Review written by Anthony Nguyen (@Antdroid)
Review unit provided by Dunu
The Dunu DK-3001 Pro is an updated model of the original DK-3001 released in 2015 and will be discussed today in this review. This is one of the latest models from the China-based Dunu brand. Unlike many of the other Chinese products I’ve reviewed recently, this company isn’t new and unheard of before. They’ve been around since 1994 and have a long history of making earphones and accessories.
Now, with that said, I have not heard any Dunu products before for any memorable amount of time. In this case, Dunu contacted me directly and offered to send me the DK-3001 Pro and DK-2001 for review. I will cover the $299 DK2001 in a future review soon, but today I’ll take on the $469 DK-3001 Pro model.
The Dunu DK-3001 Pro is a 5-driver in-ear monitor earphone that sports 4 custom Knowles balanced armatures and a 13mm beryllium-coated dynamic driver within its unique housing style. The housing is made of stainless steel and comes in kind of a dual chamber look. The main driver and nozzle are in a circular portion of the shell, while the mmcx connector is in a cylindrical housing that is connected. I found this design to be very comfortable despite being a shallower fit.
One of the more exciting things I was looking forward to trying was the Dunu cable. They’ve come out with a patented line of cables that feature a Quick-Switch connector that allows you to quickly change out the source cable type without detaching the entire cable from the drivers. This makes it a breeze to change between my phone (3.5mm), DAP (4.4mm) and my desktop amps (1/4 inch or 3.5mm). The package itself comes with connectors for 3.5mm single-ended, 3.5mm TRSS balanced, 2.5mm balanced, and 4.4mm balanced, as well as a ¼ inch adapter for the 3.5mm connector.
The cable itself is a 1.2 meter (4 feet) copper cable that is braided in 4 strands that is very soft and easy to handle. The connectors are well built, and easy to replace and remove. There is also a chin strap for improving fit and stability.
Within the box, there is also a good number of additional accessories. Along with the Quick-Switch modular plugs, there is also an airplane adapter. Dunu also provides a large green-colored carrying case and a lot of tips. There are a couple packs of generic silicone tips, as well as a pack of Comply foam tips and a variety of SpinFit tips (CP360 from the looks of it) and inserts. Finally, there is also a cleaning brush and manual and various other documents.
The DUNU DK-3001 Pro, to me, has a warm-tilted and laid-back tuning that is still pretty close to a neutral sound. It does imaging and separation rather well and has an average soundstage with an above average amount of depth to go with it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, really, and some people haven’t been fond of some of Dunu’s previous offerings, so I was surprised to find that I really have enjoyed the DK-3001 Pro despite some limitations.
I spent the majority of my Dunu DK-3001 Pro listening using the iBasso DX160 audio player, the iPhone SE, a Samsung Galaxy S10e, and the Topping DX3 Pro DAC/Amp and RME ADI-2 DAC. One thing to note is that I did find the DK-3001 Pro to be a little sensitive to source output impedance. This became a small problem with the pairing with the Topping DX3 Pro v2, which has an output impedance of 10 Ohms. This slightly raised the amount of bass and lowered treble slightly, giving a noticeable bloated effect to the upper bass and lower mid-range.
Bass is presented just slightly warmer than what I consider neutral, and really, it hits a sweet spot for my bass level preferences. The driver is well-controlled and I haven’t experienced any loose or bloated messiness with it as I pace it through songs of all genres. In fact, for dance-oriented songs with heavier influences in this region, I find the DK-3001 Pro to have just enough rumble and impact to keep me satisfied, with only a slight mid-bass focus. That said, I think those who prefer more body, more slam, and more long-lasting decay may find the presentation a little soft. There is a small roll-off in sub-bass, however I don’t find it affecting my normal listening.
The mid-range is presented with a small amount of body and thickness over my neutral target. Male vocals sound on equal level with female voices. There’s no issues with coherency from my listening despite the multi-BA and DD hybrid setup. Resolution in this region is just about average, if not slightly better than so at this price range. I find that the mid-range in general doesn’t any specific “wow” factor nor does it do anything that makes me feel there are any legitimate flaws.
