Dunu Luna: World’s First

Greetings!

Today we’re checking out the Luna, a new flagship single dynamic-based earphone with some “world’s first” technology running the show.

Beryllium is a pretty sweet material to use for speakers. Dangerous to collect and manufacture, but the resultant qualities are worth it. It’s extremely light and stiff resulting in breakup/distortion later, and at higher frequencies than other more common materials, such as titanium. Whereas most earphones utilize materials like carbon nano-tube and titanium as a coating to improve the integrity of a driver, Dunu took things a step further being the first to develop and utilize a beryllium rolled foil diaphragm. No coatings here. Unlike most other products in this price range, the Luna doesn’t feature a swath of drivers of various styles either. Instead, they let their singular, very special driver, hog the spotlight and strut it’s stuff.

And strut it does. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

What I Hear Treble is extremely smooth with a reduction in emphasis in the brilliance region compared to the rest of the signature. This leaves the Luna with a warm, soft, detailed presentation that is amazing for extended listening sessions, and at higher volumes than I’d normally listen. That said, as a result of this downplayed emphasis cymbals, chimes, etc. lack impact in a track and in cases where they should be prominent forces and lead, such as on Gramatik’s “Bluestep”, fall in line with the rest of the presentation and fail to stand out. Thanks to the Beryllium drivers, notes strike and decay quickly and with impressive control, though there is a lack of sparkle and shimmer to go along with this composure. Complicate things, such as on King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black”, and the Luna remains distinct and clean, easily detailing each element without congestion.

The midrange of the Luna is elevated over the rest of the signature thanks to an upper mid bump giving vocals a strong presence. Thankfully this bump is not enough to engage the flavour of the month criticism, shoutiness. Sibilance isn’t much of an issue either, resulting in unforgiving tracks like Aesop Rock’s “Blood Sandwich” being perfectly serviceable and enjoyable through the Luna. That said, you will still experience the occasional bit of discomfort at times when you come across particularly sharp sounding vocals. Timbre accuracy is reasonably solid with a plasticky, almost armature-like quality creeping in at times. It’s nothing that hinders the overall enjoyment of the product for me, but those who are particularly picky and hold the Sony MH755 and/or Blon BL-03 up as timbre gods should probably keep this in mind if they were thinking up upgrading to something good.

Bass is quite linear in presentation with only a soft roll off in sub-bass regions keeping it from being perfectly balanced. As expected from a pure beryllium driver, speed is excellent with the Luna able to handle the nuts-o rapid double bass line common to various metal tracks without breaking a sweat. It’s also very well controlled leaving individual notes sounding distinct and well-defined. Texturing is a low point with the presentation being a bit too smooth for my personal preferences. Tracks from The Prodigy and Tobacco lack the grunge and crunch I expect through the Luna. This means that overall detail in the low is also a bit lacking, leaving the presentation feeling somewhat one-note and less dynamic that I would expect from a product at this price point. Despite these qualms, I still find the low end satisfying, just not as good as it could have been.

Sound stage is actually quite impressive which I was not expecting given the laid back upper ranges. The default positioning for vocals sets the stage just at the outer edge of the ear with instruments and affects branching out from there. I found the Luna quite immersive, as experienced listening to King Crimson’s live take on “Indiscipline”. This is in large part thanks to the excellent layering and instrument separation qualities. Imaging is quite clean and nuanced, but doesn’t quite stack up to some of the multi-driver flagships found in this price range.

Overall I have really enjoyed my time with the Luna. While I don’t necessarily think it is truly class leading in any particular aspect, put everything together and you have a package that sounds very coherent and capable. This general all-round quality has left the Luna as one of the more enjoyable products I’ve spent time with this year.

