Wednesday, 27 June 2012

DUNU Hawkeye (DN-18) Review

DUNU Hawkeye (DN-18) Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample


First Impressions:  Upon opening the box the first thing of note is the accessory bundle you get.  Not one but 2 cases!  Okay so one is a soft baggie thing that I personally never like but some do and they since you get a hard case too I can scarcely complain.  Dunu really know how to put together a good little bundle.  I see they still have the little cable tie built on to the cable.  I highly approve.  The beds themselves look much more silvery that I expected.  On the box they look pretty much black and in reality I’d say they look more akin to polished pewter.   It’s nice.

First listen and I’m not exactly wow’d by them.  They have a very large but very heavy sound to them.  The treble is pretty subdued and the bass is a bit powerful.  Hmmm not exactly my sort of sound, it just feels too weighty.  Fingers crossed they will open up a bit with burn in although I’m sure many would appreciate the weighty powerful sound on them.


Source: 1G Ipod Shuffle and HiFiMAN HM-601

Lows:  Nice.  They have a good sense of scale and depth, the depth is nicely linear too.  Having spent some time with their near twins the Craters the bass here is much more linearly low.  IMO it’s the much better for it, here it can go and do some seriously low rumble without sounding like its struggling.   Sure it’s not the tightest and punchiest bass that ever there was but it’s very enjoyable.  It feels much more natural.  Sure it’s a bit elevated beyond what it should in terms of quantity.  The bass is always noticeable and does stand out more than it really should be.  It’s not obtrusive but if I was a big classical listener it would be enough to get on my nerves, it just seems out of place a touch.  Perhaps that’s because it does like to be a bit softish and a bit expansive.  It’s a big warm, full bass that gives the impression it would like nothing more than to run amok and take over the place.  It never does it but I can’t help but think that it’s always thinking about doing so.  That rumble down below feels so ominous like there is something large and terrifying down there, in the darkness, waiting. 

It’s kinda fun.


Mids:  Well they are rather a touch pushed back.  While the Crater has a quite a W shaped sound so does the Hawkey, the difference is that here it’s a much shallower W.  I think the mids are a bit behind that bass.  Of course many songs have particularly pronounced lows to drown out just how the “singer” can’t actually sing.  Still I like mids and I’d like these to stand a bit more clear of that bass but…. In terms of clarity they are good.  The mids clearly aren’t getting lost anywhere and aren’t bothered by any midbass bleed.  Texturally they are a little bit on the warm and fluid side but they aren’t particularly so.  Tonally they do lean a little to the lower, warmer vocals than to higher noted girly vocals.  Not ill suited to boyband type stuff.  Girl vocals can sound a bit more powerful and masculine than they strictly should be but it’s to be expected with the bass power here.  Of course it’s all just fine for normal pop music.


Highs:  The work of that W shaped sound is evident here.  It really works too.  Now let’s not think that there are treble monsters and are going to offer up ety levels of detail, they won’t, but they do a fine job.  What’s even nicer is that they do a nice job of getting that hint of an edge and nice shimmery decay without being hard on the ear and decaying like someone put a wet sponge on the cymbals.  Even in treble heavy stuff it holds up really well.  Enough crash and sparkle without the abrasion.  It’s good enough to let you know what’s going without being so revealing as to show up the faults of poor mastering or that you’re not using lossless.  I realise some may like more crispness up top but I think it’s far better to do it this way than to emphasise your own short comings.  Stuff at this price bracket cannot render highs perfectly.  Better to be a little soft focus and look pretty than display every line and wrinkle.

I like it but in terms of quantity the highs are about the same as the mids, maybe a touch behind.  Clearly behind the bass.  They still stand out clearly thanks the the W shape but if you want gobs of treble, this isn’t the one for you.


Soundstage:  These have a powerful sound, but they don’t have the same expansive scale that the Craters do.  As these are supposed to be properly closed that’s not really a surprise.  Still they do have scale and power.  They just don’t do distance so well.  Instrument separation is pretty decent too but nothing magical.

Comfort:  Pretty good.  Same as the Crater really.  They are a bit weighty if you wear them down but up was fine.  Not something to wear deep due to their size though.

