With their headquarters in Taiwan and manufacturing plant in Dong Guan City, Guangdong, China DUNU is quickly becoming one of the big players in portable audio. Today we’re looking at the DUNU DK-3001, but before we get started here’s some background.
Established in 1994 the company began as an OEM/ODM manufacturer. Fast forward ten years and the DUNU brand was officially launched in 2004 and started creating earphones under the same name. Since then they’ve had a string of successful product launches including the very popular DN range and have become one of the major respected names in the business. They’ve invested heavily to the best equipment for their manufactures including “the most advanced professional Anechoic Roomamong Asia earphone manufacturers”.
Today the company continues to innovate and has recently released their current flagship model the DK-3001, a 4 driver hybrid earphone consisting of a 13mm dynamic driver and triple balanced armature drivers which we’ll be checking out today. You can check out the company’s full lineup on their product page here.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
The DUNU DK-3001 box is wrapped in a white sleeve of high-quality cardboard with a large image of the earphone on the front. On the back are some features along with details on the included accessories.
Removing the sleeve reveals the textured, black box underneath which is simply adorned with the DUNU brand name in silver print. Opening the magnetically sealed box you’re presented with the earphones, secured in a felt covered black foam inlay and a Pelican style, protective plastic case.
The earphones come installed with a pair of medium size, white silicone tips. The other included accessories are:
6.35 mm adapter
3 pairs of gray silicone tips
3 pairs of white silicone tips
4 pairs of Spinfit tips
1 pair of Comply foam tips
1 3.5 mm single-ended MMCX cable
1 2.5 mm balanced MMCX cable
1 protective plastic case
That’s a pretty satisfying collection of accessories (which you should expect for something in this price range) that covers everything you need. It’s nice to see a wide variety of ear-tips included and surprisingly even the stock Large silicone tips are big enough for my over-sized ear canals – thank you DUNU!
The carry case is actually really nice too. On the bottom of the inside is a thin layer of rubber with DUNU embossed into it and under the lid is a layer of black foam. There’s just enough room inside for one of my budget DAPs (Benjie X1/T6, Ruizu A50) and the earphones so it’s quite handy.
I loved the cable on the DN-2000 so was very pleased to see that the DK-3001 comes with one in a similar style, albeit this time with memory wire. The PVC sheathed cable is smooth and supple so it doesn’t have or form any annoying kinks and is also very tangle resistant. Due to the high quality of the cable and being worn over-ear, there is virtually no microphonics present.
The angled MMCX connectors have good strain relief and the right one also has a red indicator ring that makes it very easy to determine which side is which. This is something I really like to see on IEMs and a lot of other manufacturers neglect the smaller details like this.
Moving down the cable, we come to the metal Y-split which is adorned with the DUNU logo and strain relief. There’s a metal cable cinch here as well that joins seamlessly with the split when not in use making it more attractive and unobtrusive. This kind of attention to detail really adds to the overall experience.
DUNU’s excellent rubber cable tie is present here too, and it’s probably the best solution I’ve seen to date for securing and storing cables. Finally, the cable terminates in a right-angled, gold-plated metal plug which again has very good strain relief.
Quite simply DUNU produces some fantastic, high-quality cables that are some of the best I’ve ever used.
Build, comfort and isolation
Crafted from stainless steel the DUNU DK-3001 shells are exceptionally well built. The main body is a circular disk shape with a protruding, angled nozzle. On the top is a horizontal female MMCX connector. The two sides of the disk are immaculately joined with the seams being barely visible even on close inspection.
On the outer sides of the shells is a raised circular area with DUNU printed in white and surrounded by a silver circle.
Overall the quality of the shells and the finish is superb and in line with what you’d expect for something that costs a substantial amount of money.
In terms of comfort I find the DUNU DK-3001 to be pretty good but for one small grievance. The nozzle length and overall shape are good but the raised ridge on the outer sides (where DUNU is printed) specifically the aforementioned silver ring has quite a sharp edge and I find that during long sessions it causes an uncomfortable hot spot in my outer ear. It’s not a major problem (and in fact might not be a problem for others at all, depending on ear shape) but I feel it could have been easily avoided by simply rounding or smoothing those ridges a little.
For isolation, I would say these are about average for a hybrid IEM. The most significant determining factor will be how good a seal you get with your selected ear-tips. They do a fairly good job of blocking outside noise but can’t compare with something that fully fills the conch of your ear. Having said that though, these are definitely suitable for most normal situations and environments.
Sources used for testing
Acoustic Research AR-M20
The DUNU DK-3001 is an interesting and complex beast when it comes to sound. Cohesiveness is excellent with the 4 drivers on each side working together to form a perfectly blended and unified sound. The general sound signature is fairly balanced with some emphasis on the bass with fairly forward mids and a neutral treble. The sound is organic and natural, coming across as deceptively smooth and non-fatiguing, very musical and engaging.
