Dunu has always been a favorite. They are able to produce great sounding products at reasonable prices. More recently, however, they have been delving into the midrange category.
The Alpha1 is their first attempt at an earbud; it’s a highly ambitious one. The Dunu Alpha1 takes a hybrid design and implements it into an earbud.
- Drivers: 16 mm Dynamic + Single BA
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 30 kHz
- Impedance: 16 ohms
- Sensitivity: 125 dB
In the Box
- Dunu Alpha1
- Carrying Case
- Earbud covers (Full-Ear, Rings: S/L, Foam)
- ¼ Inch Adapter
- Cable Clip
The Dunu Alpha1 offers a design that differs from the rest of the Dunu line. It still utilizes a simplistic metal finish, however, it also utilizes plastic to give it a nice contrast. A single, metal ring sits on the housing while the inside has a small tube sticking out. The black stem completes the design acting as a strain relief. This design isn’t as eye-popping as Dunu’s others, but it does work well still.
Sound-wise, the Dunu Alpha1 is more on the analytic side of things. It’s bass digs deep with good depth and texturing while the midrange rests on the sweeter, more aggressive side of things. The treble is energetic, bright, and highly detailed bordering edgy, but never reaching there.
We’ll start with the bass which is powered by a large, 16 mm dynamic driver. The lows are able to reach deep and offer beautiful texturing that ent fluidity and ample presence which leads to good, accurate texturing down low. The low-bass is present, though it may not have the most impact out there, again, accuracy and neutrality are key. It’s quite tight with some good overall speed, however. Dunu kept the bass neutral on the Alpha1 and did a great job tuning it.
The midrange has an aggression to it that brings out the details, whether you want them or not. Those who don’t like the analytic, aggressive, and in-your-face presentation may want to avoid this. However, the detailing and clarity are superb as a whol, there is no doubting there is a slight mid-focused signature to these Dunu IEMs. Vocals are sweet, some may find them a bit to sweet for their tastes, but they are pretty accurate and dynamic.
As we go up, we do find that the treble is at an adequate level offering excellent presence throughout the entire spectrum. The lower treble has a strong, defined snap that offers great extension and plenty of energy. The upper treble has an exceptionally detailed sound with good separation and clarity. They border edgy without ever reaching it, this gives the Alpha1 an unforgiving personality.
Dunu generally is stellar when it comes to build quality always ensuring that the user has enough to protect their investment when in use, or not. For the latter instance, Dunu does provide a small carrying case with their Alpha1. It’s a basic semi-hard, zip case that has the Dunu name stamped on it. It has one pocket inside for accessories.
The housings on the Alpha1 is sized closer to the size of the previous-geneartion iPod earbuds. The main earbud is plastic with a nice aluminum disk pasted on the outside to give it nice finesse and style. Overall though, the housing does seem strong enough to withstand abuse quite well. There is a long stem along the end of the bud, but no externally visible strain relief.
The main issues I had with the Alpha1 is the cable that is included. It reminds me quite a bit about the Titan’s cable; a little thin on the upper half, just thick enough on the lower. For a ‘bud of this caliber, it does definitely need to be better. There is the nice cable organizer that Dunu has for all their cables. I’ve said it many times before, all headphones should have this little attachment.
On the other end of things is a headphone jack. It is metal and sized very nicely for protection and portability. The jack is angled at 90-degrees to put slack off of the main cable with a decently sized strain relief. Gold plating is also used to resist corrosion.
Tips aren’t the first thing that come to mind when it comes to ear buds, however, they can greatly alter the shape of the headphones and improve fit and sound. Dunu offers some more conventional rings and foam that most people know about. They also include something that is shaped more ergonomically to the shape of the ear. Dunu states that each of these will alter the sound. Personally, I preferred the foam for its comfort and sound.
Earbuds normally tend to be on the cheaper end of things, however, when done right, they do sound fantastic. This sound does come with a price, and with the Dunu, it’s right around 170 dollars. This is a steep price, but it does offer sound quality that is competitive against other sub-200-dollar headphones and IEMs. They offer a variety of fit options and have a design that is closer to the vanilla side (a rarity for Dunu). I do wish the cable was a little thicker, a mic option would be nice too.
I have to say, when I heard about the idea of using a hybrid design for an ear bud, I wasn’t sure what to think. Personally, I rarely have any sort of earbud that I’m comfortable listening to. The Alpha1 is a first despite it’s slightly unforgiving, cold sound. Many others will still prefer a sound closer to the EarPods for something a little meatier. Overall, it’s a great idea that tries to push the boundaries of audio.