General Information

DUNU prides itself on being constantly at the cutting edge of audio technology. Last year, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, DUNU launched LUNA, one of the world’s first and only pure beryllium foil dynamic driver in-ears. As a project developed from an unconstrained budget, in a quest to extract an unprecedented level of performance from one of the most exclusive driver materials available for high-end audio, LUNA’s driver was fabricated with a complex, composite assembly technique, utilizing separate materials for the dome, surround, and attachment points for the voice coil, for which DUNU was awarded an exclusive patent by the CNIPA (ZL20202008721.5).

Following LUNA’s success, DUNU set a goal to extend these innovative dynamic driver construction techniques across the company’s entire earphone product line. With ZEN, DUNU introduces the ECLIPSƎ driver platform, a collection of exclusive, next-generation driver technologies. Combining the trickle-down driver fabrication techniques derived from LUNA, an ultra-powerful ring type motor assembly, and refined voicing methods, ECLIPSƎ is a next generation paradigm for dynamic drivers.

A magnesium-aluminum alloy dome with a specific W-shaped morphology serves as the centerpiece of ZEN's 13.5 mm ECLIPSƎ driver and allows ZEN to transcend performance standards at its price point. Furthermore, it is coated via high temperature, filtered, pulsed cathode arc deposition with nanoporous amorphous carbon (nanoDLC).

nanoDLC greatly augments the strength of the alloy dome by filling microscopic pores in the metal with non-hydrogenated, tetrahedral carbon (sp3-hybridized), at levels previously unachievable through plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) techniques classically used on polymer substrates. With nanoDLC, the sound reproduction surface on the ZEN yields physical properties that inch ever closer to pure diamond.

Chief engineer Andy Zhao, never one to settle on his laurels, designed a machine milled, ring-type, neodymium-based magnet assembly that achieves over 1.8 T magnetic field strength at the voice coil, one of the very highest figures achieved across the industry so far. The basis of this ring-type design will serve as the template for all ECLIPSƎ models to come.

With voicing cues taken from extensive feedback relating to LUNA, ZEN signifies the next step of evolution in DUNU’s tuning approach. Whereas LUNA utilized a very purist, traditionally-minded voicing philosophy, ZEN combines a series of response-shaping dampers in conjunction with DUNU’s proprietary Air Control Impedance System (ACIS). ACIS, a bass reflex technique first implemented in the DK-4001, helps reinforce bass frequencies below 100 Hz, providing ZEN with a robust sub-bass response that doesn’t bleed into other frequencies.

Taken together, ECLIPSƎ has allowed ZEN to supersede company expectations for what is possible at its price. “ZEN will appeal to audio lovers who desire a product that nears the level of technical performance set by LUNA, but at a more broad-based entry point,” says Kevin Sun, Global Director of Business Development for DUNU.

On the exterior front, ZEN is a continuation of partnered discussions with industrial designer Moses Xu to express a cohesively themed design brief. This is DUNU’s third such collaboration with Xu, reexamining the curves and lines that have defined DUNU’s product identity over the years for a minimal reduction of those shapes.

Translating the concepts on the drawing board to the physical form meant a return to a medium very familiar to DUNU technicians. Machined from durable, monolithic 316 stainless steel and PVD finished in a scratch-resistant, understated wet black coat, ZEN is a stolid, yet expressive — reflective of ZEN’s overarching product philosophy.

Usage-wise, ZEN continues DUNU’s tradition of bundling a premium cable with the convenient Quick-Switch modular plug system as well as a generous fit kit of different ear tips. ZEN’s designated cable is the DUW-03, an 8-core silver-plated copper cable first bundled with the Studio SA6, now finished with MMCX connectors. Aside from the standard 3.5 mm TRS single-ended plug, a 2.5 mm TRRS balanced plug and 4.4 mm TRRRS balanced plugs are also included.

ZEN retails for an MSRP of $699.99 US dollars.