Bass has a fullness with loads of impact even at low volume pumping it out effortlessly. Edges are a little soft and decay falls off naturally but it’s no slouch. It manages a full-bodied punch without any signs of sluggishness or being overbearing. It’s one of the best implementations of bass I’ve heard in an IEM and the way DUNU has maintained such impact with an agility and balance goes to show they really know about tuning.
Sub-bass has a little less emphasis but is just as impressive and is far-reaching in its extension. The rumble can be felt as much as it is heard and the stainless steel of the shells keeps a tight reign on things and stifles any distortion or loss of control.
Midrange carries over the same smoothness as the other frequencies yet is really packed with exquisite detail. Instrument separation is stellar with plenty of space between different elements. Male and in particular female vocals are both rich with innate tonality and realism bringing lyrics to life.
Lovers of classical will also be pleased with the magical resonance that the DK-3001 brings to string instruments and piano notes in tracks like “Andare” from Ludovico Einaudi’s Islands Essential Einaudi. Guitars sound great too, like in Distant Dreams’ “Sleeping Waves” there’s texture in abundance to be heard.
Not content with a partial mastery of the spectrum the DK-3001 also owns the treble regions. There’s great extension here and natural timbre abounds but perhaps best of all is it achieves this while never becoming strident or losing detail but finds that sweet spot in between.
This is one of those IEMs that you can turn up loud on brighter tracks without feeling the icy needles of pain and instead just get purely immersed in the music. It does all this without ‘darkening’ the sound and cymbals still ring and shimmer the way they’re supposed to.
Soundstage is another strength of the DK-3001. It’s not the widest in terms of space but depth is very good. The percussion instruments at the beginning of Mathias Eick’s “Hem” are outside of the head-space and the separation of the trumpet and violin is very clear and you can really sense the positioning of both in the track. You’ll never feel boxed-in listening to this IEM.
I found both of these to have a similar sound signature, with slightly elevated bass and forward midrange. Both are very detailed while maintaining musicality and non-fatiguing sound. I found the FB2 to be far more comfortable and it also had much better noise isolation.
The DUNU DK-3001 has a more authoritative bass thanks to its large dynamic driver but the FIBAE 2 is certainly no slouch in this area. The FIBAE 2 does have some elevation in the treble but not so much as the DUNU DK-3001 which is a bit lighter and airier up top.
The TFZ has more mid and sub-bass. Vocals are a little more forward while treble is a little more recessed. Noise isolation of the 2M is superior as is the comfort. Soundstage similar on both but separation and imaging goes to the DUNU. The cable on the DK-3001 is far superior as the 2M cable is very prone to tangles.
Build and materials are good on both. The DK-3001 is the superior IEM as far as sound is concerned but it is more than double the price. The TFZ Balance 2M is still a very good alternative for the money, especially if you like some extra bass.
The LZ A4 has been well received by many enthusiasts and with good reason. It’s a very competent and engaging IEM that comes with loads of options for customization. After switching through various setups I settled with the black rear filter and grey front or what I call “The Batman”.
The A4 can go toe to toe with the DK-3001 in terms of detail but doesn’t have the same level of cohesion that DUNU’s offering achieves. The DUNU’s bass to my ears falls somewhere between the Black and Red rear filters of the A4. With my setup, the A4 carries a little less weight in the mid-bass but keeps pace just as deftly.
The higher frequencies are a little more pronounced on the A4 giving it more of a V-shaped signature. The A4 has the eager energy of a promising youth while the DK-3001 comes across as a seasoned veteran, its moves are second nature and effortless compared to the more aggressive, showboating style of the A4.
For build quality, the DUNU comes out ahead due to its more premium materials but the A4 is still really well put together for something less than half the cost. Both IEMs could be improved on ergonomically but I have a hard time trying to think of how the DK-3001’s sound could be any better than it already is.
Despite the increased price tag of the DUNU DK-3001, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this IEM. From my previous experience with the DN-2000, I knew the build quality would be very good and the audio quality would likely be pretty good as well. Well before the first song had finished playing I knew that DUNU had achieved something special with this release.
As time went on my respect for this flagship model only grew and I am still in awe of the level of sound that this thing can produce. How the company managed to bring such detail, separation and engagement together with a full-bodied, smooth and non-fatiguing signature is beyond my comprehension.
There is however still some room for improvement in regards to comfort and ergonomics. There’s no doubt about the quality of materials and build – this is an exceptionally well-manufactured earphone with a well-rounded bundle of accessories in addition to one of the best cables out there but the comfort level leaves something to be desired. I do hope (and believe) that this will improve with future releases.
Considering the price point of just shy of $500 I would definitely rate the audio quality of the DK-3001 as near perfect but taking into account the slight comfort issues this one gets 4.5/5 total. If you’re exploring IEMs in this price range you really ought to put this one on your (very) short list.