DUNU DN-2000 Review
Thanks to DUNU for the sample.
First Impressions: The box seems a bit of a step up on the old DUNU boxes. Still it’s a box so who cares, inside though we have the traditional four million bits and pieces. The new thing I see are inner ear holder guide thingy’s. Hmmm, I don’t see me liking those but then I’ve never had fit problems before so I just can’t see what I would want them for, no doubt they will be of use to someone, I just don’t know who. I note that due to them the buds themselves have a little sticky out bit and I can see that jabbing my ear, colour me sceptical so far. The case we have is another random change. It’s not the giant yellow one that came with the 900 nor is it my so beloved metal case that paid homage to the UE cases of old. It is some cross between the two and while it looks impressive, its size gives me pause. It’s so big it’s not going to live in my pocket. Sad face. Please DUNU can we have the awesome one back, please?
First listen and its clear it’s going to an IEM to be reckoned with. DUNU have already shown themselves with the 900 and 1000 that they know how to kick it with the big boys. The 2000 I think is going to be about product differentiation for DUNU rather than being explicitly a next level up IEM. Its striking me a W shaped with an emphasis on the low end, the bass here is really most vigorous.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-601, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5.
Lows: Prolific and sumptuous. The quality is utterly first rate, which is what I would expect at this price point. DUNU have worked some magic on the driver here as I would have expected it to be the same one as was found in the 1000 and probably the 900 too but it takes on whole new dimension here. It sounds just vast, huge in scale; there feels so much air and space to work with. The bass feels like it can take that space and fill effortlessly. The quantity is as you might expect rather above where neutral lives but what isn’t and why use a dynamic if you’re not going to boost it a bit. It’s funny, the 1000’s bass felt so grand compared to comparable BA IEM’s but the 2000 just takes it to another level. It’s reminding me a great deal of the bass on the IE8. A/B’ing them confirms it’s not a bad thought, the 8 is rather more significantly bass heavy but the quality and feel, that visceral RAAAAAAAA share much. It’s giddily entertaining. Its tonality too is just excellent.
The trade off to its voluminous scale and authority is that when you A/B it to BA bass it’s not quite so laser focused. It hasn’t that utterly exact precision and the incredible speed they offer either. Still we are talking about the very top end of the IEM world not some £20 job. For a dynamic the bass has fantastic quality but aurally you pay a little for its grand dynamics and the sheer oomph that it can give you.
Mids: Hmm, well I must say I would like a little more, maybe a little more breadth to the mids too wouldn’t have hurt. Overall I’ve started to think that the 2000 sounds like the IE8 and UM3 had a baby and it’s the result. The mids on the 8 were in a huge valley, on the 3 they were W shaped and a bit focused and narrow for me. The 2000 is like a half way between the two, its mids are less abundant and not quite as good as the UM3 but a whole heap improved on the 8. Sure in absolute terms they are excellent and would wipe the floor with most things out there but hey, these cost real money so I have to be hard on them. Tonally they have the same feel as the UM3 and while I know it was much loved by many I found its mids to be a little staid and inexpressive. There isn’t anything technically wrong, they seem more focused on giving a technically accurate rendition but seem to miss any tonal extreme. It hasn’t the over airy, dry breathiness of the IE8 or TF10 nor the sumptuous lovely, liquidey ooziness of the SE530 or the RE-600. Sure it is “accurate” but it just isn’t moving me the way I like a top tier IEM to.
That said, it being neither one end or the other means it’ll turn its hand very well to anything vocally you throw at it be it Nora or Northern Kings. The 2000 will do it, accurately and with a detail level that you just don’t get until you reach the heady plateau that is where the very best IEM’s sit.
