- Its sound is remarkable in many respects.
- Great all-rounder.
- Excellent choice as an IEMS for everyday use.
- Very good equilibrium, balance and homogeneity between all ranges.
- Smooth and secure tuning, but full of detail, clarity, transparency and separation.
- Good soundstage.
- Very adequate timbre.
- Excellent level of construction, packaging and accessories.
- Very good cable.
- Outstanding value for money.
- Personally I would have preferred a little more lift in the sub-bass and treble.
- The S&S tips are not very useful for my morphology.
Link to the WEB
Dunu is probably one of the brands that I am most satisfied with. Historically, ever since I became a fan of headphones, I have considered Dunu to be one of the brands with the best added value. From their website, to the presentation of their models, the design of the IEMS and the level of their accessories, Dunu show why they are more than just headphones. Undoubtedly, both the packaging and the contents provide an unboxing experience among the most outstanding, even for the price of the model I am reviewing today: the Dunu Kima. These are $110 IEMS that feature a 10mm dual-chambered dynamic driver with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) diaphragm supported by an N52 neodymium magnet. They have a lightweight high-density zinc alloy housing complemented by brass details on the mouthpiece. As I say, the quantity and quality of accessories is superior, even including the brand’s new S&S silicone tips. The zippered case is excellent (the same as the Falcon Pro), as is the cable itself, giving a good idea that it is possible to present a great sounding model without losing the details. Quite a demonstration from Dunu. But let’s go in depth to analyse the new Dunu Kima.
- Driver Type: 10mm dual chambered dynamic driver with diamond-like carbon (DLC) diaphragm.
- Magnet Type: N52 neodymium magnet.
- Housing material: High-density zinc alloy.
- Nozzle material: Gold-plated brass.
- Wire Material: 4 cores of high purity silver plated monocrystalline copper.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz.
- Sensitivity: 108 ± 1 dB at 1kHz.
- Impedance: 32 Ω at 1kHz.
- Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.3% at 1kHz.
- Jack Connector: 3.5mm TRS Single-Ended
- Cable length: 1.2m ± 0.1m.
- Net Weight: 15g.
- Capsule Connection Type: 0.78mm 2Pin.
As I have already mentioned in the product introduction, the Dunu Kima brings a price/quality ratio in accessories that is very difficult to beat. What I dislike the least is the current trend of drawing waifus on the presentation, I have always said that I am against it. But to each his own. Apart from that, yes, the umpteenth waifu on the cover, the box is relatively large, with a size of 161x133x52mm. The Dunu logo is in the top right corner, the model name in the middle, on the right. Underneath a small description, the Hi-Res logo and at the bottom right, the Criz Faction logo. I have searched for information about Criz Faction, but I have not found anything, so I am not going to comment anything about this name, except that it is written in white ink on one of the capsules. On the back of the box are the specifications in Chinese and English. At the bottom is the brand name. Removing the outer cardboard reveals a black box with the brand name inscribed in the centre, in a brighter, darker shade. Lifting the lid reveals the orange zippered case, with the brand name in shiny silver letters protected by a plastic cover. On top, a foam mould protects the capsules. Underneath the case is a small box with the cable and the rest of the accessories. In a nutshell:
- The 2 Dunu Kima capsules.
- 1 cable.
- 1 zipped case.
- 1 cleaning brush.
- 1 adapter from 3.5mm to 6.35mm SE.
- 1 cleaning cloth.
- 3 pairs of clear tips with different coloured cores, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of black tips with blue core, SxMxL sizes.
- 3 pairs of Dunu S&S tips, sizes SxMxL.
As I said, good presentation, top level accessories, including the cable, nothing to complain about on this point. What’s more, Dunu are an example to follow in this area and they prove it with every model. And on top of that, great packaging doesn’t compromise the sound quality at all.