Dunu Luna & Friends 2

Compared To A Peer (volumes match with Dayton iMM-6)

Campfire Audio Ara (1,299.00 USD): The Ara is notably brighter than the Luna, particularly due to a significant amount of additional energy in the brilliance region. This gives chimes, cymbals, etc. a ton more presence in Campfire’s offerings vs. the much more downplayed output from the Luna. While notes seems to attack and decay at a similar speed, impressive given the Luna has a single dynamic, the Ara goes about it in a more obvious and aggressive way. The Ara’s midrange is more forward, though not to the same extent as the treble region. Vocals out of the Ara are a bit thicker and more weighty with a warmer tonality, with the trade off being that they are not quite a detailed and articulate. Timbre is more natural out of the Luna, but the differences are mild. Bass out of the Luna is only slightly more prominent than on the Ara, but thanks to the lack of treble to counterbalance ends up feeling more boosted than it really is. Both have a very linear presentation with a similar drop in emphasis in subbass regions. The Luna’s low end is slower and can’t quite match the Ara’s lightening quick response, nor does it output as much detail and texture. It does, however, carry more weight and move more air providing a more viscerally satisfying experience on bass-reliant tracks. When listening for soundstage differences, I was surprised to find the Luna felt wider and more spacious allowing additional air between notes and resulting in tracks feeling more layered. The Ara comes across more intimate which plays well to it’s razor sharp imaging that the Luna couldn’t match.

When it comes to build they are both outstanding examples of top of the line products and I cannot say definitively that one bests the other. They both utilize Titanium for their shells with the Luna having the more understated design compared to Campfire’s iconic and awesomely angular look. The Luna’s simpler, smaller, lower profile shells lack the visual flair and do not isolate quite as well, but are definitely the more ergonomic and comfortable of the two, and I have zero issues with comfort with the Ara. The cable is where the two separate. Campfire’s cable is thinner, lighter, and more flexible. It does a better job of staying out of the way while also being less prone to memory and tangling. On the other hand, the Luna’s thicker cable design is more encouraging for long term durability, plus it utilizes Dunu’s Quick-Switch modular plug system meaning you don’t have to wear out the MMCX ports with cable swaps should you decide to run it balanced.

Overall they are both some of the best sounding products I’ve ever used. Since their tuning is so different, they compliment each other well and choosing one over the other really comes down to your personal preferences. Do you like a warmer, more mellow sounding earphone? The Luna ticks those boxes well. If you prefer a more analytic, detailed sound the Ara should be the one you look at.

Campfire Audio Atlas (1,299.00 USD): The single dynamic Atlas has a clear v-shaped signature in comparison. Starting with the low end, the Atlas is A LOT bassier. It digs deeper, hits harder, is more textured and provides more detail. The Luna is quicker and tighter though with a much more natural, balanced presence in the overall mix. They are clearly aimed at completely different audiences. Both have a similarly placed upper midrange, though perception says it sticks out more on the Luna thanks to the differences in emphasis in treble and bass regions. I find the Luna’s mids thicker and more natural, but a step behind in terms of clarity and detail. The Atlas’s dry-ish timbre is less enticing than the Luna’s presentation in my opinion. Heading into the treble the Atlas is sharp and shimmery with a strong attack that brings a lot more energy to the table compared to the laid back Luna. Notes are tighter and better controlled out of the Luna, lacking the mild splash hear in the Atlas. Some people seem to like splash I’ve noticed. For me, it’s a definite negative, though it’s not so bad as to be a detriment here. Sound stage is quite good on both with the Atlas getting the nod. While the Duna feels spacious, the Atlas feels more capacious with a deceptively cavernous feel to it at times. It comes across even wider and deeper though imaging, layering, and separation qualities end up being pretty similar.

Where the Luna is small and light with a super comfortable, low profile design, the Atlas is made of extremely heavy, hand-polished stainless steel. Combine that with a more traditional barrel shape that sticks out of the ear and ergonomics are very much hit and miss. Luna is definitely the better of the two for wearing pleasure, in my experience. The Atlas certainly looks a heck of a lot cooler though with it’s brash design and ‘bling bling’ chrome. While I prefer to wear the Luna, I like the Atlas’ cable more. Sure, it doesn’t utilize Dunu’s awesome Quick-Switch system, but it’s lighter and more flexible which earns it huge points in my book. Both cables are great though.

Overall? These two target completely different crowds. If you want something that can act as a reference unit, mostly balanced with a mid-range bias, Luna all the way. If you want a top of the line bass monster that doesn’t skimp on quality or technical ability, obviously go for the Atlas.

