Sorry that IEMs made you feel sick I do find that sometimes if I listen to them while lying down at night I can get a bit of vertigo. Just be glad you didn’t try Etymotics, that’s a whole different level of weird.
I recommend trying medium foam tips. Comply is also a possibility. I don’t normally recommend them because they can negatively influence the sound - but they are suuuper comfortable (that’s what they’re made for). When I first started with IEMs I had to use them to be okay with it haha.
Thanks for the recommendation. That’s interesting… I could see myself probably liking the foam tips, yet at the expense of seal and sound quality, I would honestly rather spend the cash upgrading my over ear setup. I’m definitely glad I had the opportunity to enter the mysterious world of IEMs for a couple days though! While very engaging and appreciable, its just not for me
I’m really sorry to hear that! It took me a while to get used to IEMs, but I never had vertigo or nausea or anything like that but rather just had comfort issues initially. Do you have issues when using earplugs or anything like that?
My SA6 was supposed to arrive Friday based on the Fed-Ex 2-day shipping method headphones.com uses, but FedEx boned me and they still haven’t arrived (I ordered them Wednesday); I’m disappointed in FedEx for sure but am still very excited for the SA6’s arrival.
Actually I’ve never tried earplugs in my life haha. You should like the SA6. It has a super palatable frequency response, truly inoffensive in every way. Details are adequate and enjoyable. Bass frequencies are accurate and well extended. To my ears, the image separation was just okay and the lower treble had very minor imbalances, again not offensive in any way. I would say @antdroid text review was most accurate to my listening experience with the SA6. I really love the way they sound!
Thanks. Hopefully you can pinpoint what caused your symptoms and one day enjoy IEMs. In the meantime, enjoy your over-ear headphones!
I’ve had the SA6, Moondrop Blessing 2 and Moondrop Blessing 2 Dusk on my desk for the last week and it’s been a great week!
Quick sort order with some thoughts below
- Dunu SA6
- Blessing 2
- Blessing 2 Dusk
Starting with the SA6, it’s probably one of the least offensive tunings I’ve ever heard. Pretty laid back with enough punch in the low-end to satisfy without too much emphasis. Just a really easy tuning to get along with. The shell does have a bit of a weird fit though and I can see it not working with some ears but for mine it works perfect. Also, the Dunu cables are fantastic and I cannot say enough good things about them. Focal and Hifiman should definitely take notes.
For the B2 vs the Dusk, I think some would be surprised that I prefer the original B2 over the Dusk since I tend to like a bassier tuning from my headphones. But for me, the Dusk unfortunately loses some of what makes the B2 special just like how I prefer the OG Andromeda over the 2020 version. The Dusk is probably the better headphone objectively but for me, it loses some of that treble sparkle that really impressed me the first time I tried the Blessing 2. Of course, this is all just personal opinion and I don’t think you can go wrong with whichever you choose as they are both great value at their respective price points, the original B2 just edges out the Dusk for me.
I was always hesitant to try Chi-Fi before and to be fair, most of what I tried before wasn’t very good. But the offerings from Moondrop (I didn’t like the S8 but that was solely my own preference, I know @Precogvision quite likes it) and Dunu have really impressed me.
Next on the list is the Monarch and Clairvoyance from Thieaudio!
Let us know if you try the Zen and how they fit in.
Thanks, Taron! I’ve been putting in a lot of ear time with the Dunu SA6 as well this past week, and I find it to be very smooth and agreeable with practically all genres. I hope to have time to give better impressions later in the week.
Good morning folks! So my intent was to write a review for the Dunu SA6, which I’ve been spending serious ear-time with lately, but it has been a struggle. The sound quality and technical performance for the money is pretty darn good, but I’m struggling with consistency due to fit and seal issues using the tips Dunu provided; it’s all possible the nozzle is a bit too short for my ears. With that said, does anyone know the nozzle size and can you recommend a longer silicon tip that may work for me? I’ve had the most success with the medium-sized white stock tips, but I believe I need something a little taller in height so they fit deeper and therefore stay sealed. I’d rather not return these, but it’s not looking good at this point.
