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.
Value (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