Dunu DK-2001 – Orange is the new Black!

If you're looking for a highly engaging IEM featuring a balanced and smooth signature with a great deal of fun in all the right places and a very rare level of refinement at this price point then look no further, the DK-2001 is in my opinion a gem and a steal at its price! It clearly shows the mastery of a manufacturer that has gained superb insight from developing a hybrid lineup for quite some time now.

Pros

  • Engaging and transparent mids with the right balance of lower mids body and upper mids bite
  • Snappy and punchy bass with good control, speed and natural decay
  • Energetic yet smooth treble with good extension and speed
  • Open and coherent soundstage

Cons

  • Can’t think of one!

Product page : https://www.dunu-topsound.com/dk-2001
Recommended (official) Distributor : https://penonaudio.com/dunu-dk2001.html
Price : 299$

Fit, Build & Isolation

As I said in my DK-4001 review, the DK-2001 fit is one of the best I have had with an universal IEM, it is small, lightweight and ergonomic. The form factor is consistent across the DK lineup and I fit the whole range perfectly.

Design wise, I like that the nozzle has a small ridge line to allow for deeper tip insertion, I didn’t need it but it can come in handy and reflects the ergonomic focus in the DK-2001 design. Included spinfits are really good and I didn’t need to do any tip rolling with my own tips. The over the ear cable configuration with preformed hook makes wearing the DK-2001 very secure. Isolation is good thanks to deep insertion and as usual for best results comply tips provide additional isolation.

As usual with Dunu, the DK-2001 comes in with a modular design cable, in this case the newcomer “DUW-02” and it’s beautifully built and performs superbly. Contrary to the DK-3001 Pro and DK-4001, all the plugs don’t come bundled – just regular 3.5 – but can be purchased separately (unless you own another Dunu IEM and own the plugs already). This makes sense for a lower tier IEM.

Introduction

Dunu is a well established brand in the audiophile world, which started as an OEM for famous brands. Since 2014, Dunu built its own IEM and now has a fairly complete lineup of dynamic and hybrid IEMs (Titan series, DN series, DK series and the flagship Luna I reviewed recently as well as the upcoming full BA Studio lineup). When they launched the DK hybrid series in 2015, Dunu set out to design the most compact, optimal shell fit that would define our flagship series. It still works very well and Dunu fortunately decided to stick with the form factor with the DK-2001.

The DK-2001 is a much welcome addition to the DK lineup that included top and mid tier offerings with the 3001 Pro and 4001 but lacked an entry in the lower segment of the market. I was really curious as to how Dunu would differentiate the little brother of the lineup but they started by including some fun colors to the mix with a turquoise and orange (sorry, topaz) paint as well as the more traditional black finish. I picked the topaz for my unit but turquoise is pretty great as well.

I took this as a hint that the DK-2001 was tuned for fun and aimed at younger customers, but how would a forty something audiophile like them? Well, let’s check that out 🙂

Sound

Upon first listen, I was a bit surprised by the DK-2001 : it instantly struck me as a mature, highly coherent refined tuning. It sure will do great with Pop, EDM or rap but it did fare so very well with all the other genres all the way through Jazz and Classical. I must confess, I didn’t expect that.

The DK-2001 is neither U nor V shaped but rather features a very balanced and smooth signature with a great deal of fun in all the right places. Bass are punchy and well controlled, with a nice mid bass slam and decent extension although they don’t feature as much sub bass as the DK-4001 or the DK-3001 Pro. Mids are the real surprise with surprising level of clarity and transparency that is quite unusual in this price bracket. The upper section is just as impressive with very good extension and just the right touch of energy. The DK-2001 is smooth and non fatiguing as well across the whole range. I quickly enjoyed it as a daily driver as it could do all genres very well. Soundstage is another aspect of its engaging nature with very good width and height and good depth. Certainly punching above its price point.

But now, let’s dive a bit deeper!

Bass

The DK-2001 is faithful to the great bass performance of Dunu hybrid lineup. It’s closer to the DK-3001 Pro with a nice hefty mid bass slam than the DK-4001 which has more controlled mid bass and a sub bass focus. The DK-2001 has a nice mid bass slam with very nice texture and perfect control. It packs some nice punch and the extension is very good as well.