The first thing I noticed about the upper end of the DK-3001 Pro is that it sounds like it has an abrupt cut-off. The measurements seem to go along with this, as there’s pretty much zero upper treble response to this IEM. In practical listening, this isn’t a huge concern, as I do prefer less or no upper treble to an overly abundant amount of it, but it can make the DK-3001 Pro lack some air and excitement to it’s sound signature – and that’s kind of how I find things presented here. It’s lower treble sounds just fine. It’s got a little bit of sharpness occasionally, but never to the point where I find it fatiguing or sibilant.
There’s a good amount of treble qualities that I do like – good resolution and a somewhat laid-back approach that gives this IEM a good rating for prolonged usage. Some may scoff at the lack of upper treble still – I would prefer a little more than what is offered, however I am also okay with the roll-off.
In actual music listening, I found the DK-3001 Pro to be very engaging with an intimate and enjoyable listen. There’s a nice smoothness to the sound without being overly lush nor muddy and without any real focus to any specific frequency area. In general, I found this a very listenable IEM.
On Chris Stapleton’s “A Simple Song”, I find the bass guitar has a nice low end response that provides a nice foundation for the song. It doesn’t have the best textures and resolution I’ve heard before on this track, but it works. Focus is still on Chris Stapleton’s vocals and it has the right amount of thickness and grit that I like. His wife, Morgana, can be heard without taking over the song and doesn’t seem to present any real issues.
On “Leave a Trace”, Chvrches’ kick-drum heavy track from their “Every Open Eye” sophomore album, I find the DK-3001 Pro’s separation to shine. Each kick drum hits with a good amount of authority and the electronic keyboards present the track at a good distance that still sounds clear and distinct. The sweet howls of Lauren Mayberry have the right depth and distance and she doesn’t sound shouty nor harsh which this song can present a challenge to some headphones and IEMs I’ve tried in the past.
On Tool’s “Fear Inoculum”, the initial ringing can be a tad sharp and at the same time sound a little smeared without as great resolution as I’ve heard on an IEM such as the qdc Anole VX. The opening cello-like guitar panning sounds massive and has a nice level of decay and texture. The introduction of the drums has a nice impact and the driver has no issues handling Danny Carey’s intricate and fast drumming. In general, the DK3001 Pro handles this complex song with ease and still retains the bite, power and gravity that I want a Tool song to sound like. It takes me in, makes me feel everything, and yet I am not dizzy as a result of it.
The self-proclaimed movie soundtracking-sounding song, “Time-Lapse City” by GoGo Penguin has a warmer engaging listen than what I experienced on the Hifiman Arya and Hidition Viento. The song is led by both the piano but also the bass guitar which feels like it takes over the song here at times, where on the prior headphone experiences, I felt the piano led the track. The slight emphasis in the lower mid-range and bass pushes the bass guitar work, as well as the drums just a little bit more forward. Despite my preference for this song to sound a little more balanced and neutral, it still works pretty well here. Sometimes the bass and drums become a little overbearing on the piano parts, and there’s some occasional messiness with imaging, but it doesn’t ruin the song playback either.
Comparisons and Overall
As mentioned before, I also received the lower priced and 1-less driver DK-2001 at the same time as the DK-3001 Pro. I haven’t had an extensive listen of that product, however a few small differences besides the one driver design is that it comes in a variety of color choices. I received the flashy orange colorway which I really like.
On a sound comparison note, the DK-2001 has a more V-shaped sound signature as compared to a more balanced tuning on the DK-3001 Pro. The bass is a little more elevated and the mids are more recessed. There is more upper midrange and treble energy on the DK-2001, which makes it a little more exciting and have sometimes a more perceived clarity. They both suffer from lack of upper treble however, and I find the DK-2001 is a step below in the DK-3001 Pro in terms of mid-range coherency.
So, overall, I find the DK-3001 Pro to be a nice addition to the mid-fi market. It has some limitations such as the lack of upper treble, some average bass resolution and texturing, but the general sound signature is indeed its strongest suit, at least to my perceived targets. It’s generally coherent, has a nice low end elevation, and an engaging sound that can sometimes sound a tad boring and relaxed, but works well for prolonged listening sessions where I just want to escape, but still enjoy the finer parts of music.
-Anthony Nguyen (@Antdroid)