Highs: I’ve said it before but BA’s just can’t ever get treble right in the way the best dynamics can. That is still true but the treble here is just about as good as I’ve ever heard a BA do. Its fast, it’s hard, it’s well extended and it can actually do a pretty good shimmer too! BA’s generally suck at that shimmery trail off that a struck cymbal does but here it is really nicely done. It’s clearly better than that of the UM3. It comes very close to the finesse of the TF10 but it’s even more noticeable than that of the TF10 and a little more attention grabbing than it ought to be. Compared to the IE8, its treble, while excellent, shows me just why I feel the best BA’s just can’t match the best dynamics in the highs. Don’t get me wrong, the 2000 does a mighty fine job but it just can’t nail that timbreal and tonal perfection that the IE8 can. Head to head the 2000 like all BA’s feels a bit metallic and artificial, it’s too deadpan, lacking in that natural trail and decay that dynamics can get so right, naturally. Oh I’m being too hard I think.
In terms of quantity the 2000 follows that W shape and there is quite an abundance of treble. Even more than is found in the TF10. This means that the 2000 likes to be fed the highest quality treble and it also doesn’t make it love brighter DAP’s. My own favourite, the Studio V and the 2000 were not the best pairing as a result. The prominent and harder treble of the Studio made for a rather aggressive combo that liked to get too shouty for me. Flicking to the FiiO E7/E9 on my desktop and they really calmed down. Then giving the HM-601 a go and they just shine together, not shine, let’s say sing. The 2000 it would seem wants to be paired with a warm DAP.
Soundstage: Huge. The 2000 happily sets forth a grand and symphonic scale before you. We are talking TF10, almost IE8 level of size. Oh and the instrument separation is just about the best there is. Its right up there near the UM3 which frankly is to the point it can make things sound a little disjointed for an IEM. It doesn’t give you such a completely integrated feel that something like the RE-600 does. Honestly I can see there being some who really won’t love the high level of instrument separation here. It’s on a level that’s just not common in IEM’s.
Fit: DUNU I think have tried a little too hard about the fit. These have a weird little protrusions to add an internal ear guide thing to. Hmm and what exactly was wrong with just leaving the things round? Is that something people have been having problems with, you know the shape all your other IEM’s are? Frankly that little sticky out bit just got in my way. Swapping the left and right ears solved the issue and then it was a shove in and done. Tiny bit of driver flex and air pressure problem but nothing significant. As always Complys pretty much fixed that.
Comfort: Well the afore mentioned sticky out bits were a bit sticky stabby into my ear. It stabbed the edge of my tragus (triangle bit.) Granted the fix was easy, I just put the left bud in my right ear and vice versa. Once I did that the comfort was as good as every other DUNU I have used and right and left swapping doesn’t bother me. If it does you it then I should also note that using the small rubber attachments also stopped any discomfort but I just envisage their getting lost over time.
Microphonics: Good on the whole. Same old story, wear up very little, wear down you do and of course you get a chin slider to help.
Amped/Unamped: Given how much the 2000 didn’t like the Studio V I expected it to be very fussy but it really wasn’t. I was actually pretty gob smacked by how good it still sounded out of my Nexus 5. Holy crap they pair up well!!! Given the 2000’s propensity for treble I expected to hear every failing of the lesser source and bitrates abut seemingly the treble dialled itself down and you just didn’t notice. Likewise the mids seemed to jump up a bit and really evened things out. A quick test with the Nexus 4 and it sounded good, if rather over bassy. Still I’m very surprised at it doing so well with phones. I was hesitant to try the little 1G Ipod Shuffle’s but despite them being a bit bright they also sounded good. They were a bit over bassy and hissed like a bag of snakes, trying the 75 ohm adapter did remove the hiss but it gave an overall deadend tone to things. Adding impedance rarely plays well with things with a crossover so I’m not too surprised.
So it seems as those the 2000 really don’t need lots of power to sound great. Naturally they like more but they did seem to care much more what they were paired with rather than how much power they were offered. The FiiO E7/E9 they just adored, same with the HM-601and of course they paired well with the N5 but the Studio V, they didn’t.
Isolation: Very good for a having a dynamic in there. You know the spiel, fine for on a bus, out and about but prob not really the one you’d want if you have an hour long Tube commute every morning. Of course it’s still easily enough to make you road kill so do look where you’re going as with IEM’s in your ears you will not hear that bus until it’s by bone conduction.
