Details: Mid-range earphone out of China clearly inspired by the design of the Monster Turbine Pro Gold
MSRP: est. $93 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $67 from amazon
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: N/A | Sens: N/A | Freq: 10-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange narrow-channel (3 sizes) and wide-channel (3 sizes) silicone tips, bi-flange silicone tips, zippered carrying case, magnetic-clasp soft carrying pouch, drawstring carrying bag, and integrated cable wrap
Build Quality (4.5/5) – Modeled after Monster’s Turbine Pro Gold, the Ares is surprisingly well-built, with sturdy metal shells, mesh filters, aluminum cable cinch and y-split, and good strain relief all-around. The rubberized cable is a bit stiff for my liking but the attention to detail is very good on the whole
Isolation (3.5/5) – Quite good with the right tips
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Bothersome when worn cable-down; not an issue otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – The Ares fits much like the Monster Turbine earphones but its rounded shells are smaller and slightly more ergonomic on the whole. While the tip selection is not as impressive as with the Monster models, finding a comfortable fit was not a problem at all
Sound (6.8/10) – The general signature of the Ares is balanced with a bit of roll-off on either end. Overall bass quantity falls north of the Brainwavz M1 but south of the Brainwavz M2, into the range of what I would call ‘slightly enhanced’. The character of the bass is tight-and-punchy more than it is full-and-boomy – quite well-measured for an earphone in its price category but far from analytical. The Ares does lack a bit of bass depth and sub-bass rumble is oftentimes all but imperceptible but on the whole its bass should satisfy most listeners.
The midrange of the Ares is a bit on the dry side but offers up surprising clarity and resolution. It is a touch forward in the overall soundscape but clearly not sufficiently so to call the Ares a mid-forward earphone. Bass bleed is nearly nonexistent although the midrange derives a touch of warmth from the bass. Next to the Xears TD-III, the Ares doesn’t appear warm at all. Detail and texture levels are quite good as well and the Ares generally sounds smooth and level. Interestingly, while the midrange clarity of the Ares can easily keep up with established segment leaders from the likes of Xears and Brainwavz on sparsely populated tracks, it tends to break down on busier passages. As a result, the earphones are not particularly well-suited for rock and metal but sound great with acoustic pieces, r&b, soft rock, etc.
The treble of the earphones is smooth and forgiving. There are no notable treble peaks and about as much sparkle as with a Brainwavz M1, which is to say not a whole lot. Treble quantity is not lacking by my standards but there is a bit of roll-off up top. All in all, the signature of the Ares may not be particularly interesting or unique but it is a good all-rounder. The presentation, similarly, is merely competent. The Xears TD-III is more spacious but the Ares is no slouch, providing pretty good width and average depth. Imaging is quite good on sparse tracks but the earphones get a touch congested as things get busy. An additional factor is timbre realism – the TD-III, among other dynamic-driver earphones, simply sounds more natural than the Ares does.
Value (7.5/10) – Over the past couple of years we’ve seen many great earphones come out of the China’s thriving audio scene. Most of the ones that have achieved prominence on Head-Fi have done so by offering great sound quality for the asking price but the Dunu Ares and Crius take a slightly different approach. These earphones offer nearly unprecedented attention to detail – when it comes to build quality, packaging, and accessories very few competing offerings compare to the Dunu models. It’s a refreshing take on providing value to the end consumer that, unfortunately, is limited by the derivative nature of the design. However, there are few earphones I am looking forward to more than Dunu’s upcoming releases – with slightly different tuning Dunu could easily provide a great value, not just a good one.
Pros: Well-built, well-accessorized, great attention to detail, competent sound
Cons: Cable can be noisy when worn straight down, not the best at handling complexity