THE PLUS: Natural timbre, Balanced sound, Vocal presence, Smooth Tonality
THE SO-SO: Bass warmth, Average soundstage, Average definition
DUNU is a veteran in Chinese audio industry and creates a lot of well respect earphones in the past, after a rather long hiatus, they come back with new models. Today I will make the review of the DK-2001 model which is a logical follow-up of older DN-1001 earphones. At 300$, this 3BA+1DD hybrid earphones fall into mid-tier sub-500$ iem market but is still accessible for the most audiophile.
For the DK-2001, Dunu chooses to use 3 Knowles balanced armature and 1 Big double-sided beryllium plated dynamic driver. Configuration of drivers is carefully done, we have one BA that deals with mids to upper mids-lower highs and is connected to a tube to keep its sound clean from any resonance or congestion, other drivers aren’t with tube so it has more spacious decay to it, it’s a dual BA for highs and ultra highs and a large and thick 13mm dynamic drivers.
I expect a meticulous presentation as well as a generous amount of accessories for a product in this price range and DUNU deliver it quite enough. Boxing is nice and fancy, with good care to details. Number of accessories is very satisfying, we have a very generous amount of eartips (11 pairs!), including different type of silicone and one memory foam ear tips, we have a beautiful blue leather carrying case which is not just a looker but feel durable too, we have the excellent cable with changeable plug (but no extra jack), a 3.5mm to 6.mm adapter and a cleaning tool.
The body is made of high-grade S316 stainless steel for the front and high strength aluminum-magnesium for the back, wich a venting screen in its middle. In hand, it feels extremely solid, especially the bigger part wich is mate black and have good heaviness to it, the material used promise extra-low resonance to cancel any resonance in the sound chamber. DK-2001 housing has a unique look as well as a very appealing orange color. The MMCX connection is very secure and connects very tight, but not in a way it makes me afraid it can break because of well-thinked design.
CABLE is another great achievement and perhaps the best mmcx cable with interchangeable jack on the market. I prefer it to the DITA cable with the same jack design cause the DUNU to have a mechanism to clip the jack. As well, the use of a 4 cores high purity single copper-silver cable is an excellent idea, the cable is very flexible and do not create any unwanted microphonic noise. The only drawback about the cable is that it only includes the 3.5mm plug in the package, which is a little frustrating for the consumer that need 2.5mm balanced, but I can understand it to some extent as some other consumer will perhaps prefer the 4.4mm balanced. Anyway, be prepared to pay an extra 20$ for an extra plug.
At 13ohm of impedance and 109db of sensitivity, the DK-2001 is super easy to drive without being too sensitive. Any source will drive them properly and you will not encounter the impedance output issues. They really work like a charm with either low or high amping gear.
COMFORT & ISOLATION
To put it simply, the DK-2001 is among the more comfy iem I have. They are rather small more multi-hybrid and have enough long nozzle to go deep in ears without discomfort. As the back of the housing is flat, I can wear them under my toque with feeling strange pressure around my ears, which can happen too often with other iem like Audiosense T800, Final Audio B serie, BQEYZ Sping1 or other universal custom shapes. Strangely, even if it has a semi open-back design, the sound isn’t affected by tissue on it.
Isolation is about average and you will heard some outside noise if you listen to music at low volume, sound leakage is present, but to be honest, we talk about low noise leakage that only totalitarian freaks would get annoyed buy. I consider IEM to be wearable anywhere, unlike earbuds or headphones.
The DK-2001 has a lush, thick and slightly organic sound that has a warm natural timbre, emphasised sub-bass, clear mids, and delicate treble. Presentation is a little intimate and laid back, it’s not an aggressive sounding earphones and technicalities are more vivid in the upper range, while low and mids are more about musicality. It was love at first listen for me, due to the fact the DK-2001 deal very well with both female and male vocal, which is among the best you can find in sub-300$ price as they take the first seat and are near you without sounding too lipsy, edgy or textured. Lush dream come true.
SOUNDSTAGE isn’t the biggest, wich surprise me due to semi-open back design, it’s tall and intimate, putting your head in a bubble. Widness is the weakest part and I would not call the sound particularly airy.
IMAGING too isn’t super precise due to the lack of silence between instrument, especially with bassy track. Here it’s more about a compact layering, but when you listen to instrumental music suddenly the bass layer curtain is pull off and the whole sound gain in deepness so instrument separation became more resolved.
BASS extends to its very end effortlessly, as well, it is notably boosted in the lower end and sub-region. This gives extra thickness, weight and rumble, but extra warmth too that affect mid-bass punch definition and separation. Warm is the bass and warm is the overall sound of DK2001 until its slightly emphasised upper treble. I really like the bass, but the control isn’t very precise or thigh, for electronic or rock that needs precise weighty energic kick, I would not suggest the DK2001, but for classical, jazz, pop or anything that’s kore on the slow side of the bass or need extra sub presence, this sure give extra enjoyment. To be noted that a lush sinergy with bass, mids and lower highs happen with the DK2001 without affecting the overall resolution. In fact, it tends to thicken timbre and add naturalness and richness to tonality. Cello and acoustic bass have enlightened presence, smooth thick timbre, while kick drum is soft in impact and slap bass lack some snap. Personally, I would have liked a little more control, texture and punch, but this would have change the whole sound signature negatively perhaps.