Media Resources

Latest reviews

SHOOTINGTECHIE

100+ Head-Fier
DUNU ZEN- A Complete Peaceful Package…
Pros: 1)Good mid-bass
2)Great vocals and mids
3)No sibilance
4)Great macro-details and okay micro-details
5)Good tall soundstage
6)Smooth treble
7)Great cables and accessories
Cons: 1)Sub-bass is average
2)Treble rolled off
3)Upper midrange has a bit too much energy (for me not too much at least for my playlist)
4)Below average timbre
5)Rolled off treble
6)No air at all
7)Less transparency
DUNU ZEN- A Complete Peaceful Package…

DUNU
is a famous chifi brand very well known for modular cables and really good iems like the Studio SA6. Now they were in the industry since 1994, but coming on to the audiophile space recently in the last decade and half, with their offerings, they have made a wave. The only DUNU iems I have tried are the DUNU Studio SA6 (really good iem) and the DK-2001/3001. The modular cables and SA 6 tuning made me a fan of these guys. Well today I am getting a chance to review their DUNU ZEN, the 2nd IEM in their eclipse series and it only comes in BLACK…. MIB music someone haha 😉

DISCLAIMER- Thanks to DUNU for sending out a unit of ZEN to INDIA for review. But my thoughts are my own and anything positive or negative in this review has not been influenced by any benefit. Thanks to @suman134 for considering me for this review!!

UNBOXING EXPERIENCE

Now this is once in a lifetime unboxing experience. It’s more like a premium phone unboxing. It has a large black covering box with ZEN written on it. Inside, there is a magnetically latched box with jute pattern and rough texture, which is all foam padded and has two black beautiful looking iems with vents on the stem. At the side of these is the beautiful silver modular cable with a double black strand (looks beautiful).
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Lifting the foam package, inside there are modular connectors in an all sized 4.4 pentaconn modular connector space with tips in a great looking box with proper naming. To the right of these is another box which contained the leather carrying pouch in blue (IDK why DUNU didn’t make this black 😐). Inside this was just a cleaning cloth duh!!! (You expect way too much my reader, Hehe!!!)
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SPECS
1)NET WEIGHT: 21 g
2)FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
3)SENSITIVITY: 112 ± 1 dB at 1 kHz
4)IMPEDANCE: 16 Ω at 1 kHz
5)TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION: < 0.2% at 1 kHz
6)DRIVER MODULE
  • DIAPHRAGM: Magnesium-Aluminum alloy dome with nano-porous amorphous carbon coating (nanoDLC)
    and fully independent suspension surround
  • MAGNET ASSEMBLY: > 1.8 T External Ring-Type Neodymium Magnet
7)HOUSING
  • MATERIAL: 316 Stainless Steel
  • INTEGRATION(S): Patented Air Control Impedance System (ACIS)
8)PRICE- 699$

ACCESSORIES YOU GET (you get a good amount of them too :p )

  • Eartips 6x pairs
  • Airline adapter
  • Shirt clip
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Brown baggie for the IEMs
  • Leather Case
  • DUW03 cable with 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.5mm adapters
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BUILD AND FIT

The iems are all black (one of my favorite colour) and made up of stainless steel. The stems are having vents on both sides and they are MMCX connectors (not a fan of them but DUNU has something called as Patented Catch-HOLD MMCX connector and only time will tell of its durability :D ). They are quite dense though given the all-metal build and have a weight to them. The stems do have ZEN written on the inside with a small R and L written too!!!
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Now coming on to the fit of these iems, these do fit snugly in my ears with no chance of failing down. They have a small signature with not wide bore nozzles and they don’t feel heavy at all. They do have a notch on the nozzle stem and this is welcomed by me (remember trying to get ear tips out of your ears! yeah not great right! Haha!!!). They do have a grill mesh on the nozzle to keep the nozzle clean of earwax haha!!! I used the stock tips for review though since they gave me a proper fit!!!

CABLE
The cable is 8 Core, High-Purity Monocrystalline Silver-Plated Copper Litz Wire, with all strands being silver and 2 strands being black- this looked great.
The cable is quite thick yet supple enough and doesn’t have microphonics attached to it!!! The cables have a plastic ear guide but these are not too stiff to cause an issue per se. They do have an R and L written on the mmcx connectors.
The do come with three adapters 4.4mm, 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm adapters and with their quick switch modular plug system this is pretty good to have!!! They all have a silver finish to them to match the cables…
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NOTE- MY SOURCE IS

  1. PORTABLE -N6II WITH T01 MODULE, BTR5 AND LG G8X
  2. DESKTOP- DAC- N6II WITH T01 LINEOUT
  3. AMP- TOPPING A30 MODDED WITH BURSON V5I D OR TOPPING L30 OR XDUOO MT602(NOT USED HERE FOR REVIEW BUT HEY IT DOES HELP TO ADD A BIT OF TUBE TOUCH) & BRAVO V2
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SOUND SIGNATURE (P.S-This is subjective and may not match with yours :D)


BASS-

SIGNAL IN THE NOISE – GO GO PENGUIN-
This is really good fast music with drums, this includes everything including the toms, snare drums, kick-bass etc and those guitar hits in the sides and slowly going into the mids…Then the piano in the mid with fast keys on right and long keys on mid to left Really lovely stuff (Thanks to Andrew from TheHeadphoneShow on youtube, for introducing me to this).

