Renewal and Living
- Quality of the sub-bass.
- Clean, clear and bright sound.
- Good stage and separation.
- Great packaging and fantastic transport case.
- Comfort and lightness
- Very suitable for Tip-Rolling
- Isolation and ergonomics.
- Slightly recessed mids.
- Limited analytical capacity.
- Emphasis on high frequencies may be a bit excessive in some situations or for sensitive people.
Link to the Store
Dunu is a classic brand, which needs no introduction, as it is well known to all fans. Specializing in designing drivers and tuning them, on this occasion Dunu presents two IEMS in its new low-cost series, called DM. Within it, there are the DM-380 and the newest DM-480, product that I will comment in this review. This is a 8mm dynamic dual driver, with titanium diaphragm, mounted in a «dual-push» isobaric configuration. Both work in tandem, to reduce distortion, improve linearity and increase extension. For the manufacture of the capsule, Dunu has contracted an external company, which has created a capsule via high resolution 3D printing, offering an ergonomic and relatively small piece, which has been designed based on a multitude of human ear shapes, in order to best fit each of us. Finally, they have used the classic 0.78mm two-pin connection, attached to a high purity silver plated cable, totally oxygen free.
I will now break down, in more detail, the rest of the questions concerning this new model.
- Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
- Sensitivity: 105 ± 2 dB @ 1 kHz
- Impedance: 20 Ω
- Distortion Ratio: < 0.5% @ 1 kHz
- Jack connector: 3.5mm Audio, gold-plated.
- Cable length 1.2m
- Capsule Connection Type: 2Pin 0.78mm
- Weight: 7.8 g
- Capsule material: Bio-Compatible Photopolymer Resin
The DM-480 come in a rectangular box, with dimensions 135x160x76mm. It is wrapped in a decorated cardboard, on the front of which there are realistic photos of the capsules, in their two colors, black and orange. You can also see the cable, the brand and model, as well as the Hi-Res Audio logo. On the back side there is a text with the characteristics of the model (English and Chinese), another realistic photo of the capsules, the frequency response graph, the specifications and a sticker with the seal of authenticity. After removing this cardboard sleeve, you can see a completely black box, with the letters DUNU inscribed in silver, in the middle of it. When the box is opened, the capsules are shown embedded in a large black foam mould. Under it, there is a dark, semi-rigid transport box. It has a zipper, its shape is oval and on its upper side is the brand logo, with black plastic letters. Its exterior is made of textile and its interior is velvety. On one side there is an elastic band and on the other side there is a half mesh bag. Also, on the box, there is a guarantee certificate and a card with QR codes, with links to Dunu’s website and Facebook. The rest of the accessories are inside the transport box. In short, the complete content is:
- The two capsules.
- The transport box.
- Warranty certificate.
- Card with QR links.
- The cable.
- Three pairs of white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- Three pairs of black silicone tips, with blue core, sizes SxMxL.
- One clip.
The packaging, of medium size, is worthy of a great brand. The number of accessories is more than correct, some foam tips are missing. But the carrying case is absolutely fantastic: many brands, even on more expensive models, are not able to present such a well-finished case, as the one coming this time.
Construction and Design
The capsules are made of biocompatible photopolymer resin. Their color is dark, but they are translucent, except on their external face, which simulates a pearly pattern. In the center of each face, the brand logo is inscribed, with silver letters. The 2-pin connection is superficial, molded in hard transparent plastic, and it comes out a couple of mm. You can see the inside of each capsule, observing the connection cables from the 2pin connector to the driver, located at the base of the nozzles. The rest of the cavity is empty. The drivers, in their outer packaging, are marked with the letters of the brand.
The shape of the capsules is a semi-custom type, of medium size. The weight is minimal.
The nozzles are metallic. At the outermost end, the ring has a diameter of 5.2mm, while in the middle, it is 4.5mm. There are metal grids to protect the holes. Near the base of each nozzle, there are some inscriptions in silver paint, where you can read «dunu Dual Dynamic» and the side of each channel.
The cable is covered with a transparent plastic, which allows you to see, on the inside, the silver-plated braided strands of cable, free of oxygen. The plug is 3.5mm, gold-plated. Its sheath is a small, thin metal cylinder. The dividing piece, with a larger diameter and manufactured in the same way, has white inscriptions of the brand logo and the serial number. The pin ring is made of one piece of hard, transparent plastic. The two-pin connectors have a square, translucent plastic cover. On one side there is a coloured dot, indicating the channel: red for the right side, blue for the left. The cable, in this area, has a semi-rigid and transparent covering, which gives it a shape over the ear.
The design is practically the same as another model I recently analyzed, the Auglamour T100. It seems that the manufacturer of the capsules is the same. In this case, the pearly pattern on the outside, seems more successful to me. Also the cable is of better quality.
