Tips Review for Dunu Zen
Left to right: Zen bluish, Zen black, Zen spinfit clone, Zen foam, spinfit cp100, spinfit 240, Azla Xelastec, Comply isolation plus 400, Azla SednaEarfit, Symbio W
A preface: As I listened to all these tips, I honestly learned more about the Zen than I did the tips. The Zen has a quality to its sound that is generally not impacted much by the FR adjustments of the tips. Most had very little effect on what I enjoy about the Zen: it’s physicality. Could a tip change bass impact a bit? Yes, but surprisingly, I didn’t really care. It didn’t sound less involved, it was just slight less physically impactful. In fact, in one case it may have enhanced the sound.
Comply Isolation Plus 400 - These seem to match the Zen’s natural state. I think it probably enhanced the lower end just slightly, or possibly made the highs a little less prominent. Isolation is superb. I don’t like the “sound” foam makes as it adjusts. This does go away once it settles into your ear. These sound just a touch duller than the other materials. They seem to be taking away a bit of sparkle. Maybe foam absorbs something? Either way, foam isn’t my thing. For pure comfort, sure, but many of the others are just as comfortable for me.
Azla Xelastec - Since I had and used these quite a bit since day one of the Zen, they sound very natural to me. I think they are slightly more balanced than the comply. But that could easily be “used to it” type of assessment. Isolation is also very good. Comfort wise, they are just as good as comply for me and have no “adjustment” sounds, but they do have an adjustment period where I kind of have to push them back in until they mold to the ear. Fit is very good once that happens. That is also much less of an issue when you are using the “right” size. The only real flaw is when going in and out of the ear constantly, the adjustment is annoying. Foam is 30-60 seconds. These are minutes sometimes. Compared to many of the others, the bass is a bit more impactful particularly on the larger sizes. I can even use any of the six sizes without issue. Everything else feels balanced, nothing added, nothing taken away. This would easily be my tip of choice if I never ever had to take IEMs out for interruptions.
Spinfit cp240 - I think large are too big for my ears. They are not particularly comfortable, at least not for short periods. In fact, they are downright irritating. I can’t use them for more than 20 minutes in size large. They feel like they may have boosted both treble and bass almost? Everything is very clear. The bass feels full of impact. I actually really like the sound. I am ordering these in medium and small to see if that helps with the irritating, as I think this is my favorite sound so far (medium/small was only marginally less irritating) Everything is just slightly pushed to the next level. Probably something equivalent to V shaped with great isolation.
Spinfit cp100 - Probably a bit less bassy than most of the others on this list, not horribly so, and it certainly works for any music that isn’t all about that bass (gotta love a smurf). The mids and treble seem fine, not overwhelming but definitely the star of the show. Not as much isolation as the others. These are very hard to get on and off. I should probably order cp145 or other model to really test them out. I like the included tip better in most cases because it pushes bass a bit more. And the cp240 has a lot of what this has plus more bass (and irritation).
Zen included foam - again with the bassy. great for isolation and a bit of trebble reduction I think. I like the way the larger comply fit better than this. Comply mounts just a bit farther out on the ear and that somehow feels a bit better. But otherwise similar and for me, that makes it not very interesting. Pass on the foam.
Zen included spinfit clone - Not that different from the cp100. Brighter, less bassy but not in a bad way. Clearer and cleaner. Probably a good balance. I would probably choose a more bass emphasized option, but these might beat the spinfit version above.
Zen included weird black ones - These are terrible. Probably a fit issue but they are tinny hollow bassless messes. I mean, if you hate everything about what the zen is good at? use these. Sometimes when I insert them I get OK sound. But still very much lacking compared to the others. I feel like they included these for people that had no idea they were getting a stunningly good bass boosted IEM and wanted a boring bassless multi-ba IEM. Instant multi-ba conversion right here?
Zen included bluish ones - All around probably the most balanced. But I am the most used to them as I used these and the xelastec the most since I got the zen a month ago. They are quick, easy, sit nicely, don’t irritate and came with the Zen. Really, no issues. So much for spending $100 on tons of tips when the included ones are basically the best all-arounders. Go Dunu.
Azla SednaEarFit (normal) - These are another good in and out pair. They fit well and are comfortable. I assume they are silicon somewhere between the spinfit and the zen bluish ones I like. They have a pretty large bore and this appears to reduce the bass impact/slam a bit. But it sounds quite good. It’s almost like the Zen stepped toward a more planar sound letting its technical abilities shine a bit more than the raw bass power. Highs seem clear and unmolested. It’s like putting a spotlight on the Zen’s technical prowess instead of its power. Overall, another good option.
Symbio W - If I were to use foam tips, these are the ones. They are silicon covered foam which attempts to bring the best of both worlds. Do they? yeah, pretty much. These are “safe” tips. I have a feeling they would even fit in multiple sizes like the xelastec, but I only have large. They fit and fill more firmly like the firmer silicon, xelastec or foam tips, but they still have the consistency and relative ease of use that comes from silicon. Sound? probably dead middle between foam and the xelastec/zen bluish tips. Not quite like foam in squelching treble. But safe. From a pure sound perspective, I would probably lean in a different direction as those zen included ones are awesome. All the foam included ones seem to soften the sound in a way I don’t need it softened on the zen. So, absolutely awesome if you want that, for me I will probably stick with something else. One thing to add: When I put these in, I forget I have a mission of reviewing tips. It’s like the ultimate background music listening tips. Both comfortable enough to not draw attention to themselves and just play nice balanced music. This is good. Actually, it was similar with the sedna earfit as well. Both have that, just keep listening casual sound quality.
Except for the black one, the SQ differences were just variations. I wouldn’t be upset having to use any of them. They were all good. It was just different. It was like EQ that doesn’t make me cringe ( Oh, by the way, EQ makes me cringe ).
I think, given the experience with tips so far, I would pick them nearly exclusively based on comfort and functionality. This probably means not foam, and on the more isolating side. I ordered a few variations of things to try for fit reasons, but will probably post this before they come in. If it makes a world of difference, I will post an update.
A few things I think I learned so far:
- I prefer better isolation.
- Would rather have bass emphasis than not.
- Practical use is still more important than SQ differences.
At the end of the day, 3 tips have stood out to me: The Zen blue, Sednaearfit and Symbio W. Even the xelastec took a back seat simply because these 3 are less hassle for my use case.
A couple notes about the Zen: It is a very agreeable IEM at least for me. It can do no wrong. The more reviews and comparisons I read about it, the more I think “well crap, I got lucky. not sure a $4,000 iem with a similar signature is gonna beat this for me”. This is why I am spending time making the Zen sound as good as it possibly can. I am listening to the included spinfit clone tip right now on the blanche cable with the apple dongle. It’s not my favorite combination, but it still sounds amazing. I’ll have an idsd micro signature again soon to see if that makes a real difference in sound quality. I am kind of assuming that should top the SQ of a hiby r6 2020 or iBasso dx300 for me.
But tips? Tips are another part of this experience that I can choose mostly for practical reasons.