Construction and Design
Kima capsules are kidney-shaped, but stubbier and rounder. They are made of high-density zinc alloy and their mouthpieces are made of gold-plated brass. The outer face has four separate planes: one on one side and three horizontal. These faces are almost trapezoidal in shape. Each gap is a linear edge. On one of these horizontal edges, the left capsule reads ‘Criz Faction’ and the right ‘Kima’, in a whitish, almost grey lettering. On the upper edge is the 2Pin connection, embedded in a transparent plastic plate, fully integrated into the body of the capsules. The inner side has two more or less flat levels. On the first level, the base, shaped like a semi-spiral, has a hole protected by a whitish cloth. And the topos indicating the channel: the letters R and L inside a circle, in this almost illegible colour. The second level, the skirt of the nozzle, is almost circular and more projecting. The step between the two levels is abrupt and distinguishable. On the edge you can read «DUNU 10mm DLC DYNAMIC». A little higher up there is another hole, also protected by the white mesh. Finally, there is the gold-plated brass mouthpiece. It has 3 levels, a very narrow base, a more elongated central band of 5.4mm and the tapering crown, with a diameter of 6.2mm. The total length of the mouthpiece is approximately 4.3mm. It is protected by a perforated metal grid, but it seems to have another coating underneath, some kind of thin film. At least, that’s my impression.
I think the cable is very good and I don’t feel the need to change it. I would only change it for a balanced one, the only downside I can put on the whole thing. It has 4 strands of high purity silver-plated monocrystalline copper. The strands are twisted together in pairs and each resulting braid is twisted in the opposite direction. The cable is easy to handle and of medium-low stiffness. The sleeve of the 3.5mm SE gold-plated connector is a simple, smooth, shiny metal cylinder with a red plastic rim. The splitter piece is the same, but smaller. The pin is a ring with the same construction, but much smaller. The function of this piece is perfect, it is hard to slide it and therefore its function is excellently fulfilled. The 2Pin connector is gold-plated and its sleeve is made of transparent plastic with an angle bend. The right channel has a base, from which the two pins come out, in red. Finally, it has a velcro strip to hold it in place.
Both the design of the capsules and the cable are excellent. It is attractive, distinctive, modern and efficient. No drawbacks, on the contrary, totally exemplary.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
The shape is very good and once fitted, the capsules rest very well in my ears. The overall mouthpiece projection, like the length of the set, is on the shallow end. I don’t know if it’s the angle, but I found it difficult to find tips with which to achieve an occlusive seal, without loss of bass. On this occasion, I had to resort to the most normal silicone tips, size L (13.5mm outer diameter), with an inner core of 4.5mm. The core is long and supports the mouthpiece a bit further, the insertion is shallow and relatively fragile, not very suitable for use in movement, just walking or very gentle activities.
When I get a good seal, the level of isolation is average, even slightly better.
Despite the good level of fittings, none of the accompanying tips have worked well for me. Except for the S&S, the rest have a narrow core and that detracts from the clarity of the sound. The S&S tips have been a disastrous combination with my ergonomics and a total loss of bass. I really don’t understand the cylindrical shape, it doesn’t seem to me a very ergonomic design.
The profile of the Dunu Kima is more balanced than that of the Titan S, being more neutral in the mid-highs and slightly higher in the mid-bass. It is also smoother in the treble, offering a more homogeneous and confident sound in the hot zones. The curve still has more emphasis in the upper-mids, but a subtle warmth can be observed throughout, avoiding any hint of harshness in that area. It is clear that there is nothing offensive in the profile of this new model and I feel that it has been created as a good all-rounder that does not excel in any particular band.
The homogeneity starts from the bass. As a whole, the lower range has an adequate presence, it is not completely neutral because it has weight and some punch (the choice of some tips and better sealing can positively influence this). There is a slight emphasis on the mid-bass and the sub-bass is not overpowering. This detracts a little from the sensibility and depth, but the sonority is more in keeping with tradition, subtly coloured and more audible. In this way, a more immediate presence can be observed, with a little more roughness and texture. Despite this, the bass development is suitably quick and dry, with a snappy pickup and little bite, just enough to add the necessary thrust to the sound for fun electronic music, for example. It will never be bass-head level, but the presence will be unquestionable. The lower range is a compromise between presence, power and technical ability. DLC drivers always tend to be very correct in this ratio. As a great dynamic driver, it will never suffer in the presentation of critical passages and will be able to withstand a good volume without fading. Moreover, all this will be supported by the fact that distortion will not appear in these cases, which makes them very suitable for use in noisy environments and as all-rounders.
The Dunu Kima has the ability to follow bass lines easily, without dulling or muddying the sound. Their competence in this respect allows them to recreate parallel layers and achieve a good layering, without intruding on the rest of the bandwidth. In this way, a remarkable level of detail and resolution is achieved in the lower range, without any loss in the midrange.
