Dunu DN-12 Trident Review

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Dunu DN-12 Trident
Reviewed Aug 2011

Details: Entry-level dynamic-driver model from DUNU
MSRP: $40 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $25 from ebay.com / $35 from mp4nation.net / $36 from CTC Audio$37 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 95 dB | Freq: 10-20k Hz | Cable: 4’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flange 
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3/5) – Single-flange narrow-channel (3 sizes) and wide-channel (2 sizes) silicone tips, bi-flange silicone tips, soft carrying pouch, and integrated cable wrap
Build Quality (4.5/5) – Like the sturdy metal shells of the Hephaes, the flared housings of the DN-12 feel like they’ve been machined from a solid piece of metal. Attention to detail throughout the construction is superb as usual although Dunu did attempt to give the pricier models a leg up by using plastic and rubber hardware in place of aluminum on the cheaper DN-12. While this makes the DN-12 less fancy in appearance, the overall build quality is no worse for it. As before, the cable is the only part that could stand some improvement as it’s a bit stiff and rubbery
Isolation (3.5/5) – Surprisingly good, as with the other Dunu earphones
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Bothersome when worn cable-down; not an issue otherwise
Comfort (3.5/5) – The flared housings of the DN-12 are skinny at the front so insertion is not an issue. However, the large diameter at the rear can be a problem for those with smaller outer ears as the outside edge can become uncomfortable after resting on the ear for a while. The earphones being a bit on the heavy side doesn’t help matters

Sound (6.7/10) – The dynamic-driver Trident conforms to the mold set by Dunu’s armature-based Ares and Crius models, offering up a bass- and midrange-heavy sound that impresses with its smoothness and power. The bass of the Trident certainly is punchier and deeper than that of the armature models but it’s not a bass monster in the way the MEElec M31 and Sony XB-series earphones are. There is still plenty of impact but it doesn’t overwhelm. The note presentation is a touch on the soft side but the bass generally comes off rather well-controlled and pleasant.

The midrange is warm and rich. Bass bleed is minimal and the notes are very slightly on the thick side. Detail retrieval is good but the Trident lacks a bit of clarity next to the similarly-priced Soundmagic E10 and E30. As with the pricier Ares and Crius, the clarity of the Trident oscillates between reasonably good and somewhat disappointing, depending on track. At its worst it is still a bit better than with the Blue Ever Blue 886B and UE 350 but not by as a large a margin as one would hope. Aside from clarity, the midrange is good – smooth, level, and slightly ahead of the treble for a fatigue-free sound. Even next to the consumer-oriented Sony EX300 the treble of the Trident sound relaxed and forgiving. Top-end extension is good despite the lack of treble emphasis.

The Trident’s soundstage is average in size but the presentation leans towards intimacy despite the slightly laid-back nature of the sound. The relaxed top end results in a mild lack of air compared to sets like the Soundmagic E10 and the overall sense of space is not nearly as impressive. The Trident also sounds just a touch dark compared to my other favourite sets in the price range. The layering, however, is surprisingly good and the DN-12 generally sounds less congested than the Blue Ever Blue 866B and similarly-priced brand-name sets like the Klipsch S3 and UE 350. Intimate or not, you certainly won’t get performance this good grabbing a similarly-priced product off the shelf in a retail store.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (9/10) – More so than the pricier Ares and Crius models, the Dunu DN-12 Trident aims straight for the segment leaders in its price bracket and – in most ways – scores a direct hit. It is well-packaged, well-designed, and well-built, showcasing great attention to detail, functionality, and performance on the part of Dunu’s development team. Priced below $40, the Trident offers more sound quality per dollar than the other Dunu models I’ve heard and one-ups just about all of its competition when it comes to build quality. It is both a great earphone and a great product – not a so-called ‘giant killer’, but well worth the money in my book.

Pros: Very well-built, great attention to detail, great sound quality for the asking price
Cons: Cable can be noisy when worn straight down; flared housings may be uncomfortable for some
 


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

9 Comments

  1. Vik on

    Also, please compare it’s (Trident) bass to that of the Vsonic GR99

  2. Vik on

    Hi ljokerl . How is the bass (and sub bass) quality and quantity of the DUNU Trident compared to the Soundmagic E10 ?

    • ljokerl on

      The trident has more bass than the E10, though not by much. It’s about the same amount as the GR99 but the GR99 is a little more focused on deep bass and less on mid-bass.

  3. Austin on

    Hey Joker, would these be alright for sleeping? I want some comfortable, quality headphones for sleeping. I’m looking for a warm or warm-like sound signature with the price at around $30 dollars. The fit is what concerns me here. Would the flared shape cause an issue when pressure is applied into my ear? I think my ears are big enough for these to fit. Another thing I’m worried about is durability. I know sleeping could cause damage but do you think these would be able to withstand it?

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Right, I don’t think they are low profile enough for sleeping. Durability is a concern also, depending on how much strain you exert on the cord in your sleep, but I doubt you’ll find a more durable set in this price range.

      If sleeping is your primary purpose I’d still try to focus on comfort rather than anything else – the Fidue A31S, for example, while not as good as the Trident for sound, has an incredibly small form factor. Throw some foam tips on there and you’ll have the lightest, most comfortable in-ear around.

      Failing that, you can get a couple of more conventional (but still more compact) in-ears in that price range – the T-Peos Tank, Brainwavz M5, and Brainwavz M1, for instance. All have slightly different signatures – the M5 is most similar to the Trident while the M1 is more neutral and the Tank is brighter, but still with very punchy bass. But, they are all smaller in the ear than the Trident.

      • Austin on

        Yep, comfort is one of the biggest factors when it comes to sleeping. I’ve been reading up on the Fidue IEMs and I think they are good for what I need.

        Thanks Joker, I can always count on you to give good, reliable advice!

        • ljokerl on

          Happy to help!

          My suggestion would be to later on pair them with Shure “Olive” tips: http://amzn.to/1w8ZQV6 . They are pricy but 5 pairs will last many years and it truly makes for one of the most comfortable in-ears on the market. The tips that are included with the A31S, except for the bi-flanges, run a little small.

          • Austin on

            How do you think the Shure Olives compare to the Comply T-400 tips? I have 4 extra Comply tips lying around, so I was wondering if I should just use those instead of buying more tips. From the images it looks like the Olives have a more “dense” foam and a more spherical shape. Would this effect the seal/sound in any way?

            Thanks again!

          • ljokerl on

            Well, T-400s won’t work with the Fidue A31S for sure – the nozzle is way too small. T-100 should fit but generally prefer Olives because they last longer and I like the feel of the less porous foam better.

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