Finally, the capsules are very light and relatively small in size.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The capsules are quick to fit, very lightweight, and easily fixed. They allow a quite extensive tip-rolling, being able to use simple, double or triple tips, as well as foam tips. The degree of isolation will depend on the type of tips used, but with simple tips, it is already quite good.
Really, the ergonomic work done has paid off, producing comfort and a fairly high degree of satisfaction.
The Dunu DM-480 has a profile halfway between V and U, with a greater emphasis on the sub-bass area, than on the high area. But these are not purely bass IEMS, despite the remarkable level of sub-bass.
As I indicated in the profile description, the sub-bass is the star of the show, not only for emphasis, but also for its quality. The predominant note, is the control it offers in the area: despite the power it has, the deepest part is very well contained, with no leakage into the mid bass, much less into the midrange. The linearity of the sub-bass extends towards the middle of the range, to gently fall towards the mids. This characteristic releases the typical pressure, which generates the elevation of the central bass and moves its profile away from the typical V or a more bass profile. In this way, the concentration of energy in the more abyssal area results in a cleaner sound, as well as a wider acceptance, since the bass is not perceived as violent. But it also doesn’t lose all its viscerality, something that can be noticed in those songs where the sub-bass is very present (as for example in the song «Three» from «Massive Attack»).
The texture is not very complex, but it has a pleasant roughness and its beat is dry, fast, defined, has good efficiency and remarkable power. The recreation of the sound planes in this area is acceptable and improves the deeper they are. The level of resolution is according to its price range, without standing out in this technicality more than in the control, where it is revealed more remarkable.
The tendency of its U-profile and the cleanliness of its sound in the central area, clears up the voices, tuning them and simplifying them. Its body is not very dense, but rather light, subtracting exuberance and fullness. The advantage, is the absence of darkness and the high appreciation of width that shows the midrange. The voices enjoy a light, which prevails over their backward position, compensating for this situation. Its texture is fine, smooth and soft, without reaching the point of velvet or the most liquid silk. Rather, his proposal is realistic and not forced. The expressiveness is not too high and its face does not possess the emotion that the sub-bass does. But, on the other hand, its sonority is quite permissive with many genres. This virtue is linked to the sensation produced by mid-range instrumentation, since it is never intrusive, nor obtuse, because it enjoys that great openness and amount of air. The descriptive capacity, however, still presents a medium level, without offering a very high refinement, but maintaining a good level of detail and definition.
The midrange has a recessed presentation, preventing the perception of the resolution level from being higher. This fact can invite to increase the volume, with the excuse of wanting to appreciate better its virtues. However, this is not always a recommended action, since the natural emphasis that the high zone of the mids has, becomes rougher and more crispy.
The good extension of the high zone, favors that all the sound is shown with a great sensation of air and separation. The feeling of clarity and cleanliness, which persists in all ranges, could not be less in the high zone. But here, too, the DM-480 exhibits control, despite the amount of energy offered at the beginning of the range. This contributes to a fairly crisp, sharp and fast start, with thin flashes, but no drilling, as they are rounded off at the end, when the volume is right. The definition is not excessive, but the fun factor and the vivacity of the treble is maintained, thanks to the dynamics of the segment, which is able to offer a good dose of speed, thus highlighting details and nuances with ease.
After the initial phase, the DM-480 softens the range, in order to avoid sibilance and a more marked and hard V sound, but without losing the extension, which offers air and sparkle in the higher notes.
The scene is described wide and with good depth, something that is favoured by the U-shaped profile of these Dunu. The certain distance from the mids and the immediacy of the highs, draw a semi-circular stage, but without too much height. The separation is above average, reinforced by the clean and clear sound. However, it is true that the most vivid and marked representation of the high zone has a tendency to agglutinate the notes, melting or, rather, relatively veiling the micro detail. It is, in this aspect, when a point of definition is lost, or where these economical Dunu (it is worth remembering), suffer from a higher resolution, more reserved to more expensive models.
The Dunu DM-480 and the Auglamour T100 have many similarities and some controversy. It was clear, then, what the first comparison was going to be.
The similarities begin with the capsules, which appear to have been manufactured by the same external company. There’s even talk in some forums that they share a driver, which Dunu herself denied. The reality is that the T100’s driver is made of graphene and the DM-480’s driver is coated with titanium, both of which are dual. From here, the similarities can be seen, also, in the frequency response, being quite similar, from 1500Hz onwards. However, up to that point, the sound differences are clear and palpable. And they become fully apparent after listening to them.
