Just released, the new flagship DUNU DK-4001 has finally arrived at MajorHiFi. This five-driver earphone touts an $899 price tag – and delivers a fantastic sound. But value for money and impressive audio aren’t the only things included with the DK-4001.
DUNU DK-4001 Review
The DK-4001 comes ensconced in an impressive box. Inside, I find the earphones, the detachable 4 ft (1.2 m) MMCX cable, and a wealth of other accessories. Aside from the usual eartips and cleaning tool you’ll find with most other high-end earphones, there’s also a handmade leather earphone wallet, as well as four different connection adapters.
Unlike every other high-end earphone out there right now, DUNU offers an intriguing design choice with the DK-4001. Instead of multiple cables with different terminations, the DK-4001 comes with four different plugs – all connecting to the supplied cable by way of a four-pin connection that allows for balanced or single-ended audio. Right angled plugs for 2.5 mm balanced, 4.4 mm balanced, 3.5 mm balanced, and 3.5mm single-ended allow this headphone to be used with any device, at any time, anywhere.
Inside the relatively small earphones, four Knowles BA drivers handle the mids and highs, while a single Beryllium Diaphragm dynamic holds sway over the low end. Easy on the eyes as well as the ears, the design feels slight but sleek, and stays in my gigantic ears with nary a problem.
Frequency Range: 5-40,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 112 dB
In terms of specs, the DUNU DK-4001 offers some heavy numbers. A wide frequency range of 5-40,000 Hz promises at least decent detail in the lows and highs. Impedance seems a bit high for an IEM, but will still benefit from some amplification. Lastly, SPL measures pretty high, so volume shouldn’t be an issue with this earphone.
Lows sound lifelike but accurate. Still, this part of the frequency range offers a bit of energy, leading to an exciting listening experience. Despite this peppy low end, detail doesn’t suffer. A full and meaty bass compliments this sound, adding weight and force to drums. Thanks to some tight control, though, that bass lands with impact and doesn’t linger where it shouldn’t. A distinct lack of bleed leads to a clean and exacting sound here.
The beautiful, full midrange leans just slightly forward, but never detracts from lows or highs. Vocals come through sharp and precise, and instrumentation retains a sense of contrast. Plain and simple, these mids sound nothing short of gorgeous – with a revealing sound and unsullied purity, it’s an accurate but engaging sound that works with any track.
Tempered and smooth, but never skimping on detail, the DUNU DK-4001 offers a strong sense of nuance in the high highs. Strings sound breathtaking – with a characteristic fragility belying the innate sense of accuracy. Meanwhile, vocals in this part of the frequency range come across as full and robust, but with a certain velvety luster – not smooth, but detailed if still a little relaxed.
With a good sense of space and depth, there’s a real sense of soundstage here. Despite feeling a little “in your head,” the DK-4001 still offers tons of space between individual notes, like hearing music through a microscope. While the soundstage sounds great right out of the box, it gets even better with an entry-level DAC and a balanced connection.
Overall, the DK-4001 sounds relatively balanced but accurate, too. The full mids compliment the slight extension in the lows and highs, but no part of the frequency range ever sounds over-emphasized. All in all, this is fun and immersive sound seems perfect for fans of balance and neutrality, as well as anyone who wants to feel their music as much as hear it.
The balanced connection increases punch just a bit in the lows – makes it sound somewhat snappier, but more intoxicating. Expanding on the already-impressive soundstage, the balanced plugs add an extra benefit for critical listeners who want that breathtaking sense of space and dimension on every track.
Track after track, I don’t want to stop listening. Even as I go to change a track to something I can’t wait to listen to, I don’t want the music I’m currently hearing to stop. This and a FiiO Q5 (or similar entry-level DAC) could be the last mobile setup a person would ever need to enjoy hi-res balanced audio in a truly affordable package.
Some folks will invariably balk at the fact that the DK-4001 hails from China. Despite a solid build and MMCX connection, this earphone will still suffer from the Chi-Fi stigma. And that’s the only downside to the DK-4001, really – that some audiophiles will simply dismiss its quality because the earphone wasn’t built in the US, Germany, or Japan.
If you’re in the market for an earphone around $1000, the DUNU DK-4001 offers an impressive sound that few competitors can touch. The Shure SE846 offers a more veiled and relaxed sound, but one that lacks the overall detail found in this less expensive alternative.
Compared to the Campfire Andromeda – perhaps the most popular IEM around this price point – the DUNU DK-4001 offers a snappier and more articulate sound (at least to my ears). While just a little warmer, the Andromeda seems to lack the same sense of space and nuance, with its thick lows overpowering the same minutiae revealed by the DK-4001.
If you’re looking for a similar level of detail, but greater bass extension, I would recommend the RHA CL2 – a closed planar magnetic IEM with a punchier (though perhaps less tempered) low end.
With its five drivers, comfortable fit, immaculate sound, rich soundstage, and balanced connectivity, the DUNU DK-4001 offers inarguable value for money. But the sum of its parts – a sonic reverie – renders this earphone nothing short of miraculous when considering its $899 price tag. Less a high-end earphone than a re-imagining of what a high-end earphone should be, the DK-4001 sets a new standard for the level of audio quality one should expect in 2019.
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