DUNU In-Ears Reviews, Impressions and Discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Great catch. I didn’t really do my homework on these which is bad RD. I’m honestly burned out on iems and feel I have the best on the market for me and don’t need more. And I just don’t think iems sound great in general.

    But I checked it out and the SA6 sounds much more balanced with my 789. So I need to write a new review. Face slap.
     
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  2. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    I gave warnings about IO on SA6 on my post. Haha...not giving you $10. :p
     
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  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I know where you live.
     
  4. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    [​IMG]

    Don't make me shove the SA6 keep in your ear hole. When rereviewing the SA6 again, I prefer High on IEMatch.
     
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  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    New impressions

    Source
    Gugnir Multibit A1 > Schiit Loki (turned to bypass mode) > Drop 789 with Sigma 11 power supply > balanced out > iems

    This is as far as I can tell the best iem rig possible. I don’t think any iem is resolving enough for a better DAC to make a difference.

    Schiit Loki was turned off to bypass mode. So NO EQ.

    Zero ohms output impedance

    SA6 Sound
    • Pretty damn neutral.
    • Vocals are a bit veiled, slightly recessed
    • Not that resolving but not bad either. Good enough to get the picture across.
    • Bass is fairly punchy with little BA timbre compared to other BA iems. Woops it displays some looseness with my ultimate bass challenge track. But not bad. Most songs sound good with the bass response. My test track is brutal. Every other song sounded punchy and tight.
    • Bass extension is excellent for BA iem they extend all the way down effortlessly.
    • Upper mids are not harsh. Neutral-ish maybe a bit recessed
    • Vocal recession is a deal breaker for me with these. It’s subtle but I can’t tolerate any vocal recession.
    • Still one of the most neutral iems on the market and out of a zero output impedance source which is very cool
    • Lacks treble extension.
    • Treble sounds plasticy - cymbals sound plasticy not metallic like they should
    • These iems are close to sounding really good but the midrange recession and treble tonality and lack of extension really takes then down a notch to mid-fi territory. Whatever that means.
    • There is a pronounced spot in the upper mids. On the song “walk of life” by the dire straits the major drum hit is too loud. I had to turn down the volume. This might be the 4K spot Purr1n was talking about. It’s not sharp though. Just a bump, a bit pronounced.
    • Ouch on one of my upper midrange text tracks it is sharp and uncomfortable.....turning the volume down!!!
    • So there is definitely a bump in there somewhere. I don’t study graphs enough to able to put a kHz number on it that skill would have no use to me except to look cool. So I don’t have it.
    • Here goes my ultimate test track for female vocal recession....yes it’s a bit recessed. Her voice should be more upfront in this song but the top end of her voice is neutral. So the vocal recession is in the lower part of the vocal range

    This all sounds pretty decent but there’s something I can’t identify that I dislike about this iem. It sort of feels like it is smoothing detail over in a strange way. Rounding off edges. I don’t like it.


    CONCLUSION
    Decent iem if you are looking for a neutral sound and can tolerate a little bump in the upper mids and slight vocal recession. But they just don’t sound that great to me. I would value these at about 200-300$.

    Ok i just plugged in the B400 to test this. The B400 is inferior technically. It is also warmer with exaggerated lower mids and treble recession. It has more BA timbre throughout the FR. The SA6 is better in every way but soundstage. But I still don’t think the SA6 is worth much more than the B400. I think if I had to choose I’d save my money and go with the B400 because when you add everything up it’s just not much worse. I somehow find the B400 to be more enjoyable once I acclimate to the colored sound which is, for all colorations a good one.

    So I guess I should re-evaluate their worth to 400-500$ because I think the B400 is a great iem at its price.

    That’s it.

    I’m not going to re-review the Zen unless someone wants me to. It was not made for me. I dislike it’s very basic function as a music playback device. I don’t like colored headphones especially exaggerated upper midrange and bass. Other people will like it though.
     
