Flavor of the Month: DUNU Luna

DUNU Luna title

DUNU is a well-respected audiophile-first company based out of Shenzhen. After stepping outside their OEM roots, DUNU have shown strong presence in the Head-Fi community. Some of their models enjoyed great international success. Unfortunately, the brand was never well distributed in Europe. I feel bad to admit that this is my first experience with an IEM from DUNU, despite especially the DN-2000J and DK-3001 long being listed on many enthusiasts’ must-buy list.

If you remember the formidable website Cymbacavum, the name Thomas Tsai might ring a bell. The ex-reviewer and enlightener of in-ear-monitoring has recently joined the team of DUNU. As I have trusted this author’s opinion for many years, I could no longer live with the void of not having spent time with the DUNU brand. So I am very happy to now present to you their flagship Luna.

Luna

The showpiece of the Luna is the new unique true beryllium driver. Just as final with the A8000, DUNU have created a diaphragm that is not only coated with the currently stiffest material used in audio but entirely formed from it. The new material promises better speed, transient response, faster decay, and less distortion from the foil. All of it sums up to a clearer and more transparent sound.

The Luna are priced at around $1,700 excl. tax which is quite a leap from their former flagship DK-4001 at $900. Apparently, the new driver is quite difficult to build. Also, the IEM’s design is a collaboration with an external design company to create a unique industrial language for the Luna. Named after the moon, the sandblasted titanium finish and round shape surely enhance that reference.

More here: https://www.DUNU-topsound.com/luna

Check out my review of the final A8000.

Build

Luna cable

The housing definitely matches the theme. The round shape represents the moon and the grey tone matches it nicely. The convex shape is reminiscent of a crater and casts beautiful shadow gradients. It feels excellent in the hands too. Upon sharing images, users have asked me if the top part, that seamlessly transitions into the replaceable MMCX-connection, might snap off. Honestly, when holding these in your hands, you would never even consider this weakness because the build quality feels exceptionally durable.

The design might not be overly complex or follow recent trends. Other recent flagships draw inspiration from cubism. No, the Luna perfect minimalism and harmonized synergy of curved shapes. The main body is a perfect circle and the cable connection looks like a rocket. The Luna theme is definitely well implemented. Further, any transitions of different parts are well hidden.

The full metal enclosure has bass ports that act as vents to enhance the driver’s speed. Luckily, these also have an indirect function of reducing ear pressure and, thus, ear fatigue. The isolation is average for an IEM and can either be enhanced by installing foam tips or reduced for better awareness with the included SpinFit ear tips.

Overall, it’s a simple design that works.

Cable

The Luna come equipped with a version of their Noble cable (link to product page) and the excellent quick-switch modular plugs. The Noble cable uses Ohno continuous casting (OCC) wires in a hybrid setup of copper and silver. This cable is not only dead beautiful, but it’s also one of the most useful audiophile cables to have. Switching between balanced and unbalanced termination is such a great option when you have several different devices.

Switching with other MMCX-type cables I have, for example, some „regular“ silver-plated oxygen-free copper cables, I found the DUNU cable to sound lusher and softer on the extreme frequencies. But we are talking nuances that are difficult to consistently confirm with A/B-testing, so take my impressions with a grain of salt.

Comfort

Based on the pictures, prior to receiving the Luna, I was worried the fit might be uncomfortable. But the body is actually much smaller than I expected. This makes the Luna one of the most comfortable IEM in high-end audio, almost mocking huge bodies like the IER-Z1R and Solaris. If the photos make the Luna look bulky, you are being deceived. The shell hides nicely in the outer ear and is practically invisible when I look straight into the mirror.

The selection of ear tips is huge. DUNU packs 13 pairs of silicone tips! Half of them are from the SpinFit brand and I believe they are the CP-100Z and the new CP-360 with a sticky coating. The DUNU-exclusive tips come in a deep blue color. While the fourth set is of a very dark tint with a red ring, the complete selection is very colorful. Almost distracting. I think it would have been better for DUNU to invest in a stronger and more coherent design language for greater value. Either way, the choices are enough to find a great fit and also slightly adjust the tonality to personal preference.

Personally, I found the AZLA Sedna EarTips to be a superb match. They open up the treble quite a bit, though. Perhaps even too much, but they are the perfect visual match. For Rock and modern recordings, I recommend the DUNU tips with the red ring.

