This DUNU Falcon Pro review was published on another audio blog that is now offline. I am reposting it here. Unfortunately, it seems like this IEM is now discontinued.
DUNU Topsound is a well-respected Taiwanese manufacturer of IEM. The brand is deeply connected with the Head-Fi community and has released several very successful products in the quick and fast-paced IEM market. One of them was their flagship Luna (玥), which I also rated quite highly. Unfortunately, the Luna is now discontinued. However, the knowledge DUNU gained through this project is not. Welcome the new – and incredibly cheaper – DUNU Falcon Pro: a competitively priced single 10mm DD IEM for only 220 USD.
Though the DUNU Luna used a beryllium-made dynamic driver for the highest stiffness, whereas the new Falcon Pro „only“ has DLC, both drivers are based on the company’s patented Eclipse technology. This design includes a highly efficient flux of 1.6 Tesla, as well as the driver’s geometry and details about the suspension.
Build Quality and Design
The Falcon Pro feature a very luxurious appearance. Due to their heavy weight and bling-bling presentation, they truly stand out in a pool of 3D-printed resin shells and colored wood faceplates. In my opinion, there is no way the build quality would suggest a price of under 500 €.
DUNU presents the Falcon Pro as if it were jewellery. The very shiny and almost mirror-like body, machined through CNC from stainless steel, puts on a hefty 19g on the scale. This makes the Falcon Pro feel very premium in the hands. The chrome visuals are further enhanced with detailed arrangements of the DUNU logo on specific edges of the shell. It looks great through a macro lens but even fancier in real life. With many IEM costing above 1.000 € nowadays, you‘d not expect this luxury brand inspiration at such a low price.
Despite some similarities to their high-end offering, it‘s worth looking at the Falcon Pro as a unique IEM. This is also because it has a very cool feature: the newest DUNU allows you to exchange the nozzles for different tunings.
The Falcon Pro includes 3 different nozzle designs with two units for each earphone. Effectively, the nozzle is a sound bore that can be compared to waveguides to some extent. Since they are also machined from metal, the replaceable nozzles include a plastic ring to secure a gapless connection. They vary in length and width, and thus mostly „shape“ the mid and high frequencies.
DUNU creates some amazing cables! The DUNU Blanche is still the best cable I have ever touched (though I have just ordered the Hulk Pro cable as well). The included cable isn‘t quite as premium as the aforementioned Blanche, but do note that the Blanche costs ~340 € (that’s 100 € more than the complete Falcon Pro package). The new Falcon cable isn‘t available separately (as far as I know), but I‘d guess it would be a DUW-02 in DUNU‘s portfolio.
I‘m still waiting for an all-black DUNU cable, even though the transparent sheathing looks very hi-fi. It better matches the stainless steel material. The woven strands are made from 6N SPC. In case you aren‘t familiar with DUNU‘s cables yet, I have saved the best for last! The cable has a proprietary 4-pin connection. It ships together with different rectangular adapters for 3.5mm single-ended (default stereo), 2.5mm balanced (Astell&Kern standard) and 4.4mm Pentaconn (the superior balanced termination). DUNU calls its solution the Q-Lock Lite Modular Plug. If you have this cable, you can use it with all your gear. You can purchase USB Type-C and MFI-Lightning terminations separately.
The cable is worn over the ears and connects to the earphones via MMCX. The connections are high quality and it seems like durability issues of MMCX are now an issue of the past – or at least limited to low-budget Chi-Fi products. Flexibility is good, memory is low and the softness of the sheathing reduces microphonics. I have nothing to complain about.
The complete package includes an abundance of ear tips (I have to admit I haven‘t even unpacked them all), a cleaning tool, a 6.35mm adapter, a prominently green travel hard case, and an excellent cable.
Fit and Comfort
The curves of the Falcon Pro look very impressive for now. I expect the shell to get some scuffs and scratches over time, though, which already pains my heart. Also, keep in mind that steel is quite cold to the touch and as the temperatures outside start to drop, this also becomes more noticeable when the IEMs are worn. Fortunately, the ergonomic design makes the Falcon Pro one of the more comfortable earphones to wear. For me, the fit is very flush. They perform excellently as a bedtime companion.
