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REVIEW: DUNU DN-19 “Tai-Chi”

Introduction

Prior to the review, I’d like to thank Rocky for the review unit.

Dunu is a China based IEMs manufacturer, which released their 2012-2013 flagship product recently. It is called “Tai-Chi” (or DN-19) because Dunu tried to resemble the Ying-Yang’s (the Tai-Chi’s symbol) principles into these IEMs. The DN-19 is the newest “member” of the company’s “Silver Impact” a line that consists of IEMs with silver-cables; due to the fact that it’s the flagship, it’s also the most expensive out of them.

Before we’ll start, here are the DN-19’s technical specifications:

Driver: 10mm Dynamic

Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 26 kHz

Impedance: 16 ohms

Sensitivity: 100 dB

Wire Length: 1.3m

Weight: 18g

Packaging: As all of Dunu’s products, also the DN-19 comes in a beats-like fancy & attractive packaging, which had a big picture of the product on its front, and some information and technical specifications on its back and sides.

A black cardboard box is revealed when removing the paper-layer.

When opening it, the DN-19s can be seen seated on a velvet-like surface next to their protective metal carrying case, while all of the other included accessories can be found behind that surface. Overall, the packaging is very nice, one the best that I’ve seen in the last time.

Accessories: Dunu provides the customers with a great selection of accessories. The following accessories are included:

Two cases and one pouch – one of the cases is for IEMs themselves, it’s portable and it’s made of metal, while the other one is made to contain some of the included accessories, such as the tips, ear-hooks and more.

the accessories case

The pouch is soft (so it’s not too protective) and is made of brown colored pleather, and it is the same pouch that’s included with all of Dunu’s products.

A soft cleaning cloth with Dunu’s logo on it, to clean your IEMs.

Two adapters – one is a 3.5mm to 6.35mm, in case you might want to use the DN-19s with any professional studio equipments, while the other one is an airplane adapter.

Not one, but TWO pairs of Dunu’s patented silicone earhooks.

Seven pairs of silicone ear-tips – 3 pairs of them are gray, Phonak like tips (Small/Medium/Large), while the 4 left pairs are Sony-Hybrid like tips (Small/Medium 2X/Large).

Last but not least, Dunu includes also about 20 plastic acoustic dampers, which I’ll talk on later, in the “Sound” section of this review.

With such an assortment of accessories, I don’t see any reason not to give this section of the DN-19s a 10/10 rating.

The nozzles are covered by a protective metal mesh

Building Quality & Design: Dunu is known for their great building quality and attention to tiny details from their older models, a thing that they kept in the Tai-Chi, which is very well built and quite functionally designed. This is the first Dunu model which utilizes a plastic-made housing, as until now, all of their products had flashy and shiny metal housings. This doesn’t mean that it’s less durable though, as the housings feel well made, tough and strong.

 

The front of the housing has a silver-colored faceplate, which a ying-yang symbol can be seen on when looking from some angles. The nozzles are covered by a protective metal mesh, to make sure that no ear-wax enters to the drivers and damages them. Each housing has a quite durable looking long plastic strain-relief, which seems to lack a bit of flexibility because of its toughness. Moving on to the cable, it seems to be a silver-coated twisted one, enclosed in a clear plastic tube. It’s quite thick but also pretty stiff, which makes it a bit hard to handle at times.

A very durable looking 3.5mm gold-plated & L-shaped plug ends the cable. It has a great strain-relief that looks like a one which would be easily able to protect it from bending or breaking. The rating is 9/10.

the Y-split

Comfort & Fit: The circle-shaped housings aren’t big but aren’t small either. They fit quite nicely in the ear’s anatomic shape, and they don’t really stick out, they’re rather flush fitting. The DN-19’s fit isn’t too deep, and because of that, there’s almost no pressure inside the ear when wearing them. These IEMs are meant to be worn over-the-ear, and to make it easier, DUNU included two pairs of their ear-hooks which are very comfortable in my opinion. Both kinds of the included tips fit comfortably, though I found the hybrid-like tips to be a bit better for me personally. The rating is 8.75/10.

Isolation & Microphonics:  The Tai-Chi’s isolation isn’t the best, it’s quite mediocre. I realized that the plastic housings let outside noises reach your ears quite easily because they feel a bit “hollow”. When putting the acoustic dampers in, the isolation is improved because the vents are being covered. I found it a bit difficult to achieve a good seal with both types of included tips, but after some time trying and “playing around”, I finally found a way to get a decent seal. Microphonics are on the lower side due to the over-the-ear wearing style, which usually terminates most of them. The ratings are 3/5 for the isolation and 4/5 for the microphonics.

Sound: Prior to the review, these IEMs were given about 70 hours of burn-in, no noticeable changes were detected.

TheDN-19’s is user-tunable by using the included acoustic dampers and tips combination. According to Dunu, the DN-19s should sound more balanced, have a more extended treble & have a better clarity when the dampers are in with the gray ear-tips installed, while when they’re out with the hybrid-like tips installed, the sound should become more “fun”, have a stronger and more impactful bass. The overall sound signature is warm, smooth, not harsh and un-fatiguing.

Bass: Without the dampers installed, the bass is quite impactful, powerful, “boomy”, very full and fun. It has a great texture and it extends quite nicely on the spectrum. The punch lacks a bit, and so does the clarity.

With the dampers installed, the bass is quite lighter, less extended, and has a smaller and less powerful impact but better controlled, clearer and still has a nice and full body. Unlike with the dampers inserted, using this setup won’t lack any punch.

Mids: Without the dampers installed, the mids aren’t clear enough in my opinion, they lose a bit of their presence to the large bass, and they lack some energy.The mids aren’t enough detailed without the dampers, mostly noticeable in the lower-mids.

With the dampers installed, the mids are a lot clearer, have more energy and a bit more detailed. They’re very warm, smooth & engaging.

I didn’t detect any sibilance in the vocals at all, both with & without the dampers.

Treble: Without the dampers installed, the presence of the highs isn’t too big, and they lack some sparkle. They’re very smooth and have a decent extension, detailing and clarity.

With the dampers installed, the highs’ presence is a bit better, but they’re still quite laid-back. The clarity is better too, while the detailing is about the same as without the dampers. The extension is a bit improved, though it’s not much of a difference. As the mids, also the treble is very smooth and never harsh at all.

Sound-Stage & Imaging:  The sound-stage’s width and depth are about average, while the height is not too big. The instruments are quite well separated, while the imaging is not anything more than decent.

The rating for the “Sound” section is 8/10.

Final Conclusions

Dunu’s DN-19 “Tai-Chi” is a quite nice pair of IEMs for their $127 MSRP. With such a tremendous accessories set, a great building quality, and with a tunable sound, they make a good deal in the under $150 market of IEMs. The only major thing that might make someone not to like them is the too-smooth sound and the polite and presence-lacking treble. The final rating is 8.5/10.

Where to Buy? The DUNU DN-19 “Tai-Chi” has an MSRP of $127. Currently, it can be purchased directly from DUNU’s eBay store , from TopDog Headphones, a U.K. based retailer, or from their U.S.A dealer, SSV.

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