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  6. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Dunu EST 112
    Tribrid: 1 Dynamic Driver, 1 Balanced Armature, 2 Electrostatic Drivers
    MSRP:$490
    Review unit provided on loan by Dunu

    The EST 112 is Dunu’s first foray into ‘tribrid’ territory, a conglomeration of three differing driver technologies. The EST 112 consists of 1 dynamic driver, 1 balanced armature and 2 electrostatic drivers; thus the 112 moniker. The dynamic driver is a large 13.5 mm dynamic with Beryllium coating, the sole balanced armature is listed as a custom Knowles mid-high tweeter, and that leaves dual Sonion EST drivers listed as ‘supertweeters’, a label we are starting to see more often in specifications, regardless of driver types.

    The EST 112 features the Dunu Air Control Impedance System (ACIS), first seen in their DK4001, to improve sub bas response and texture without sacrificing agility. They describe the ACIS tech as a labyrinthine system, which reminds me of the how the Shure SE846 bass filter was described as creating a long, winding impedance path as well, if I’m not mistaken. However it is created, there really seems to be something to it, as Dunu’s models with ACIS seem to have terrific effortless sounding bass that is well textured.

    Aesthetically, the EST 112 is a very nice looking package. The housings are very elegant with their CNC milled aluminum alloy shell and shiny mirrored/chrome sunrise-like design around the Dunu name. Even the vertical slot faceplate vent is classy looking. The shape, while larger than other Dunu models, lends itself to an easy, comfy fit; although I did have to rotate one side a little differently than the other to keep it from rubbing my ear over longer sessions.

    upload_2021-5-29_10-8-18.jpeg
    Image from Dunu-Topsound.com


    Of course the EST 112 comes with the great Dunu modular cable system. The cable is actually a new variant of their DUW-02, now with a S on the end. The difference is the S version is braided versus twisting of the old model. I find the braided S version a better looking than the older twisted version, but otherwise ergonomics are very similar between the two cables. You get all 3 of the modular plugs (4.4, 3.5 and 2.5). The rest of the accessories round with with a nice selection of tips and a blue (leather?) rectangular case.



    Sound
    For the most part, the EST 112 sounds fairly neutral. The modest bass rise starts early enough to impart a pleasant bit of warmth. Bass is taught and fast. It’s really effortless. Perhaps the only complaint (and it’s a very minor one), is a desire for a hair more sub bass presence- though it’s mid bass is fantastically natural sounding. Dunu, IMO, is really starting to hit their stride in bass reproduction with their dynamic drivers.

    The midrange is clear and transparent sounding. The upper midrange gain is modest, at around +7db, and I don’t find it to be too forward. It imparts no harshness that I can detect. Treble, however, is where things can get a little harder to describe. It has this ethereal softness that deceives you into thinking it’s easy going. While it’s not really elevated or bright, it is a bit on the peaky side (not smooth in frequency response), with a bumps around 5k and 10k. For the most part, these peaks are easily manageable, particularly due to the softer edges of its notes, but your ears and music volume may vary.

    We often talk about BA or dynamic driver timbre, well electrostatic drivers have a unique timbre too. The ethereal softness to edges of notes, make the top end pretty manageable, even with splashy recordings. However, those same soft edges give a different flavor to its timbre. While pleasant, I don’t find the treble to have much of a brassy tone and cymbal crash heavy passages just don’t have the edge and ringing that’s really there, if you’ve heard those sounds live. The EST 112 electrostatic drivers really take the edge off Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, a song which can really test your cringe factor. Everything is about trade-offs.



    Comparisons:
    via Mac Mini >> Pi2AES (via AES) >> RME ADI-2 PRO FS R


    Vs. Moondrop Blessing 2
    Hybrid: 1 Dynamic, 4 Balanced Armatures
    MSRP $320

    upload_2021-5-29_10-7-20.png

    The Blessing 2 is a more neutrally tuned in-ear. Upon switching it sounds leaner, and gone is the slight warmth of the EST 112, due to the more elevated upper midrange and treble of the Blessing 2.