The shell has some very fancy-looking vents and bass ports. They‘re absolute lookers and also ensure that when worn, the IEM create no uncomfortable pressure. Unsurprisingly, the Falcon Pro loses on isolation compared to the average pool of alternatives. If you spend a lot of time in the library, this won‘t be a concern. But they cannot block users off in a noisy subway.
The different nozzles change the tuning noticeably. In all variations, the Falcon Pro has a full-bodied bass with a good midrange and well-behaved transition into the treble. I prefer “Transparency” but it’s a very close call on “Reference” depending on the ear tips used. The “Atmospheric Immersion” is recommended to users who are not yet used to audiophile tunings and have previously used IEM with strong bass. For the following impressions – unless stated otherwise – I have used the ”Transparency“ nozzles with Radius Deep-Fit ear tips, which results in a tuning that is extremely close to that of „Reference“ but has a subjectively more comfortable fit for my ears.
The Falcon Pro has a sound very akin to that of dynamic drivers. This is very obvious in the low-end where its bass creates a luscious and voluptuous sound. The bass has great impact with fast punch, but also decent amounts of sub-bass. The frequency measurement above might look like the bass presentation would be forward and overpowering, but fortunately, that is not the case. DUNU engineered the Falcon Pro to have a very open sound that spans a huge soundstage and thus, there are but few tracks where I’d describe the bass as heavy. Instead, it plays very fast and renders a beautiful texture on strings in Classical recordings.
The Falcon Pro does not follow the Harman curve with a shelved sub-bass boost. Neither did the Luna. DUNU’s approach is more favorable in terms of warmth and is closer to what you’d hear from speakers in a living room. With the “Atmospheric Immersion” nozzles, I found that the warmth can tip its toes into thickness and bloat. Fewer harmonics also means that the sound feels slower. The other two tuning nozzles (Reference, Transparency) allow for greater attack and more speed.
Even though I’m known to be a fan of balanced armatures, I don’t want to live in a world without dynamic drivers. When tuned correctly, dynamic drivers can sound shockingly realistic with voices. The Falcon Pro is a prime example that effortlessly creates a soundscape that lets you forget you’re listening to IEM. When playing Alicia Keys or Youn Sun Nah, the Falcon Pro manages to effortlessly create a three dimensional sound that draws the focus on the music’s energy and dynamics, while still retaining all the small details in the track’s background, like multiple vocal layers or vinyl dust sounds.
The transients are very fast and separation is great. But the Falcon Pro always retains its warmth and makes it easy to get into. Only a few times I though that the warmth would compress vocals a bit, or render piano notes with a little too much emphasis on fundamentals.
I think IEM have improved mostly in the treble region over the last few years. I come from a time when deciding on an IEM either meant that it would cut-off the highs or sound sibilant with rarely something in-between. Fortunately, those days are gone and, in this regard, Falcon Pro is very much a modern IEM. Depending on the ear tips used, the Transparency nozzle did retain some sharpness contrasting the full-bodied bass, but with the Reference nozzle (or narrow ear tips), all of that is gone.
Dissecting the frequency range does not do this IEM justice, even though I had very little to complain anyway. But the Falcon’s strengths really come together in excellent macrodynamics, capturing the intention of an album, be it relaxed or energetic. The DUNU Falcon Pro spans a huge soundstage with exemplary width and depth that few IEM can achieve. Despite of the great dynamics, the Falcon never comes across as v-shaped or aggressive sounding, dodging any sibilance. If you don’t like hollow BA timbre, this is the IEM for you!
The JVC/Drop FDX1 is a fan favorite and a worthy competitor of the Falcon Pro. Both IEM are priced between $220-250 and both feature a single dynamic driver with replaceable nozzles for preferential tuning. Both have excellent build quality and metal bodies, too, yet their sound could hardly differ more.
The Drop has a Harman-tuned bass shelf with an emphasis on sub-bass. From my experience, this works better with BA drivers than dynamic drivers as the latter can create an exaggerated boom. This is definitely the case with the HA-FDX1, too. The Falcon Pro is leaner, drier and tighter in this regard, but still has the body and dimensionality you’d expect from a dynamic driver. Coming from the FDX1, the DUNU will have a hard time shaking off the criticism of bloat. Both IEM are probably the same apart of what would be considered perfect. Pick your poison: Sub-bass boom or upper bass bloat.