Bass is decent on this iem. It has good tonality with good texture. The bass is dynamic and the mid-bass punch is present albeit not too much though but its enough to satisfy me!!! The notes are thick in the body and beginning and miss that edge at the top. The decay is fast and hence congested tracks don’t suffer at all. The timbre is average but its really good for what they have done with some recording which has emphasis on the snare drums, will have it more than the ones which doesn’t. The atmospheric feel does come through though with a feeling of space but goes away way too fast (like showing me an ice-cream and then eating it yourself 😐) The upper bass also comes up nicely considering the male vocals which is a welcome sign. The midbass needs a little more definite punch feels a little less here…

SUBBASS-

BLENDER- YELLO (Haha!!) -
Now this has subbass presence from around 56 sec marks, felt more on the right side and goes on for a lot longer!! Now I chose this track to check how much do they emphasize it and how does it do with vocals and other instruments. For instruments you could try from 2.09 mins.

Sub-bass is pretty good but not too much textured. It will give a small degree of rumble nothing to completely shake you but enough to feel its presence. The mid-bass dominates more than the rumble, but distinction is easy. The decay is still fast here but still leaving a presence, making it feel a better room like experience. The sub-bass is dynamic giving a different loudness for different part of the recordings. The notes have more of a body here rather than an ending and beginning!!!
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MIDS-

VOCALS- MALE VOCALS-
BIBLICAL- CALUM SCOTT; AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH-IL DIVO, MARVIN GAYE & FEMALE VOCALS- SKYFALL-ADELE; MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS-RENEE OLSTEAD
AND FOR MIDS- BONFIRE HEART-JAMES BLUNT; WRITING’S ON THE WALL -SAM SMITH & THE WOLF AND THE MOON0 BRUNUH VILLE-


Adele has a really voice and the track I used has a lot of piano and other instruments and make this very nice song to judge vocals and bleed. While the other vocalist, Renne, this songs of hers, has that sibilance factor to it. She emphasizes the ‘S’ a lot…

Male vocals with Calum are like having both a little high-pitched voice when he extends and a thicker voice for the rest of the way!!! With the second song, different vocalists have different voices making it easy to distinguish if there’s any error perse. With them also singing together sometimes, makes it a good challenge for the iem. Well instruments in the mids are something the rest of the songs are for, so as to judge the tonality and rest.

Female vocals are really good for this iem. Adele sounds really beautiful here with a good change to her thicker voice while going though the song. The reverbs do come on nicely but lack a bit to maintain their presence given the faster decay of this iem. The notes have certain air to them and the micro-details come up pretty nicely too. Given Adele has a more controlled voice with a much thicker notes to the beginning of the vocals, this shows it very nicely. This doesn’t mean that the ends are average, they are well extended and lovely throughout!!!😁 Renne, on the other hand has better body with a slightly leaner beginning and wow this just nails it. They are lush and lovely and well extended too. The dynamics of the vocals also comes up pretty nicely too!!! This iem just nails it with the vocals haha!!! Oh! Yes, not a hint of sibilance for those of my readers who know me, I am resistant to sibilance haha!!! but this doesn’t have any at all (Enjoy!!!😘😘) Some felt this to have an artificial feeling but for me that’s not the case at all.

Male vocal continues the beautiful story haha!!! The different vocalists are so easy to differentiate that I was abacked by it haha!!!🤣They just pop up easily, when they sing together, plus the thicker voice has the weight which is just excellent. The extension they do while singing together is also expressed beautifully. The dynamic nature of the vocals come through straight, reverb could do a little better with a little more air but the micro-details do come on easy. Coming onto the Calum’s voice, they just express the pain and feeling pretty nicely with change in loudness of the voice, which shows the dynamism of the iem and his voice too haha!!! The extension in his voice just comes really great and doesn’t mix up whatsoever with the piano at all at the edges of the notes at all. They don’t have that boxy feeling that I felt with iems like POLA or Monarch 😏!!! Not a hint of grain in the mids too. Really lovely stuff!!!

