The Dunu Talos were sent to me directly by Dunu. They have not requested anything at all, in fact, I didn’t even know they were sending them to me until I received them and was very surprised to find them in the box.
Therefore, my review will be as unbiased and sincere as possible, something that I always aim to be.
You can find the official page for the Dunu Talos here: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/talos
I have no affiliation with Dunu (or any other brand), so I make absolutely nothing out of anyone clicking on the link or purchasing these IEMs.
As anyone who follows the IEM world will know, planars are the rage at the moment and we have gone from having very few options in planar IEMs to having more options than we can count.
I have reviewed a few planar IEMs but I am not even close to having covered most of them, therefore my experience is limited to those that I have heard. Out of those that I have tried, it is no secret that the Letshuoer have been my favourites, being my EDC (every day carry) set of IEMs that I have always in my bag for the times when I am not testing something new or I just want a break. That was until the Talos came along. I know that this is a bit of a spoiler but these have literally travelled with me everywhere since I first started listening to them and while there are a few quirks, once I got them where I wanted, I have really enjoyed them.
I will get into those details in just a moment but let’s follow the usual schedule and start off with the presentation.
Dunu have a habit of making a good job of packaging and presenting their IEMs, although they do have a few strange tendencies, usually in the form of including things that aren’t really needed (airplane adapter anyone?). In this case they have included something that wasn’t necessary but not in the form of accessories.
Packaged in a simple but elegant box, we get the Talos IEMs, the cable, 9 sets of tips in 3 different types, a green coloured transport case, a cleaning tool and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.
I have to mention one of the types of tips included as they are something that I have not come across before. I am not sure if these are a Dunu creation (I should have probably researched this ) but included are some tips that are almost square ended and are of much stiffer silicone than is usually found. They are a little difficult to explain so here is a photo:
I was curious to try out these tips and did use them for a few days but personally I struggled with the seal and didn’t find them extremely comfortable but, as always, everyones experience will be different. However, it is nice to see them to continue innovating and trying new things.
Unfortunately there is no cable with interchangeable connectors included with the Talos but it is nice to see that they have opted for a 2 pin connection (even if that means I can’t steal the cable from the Vulkan for the Talos ).
I really have no complaints with the presentation of the Talos, although the green case did confuse me a little as nothing else is green, still a nice case though!
Build and aesthetics…
The IEMs are of a tear drop shape, using a matte black finish with copper highlights and I have to say that I really like them. They are not flashy but they are still interesting and I find them to look elegant. I took the on a recent business trip and did not feel at all out of place in the conference room surrounded by Bose and B&O wearing colleagues. In fact, I received a few pleasant comments on the Talos paired with its almost titanium coloured cable and the Go Blu.
But I digress!
The build quality is good, with good comfort and a very lightweight combination of metal shells and cable. Yes, I would have preferred the cable that came with the Vulkan but this is not an inferior cable, it’s just lacking the termination options.
The IEMs also have a little switch on the side of them that is to turn on or off the BA driver, allowing just planar or turning them into a planar+BA combination. The switch is labelled in its two positions as “On” or “1”, which I again find a little strange, but the functionality is fine, so no complaints.
There really isn’t much more I can say about build and aesthetics, they are great.
(As always, all tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to reference the song in the streaming platform of your choice)
Now, remember I said in the presentation section that Dunu had included something unnecessary but it wasn’t part of the accessories? Well, that “something” is the BA driver.
That may sound a little cruel but, honestly, try as I may, I cannot seem to find a moment where I feel the BA actually adds something positive to the equation.
Here is a graph of the Talos, both with and without the BA active, in comparison to my usual preference graph:
In case I haven’t said it enough lately, let me just remind people that my preference target is just a general guide and is not necessarily a rule that means I will or won’t like something.
Ok, so I already said that I don’t like the BA driver in this set, so all of my opinions are based on using the Talos with only the planar driver active.
