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Accessories Review of DUNU Alpha 1 - first hybrid dual driver earbuds w/lots of pics!!!

Discussion in 'Android Accessories' started by twister6, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. twister6

    twister6 Android Expert
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    This is a review of DUNU Alpha 1 hybrid earbuds. http://www.dunu-topsound.com/ALPHA1.html , available from http://penonaudio.com/DUNU-Alpha-1

    As you have noticed, I usually review in-ear and on/over-ear headphones because these are the most common types of headphones where in-ear is more acceptable for a portable use on the go. But there is another type of portable headphones that doesn't get as much attention - earbuds. Very common with Apple devices, a lot of you already familiar with earbuds that sit right outside of your ear canal, wedged into your inner ear. They are convenient and non-intrusive and often allow you to hear a sound while still being aware of surrounding environment. This type of headphones has been dominated by dynamic drivers, until now when DUNU just introduced the first hybrid earbuds with a large 16mm dynamic driver inside of the main housing and a balanced armature driver inside of a cleverly positioned nozzle. Here is what I found.

    Let me start first by mentioning that even so this is my first encounter with DUNU products, I'm well aware of their flagship hybrid IEMs and had opportunity to read a lot of positive reviews about their headphones. Hopefully I will be able to review more of their headphones in the future, but for now I was excited to test their first hybrid earbuds. Unfortunately, this excitement slowly faded after I realized a fitment problem, but I still decided to move forward with a review to make everyone else aware about these headphones. Earbuds don't have a universal fitment, and those with a small inner ear opening should probably stick to a more traditional in-ear type. For everybody else - you have a great opportunity to experience one of a kind hybrid earbuds design.

    Starting with a packaging, Alpha 1 comes in a high quality box with a folding magnetic cover and a lot of useful info, especially a description on the back about the design details. Opening the cover reveals even more info with details about accessories (such as high quality zippered case, 1/4" adapter, shirt clip, and variety of tips) and also the whole section dedicated to methods of wear. Unlike a traditional in-ear design where you have to do tip rolling to find the best fitment, DUNU came up with a lot of different fitment options using rings and fins. Included are S/M/L pairs of fin tips, 3 pairs (identical size for spare) of thick tips, 3 pairs (identical size for spare) of thin tips, and 2 pairs of foam tips. It's probably no so unusual for those familiar with DUNU's other products like their DN1k and DN2k in-ear hybrids that come with a lot of fitment options, but I was quite impressed with it.

    Earbuds itself were under another display cover which had info about some singer and a list of his achievements (maybe DUNU is sponsoring him?). Opening the cover reveals Alpha 1 earbuds neatly stored in a form fitted cutout next to some of the tips. Looking closer at headphones you see a sturdy right-angled 3.5mm gold plated plug with a good strain relief followed by a soft round cable going into y-splitter. I do have to mention there is a very interesting rubber wire wrap for cable storage, a nice touch which I haven't seen before. Following a small y-splitter with a decent strain relief on a common side, you have a small chin slider which slides neatly into the y-splitter. The individual earpiece cables are a little bit thinner but still have the same cable shielding and feel equally flexible going into a hard plastic inner tubing of strain relief attached to a bell-shaped earbuds.

    Earbuds itself have a stainless steel outside surface and feel very sturdy. Of course the big surprise is when you flip them over to look at an expected flat surface where instead you find an angled nozzle with BA driver. I guess this particular design requires an extra depth of your inner ear or wider ear canal because no matter how I tried to position them either parallel to my ear-canal or perpendicular or angled - I was only able to get a benefit of the upper/mids delivered from BA driver while bass was in a far distance. Unfortunately I have small ears, and only when I push on A1 with my fingers from outside - the bass comes alive with a nice warm rounded texture to compliment crystal clear high frequencies. DO NOT mistake this for me saying they don't sound good, it was just an issue related to my ear anatomy which is not capable to accommodate this large earbud fitment.

    Still, for the benefit of the review I wanted to demonstrate in my pictures how cool these earbuds look from every angle, including different eartips. To be honest I was a bit upset because I always wanted a pair of quality earbuds where I don't have to fiddle with a fitment and just get them in'n'out of my ears. We do have a few pairs of early gen iPod earbuds in the house which I use on rare occasions, and find their sound quality to be not good. In the past I also received PAA-1 earbuds included with an audio player, and also found its fitment to be not good with a subpar sound quality. Recently I had an opportunity to test LYRA earbuds (which btw are NOT hybrids), and found their looks and fitment to be good but sound to be just OK.

    Overall, I know this review is different from all of my previous ones because of no sound test analysis. Still, I felt it would be a good idea to spread a word about this new DUNU product which offers such a unique design combining dynamic and balanced armature drivers inside of earbuds. Fitment is an issue for any earbuds manufacturer because those with small ears will not be able to use it, but it's still nice to see that DUNU is pushing the envelope with innovations, trying to bring hybrid technology into earbuds form factor. At this point I'm just going to give DUNU a benefit of a doubt, and hopefully others will chime in with their experience of using Alpha 1.

    Here are the pictures.

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  2. twister6

    twister6 Android Expert
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