Dunu Kima Classic
This is my full written review of Dunu’s latest single Dynamic Driver iem, the Dunu Kima Classic. The Kima Classic, or “DKC” as I’ll often refer to it for review purposes, is actually the successor or “twin sibling” to the mildly popular original Kima which I reviewed in 2022 (Kima Review). I quite enjoyed the Kima original and gave it pretty nice praise. It had some minor subjective gripes about its tuning but for the most part was a successful entry into the $100 to $150 price point. The Classic is actually a re-imagined version of the popular Kima, with a sweet looking new paint job, a color matched cable and a more fun and dynamic tuning.
Dunu has been around for quite some time and started their audio journey producing OEM/ODM produced products for both telecommunications as well as audio companies. They have actually been developing earphones and other audio products since 1994. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that the brand name “Dunu” first made an entry into the scene. They began creating driver materials and diaphragm materials which ultimately led to many Dunu created patents. Ever since then, Dunu has been steadily producing highly competitive audio products that I’m sure most of the readers are very well aware of. Dunu has a way of creating products which scream “premium” in every way and sound the part too.
Back to the OG Kima, it was a very fine earphone and truthfully still is. In fact, I was surprised that Dunu released this “Classic” version so quickly. The Classic coming hot on the heels of the original with some subtle to… not-so-subtle upgrades. The Classic should be able to stand on its own two feet, or else, perhaps this was simply a quick cash gimmick. Now, I think Dunu has better integrity than that and so I am certainly leaning on the former.
This new set is said to have some more low-end emphasis as well as a bump in the upper-mids to treble region making it a true V-shaped iem and built for a more popular type tuning. The Shells have a new paint job with a “coffee gray” look and the cable was upgraded too. One more thing… The price didn’t change at all. With all that said, why don’t we take a good long look at this newest Dunu iem and see if this set has what it takes to form a path of its own and stand against some of the big boys around the $100 price point. The Dunu Kima Classic everyone….
-Accessories (nice cable, tips, carrying case)
-Build Quality is wonderful
-Gorgeous looking iem
-Timbre is great, organic warmish neutral and clean
-Fun and dynamic V-shaped sound
-Dense, full & atmospheric bass region
-Vocals (esp. Females)
-Energetic Treble region
-Imaging is great
-Nicely detailed treble region
-Gets confused in congested tracks
-Bass region can lack some bite and density
-The fit may be bothersome
Gear used for testing
The DKC arrived at my home in a decently sized rectangular box which is fitting for what’s included and not wasteful. The outer sleeve of the box simply has a picture of the DKC on the cover as well as specs on the back of the sleeve.
Take off the sleeve and you’ll see a simple black box with Dunu on the front. Once you open the box you will be eye to eye with the beautiful DKC sitting pretty in foam cut-outs. Next to the DKC is the usual orange fabric Dunu carrying case that comes with many of their earphones. Inside the case you’ll find three different types of tips, a cleaning rag, nozzle cleaning tool and a 6.35 adapter. Also, under the foam partition which holds the DKC earphones is a box labeled “cable” which obviously has the very nice cable inside. I think Dunu offers quite a lot of good and useful accessories, all made of solid materials for the price. Nice job Dunu.
Dunu was nice enough to provide a good selection of tips and all of them are very good quality. Each tip type will add a unique spin and subtle changes to the tuning. They added nine pairs of tips in total, or three sets of three (S, M, L).
To start, Dunu gives you some black tips with a narrow blue bore which I assume is meant to give a lift to the low-end by bringing the upper-mid & treble area down a few db’s. The stem is very firm, and the flanges are firm enough as well for a good seal. I found these tips weren’t to my liking as they added to much warmth to the sound which kind of goes against the Kima sound (in my mind).
