Dunu Crater

6 07 2012

Introduction

Dunu is a “newcomer” company whose biggest bets are the build quality of their models on a budget. Also, the house sound of Dunu is mainly defined as a bass heavy sound, in order for them to be pleasant to both audiophiles and casual listeners. These are the first IEM of Dunu that I review, and from the looks of them, I hope they won’t be the last. So let’s stop with the talking, and start with the describing. My hopes are quite high with these.

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Technical Data

Dunu DN-17 Crater

·           Type: Dynamic, In-Ear

·           Size of driver: 10mm

·           Impedance: 16 Ohm

·           Sensitivity: 102 +/- 2db

·           Frequency response: 16-22khz

·           Earphone jack: 3.5mm Gold Plated

·           Cable length: 120cm

·           Weight: 20g

Packaging

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The packaging that Dunu used for these, made me fall in love at first sight. I wondered how a budget product could have such a lovely packaging, built so carefully. The cover that displays the IEM slides off the packaging to reveal a cardboard package. The cardboard then opens (it is secured by a magnet) in order to reveal the IEM and the hard metal UE like, carrying case. The IEM and case are contained in a velvet-like covered plastic, which gives the packaging a nice fancy feeling. Removing the plastic we can see the rest of the accessories, a lot of them for a budget IEM, but we’ll talk on that later on.

Overall Dunu managed to give the packaging a premium feel, without the bad part of it, the price. One of the best packaging jobs I’ve ever seen.

Accessories

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Oh the accessories, Dunu has made everything to feel the user that buys these IEM feel great. While being a budget IEM, Dunu managed to include with the Crater a Leather Carrying pouch, an hard metal carrying case, a shirt clip for the headphone wire, a airline headphone jack adapter, a microfiber cleaning cloth, 8 pairs of different tips (1 bi-flange, 4 Hybrid clones and 3 S/M/L tips) and a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter. As you see, there’s one heck of a list, and this for a budget minded IEM, I wonder what would be Dunu’s top of the line packaging like. Anyway, all of the accessories are extremely well built, for example, the metal carrying case, while not being flexible for portable use, it has definitively become one of my favourites to store my priciest IEM in, and the leather carrying case is excellent for carrying on the go. The tips are also very well finished, and don’t seem like a clone of the hybrids at all, some might think they’re the real deal.

All in all, a big plus for Dunu in the accessories paragraph, I wish all companies took some notes from these guys at Dunu, when they decide to ship pricy IEM’s with only S/M/L tips.

Build Quality

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After being very positively surprised by the quality of the casing and the accessories included by Dunu, I thought I couldn’t be disappointed by the build quality on these IEM. I guess I was right, but first let me start from below. On the gold plated 3.5mm jack, the plug is angled, much more convenient for in the pocket use. Also, alongside the plug, we got a huge strain relief, which is always welcome, because the jack is one of the places that suffers the most on our IEM, and it is also the place where the cable breaks down first. All-in-all, Dunu knows their priorities in order to give their IEM an amazing longevity. Above the jack you get a little strap that helps you manage your cable while not in use. Once again, Dunu innovates and wins, because that strap will help you a lot in your daily use. Going up a bit more, we can see that the Y-splitter is fairly standard but still rugged. Now up to the casing, boy these are heavy! The strain relief is pretty good, and it has the info on which side is the left or right, but on what regards to the strength, it needed to be due to the metal build of the housings. The housings are one of the best housings on build quality, unfortunately they might be too heavy for some ears. Good thing Dunu has used a fairly standard shell on the Crater, instead of the most unusual shapes of former IEM. This allows for either to use them straight up, ou with the wire passing behind your ear. The nozzles are also extremely secure, having a filter to guard the insides of ear wax and such debris. The cable (silver one!) that Dunu chose to use with these is also very good, being sturdy, while maintaining flexibility, which is important for on-the-go use.

Overall, best budget build (in everything, from packaging to product) I’ve ever had the pleasure to review.

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Comfort/Isolation

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Dunu has concerns about the user to get the best comfort he can, so Dunu sent some different eartips in order to please the user, and assure he’ll get the best fit. Getting a nice fit with the different sizes of hybrids is easy, so I’m sure Dunu will get almost everyone covered.