In a soft profile, the bass to midrange roll-off is also soft, and the Kima is a clear example. The result is a pleasing sensation made up of a good composition of body, weight, density, clarity and transparency. The mid-high emphasis is measured so that the balance is enjoyable, engaging and absorbing. It is neither bright, nor warm, although both qualities can be present, without conditioning the sound.
The male voices show up in these parameters, in a fair measure where they are not too dense or physical, but with a kind, full-bodied feel. Nothing sounds thin, nor thick. Nothing stands out, but nothing fails. It could be said that the Kima are not masters in any particular section, but they are great disciples in all areas. In this way, the note is not just an average, but feels benefited by the synergy that a well-balanced, comfortable and pleasing profile is capable of generating. Just as the male voices are presented at that mid-point, the female voices are perceived as equally, or subtly closer and more exuberant, thanks to the slight projection of the mid-highs. But, it is worth noting that Kima always keep the balance and this phase is essential not to lose composure, without falling into sibilance.
On the instrumental level, everything fits together, as do the voices. The timbre is certainly natural, a little dry, because there is no brightness, but restrained. This limits its expressiveness or eloquence, but does not diminish its transparency or clarity. The thrust of the details is neat, perspicuous and the level achieved in this aspect is remarkable, without the presentation being analytical or cold. This is a good example of the relationship between weight, density, resolution, detail and transparency. It is possible to have a remarkable degree of all these skills, but without the sound becoming unnatural. It is the great example of neutrality, homogeneity and balance.
It’s not easy to make the treble sound easy, without missing anything. Well, maybe some people would prefer a more prominent crunch, a higher sparkle or a thinner or more penetrating sound. None of that will be here and that won’t mean that the treble will be overly clipped. Looking at the graph it might seem so, but the result proves otherwise. True, the treble is on the safe side of any tuning, but it is descriptive enough that it doesn’t feel thin or meagre. They are soft, but with enough expressiveness to give the sound realism and extension. Perhaps the limit may be in the air range. But the best thing is that this tuning allows the whole to feel balanced and natural, with just enough brightness and little or nothing to be missed. I look at the graph and I am surprised: the tuning has been clever in this section to complement the rest of the ranges excellently.
Surprisingly, there is a nearly 180-degree oval soundstage, without the sound being too deep or high. The surrounding sensation is not circular, but extends laterally and a bit beyond. This puts it clearly above average and is backed up by a good sense of separation, cleanliness, transparency, resolving power and detail extraction ability. Without being at all analytical sounding, it is striking how much nuance is exposed in the music, but with care to never overwhelm, nor sound unnatural or out of characteristically smooth IEMS. The Dunu Kima are certainly a resolute ensemble, at once pleasing and clean. Without sounding sharp, dry, cold, clinical or thin. The balance between the thickness of the notes, their exuberance and the level of the nuances is commendable. It is not easy to reach this compromise.
The image is organic, orderly and appreciable. The good separation, the level of transparency and the remarkable lateral openness, allow the arrangement of the elements to be easily distinguishable, coherent, very well drawn, as well as structured and without overlapping. Nothing exceptional, but quite pleasant, even singular.
TinHiFi T4 PLUS
Again, I’m going to make an early comparison, as I haven’t reviewed the TinHiFi T4 Plus yet. But, really, they are a great and current touchstone against the Dunu Kima. First, because their price is very similar, $119 for the T4 Plus, compared to $109 for the Kima. Even their frequency response is similar. But let’s start with the aesthetics. While the Kima has exceptional packaging, the T4 Plus are much simpler in this respect, with a smaller box and no waifu, although they do have their own «space» imagery, in which the IEMS are a kind of satellite, or even space capsule. The cable is also good, in copper, subtly thinner in comparison. It comes in a leather case with a magnetic clasp in the shape of a retro wallet. Three pairs of tips, including a set of Symbio Mandarine tips. The Kima outdoes the TinHiFi with a more spectacular presentation, with a set of S&S tips, a brush, a cloth and a SE to 6.35mm adapter. In the end, these are 3 more accessories, but I consider the cable and case to be better on the Dunu. All this at a lower price. I’ll take the Symbio tips over the S&S though.