Instruments in the mids are having a beautiful yet a little thick than neutral tonality. The texture comes through easily with the voice as well as the guitars. They have a forward yet for me it seems to be a balanced presentation over all, it’s just like sitting on the 2nd row of a theatre. Everything here has a faster decay but not too fast. The timbre is still present though very minute in quantity. The pianos are beautiful and their beginning could do with a little more work, since they seem a touch too near to each other. But on the body and ending they have such separation that it makes the above completely unreasonable but I kind of felt it haha!!!🤣🤣 The thicker press of the keystrokes also comes up beautifully showing the dynamic nature of the iems. Guitars have a similar story but their beginnings are much easier to distinguish. The slight slower pulls of the strings are also good to feel. The details are excellent but CA Holocene and Soranik ION4s takes the lead here. There is a lack of air though throughout the instruments all of them. Upper midrange is surely more energetic than lower treble making it feel a bit foreward for sure!!!
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TREBLE-
SIGH PRAFUL; BLUES HAND ME DOWN VINTAGE TROUBLE; HUNTING GIRL- JETHRO TULL & WELSTCHMERZ- FISH


Treble is smooth that’s for sure. But it has lots of energy and that shows up pretty easily without making it too much bright. The tonality is really good and it's dynamic too. The hi-hats and cymbals felt great, have great dynamism with each hits being felt differently 🤩. The decay is fast as before hence even congested tracks feel good enough but these make the timbre average. The lower treble might need a bit more energy to make them exciting compared to upper mids. The upper treble is great with good extension and micro details. They are dynamic too but here every is better compared to the lower treble. Trumpets need a bit more of energy I felt like 😅. None of the instruments have that Air that gives them a space feeling. But they are separated very nicely not at all packed up feeling. Even wind pipe instruments seemed lacking in air. Treble extension is rolled off though…
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STAGE-
This is a slight V shaped or balanced iem. Now this ain’t a wide iem, it has got good width with the instruments staying within the iems in the ears. Its pretty tall, not too much but matches the width, which is great 😁 The depth in (-y axis) is decent. Stage depth is avg too but it’s more into a Z-Y plane rather than just on X-Z plane. The instruments have good staging though but it's not too much precise, bit diffuse for me.

IMAGING, SEPARATION AND RESOLUTION-
Imaging is decent with every instruments being easily felt and seen ( when you close your eyes 😁) . What they achieve with that wonderful resolution both in notes and in between instruments needed air to make it excellent , but alas it’s missing the air factor. Separation is great, the faster decay helps there , but this requires a bit more timbre to make it feel more realistic.
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COMPARISON- Now remember this is by price(+/- 100$ approx) rather than by Driver config!!!
CA HOLOCENE
PROS

Sub-bass is really good
Treble well extended
Great timbre
Great staging
Good air
Better microdetails
Better instrumental separation
Price
PROS of ZEN
Good midbass
Great vocals
Smooth treble
Great cables and accessories
Easy listening experience

THIEAUDIO MONARCH
PROS

Better mids
Better sub-bass and bass
More sparkly treble
More better micro details
More better transperancy
Treble is well extended and energetic and sparkly

PROS OF DUNU ZEN
Better vocals
Better stage
No dip at upper mids making electric guitars feel like dull
Bass is more dynamic
More sonic headroom
Better timbre

Easy listening experience over long time

DUNU SA6
PROS

Better extended treble
Better midbass
Better microdetails
More airy nature
Better timbre
Sparkle is more on SA6

PROS OF ZEN
Better staging
Better vocals
Better subbass
Better stage depth
Easy listening
Lower mids seems better


SUMMARY
Now this is not at all a bad iem, you might’ve fallen for it before you finish my large review 🤣🤣 This is excellent considering what you are getting with the cables and adapters. A few more changes and this would be among the kilobucks iems. But as per me I liked SA6 more than this (just add this iems vocals with microdetails to SA6 and you have a winner DUNU). So hopefully Dunu nails it with their next iem 😁
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Ace Bee
Ace Bee
Include a comparison with SA6 also!
SHOOTINGTECHIE
SHOOTINGTECHIE
Ohh yeah i forgot lol will do

