with the Vulkan. Despite the copious bass quantity, it surprisingly retains quite high quality, in being very textured, tight and fast, with no mid-bass bleed.

The big bass on tap brings a head-banging and toe-tapping fun to the table, but conversely, the massively accentuated bass may not suit certain music genres such as classical and jazz where a more neutral bassline would be desired by purists.

Midrange

Most basshead sets suffer a cardinal sin of having a too massive mid-bass that encroaches into the midrange frequencies. I’m glad to report that there is none of that here, this region is clear and transparent. The lower midrange is neutral, as there isn’t a big mid-bass to give warmth to this area.

The upper midrange is actually more forward in the pinna gain region than what the graphs would suggest. However, as the pinna gain is not as marked as per conventionally tuned competitors, vocals are just a tinge forward without much shoutiness.

Treble

Treble is somewhat hot at the 7 - 8 kHz regions, those who are treble-sensitive might want to take note. There's quite a lot of clarity and transparency in the upper frequencies but unfortunately this introduces sibilance and cymbals may come across as a bit “splashy”.

The big sub-bass does provide a nice counterpoint for this area and different eartips can also tame the 7 - 8 kHz regions to some extent.

Comparisons

The Vulkan will be compared against some other mid-FI hybrids/tribids. Single DD and pure BA IEMs were left out of the comparison as the different transducer types have their own pros and cons.

DUNU Vulkan Photo 3.jpg


Vs. LZ A7

The LZ A7 are a unique tribrid that are extremely versatile; they can provide 10 different sound signatures on-the-go, due to each housing having both a tuning nozzle and tuning switch. The A7 can thus be tuned to a myriad of chameleonic signatures, from V-shaped to neutral.

Comparisons of tonality between these two mid-FI titans are hence difficult due to the various permutations. Nevertheless, on the various switches/nozzles, the LZ A7 still sounds a bit more natural in timbral accuracy.

In the technicalities department, it is a wash between the two: the LZ A7 have better micro-details and soundstage, but the Vulkan have superior imaging and instrument separation.

Build seems to be better on the Vulkan. The MMCX connectors don’t feel as robust on the LZ A7 during cable swaps and the LZ A7’s aesthetics are underwhelming and bordering on ugly.

LZ A7 Photo.jpg

The weird wording stenciled on the LZ A7's shells does their sound a disservice!

The LZ A7 are definitely more versatile, but I would consider the two to be sidegrades in technicalities. Looks go to the Vulkan anyday!


Vs. Sony XBA-N3

The XBA-N3 are an L-shaped bassy set with a rolled-off treble. They are much more smooth, have a thicker note weight and are more analogue-sounding than the Vulkan.

The XBA-N3’s bass is focused at the mid-bass compared to the sub-bass predominant Vulkan. The XBA-N3’s bass also isn’t as tight and clean, with a copious mid-bass bleed and less texturing.

The XBA-N3 have a more natural timbre, but they are weaker in resolution and clarity. The XBA-N3 shades it a bit in soundstage, but the poorer imaging and separation of instruments may make the soundscape fuzzy.

Build and isolation are not as great on the XBA-N3, but the XBA-N3 can also be used cable down in view of their bullet-shaped design.

These two pairs are bonafide basshead sets, but they present bass in a different flavor: the XBA-N3 gives much more mid-bass slam, whereas the Vulkan are more technical with greater sub-bass rumble and extension, and less mid-bass bleed.


Vs. Rosetechnics QT9 MK2S

The Rostechnics QT9 MKS have less mid-bass and sub-bass quantity than the Vulkan, but have a more boosted pinna gain region. Note weight is thinner on the QT9 MKS2, and they can sound shriller and more fatiguing at the upper mids.

In technicalities, the QT9 MK2S have a less expansive soundstage, but have superior micro-details and imaging.

Isolation is poorer on the QT9 MK2S and their fit is a bit iffy due to their very short nozzles.

The Vulkan are definitely bassier, but the treble peak of the QT9 MK2S lies at the lower treble/upper midrange, whereas the Vulkan have their peak at the 7 - 8 kHz regions. If one is sensitive to upper mids, the Vulkan will be the better option, but those who dislike sibilance may consider the QT9 MK2S instead.

Conclusion

The Vulkan eschew a run-of-the-mill Harman-tuned signature for something very unique and different: a basshead set with big sub-bass, yet preserving a transparent midrange.

Accessories and build are stellar, and the innovative modular cable ensures that the Vulkan can be paired with almost any source.

The Vulkan sound as good as they look; they have superb soundstage and imaging, coupled with a clear midrange. Sub-bass is of course, the star of the show, and these indeed rumble like a volcano, as per their namesake.

DUNU Vulkan Photo 4.jpg


There are some weaknesses in the tuning though: the 7 - 8 kHz region can be overly hot and micro-detailing could be improved. Purists may also find the Vulkan not suitable for genres that require a more neutral and uncolored bass.

However, looking past these nitpicks, the Vulkan will please bassheads and they bring head-banging fun to the table. The Vulkan do not have the typical old-school V-shaped signature with an overly recessed midrange or mid-bass bleed that impinges into the other frequencies

Like a volcano, the Vulkan’s sub-bass truly rumbles and these can definitely stand out in the mid-FI bracket with a very special tuning.
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