DUNU SA6 - Official Thread

I have the Andro 2020, heard the SA6 on a loaner tour on another forum, and compared them directly.

The SA6 has a mild, v-shaped sound, one that tends towards more overall warmth than the Andro 2020; the Andro’s tuning is downward sloping, with less treble rebound, which makes it sound darker.

The SA6 has a thicker, richer, and more substantial sound. Notes sound weightier. The SA6 is not slow but the Andro 2020 is much lighter and has a wonderfully open, ethereal quality to it; the Andro is also much faster. The SA6 has stronger macrodynamics and better slam. (I’m stealing the term “ethereal” from someone else - @jrockwell, I think - and it’s a spot on description).

The bass is stronger and more emphasized on the SA6 and it extends further and more robustly into the sub-bass region. The bass is faster and tighter on the Andro, though.

The Andro has a much better mid-range presentation. The mids are more forward and provide a good deal more overall musical information than the SA6. The timbre of acoustic instruments - especially brass and strings - is better on the Andro but the SA6 is still decent here.

The treble extends well on the SA6 but is cleaner and smoother on the Andro. Both lack that last bit of top-end extension, although the Andro sounds airier.

Soundstage is far superior on the Andromeda 2020. It has far better imaging, layering, and separation, and there’s a much greater amount of space surrounding instruments. The SA6 isn’t congested or closed in, exactly, but the the sound is far more open and spacious on the Andromeda. (There are few IEMs that can beat the Andro at this).

The Andro has far more resolution - this, in fact, is arguably one of the greatest improvements of the Andromeda 2020 over the SA6. Thanks to this, and thanks to the better mids and the superior soundstage, the Andromeda 2020 is clearly a step up from the SA6. The Andromeda is also incredibly engaging and musical, much more so than the Dunu IEMs. I completely agree with @jrockwell about the Andromeda 2020 being one of the easiest recommendations in the hobby.

That said, the SA6 is an exceptionally good IEM and probably one of the best out there for its price.

If you’re trying to decide which to get, such factors as budget, source gear, and musical preferences (including the kinds of music you like) will be important considerations. The Andro is also picky about sources: get the wrong one and you’ll suffer from a good deal of hiss; if your source has a low output impedance, below an ohm, the Andro 2020 will sound much darker and a bit bassier. As someone who prefers neutral tunings, I’d recommend a DAP or dongle with a higher Z out.

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Thank you for very for the detailed comparison.

Man, its a hard choice, the Andro 2020 seems so cool, but the SA6 has this great tonal balance and its half the price.

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Yeah for tonal balance, SA6 > Andro 2020. But for techs Andro2020 > SA6

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I won’t presume to make a recommendation for you as I don’t know your priorities or preferences but it sounds as though you’ve got two very good reasons to get the SA6!

The good news is that both of them are fairly new releases and won’t become unobtanium anytime soon. Buy used and get both?!

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Do you guys know which has a more natural timbre?

My preference tends to fall in line with @Resolves.

I think I am leaning towards the SA6 for it’s tonal balance, but might pick up the Andro 2020 later on to give it a try.

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Beyond noting that the Andro 2020 is quite dark, I’m reluctant to say. Timbre is something I find hard to appreciate; I’ll defer to more experienced ears, especially as I didn’t have the SA6 on loaner for long enough. Sorry.

This reminds me of something I was thinking about the other day - like so many of us, I’ve not heard live music in over a year. The last concert I went to was in the first week of March in 2020. In other words, I’ve not heard a real instrument in over a year (alas, I don’t play instruments myself).

I wonder how well I remember what a real violin or clarinet or acoustic guitar sounds like.

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Tonality is highly subjective. For my tastes Andromeda has the best tonal balance of any IEM I’ve heard that isn’t the Elysium and imho this is one of the main reasons it has been so enduring to so many for so long. If it wasn’t for my preferences for DD timbre in the mids and lows Andro would probably be my #1 IEM. If I’m asked to rec someone an IEM knowing nothing else of their tastes and inclinations Andro 2020 is still the top choice imho even though I’d probably rank it #5 overall out of everything I’ve heard.

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I ended up pickup up the SA6 over the Andro 2020, going to save a few more pennies and get the U12T or the A8000 in the next few weeks.

Thank you everyone for your help.

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Dunu Studio SA6 Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The Studio SA6, or simply “SA6” as it’s more commonly known, is a midrange IEM from Dunu, and it retails for $549.99. As suggested by its name, the SA6 is utilizing six balanced armature drivers that cover different frequency ranges. In this review I’ll be sharing my experience with the SA6, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how it compares to some of the similarly-priced IEMs I’ve had the opportunity to listen to.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

All the listening for this review was done on the Astell & Kern SR25, and the Astell & Kern Kann Alpha. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library, as well as from Qobuz and Tidal via Roon when using the Kann Alpha in DAC mode.

