DUNU DN-2002 Earphone Review by mark2410
Thanks to DUNU for the sample.
TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/814641/dunu-dn-2002-earphone-review-by-mark2410#post_12731571
First Impressions: The box looks not, standard fare for DUNU really. One inside it, hmm what is with the schizophrenic case choices with DUNU? Yep another new one, a black pelican type case, you know like the yellow one that came with the errr, was it the 900 or 1000? Oh god I can’t remember. Anyway its looks nice but I just don’t why the constant changes, it’s weird. Oooh but inside that case you get the usual DUNU goody bag and more of bits. Spin fits, a pair of Comply’s and other stuff. They really always do put a cracking little bundle together don’t they? Visually these babies look a bit different from normal DUNU’s. No bare metal, what????? Yeah they have a weird configuration too, you see they have 4 drivers. Now 4 drivers is rare, not unheard of but what makes there a bit different is that they have dual BA drivers and dual dynamic drivers too. Yeah how crazy is that but I’ll wager they can pull it off.
In the ears they go and ooooooh, they are so open and coherent. Wow these are really bloody good, right off the bat, these are fantastic. I mean I wasn’t so wild about the 2000J but these are more than making up for it, these are making a fantastic first impression. So it’s now two hours later and I’ve still not taken them out my ears to give them their burn in time. Everything just sounds so good on them, everything, god damn I like these. Oh unless something crazy happens this may just be a wildly enthusiastic review. Squeeeeeee!!!! It’s been too long since I had something in I like this much. Oh great big smiley face.
These are seriously good.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
Lows: Those who are familiar with my reviews may have noticed that from time to time I’ll use the phrase “Mary Poppins” to describe something. By which I’ve mentioned in the past to me means, “practically perfect in every way.” The only hesitation I have in refering to the 2002’s as such is I’m not sure about the practically. These are good in a way that I don’t really have the words at hand to express just how beyond “good” they actually are. I feel like I could just splatter the text with a bunch of purple prose but that would be an injustice. However I’m not sure how to do them justly either. Now to in technical quantity terms, these are a bit elevated beyond what as technically neutral but they have an extremely natural feel to them, they blend perfectly with my own hearing and to my ears their bass has the most incredibly natural feel to it. Even more so than the SE530 and RE-600. I love a little boosted bass and the balance here, the level, the tonality too it’s just so spot on. I listen to these and they don’t feel in anyway whatsoever artificial. They simply just are, they best even the RE-252 in their ability to make you believe you aren’t listening to earphones but the ear sized interdimensional portals that open at the other end in a recording studio. The notes, they just are there, not being created millimetres from your ear drums but transported from the moment of their creation. To describe the bass as sculpted and articulate feels so little an expression of their quality. They are the most natural sounding lows I’ve ever heard from an IEM. They are so achingly good to listen to that if it wasn’t for DUNU’s prodding I could take and likely would have taken a geologic age to write up the review on these.
While its tone and texture are perfect in terms of their quantity there are not going to be all that to everyone. While they compare in abilities to the best BA bass they don’t feel as lightning fast. BA bass can be fab but it also can be a little cold, sterile and analytical. None of that here. However for a dynamic its super controlled and while I know some will see “dual dynamics” and think RAWWWWWWW BASS MONSTOR TIME!!!!! No, no, nothing of the sort. While they are extremely capable and they can take things up a very considerable notch or two if you blast very bassy songs these are intended more for grand, symphonic, orchestral lows, not Lady Gaga lows. They will of course do Lady Gaga lows but that’s not where they belong nor will they produce the aggressive savagery. This bass is a Michelangelo marble sculpture, soft and sweepingly gentle yet literally rock solid.
In terms of its depth I’ve seen some comment it’s not “all that” and while that is true, there is a trail off as you descend it feels extremely natural. There isn’t a humungous sub sitting in the corner that can spit out a linear signal down to 2Hz and can vibrate the building apart. No no, the 200 is far to graceful to try beyond all reason to cling on and grow increasingly unwieldy as it does so. Its bass drop off is entirely natural and extension of physics an accordingly it sounds completely natural to my ears.
