Reviewed February 2014

Details: Dunu’s dual BA – dynamic hybrid earphone
MSRP: $215 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $160 from$170 from | $215 from CTC Audio
Specs: Driver: Dynamic + Dual BA Hybrid | Imp: 10Ω | Sens: 98 dB | Freq: 16-22k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock wide-nozzle single-flanges, Stock & Comply T-400 foam tips
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange wide-channel (3 sizes), single-flange narrow-channel (3 sizes), and bi-flange silicone tips, 4 pairs of foam tips, eartip spacer set (6 pairs in 3 sizes), shirt clip, ¼” adapter, airline adapter, cleaning cloth, pair of cable guides, soft carrying pouch, crushproof metal carrying case, and integrated cable wrap
Build Quality (4.5/5) – As with all of the other Dunu products I’ve tried, the construction of the DN-1000 is very solid. The metal housings have a nice finish to them and the latest iteration of Dunu’s cable is soft, smooth, and tangle-resistant. The machined aluminum y-split and cable cinch add to the premium feel. It may be a little more impressive to see this same level of build quality on Dunu’s sub-$100 models but that doesn’t detract from the DN-1000 in the least. There doesn’t seem to be any driver flex on my unit, either. My one complaint is that the silver L/R markings can be tough to see and the small bump on the left strain relief meant to help identify the left earpiece is too close to the earphone housing
Isolation (3.5/5) – Very good for an earphone with this form factor
Microphonics (4/5) – Good when worn cable-down; excellent when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (3.5/5) – The housings are on the heavy side and large enough to hold the hybrid driver setup. The weight and size can lead to mild discomfort in the long term but the earphones lend themselves nicely to over-the-ear wear, which helps with the weight. Overall, the DN-1000 is similar to the AKG K3003 in size and fit, though its strain reliefs are not offset like those of the AKGs. Dunu’s new eartip spacers help position IEM housing farther out of the ear and can also have an effect on sound, similarly to what we normally accomplish with tip rolling. That said, the DN-1000 is a little pickier with fit than sets like the RHA MA750 and some of the possible tip/spacer combinations make it easy for the tips to slip off the nozzles

Sound (9.2/10) – Balanced armature / dynamic hybrid earphones have been gaining popularity in the past year or two, but few have impressed me as much as the DN-1000. Dunu’s new flagship does what every hybrid hopes to – combines the bass performance of a good dynamic driver with the strengths of a BA setup, in this case the popular Knowles TWFK. The bass driver of the DN-1000 performs very well, providing plenty of both mid-bass and sub-bass, and should satisfy all but the most die-hard bassheads. The bass extends deep and is pretty quick considering the quantity. The RHA MA750, for example, is slower and can sound a bit “bassier” in the conventional sense as a result.

The DN-1000 has a thinner note presentation than the RHA MA750, especially in the midrange, but also sounds clearer than the more veiled RHA set. In keeping with other TWFK-based earphones, the mids of the DN-1000 are a touch thinner compared even to some BA setups, such as the InEar StageDiver SD-2 and EarSonics SM64. That said, the DN-1000 has very little bass bleed and superb midrange clarity, helped further still by the excellent treble energy. The DN-1000 has more perceived clarity compared, for example, to the HiFiMan RE-400 and StageDiver SD-2, which both sound duller at the top end.

The top end of the DN-1000 is bright and crisp, and again rather typical of a TWFK-based earphone. It can be a touch splashy, especially at high volumes, and it takes some playing with all of the included tips and eartip spacers to get the optimal (i.e. smoothest) treble performance out of the DN-1000. I personally found foam tips (especially Comply T-400s) with a deeper seal to work best for me, and the wider single-flange silicone tips with the red spacers to be good as well. In truth, I tend to listen at lower volumes and generally quite like TWFKs, but those who expect to crank up the volume with the DN-1000 to maximize bass impact may find the treble a little too prominent. The RHA MA750, for example, has overall smoother treble and makes the DN-1000 seem a bit fatiguing in comparison. The same goes for the pricier EarSonics SM64 – its treble is smoother, especially at high volumes. 

Select Comparisons

T-Peos H-100 ($120)

T-Peos’ dual-driver hybrid is a rather unique-sounding earphone with a bright and cool tonal character. In comparison to the H-100, Dunu’s DN-1000 hybrid is bassier but also clearer – an impressive accomplishment. The midrange of the H-100 appears to be more scooped out, sounding more distant compared to the Dunu. The H-100 is also brighter and has greater upper midrange emphasis, which causes it to sound a bit “nasal” with the vocals on some tracks. The DN-1000 consistently sounds more natural in comparison. Still, despite its brightness, the H-100 is a touch less revealing of sibilance than the DN-1000, though that’s not quite enough to shift the balance in its favor. The T-Peos unit also exhibits more driver flex compared to the Dunu.

VSonic VC1000 ($125)

VSonic’s dual-armature release is based on the same Knowles TWFK driver as the DN-1000, but without the dynamic driver of the Dunu. The performance of the two earphones is very close despite the differences in sound signature. The most glaring difference is, of course, the far greater bass quantity of the Dunu. However, even in comparison to the bass-heavy DN-1000, the VC1000 sounds pretty punchy. Its bass is also tighter, and it has a more prominent midrange next to the somewhat v-shaped DN-1000.

Clarity is on par between the two earphones but the VC1000 has a slightly smoother top end, which is especially noticeable at higher volumes. On the whole, these earphones illustrate two very different tunings but neither really has the upper hand in performance. The DN-1000, for example, consistently seems to have too much bass when heard back-to-back with the VSonic set. The VC1000, likewise, seems to have too little but, admittedly, is closer to my own personal target than the Dunu.

