Dunu Luna ($1699): Fly me to the moon… 「玥」

Dunu Luna: Fly me to the moon… 「玥」

Pros: Excellent build
Good fit
Lightweight
Affordable flagship
Sound to match
Solid bass holds down a pleasant signature
Excellent choice of adapters (I love this aspect)

Cons: Treble might be a bit too polite for some
Bass might be a bit too polite for some
Tough competition at this price
Might sound a bit thin to some (not really)

Dunu Luna ($1699): Fly me to the moon… 「玥」

Luna landing

Intro: As luck would have it, Dunu offered me the new SA-6 while I waited my turn for the Luna. Bad luck meant they both arrived on the same day…knowing I would only have the Luna for a week, I immediately hooked it up to insure all was working, then included it in my final three FiR Audio reviews (M2, M3, M4). Knowing the price matched the M4, more time was spent in that comparison, and will be shared below.

The Luna is Dunu’s attempt at raising their level into the true flagship level. Utilizing pure Beryllium for the driver has shown to have many merits, including speed of reproduction, lightness and longevity. Much information can be garnered from the link above, and perusing it really is not a waste of your time, even if you are not in the market.

My experience with Dunu started with the Titan 1, which was my first foray back into the portable audio segment, and my son still currently enjoys it. I really did enjoy the sound, even if it was a bit too hot for me up top. Initial impressions from the Luna (and SA-6) note that what to me became the trademark Dunu top end has thankfully been toned down a bit. So far so good.

Most of what I read beforehand told of the Luna being quite good at detail retrieval and clarity, along with a solid non in your face bass quality, which is also quite good. My initial impressions can concur with those assessments.

Specs:

BRAND: DUNU
MODEL: LUNA

FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION: 0.2% at 1 kHz
NOMINAL IMPEDANCE: 16 Ω
SENSITIVITY: 110 dB at 1 kHz

DRIVE MODULE: 10 mm 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)
NET WEIGHT: 10.3 g

CABLE LENGTH: 1.2 m
CABLE MATERIAL: Mixed Strands of Furukawa Electric Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) Copper & Neotech Silver, with Silver-Plated OCC Copper Shield Surround

CABLE CONNECTOR: Patented Catch-Hold® MMCX Connector
PLUG CONNECTOR: Patented DUNU Quick-Switch Modular Plug System (2.5bal, 3.5bal, 3.5se, & 4.4 Pentaconn included)


Also included:

Three pouch (center one zippered) pleather case, which looks like a large zippered wallet

4 sets of silicon tips in s/m/l (yellow & red shaft, blue and red-shafted gray)



Gear Used/Compared:

FiR Audio M4 ($1800)
Unique Melody Maestro V2 ($1499)
MMR Homunculus ($1699)

Cayin N6 mk2
Shanling M6 Pro
MBP/EarMen TR-AMP
MBP/Yulong DA-Art Aquila II
MBP/Little Dot mk3 se

Songlist:

Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Tidal MQA



Unboxing:

I took it out of the mailing package and unwrapped the extra-sized wallet from the bubble wrap (no I did not squish any of them…) and unzipped the case. Inside I found the unit, all four changeable jacks and the four sets of tips.

That’s it, that’s the unboxing.

Build/Fit/Finish:

To me Dunu is known for producing smaller sized IEM’s, that pack a large compendium of sound. The Luna would be no different in the sound or the size department. In fact, if you flip the Luna over, using it without the over-ear bend it mimics the classic Titan looks.

Made of four parts, the cylinder that holds the cable, back plate, shell and nozzle, there is an industrial look to it, which is not unpleasant. The fore side of the back plate and shell are not completely flush (on both), so I am unsure if this is by design (to aid in grip) or a function of tolerance. When one forks over the hard-earned green for a TOTL, one expects perfection. While this is a minor quibble to me, it does matter. Made of grade 5 Titanium though (Ti-6Al-4V and TC4), the unit is built to last. Adding in their own rare earth mix to give the shell a better “ring,” Dunu formulates the shell for its own signature. I have ridden friend Titanium racing bicycles and they are superb. I prefer old-school steel myself, but if I had to, Titanium would be the easy other choice. For that part, the Luna carries an understated stunning look to it. Like the gorgeous date who walks in with you but carries herself in an unassuming manner and reserved dress. Only those who pay close attention would go, “wow…she’s gorgeous.” I like unassuming, understated beauty.