Mids: They are flawless. I don’t know where the dynamic / BA transition takes place but I can’t tell where and thus I’m not sure if maybe one of those dynamics has a different crossover point form the other so that there isn’t any zone where there any single driver isn’t outputting the signal fully. The mids they are flawless. Their balance I might prefer a tiny smidge more but that’s as close as I can come to a complaint. They are flawless. They can be as versatile as you want them to be, they don’t quite capture the truly open and breathy nature of some vocalists but their tonality is just so perfect. It feels as though it’s simply other things that get stuff wrong. The vocals here sounds so completely natural, so exactly what you imagine the vocalists produced. Even uber mid machines like the SE530, they in comparison tend to be a bit hyper good, better than the vocalist, that bit tweaked to be more than the original. This feels so completely natural its putting everything else I A/B to shame. You know I have a reasonable stash of things too, W4, RE-600, SE530, RE-262, q-JAYS 2.0, UM3x. Oh and of course other things but if I listed everything I’d be here all day. These are just so good, the tonality, the intonation, every tiny vocal inflection, good god they are so great sounding.
The detail levels are proper top tier stuff, they may a have a little bit smooth a presentation so they don’t hurl details out at you like the CK10 or RE-272 will, or even like that of the SE530 and RE-600 these are smoother, more naturally relaxed yet they churn out tons of detail. It’s just far more ear pleasingly done, you know , little relaxed, a little more naturally. It is sooooooooo good. Each and every vocal I’ve tried from Nina Simone to Pentanonix, Des’ree to Erasure, John Stevens to the Krall woman. Take your pick they all sound sooooooo bloody good. I can tell you that makes for a right arse of a product to review because you just keep getting lost in music, over and over again. Everything sounds so damn good you can’t skip to the test sections nor can you pull them out of your ears to A/B other things.
Oh and as an added super bonus, it’s not in the least tiny smidge of a bit sibilant. Even whipping out my sibilance test track (Relient K’s Curl Up And Die) and there is not even the most tiny of hints that the song is in anyway whatsoever, sibilant. Squeeeeeee!!!!!! I hate sibilance and these even pushed right up to playing silly buggers with the volume dial and not a hint. This makes me very, very super happy. God damn all the mids sound so bloody good on this thing.
Highs: Well the first thing to get out of the way is that these are not treble cannons. If you are a CK10, DBA-02, RE-272, etc etc fan then you’ll probably not like it quantity level. Even its family member, the 2000J spits out a heap more treble than these do but I am perfectly happy with that. Hell, I’m super pleased with it. I’m sure you all know I’m pretty treble sensitive so any overabundance and god forbid, abundance and edgy’, kills my ears. Here though, nope, none of that. The detail levels are first rate, absolutely fantastically good. They do need a little bit of coaxing out, they are rather reticent and polite which again is super cool with me but it won’t please some. These are very detailed and so very delicate that you may want to try shining a little light on with a brighter, more cold amp perhaps. This and something very warm, while I feel it’s a beautifully relaxed and mature sound it won’t be as forthright as some want. These are detailed, very, very detailed but they are highly nonchalant about it. I flick back and forth with these and the 2000J and I have doubts they are the same driver. They are soooooooooo very different.
The detail caveat is that these while rather forgiving due to their quantity and presentation style you really, really will not want to feed them crap. My ears are well attuned to pick out itty bitty details and zone in on scratchy bad treble and with these they couldn’t stop doing so. Now given their lack of abundance I could put up with it but some tracks that I like I couldn’t not hear the poor mastering. Seriously have a play with Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” and the hiss. While it is very much easier to ignore such things on these than on brighter and more assertive treble, these are still a high calibre IEM and as such you will really need to pair them with decent stuff or they will expose the flaws they find.
Soundstage: It is fairly decent, it’s not vast given their relatively overall spacious feel. They still have at their core a bit of warmth and their vocal prominence snaps you back to the centre stage. Vocals are happening bang in front. There is some feeling of space but it’s more a gently warm, back garden rather than an open field. Space to breathe yes but the music isn’t coming from too far away and with its vocals being up front and centre stage that can make them feel somewhat intimate despite that openness. Acoustic integration though is crazy good, I really couldn’t tell you where the hell the crossover in these is happening if indeed there is one happening. The transition is acoustically seamless in my music playback. (I’m not using a signal generator to try and find it because I think such things are pointless activities as they will never be used like that.) Instrument placement does seem to be a little more relaxed, genteel, think things being casually strewn around you. No pin sharp placement of anything, it’s a softly welcoming assortment of musical wonder that ever so causally comes and goes as it will.
Fit: For me, great. I had no issues at all, particularly from wearing up which I think all higher end IEM’s really ought to be. They do have a bit of a weird shape but for me it was perfectly proportioned. In the ears they went with a little push and that was them.
Comfort: As with the fit, great. I wore these for many, many hours at a time and never once did I feel the need to remove them from my ears. In fact I found I had some difficulty in removing them because they were so very, very enjoyable. My ears loved them.
Microphonics: None. Even if for some reason you insist on wearing down they gave me practically no noise when I tried them. Up and there wasn’t a hint of anything. What’s more, being not very sealed they gave not that much foot fall noise either.