    Measurements are a little deceiving here, since they show fairly similar overall bass levels but when listening it is quite obvious the Blessing 2 bass is damped much more than the EST 112. The EST 112 bass is better textured and just more effortless sounding. While the Blessing 2 extends just as deeply, with maybe a hair more sub bass presence, it’s just not as physical or as engaging as the EST 112 bass. Listening to electronic or hip hop music, it was really no contest, the EST 112 bass was just more satisfying.

    Male vocals carry similar weight between the two but the Blessing 2 ups the ante on transparency and clarity. With female vocals, the Blessing 2 has more upper midrange energy. Where Lzzy Hale sounds raw with emotion on the Blessing 2, the EST 112 reigns her in a bit for an easier going, tamer presentation. It’s almost as if there is a hint of haze or upper mid scoop over vocals on the EST 112, when comparing directly against each other. The Blessing 2 is just that much more transparent; it’s also a little more nuanced, making small vocal inflections easier to hear. Rock guitars have more weight and body with the EST 112 but more bite and attack with the Blessing 2. Crunch is great on both and each are engaging presentations, but the EST 112 will more forgiving of your thinner, older rock tracks.

    The top end, not surprisingly, is where the biggest differences are. In songs where treble is recorded slightly splashy, the Blessing 2 can be very unforgiving, whereas the EST 112’s softer edged treble is so much easier to take. During busy cymbal crashes, the Blessing 2 treble can sound a bit blurred and harsh. On those same passages the EST 112 is somehow both softer edged and more clearly defined of the separate sounds; though neither sound particularly airy.

    The Blessing 2 is squarely in the average head-stage category and the EST 112 is right there with it. The Blessing 2 might be a hint wider with a slight edge in imaging, and the EST 112 a little more upfront, a bit deeper and better layered but really, in the grand scheme of things, they are quite similar overall.



    Vs. Softears RSV
    5 Balanced Armatures
    MSRP $730

    upload_2021-5-29_10-7-44.png

    Bass levels holistically seem fairly similar between the two, but RSV focuses more on deep and sub bass and the EST on mid and deep bass. The RSV having a natural sounding armature bass and the EST bass being on the faster side of dynamic drivers, makes for a tough comparison. Gone is the typical dynamic versus armature dichotomy. The overall bass level of the EST is more along the level of my preference and the RSV being just a touch too much. While the RSV has better sub bass texturing, the EST seems just a bit more dynamic overall. Switching to some bass heavy electronic music seems to confirm this- the RSV, while producing more rumble, sounds a little softer edged, lacks a tiny bit of punch and just isn’t quite as dynamic.

    Both sound natural and transparent with vocals. Resolution of vocal nuances is also very similar. Male vocals on RSV have just a hair more body and weight and they sound just a little more forward on the EST. These differences are pretty small and really feels like nit picks that you’d only pick up on with direct a/b. Moving into female vocals, the differences become more noticeable. The EST has brighter, slightly more energetic female vocals. In comparison the RSV is a bit more relaxed, with a bit more body. The EST’s greater energy in upper female vocal harmonics brings nuances more to the front. Where the RSV’s strength is its more agreeable approach, the EST really seems to excel with female vocals. I really feel like the EST is the more transparent window into Lzzy Hale’s vocal performance.

    Rock guitars are more full bodied with RSV and lighter and airier with the EST. Similar to the Blessing 2, the EST has a harder edged attack than RSV but less so than Blessing 2. Overall the EST is also brighter than the RSV, so rock guitars tend to ‘soar’ more with the EST on those favorite rock anthems.

    While the EST is brighter than the RSV it doesn’t sound hot or harsh, rather it has bit of that ethereal treble brightness you can get from electrostatic tweeters. Most of the EST treble presence over the RSV is both lower and mid treble. This greater treble presence does, at times, translate to a bit more realistic timbre with cymbals and hi-hats, yet the electrostatic driver does seem to lack a bit of brassiness one would expect.

