DUNU SA3 Studio IEM Review

DUNU SA3 IEM Review  

Introduction:

DUNU was originally an OEM/ODM manufacturer established in 1994 and focuses on development, manufacture and marketing of professional earphone and ear bud products. DUNU’s manufacturing plant is located in Dong Guan City, Guangdong, China.

The DUNU SA3 is a member of the new Studio Series In-Ear Monitors with Balanced Armature drivers. The SA3 features 3x Balanced Armature Drivers of the company Knowles and comes with a 3D Printed Monitor shell with Hand-Finished faceplate.

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank DUNU for providing me the SA3 IEM sample for review purposes. I am not affiliated with DUNU beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

 

Price:

The actual price of the DUNU SA3 139,99 USD and can be purchased from the link below;

 

 

  

Package and Accessories:

The DUNU SA3 came in a pretty robust box in black color with the classical silver DUNU brand logo. This box has a cardboard sleeve in blue color which shows some product brandings on the top and some product specific details at the rear side.

The main box includes the following contents/accessories;

  • 1 pair x DUNU SA3 In-Ear Monitors
  • 1 pcs x Detachable Cable with 0.78mm 2-Pin Connectors
  • 4 pairs x Blue Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L), 1 pair came pre-installed
  • 3 pairs x  White Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs x Grey Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
  • 1 pcs x Blue Leather Case with Zipper
  • 1 pcs x Cleaning Tool
  • 1 pcs x Manual + Warranty Card

DUNU is a company which gives a high value and attention to the appearance of the packaging and to the quality and richness of the included set of accessories.

The same tradition continuous with the SA3 that came with a very rich accessories package which includes a wide variety of silicone ear tips (10 pairs) a nice looking blue leather case with zipper and a cleaning tool (brush).

The leather case in blue color has a very nice appearance with the DUNU brand logo on the top and the ditches around the case are made faultless!

The cleaning brush is a nice addition which is a very helpful tool to clean the top of the nozzle.

Design, Fit and Build Quality:

The DUNU SA3 has a semi-custom monitor shell while the prevailing color is navy blue.

The monitor shell of the SA3 is made of 3D printed biocompatible photopolymer and offers a pretty comfortable fit.

On the front of the Monitor Shell is the handmade faceplate with a beautiful white pattern that reminds me to a see wave which is made of Photocurable Resin material.

The left faceplate sports the 3 logo in gold color which is associated with the SA3 while the right faceplate has the golden DUNU brand logo.

At the backside of the monitor shells are the sound nozzles and the L (Left) & R (Right) markings in gold color.

Each sound nozzle has a small lips and a mesh o the top that should prevent the insertion of small particles like dust or earwax. The sound nozzle is a bit short in size.

On the top of the monitor housing is 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin female connector that offers a tight fit when connected with the male connector on the cable.

The overall build quality of the monitor shell and the connectors is of top quality!

The Cable:

The DUNU SA3 comes with a detachable cable made of high-purity monocrystalline silver plated OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) wire material with a pretty soft semi transparent insulation.

The cable has a nice looking braided design and shows a very low mount of microphonic effect.

Each of the 2-Pin male connectors do have a transparent housing with Left & Right markings and red (right) and blue (left) color indicators at the rears side.

The cable sports on both sides near the 2-Pin connectors transparent heat-shrink ear guides for extra comfort while wearing the SA3 over the ears.

This cable features a metal Y-Splitter in form of a cylinder with studio SA3 logo and a serial number on the surface. The cable sports also a metal chin slider in form of a small ring.

The 3.5mm TRS (unbalanced) headphone jack has a straight profiled metal housing in sliver color with a transparent plastic strain relief for extra protection.

  

 

 

Fit and Comfort:

The DUNU SA3 is an In-Ear Monitor with a Semi Custom shape that offers a pretty ergonomic fit if you do use the right ear-tips. The SA3 shows an above average performance in terms of isolation which makes it ideal for the use in fairly noise environments such like train, metro or for bus rides.