Both IEM aim for a natural midrange, but in my opinion, one of the two does a much better job at it. The issue with the JVC is that its neutral tuning comes off as analytical. The fault is not with the mids per so, but the reference-tuning is a stark contrast to the boomy bass. This is tipped over by a 4 kHz peak which adds shout and hollowness regardless of the replaceable nozzles. Falcon Pro has comparable HRTF compensation in the mids, but the previously criticized bleeding gives the presentation an enjoyable warmth. Again, if you are aiming for perfectionism, the truth will be between the two.
As for treble, FDX1‘s 4 kHz peak is followed by a steep recession of the higher frequencies. The extension really isn‘t that bad, but the transition is poorly executed and any brightness in the music is derived from the upper mids, which can be anything but enjoyable to listen to with poorly mastered audio. No doubt about it, the Falcon Pro is at a huge advantage. Its challenger has been on the market for years already, so DUNU has no excuse to not make it better. So they did. The transition from mids to highs is much smoother and coherent on all three nozzles and its mostly only the treble quantity that makes a difference. This results in a better timbre and more coherent sound.
As similar as the two IEM are on paper, as different they sound. The JVC/Drop contrasts rumble with sharp analytical mids. The Falcon Pro, though quite warm-sounding, ultimately sounds more natural and musical.
DUNU asked me specifically to compare the Falcon Pro with the Softears Turii. That was quite surprising to me since I boldly stated that the Turii is (by far) the best single-dynamic driver IEM that I have ever heard. At that time, the Falcon Pro was still unreleased (I have a final-tuning prototype) and I hadn‘t paid attention to price announcements. I was seriously thinking the Falcon Pro would be aiming for a 999 € price tag.
The sense of musicality, the huge soundstage and the excellent detail retrieval all supported my case. But then the A/B comparison with the Softears Turii established a hierarchy among the two. Yet there are enough similarities that make the Falcon Pro worthy of any praise or recommendation!
First off, the Falcon Pro has a higher efficiency and is easier to drive. I don‘t think this will be a concern for most users, but it is good to know that you can get enough volume out of any device with a headphone jack using the DUNU. It‘s also noticeable that the Falcon Pro has a stronger punch and more slam. That very well might be a positive for former bass heads who are slowly stepping into more audiophile territory. But those of you who are searching for the best technical finesse will probably prefer the greater agility of the Turii and its more linear bass extension.
In direct comparison, the Falcon Pro has a bit of bloom, whereas Turii has less thickness. This allows for better separation and, ultimately, more details in the bass and midrange. On some tracks, Turii can make the Falcon Pro sound congested and less dynamic. The treble on both dynamic IEM is very good, but the Turii yet again sounds more cohesive and transparent. Turii, overall, sounds much airier and detailed and still is one of the most musical IEM in my collection. However, I would believe it if somebody told me that these two IEM were related somehow.
The verdict is simple. The DUNU Falcon Pro and the Softears Turii are both excellent IEM with dynamic drivers. They both focus on the same strengths, which are a musical and mostly natural-sounding presentation with a massive soundstage. Yet the price difference is huge, which makes every inferiority of the Falcon Pro excusable. Get the Falcon Pro first and consider the Turii if you want more. (And if you do get the Turii, you probably want to consider an upgrade cable of DUNU anyway. Win-win, right?)
DUNU went all out with the Falcon Pro! High-level build quality, luxury presentation, premium cable and an excellent sonic performance. I already told DUNU that this is not a $219 earphone. It’s worth much more! My concern is that users might think that all costs went into the build and accessories, subconsciously underestimating the technical performance that is available here. Not only due to the exchangeable nozzles, the Falcon Pro can be further adjusted to personal preference through ear tips or source pairing. The experience can be warm and relaxing or energetic and lively, but always is the music in the forefront. This is thanks to a huge soundstage and excellent macrodynamics, paired with natural timbre and high-resolution details.
If you are searching for pro-audio neutrality or Harman-tuning, the Falcon Pro might not end up on your list. But do give the DUNU Falcon Pro a chance even if not. The fullness and warmth is anything but distracting and you will still be treated with enjoyable and natural-sounding musicality.