In The Ear The wearing experience of the Luna is just as impressive as the sound it outputs. The shape is quite reminiscent of the DK3001 Pro that I absolutely adore, right down to the unique, horizontal stalk that protrudes from the top of the shell and contains the MMCX port. Given the serious reduction in driver quantity, the Luna ends up even slimmer with a concave outward facing plate that fits the tip of a finger nicely when seating it in the ear. It is a light, small low profile earphone that feels very natural to wear, even across heavily extended listening sessions. Isolation is not a strong suit though. The twin ports, one down near and nozzle and another larger one on top of the shell, do little to prevent outside noise from bleeding in. Foam tips help, but even with them equipped I can still hear various happenings going on around me fairly well.

Fit and finish is generally quite good with no misaligned segments or significant flaws to be found. The extensions the cable plugs into are a separate piece and their attachment to the shell slightly lopsided, but I think that was a design choice and not a fit and finish issue since it’s the same on both sides. A subtle touch that might be overlooked is the knurled metal rings at the end of each stalk where the cable plugs in, coloured to denote each channel; right for right, silver for left. L and R are also printed on the MMCX plugs on the cable, but some redundancy never hurts. The metal nozzles are a separate piece. They taper in slightly at the entrance with a small lip that holds most third party tips in place without issue though my prefer set, Sony Hybrids, can be knocked off with little effort. I’ve never had them fall off in my ear thankfully.

The silver-plated cable is a very nice addition to the package. The sheath and overall feel to the cable is quite dense with a fairly tight wind and manageable heft backing it up. While fairly flexible, it retains some memory of bends and kinks but nothing that sticks around long, or causes issues with usability. Strain relief at the Quick-Switch equipped modular jack isn’t particularly long or useful, but I’m not too concerned given how tough the sheath feels. While relief is also absent at the y-split, there is a handy chin cinch so that’s a plus. Another plus is the use of preformed ear guides which do a good job of holding the cable in place around the ear. I never ran into issues with it hopping up and around the ear, even when out for a jog.

In The Box Since the Luna was a tour unit, it was not shipped with the original packaging and compete accessories (I think). Since this is usually my favorite section and most of what is covered here was not sent along with the earphones, I’ll leave you and your mad Googling skills to find this information should you care. Or if reading this on Head-fi, scroll down to the first few reviews for some handy dandy images.

Final Thoughts I read quite a bit of coverage of the Luna prior to being asked if I wanted in on the tour, so I had an idea of what to expect. That said, written word and graph analysis can’t replace genuine experience with a physical object. The Luna showed itself to be plenty competitive, and a fantastic showcase for the benefits of using beryllium. With a tight, controlled, detailed sound free of harshness or distortion, it makes for an easy listening but very capable earphone. A combination of qualities that few other totl products I’ve heard can brag about.

Not only does the Luna meet sonic expectations, but it is every bit as nice in other aspects. The gorgeous titanium shells have an attractive but subtle design that doesn’t scream “1700 USD earphone over here. Come steal me!!” to passerbys, so users can feel confident they’ll be safe when using it outside the safety of their hovel. The included accessories also seem to be quite extensive, with the uber premium leather case and Quick-Switch equipped cable being some specific highlights.

Overall a great earphone and an impressive showpiece for the brand. Highly recommended to give it an audition if you’re looking for a mostly balanced sound with totl quality performance in a fatigue-free package.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer Thanks to Thomas with Dunu for reaching out to see if I would like to join the Luna tour, and for arranging to have it sent over for a few weeks of testing. At the time of writing the Luna was retailing for 1,699.99 USD. You can check it out here on Dunu’s product page: https://www.dunu-topsound.com/product-page/luna

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 110dB @ 1kHz
  • Harmonic Distortion: 0.2% @ 1kHz
  • Driver: 10mm Acoustic-Grade Pure Beryllium Rolled Foil with Polyurethane Suspension
  • Housing Material: Titanium Alloy, Grade 5 (Ti-6Al-4V, TC4, with modified rare earth metal formulation)
  • Cable: Mixed Strands of Furukawa Electric Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) Copper & DHC Silver, with Silver-Plated OCC Copper Shield Surround, equipped with Dunu’s patented Catch-Hold and Quick-Switch systems

Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen Sparrow, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

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