Saturday, 15 October 2011

DUNU Hephaes (DN-16) Review

DUNU Hephaes (DN-16) Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample


First Impressions: Physically they really look like the Radiopaq Jazz’s but with some colour. Pulling them out of the box I must say I’m impressed with the cable. It feels super nice and it comes with a rubber cable tie built in. That’s something I’ve never seen before so kudos to DUNU for it. I’m not sure I’m loving the actual buds though, I know don’t really mind how things look but the bright metallic red is a little much for me. I’m also really not sure about the hard case they come with. Now I do rather like they have two cases, a hard and a soft baggie but the hard one is, erm, shall we say masculinity challenging? Could we have a matte version please.

First listen and they sound very much on the warm heavy side of things. Not sure I’m going to love this, still they need some burn in time.


Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added and a FiiO E7 and E9 combo.

Lows: Abundant, thick, heavy and for me much too much. Now I’ll be the first to admit to being somewhat of an old fart and no fan of great big bass. Great big, air shifting bass. A quick toot of Melanie C’s I Turn To You (Hex Hector Radio Mix) which is bass heavy anyway but pretty quick punchy bass. For something so big in the bass it does really well in not flabbinng all over the place, but god that’s a lot of bass. It really isn’t as hard or punch as it ought to be but that’s probably a good thing given the quantity. If it were it would be punching holes in ear drums. I am a little surprised at how well it keeps things together though, given its big slightly soft nature it doesn’t in any way fall apart, remaining just as big and thick as it was with slower, more wallowy songs. The bass is for me too big and too thick, not that I want overly punchy hard hitting lows but the Hephaes is really going for a thick mellow sound. It reminds me a little of the Sony EX500 but a little bit softer and somewhat rather bigger. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would love this kind of thick, heavy sound but not one of them.


Mids: For all the low end abundance these have you would expect the mid range to be thick and heavy too but its no where near what you’d expect. Vocals retain a very good level of detail and clarity. It’s still not what I would describe as a dry sound as its well over towards the smooth and liquid sound but it pretty much free of any mid/bass bleed. That’s why there aren’t the cheapest things in the world, not that they are pricey either but for their “populist” tuning they are still pretty clear. Vocals are easily discernible through that mountain of bass and I’ve got to say I rather like them. I can’t think of the last time heard so nice a midrange cut through such an amount of bass, actually I’m not sure I ever have. I really do wish however they were much more forward so balanced out the low end. The mids here while good are well behind in terms of presentation.


Highs: This is maybe the most surprising element. The high end is impressively good and detailed yet has no hard edge whatsoever. I very much like this sort of treble, one that offers detail and shimmer without that hard sparkly edge you so often find. Granted there are lots who like that and if that’s you then look elsewhere. Impressive as the highs are though they are still sitting at a quantity level that’s about the same as the mids. If you’re a treble junky then again these so are not for you as its well behind that great big bass. It’s a same as it’s really rather good. Actually, it works pretty well on really treble happy songs doing a good deal to tame over brightness.

Soundstage: These offer a large sounding scale but don’t really off the greatest in terms of separation and placement. I quite like the way it presents a sense of scale but is a little fuzzy on exactly where things are coming from. It lets the music blend well together in an integrated pleasant manner.


Comfort: I did try these at first with small tips and shoving them in quite deep and that really wasn’t working out so well for me. Once I changed to the medium tips and let them sit more shallow then they were just fine in my ears. The buds are a little weighty so I could see them being a bit annoying if you wear them down but as I don’t it never bothered me.

Fit: No problems at all, just stuck in ears and that was they.

Cable: Excellent, the cable is great as are the jack and the Y splitter. Very professional.

Build Quality: Let’s be honest, if there one thing Chinese manufacturers get bashed for (rightly or wrongly) it’s the perception of them being cheap and junky. There is no danger of that here. Everything feels very solid and well put together. The buds are metal and feel absolutely solid. The cable and such likewise feel great and the cable tie (even if I’m not sure I’d ever use it) just oozes attention to detail.


Microphonics: Well it really matters if you wear these up or down. Up none really and down you do but there is the built in chin slider. As long as you happy to use that then it pretty much solves the issue.

Isolation: I’d say about average for a dynamic. I’m sure they must be vented somewhere as it gave mo no venting issues and it’s a dynamic so the isolation is more than I’d expect. Its fine for normal use, out and about, on a bus etc etc. You know the usual, enough to get you run over if you’re not used to it but not what you want for flights to New Zealand.

Accessories: Probably one of the best in terms of quantity. That you get not one but two cases, I think is a first for me. The soft one while it looks great is nothing more than a baggie and the hard one as I mentioned earlier is more than a touch girlie. Could we perhaps get the hard one made from the same material as the soft one please? You also got the usual handful of tips and a pair of ear loops.

Amped/Unamped: Honestly these if anything were better when being driven by the little shuffle and the 75 ohm adapter than they were by the E9. However that’s down to the shuffle being a more compatible sound signature than anything else. The little shuffle is dryer and more crispy up top so they sounded overall a little more balanced so the bass didn’t so vastly dominate. All other aspects were largely unchanged, sure the treble was more refined on the amp but I’m not convinced that was down to them being better driven. The shuffle has always been a bit gritty up top so being grittier when using it is hardly what I’d call a shocker.

Value: I’ve been informed these will retail for £57 and that seems a pretty good price to me. You get a pretty good overall bundle that sounds good (assuming you really want a lot of bass) and they both look and feel top quality. Granted I’m not sure I’m totally sold on the bright red flame effect but if you’re looking for a little blingy then they do fit the bill well.


Conclusion: Okay I’ve got to say right off the bat in case you hadn’t picked it up but I didn’t love these. Much too much bass for my delicate little ears and the bass just dominated. In terms of quantity they reminded me a lot of the R1 but at a greatly higher quality level. The bass was actually really of an impressive quality given its vastness and surprisingly it remained constant. When things got a little bit loud and fast the bass didn’t get all soft and bloom like a weed in summer. It stayed its same old thick, heavy abundant self. I really would have expected it to creep up and suffocate the mid range but it didn’t. Speaking of mids they and the highs were both really quite nice and clear given how over shadowed they were by the lows. The highs in particular I thought were very good but so far behind that big low end it rarely got a chance to shine.

I’m sure out there are a bunch of bassheads that would really enjoy a listen to the Hephaes particularly if they are used to low quality bass cannons that seem to dominate the mainstream. These are good but they retain that huge bass quantity that many seem to want. They are a good quality, good value, bass cannon.

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