Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review: Dunu Titan 1 (Fantastic semi-open titanium driver IEM's)

I would like to thank Dunu for sending me this sample for review, I have worked alongside Dunu since they started and have really seen the company grow, this is their first Titanium coated driver IEM, also their first IEM of this design and they don't fail to impress. I always try to write honest reviews. These received over 50hrs of burn-in, small differences were noted so don't judge them straight out the box.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic > Silver LOD > JDS Labs C5D > Titan 1 (small grey tips)
Dell XPS 15 > Sybasonic D31A > Titan 1 (small grey tips)


Specifications:
·         Driver: 13mm Titanium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
·         Impedance:16Ω
·         Sensitivity: 90+- 2dB
·         Reproduction Frequency: 20Hz-30kHz
·         Cable Length: 1.2m
·         Plug: 3.5mm Stere Mini
·         Weight: 18g

Packaging, Accessories and Build quality:
Packaging is similar to other Dunu products, a very well put together black box, that has a premium finish with an image of the IEM's on the front and specification on the side and information about the accessories is on the back. The front has a magnetic flap that opens to show you a page about a band and a window showing the IEM's, on the other side is some information about the Titan 1 including a frequency graph showing the differences between a normal dynamic driver and a titanium coated one. Once you open the next flap you are presented by the IEM's held in a plastic in tray, next to them you will find all the extra tips and below you will find the carry case. All is neatly held in place and well protected, I really like Dunu's packaging, it is not as cheap looking as some other Chinese companies.


Accessories are always abundant in Dunu offerings and these are no different, you get 9 pairs of tips, 3 pairs of grey narrow bore tips, 3 pairs of black wide bore tips and 3 pairs of Sony hybrid clone tips, plenty of tips so everyone is sure to find a pair to fit their ears. A small black carry case is included, I really like the design as it is very sleek yet hard to protect the IEM's which fit inside perfectly. Also included is a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter, all round a great set of accessories, and plenty to get anyone started, they didn't miss out on any essential accessory.


Build quality is superb as always, the all metal housing is to expect, the shiny outer housing, brushed inner housing with perfectly machined vents and nozzle, blue and red rings to tell R and L apart along with excellent strain relief on the housing. The cable above the y-split is rubbery and feels durable, below the y-split it is covered in nylon sheathing, a very nice addition and less tangle prone. The right angled jack is metal with very good strain relief, it will also fit most mobile phones with cases on, the y-split is also metal with the words Dunu and Titan 1 on either side, and a small metal chin slider. Overall excellent build quality and finish, all feeling very premium and built to last.


Comfort, Isolation, Driver flex and Cable noise:
Comfort is excellent, these are designed to be half in-ear, so they have a fairly shallow insertion but this means better comfort, the outer housing causes no pressure in my ears, and they fit snugly and securely but also incredibly comfortably, definitely some of the most comfortable IEM's I've tried.

Isolation is not great, due to the half in-ear, half earbud style of these they have vents on the inner housing which leak sound in and also out, so be careful not to bother nearby people with loud listening volumes, fine for everyday walking about and great for working out where you don't want to be completely isolated, but not so great for commuting in high noise environments.

Driver flex is not an issue at all, and due to all the vents you wouldn't expect it to be.

Cable noise is not a huge issue, yes there is a little, but nothing too distracting and you can always use the chin slider to take away some slack and reduce cable noise.


Sound:
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.

Lows:
The lows extend effortlessly, right down into the sub-bass regions with no audible distortion or strain, they are also very quick in attack and recovery. The lows are punchy and tight so they can keep up easily with fast paced rock yet still have the body and natural decay when it comes to acoustic and jazz. They can pump out the bass when called for in reggae and funk, yet keep it controlled never colouring the mids. Articulate and accurate with good tonality is how I would sum up the lows on these, bass lovers though may not appreciate the delicate and refined lows which are definitely quality over quantity, some may find these bass light.

Mids:
Very detailed, acoustic guitars are very realistically portrayed as if you were in the room, vocals don't have any added body from the lows, meaning both male and female vocals are portrayed with emotion and finesse, however there is a tiny bit of sibilance to be detected in the upper mids. The mids sit only a tiny bit behind the lows in presence. Electric guitars have power and crunch, again the titanium driver allows a very quick yet dynamic sound, so you get all the detail almost BA like but also the realistic sound of a dynamic driver. They also deliver a very spacious sound, so if there are multiple vocals you can still hear every voice separately.

Highs:
The highs are very crisp and detailed, as said before there is a tiny bit of sibilance, but for most listeners this will not be a problem. The highs have very good energy and shimmer and extend with ease, they also have realistic tonality letting you hear every detail and tap of a cymbal without sounding strained or harsh. The highs really sit well in the mix, as unlike many IEM's which have toned down highs to prevent fatigue, these have not toned down the highs, but simply made them real and present thus avoiding fatigue. I find the highs very hard to get right with an IEM, and few manage it, but these do, the titanium driver is lively and fast which helps in keeping the energy in the highs without distortion or effort.


Soundstage is a big part of these IEM's, they have a very wide and spacious sound, no claustrophobic sound from these IEM's, they sound more like an opened back headphone and present a very real stage, where it sounds like you are with the band seeing them live.
Instrument separation is also great due to the airiness of the sound, there is a really impressive sense of space between everything.

Conclusion: Well as you can see these headphones have impressed me, the last headphone I tried that impressed me this much were the Final Audio Design Heaven VIII. These just have such a detailed yet natural and cohesive sound that no other IEM in this price range can compete with. There is a slight dip in the mid-bass that takes a little body away from the mids, but this is not always a bad thing as you hear more detail and have a less congested sound. You get lows that can bring out the thump when called for, you get mids that sound like you are in the room, and highs that extend effortlessly without harshness. Overall a very enjoyable sound, the design is not the best for commuting, but is fine for a general usage IEM. Very well done DUNU, keep up the good work.

Sound Perfection Rating: 10/10 (comfort and excellent sound for an impressive price)