DUNU ZEN IEM Review: Single DD Wonder!!
DUNU-Top Sound, commonly known as DUNU needs no introduction in the HiFi audio gear industry. They are the leading manufacturers of high-resolution in-ear monitors available across different price categories. DUNU specializes mostly in their mid to high-tier segments with multiple successful products such as DUNU EST112 tribrid, DUNU SA6 multi-BA, DUNU Luna the single-DD flagship, and many more. All these IEMs are one of the best in their own respective categories. Last year DUNU released the younger sibling to the flagship single-DD Luna Model designed by the same designer, the DUNU Zen. It is the second IEM in DUNU’s lineup to be featured in their ECLIPSE series of IEM after Luna.
Dunu Zen houses a large dynamic driver featuring Magnesium-Aluminium Alloy Dome with Nanoporous Amorphous Carbon Layer and a Fully Independent Suspension system. The driver has an external ring-type magnet producing a high magnetic flux of up to 1.8T. The outer shell, ear cavity is made with high-quality S316 Stainless Steel material with a patented Air Control Impedance System. The pair is available for 699.99$ worldwide. Today I am gonna share my review and impressions of this single-DD beauty from DUNU, so before wasting any more time let’s begin.
I received the DUNU Zen as a part of the review tour organized here in my country on behalf of DUNU. I am not affiliated or paid by anyone to write positive or negative about the pair. All thoughts and impressions in this review are based on my own experience with the DUNU Zen over the past week and I will be forwarding the unit to the next reviewer today itself. If you want to purchase the DUNU Zen, you can buy from their own website here, or through the HiFiGo store here.
Unboxing & Accessories:-
DUNU Zen has a different packaging to that of the other IEMs by DUNU. Obviously, it belongs to their premium Eclipse series, packaging needs to reflect that with a premium design. Well, the package does so, it is an elegant matte black rectangular box with a minimalistic approach. The outer sleeve just has the ZEN branding logo right on the front in a shiny golden color along with a wave pattern at two corners. On the backside, we have the technical details and features of DUNU Zen printed in both English and Chinese languages. Below this outer sleeve is the textured black box with just the DUNU branding logo on the top. Inside this box is where the beautiful Zen is resting with all of its accessories.
The contents are arranged in two different layers, the first layer holding just the Zen earpieces and Cable. On the second layer, we have all the accessories including three termination plugs, a box full of ear tips, a leather carry case, and a cleaning cloth. Do note that this is a sample unit, the original packaging is the same but includes some extra accessories such as airplane connectors, a 6.35mm adapter, and more. The packaging experience with DUNU products has always been a charm for me, simply loved their elegant and minimalistic presentation with the Zen.
>Pair of DUNU Zen earphones.
>High-quality cable with DUNU’s patented Modular Quick Switch Termination Plug system.
>3.5mm+2.5mm+4.4mm Termination plugs.
>Six pairs of silicone ear tips(Three Black+Three Grey).
>Leather Carry Case.
DUNU never disappoints in Build Quality. Zen her is also no different. Premium metallic ear cavities made with high-quality 316L stainless steel material are heavier than our usual Resin ear shells. But they have a small form factor like that of their LUNA or DK-4001 Pro sets. DUNU Zen is designed by the same engineer behind the highly successful LUNA earphones. Earpieces have a unibody design with a slightly beveled shape on the face panels. At the center of the face panel, we have a small grill as the pair is designed with a semi-open back cavity design.
The MMCX connectors are located on the top of the extended arm at the side of the earpieces. This arm has ZEN printed along with R and L for denoting the Right and Left sides respectively. The ear nozzle has a metallic grill and a slight bevel near the center to easily plug and hold the ear tips. I have previously experienced their brilliant build with DK-3001 Pro and EST112 models, but the build quality of Zen is well above them. The stainless steel ear cavities, their heavy unibody design shows the excellent craftsmanship by DUNU.
The cable here with the Zen also has a heavier build than that with the DK3001 Pro or EST112. It has an eight-core braiding, 4 cores for each side. It has memory foam near the connectors that keep it in-ear hook shape allowing for a comfortable fit. Pretty impressed with the cable here too.
Fit & Noise Isolation:-
The main concern with heavy ear shells is that they might not be comfortable for long listening sessions. But the small form factor does wonder for ZEN. I have been using the pair daily for about 4-5 hours over the past week, never got tired, never felt it being too heavy. The earpieces sit easily into my ears providing me with a firm, comfortable fit. I used my personal JVC Spiral Dots with the Zen. The earpieces sit firmly and cover my entire ear canal that helps provide good levels of noise isolation.
Driving the DUNU Zen:-
DUNU Zen is very easy to power. You just don’t need any special HiFi gears to enjoy it to its fullest. Straight out of smartphones the output is pretty acceptable with rich tonality. Though connecting it with better sources such as a Shanling M3X improves its dynamics. We get better extensions at the lower and higher ends, airiness on the stage, layering of instruments, their detailing, these dynamics gets greatly improved with Shanling M3X. Just plug your DUNU Zen into a decent Hi-Res Player and you are in for a great time!!!