Fit:  I actually got on better with these than the Crater for venting.  Don’t ask me why as I have no clue.  These are supposed to be closed and they open yet I had loss trouble getting these to sit just perfectly.  Not that it was totally effortless.  These take a min or two to get seated and then balance themselves.  It wasn’t terrible bit it would annoy me if I had to pull them out of my ears every few minutes.


Cable:  Like its twin, it’s rather good.  I think I liked the old Dunu cable better but it seems sturdy, is flexible and that cable tie is great.  The cable is a bit rubbery feeling, it’s weird. 

Build Quality:  I cannot fault Dunu here.  They look great, they appear to be superbly finished and given they are metal id expect them to stand the test of time.  Of course I don’t plan to hit them with a hammer to find out but they really do look sturdy enough to stand up to some real abuse.  The Y splitter and jacks look really sturdy too.

Microphonics:  Some if you insist on wearing down but you do get a shin slider to deal with it.  Or you could just wear them up.

Isolation:   For a dynamic it’s quite good.  Easily enough for your normal day to day activities.  As I often say it’s easily enough to make you road kill if you aren’t used to looking where you are going as you will not hear that bus behind you.  Should be okay for a short flight too, not really for a long one but I guess would be better than nothing.


Accessories:  Dunu is probably the king of accessories.  Still here I have a little complaint.  How come here the case is a black material, hard case?  Now normally this case would be getting high praise from me, its vastly better than what you mostly see elsewhere.  However the Craters got a truly stunning metal one so why don’t these?  So it’s not any less functional and some may prefer this more pocket able case but why does one get one and not the other?  Okay I’m just being petty.  The case here by any other standard is excellent.  Also you get a soft baggy, a shed load of tips, a shirt clip, a 3.5 to 6mm jack, I think a plane adapter, oh and a cleaning cloth!  I think that’s it; there really is a lot in there.

Amped/Unamped:  Meh, some changes but really nothing to get worked up about.  Of course things improve but nothing that your going to go out of your way to get.  Same with adding impedance.  A slight improvement but hardly worth bothering with.


Value:  Since I don’t know exactly what these are coming to the UK at.  I only found one place on fleabay with insane postage. So I’m going to guess about £50.  There id say these aren’t stunners but they are certainly very good sounding.  Not only do they sound good they have a very consumer appealing sound signature.  In particularly they have a rambunctious low end and are pretty easy to drive too.  Combine that with the excellent accessories package and this becomes extremely appealing.  If you like me and have multiple earphones this doesn’t acoustically stand out like some others do but if you’re only going to have one this offers a great all round bundle.  Both acoustically and in bits and pieces.  I think these make for a very appealing and very good value buy.


Conclusion:  These certainly grew on me, also these certainly worked better than their twins.  Now that was a surprise as I expected I would like the open, and supposedly more mid centric Craters than the close and bassier Hawkey’s.  Just goes to show that things on paper sometimes really don’t hold true.  Like that I had more issue with venting with the “open” ones.  Actually I think that open/closed nature of these two is the key to why I liked these more.  The bass here isn’t straining to go down crazy low.  It does it ever so nonchalantly, so casually, oh so effortlessly.  Deep it goes too, a little unnaturally deep actually but who’s going to have a problem with that?  Okay so if you’re a Double Bass player then it may drive you a bit mad but hands up who’s a professional Double Bass player here.  What no one?  There’s a shocker. 

I think if you’re looking for a closed IEM for nothing more than typical pop.  By that I mean “popular” i.e. the kind of stuff you see in the charts then you’ll probably love the bass on these.  I’m not normally drown to sealed dynamics as I often get venting issues but here I didn’t really seem too much.  That means they can go low and they can roar.  They have a good bit of slam to them too but at this quantity you don’t want too hard hitting and these don’t.  It’s walking a fine line and I think it does a very impressive job of it.  It has depth, scale, power, just the right amount of slam, a hint of expansion and bloom that all mixes together to be pretty close to perfect.  Well for that sort of music anyway.

The mids and highs are both goodly adequate too but they are nothing more than well placed runners up.  If there is one aspect that makes you buy these it’s that bass and of course the accessory bundle.  The mids and highs are there and done skilfully enough to not look out of place.  It’s a very good all round package Dunu have here.  Nothing in particular is going to set the word on fire but nothing really lets in down in anyway either.  If you’re going to only have one IEM then you could do a hell of a lot worse than this!  I’ve really enjoyed these.

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