Ace Bee

Headphoneus Supremus
Dunu Zen: A Marvelous Story with lacklustre ending
Pros: Well-tuned textured bass with considerable slam, and control
Highly resolving, transparent, and forward Mids
Sparkling lower treble
Warm-Bright sound
Wide and open soundstage
Outstanding separation
Plenty of Air
Tank like build
Excellent modular cable
Comfort
Cons: Midrange came off a bit dry (to my ears)
Upper treble roll off robs the sound off some emotion and shimmers
Forward mids reduces the depth perception
Introduction:
So many days after the release of Dunu Zen, it definitely does not need any more introduction, so I am gonna skip this part. Let’s just say I was super stoked to listen to a $699 single DD that was throwing punches to the hybrids well enough in its price category. The 13.5 mm Eclipse driver with a nanoDLC coated Mg-Al alloy dome and other proprietary techs really had my interests perked; and after Fiio FD5, my faith has been restored on single DD anyways. So I was very much looking forward to listening to it. I thank @suman134 for providing me the opportunity.

Disclaimer: I was provided the Dunu Zen for an honest review. My opinions recorded here are completely of my own and are not influenced by any form of incentives.

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Specifications:
  • BRAND: DUNU
  • MODEL: ZEN (禪)
  • NET WEIGHT: 21 g
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • SENSITIVITY: 112 ± 1 dB at 1 kHz
  • IMPEDANCE: 16 Ω at 1 kHz
  • TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION: < 0.2% at 1 kHz
DRIVE MODULE
  • DIAPHRAGM: Magnesium-Aluminum alloy dome with nanoporous amorphous carbon coating (nanoDLC) and fully independent suspension surround
  • MAGNET ASSEMBLY: > 1.8 T External Ring-Type Neodymium Magnet

HOUSING
  • MATERIAL: 316 Stainless Steel
  • INTEGRATION(S): Patented Air Control Impedance System (ACIS)

INCLUDED CABLE
  • LENGTH: 1.2 ± 0.1 m
  • MATERIAL: 8 Core, High-Purity Monocrystalline Silver-Plated Copper Litz Wire, Concentrically Arranged
  • CABLE CONNECTOR: Patented Catch-Hold® MMCX Connector
  • PLUG CONNECTOR: Patented DUNU Quick-Switch Modular Plug System
  • INCLUDED PLUG TERMINATION(S):
    • 4.4 mm TRRRS Balanced
    • 3.5 mm TRS Single-Ended
    • 2.5 mm TRRS Balanced

Accessories:
Accessories of Dunu Zen deserves a special mention:
  1. The modular cable is a delight. It’s beautiful to look at, very soft and supple to handle, no discomfort, and just all around an extremely premium cable. Moreover, the quick switch plugs are absolute blessing while switching between connections.
  2. The included leatherette carrying case is extremely handy, compact, and capable of providing a secured storage.
  3. In the box I found only two types of eartips - 3 sets of grey eartips, and 3 sets of sony eartips. Weird, I expected at least 3 sets of spinfit should be there. But anyway, doesn’t matter
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Build and Fit:
The solid SS body is built like a tank and has a bit of weight. However, due to the form factor, the weight mostly gets unnoticed, and provides a very secure and comfortable fit. Not to mention that mirror polished black surface looks extremely enticing.

Source:
Earmen Sparrow
Shanling UP4 (USB DAC)

Sound:
Let’s be honest, I was shocked when I put Dunu Zen in my ears and played the first track. It was a presentation that I have not heard from a single DD until then. The insane amount of clarity and separation was nothing short of breathtaking. Although that does not mean it wasn’t without its fair share of caveats.

Oh, another declaration: My impressions are with the Sony medium tips, the stiff grey eartips were unable to provide a secure and comfort fit and seal, and hence the bass was totally killed. Until I changed to the sony tips, I was quite disappointed at the bass of Zen.

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Mid:
Generally, I start my reviews from Low, then go to Mid, and then High. However, I am making an exception here, because I simply cannot wait to talk about the incredulous mids that Zen produces effortlessly, and without getting that off my chest I cannot begin with the other parts of the spectrum.
The midrange of Zen has absolutely no restraints, and is presented with a transparency and brilliance that exceeded my expectations from the get go. Suffice to say that the characteristics of Zen’s sound is focused on its midrange first, and Dunu has excelled in tuning this frequency.
Lower mids have a touch of warmth along with precisely calculated weight that enhance the male vocals and acoustic guitars with an incredible sense of naturalness. The satisfaction it provided was something I had yet to experience from dynamic drivers. Each of the notes are carefully reproduced with no loss of details, and yet no unnecessary sharpness. Refinement oozes out from each and every note.
Upper midrange portrays a similar refinement, and is tuned slightly on the safer side. Female vocals, while sounding brilliant and clean, tries to keep the sizzle/sibilance in check, and in doing so slightly loses the emotional touch. However, instruments do not suffer from any such shortcomings - electric guitars play with justified brilliance yet never become harsh on the ear.
In short, the midrange sounds wonderfully open and transparent, although on occasions it may come out as slightly clinical or dry, but nevertheless, it does not fail to amaze me.