Now on to comfort, due to them being made of metal, inserting them might hurt a bit, if they manage to scratch your ear. Also the size isn’t the most compact, but it’s something you have to pay for a nice build quality. As said above, you can wear them dropping down or over the ear, but over the ear will get you the best insertion. For those with small ears, I think these might not be comfortable, but for the rest of people out there, you can get a reasonable amount of comfort.

On isolation, as said above, it really changes with the amount of insertion you’re able to obtain with these. If you wear them over ear, you’ll get an insane amount of isolation, so much, that if you need to hear someone sit right next to you, they’ll have to shout (if you’re listening to music). These will probably be just right for subway rides, or somewhere you just need or want to focus on your music, so, in isolation, great job by Dunu.

Sound

Source – Rockboxed Sansa Fuze,  laptop (LG R400), Huawei Ideos X5 (U8800)

Files Used –  256 to 320 kbps and FLAC

It all went great on my first contact with these. Until I put them on and listened to something… They really weren’t nothing to be proud off. A really muffled sound, with a veiled mid-range, and bloated bass. Although, since I heard the differences burn-in made on other IEM, I just waited. And boy, was I in for a treat.

Burn-in

My burn-in consists in pink noise along with a playlist that is composed of the songs I usually hear on my daily basis.

Remember what I have told you about the Crater on the last paragraph? Forget it. These IEM completely change after burn-in. The veil disappears, and they become enjoyable to listen to.

The lower-end is what stands out in these, being powerful and creating quite the rumble. It’s more in presence, than in impact, but that’s a plus, as it extends quite well. As obvious it seems to point it out, they will fare better with bass heavy genres, like electro, dance or dubstep (for example). Still, while listening to more acoustic genres or some rock they are good, but not as good for example as the SoundMAGIC E30.

The mid-end is not the typical of a consumer grade IEM, because it tries to catch up with the lower-end, having a full bodied sound, but that sometimes sounds dull, due to the lack of treble emphasis. The vocals try to go along the good lower end, but they somehow lack in texture, “feeling”, as you won’t notice feeling powerful singers like Mr. Mercury or Adele, but it will leave you feeling an unusual sound, with a nice feeling of space.

As said before, the Crater manages to get a bodied by having a not so exciting upper range. The treble is somehow lacking, and lacks the crispness and detail of other IEM. It certainly won’t excite those who like V-shaped sounds, but it could be an adventure for those who are looking for a different kind of sound signature.

The vented design of the Crater allows them to have a fairly wide soundstage, something that combined with a fairly good instrument separation, provides a sound that never gives a congested feel to the listener, providing a relaxed listening session.

Overall we could say that Dunu chose to step away from their target customer and tried to appeal other type of audiophile. Although it is easier to please a V shaped customer, Dunu still tried to give their best to provide the best sound possible to the mid-range lover.

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Conclusion

Build Quality: 5/5

Accessories: 5/5

Comfort: 3.5/5

Isolation: 4/5

Sound Quality (bang for buck): 3.5/5

Dunu tried to innovate, while keeping the original recipe of having an astonishing build quality. The result? The Crater. Even if you don’t like their sound signature, just for the accessories, these are worth having. But it isn’t very difficult to like them, they just don’t have an aggressive V shaped sound, you’ll need them to grow up on you. And you’ll probably have time to do it, since these will make perfect everyday use IEM due to their build quality, which should grant you that they will be by your side on many journeys. Dunu had it right with its previous range of models. And they have done it again with the Crater. Sure they won’t pump you up on your workout, mainly to their dull sound signature, but perhaps they will make you a nice companion for whenever you need to hear music without much going on to it. And, hey, if you don’t like em, did anyone say that he needs a new set of accessories?

References

Dunu Crater DN-17

Price: RRP (76$) at Ebay

As known, YMMV, as these only reflect my opinion on these.

Also, any tips on how to improve my reviews are welcomed and don’t be afraid and post any doubts you may have on what concerns to the model, I will do my best to try and help you.

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