Philips Fidelio S2 ($150)

The Fidelio S2 is a dynamic-driver earphone with an accuracy-oriented tuning. The DN-1000, which boasts a v-shaped sound signature, has much more of a “wow” factor to its acoustics. Its powerful bass easily outpaces the Philips set, which itself is no slouch when it comes to depth and impact. More surprisingly, the Dunu seems a bit clearer than the more balanced-sounding Philips, due in part to its brighter tonal character. The Fidelio S2 is not the most exciting earphone in the first place, and next to the DN-1000 it sounds especially dull. On the downside, the treble of the DN-1000 has a more “metallic” timbre than that of the Fidelio S2, especially at higher volumes, which is not uncommon for earphones based on the Knowles TWFK driver. The Fidelio S2 is significantly less efficient than the DN-1000, and while it is undoubtedly very proficient and more accurate overall, I couldn’t help but reach for the Dunu when given the choice.

VSonic GR07 Bass Edition ($179)

I’ve always maintained that in the case of this GR07 model, “Bass Edition” is a bit of a misnomer – while it is bassier than the regular GR07, it’s far from a basshead earphone as the name may suggest. The DN1000 has significantly more bass, especially deep bass, than the GR07 BE, and on the whole its sound signature is more v-shaped – closer to the GR02 Bass Edition than any of the other VSonic sets I’ve tried.

The GR07 BE is overall more balanced with less bass emphasis/more linear bass response and mids that are more in line with everything else. Due in part to the treble boost, the DN1000 can sound a little clearer and while the Dunu can be a little sibilant, the GR07 fares worse in this respect. The DN-1000 also has a slightly deeper, more layered presentation than the GR07 BE.

1964EARS 1964-V3 ($425)

Moving well outside of the $200 price bracket, the 1964-V3 triple-driver monitors offer a bass-heavy BA sound in a custom-fit form factor. While the dynamic driver of the DN-1000 affords the Dunu set better bass depth compared to the 1964EARS, the 1964-V3 actually has more mid-bass, which gives it a characteristically warmer, more full-bodied sound. At the same time, the BA-based bass of the 1964-V3 is a little quicker while the DN-1000, in a way consistent with its dynamic driver, has slightly softer, less immediate bass impact.

Overall, the DN-1000 sounds more v-shaped than the V3, which has a relatively forward and energetic midrange. The mids of the DN-1000 are thinner and more withdrawn while its treble is a little brighter. The Dunu is also more sibilance-prone, though the V3 itself is not perfectly smooth, especially at higher volumes.

Sennheiser IE 800 ($800)

The Sennheiser IE 800 is a rather unique earphone that does a few things very right but is somewhat let down by its design. The DN-1000 reminds me of the IE 800 in several ways, right down to the fit sensitivity. The IE 800’s treble has an extra spike that appears unless it’s inserted very shallowly, thanks to its proprietary D2CA tuning system, while the DN-1000 seems to work the opposite way with my ears, requiring a good seal for the smoothest sound. In terms of performance, the IE 800 is overall more detailed and refined, and sounds warmer without a drop in clarity. When it is inserted properly it is less bright and more forgiving of sibilance than the DN-1000, but it is five times the price with a very slight gain in refinement, which speaks volumes for the Dunu DN-1000.

AKG K3003 ($1300)

Though the K3003 and DN-1000 are separated by a huge gap in price, they are both triple-driver hybrid designs and don’t differ all that much in sound signature. To me, the DN-1000 makes for an excellent reasonably-priced approximation of the K3003. Compared to the AKGs with my preferred “Reference” filter installed, the DN-1000 has more prominent bass and a more subdued-sounding midrange. The two earphones have similar overall treble energy but because of its extra bass emphasis, the DN-1000 appears less bright overall.

The K3003 has a stronger midrange, dipping down less than the DN-1000 for a less v-shaped overall signature. Its mids appear a little clearer but overall aren’t too different from the Dunu’s, especially on tracks where the DN-1000 doesn’t have occasion to exhibit its explosive bass. The K3003 is somewhat less prone to sibilance despite similar overall treble energy – something about the way its treble peaks are positioned often makes it stop right on the verge of sibilance when the DN-1000 oversteps. Lastly, the K3003 has a slightly more spacious sound and images a touch better, though again it’s hard to justify the price difference based on the performance gap between the two earphones.

Value (9/10) – The Dunu DN-1000 is a high-end earphone of a very rare breed – one of a select few that are both quite bass-heavy and superbly clear, and also rather well-isolating. This is an especially unusual combination because bass-heavy earphones tend to have large, often vented, dynamic drivers. The DN-1000 uses its hybrid configuration to obtain rumbling, hard-hitting bass from its medium-sized dynamic driver while maintaining excellent clarity outside of the bass region. Its V-shaped signature makes it especially great for modern music – EDM, pop, and so on – and the excellent construction, though typical for Dunu, still stands out among other $200 IEMs.

Pros: Voluminous bass with excellent midrange clarity; lots of eartips included with many possible fit configurations; very well-made
Cons: Treble can get peaky typical of a TWFK earphone; a bit heavy in the ear

Note: the DN-1000 receives my first-ever “recommended” badge. Products that achieve a 9/10 value rating, make one of our buyer’s guides, or are otherwise especially worthy of recommendation will be eligible to receive this badge in the future. It is my hope that this will further help our readers make sense of the increasingly large number of competent in-ear earphones.