Even with only the planar driver active, I still found the upper regions to be a little harsh for my tastes. It was one of those cases that it was so close that I felt that I needed to find the tips that worked for me with them. I worked my way through the tips that are included without finding the “right one” for me, I also tried the usual Crystals, Springs and a few others that I default to. But it wasn’t until I tried the foam tips from the IE600 that everything clicked into place for me!
In case you don’t know, the Sennheiser tips for the IE600 have a built in filter and they seem to tame the upper ranges just the right amount for me to find that the Talos have now become my favourite planar IEMs, replacing the S12 as my default set.
I guess I already gave away the fact that I really enjoy these IEMs, so I guess it’s time to break it down into the usual steps to try and explain why I like them.
Starting off with the subbass…
The subbass is a little tamer on the Talos with the IE600 tips than the stock tips, yet it is just around where I like it. As you probably all know by now, I am not someone who favours excessive bass in general (although there are exceptions) and I find that the Talos with the tip change gives me just the right amount for my usual music choices and general listening sessions.
Using the usual “Chameleon” assault on subbass, the rumble is there but not to the extent that it is on so many other sets. This is due both to the reduction in subbass and also the midbass, which I will comment on in just a second. The subbass of “Chameleon” may not be a brain rattling experience with the Talos but it is a great listening experience, especially when volume levels are increased slightly above my usual listening levels (which are quite low). The lowest notes are extremely clean and detailed, swapping a bit of quantity for quality in comparison to other planar sets that I have tried recently.
The midbass is the part of the tuning that has really made me fall for the Talos. There is a noticeable reduction in comparison to the S12 for example, the planar set that has been my go to for quite some time now. While I do like the extra warmth that the S12 provides on occasions for certain recordings, especially for bass guitars and lower ranges of electric guitars and even to give body to acoustic guitars, the Talos just seems more correct to my ear in this region. Yes, there are occasions in which I do find myself missing that extra little bit of subbass and midbass, depending on track and my mood, but as I mainly use the iFi Gryphon or Go Blu, that extra bass is only a quick press of a button away (and the Talos reacts to it beautifully).
The midbass is very clean and tracks like “No Sanctuary here” are detailed and well composed in their lower end, giving me bass without ever making it the centre of attention (unless I click that button ).
The only other set that has matched this in the subbass and midbass regions has been the Dioko, however, it falls way behind on details and performance in comparison.
In the higher part of the midbass moving into the lower mids, this is where there could maybe be just a few extra dB to really make it perfect for me. With bass lines that are instrumental and not electronic in nature, I get the feeling that everything is clean and detailed, only leaving me with a craving for a little extra body on somethings like the guitar in “Hotel California (Acoustic)” or “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, yet the cleanliness and detail is more than enough to make up for it (in my personal experience of course, your mileage may vary) and there is absolutely zero bleed into the mids themselves.
The mids themselves are well balanced with the lower ranges, giving me what I feel is just the right amount of presence in the lower ranges of vocals, especially female vocals (which I listen to a lot of). If the midbass was higher, then I think that the mids would be a little lean as a result, however, as they are, I feel that they are well placed.
There is also a lot of detail in the mids, with “The Expert” by Yello showing detail that has not been apparent in other planar sets (except maybe for the iSine, which is a different story). Vocals, such as Alison Krauss in “Down To The River To Pray” are well balanced and provide a good amount of detail. There is not quite as much body in her vocals as on other sets but at the same time she is neither smoothed over nor is she missing any detail that I do find to be more absent on other alternatives.
The upper mids (and the lower treble) are the areas that I didn’t find as great when using the Talos with the stock tips (or other silicone tips that I have tried). It is strange as I tried doing various measurements with different tips that really don’t show much difference on paper (you can see them and compare them on achoreviews.squig.link) yet to my ears, these ranges seem to be more controlled and smoother with the foam IE600 tips. I am sure that there are other tuning filters that can create the same outcome and I plan to give them a try, to see if I can get this smoothness and balance while using silicone tips (not that I don’t like the Senn foams, it is just that foams are not the best for daily abuse when using IEMs regularly).