    For me the staging is pretty comparable between the two with generally similar dimensions. The biggest difference is the EST is much more upfront overall. It’s close proximity and width is the first things you notice, whereas you take notice of the depth of the RSV and the space around the instruments. This depth and space around the instruments lends itself to a more precise image and the layers within.



    Wrap Up
    When I first heard about tribrids, I thought, “no thank you”. It sounded like a solution in search of a problem; a disaster waiting to happen. But I’ve gotta say, Dunu has done a pretty good job here- giving you the latest and greatest drivers combinations with solidly good tuning, excellent build, all at very fair, very competitive pricing. Now if we could just get a Luna pure Beryllium single driver with SBAF tuning and under 1,200 USD pricing; well, that would be spectacular.

    Dunu was gracious enough to provide this review unit as an SBAF tour loaner. Look out for the USA tour thread to be up soon.
     
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  7. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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  8. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Dunu EST 112

    Source: PI2AES Output Coax > Bifrost 2 > IEMagni & Shanling M3X

    Honestly I didn’t what was the EST 112 until I saw the post @shotgunshane made for it. I haven’t heard anything bad from Dunu yet...and I was hoping the EST 112 continues that trend.


    Build and Design:

    Build quality is excellent in that aluminum shell, the logo is tasteful and not trying to be super annoying to look at. EST 112 uses standard MMCX connectors that moves around, and its great IEM cable using Dunu’s modular system. If I want to swap out the connector to the 4.4mm jack, I can do that quickly. Carrying case is the usual hard leather case with the Dunu logo on it, and it has enough room to put the EST 112 in it. IEMs doesn’t feel like it will fall apart. As others had said, this has three different driver designs.


    Sound:

    I’ll call this a nice sounding Warm-Neutral sounding IEM. I noticed a minor lift in subbass that isn’t going to overwhelm the listeners and it is quite pleasant for just about everything I throw at it. Some might say maybe a little more subbass might be helpful, but I disagree. It has more subass than something like the regular Blessing 2 from Moondrop, and less than the overwhelming subbass that was in the Blessing 2 Dusk. When you think something is just at the right balance, you know when you hear it. Being a DD driver handling bass, it is quite welcomed. There’s good bass textures and depth for the $500ish IEM, and I really enjoy it with my bass guitar bias recordings from Jaco Pastorius.

    Midrange to me sound a little forward for my liking, but honestly not even close to a big deal breaker. I didn’t really find anything seriously wrong with the midrange to make me want to throw the EST 112 off my ears. I believe the midranges are handled by the BA drivers, and yes the BA drivers come alive in the mid-range. These don’t sound like DD type of driver sound if that is what you are into. There is also good depth depending on the recording. However, the midrange can be too much for some if the music you are listening to has a midrange bias (Genesis SACD remasters for example).

    Treble with its electrostatic drivers is interesting….. I felt the treble was rolled off from the edges but still had that energy depending on the recording. If I was listening to a 90s digital recording like Donald Fagen – Kamakiriad, I didn’t get the ear piecing effect on some tracks but I did get the ear piecing energy. It is weird...and very interesting. If you really are sensitive to treble, these may still not work for you because you might still get the energy feeling from treble heavy stuff..even if you don’t hear it. Really hard to explain, but I think there is enough balance here that will be enough to please most people. I still prefer DD for treble, but I can really live with this.


    Other Thoughts:

    Most likely the Dunu SA6 will outperform the EST 112, but while the SA6 has killer sound for the price the EST 112 fits better on my ears. I think due to the SA6 has similar weird Output Z requirements like the OG CA Andromeda, some might prefer the EST 112. I haven’t noticed too much crazy stuff on Output Z from the EST 112, but my two sources are close to 1 ohm for Output Z. If you want tighter bass and more treble get the Blessing 2. If you want some warmth but still within the world of neutral then get the EST 112. I can’t comment which IEM (EST 112 or Blessing 2) will be better on resolution and things like that. I will say that on macro/micro level items the EST 112 can hold on its own quite well. Do I expect it to sound closer to a four figure IEM that doesn’t suck? No I don’t. Can I still listen to stuff on it just fine? 100% yep.