Compatibility

DUNU Luna Chord Hugo 2

The beryllium driver is very efficient and plays much louder than the final A8000, for example. Luckily, it is not that sensitive to reveal hiss from high-quality gear. The Solaris hiss with the Chord Hugo 2, for example, but the Luna, fortunately, showcase no such problem.

From my testing, the impedance also seemed to be relatively stable. I could not notice any obvious change in tonality outside the source devices’ unique signature.

That is not to say that you don’t need a capable device to unlock Luna’s full potential. They deserve low noise and well-controlled voltage.

Sound Quality

DUNU Luna sound

Sound Tuning

Dunu Luna frequency response

Roughly directed at near-field compensation targets, the Luna can be considered as fairly neutral at higher listening volume. The overall tonality is very balanced with two subtle boosts for more fullness and some extra midrange details. Sibilance is evaded by a deep cut of harsh-sounding frequencies, without omitting clarity. The treble extension is superb and has a very natural tone. Overall, the sound character definitely has a strong audiophile appeal. DUNU tuned the Luna to draw a special focus on the midtones, which lends the IEM a very mature character.

Check out my measurement database for more.

Bass

Though the emphasis is more directed at higher bass notes, the pure beryllium driver has amazing sub-bass, too. Very low frequencies have great weight and sound precise without any artificial boom. Punch comes through better than rumble, so one might be excused if the first impression were that the sub-bass rolls off. Especially nowadays, most IEM are tuned to boost thumping lows to show how far they can extend. The Luna present themselves far more confident. At higher listening levels, the bass is evened out and the Luna really flex their muscles with exemplary tightness.

Punch comes through with great speed and attack. The transients are excellent which allows for an insane amount of detail. The Luna are one of those types of earphones that let you hear every single string. The reverberations of acoustic instruments, especially, are presented as clear as I ever heard from any IEM or headphone. This is one of the features the Luna absolutely excel at and they will allow you to pick up many more details than other IEM drowned in a v-shaped signature.

Midrange

The transition from the bass into the midrange allows for some added fullness that is balanced with the upper frequencies of the midrange. This creates an additional contrast in the most important range of frequencies which is unique to the Luna and perhaps the most pleasant surprise I have experienced in recent sound tunings.

If you are interested in photography and editing, you might agree with me that images do not pop because of the high contrast between blacks and whites. The way our displays and screens have advanced, they have no issues with dynamic range. Alas, true beauty comes from balancing the midtones. VSCO became immensely popular with its filter presets of muted blacks and whites. This works so well because they add contrast to the midrange. While I am still trying to figure out how to improve my editing of photos, DUNU shows us how the effect translates to audio. And boy oh boy, does it sound sweet!

Be it instruments or voices, the Luna are all about details and intimacy. They might be the most romantic flagship IEM above the $1k mark. Despite the extra spice, the timbre is convincingly realistic. The overall coloration is too subtle to throw the user off. Obviously, the Luna sound best with high dynamic recordings. Limited headroom does not fare too well with the boosted clarity of the midtones.

Treble

The aforementioned 7kHz cut does not really impact the tonality. Instead, it makes the treble sound more relaxed. However, those users that do not enjoy treble energy are advised to audition the Luna first. While not hot or forward, the great extension and presence of air exceed the quantity one would normally find with average IEM.

The definition and clarity are definitely worthy of a flagship reference IEM. DUNU managed to create impeccable precision on a second layer that supports the midrange and allows it to shine. In fact, the fast decay makes many other IEM sound like they have an artificial ringing or reverberation. In contrast, those IEM that can keep up with decay sound considerably darker.

DUNU Luna

Resolution

With the excellent bass texture and great detailed midrange, the resolution is definitely among the best IEM with a single dynamic driver. The true beryllium foil definitely delivers. I would claim it even beats multi-driver designs like the 64 Audio U12t and tia Trió. The A18t and final A8000 still seem to have minimally lower distortion and appear a tiny bit cleaner with single test tones in my setups. But I do think the Luna herald a new generation of high resolution drivers of which we will hopefully see more of in the future. I do not even feel like I am exaggerating when I speak of a new generation.

Soundstage

The DUNU Luna create a convex soundstage in my mind. This means that they place most instruments and vocals in the front and provide sheer limitless depth to the sides. Usually, when discussing soundstage, I and most reviewers talk about a concave presentation. This is often the case when the midrange is recessed. But with the Luna it is the other way around. It is a great experience that provides endless room for the soundstage and can be less claustrophobic than with most IEM on the market. The upper mid boost also helps to create distance between the listener and the audio, too. Perhaps one needs a brief adjustment period, but then Luna provide some of the biggest soundstages yet.