More manufacturers are taking the shell space seriously, like the chamber in which your home stereo plays. To more discerning ears than mine, I’m sure the differences are more apparent. I applaud this aspect of careful detailed presentation and think this is something all manufacturers should do.

The back plate is concave, and thus sits deeper into your ear. Mind you the Luna is svelte in and of itself, so to further minimize itself is a nice addition. In-ear fit is good, and with a good tip choice, seal is solid. Instead of having an over ear bend of plastic sheath like normal, the Dunu has a thick plastic sheath, much like you would find on the other end at the jack. Meant to protect the cable, here the sheath is indeed bent towards the back, thus giving the cable a “natural” over ear bend. Tucked neatly behind the ear, without trouble of coming off or hindering my glasses, the Luna cable worked. A thoughtful execution to a potentially persistent problem.

I will state that aside from the “misfit” shell and back plate, the Luna is put together superbly. With a vent hole out the back as well as tucked aft of the nozzle on the shell, there is adequate ventilation. Quality exudes from the Luna at all turns.

Sound:

Starting down low as per usual, the bass goes fairly low, but this would never be confused with a basshead IEM. There is a bit of a roll off in the sub bass, which prevents rumble from coming out, but the presentation is good, nonetheless. Countering that “lack” is excellent speed and control. The Be driver is certainly doing its job here. I am not the best at discerning separate sounds, but the speed with which this driver reacts is impressive. But, due to that lack of overall rumble and reach, I understand here why a reviewer called the Luna “light” in sound. Mind you that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The opposite of that is clarity, which is quite good.

The mids present a somewhat opposite approach. Both a bit forward and elevated, vocal presentation takes the center stage as witnesses on Elton John’s All The Young Girls Love Alice, or Knopfler’s Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes, which permeate the air right in front of you. This is not bad, and again clarity comes to mind. Those who like a forward-mid presentation will really like the way the Luna presents this part. I appreciate it as one of Dunu’s “signature traits,” ever since I listened to the Titan 1. I do notice an artificiality coming in much like what @B9Scrambler describes as “plasticky.” Hindering the overall quality of the mids with an almost balanced armature quality is how he describes it. Not able to put my finger on it until I read that description, I would agree with that assessment.

Thankfully up top, the treble comes across with a brilliant presentation. Not overly bright, or shouty, but present and near-forceful. Not forceful enough to overpower, but present with extreme confidence. Think about the gymnast who needs to nail a pommel horse jump to win. And she does it. On Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, there is a chance an IEM can come across as overly bright due to the complexity up top. The Luna present and exemplary story and this could be my favorite aspect of it. Often with bright signatures up top, I have to turn the volume down (not due to sibilance, just can’t take too much bright); but here I do not and even through a neutral DAC/amp such as the Yulong DA-Art Aquila II, it is not too much. Well done Dunu.

Put all of the above together and the soundstage comes across as impressively wide and tall for a single dynamic driver. Granted the slight elevation of the mids and vocals aid in this but when Albert King’s I’ll Play The Blues For You comes on, his wretchedly cool guitar licks come across dead center while the support bass guitar and electric guitar support one side, and the drums the other. Think of a planetarium where you could talk into a rounded wall and someone on the complete opposite side would think the sound is coming from BEHIND them. A cool phenomenon and one, which to me describes the soundstage of the Luna.

The clarity of which I mention above also aids in keeping everything separate, with good isolation of all involved. As a result, the texture is good, and layering is also good. Don’t expect a huge amount of separation as the overall signature is one of evenness and not meant for that analytically precise separation. Think more of the whole as opposed to the parts.

Comparisons:

Dunu Luna ($1699) vs Fir Audio M4 ($1800): From my M4 review…

The Luna came in time for a comparison as luck would have it, and I have been graced by some superb wares the last three months. The Luna fits into that mold of flagship nicely, and it is a technological marvel. Replete with a pure Beryllium foil driver, and a shell of Titanium, the Luna finishes the overture of techno-wizardry off by being handmade.

