DUNU DM-480 REVIEW: Unsolved Duality of Dual drivers tandem

DUNU DM480 Review

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SOUND: 6.5/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 9/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES: 8.5/10
VALUE: 6.5/10

THE PLUS: Excellent construction and comfort, nice cable, nice packaging and accessories, great sound isolation
THE SO-SO: Messy sound, Poor imaging, Poor resolution, Invasive bass bleed, dry tonality, everything feel shouty yet not edgy nor snappy

DUNU is a well know Chinese audio company that has been around for more than 25 years, they have created incredible earphones in the past and begin a serious come back lately with DK series, which I review the DK-2001, an excellent hybrid earphones with lush laid back sound.

Today I will review their new entry-level earphones, the DM-480.

These budget-minded earphones use ”dual-push isobaric titanium dual 8mm drivers” and promises enhanced responsiveness and dynamic. They work together in tandem to offer a fuller sound with improved bass response. All of this is the theoretical promise, now let’s see in this review if the DM-480 offer good technicality and balanced tonality and worth your attention as a SUB-100$ contender.

Priced at 70$, the DM-480 enter the hardest battleground where benefit return in term of sound value is the highest. This explains why I can look very severe in the following review.

You can buy the DUNU DM-480 directly from their official Ali Express STORE.

SPECS

Model: DM-480 Color: Red & Grey
Driver: 8 mm Titanium diaphragms dynamic driver *2
Impedance: 20Ω T H D:<0.5% at 1kHz
Frequency Respond: 20Hz-40kHz
Sensitivity: 105dB+/-2 at 1kHz
N. Weight: 7.8g
Housing: 3D Printed Shell Structure
Pin Connector: 0.78 2Pin Cable Length: 1.2m
Wire Material: High-Purity Silver-Plated Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC)

PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES

The product come in a big box, when you open it you see a beautiful carrying case and you’re happy. When you open the carrying case you see a good silver-plated cable, a cable clip, and a generous amount of 6 pairs of silicone ear tips, and again you’re happy. Nice presentation and accessories is always appreciated.

CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN

The construction is excellent, I’m a big fan of full resin body because of the smoothness and durability of the material and the DM-480 has this type of housing in an even smaller factor. The housing is about 2 times smaller than average universal customs, resin plastic is thick, smooth and super slippy, the 2pin connector is embedded in plastic and promise long durability. The nozzle is made of aluminum and solidly stuck into the housing. Universal custom shape is organically angular without any hard edge.

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These offer supreme COMFORT, and due to small size, the DM-480 will fit any type of ears. They are among the most comfortable IEM I own, and I can even sleep with them without any discomfort. This housing is the exact same one used for the Alpha&Delta KS1 but with different color and backplate.

ISOLATION is excellent, the DM-480 do not have venting hole, so you have total passive noise canceling, if you use foam tips, this will act like earplugs. Sound leakage is mostly nonexistent.

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DRIVEABILITY is rather easy, at 20ohm of impedance and 104db of sensitivity, these will not benefit from a portable amp, still, due to the bassy sound nature of DM-480, I suggest using a very clear audio source, even a cold analytical one like the Xduoo X20 help for sharper sound articulation. A good powerful DAP with clean sound will sound better than a phone and improve rather poor imaging of DM-480.

SOUND

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The overall sound is forward V shape with extra emphasis in lower mid-bass and lower and mid-treble. Tonality is dry and warm until the treble section where it gains brightness. Technicalities are just average, macro-resolution is decent but micro-resolution is diffuse. Timbre is a little grainy and lacks transparency. The attack is energic but lacks a bit of snap.

SOUNDSTAGE has good wideness, but it isn’t tall nor deep. It’s very horizontal and frontal, lacking in holographic spatiality.

IMAGING is under average, more there instruments more it became congested and difficult to spot the instrument. Instrument separation lack space too.

BASS has perhaps too much authority as it’s the more boosted part of the whole sound spectrum. Sub-bass is rather boomy, muffled in extension, making acoustic bass sound shouty and too present or synth-bass sound boxy. Bass isn’t very transparent, rather dry in texture and tonally unbalanced. Midbass impact is not edgy and quite mixed with the sub-bass, it lacks definition, separation, and well define impact. We have way more quantity than quality here and I must admit this kind of sloppy bass is a tuning murderer in its own right. Can’t really find anything positive to say about bass response….sorry not sorry.