They do place the user closer to the experience. With Classical music, I feel like I am seated in the middle of row 2 or 3. Playing Rock music, I feel like a groupie in front of an open stage. With this intimacy, Luna manage to create an amazing sense of depth and layering with wide stereo placement.

Music Pairing and Comparisons

Vocal

As the previous chapter suggested, vocals are the DUNU Luna’s strength. They will shine with any music that uses the human voice to portray emotion. Unlike most IEM, the Luna have no preference for darker or brighter sounding vocal ranges. They sound equally well. Males show great fullness and dimensionality while female voices are reproduced with an enjoyable sparkle. The performance is really flawless in this regard. The AZLA Sedna ear tips reveal a bit more shimmer while the default tips with the red ring play it really safe.

I easily prefer the Luna over the final A8000 with vocals in general. The final A8000, which also use a true beryllium driver, are a lot pickier with the source material. When searching for emotion and intimacy, then the Luna also surpass the tia Fourté and challenge the qdc Gemini. Overall, the Luna win with liveliness.

Rock

Rock music is all about speed, attack, forward momentum, and drive. The Luna feed on that and are perhaps the best high-end IEM I know for this genre. The stellar midrange performance translates extremely well to (bass) guitars as well. Cymbals are satisfyingly snappy with fast decay. Of course, the Luna can’t flex their muscles if the audio is too compressed or poorly recorded. In case you enjoyed TOOL’s latest album, now is a great time to experience it again with the Luna. I’m also a fan of Jazz-Rock Fusion and Luna capture the essence of multi-layered rhythmicality very well.

Due to the bass weight, I sometimes feel like the 64 Audio tia Trió are more immersive, but when searching for details, I ultimately prefer the Luna. It’s a head-to-head race between the two while leaving the likes of Solaris, Andromeda and A8000 behind.

Jazz

Just as with vocals, the DUNU Luna are nothing but amazing with Jazz in general. The midrange are really their strength and they effortlessly pick multiple layers apart. This is great for Avantgarde improvisations. When prioritizing tonality, the InEar ProPhile 8 might win closely, but apart from this exception, the Luna beat every other IEM up to their price point. The Luna are very mature and will easily win over fans of sophisticated music.

Classical

Great soundstage, excellent treble performance, superbly detailed midrange, and rich textured bass add to a fantastic experience with Classical music. However, as I described the soundstage, the Luna seat you upfront in the pit. Personally, I prefer a top view from the loge, but it doesn’t hurt to mix things up. Playing the same recordings alternating between the Luna and A8000 are an experience to behold. It’s like visiting a different venue.

Rap/Hip-Hop

As much as I like the rendition of male vocals from the Luna, strong compression is highlighted a bit too much for my taste. The bass also does not deliver the impact like tia Trió. Revisiting the sins of my youth with G-Unit and Co. might not be that worthwhile with the Luna. I recommend keeping a backup IEM in your pocket for consuming Hip-Hop. May I suggest a final E3000 or MoonDrop Kanas Pro?

Electro

The bass of the Luna is fantastic. It’s fast and well-textured. But from my experience, digitally generated audio does not profit much from these qualities. The driving force here is slam and rumble. Both of which the Luna do well overall, but I can think of some alternatives, like the Campfire Solaris, that have an easier time of making me jump out of my music chair and move to the beat.

DUNU Luna book

Verdict

The Luna are without a doubt an excellent high-end product. DUNU have created a flagship for showcasing a new driver technology. The beryllium driver has amazing speed, punch, and texture. Reference level separation and resolution have rarely felt this effortless. I can highly recommend the Luna for Vocal, Rock, and Jazz. From my experience, the Luna perform better than equally priced contenders in this regard. The full potential doesn’t really show with modern music, though, so that’s when the focus on the midrange can feel like the bass is lacking. Playing acoustic strings successfully remedies this thought.

The DUNU Luna are also extremely well built and surprised me by being some of the most comfortable IEM in the high-end realm. Not to mention, that they come equipped with the single best cable I have yet experienced. Anyone on the lookout for a top performer that oozes musicality with natural-sounding recordings definitely has to closely consider this new flagship reference earphone.

Luna cover

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@16bitaudiophile

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