Described by one reviewer as “light” for a signature, this was not meant as a pejorative statement, but one of appreciation for the “lilt” given off by the signature. The Luna is one of the more clarity-driven IEM’s I have heard of late. Crisp sound and deep-enough reach of bass (it is quite good without bleed, and a good punch), this is indeed a direct comparison. With mids that are brighter, and treble on par but with a bit more presence I did have to turn the volume down. No sibilance, but a high end not for the faint of heart. Crystalline and crisp, but with an edge would be an apt description. Very good would be another.

And this is what separates the two. The Luna is not shy about its top end, where the M4 shows a bit more respect for our ears. And in doing so, I appreciate that as well. I would call the Luna the “typical” Dunu house-top-end, except that the SA-6 I have in as well pretty much blows that out the back door. The Luna is another excellent example of how this range between $1500-2000 is packed with excellent choices. See also the one directly below, and that “hard choice” we have to make gives us just reward, regardless of the signature.

*Addendum: The more I listen to the Dunu, the more I appreciate the signature as “not typical” Dunu, but what Dunu can be when allowed to expand. I really like the M4 and would most likely choose it over the M5 (save a grand as well), but each of the Luna and M4 can be appreciated very much so for the differing approach they take.


Dunu Luna ($1699) vs MMR Homunculus ($1699):

Mostly from memory, what I appreciated about the Homunculus was its laidback tonality and respect for the music. A bit warmer than the Thummim (which is extraordinary), I would use the word “mature” again. And that is a good thing, too. With bass that is impactful, but not slow; the Homunculus presents a full-fledged example of how far we have come in this segment. To think that three excellent choices in this price are listed here, and all are really quite good, with distinct tonalities gives one appreciation for the way each manufacturer has approached this level. Give the user an excellent sound signature and let them choose.

This would most likely be the toughest choice if given these two.

But, throw on the Eletech Socrates, and it becomes and easy choice-the Homunculus. Of course, you then get into the price of the flagships, and I am sure what the Socrates does for the Homunculus, it could do for the Luna. Take your choice, then.


Dunu Luna ($1699) vs Unique Melody Maestro V2 ($1499):

Another old friend brought out, the Maestro was my first TOTL purchase, and even after the Mason V2 came along, I kept the Maestro instead. Paired with an Effect Audio Ares II, the sound is still quite nice. With bass that punches a bit deeper than the Luna, there is still a more centralized sound to the Maestro, which I still appreciate. On Albert King’s song mentioned above, the bass stays central, but everything else spreads the field, filling the sound with a clarity that is on par with the Luna. I still like how I can raise the volume with the Maestro, and it does not grate on my senses. The UM can still emote the accolades with today’s newbies so to speak, and I am still glad I kept it.

With a more forward mid, vocals and guitar take the center stage, but not to the detriment of the others (similar to the Luna). Crisp higher notes add width as well as height helping that airy note permeate all layers quite nicely, again much like the Luna. Running the stock silver cable makes me appreciate how I can change the note with just a simple switch. In stock form, the Maestro still sings to me.

The Luna and Maestro are very similar, save for width of stage, which goes to the Luna. Both a really quite good.

Finale:

Finishing with the Mark Knopfler song mentioned above, I again appreciate the finer points of the Luna. Crisp, clean sound saturate the air, which detail retrieval comes along for that pint of dark gold. Mark’s vocals highlight a simply superb song that I want played at my funeral celebration. The Luna presents the sound emoting from the song with excellent speed and detail, highlighting the truly positives of a pure Beryllium single dynamic driver. This is a very fine unit and one that should most definitely be listened to. While it may not wow you with its performances when taken singularly; this truly is a case of the whole is greater than the parts. And for me that exudes “underdog” status. I love the underdog. The Luna is a really fine unit, which should be appreciated for its simplicity, its exotic use of earthen materials, and a subtlety, which other flagship IEM’s do not promote. Understated and appreciated. I like the overall package of the Dunu. Well done.

I finish listening to Damian Marley’s So A Child May Follow, and with that I thank Dunu for the opportunity to listen to their TOTL. I applaud them on pushing their technological advances forward, without the astronomical prices. The Luna is well worth a listen.

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