Cable: Good. It’s the now standard one from DUNU that is eminently practical, has removable connectors at the end so its user replaceable and it’s got their trademark cable wrap thingy too. Oh and…… I have it on good authority that they are going to be making available an upgraded cable which I hope to be getting to play with sometime soon and when I do I’ll give an update on any acoustic changes.
Accessories: DUNU have and continue to do one of the very best bundles out there. They are however still playing case of the week with the 2002 coming with a pelican style case. Rather like the one that came with the DN-1000 I think it was but rather than bright yellow this time it’s black. It’s a nice case, super sturdy but a bit big for your pockets though. Still these are expensive IEM’s and deserve the use of a case so if this one is too big, go hit eBay for something. Tip wise, you get heaps. DUNU have now struck up a deal with Spin Fit so you get I think 4 pairs of them, 3 pairs of normal silicone’s, a pair of Comply’s, a pair of ear guides and lastly a 6.25mm to 3.5mm adapter.
Aesthetics: Well, while DUNU have made some real lookers in the past, these aren’t one of them. I mean they aren’t ugly or anything per say but as looks go these haven’t been blessed. However, I really don’t care, these sound so good they could be ugly as sin and I’d not care.
Isolation: So nothing in life is ever perfect right? Well this is the bit where these aren’t all that. Acoustically there is ever a trade off in that closed, sealed things have to make acoustic compromises and these have the spatial presentation these do, the air, the bass, the everything because in part to their being not very well sealed. They will get you by for walking out and about, probably fine for on a bus too, well around the limit where I’m comfortable. So Tube and flights I’d say are out unless you’ve no other option. Naturally they do well enough that if you aren’t used to it you’ll get yourself run over so please do remember that with IEM’s you need to use your eyes near traffic. Or get an up to date donor card at least.
Value: So far these are the most expensive DUNU I’ve played with. A quick and I see these sitting at £285, that is a fair bit of wallet ouch. Then I look at the 2000 at £232 and then the Titan 1 awaaaaaaay down there at just £87. Are these £200 better sanding than the Titan, well no but the Titan offers zero isolation so is unusable in many situations where you can use the 2002. Then I look to the 2000 and well, the 2002 spanks them good and proper. Once you’re over £100 you’re getting into fairly rapidly diminishing returns and thus the “value” of anything verses something else starts to go fuzzy. The other way to look at it is do I know of any other IEM that for the same or very similar money that beats them? The answer is no, no I don’t. These are amazeballs good sounding and sorry but that takes a little wallet pain to achieve.
Conclusion: I love these things. Yep they hit all the buttons I want something to, not just for my own personal tastes but for what I think something that is top tier should be able to. On every front these do not just well but crazy well. There are only two areas where it could give pause for some is the relative lesser amount of isolation. If you need IEM’s for blocking out lots of external noise these are not the best and something like the DN-2000 becomes a better option. The other area is that of the treble. Detailed it is for sure but it’s not in your face and it’s not the most abundant. You pair this with a really warm source and the treble becomes a beautiful and delicate gentle frosting. Like a delicate light frost its beautiful is catching the light just right but it lacks robustness.
Still, that treble, it’s a styling choice and if you really must have more, well hit up the 2000J or grab and amp with a treble boost button. However if you do you’ll be missing out and something special. The treble here I am almost sure is from a BA driver, even weirder one I’ve heard before too but it is the best I’ve ever heard it. If I had to pick I’d still give the RE-272 as the best ever treble but these are insanely good. I’ve never been huge on BA’s for treble as they are inclined to be hard edged and brittle but these, these practically sound like a great dynamic. If I didn’t know what was in them or you said one of those two dynamics is doing the treble, the other the bass. I would find that entirely believable. The treble, but I’m no treble head, is just so good. It’s just so seamless, so detailed and still so realistically natural. I find I’m listening to everything and listening out for tiny little details that is otherwise so easy to miss and it nails each and every one, nails it without breaking a sweat. It is all so effortless and natural.
So do I really have to ask? Would I / should you buy one? Well obviously I would, these have been to date the best IEM of the year hands down. If DUNU had let me in to their design studio and I’d been let pick the tuning and whatever then I can’t help thinking that these are pretty much what I would have come up with. They are just excellent by every measure that matters (okay maybe not isolation) I have been playing with them for weeks now, erm several weeks, and I’ve been holding back writing this because when I’m done I don’t really get that much time to listen to things I want to rather than what’s in the review queue. I didn’t want these to go away, everything just sounds so good on them. Everything, even total crap like Kesha. These are simply fantastic and I love them.