Leonard Cohen’s voice in Hallelujah has the weight and transparency in a beautiful balance, which made it sound exhilarating, to say the least.

The cello in Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War sets up an impressive background with weighted notes which reverberate with a strong but controlled presence, whereas the snares sound crisp and cleanly reproduced with distinct presence.

In Silversun Pickups - The Royal We the electric guitars and the male vocals are recorded in such a way that it's easy for them to become harsh and fatiguing, however, Zen retains their brilliance and controls the sibilance masterfully.

Yao Si Ting’s voice in Scarborough Fair is silky, yet brilliantly energetic. Her voice has some beautiful sizzle that adds character, but also can become really uncomfortable if not reproduced correctly. However, Zen does not excel in reproducing her voice to its full capacity. While the base is quite musical, the sizzles are reduced significantly. I admit that it eliminates the slightest hint of discomfort, but her voice also loses its character.

Low:
Albeit having less focus than mids, low frequencies are still tuned with much care and precision. Folks who know me know that I cannot live without a healthy dose of bass. And so far, the other iems which had a focus on mids, had almost always less than satisfactory bass. Not Zen, though. Zen produces a sufficiently meaty low end, that reaches deep, and has very present slams. However, the low end is also controlled in such a way that Zen produces just the right amount of bass to complement the midrange and retain the musical factor, while obliterating any chance of hollowness.
Midbass slams have slightly more emphasis than the subbass rumbles. Although the subbass does not feel rolled off, the midbass slams are just slightly more easily distinguishable.
The low end again portrays a brilliant balance here, where the notes have the perfect weight to sound natural, and a distinctly reproduced texture without any muddiness. Frankly, in this range, I have not heard bass this refined. More emphasis, yes, but this level of refinement - nope.

In Metallica - The Four Horsemen, the fast kick drum hits with distinct impact and just the right thickness.

Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War has big drums that attack and rumble with authority when they come into play. Zen produces those impacts quite well, while keeping the quantity in check so as not to smother the other sounds.

The beautiful bassline in Steven Wilson - Pariah towards the end of the track is produced with a distinct presence with just the right thickness. Loved every bit of it - the way it complemented the rest of the sound was just so brilliant.

In The Dark Knight - Why So Serious, from 03:25, the subbass rumble can be picked up, but cannot be felt around you. That last bit of physicality Zen fails to deliver, but it’s not something to lose my sleep over.

High:
Well, this here is a mixed bag, and the reason that kept me from awarding it the 5th star. The way I see it, Zen aims for a bright and clean sound signature which does not get fatiguing. To do that, Dunu has severely cut off the upper treble. But, to retain the energy and presence of the treble, there is a peak at about 8 khz (I do not own a measuring rig, and I cannot guesstimate the frequency range with my ears. I am just referring to the already available FR graphs of Zen) which manages to give the treble sparkles a boost. However, the upper treble shimmer and air are noticeably limited, such that the high range loses the engaging factor.
Cymbal and Hi-hat crashes are distinctly produced and do not sound unnatural. However, the cymbal rolls are not as distinct owing to the roll off, hence sounds lacklustre. High frequency notes have plenty of detail though, no compromise there.
It’s not all bad though, for treble sensitive people this can be a bliss. However, for me, a slightly treble-head, it was unsatisfactory.

In Steven Wilson - Pariah the above statements can be easily proven. While the cymbal crashes were produced cleanly and with enough sparkles, the background shimmers were not as brilliant as I am accustomed with. They were not absolutely bad though, the tonality was right, not off.