Technical Specifications:
  • Model              : SA3 Studio
  • Driver              : 3x Balanced Armature
  • Impedance      : 13Ω
  • Freq. range     : 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • THD                : < 0.5% @ 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity       : 112dB ± 1dB @ 1 kHz
  • Cable Material: High-purity silver-plated OFC Cable
  • Connector       : 0.78mm 2-Pin
  • Cable length   : 1.2m +/- 0.1m
Drivability:

The DUNU SA3 is an easy to drive efficient IEM thanks to the pretty low impedance of 13Ω and sensitivity of 112dB. The SA3 is an ideal IEM for weak sources such like Smartphone’s, Tablets that do have a relative weak amplification.

Equipment’s used for this review:
  • IEM’s              : DUNU SA3, SHOZY Neo CP, Brainwavz B400
  • DAP&DAC’s   : FiiO M11 Pro, iBasso DX220 HiBy R3 Pro Saber

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Al Green – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (WAV 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Billy Paul – Me and Mrs. Johns (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz How Can You Mend a Broken Heart)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Photek – Hidden Camera (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Tom Player – Resonance Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Opeth – Damnation (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)

The Sound:

DUNU offers with the new released SA3 an In-Ear Monitor that has a slightly warmer than neutral tonality, with a pretty linear bass response, transparent and detailed midrange presentation, along with a treble tuning that pretty airy and bright without to sound harsh or ear-piercing. The DUNU SA3 offers in general a very safe tuning which makes it ideal for many genres with exception of bass intensive electronic music.

This review is written after a burn-in period of 60 Hours. I have used the blue silicone ear tips which are included to the package.

Bass:

The DUNU SA3 shows a pretty linear lower frequency response with minimal coloration that is slightly more highlighted in the midbass region. The general bass presentation shows a tight, fast and clear character rather than being boomy and muddy.

The subbass region of the SA3 shows a moderate quantity and depth. It has in general an average level of intensity and rumble, which is sufficient for most genres with exception of bass intensive ones like EDM, Trance or RnB. What I really like about the subbass tuning of the SA3 is the layering and control which is pretty successful for an IEM right below the 150-200 USD price region.

The midbass region of the DUNU SA3 is a bit more pronounced compared to the subbass area and shows also slightly higher detail retrieval. The speed and control of this region is where the SA3 truly shines thanks to the well tuned Balanced Armature driver. The midbass character is on the tighter side of presentation and offers a fairly good intensity along when called upon.

Instruments like snare drums do sound more successful compared to kick drums.

Midrange:

The midrange of the of DUNU SA3 shows a nice level of warmth that comes from the lower midrange while the general midrange presentation is focused towards the upper midrange which gives the SA3 a nice amount of transparency, detail and vividness in this area.

Vocals:

The lower midrange of the DUNU SA3 shows an efficient level of depth and intensity which made male vocals like Al Green in “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” or Billy Paul in “Me and Mrs. Jones”  do sound pretty emotional and intimate.

Female vocals are slightly more detailed, lively and lush due to the more highlighted upper midrange tuning. Female vocals like Diana Krall, Sertap Erener or Edith Piaf are represented in a transparent, emotional and lively with good level of extension which I enjoyed very much to during my SA3 review. The SA3 has a well adjusted upper midrange tuning that has avoided any remarkable sibilance even when I have had listen to soprano vocals such like Sertap Erener.

 

Instruments:

Instruments like cellos or acoustic guitars do show a moderate level of depth, intensity and a slightly short lower midrange extension.  Violins and mandolins on the other hand do show a higher level of intensity and better extension thanks to the well pronounced upper midrange tuning of the DUNU SA3. Other instruments like snare drums are pretty crisp and detailed without to sound too harsh or dry.

Treble:

The treble range of the DUNU SA3 is quite pronounced and in general fairly bright same like the upper midrange but doesn’t sounds harsh or ear piercing. The transitions are quite controlled even in some complex passages with treble intensive instruments such like Megadeth’s – Sweating Bullets or Slayer’s – Angel of Death.

The lower treble range of the DUNU SA3 is more highlighted compared to the upper treble range and gives the overall presentation a good sense of clarity and definition. The lower treble range is also more detailed and has a better level of extension compared to the upper treble region (brilliance).

The upper treble range of the DUNU SA3 offers an average level of air and sparkle, while I have listen to instruments such like snare drums and cymbals. The upper treble extension is slightly short with instruments like hi-hats that do come slightly from the background. I didn’t have heard any unusual hiss and harshness while I did listen to treble intensive metal tracks like Metallica’s – Sad but True.