You might like to check out the Azla Sedna Earfit tips. They have both short and regular versions. I don’t know if the regular tips are tall enough for your needs, or if they’re even tall by comparison with other brands’ tips, but they may be worth looking into.
There are also light versions of these tips, which are made of thinner material and are slightly brighter, and those come in short and regular lengths as well.
I don’t know about the SA6 specifically but the AZLA line of tips has a good variety of sizes which you can see on Amazon.
If you measure your current tips you could see if any of the AZLA’s look like they would be taller.
Edit: Simultaneous post with Tch above!
Thank you both - I will check them out.
This thread hasn’t seen much activity in the past while but here’s a new review of them!
If you’re mildly familiar with the ChiFi IEM scene over the past decade, DUNU may have been one of those brands you’ve heard but never really given any thought to. At least, that’s the way it was for me. Yet in the last couple of years or so, DUNU has appeared back on the scene with a variety of new IEMs.
I was pretty curious about DUNU and reached out to them for a bit of a history lesson. To roughly paraphrase what their global director of business development Kevin told me:
“DUNU started as an OEM business incorporated in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China back in 1994. From there, DUNU started to engage in audio forums like Head-Fi in the 2010s. But around 2015-2017, they had to shore up some business in China (N.B. which explains why they’ve been quiet over the last few years) before returning back to the global stage. Specifically, over the past three years, DUNU has invested heavily in R&D for Beryllium-based dynamic drivers. This is reflected in their flagship DUNU Luna and upcoming IEMs.”
At any rate, the past year has been especially fruitful for DUNU as they’ve found runaway success with the topic of today’s review: the DUNU SA6. Ironically, it doesn’t tout a Be DD. Falling squarely in the mid-fi price range at $550, it’s a 6 BA IEM with a single tuning switch for what DUNU calls an “atmospheric immersion” mode. Without further ado, let’s get into the review. And make sure to check out the video version of this review on Youtube!
Disclaimer: DUNU sent me the SA6 for review in exchange for my honest thoughts. I do not get compensated in any other way. Shoutout to Kevin and Tom at DUNU for their time and providing me this opportunity.
What’s in the Box?
The SA6 comes with a comprehensive set of accessories. It includes a fairly classy faux-leather zipper case, 11 sets of SS, S, M, and L tips, a cleaner tool, a 3.5 mm to 6.5 mm adapter, and DUNU’s DW-03 modular cable that can hotswap between 2.5 mm, 3.5 mm, and 4.4 mm jacks. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the cable. It’s a cool concept but the cable is on the heavy side for me and has a fair bit of cable noise. On the upside, it has little cable memory and the L-shaped jack is greatly appreciated in these modular-style jacks when the length of the connector can start to get unwieldy.
The IEM itself is rather small and very comfortable in my ears. Isolation is good. It has a single tuning switch at the top that thankfully does not require a SIM tool to flip. The shell is made of a translucent smoky resin with a strikingly gorgeous faceplate. These shells are apparently handmade and the faceplate is made from stabilized wood that you can get in many different colors. Unfortunately, it looks like the exact color and pattern you get each time will be random and unique. Gives it a very nice one-of-a-kind artistic feel in my opinion but you’ll be rolling the dice a bit on what the final faceplate will look like. I think mine looks stunning and I’ve seen a few other beautiful pieces too, so good luck if you grab one!
