DUNU Want one?
Pros: Amazing Highs
Quality lows – missing quantity
Really nice leather case
Cons: Missing some bass quantity
Mids aren’t amazing
Stupid switch gimmick
Up for review today is the DUNU SA6 (SA6.) I picked these up used form a fellow Head-Fier so that I could review them for YOU, and to use them for future comparisons (oh, and because they look awesome.) The SA6 has 6 BA drivers, hence the name, with 2x AcuPass Vented Dual Woofers, 2x custom midrange drivers, and 2x custom dual tweeters. The SA6 also comes with a switch that can change the tuning from neutral to bassier – yayyy switches… More importantly, the Dunu comes with gorgeous faceplates that remind me of the Rosson RAD-0. It’s a nice touch that helps the SA6 stand out from the crowd.
The SA6 is often considered one of the best IEMs in its price range – and possibly under $1K. There are quite a few other IEMs in the price range including the Moondrop Variations, Kinera Skuld, Thieaudio Oracle, etc. Certainly, there is nothing that looks quite like the SA6 with its stabilized stained wood faceplates (except the relatively unknown AAW W900.) Of course, under the SA6 there are a lot of standout IEMs, the Blessing2/Dusk, The Raptgo Hook X, The 7Hz line, the TRUTHEAR HEXA. There is also a lot of really good IEMs above the SA6, Letshuoer’s line, Meze’s Advar, Softears RSV, Audeze, etc. So the real question is: should you get the SA6, save your money and get something cheaper, or spend more money than the SA6? That is what the review below attempts to find out.
Build Quality / Comfort:
The build quality on the SA6 is really good – no HEXA-like build here. Shiny one-piece resin and gorgeous wood faceplates make this feel like a premium product. The weight is good and the size is pretty small, sort of like a high-end DQ6S. The cable is surprisingly good. No cable rant here except to other companies that charge 5x as much and don’t include cables this nice. Heck, it’s even better than the Monarch Mk2 cable, which is has paracord microphonics and kink memory. The SA6 cable is even modular, with a 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm connection end so you can get balanced or unbalanced connection form the IEMs. The cable is also not paracord, but there are still some obvious microphonics from it, even when listening to music. It’s not too thick, not too tangly, not to heavy, it’s a solid stock IEM cable.
The comfort level is really good and I have no issues with the cable or the IEMs fitting. I’m using the Spinfit W1 tips with this since the stock tips were used and…gross (you can get them here if you want some: https://amzn.to/3XXudBt.) I will also be using the stock cable with the 4.4mm because it doesn’t anger me very much (The Kinera Leyding (you can get one here if you want one: https://amzn.to/3RDuirZ) is honestly still better because it’s less microphonic and lighter, but it’s $70 instead of included.) The accessories are pretty nice as well. You get a nice leather case, a multitude of tips, and 3 different L-shaped termination jack connections. Heck, it’s as good as or better than most kilobuck and above IEMs (Mezzo excluded.)
Sound / Source / Comparisons:
Looking at the squig.link frequency response graph (switch on), I don’t have anything in the $550 range on hand, but you can see how close the $19 TRUTHEAR HOLA and the SA6 are. Yes, that’s a bit depressing that you can get almost identical tuning for $530 less. The build quality isn’t there on the HOLA and the cable is not as nice, no fancy faceplates either – still, wow. You’ll have to decide what you care about more, quality or money (oh, and a gimmick switch.) The HOLA actually has more bass and mids until 600 hz, then the SA6 (switch on) kicks it up a notch through the low-highs and then does some fun dips and mountains in the highs while the HOLA stays more neutral until 8k. These both have Monarch Mk2 tuning, and that’s a good thing.
I will be running the SA6 and HOLA from my Shangling M3 Ultra (M3U) from Tidal Hi-Fi on balanced 4.4mm with high gain. The SA6 runs comfortably between 25-30/100 on balanced and the HOLA runs between 28-35/100 with the Leyding cable and stock tips on balanced. The SA6 are more efficient and will save battery life over the HOLA on DAPs.