First of all, I must confess, I have a special place in my heart for single-DD IEMs. DUNU Zen made me love them even more. It has a natural tonal touch with a powerful punch in the lower end. Don’t take me wrong, Zen isn’t a bass cannon but the punchiness in the lower end soothes my soul with its refined, thumpy presentation. The pairs show a smooth transition from the lower end to the lower mids while maintaining good energy with the set in the lower end. All the three frequencies, Low, Mid, and High maintain good balance, nothing feels emphasized or recessed.
This overall balance is really hard to find in single DD IEMs but the Zen manages this like a charm. I must admit I am gonna miss the transparency, the layering of instruments with the Zen when I ship it today. Each instrument can be felt separately in our music. Listening to Rock or Metal Genre is simply a blissful experience with the Zen. Now coming to frequency-wise sound impressions.
DUNU Zen has a natural, punchy lower-end response. It doesn’t sound boomy or heavy, rather has a refined, elegant presentation that makes each bass kick feel deep into your heart with a well-textured response. Sub-bass shows its presence with a thunderous feeling inside my ears that registers its authority. The best part even with such a punchy presentation? Zen controls the lower end well within its region. There’s no muddiness or overlapping of the lower end over the Mid-frequencies even in bass-heavy tracks. The clarity throughout the frequency range is well-maintained.
Coming to the mid-frequencies, the natural tonal touch is still here with outstanding levels of clarity. Both the male and female vocals have a lovely presentation, they don’t get shouty or fatiguing even at loud volume. The pair maintains good airiness on the stage. Zen keeps you hooked to it with its natural vocal and smooth instrument presentation. The whole natural timbre here in the DUNU Zen is just fantastic.
Treble frequencies have a smooth, non-fatiguing presentation. The pair maintains its outstanding clarity here too. Instrument detailing, separation, layering is simply top-notch. I have never heard such a smooth treble response in any single DD IEMs before(FiiO FD5 from recent experience). Not to mention the extensions of the higher end are also quite good. But I personally would’ve liked some more energy in this area. The response here is too smooth for my taste.
Soundstage & Imaging:-
DUNU Zen produces a wide soundstage with a good sense of height and depth. Instrument separation and airiness on the stage is also fantastic both contributing to high-quality imaging with the set. I loved the wide presentation with the DUNU Zen.
Some Track Impressions With DUNU Zen:-
November Rain by Guns ’n’ Roses:-
November Rain in my opinion is a complex track where multiple layers of instruments such as Bass Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer, and more paired with Vocals are presented at a single time. With the DUNU Zen weight of each instrument key/string being stuck or pressed is felt right away with full authority. The pair produces crisp vocals that stand out among the various musical instruments. This 9-minute track felt like a buttery smooth ride of good music.
Royals by Lorde:-
Right from the beginning of the track, a thunderous bass response is heard & felt. The bass response is well-textured with deeply extended sub-bass rumble. Sub-bass is literally soul-shaking here. The powerful lower-end of DUNU Zen can be experienced here where the pair produces an excellent bass response while maintaining good clarity throughout the entire frequency range.
Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over album by Eagles:-
This is one of my favorite tracks. I just love the beautiful acoustic intro to this song that lasts for approximately 2 minutes. Each string of the acoustic guitar, each bongo hit can be felt being produced smoothly. The layering of multiple instruments, the airiness between them is simply amazing here. DUNU Zen excels with its marvelous performance showing a natural timbre for each instrument being played.
Speak Softly Love by Yao Si Ting:-
Emotionally brilliant!! These two words describe the exact feeling I get while listening to this track by Yao Si Ting. Her voice sounds so soothing, so full of emotions that I get goosebumps just during the first 1:30 minutes of the track.
Contrast by Haywyre:-
Powerful & refined bass response in DUNU Zen complements the EDM genre of music well. Each bass drop can be recognized with different beats playing in the background. Zen handles such complex tracks with such ease, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a single DD at work here.
And this list will just go on and on. Different tracks will include Billie Jean by MJ, Snow Hey Oh by RHCP, Flightless Bird by Iron & Wine, and many more. But the result will always be the same, the output with DUNU Zen is rich, natural, and fun complementing different genres well.
Zen is a fantastic single DD monster from the house of DUNU. It comes under a 1000$ price range but gives tough competition to my 1000$ UM Mirage. The pair excels in providing a fun, engaging sound output with a solid stainless steel build. It comes with one of the finest cables I have ever used to date. Dunu Zen complements most of the tracks I tested with its ultimate clarity and natural tonality throughout the frequency range. But like every other product in the industry, the Dunu Zen also has its own flaws. The biggest being heavy shells and lack of energy in the upper treble portion, while the first doesn’t affect me much, I would’ve loved an extra bit of energy in the upper treble portion. But that doesn’t affect my verdict for it.
Do I recommend the Dunu Zen?? Well, to be honest, I would gladly recommend the pair if you are looking for an engaging, smooth, non-fatiguing sound signature. The wide soundstage, the lovely mid-range, the powerful lower-end make it up for the slight bit of energy in the top end!!! Actually in my opinion it is going to be my favorite set of single DD IEMs under the 1000$ price range. I would like to thank DUNU for sending me the Dunu Zen, loved every single minute spent with it!! Now I am just gonna miss it after sending it to the next guy on the tour.