My first impression of the SA6 was “yea, this is an all BA IEM”. It’s definitely not bad, just that it has that classically BA-like sound. After having done nothing but review hybrid IEMs for the past year, that non-dynamic bass timbre was quite noticeable. My second thought was that these IEMs sound very nicely balanced. It has a smooth, forgiving sound signature. Bass is at a comfortable level, mids are lightly relaxed, and treble has an odd balance to it that I’ll get into. The tuning switch adds a slight 1-2 dB boost in the lower mids and bass on the ON position. Despite this minor bump in the low end, it absolutely has a meaningful effect on the bass response, going from a lighter punch to a weightier thump.
The bass of the SA6 is what I’d consider high quality BA bass. Where it lacks in a deep, bodied bass response seen from top tier dynamic drivers, the balanced armatures of the SA6 has that characteristically fast decay accompanied with a tight, reactive punchiness. What stands out about the SA6’s low end response is how well controlled it is. In some of the tracks in my library, it can be hard to tell if the track itself is poorly recorded or if the IEM/headphone can’t keep up with it. With the SA6, I never get the feeling that it fails to handle the track. What’s more impressive is that the SA6 does this without compromising low end quantity. It doesn’t need to rely on a lean tuning to as a way to capture that sense of control. The bass doesn’t bleed into the mids and there’s not a hint of muddiness or bloat.
There’s a healthy amount of low end volume that lends to the overall balanced tuning of the SA6. On the stock 1 position, the bass of the SA6 is light and leans punchy, giving a it clean cut low end that doesn’t sound sterile. On the so-called “atmospheric” ON position, that punchy bass takes on a weightier, thumpy type of sound that’s a whole lot fuller. While this transformation isn’t exactly dramatic, it definitely adds a different dimension to the SA6’s sound that I suspect many people will enjoy. I personally prefer it on the ON position for more bass oomph to compensate for the BA nature of the SA6. My only complaint would be a lack of a substantial DD-like subbass rumble and impact. Otherwise, the SA6’s bass response is nicely spread across the low end spectrum without sounding like it centers around the mid or upper bass. I’ve found that when some other IEMs that try for a fast, punchy sound or a deep rumble, they end up too pigeonholed in only the midbass or subbass and gives up the other parts of the bass range.
The mids of the SA6 can be described as tonally pleasing and smooth. There’s no sense of incoherency as the bass transitions into the lower mids. Notes are well defined. Tuning wise, while the SA6 certainly isn’t lean, it isn’t warm either. There’s not really any elevation in the lower mids and there’s plenty of upper mids to dissuade that notion. Speaking of the upper mids, I find it to be at a tasteful volume. Not too much that it sounds overly forward or shouty but not recessed that it’s hidden or smothered. Vocals are well positioned front and center without a glimpse of sibilance. I don’t detect any sort of peakiness that might put someone off. Instrument tone is excellent. Unlike the bass, there’s no BA timbre here. Like most other great sounding IEMs, the SA6 has a strong midrange showing with little to nothing to complain about.
The treble of the SA6 is pretty unique. It’s non-fatiguing and easy to listen to yet it doesn’t shy from being fully present in the mix. It’s also very forgiving of poor recordings. Listening to hats and cymbals, the initial attack is partly muted while the backend sizzle has more prominence. It gives the illusion of having a lively and unabated treble without fatigue. Looking at the FR graph, it’s easy to see what’s responsible for this. There’s a fairly large dip right at the start of the lower treble around the 5 kHz mark before recovering around 7 kHz. The de-emphasis on the lower treble and subsequent elevation of the mid treble gives rise to a clear presence that doesn’t sound aggressive. This dip also has the added benefit of avoiding common pain points for sibilance or harshness. While I’m usually a fan of having crisp hats and cymbals, I’ll give the SA6 a pass here. Though this tuning strategy does forgo some of that natural lower treble energy, instrument timbre is still mostly preserved. Other than the hats/cymbals, I’d say the other common instrument that’s notably affected is the sharp crack of the snare. For the smooth, overall balanced tone that the SA6 strives for, its treble complements it very well. My only nitpick is that I wish there was more upper treble extension to give air and brilliance but that’s a complaint for almost every IEM I’ve listened to.