    Conclusion:

    Very very good all rounder IEM for Dunu. While I still think the SA6 might have the edge over the EST 112, I would honestly pick the EST 112 if I was comparing with the SA6. I would still pick the EST 112 over the Blessing 2 and I would pick Blessing 2 over the Blessing 2 Dusk. However, I can see why some would pick the Blessing 2 over the EST 112 due to too much subbass for some in the EST 112 and they prefer the BA drivers for treble.

    End of the day, you have a very very very solid warm-neutral all-rounder IEM that doesn’t suck. Is that good enough for you?
     
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  9. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Have you heard, and can you compare this with the 3001 pro?
     
  10. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Nope
     
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  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    DUNU EST 112

    im sorry I’ve been really sick and can’t offer detailed impressions I’m barely keeping up with work. So this is my quick and dirty summary

    TL;DR
    Good overall balance, slightly warm. Treble is a bit recessed. Bass seems neutral. Midrange is nicely presented. Less recessed than og Solaris. Pretty neutral though maybe just a hair in the background. Seems like upper midrange recession bleeds into the vocal range a bit

    No FR peaks or bothersome resonance in my quick and dirty test with my test tracks. If anything the upper mods are slightly laid back.

    Treble
    Papery - not nice. Cymbals sound like paper not metal.
    Recessed a bit

    Midrange
    Best part of this iem.
    Great tone, nicely resolving. Not recessed (maybe a little)

    Bass
    Wooly
    Lacks definition, delineation, detail
    Good extension
    Good punch

    Soundstage
    Good not great

    Final thoughts
    Get a used og Solaris which is so much more technically capable. The only thing this does better is slightly more forward vocals.

    But overall it’s a welcome tuning to the iem landscape. Aimed at balance and avoiding errors of commission (although they failed here with the treble tonality but otherwise pretty much succeed). But it leaves me with a lot to be desired technically and I wonder wtf the point is of these e stat drivers if BA drivers can deliver better tonality, resolution and extension.
     
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  12. Tchoupitoulas

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    Dunu EST 112 Impressions

    Thank you, SBAF, for kindly letting me participate in this and other loaner tours. I was keen to hear these because I’ve been curious about the electrostatic drivers and I want to get a better sense of what the mid-tier IEM market is like. Until now I’ve only really heard the Massdrop Plus, which I own, and the Dunu SA6 and the Zen on the loaner tour (impressions above). The Zen wasn’t to my taste but I found the SA6 to be impressive for the price. The EST 112 may not be quite as appealing as the SA6 but it comes close, and it likewise seems to be a great value, good quality IEM.


    Caveats and Preferences
    • I typically favor neutral/bright tunings. I have the HD 800 SDR and Focal Clear as my main headphones; even so, I also have the Andromeda 2020 and love it
    • Since I’m in my mid-40s and have suffered some hearing loss I can’t comment much about treble extension

    Gear and Subjective Stuff

    • Sony NW-ZX2: this pairing with the EST 112 is a bit too warm, given the IEMs’ own slightly warm tuning; it also makes for weaker macrodynamics and slam, and the sub-bass presentation is less emphasized than with my desktop setup, which is…
    • Bifrost 2 -> THX 789: this combination is much better; the EST 112 benefits from more power, I suppose, and from the more neutral sound. Everything’s tighter, cleaner, more energetic and dynamic, and better separated with a more open headstage
    • I found that lighter/thinner silicone tips didn’t work well, making the sound too thin and throwing off the timbre
    • Final E and Azla Sedna Regular Earfit tips worked much better. The latter tips were the best for getting the most out of the IEMs’ bass response; the Final E were closer to neutral
    • the cable is great, for the price, and I love the modular design with the different plugs. (I’m tempted to buy a set separately).
    • I found the shells to be perfectly comfortable, and I suspect they’re smaller than the SA6, which caused me some pain by rubbing against my ear’s antihelix.

