Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dunu DN-11 Earphone Review

The Dunu DN-11 'Ares' are a interesting pair of earphones in that they utilize balanced armature drivers instead of dynamic drivers that are much more common in earphones in this price range.  The DN-11's sport a frequency response of 10Hz to 20kHz (according to information on their website), the aforementioned 6mm balanced armature driver design, a 26Ohm nominal impedance rating, beautifully crafted real gold driver housings complete with red and blue accents indicating right and left ear buds respectively and the shiny gray color scheme that nicely contrasts the gold. They can be had anywhere from $70 to a maximum of $100 dollars depending on where you get them.  So without further delay (other than a quick shout out to Dunu for sending these out for review) lets see what the DN-11's have to offer.

The Dunu DN-11's came packaged in a box that might even put Beats by Dre packaging to shame. Once the plastic is removed and the magnetic flap is opened you are presented with two gleaming gold ear buds and a shiny zippered case.  But wait, theres more! Underneath the earphones and case themselves is housed two, yes two more cases (one is brown leather like pouch and the other is a very nice very soft felt type pouch with a gold magnetic closing mechanism).  A wide variety of ear tips are also supplied in addition to the ear tips already installed on the DN-11's.

Upon holding the DN-11's I noticed how heavy they were for be
Dunu DN-11's Spectacular Packaging
ing a tiny little pair of earphones.  This of course because of the real gold used in the construction of the driver housings.  While some have stated that the gold used in the DN-11's construction is in fact 24 karat gold, I haven't been able to determine the truth in this claim partially because Dunu does not claim that its 24K gold on their website I am not a precious metals expert.  Whether or not its 24K gold or not is irrelevant however as the build quality is absolutely top notch.  The ear pieces or driver housings are extremely solid, the cable is insulated with high quality, flexible and relatively tangle free rubber.  The area where the singular cable splits into two is protected by an aluminum strain relief piece with the "Dunu" brand name nicely etched into its surface. The connector is a slightly angled L type connector and terminates with a 3.5mm gold plated connector.  Overall, the Dunu DN-11's build quality is absolutely top notch.  The only issue I see in regards to build is that the heavy weight of the gold driver housings often makes keeping the earphones in your ear a difficult task if you are doing anything other than sitting down.  Cable noise was also relatively low which is nice.

While the Dunu DN-11's do posses an incredible level of build quality and craftsmanship, the sound quality while not terrible, could use a bit of tweaking.  The sound quality of the Dunu DN-11's is not bad in the true sense of the word, but it is rather just a bit disappointing for the $70 to $100 dollar price point.  First of all, I found it extremely hard to find a correctly sized ear tip. Achieving a good seal with an ear tip that sits well in your ear is absolutely crucial for being able to hear low frequencies and for gaining an overall sense of sound quality.  The ear tips that came on the Dunu's didn't fit me in the slightest, I tried some slightly smaller ones, those didn't fit.  I then tried the two flanged ear tips and they fit ok except that bass still sounded too light and distant.  I finally settled on a medium sized ear tip that fits the best out of all the ones I tried but still doesn't fit nearly as well as most earphone ear-tips do for me.  While I was able to perceive the bass extension much better with these ear tips, the Dunu DN-11's are no doubt a "bass light" earphone.  The bass extends surprisingly low but lacks punchiness and presence.  Its very much in the foreground compared to the mid and upper ranges, however the bass is clean and not bloated or muddy at all.  There is a little bit of a bass roll of at the low frequencies (not the extreme low frequencies mind you) but the bass extension is actually some of the best that I have heard in balanced armature earphones or IEM's.  The midrange is very nice, present and clear however the DN-11's do not possess a warm or smooth midrange per se.  The highs on the DN-11's are very crisp, accurate and prominent but refrain from any and all sibilance which I like. Once again, the upper range extension is relatively impressive for a earphones with a balanced armature driver. Its interesting because to my ear, the mid range seems more present than the lower range and the upper range seems more present than the mid range. The DN-11's like to produce sound in a relatively unexciting manner, somewhere in no mans land between analytical and "fun" headphones that color the sound.  The sound stage is fairly decent for being a balanced armature earphone design, of course it won't beat a pair of full sized open backed headphones.

I am really on the fence in regards to the Dunu DN-11's sound signature.  I can say with certainty that I am not a huge fan of the DN-11's sound signature, but I can see how it may appeal to others.  It's by far one of the most interesting earphones I have ever listened to or reviewed.  Taking a glance at other reviews, the DN-11's seem to have received relatively positive reviews overall, but many reviewers state that the DN-11's sound signature is a bit strange.  I am inclined to agree with them, but I also know of many more recent Dunu IEM and earphone models that appear to received very positive reviews.  I am sure that there are people out there that would absolutely love the DN-11's sound signature, I simply happen to not be among them. However,  just because I don't personally care for the sound doesn't mean that you shouldn't check them out.  Be sure to give Dunu a good look and consideration for your next IEM or earphone purchase at the link below.

CLICK HERE for Dunu product website
CLICK HERE for Dunu DN-11 'Ares' Amazon product page

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