Build Quality: As with everything I’ve seen from DUNU its build quality is exemplary. At this price level its to be expected.
Accessories: Normaly for DUNU I can complement the package as being one of the best. Sure you get loads of tips, outer ear guides and those inner ear guide things too which are frankly over kill. Oh and the sound altering rings and the case. You know what though, it’s a bit overkill and its becoming a negative. The rings, really will people use them? Those innear ear guides, are they really necessary? Then we come to that case. Its I suppose nice but its just too darn big. There is no way that will ever live in my pocket and to make matters worse it’s a right sod to pry open. I really wish the UE emulating metal case would make a come back.
Value: Right now I see these only on ebay for US$316 or about £186 and that’s before Mr HMRC man takes his cut and Parcelfarce take their extortion fee. Sadly as of yet I can’t see them available in the UK, by extension that means nowhere in the EU. So let’s just say it, these are expensive, very expensive. Let’s presume your willing to go to £300, you pretty much get the option of every IEM out there and these I cannot say leap out as being better “value for money” than any of the other top end IEM’s available. Sonically these sit with the big boys, the likes of the UM3, TF10, IE8 and so on (these are just the three these remind me of.) These are not “better” than other things of level, they are all astoundingly good sounding and if you want the “best” then your wallet must deal with the consequences. In short, these are expensive but you easily get what you pay for.
Conclusion: When I first put these in my ears I thought, yeah they are good but these cost almost twice the 1000, well that’s going to be a problem isn’t it. It actually isn’t. Side by side these take where the 1000 went and makes the next leap upward. These are just better in every single way (well except fit.) They sound vast, the instrument separation and soundstage are the stand out feature of the 2000. They are epically WOOOOOOSSSSHHHH!!!!!! They sound so big yet sooooooooo effortless, then paired with the instrument separation it makes for a UM3 level of placement, the difference being the UM3’s soundstage was tiny. Now I’ll admit that the weirdly high degree of instrument separation might not endear it to all but I think combined with the soundstage it’s really onto a winner. It’s like the UM3 got jiggy with the IE8 and have produced their bastard love child in the form of the DN-2000.
Those who have great memories may remember that I didn’t especially love either the IE8 nor the UM3. The 8 was too V shaped and I called it an acoustic roller-coaster. The UM3 was called a monitor and supposedly had Shure like mid’s, it did neither. It had bass that was too punchy, monotone and the mid’s were soulless renditions. The 2000 manages to take the best bits of each and blend them into a pretty kickass package. Now it’s not perfect, I’d say its mid’s are still a bit soulless and its bass can be too enthusiastic at times. The treble too hasn’t quite the natural feel that the IE8 can do but it bests the UM3 certainly. Actually I’m trying to think of a BA IEM that it doesn’t beat, hmm okay the TF10 but it needs hooked up to a power station to be its best. The 2000 does a masterful job with pretty much any old thing. This may be the 2000’s forte. It doesn’t need lots of power to sound awesome. I honestly think DUNU might want to think about doing a mic’d version as if you’re wedded to the idea of using your phone this does a truly superb job with what little it’s given.
The DN-2000 is a truly top tier IEM. It may be tuned to be somewhat party happy and it may like a warm source but it’s excellent. Like its siblings it isn’t what I’d call an “audiophile” IEM as it’s a little too vigorous for that, more a “generalist” I’d say. That bass driver does like to show off and take a prominence that it strictly speaking should not. So what? The quality of the lows are awesome so a little over abundance isn’t a problem and if you want you could always tone it down with the bass adjusting rings. (Though I’m betting no one ever does.) The mid’s could do with a little more breadth to them perhaps but that’s my preferences showing. All round the 2000 is a monumentally good IEM that secures DUNU’s place among the world’s best IEM makers. If you want a dynamic, enthusiastic , party IEM that can turn its hand to anything and still sound superb then this is probably what you’re looking for, just sorry about your wallet. Unquestionably it is the finest IEM of the year I have yet encountered, unquestionably top tier stuff.