Accessories

Included with the SA6 is a sweet array of accessories. Inside their rather colorful box, you’ll first be greeted by a blue, Dunu carrying case which, despite being what I’d described as a medium size, does have a low profile that keeps it easily pocketable.

Also included is a generous assortment of silicones eatips. I will note right away, though, that despite the difference in their colors as well as varying driver opening sizes, I personally could not hear an acoustic difference between them–at least not a significant one.

Last but definitely not least there is the stock cable, which is a silver-plated, 8-core, braided OCC cable measuring 1.2m in length. For the headphone side, it’s using 2-pin connectors, and then on the source-end it features Dunu’s modular plug system, which is a locking mechanism that allows you to swap between the included 3.5mm single-ended, 4.4mm balanced, and 2.5mm balanced terminations.

Build and Comfort

The build on the SA6 is both very sturdy, and visually appealing. Similar to the Blessing 2, it’s using a resin, see-through shell that although tinted a bit darker, does allow you to peek into the IEM’s components. As for the faceplates, Dunu has utilized beautiful pieces of stabilized, solid wood that are dipped in ink of varying colors, which results in no two sets of SA6 headphones looking the same.

As for comfort, the SA6 is excellent, and it’s the IEM that I’ve found easiest to wear in prolonged listening sessions. Like the Blessing 2, it’s on the larger side for IEMs, which could cause some discomfort for users with smaller ears. However, the chassis features an incredibly well-contoured mold that naturally fits with the shape of the human ear. Also worthy of mention is that with the abundance of eartips included, I’m sure that users won’t have a hard time finding a set that fits their ears nicely and achieves a good seal.

Sound

For its driver configuration, the SA6 is using six balanced armature drivers: two Sonion AcuPass Vented Dual Woofers for bass frequencies, two Knowles custom midrange drivers, and a Knowles custom dual tweeter driver for the treble frequencies.

First Impressions

When I first sat down to listen to the SA6, I was immediately reminded of the Blessing 2, an IEM that I enjoyed very much when I reviewed it, and one that still serves as my tonal benchmark for IEMs today. It’s got a pleasant and musical presentation, with a balanced tonality that I would describe as being slightly-warm-to-”neutral.”

Bass

The bass region on the SA6 sounds to me as though it’s adequately contoured. It’s got a well-defined bass shelf under 150hz, that for my tastes and preferences sits at just the right level, offering some warmth and depth for the bass region–even more so than the Blessing 2. In case you want more bass, though, the SA6 has a switch at the back of the unit that allows you to activate what Dunu has dubbed their “Atmospheric Immersion” mode when set to the “on” position, and it’s essentially a bass boost… Admittedly, it’s not the most pronounced boost, as it sounds to me as though there is less than a 5dB increment when activated, but having the option to draw a little more rumble out of the headphone is a welcome addition.

Now, if there was one thing that particularly stood out to me from the SA6’s bass region was that although the lows were actually very present, they didn’t deliver much of an impact, which is not very surprising given that the SA6 does not feature a dynamic driver. Aside from that, though, I really enjoyed the SA6’s bass response; it was remarkably articulate for an IEM in his price bracket, and it was still properly textured.

Mids

I think the midrange on the SA6 is fantastic, with a rich body and lush overtones. Compared to the Blessing 2 which could occasionally come across as just slightly shouty, the SA6 has an upper midrange that instead feels cooled-down a touch, but it still has good presence. Overall, it’s a delightful and linear midrange tuning that feels organic, and keeps vocals and instruments like pianos sounding very natural.

Highs

The treble region on the SA6 is for the most part quite warm, though I did find it to be just ever so slightly uneven. To me it sounded as though there was a bit of an emphasis between 6.5-8K. Thankfully, this was fairly subtle, it didn’t really introduce any sibilance, and it didn’t make the SA6 fatiguing in any way. However, I did find that certain instruments’ timbre could feel slightly off as a result. Listening to electric guitars, for example, it did feel as though some of their upper harmonics were somewhat unnaturally brightened, and in turn they sounded a bit tinnier. Similarly, there were certain percussive instruments like snare drums which had a more pronounced bite, or cymbals which had a more present sizzle.

Once again, I’ll reiterate that this was subtle, and I personally didn’t find it as bothersome as the Blessing 2’s 5K peak, or the 6K peak on the Polaris. It’s still a good tuning for the treble range that extends nicely into the upper registers above 10K, and properly nuances the highs.