Soundstage and imaging on the SA6 is on the good side of average. It’s what I’d expect for mid-fi but nothing to write home about. Good width with a couple of steps in height and depth. Imaging is solid. Instruments are well separated and properly defined. Similarly, there’s a bit of a layering effect that positions instruments such that they never feel like they’re congested or fighting for space.
Resolution on the SA6 is about as good as its gets until you reach top tier levels. I’d say my only nitpick on the technical side is its slightly diminished dynamics. I do get a bit of a sense that soaring vocals or thunderous kicks seem to hit a bit of a wall at the very peak. But to be fair, this complaint extends to most every IEM except for the truly outstanding.
All in all, the DUNU SA6’s technical performance and presentation sets a robust benchmark for mid-fi. Some of the keen eyed among you may have noticed that the SA6 tuning is rather similar to QDC’s TOTL models, especially with the 5-6 kHz dip. Based on my brief demo of the QDC 8SH, despite the similar tuning, the SA6 is undeniably still a step down. While it’s clear that the SA6 still has a bit of a ways to go before the throne of TOTLs, it comfortably stands its ground in the court of other great IEMs.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. The DUNU SA6 is simply a really good IEM. While it doesn’t necessarily have anything that’s particularly groundbreaking, every part of this IEM comes together beautifully for an experience that’s well worth the $550 price tag. It even managed to surprise me in some ways. I didn’t think I’d prefer the bassier ON tuning nor expect to enjoy this sort of treble tuning this much. And this may be petty but I do like knowing my SA6 is possibly the only one in existence with its specific color scheme and wood grain pattern.
From what I can see, the DUNU SA6 faces two threats. The first is the Moondrop Blessing 2. While I haven’t heard it, my guess is that the SA6 won’t beat it terms of sheer price/performance. Though you could always make the fit and comfort argument I suppose. The second challenge is that the SA6’s relative lack of a “special sauce” may make it susceptible to being supplanted by similar IEMs at better price points in the future. That said, whether those hypothetical IEMs will ever exist is a question in itself. And it doesn’t detract from the value that the SA6 brings to the table. In fact, to put things in perspective, I’d probably get a DUNU SA6 over the Thieaudio Clairvoyance. Between the price and the fit, the SA6 is better value for my money (though the Monarch is still safe).
To conclude then. The DUNU SA6 is an easy recommendation at $550 for almost everyone looking in that price range. This is an IEM that has rightfully earned its praise across a multitude of reviews. Though the hype train may be gone at this point, I’m glad I had a chance to toss my hat into the review ring. I hope DUNU keeps up the good work and continues to release other great IEMs. Only time will tell if that opening story about their R&D efforts was just marketing speak or the seeds of a great future.
And perhaps the greatest praise I can give the DUNU SA6 is that when the pandemic ends, it may be the new daily driver to replace my beloved Sony MDR-EX1000. Ultimately, audio is all about compromises and the SA6’s set of pros and cons might finally be the one that outbalances the EX1000’s.
Written by: Fc-Construct
So professional. I can really see the effort and time you put into crafting this really nice review.
I’m surprised @antdroid hasn’t sent you a B2 yet. It’s basically become the IEM recommendation under $500.
I haven’t heard the Clair or Monarch yet so outside of those I’m pretty happy with saying the SA6 is one of the best under $1000 for IEMs. I know @Precogvision may object to that with the S8 but he SA6 is a little more in line with my personal preferences and fits my ears a little better.
Plus there isn’t a better cable out there than Dunu’s modular cables.
Thanks. Between the photos, video, and written review, I probably sank about 18 hours on this one. I keep trying to streamline the process but I don’t know how it just keeps taking longer and longer lol
Really fantastic review @Fc-Construct. You always strike a great balance of being detailed with an easy to understand style. I really enjoyed it.
I wonder how she compares to the Andromeda 2020.