    Tuning
    The EST 112 are a slightly warm pair of IEMs. They’re not as warm as the SA6 or, rather, the warmth isn’t laid on as thickly because the tonal weight is lighter than that of the SA6. If the SA6 struck me as being a bit v-shaped these are more laid back.

    You could be forgiven for thinking the standout feature of these IEMs would be the treble, given the electrostatic drivers. it’s surprising, then, to find that the EST 112’s greatest qualities are instead in the bass and mids. The bass has a decent amount of heft - too much for classical music. I’d guess there’s a fairly even emphasis from the sub-bass and to the mid-bass, but there isn’t quite the rumble I’ve heard with other dynamic driver IEMs. The bass doesn’t come across as overly thick or ponderous, though, and it has some decent texture. I’ve tried avoiding reviews and impressions of the EST 112 but couldn’t help but notice shotgunshane describing the bass as relatively natural and airy (here); his description sounds spot on to me. The bass isn’t especially fast or tight, and it’s unsurprisingly not on the same technical level as the dynamic driver in the Campfire Audio Vega 2020 or the Dorado 2020. But, for the price, it’s pretty good.

    The mids seem nice and even: I didn't notice any particular recession or unevenness, and vocals seem fine, not too forward or too far in the background. I should add, though, that vocals aren’t especially important to me. The hybrid implementation also seems to work well; I couldn’t detect any weirdness or wonkiness in transitions from the bass to the mids or then on to the treble. Overall, the timbre of acoustic instruments comes across well. Brass instruments are more convincing than strings, which don’t quite reverberate richly enough and, as a result, sound a bit thin.

    The best thing I can say about the treble is that it seems pretty smooth and clean and clear. These qualities, though, aren’t really all that impressive given the laid back tuning. The treble rolls off fairly quickly so there’s not really all that much to be smooth and clean… There isn’t much top-end air, either. Having said that, the aren’t any problematic peaks, at least not to me, and there isn’t any particular graininess. Maybe that’s the strength here? Overall, though, I’m not sure that the treble is much of a selling point, really. It’s far from ideal for classical music and jazz. The upper registers of woodwind instruments don’t fare especially well with the EST 112, and trumpets don’t come across as brightly as in real life.


    Technicalities
    Here the EST 112 are in line with mid-tier offerings. Macrodynamics could be stronger - especially from a dynamic driver - and there isn’t a great amount of slam. Staging is better. The EST 112 don’t offer a particularly large or open headstage but it’s decent enough, and more importantly doesn’t sound congested, especially because the imaging, layering, and separation are all excellent for the price. The one disappointment is the resolution. It’s fine - again, for the price - but it’s not much better than the Massdrop Plus’s resolution, and it’s a step behind the SA6’s. For technicalities, I’d prefer to fork out the extra $60 for the SA6.


    Conclusion
    The EST 112 are appealing IEMs for the price. They benefit from a powerful source; I’d also recommend avoiding warm DAPs. These IEMs aren’t tuned excitingly or aggressively; they make for a nice fatigue-free, relaxing listen. I suppose they’d work well for listening to rock music late at night, after a long day and with an adult beverage in hand.

    I’ve now heard two pairs of hybrid IEMs with electrostatic drivers. Neither of them has been particularly impressive when it comes to treble presentation. I get that they may be smooth, free of grain, and perhaps have other qualities to which I’m oblivious. But given that I have suffered some age-related hearing loss and I still notice a treble roll off and lack of air on both of them, I’m beginning to wonder what the point of these drivers is. I don’t mean this to appear to be critical of Dunu. The other hybrid electrostatic IEMs I heard were the Empire Ears Odin, which shared the same limitation. In fact, it occurred to me that the EST 112 shares a similar tuning to the Odin’s. Clearly, the EST 112 is no Odin. But it’s a pretty great IEM for the price.
     
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