There are still some tracks, even with the IE600 tips, that can come across as a little harsh on the Talos. Things like “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson have too much emphasis in this region, obviously caused by the sum of the recording and the tuning. However, a track that I use a lot for calculating harshness in the upper vocal ranges is “Don’t You Worry Child” as Beth’s voice can become quite harsh and shouty, and it is actually quite listenable. It doesn’t eliminate the shoutyness or harshness completely but is certainly tolerable, something that is by no means a regular occurrence on sets with a slightly forward upper mid and lower treble range.
Moving into the treble ranges, there is a good extension and no shortage or airiness and openness to the higher ranges. Unfortunately there is a presence of sibilance and tracks that are sibilant in their recordings, such as the intro to “Hope Is A Dangerous Thing” or even “Billie Jean” that I mentioned previously will come across with that harshness in the sibilance range. To judge increase (or dampening) of sibilance, I like to use “Code Cool” as I feel that on a well balanced set, Patricia Barber is always on the verge of sibilance, with just a hint that appears but doesn’t become uncomfortable. With this track on the Talos, I would say that if we use -12 to +12 scale, counting well balanced as 0, then this set puts it at +2 in the sibilance range, where something like the S12 is a -1. Basically I am saying that sibilance is a little hotter than it should be but it is only uncomfortable on specific tracks. I would personally tame it down a little with EQ in this region but it is not something that I find obligatory to enjoy the Talos.
One thing that I have mentioned a couple of times throughout this review is detail. I have said in the past that I haven’t really found a set of planar IEMs that have been overly impressive in the detail category except for the Audeze iSine LX. The issue with the iSine is that it needs major equalisation in order for the tuning to be anything near what I would consider correct (they are also huge!).
In the case of the Talos, I find that these are the first set of IEMs from this local batch that have actually impressed me as far as details. It may not be up to the detail levels of something like a Hifiman over ear (which is to be expected), yet it does provide the level of detail that I would like to expect from a planar driver. It is fast to react and keeps background details well separated and clear even on fast paced and busy tracks.
In the soundstage part of things, I feel that the Talos is actually above average for a set or IEMs. It is not a huge open space yet there is plenty of width and the placement of images is well defined. The detail along with the image placement makes things like “Bubbles” a very immersive experience.
The isolation of the Talos is also fairly decent, being above average in most of the frequency ranges. Ok, it is not quite the level of good earplugs but it is enough for you to enjoy the music without anything interfering. I used them on a couple of 4 hour flights and while the engine rumbling was evident in quiet or silent passages, I had no complaints while music was playing.
There are so many different planar models out there at the moment that it is difficult for a set to offer something that the others don’t. Other sets offer more bass (such as the PR1) but are not exactly what I am looking for, others offer good tuning (such as the Dioko) but lack in details, and until now, the S12 have been the set that has most clicked into my personal preferences but still had things that I wasn’t quite ecstatic about.
The Talos has appeared with a tuning that I like (for the most part, at least after the tip change) and has added something that I felt was mediocre on most of the others, the detail and speed that I would want to expect from a set of planar IEMs.
The Talos are still not perfect of course, that upper mids/lower treble can still be a little harsh (even with the filters built into the tips) and the BA I find is something that only works to add pain to an upper frequency range that is already at the limit of where I would want to be. But this hasn’t stopped them from becoming my favourite set of planar IEMs to date.
There are still times when I would prefer the S12 with it’s slightly higher midbass and smoothed over details, mainly for BGM consisting of acoustic and electrical instruments etc. Yet if I am wanting something to immerse myself in the music and experience the detail and quality of the track, then I feel that the Talos has moved much closer to that goal.
As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews)
All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation