Details: Dunu’s current dynamic-driver flagship featuring a vent tuning system
MSRP: $133 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $100 from amazon / $130 from mp4nation.net
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 16-26k Hz | Cable: 4.2′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Stock silicone (gray)
Wear Style: Over-the-ear
Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and Hybrid-style (4 pairs in 3 sizes) silicone tips, shirt clip, cable guides, ¼” adapter, airline adapter, 10 pairs of vent plugs, cleaning cloth, plastic eartip/accessory organizer, drawstring carrying pouch, and crushproof metal carrying case
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The housings of Dunu’s new flagship are plastic but still convey the same solidity as the company’s metal-shelled earphones. The quality of the materials is excellent and the Yin-Yang design on the faceplate is very discreet. The housings have protruding tuning ports that can be left open or plugged with the included dampers. The tiny plugs are plastic and feel a bit low-grade compared to the rest of the earphone, especially considering they can become loose with use. Mercifully, 10 pairs are included for when they get lost or damaged. The cables are thicker than those of the I 3C-S model and the L-plug is well-relieved
Isolation (3.5/5) – The ergonomic housings allow for a reasonably deep seal to be attained and isolation is good
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Some cable noise is present in the slightly stiff cord but a shirt clip, cable guides, and sliding cinch are all included to help mitigate microphonics
Comfort (4/5) – The DN-19 is designed for an over-the-ear fit, with good overall ergonomics reminiscent of the Sennheiser IE6. The housings contain 10mm drivers but aren’t too large. However, though the tuning vents were designed to exit the ear comfortably, their location may still cause issues for those with smaller ears
Sound (8.1/10) – First, a note on the tuning system. The Dunu DN-19 Tai Chi has only two inherent configurations – closed-vent and open-vent. Dunu recommends tip rolling for even more extreme results and, as advertised, the thicker narrow-channel Hybrid-style tips are good for a bassier sound while the softer wide-channel gray tips provide lesser bass quantity. The tips do make a difference, but for those already familiar with tip rolling that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The vent system is interesting, however. It is very obvious that more air is moved when the vent is left open, resulting bass that is deeper and fuller but also looser and softer of note. The difference in bass quantity is quite large – the DN-19 can go from sounding relatively accurate, with bass quantity slightly lower than that of the VSonic GR06, to an earphone that’s very hard-hitting, deep, and rumbly, a competitor for Monster Turbines and the like. I vastly preferred the vents closed in all of my listening but those willing to live with boomier, albeit more powerful, bass may prefer to keep the vents open.
In general, the bass of the DN-19 is full and impactful but far from overwhelming with the vents closed. Like all of the Dunu dynamics, it’s not a very quick-sounding earphone—definitely no match for Dunu’s I 3C-S model—but sounds natural and pleasant. With the vents closed the bass is quite linear—compared to the VSonic GR06, for example, the Tai Chi has slightly more deep bass and less mid-bass. As a result, the Tai Chi is slightly more neutral in tone and boasts a very easy-going bass presentation.
The midrange of the Tai Chi is rather level but a bit laid-back in terms of emphasis, in stark contrast to the forward mids of Dunu’s similarly-priced I 3C-S. It doesn’t have the greatest clarity, sounding veiled compared to Dunu’s I 3C-S and sets such as the HiFiMan RE-ZERO but still slightly clearer than that of the VSonic GR06. Overall, the mids of the Tai Chi are smooth and rather natural-sounding, with good note thickness and only a slight lack of clarity.
The treble, likewise, is smooth and forgiving. There is no harshness or sibilance with either vent configuration. Compared to the more revealing I 3C-S and other sets such as the HiFiMan RE-ZERO and HiSound Crystal, the treble of the Tai Chi is laid-back and very easy-going. Top-end extension is good but again the note presentation just isn’t very crisp or energetic, as is the case with the DN-17 and DN-18 models.
The presentation of the DN-19 is expectedly a touch laid back, but with good overall space and a coherent presentation. The DN-19 is capable of placing vocals front and center when necessary, especially when the vents are closed and the bass isn’t overwhelmingly powerful. Not being a particularly quick earphone, it can get congested at times but otherwise manages an airier and more spacious sound than, for example, the VSonic GR06 and HiSound Crystal.
Value (7.5/10) – Dunu’s new flagship is an impressive all-rounder, easily the company’s best-sounding and most distinctive earphone. In typical Dunu fashion it provides a very thoughtful accessory kit and great build quality, but also adds an ergonomic fit and variable-bass sound tuning system, all wrapped up in a unique design. The tuning system of the DN-19 doesn’t quite provide two sound signatures in one as some may hope, but it does greatly affect the way bass is presented. Overall sound quality is good, with variable bass quantity underscoring the capable mids and smooth, extended treble. It may not have the clarity of the armature-based I 3C-S model, but the smooth and forgiving signature should work for a variety of genres and listening preferences.
Pros: Tuning system makes a difference in bass performance; good build quality; great accessory kit; comfortable fit
Cons: Tuning dampers feel cheap compared to the rest of the kit; clarity and transparency lag behind some of the competition