MID RANGE is extremely addictive with its lushness, wide airy presence and warm tonality. Female vocal is particularly enjoyable with the DK2001 and might be the best I heard in this price range. No sibilance, everything is mellow and embrace the whole sound spectrum with its gently forwarded presence that does not feel forced or artificial. Timbre is thick, natural and transparent, it’s edge is softened without affecting tonal balance. Sure, mid-range isn’t very textured or detailed, but layers of sound are clearly separated and have an organic cohesion. The only drawback would be the speed of attack, which is just average, if your searching for analytical or super accurate mid-range, the DK2001 sound will be too romantic for you. Here elegant musicality is the ultimate goal, to the cost of critical accuracy. Anyway, everything sounds good with the DK2001, piano note is well rounded and impactful, wind instrument is natural and lush, vocal is to die for, when you listen to folk or bass light music, the clarity and definition became more articulated.
TREBLE is the best of both worlds, it shows micro details without affecting the balance of macro presentation. While the upper highs are slightly boosted -thus the extra sparkle and micro details- it never sounds metallic, harsh or aggressive. Okay, I’m not treble sensitive, but I’m very demanding about treble, especially with a balanced armature that can sound too edgy or shouty if badly tuned. Knowles BA have the ability to offer more natural timbre, but tend to be less fast or edgy than other BA’s too, here DUNU perfectly tune their gear so whole transient response of 3ba’s and dynamic drivers tend to mix together in a cohesive way, quite similar to a single ‘’genius dynamic driver’’ in face. In fact, this type of sound reminds me of Hifiman RE2000 topology drivers, in the sense that it would be impossible to get as much presence of all individual frequencies to range without magical tricks. Here the magic trick is that bass and treble mix together while the mid range is separated with a tube so the clarity is kept clean. The advantage of dual BA’s for highs is that the sparkle and decay flow naturally. With bass light music, you will hear the treble at its best, while with bassy music it will mix in an organic way and lose some of its texture and definition, but again, in an enjoyable manner.
If I try philosophizing about the sound rendering of DK2001, I would say it have an inconsistent nature, where the bass act more emotionally than mids and treble which are more rational. Bass is passionate and can embrace the whole sound, giving new color to tonality, by adding extra warmth to timbre. It’s like mixing sugar sirup with clear water, slowly sweetening overall taste. Strangely, this makes the DK2001 even more fascinating, because it can render warm dynamic sound with pop, jazz or rock while it became more precise and accurate with instrumental music like world music, classical, or a singer accompanied only by its guitar.
VS AUDIOSENSE T800 (300$)
The DK2001 is warmer and lusher than T800, the soundstage is more intimate and imaging less precise. BASS dig deeper and has more rumble while T800 has more thump and is faster, but is rather bassy iem but DK2001 tends to warm lower mids more, affecting overall definition but giving a slightly more cohesive sound too. MIDS are thicker and have more presence than T800, but fewer textures as well as macro resolution for busy tracks. Vocal is a hint more addictive with DK2001, and warmer tonality is more mellow in upper mids. TREBLE is more fully extended with T800, as well as more vivid, which tend to deliver more micro details than DK2001. The decay of upper highs is more sparkly with DK2001. Both soundstage and imaging is more outside of your head and spacious with T800.
All in all, DK2001 is lusher in mids (vocal), more laid back and bassy while the T800 has better technicalities, similar timbre but without the warmth of dynamic driver bass that affects definition.
VS FINAL AUDIO E5000 (280$)
Strangely, even if E5000 is a single micro-dynamic driver, these 2 iems have a lot in common, especially in bass and mids department and overall warm, lush timbre. E5000 is like a darker DK2001.
BASS tends to extend more naturally in the lower end with the E5000, making it feel less roll-off in 40hz region, the DK2001 win in roundness and impact and have more meat to its bass too, as well, it’s a little faster than E5000. MIDS is more recessed with E5000, timbre is thinner too though still lush, DK2001 has more presence but less transparency. TREBLE is more delicate and smooth with E5000, delivering fewer details and layers of sound. The soundstage is wider with the E5000, but DK2001 is taller and deeper.
All in all, DK2001 is like a more detailed and layered E5000 with extra mids and treble presence. I really suggest those who like E5000 to give them a try!!
DUNU has done a wonderful tuning job with the DK2001, offering a smoothly balanced sound with overall good resolution and most of all a natural timbre. The charming musicality of these earphones can be both fun, accurate or laid back, depending of music you throw in, and this is the fascinating part of DK2001: it’s multiple personality ” disorder”.
Easy to drive, extremely comfortable to wear and solidly crafted with it’s multi-purpose cable, the DK-2001 is a serious contender in sub-300$ earphones market that has plenty to offer.
For the vocal lover, jazz lover as well as precise instrumental music like chamber orchestra, the Dunu DK-2001 is the perfect mix of smoothness and liveliness to present rich musicality without the unwanted bite of unbalanced treble.