The shape of the T4 Plus returns to the brand’s classic shape, but in a dark copper colour, with a wooden outer panel. The Kima is more innovative and attractive in this respect. But the metal construction is very good in both models. There is little difference in weight, although the ergonomics are different. With a cylindrical design on the T4 Plus, the fit is more free and frictionless, but perhaps less perennial and more susceptible to unwanted movement, if the sealing is not adequate. I like the fit of the Kima better, but in both I found the same problem with the tips. In the end, I have used the same type of narrow channel silicone tips and spherical leather with which I have achieved a deeper and more occlusive seal.
The profile of the T4 Plus is less balanced. While the Kima’s move in a narrower range, the T4 Plus have a more emphasised bass throughout their range, even in the sub-bass. The mid-high plateau is higher and more extended, also the treble. The amount of air is similar. The T4 Plus have a more excited profile, more sparkle up top and more bass down low. The midrange, except for the amount of body in its first half, maintains the amount. But they are clearly influenced by the neighbouring bands.
The bass is deeper and more sensory in the T4 Plus, that greater power fills the sound in a more compact way, reaching a higher level of impact, with a darker and more appropriate colour. The Kima’s feel in that more rounded mid-bass, while the TinHiFi’s stretch further into the inaudible range. The roughness is more accentuated and their wake is more persistent in the sound, though the punch is tight. The Kima’s are a little more restrained and controlled, less powerful and punchy. The T4 Plus makes me smile with its roughness and power, although the overall quality may be a little lower.
In the mids, there is a surprise for me. I thought that the more emphasised and longer low end was going to influence more the first half of the T4 Plus, however the weight of the higher and longer plateau between mid-high and first treble has more influence. In a way, I find this phase thinner and brighter, whereas in the Kima it is more natural, dense, full and organic, I find its timbre more pleasing to me. The result is a smoother, more mellow sound in the Kima, where nothing feels excited. The T4 Plus, on the other hand, is higher in the treble, which makes it more crisp. While this extension may be welcomed by many, I prefer the musicality of the Kima.
The treble is clearly more extended and present in the T4 Plus, for better or worse. Those who find the Kima’s too soft will find here a more excited, but to some extent controlled, alternative. There is a difference in energy and net amount of treble in favour of the TinHiFi, more presence, a higher level, a more perceptible crackle and a wider wake. They have more brightness, sparkle and power, but they also scratch more.
Scene-wise, there’s a more congested sound in the T4 Plus, narrower too. The Kima’s oval-like soundstage is wider and details seem more discernible, due to its larger, more expansive soundstage. The resolution of the T4 Plus is tighter and more compacted, preventing details from flowing more naturally and expressively. They tend to be crowded, although it is true that they are there, but more overlapping and sometimes superimposed. For these reasons, the image is more coherent, visible and discernible in the Kima.
It’s clear that Dunu knows how to bring a new model to market and attract attention. But to get to that point it has been necessary to build a good reputation. And, moreover, to maintain it. The hardest thing is always to maintain a status. But of course, with models like the Kima, that’s the best way to prove it.
This new model has received many reviews before mine. You might even think that one more is superfluous, and I could never deny it. But what cannot be doubted is the quality of these IEMS, in a price range where there is so much good competition.
The Dunu Kima is the paradigm all-rounder in this price range, it is the model that every brand would like to have in its catalogue. An outstanding reference in its average. It may not be the best model in any one aspect, but it is frankly competent in all of them. There is nothing it does badly and everything it does is good. The Dunu Kima is a great product in design, presentation, packaging, accessories, ergonomics and, most importantly, sound. It has a well-balanced profile that is not simply neutral or soft, but has a great timbre, a good low end, balanced, coherent and delightful mids, and expressive trebles, within its lightness. The result is a sure value that will hardly disappoint, fully capable of satisfying all its future buyers. And I say this under my initial scepticism about my first experience with them. I am always very receptive to a new Dunu model, I cannot deny that. But I must confess that I was reluctant during the first days with them. But after finding the right tips and after a thorough listening, my opinion has changed to the point of writing this clearly positive conclusion.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Aune Flamingo.
- Earmen Angel.
- TempoTec Variations V6.
- Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Red Copper Limited Edition.
- ACMEE MF02s.
- xDuoo XD05 BAL.
- TempoTec Serenade X + iFi Zen Can.