The first impression, and despite what the numbers say, is that the T100 moves a little more easily than the DM-480. The second, and this is devastating, is the size of the lower zone: in the T100, the bass is much wider and more extensive towards the mid zone, than in the Dunu. And this is demonstrated in the sound, the power that describes the T100, in the lower range, makes it a bassist IEMS, with a darker and warmer tone. While the Dunu is perceived as much cleaner and clearer, in this first part of the sound spectrum. And this is something you can feel at all times, and it’s totally evident in the voices. In the T100, they are impregnated with that darker colour, feeling closer, but also thicker, less defined, more blurred and muddy, comparatively speaking. The DM-480 offers the cleanliness and luminosity that characterizes it, moving it away from the earthier and denser sound of the T100. But this isn’t just something that reaches the midrange, the early highs also feel much more liberated and descriptive in the Dunu, sounding fuller and more defined. Whereas, in the T100, they are perceived as duller, blunt and backward, less present, less extensive and fainter. It is clear, then, that the level of detail and resolution is more limited in the T100 than in the DM-480, which proves to be more revealing in many ways, moving away from the less refined sound of the Auglamour.
In a similar sense, the recreation of the scene is expressed: the greater amount of light, which the Dunu offer, opens up the image to a higher level, showing itself to be more extensive, wider and deeper. Meanwhile, the T100, are perceived more dull, closed and narrow. At the same time, the separation suffers the same path in both IEMS: of course, there is more air in the DM-480, as well as a higher level of detail and better technical capabilities, to reconstruct the image with greater precision.
NS Audio NS3 Bass Enhanced Version
One of the best proposals I had the pleasure to try last year, was the NS Audio NS3. Its profile is not the classic one, but it is quite balanced, with a certain mid-centric tendency and quite soft highs. In the sound comparison, you can see big differences, starting with the profile of each one. The DM-480s have more impact in the bass and, above all, in the sub-bass area. The NS3, despite being the Bass Enhanced version, has a very linear and balanced low zone. The texture of its bass is velvety and sweet, with a lot of nuance and descriptive capacity. The Dunu is a little more visceral and rough, less linear, more focused on the sub-bass. The lower zone of the NS3 sounds more complete and extensive, very round, smooth and tight, has a more beautiful bill. The Dunu offer a more imposing and somewhat rougher bass, but fast and compact.
The mid zone generates more differences. The U-shaped profile of the Dunu can be seen instantly and the greater distance from the central segment can be distinguished at a glance from that offered by the NS3. However, in the voices, the greater weight of the bass of the DM-480, generates more body in its lower zone and a certain warmth, which the NS3 does not have, flatter, balanced and cold, but also wider at the top, rich in texture and nuances. In short, the Dunu extends the voices into the low zone and the NS3 into the mids and high zone. There is more presence and neutrality in the instrumentation offered by the NS3, also more coldness. While in the Dunu, their presence remains in that second plane, enjoyable, but not so vivid or remarkable.
The treble sounds more present and marked in the Dunu, while on the NS3, it is softer, being perceived as more distant, less evident and more relaxed. The first highs are more excited in the DM-480, against a more refined, softened, harmonious, but also more sacrificed and less extensive feeling, offered by the NS3. Even so, the level of detail and ability to reveal nuances, is higher in these NS3, as they have greater resolution and definition, shaping the music more analytically. The Dunu’s approach, in this sense, is more simplistic, but less complete.
The scene, in both IEMS, is wide and deep, but has more height in the NS3. Also, the stage is perceived as bigger, because it is able to generate more music in the central zone, as well as more details. There is also good separation in both, thanks to the good amount of air they have. But the greater analytical capacity of the NS3, reveals itself determinant to improve in this aspect.
In terms of weight, both are very light. It may seem that the wood gives a heavier character to the NS3, but this is not the case. The Dunu has a greater insertion capacity and allows more freedom when selecting tips. The NS3 offers a more superficial insertion and its body, a little more stubby, fits more closely to the ears. The cable is very similar in both, silver plated, with plugs very similar in size and shape. The NS3 has a 4-strand cable, which is somewhat thicker and more handy.
The packaging, careful in both, is superior in the Dunu, offering one of the best transport boxes in its price range. In the new version of the NS3, a round transport box has been included, while in the version I own, there is only a velvet bag.
Dunu renews its low range in search of universality, both in form and sound. The DM-480, presented in a great packaging, offers a U sound, very enjoyable and affordable, open, wide and shiny. The marking of both the sub-bass and the treble, although evident, does not polarize the sound and offers a distinctive, attractive and pleasant seal. This sub-bass is remarkable, both for its quality, and for its speed, definition and control. The treble is vivid and exciting, fun. The mids, despite their greater distance, are very clean and clear. The sound generated, is very open and well aired, is another of its strengths. Finally, the ergonomics, accessories and comfort round off a product that is very well cared for in all its aspects.
Sources Used During the Analysis
Burson Audio Playmate
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus