Dropping some quick impressions in here since I had the chance to steal Corgifall’s unit for a bit.
First things first:
Packaging and accessories are top-notch have been stated. Seriously, take my money for the DW03 now. One of my CIEMs is lonely without a Dunu cable (the rest are all already Dunu’d out and it needs it!)
Asterisk on this being the first time I have experienced a single DD executed to its full ability. I tried the Campfire Atlas and loved it, but could never get a good, lasting fit with my ears unlike the rest of Campfire’s lineup which I have never had an issue with. The Zen, on the other hand, is great and much lighter than I expected (I don’t know, it just looks heavy for some reason). My first listening session was 4 hours without even tip rolling.
The Zen is a fantastic all-rounder. I haven’t found one genre it doesn’t do well with, but of course, some things it just excels at. For me, those were edm, classical (well, film scores for me), and rock if I had to narrow it down to three. The highlights of this IEM, are hands-down it’s the soundstage, which is beautifully wide and deep, the mids ~ specifically on vocals both male and female, and the low end that just oozes with bass but still retains its excellent detail without being overly boomy. It scales well with our gear from the Zen DAC (yes, Zen on ZEN is an excellent pairing), to the Neo and Micro iDSD Signature. Can’t wait to see what it sounds like with our Diablo soon!
This is an IEM that as stated before, we would be raving about even if Dunu added $300 to the price. I think it’s bracket redefining much like how the MEST did so for the $1300 range. It’s one of those monitors that makes you forget about time and embellishes you in your music, which is a top-quality I am always looking for. This is going on my recommendation list and if I can, a personal purchase! Overall, this makes me incredibly excited for what DUNU-Topsound has coming down the line and IEMs in general in 2021. The more competition like this, the merrier!
Good review. I was waiting for this. Now you still have me thinking Zen or SA6.
Impeccable review as always, Andrew. Since the Zen’s come with foam tips included, do you think that these may be less fatiguing to wear than the SA6’s I was having trouble with? The frequency response and technicalities also seem more up my alley for the Zen. Should I consider doing an exchange?
Possibly, but it sounds like you’re having trouble with IEMs in general, and that is something that I know can be a barrier for certain people. I think Chrono may have had a similar experience initially as well.
Fantastic review. My thoughts mostly lined up with yours as well. Good stuff!!!
A wild Corgi has appeared, whom I happened to steal (borrow) the Zen from!
Welcome to the Pack @corgifall , there’s always room for more Corgis.
This is my quick EQ to help reduce the amount of forwardness at 2KHz, which can bother me on some piano tracks. Also a small drop in the 8-9K to make cymbals a little less tizzy.
Otherwise, this is a really nice sounding unit.
Yeah I think I did the same and filled in 6.5khz a bit too, and gave it a bit more upper treble energy, although it still rolls pretty hard there no matter what.
Did you guys notice a difference in sound by tip rolling? Which tips did you prefer?
Thank you for the graphs guys. This seems like the ideal IEM to experiment with EQ, considering its high technical performance. I already use EQ regularly with my JVC HA-FDX1, and this seems to have a similar frequency response but with less of a 4kHz peak. Though surprisingly, it may have slightly too much bass for my tastes, which is not a bad thing as that can be fixed with EQ as well.
Dunu Zen First Impression
Note: I am copying/pasting this from my own post on a facebook community. I wanted to contribute to this community. I did a similar thing with more info about me with the blessing 2 dusk.
When I bought the blessing 2 dusk, I knew I started something. Today, I received the Dunu Zen.
I love the dusk, why buy the zen? One thing the dusk taught me, is that it’s about enjoying music. I was planning on going CIEM for a monarch or clairvoyance. This was going to take at least several months to actually accomplish (maybe longer given the state of audiologists and chinese new year, etc). I decided it would be better to hear more options and learn about what I like (even if it means pushing CIEM out for the next time I can spend money on this). Plus, it’s my birthday this weekend, and I decided to get myself something that would, at minimum, tell me more about my sound desires. I would also likely enjoy it for many months before I could even think about CIEMs again.
To me, there are a lot of similarities between the Dusk and the Zen. So, I will focus on some of the differences first.
Bass. It is very difficult to a/b test IEM’s and volume match them (at least for me). But the first thing you notice, is the bass slams on the zen. Even at lower volumes, songs that made use of the bass frequencies just exploded. I kept thinking I hadn’t volume matched properly and the zen was louder. But, often it was the other way with the zen at a lower volume. The bass is very present in a very good way. It’s not invasive, and it’s not there when the song doesn’t call for it. Massive attack angel was as it should be. Screw subwoofers.
Tonal balance. I think the zen did thin out some of the things that were on the edge of being too full/warm on the dusk. Either that, or I have adapted and simply like it now. I am not sure it’s “better” but it definitely works on the zen. I listened to a few songs I play on guitar and the zen sounded remarkably like I was playing them myself at that moment. There was something extraordinarily real about the experience. That is remarkable.
The zen feels like there is more weight in everything. When I was a/b testing, some songs made the dusk feel like it was missing strength in the notes. We always talk about impact/slam in bass. The zen sounds like it has that in the entire frequency range to some extent. It was like it could make every note, no matter the instrument, simply be more.
Is it technically more detailed? Well, probably, but that is not the reason you buy this IEM. Its detail is more like a side effect than a goal. I can only assume that the character it displays is largely due to being a high quality single dynamic driver design. There is something cohesive about it. In much the same way the dusk tonal balance just sold me, the zen does the same thing with the technical presentation. The detail is there to serve the purpose of the character of the sound. It has this feeling like it delivers exactly the right amount of detail for its sound signature at all times. Nothing more, nothing less.
Finally, like the dusk, I couldn’t find something it couldn’t handle well. I flipped through interesting sequences in entire genre playlists. Morgan James cover of dream on, I simply could not turn off. The power of that song just took over my brain on the zen. Everything in the amazon music classic rock hits was just amazing. Pink Floyd Money and Comfortably Numb hit new levels of amazing. I love rock and roll, both the original and apparently there is a Britney Spears cover. Yeah, that was a win.
One kind of ironic thing, is the sort of bass heavy pop songs like pretty please and bad guy, did not feel like as much of a jump on the zen. I think this is a testament to just how good the dusk is. Its dynamic driver can compete to some extent in certain situations. The zen was still better, but that gap was a lot closer than I expected.
The intent when I bought these was to supplement the dusk. Based on FR graphs, I didn’t think they would be as similar to each other as they are. I would call the Zen a “safe” upgrade for dusk fans. I am not sure how it fits in my collection of 2. I currently can’t see myself choosing to listen to the dusk over the zen most of the time. They are too similar and zen does almost everything better.
Is it worth more than double the price? Well, I have some answers to that.
If the zen’s character appeals to you, absolutely, yes, it’s worth the money. Again, I suspect the DD gives it something that BA drivers can’t compete. Having a single dynamic driver just sounds incredibly natural.
However, when you look at it on a purely technical level? No, it wouldn’t be worth it to me. It’s that bass presence and impact across the entire frequency range that sells this IEM. Detail monster? look elsewhere. Don’t want bass to slam? definitely not for you.
The wife said “I can hear those” and never noticed the dusk.
The 3.5mm connector doesn’t work right. (my duw-02 connector worked fine).
I get that this is an upgraded cable over my duw-02. I am not sure I would choose it over the duw-02. It’s built better, but I have mixed feelings about the thickness. I can’t swap them as one is 2pin and the other mmcx. So I can’t say if there are any sound enhancements due to the cable.
I think that’s it! Enjoy!
Welcome to the forum @Dynamic . What a great first post.
Hello and welcome @Dynamic. Very nice comparison writeup. I look forward to seeing you around forum. Plus it’s always nice to have another Iem love around. Lol.
Welcome @Dynamic! Great comparison.
You ever hear the Zen on the diablo? I am considering that or re-buying the signature (can’t get that anywhere right now)
Also, I think you said any lightning cable works with diablo? Can you actually try this? As in the apple lightning to usb cable (no CCK)
Yes I did, and think it’s a great fit if you’re looking for a neutral source that brings the most out of the Zen, our Diablo would be excellent. Thanks to it being a DD with a little more power needed to drive, eco mode doesn’t have much to any hiss at all but you won’t at all!
Yes, from what I’ve tried any lightning to USB cable works with the Diablo as well.