The DUNU SA3 offers in general a pretty good performance in the treble region in terms of detail, separation and clarity without to be overly bright or to sound dull.

The Soundstage:

The DUNU SA3 is a pretty capable In-Ear Monitor in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals especially compared to many other product that I have listened before at this price level. The soundstage of the SA3 is in general fairy spacious and airy and shows a good level wideness, while the performance in terms of depth is on an average level.

Some Comparisons:

DUNU SA3 versus SHOZY Neo CP:

The Shozy Neo CP is also an IEM with a Triple BA driver configuration that I really enjoy to listen to with its W shaped sound signature.

The SHOZY Neo CP offers more subbass depth, intensity and rumble with higher level of extension compared to the DUNU SA3 which shows a more linear and neutral subbass tuning with slightly better control and higher level of layering.

The midbass region of the Neo CP shows slightly more impact, depth and extension, while the SA3 has the upper hand in terms of control and tightness. Both are successful with midbass intensive instruments like snare drums and drums while the main difference is the timbre which is a matter of your taste. The lower frequency region of the DUNU SA3 offers a higher level of clarity and a tad more detail retrieval.

The midrange of the SHOZY Neo CP sounds warmer and fuller and shows more depth and extension in the lower midrange region which makes it slightly more emotional while listen to male vocals. The DUNU SA3 on the other hand offers more clarity and a brighter tonality. The SA3 has the upper hand in terms of upper midrange detail, extension and while listen to instruments like electric guitars or female vocals.

The treble range of both IEM’s is successful in terms of extension, airiness and sparkle.

The lower treble region (presence) of the DUNU SA3 is more pronounced and detailed compared to the SHOZY Neo CP, while the upper treble of the NEO CP shows slightly more sparkle. The SA3 shows more treble clarity and a higher level of definition.

The soundstage of the DUNU SA3 offers a better level of wideness and space, while the SHZOY Neo CP has the upper hand in terms of depth.

DUNU SA3 versus Brainwavz B400:

The Brainwavz B400 is an In-Ear Monitor with a Quad BA which offers a warm and pretty lush presentation.

The Brainwavz B400 shows a great subbass response for an IEM with Balanced Armature driver and offers more subbass quantity and depth compared to the DUNU SA3 and has also the upper hand in terms of subbass rumble. The DUNU SA3 on the other hand sounds slightly more controlled in this area with a linear response.

The midbass region of the Brainwavz B400 shows more intensity and impact, while the DUNU SA3 offers a more linear midbass response with higher level of clarity. The SA3 is slightly more controlled in this region with its tighter midbass character.

The midrange of both In-Ear Monitors is soft and musical and controlled, the main difference is the lower midrange and upper midrange tuning. The Brainwavz B400 has the upper hand in terms of lower midrange depth and male vocal presentation, while the DUNU SA3 is superior in terms of upper midrange brightness, clarity and detail retrieval which makes it more successful with female vocals.

Both the lower and the upper treble range of the DUNU SA3 is more highlighted than those of the Brainwavz B400 and has also the upper hand in terms of treble extension, detail and overall sparkle. The Treble range of the Brainwavz B400 sounds smoother and more forgiving than those of the DUNU SA3 that shows a more energetic character.

Both IEM’s are successful in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage of the DUNU SA3 has the upper hand in terms of wideness, while the Brainwavz B400 offers slightly better depth.

Conclusion:

The SA3 is the first member of DUNU’s so called Studio Series and also the entry model which has really impressed me in terms of sound performance, esthetics and with its pretty rich accessory package that includes a wide variety of ear tips, a classy leather case and good detachable cable.

Pros & Cons:
  • + Fast, Tight & Controlled Bass Tuning
  • + Midrange Transparency and Detail Retrieval for the Price
  • + Lower Treble Clarity & Definition
  • + Beautiful Semi-Custom Shell
  • + Rich Accessories Bundle (Leather Case, Tones of Eartips, Cable and more)
  • – Lower Midrange Intensity
  • – Average Soundstage Depth
  • – Sound Nozzle is a bit short

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