Technicality:
Dunu did not skimp out on technicalities while tuning Zen. Brilliant separation - check. Outstanding transparency - check. Wide open soundstage - check. Very good stage height - check. Excellent imaging - check. Excellent note definition - check. Reproduction of details - check. Coherency of sound - check.
Frankly, I did not expect this level of separation, note definition, details, and imaging from just a single dynamic driver. But then again, without these, the price tag of $699 would not have been justified. I have to tip my hat to Dunu for this masterful tuning for sure.
However, I found one caveat here. Because of the very forward mids, I found the depth was slightly lacking compared to the other tribrid I have.

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Conclusion:
Dunu Zen, you are a marvel. I love your mids, adore your low, but why, oh, why did you fail to sing in the upper registers? Breaks my heart, honestly! The outstandingly refined lows and mids just cement the fact that wonders can be done with a single dynamic driver. Dunu also proved the fact that even without using BA drivers such an insane level of separation and imaging can be achieved, coupled with coherency as well. However, without that incomplete upper treble, the ultimate output remains an incomplete story, with marvelous build-up, but a somewhat shabby conclusion.
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Wildcatsare1
Wildcatsare1
Excellent review @Ace Bee , well done Sir!
Ace Bee
Ace Bee
Pepocoyo
Pepocoyo
@Ace Bee you said Azla Sednaeartip was not enough treble for your taste? So what is the best tips for Zen?

abheybir

100+ Head-Fier
Zen by Dunu : Dynamic Doozy!!
Pros: 1. Full bodied textured bass with sophisticated sub-bass presence
2. Very pleasant sounding as of dark treble and rich organic vocals
3. Outstanding depth and good height
4. Good micro details and resolution
5. Very good Separation and Imaging
6. Premium build quality and lavishly accessorized
7. Quite comfortable to wear irrespective of heavy weight
Cons: 1. Staging width can be felt bit narrow at times
2. Lower mid-range can be felt bit thin
3. Lack of air in upper-treble
Introduction:
DUNU is a well known name in audiophile community. It is an old player that has given us many gems like DN-2000J, Studio SA6 and many more.
Zen, 2nd IEM in the eclipse series is a worthy addition in Dunu's product line Up. It comes in only one color scheme, black. Zen's unboxing is an experience in itself. The entire box, along with foam and case box are all in impressive matte black. This scheme gives the entire package a feel of richness and elegance.

Coming to the IEM, with a metallic body and glossy black finish , the earpieces are nothing less than a piece of jewelry. The faceplate's design is minimalistic and impactful. The semi-open faceplate has a conical shape without any logo or imprint. The heavy weight of the earpieces is re-assuring and somehow reminded of the USS enterprise and the remarkable lines "To boldly go where no man has gone before"

The earpieces despite of heavy weight, as of small form factor, are very much comfortable to wear for long durations and have a Magnesium-Aluminum alloy dome with nano-porous amorphous carbon coated driver with a fully independent suspension system. The driver has an external ring-type magnet producing a high magnetic flux of up to 1.8T. These magnets are strong enough as the earpieces cling towards each other if held closely. The outer shell, ear cavity is made with high-quality S316 Stainless Steel material with a patented Air Control Impedance System. I must say If one takes these IEMs and throw at someone's face, it will cause some damage.

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The package contains 6 pair of eartips shelved in a white semi-transparent box , a beautiful blue leather case , cleaning tools, airplane adaptor, stock cable and last but not the least the 3 modular connectors 3.5 mm, 4.4 mm and 2.5 mm. The stock cable is 8 Core, High-Purity, Monocrystalline, Silver-Plated Copper cable that terminates with Dunu's quick-switch modular plug system. Overall the build quality of the cable is quite impressive and complements the IEM perfectly both sonically and aesthetically.

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Disclaimer:
I have received as part of review circle sent from the brand itself in exchange of honest reviews. All impressions of sound are subjective to my own listening and my sources and is based on my experience with IEMs of similar hardware configurations and price range.

Sources:
For this review the unit has been paired to A&K SE100 (ES9038 Pro) and Shanling M6 (AK4495EQ) without any other amplification on portable setup. And, it has also been paired to Schiit Vali2+Mutibit Stack in terms of desktop setups which I personally enjoyed more on this IEM

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Highs:
The highs on Dunu Zen are quite crisp but not at all fatiguing or harsh at any point of time. If one is having issues with treble then this is eyes closed one of the best single DD IEMs out there. The overall treble region is bit dark with a slight emphasis on mid treble region resulting a forgiving nature for bad recordings. The cymbals are very well defined and so does the other instruments such as flutes, violins give very nice texture. The overall presentation is so much pleasant that one can listen for hours without any fatigue. I must say I enjoyed the "The Cymbal Song by Gavin Harrison" very much on it.

