I have been in this hobby for while. In the last one and half decade I have seen a lot. Heard a lot. My perception has changed a lot too. When a new type of driver gets mainstream things are usually scratchy and need some refinement. This has happened with all type of drivers and before the Planar take over EST based IEMs too had a good amount of struggle before brands got things right. Same goes for the latest planar drivers. These drivers are not exactly new. Planars were initially associated with headphones since they needed a lot of power to drive and had high impedance too. But in the last few years things have changed. A handful of chi-fi brands have ventured into planar drivers and after some time brands are getting better at tuning of planar drivers but to excel they still need some help. SeekReal Dawn is one of the examples of this. This 14×10 mm planar driver IEM paired with a BA driver to deliver clean yet fatigue free sound. This tuning something really special and speaks a lot about the ability of current day chi-fi brands.
I will compare it with Dunu Talos and Shuoer S12 pro.
Get one from here:
ACCESSORIES AND UNBOXING:
To my surprise Dawn’s all black cardboard box doesn’t have any illustration of the earpiece which is kind of strage. All it has is some information on the back that too in Chinese. Nevertheless opening the box is fairly simple and the unboxing is straightforward. The earpieces are stuffed in foam while the set of ear tips are placed under them. There is one pair of foam tip and 2 sets of wide and narrow bore tips in S/M/L sizes. On the lower half of the box is the carry case which has the cable inside it. This zipper case looks nice and is handy to carry around. It has good amount of space but there is no net container for extra set of tips.
BUILD QUALITY & ERGONOMICS:
I was talking with one of my readers and he was not sure if this IEM will fit him properly. He was concerned that it might have a feeling like Blon BL-03. I looked at the earpiece and thought this nozzle is long enough, one should not struggle with the fit but initially I too struggled a bit with the fit. Once I realize that it needs to be twisted down a bit to fit my ear cavity properly I had no issues whatsoever. If anyone feels they need some help, get a pair of spinfit tip, they will do the trick. Dawn isn’t a very ergonomically designed IEM though. It has simple shell which holds on with help from the nozzle and cable guides.
There isn’t a lot of information available about the material used on the body but I guess its aluminum and feel super solid and sturdy to the hand. It has two set of vents, one aside the nozzle, three on the side of the body. of this I am not sure but thanks to its heft a solid feeling I guess this earpiece can survive a drop on hard floor without much problem.
Dawn ships with a good looking 4 core 5N silver plated single crystal copper cable. It is one of the supplest cables I have used in recent times, it isn’t heavy or bouncy, feels strong yet soft to the hand. There is little to no microphonics to worry about. Parts used in this cable look nice and compliments the Dawn aesthetically. The cable splitter and 3.5mm jack are reasonably small while the cable guide is minimalistic and gentle on the ear.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
Being a planar IEM dawn isn’t an easy IEM to drive. It doesn’t have a high impedance rating but the 17ohm resistance doesn’t express the need for power to sound good.
It needs at least 200mw of power to sound good and when driven out of lower end mobile phones the sound quality of Dawn is below average. I have used it with both Redmi note 10 Pro Max and Shanling UA5 and the difference in quality is crystal clear.
As mentioned earlier this is one of the most capable and clean sounding planar based IEMs I have ever used and believe me I have used a handful of these but I think the BA driver helps a lot too. I haven’t heard any high end planar based IEM but I have heard most of the lower mid stuff and the Dawn sounds like it has taken notes from other IEMs shortcomings and aggression and put out a more refined sounding IEM that doesn’t have the dark or super warm feeling of 7hz Timeless, or the treble aggression of Shuoer S12. Dawn strikes a very good balance that doesn’t compromise with nearly anything. It’s a $179 IEM and one can’t really expect refinement and quality of a $1k IEM but if one can sideline a couple of things Dawn does take on $500 worth IEMs without much problem.
Just make sure you are driving it properly and Dawn delivers a well balanced sound that is fast and agile with high quality details across the spectrum. It doesn’t have any kind of bloating or spikes to worry about. The signature is a bit on the crispy side but still has decent amount of juiciness.
I am using Shanling UA5 as the source with stock narrow bore tips for this review.
I have heard a handful of planar based IEMs. First being the Tin P1 max, the first thing I was not pleased with was the inability to deliver the lower end properly. Then the 7hz Timeless was loose and lacked definition but had the thickness.