MIDS are recessed and lower mids are veiled or crumped by bass bleed, tonality is a strange mix of bass warmth and brightish-dryish tonality. The bass do not really give proper body to instrument and vocal, suggesting a weak transient response between the 2 dynamic drivers. Mids attack is muffled by bass or congestion when there several instruments playing at the same time. It’s a very claustrophobic mid-range where everything sounds crushed together. With Pop or Soul or Rap, this can be bearable with female vocal, as their an upper mids-lower treble push that benefit female voice and make it more forward, but articulation is still lacking in definition and accuracy. The piano sounds hollow, but violin sound realist enough even if thin.

TREBLE has most of its energy in lower and mid highs and drops fastly in upper highs, which make the overall sound quite saturated and dry. This isn’t crisp sparkly highs at all, you do not have decay or natural resonance, neither lot of brilliance. It lacks air on top and the control is just average, cymbals sound dulled and unprecise, violin sound thin and lack bite, percussions can get lost in the mix and instrument like clavichord or harp sound like it was played with a mitten.

COMPARISONS

VS KBEAR DIAMOND (70$)

The DUNU is brighter and more energic sounding than the DIAMOND, but this isn’t good news. SOUNDSTAGE is smaller and lack the airy feel of DIAMOND, making IMAGING too intimate in separation proximity, as well, layering isn’t particularly transparent. BASS is slightly faster and more punchy than DIAMOND but more boomy and grainy too, lacking again in natural extension wich Diamond does better. MIDS is notably more bright and aggressive and sounds more artificial than smoother DIAMOND. TREBLE is again harsher, more shouty and less delicate and airy than DIAMOND. It digs more micro-details but throw it at you in an unrefined way.

All in all, DIAMOND sound from another league here, offering better tonal balance, technicalities and more natural timbre as well as vaster soundstage.

VS KBEAR KB04 (30$)

The DM-480 is a dual dynamic earphone with a small universal custom shell that is way more comfortable than KB04. The cable included is of better quality too, but at 2 times the price of KB04, it is to be expected.

SOUNDSTAGE is again wider and more out of your head with DM-480 but about the same tallness and less deep. IMAGING is less precise with the DM-480, but layering is more transparent. BASS is more boosted with the DM-480, but it has less sub extension and is less thick than KB04 which has more balanced and controlled bass making the DM480 more V shape and boomy. MIDS is more recessed with DM-480 but has a wider presentation and more transparency, making tonality slightly more natural for vocal which is warmer and less clear than KB04. TREBLE is richer, faster, and more detailed with the KB04, it’s crisper and more snappy too, the DM-480 has crunchy highs wich fastly roll off and lack air and minimal sparkle of KB04.

The overall tonality of DM-480 is darker and bassier with a less balanced V shape signature and inferior technicality and tonality, which makes the KB04 sound like a 70$ IEM and the DM-480 a 30$ IEM.

VS ALPHA&DELTA KS1 (40$)

These 2 are both similar in look and in sound and use as well similar dual dynamic drivers. No surprise that the sound is quite similar in timbre and in tonality. SOUNDSTAGE is slightly deeper and clearer with the DM-480, which offers more space for instrument separation. BASS is more sloppy in sub and less controlled with the KS1, both are very boosted in this lower region but the DM-480 is faster and tighter in the attack. MIDS are both recessed, but the DM-480 has more upper mids push and is clearer in definition and faster in the attack, still, both have warm mids, though the DM-480 feel slightly more transparent and less intimate. TREBLE is sharper and digs more micro-details with the DM-480, highs are more snappy and well define which gives a higher sense of clarity than darker KS1.
All in all, the DM-480 feel like an upgraded KS1, especially in term of bass control and imaging sharpness.

CONCLUSION

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I feel cruel writing this review, but when I dislike an earphone I’m just impartially grumpy about it and the DM-480 is a messy sounding earphone. It’s not even basshead quality but overall technicalities are affected by bass as if it was one. If this invasive bass was juicy and well-articulated I would accept the V shape tuning but alas this isn’t the case, the bass is just plain unpleasant and overly affect tonal balance.

While the construction is great, the comfort and isolation excellent, the Dunu DM-480 sound isn’t on par with its price range and Dunu will have to accept the new hard reality of Chi-Fi craze where the price value is more about high sound performance than generous amount of accessories.

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