Resolution

For detail retrieval and overall image clarity the SA6 delivers outstanding performance for its price bracket. Throughout the entire frequency range the SA6 produces a stable and pristine image of the music, with vocal and instrument lines remaining well-textured and structured even during busy passages. I personally feel as though in this regard the SA6 is well ahead of the other IEMs I’ve tried in this price bracket, surpassing even the Campfire Audio 2020 Andromeda, and getting dangerously close to the likes of the Sennheiser IE900–both which more than double the SA6 in price.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering

For its soundstage presentation, I’d definitely describe the SA6’s as being pretty intimate. Despite the small stage it has to work with, though, it creates a decently spacious listening atmosphere by virtue of its instrument separation and imaging.

The SA6 has got pretty good left-right localization and seemingly no gaps that might break the soundstage, which allows it to easily delineate the position and directionality of sound. Then as for its layering, the SA6 is adept at distinguishing the different vocal and instrument lines in the mix, giving them their own defined space within the stage. Listening to complex passages like those played in Buena Vista Social Club’s “El Cuarto de Tula,” it’s remarkable to see how well the SA6 keeps up for an IEM and gives instruments appropriate spatial definition.

Dynamics

Previously, I noted that the omission of a dynamic driver in the SA6 means that unfortunately it won’t really do much in the way of delivering a strong sense of punch and slam. That’s not to say that it won’t carry any impact in the lows, but it’s definitely outperformed in this regard by pretty much all the other IEMs I’ve reviewed. Now, the SA6 does slightly redeem itself as it does retain some of the tactility in the upper registers. Listening to instruments like acoustic guitars you can get a feel for the attack of strings being plucked, and percussive instruments will also have the distinct snap that follows a strike. I suppose that what I mean to say is that if I was looking for a punchy IEM, I would not have the SA6 as my first pick.

Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, the SA6 reminds me quite a bit–in both tonality and presentation–of the Blessing 2. However, to me, the SA6 feels like a refinement. The tonal differences that the SA6 has to the Blessing 2 are almost exactly the ones I would have personally wanted to see had I used EQ on the latter. Additionally, I appreciate the soundstage and detail retrieval gains that the SA6 offers, even if it concedes in the dynamics department.

I think that for the listening experience it delivers at $549.99, the SA6 undoubtedly sets a standard for IEMs under $1000. Needless to say, then, with its excellent tonal balance and technical performance, the SA6 gets a very strong recommendation from me–it’s a great headphone that is definitely worth experiencing.

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Excellent review @Chrono.

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Great review as always. I actually passed on these because with the Blessing 2 Dusk I thought I had this sound in my collection already. I instead for the wonkier Thieaudio Monarch. Probably though if I just had to own one this would have been a good choice. Keep up the great work @Chrono

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I got my used pair of SA6 last week and have done some quick comparisons with my Dusks.

Dunu SA6:

  • These are very nicely smooth up top, nothing annoying in the upper mids/treble vs some “hotness” with the Dusk.
  • SA6 might have better resolution, but can’t say for sure yet.
  • Mid-bass sounds more present than Dusk with the bass-boost, nice!
  • With the boost on these actually quite warm sounding, a very easy listen even for long periods.
  • These are very comfy for me, Dusk needs a bit more work and force to shove in because of the thicker nozzle.
  • SA6 looks like a million bucks in comparison, even the cable is fancy as all hell.
  • The cable is more flexible and overall better crafted in my estimation.
  • Having said that, why is the cable this heavy? Are 8 strands actually necessary? The cable wears down on the back of my ears when out & about.
  • A much better collection of eartips.

Moondrop Blessing 2 Dusk:

  • Bass drums etc. have much more dynamic punch & slam.
  • Distorted electric guitars are maybe a hint more realistic, a lovely growl.
  • There’s a hint of sibilance to my ears.
  • Their more energetic & punchy tuning works great when I’m in the mood.
  • The cable is light and stays out of the way when in use.
  • Wind noise is stronger on this one.

I wanted a different, more laid-back alternative, and that I got pretty much. There’s always the thought of what could have been if SA6 had dynamic drivers for bass too, but yeah. My biggest fear was that these Dunus would just be thin and “too BA” overall, but this is clearly not the case.

Right now I honestly can’t say which is my favourite, only time will tell. All I can say is: reasonably priced IEM sound pretty flippin’ good nowadays!

P.S. I’m using Apple Lightning dongle with both.

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Great write-up - thanks for sharing!

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My SA6’s just arrived and I’m having the same problem getting a good fit because of the short nozzle. I’ve found various tips on-line (AZLA, Comply, etc), but can’t figure out which models fit the nozzle diameter of the SA6. Can someone offer suggestions?

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The Azla Sedna Earfit series fits the nozzle perfectly - I highly recommend them. I am using the Medium-Small ones with the SA6. I also had to switch from Dunu’s cable to something else because it was too heavy and pulled the earphones out; such a shame, because it really is a great cable.

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Thanks. I’ll give them a try.