Mids:
The transition from mids to lows is very well defined, giving a body to mids and then introducing a feel of presence factor and an overall warmish tint. I feel the mid-range in Zen very engaging, warm and rich. The overall signature is very much organic and clean. All the instruments shine out very well in mid-range, listening to "Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet" was a nerve chilling experience on it.

The male vocals sounds lush but at times the lower mids feels thin as well. The upper mid-range is more focused and bit forwards and does at times get shouty like listening to "Everything I Do by Bryan Adams" but they never get to the point where it become uncomfortable but although at times it just stays at borderline from where it could become bit hot to me.

Lows:
Bass is the region where Dunu Zen stands out the most. The bass is well defined, full body and have a physicality and weight that sets Zen apart. It felt bit more focussed towards the mid-bass and the upper bass, the sub bass has good presence but it is not at all feel elevated at all and feels just the right amount without causing any fatigue or muddiness. The dynamic driver here is so good technically I would say that the transitions from mid-bass to lower mids are totally smooth and does not feel to bleeding at all irrespective of whatsoever track has been thrown at it. The mid-bass texture is some of the best I’ve heard out of an IEM across any price point. Listening to EDM and other bass emphasized music will instantly give you the wow factor.

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Technicalities:
Soundstage is majorly average on this, it's not much wide as compared to other IEMs in this price range. The verticality on the other hand is quite decent. This can be felt while playing "Attack On Titan OST- Call of Silence".

The imaging and separation on the other hand are quite good. Listening to classical orchestra is pure bliss on it. The micro dynamics are top notch, the speed of the driver is applaudable, I was surprised to hear such good transitions from a single DD. The micro-dynamics were so good that the instruments playing at different volumes are having their individual pace in the stage without overlapping each other. It was a heart touching experience listening to "Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms" with so many transition and different instruments around.

The best part is the depth of field. It is truly impressive for a single dynamic driver to do such transitions with placement of instruments and can be easily demonstrated at multiple occasions and this is the thing I enjoyed most in Zen other than its bass impact.

Dunu Zen vs Fiio FD5 - The Battle of Single DDs

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Both Fiio FD5 and Dunu Zen share similar specs on paper and do come with quite lavish accessories although the cable of Zen is I would say far better than that of FD5. Yet considering the built, comfort and the accessories I would say the Dunu begins to justify the higher price point at a glance giving the feel of a more luxurious product.

Now coming towards the sound, the FD5 does have a better air on the upper-treble region but overall the Zen sounded more natural to me, the mid-range is far more engaging and when coming towards the bass, it’s a beast given the fact that FD5 has more quantity of bass thump while Zen has far more refined and quality bass reproduction. In terms of separation, imaging and dynamics I would say the Zen is again a winner although width wise FD5 excels by some margin over it.

Zen to me is what I thought FD5 will be while purchasing it. The FD5 is too hot at lower treble resulting a very fatiguing IEM, on the other hand Zen's signature is very much seductive. The tonality of FD5 seems bit artificial at times while Zen feels very much natural and coherent.

So in a nutshell, I would say if one has budget to go for twice the price point of FD5 then, one must definitely take that leap. Zen is definitely a primum single DD IEM in pretty much every perspective.


Final Verdict:

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I would say Dunu Zen not very much detailed IEM as compared to all the hybrids out there but on other hand is very much forgiving in terms of bad recordings as of dark treble tuning, although that does not mean that it has poor resolution; the micro-dynamics are top notch as a result of emphasized mid treble region. The physical character of Zen is outstanding specially when the bass hits. The lower end I must say is very well extended and is equally textured. The layering is amazing along with natural to warmish tonality that creates a very immersive experience. Overall harmonics wise it feels coherent and smooth. Staging is not at its best but on the other hand the imaging is remarkable. The depth is something that is very much plausible. The vocals are very much organic with flawless attack and delay. The transition and separation of instruments is top notch. Overall I would say Kudos Dunu to redefine a single dynamic driver in today's era of hybrid drivers.
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Comments

milkdudd

100+ Head-Fier
Curious about opinions between the Dunu Zen and the Acoustune HS1677SS. Both are DD and are priced exactly the same. I intend to use my Chord mojo with Android OTG as the source. Probably a long shot to find someone who has had a chance to listen to both but it's worth a try. Thanks
 
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