In other words it was acceptable but being a reviewer I can’t be happy with this. It needs to have better control and precision while delivering good resolution and definition and all of this is available with the Dawn. Is it bassy? A bit. Does it hit hard? Nope. Does it lack bass body? Not at all. Does it have superb rumble? Yes. Does it move a lot of air? More than average. All of these questions lead to some kind of bias and the Dawn comes out with only positives. It delivers notes with good accuracy while exhibiting nice control. The issue with Timeless was its inability to deliver notes between soft and hard, it’s either soft or hard but Dawn has much better dynamics. As mentioned earlier the only issue is it’s a bit on the drier. Notes have weight but they are not heavy and thanks to this the decay is on the faster side.
Dawn doesn’t lack with sub-bass extension but it’s not very rumbly while the mid bass is a bit more voluminous giving the lower end the required amount of body. Upper bass is fairly linear without any anomalies.
One of the biggest issues with the Timeless and P1 max was the lack of consistency with the mid range. Where is P1 max was sharp and thin the Timeless was very thick and blunt. S12 is a bit too deep in the V. Thankfully dawn doesn’t have any of these. But it isn’t a saint either. If you can’t handle even a little bit of sharpness you might feel a bit of aggression since Dawn offers good amount of bite and aggression with upper mid instruments. It’s nowhere as sharp as what the Shuoer S12 offers. There is little dip in energy around the vocals but it’s minimal. Notes have very good height and nice body with excellent definition in the finishing region.
Dawn strikes a much better balance with the vocals too. It’s neither loose or thin or drowned. Unlike most of the planar IEMs Dawn isn’t in the V and this has to be one of its strongest pro. I find this vocal range to be well defined with good texture and excellent timber. There is no metallic ring or thinness to worry about. No vocal sibilance like S12 either. Both male and female vocals have accurate thickness, male vocals are throaty while female vocals are aptly sharp.
If I didn’t mention it earlier, Dawn has some of the best balance for a planar based IEM and it’s easily goes up against the best when it comes to balance and it shows in the treble region too. I have to give credit to the BA driver for this. It’s tuned well. The best thing I noticed immediately is the extension. It’s superb for an IEM priced lower than $200. There is little to no lack of extension. Yes, it’s not the endless type we see with Fibae 3 or Shozy Elsa but it’s nothing short of what the critically acclaimed Shuoer S12 offers except with the Dawn the listener doesn’t have to worry about aggressive and sibilant notes.
Layering and separation are not as clear as DUNU SA6, especially at the base of the notes but are much clearer and airier than 7hz Timeless.
IMAGING AND STAGE:
Dawn has a fairly expansive stage which isn’t very tall like the Shuoer S12 but is much more rounded. It does have a slightly taller than average stage but doesn’t lack with x-axis width either. Z-axis depth is on par with similarly priced planar IEMs.
Imaging is something the Dawn is slightly different. Most of the vocal notes are placed inside the head. Bass notes fire up and into the head while the treble region has a lot of space and air. Instrument density isn’t exactly even but there is no hollow feeling to worry about. Sonics too are very good with high quality cue placement.
Talos ia very similarly equipped IEM but what it has is a switch that lets us switch between only planar and Planar + BA modes. So, we are here to see how the Talos with its BA switch on does against the Dawn.
Dawn with the stock narrow bore tip delivers a wholesome amount of lower end which is more dynamic and versatile compared to Talos. It has better sub-bass reach, more rumble, bigger area of impact and similarly fast but where the Talos is slightly tighter, Dawn is juicier. Dawn’s mid or treble ranges are much calmer than the Talos. Talos is peaky and harsh with female vocals and upper mid instruments which get a bit uncomfortable. Vocals are a bit more precise with the Talos but it’s not as throaty, timber accurate or fuller. While the Dawn can sound a bit unclear at the origin plane of notes, Talos is cleaner. Sonically both are similar but thanks to the extra bit of energy Talos sounds a bit more detailed but both are very similar in this regard. Both are very good with stage expansion. While the DUNU is a bit on the taller side, Dawn is a lot more rounded.
VS Shuoer S12 pro and Dunu Talos:
If I haven’t mentioned it earlier let me mention it now. I find the Dawn to be a very good example of evolution of planar drivers. This IEM is a product of higher understanding of what has to be done with planar drivers. It isn’t something unpolished or half baked. It doesn’t try to hide behind warm or peaky notes labeling them as its USP. Dawn easily gets my recommendation over Shuoer S12, DUNU Talos and 7hz Timeless.
Dawn delivers high quality details with a slightly bass tilt which is still nicely balance. It doesn’t have any bothering element and can be used for long listening sessions. Yes, the instruments could have been spread a bit more evenly and tonality could have been a bit juicy but these things allow this IEM to be tonally accurate and detailed.