As usual, I don’t like breaking down headphones solely by frequency range since every song has bass, mids, and highs (and I can’t tell the difference between vocals at 1900 Hz and 2100 Hz.) So, I will start with bass-heavy songs, then move to mids-focused and lastly highs-focused songs, then break down each song by how all the pieces are presented. You can find my Tidal test tracks playlist in my signature if you want to compare them to your headphones.
The sub/mid-bass test track will be David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” The intro bass drums have decent impact, but not amazing, there’s no extra reverberation and it’s very quick, tight bass. The Sub-bass at 0:38 is decent, but definitely not among the best I’ve ever heard. It’s still quite audible, but can’t touch the sub-bass on the $29 KZ X HBB DQ6S. I’d put it around the same as the $23 7Hz SALNOTES Zero. The synths sound pretty good and vocals aren’t bad either, but they both come in a little blurry with less detail and presence than I would like on this song. The soundstage is pretty flat here, but better than the HOLA, and instrument separation is good, but not mind-blowing. The HOLA has good highs on this song and good bass impact. The Sub-bass has more rumble on the HOLA, more of that breath stopping quality I want to hear from this song. The vocals and Synths are clearer and more forward on the HOLA. Both IEMs sound similar with crisp cymbals and snares. It’s basically a tie here, with more sub-bass and more forward mids on the HOLA, but a bigger soundstage and better instrument separation on the SA6.
Today’s mids-test song is “The Zephyr Song” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The vocals and guitars come through very clearly on this song. The snares and high-hats have more body and more presence on the SA6. The lows sound good on the SA6, but the HOLA has noticeably better bass guitar and bass drums. The soundstage is larger on the SA6 once more and the guitar at 2:10 sounds fantastic on the SA6, and better than the HOLA. Instrument separation is once again better on the SA6. If you like bass guitars and bas drums and sub-bass, the HOLA and HEXA are better than the SA6. If you want that soundstage, better quality mids and more forward highs, the SA6 wins.
Moving on to the sibilance test with Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” There is definitely some sharpness/sibilance from the SA6 on this song, which you typically get from highs-forward IEMs, so not much of a surprise there. The horns in the intro sound good, and the low horns are present, which they aren’t on everything. My previous comments on the mids apply to most of this song as well. The HOLA sounds much flatter on this song and has worse sibilance/sharpness to the point where it’s almost unlistenable and I had to turn it down.
While we’ve already determined that the highs sound good on “The Zephyr Song,” I like Dream Theater’s “The Alien” to test how the highs come in with an otherwise busy soundstage. I am very impressed with the highs performance on the SA6. The high-hats and cymbals can be clearly and distinctively heard – this is a Mezzo LE with switch 3 on, level of highs performance. The guitars still come through nicely on the solo and the drums are good as well. Very impressive performance from the SA6 on this song. The HOLA just sounds muddy here with nowhere near the level of highs performance the SA6 has, and a very 2D soundstage. The guitar solo still sound good, and the highs performance is on par with the ZMF Aeolus, which is still good. The HOLA is still a super impressive $19 IEM.
Alright, I get it, it’s not fair to compare a $550 IEM to a $19 IEM you’re screaming. But frankly, their tuning is so similar that it’s pretty fair. You would think the SA6 would trash the HOLA, but it doesn’t except in the highs. That’s either embarrassing for DUNU or high praise for TRUTHEAR (the HEXA is better than the HOLA and SA6 at $80.) Still, the DUNU has some really good qualities, just not at the $550 price. For a lot of people, that’s the answer, just get the HEXA, a $70 Kinera Leyding cable, $20 Spinfit tips, and save yourself $300+ if you’re not worried about crappier build quality/feel of the HEXA. If you want the really clean highs and the build quality and looks, grab the SA6 (used or on sale.) I think the Sa6 used to be really good when it was first released, but a lot of newer IEMs have similar tuning and can do a lot of things better for cheaper.
Fantastic high, decent mids, and OK lows make the SA6 a bit of an enigma. For Metal, they sound great and you get all of that high-hat and snare goodness, but for EDM and bassier song, take a pass. This is a mids and highs-focused IEM, not a jack of all trades, so purchase accordingly`. DUNU, take the SA6, keep the wood faceplates, remove the switch gimmick and make the up position the normal tuning, and sell these for $350 – change nothing else. Profit.
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