The bass line is strong and the DK-2001 clearly has a toe tapping factor with a very good sense of rythm, thanks to good speed for a dynamic driver. Decay is very natural and attack is snappy. I’d go as far as say that it’s also a more balanced presentation than DK-3001 Pro (we’ll come back to this in my DK-3001 Pro upcoming review with a detailed comparison section to both the DK-4001 and DK-2001). This is especially apparent out of the “golden reference” provided by the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch but is already clear with the PAW S1 and to a lesser extent to the more coloured AAW Capri cable that has a bit of a warmer tilt.

Mids

The DK-2001 mids were the surprise of this review, I didn’t expect the mid tuning to be as balanced, articulate and dare I say refined presentation. The DK-2001 is fun for sure both bass and treble provide excitement, but it features quite serious mids with very strong technical qualities.

The lower mids are very balanced making for full but not thick mids, providing nice body and upper mids are forward enough to provide a nice amount of bite without ever compromising an overall smoothness that makes the DK-2001 a non fatiguing yet exciting listen. This is a delicate balance and very few IEMs manage to pull this off, let alone at this price point.

Vocal presence is very good, with the right touch of forwardness to my taste and the tonal balance is pretty impressive as well. There is a touch of sweetness that is slightly north of neutral that I like to call natural. Both male (like Pete Alderton “Malted Milk”) and female (Etta James “At last”) are faithfully portrayed, with very nice nuances making for a very engaging experience.

Treble

The treble section carries the same fun as the bass, it’s well extended, with good energy and sound technical foundations. This is a mastered tuning showing both decisiveness and restraint, again taking advantage of a long experience in tuning hybrid IEMs with the DK-3001 (and Pro) and DK-4001.

Lower treble is quite energetic providing a lot of excitement and fun, with clearly punctuated hi hats, nice sheen to electric guitar… Upper treble is well extended and provides very good resolution and air to the DK-2001. I started with Spin Doctors “So bad” and then went through the whole “If the river was whiskey” album. A pure treat. The Hot Sardines “Comes love (l’amour s’en fout)” piano intro was also a nice moment of this review.

Verdict

As a reviewer, when you have purchased, owned and auditioned quite a few IEMs including some top of the line gear like I did it’s easy to get jaded and forget that this hobby is about music and enjoying getting engaged in a great listening experience. For me the magic happens when you forget the gear to be “in” the music and I must say very few IEMs have taken me to this place.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing this with some superb TOTL, but rarely with mid and lower tier. I expected the DK-2001 to be fun and good, but not that good and definitely not taking me to that sweet spot where I loose track of time and gear. Obviously your mileage may vary and it might not work for you but it did for me in a big way and that took me by surprise!

If you’re looking for a highly engaging IEM featuring a balanced and smooth signature with a great deal of fun in all the right places and a very rare level of refinement at this price point then look no further, the DK-2001 is in my opinion a gem and a steal at its price! It clearly shows the mastery of a manufacturer that has gained superb insight from developing a hybrid lineup for quite some time now.

This review has been featured on head-fi.org frontpage on June 2nd 2020

Listening notes
I spent approximately 80 hours with the DK-2001, listening on Lotoo PAW S1 out of the iPhone XS Max and Lotoo PAW Gold Touch using the stock cable. 

Special Thanks
Thanks to Dunu for providing a review unit of the DK-2001 As usual, this review is my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review. 

Accessories

  • High-Purity Silver-Plated OCC Copper Litz (Type 1) Cable
  • Modular 3.5 mm Single-Ended Plug
  • Cerulean Blue Leatherette Zip-Up Carry Case
  • DUNU DC-16 3.5-to-6.3 mm Adapter
  • Cleaning Brush & Loop
  • ‘Balanced’ Silicone Ear Tips (4 Pairs)
  • ‘Transparency’ Silicone Ear Tips (3 Pairs)
  • ‘Vocal’ Silicone Ear Tips (3 Pairs)
  • Memory Foam Tips (1 Pair)

Specifications

  • NET WEIGHT: 14 g
  • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
  • IMPEDANCE: 13 Ω
  • SENSITIVITY: 109 ± 2 dB at 1 kHz
  • TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION:< 0.5% at 1 kHz
  • WIRE MATERIAL: High-purity silver-plated Ohno continuous cast (OCC) copper Litz Type 1 wire
  • CABLE LENGTH: 1.2 mm
  • CABLE CONNECTOR: Catch-Hold® MMCX
  • DYNAMIC DRIVER: 13 mm dynamic driver with dual-sided Beryllium diaphragm coating 
  • BALANCED ARMATURE(S): 3 custom-ordered Knowles BA Drivers (1 mid-high, 2 ultra-high)

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