Next are the Dunu Candy eartips. They are obviously candy colored white tips with different colored bores. These too have narrow bores yet are a hair longer than the black tips. These can go a little bit deeper into the ear canal. Also firm at the flange and inner stem. These are actually solid tips that are a big benefit to keep on hand. Any iem that you feel needs a boost in stage presence will benefit from these tips. However, I don’t like that the upper mid vocals were tamed too much using these on the DKC.
Lastly are my favorite tips in the bunch, the Dunu S&S eartips. For whatever reason the only size which fits my ears are the large size, but I love what these tips can do for the sound. There is a definite openness occurring with a perceivably wider stage and these tips add some punch to the treble region for me. The S&S tips honestly upgrade almost every area of the mix with a nice lift to the midrange which just so happens to be what the DKC could use. The bass tightens to a small degree and the stage opens up with added air to the sound.
The carrying case is the exact one given with the original Kima. Coincidentally it also happens to be the same case provided with the likes of the hi-end SA6 model as well as a few others. This case is an all-orange fabric case with a stainless-steel zipper. There is a couple pretty dope touches, like the center of the case has “DUNU” embossed on it. Also, the Zipper itself has Dunu written on it. It’s a very nice addition to the packaging that Dunu could’ve left out and I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. What I like about this case is that it’s relatively narrow and can sit in my front pocket and not look too ridiculous. I don’t usually use cases, but I have always liked Dunu’s. Also, if needed you can fit your earphones and a small dongle dac. Not bad at all.
The cable that Dunu offers in the packaging is a very nice four strand high-purity, single crystal copper and silver-plated cable. Thankfully this one has a 2-pin connection and terminates with a 3.5 single ended jack. I have to say that this cable is actually quite nice. One of the better cables in the price point in my opinion.
The color matching is perfect, and the construction is beautiful. It’s a very nice and chunky cable, but not too chunky. It’s beefy but with some lean muscle mass. The color is really awesome and pretty hard to explain. It’s a brown cable but more like metallic brown and the sheath which covers and protects it has almost a gloss to it. Truly this cable looks great paired with the DKC. The hardware on the cable is almost all of a brownish/gunmetal colored alloy with a gold plated 3.5 connector. The cable is pliable and not not microphonic. Let’s put it this way, I would purchase this cable on its own. The cable is DOPE folks.
Unfortunately the included cable is still only 3.5 single ended. I listen to a lot of 4.4 or 2.5 balanced sources and thus I need a cable with these terminations. So, I actually went with an even beefier KBear Chord graphene + silver plated mix braid cable. Together these two are absolutely gorgeous and the sound fits so very well. You will notice I have the Chord pictured in many photos as well as the included cable and I took those to show that I listened a lot with both. Really it came down to the source I was using at any given time. There wasn’t really any sonic benefit to swapping cables other than an increase in power supply through a balanced connection. Dunu did a great job on this one!
Build / Design / Internals / Fit / Drivability
One thing is for sure, Dunu knows how to craft a well built and well-designed earphone… no matter the price tag or tier group. Just like the original Kima, the Classic (or “DKC” as I’ll call it for review purposes) is built using high precision melting and casting of high-density metal alloy. I adored the build and shape, the style and the durability of the Dunu Kima and so it’s no wonder that I especially enjoy the DKC’s stylistic build due to the new coffee-gray colorway (I’ll cover that in the next section). I will add that the shape may cause some fit issues, or better said; the shell shaping may cause some fiddling around to get a seal. Something about how they don’t exactly hug the ear perfectly and the DKC also has a shorter nozzle. Rest assured I was always able to get a seal.
The DKC has a brass plated nozzle as well as a nice metal grill. You’ll find one larger vent near the rear of the shell cavity underside with what appears to be some filter mesh inside. On the top of the Shells the DKC has a slightly recessed 2-pin female connector. As far as build quality is concerned, you’d be very hard pressed to find a better built iem in its price point. The seams are clean, no glue, nothing sloppy and perfectly sculpted. Dunu did a fine job with the OG and the newer version Kima.
Design / Look
Like I stated earlier, I adore the look of this set. The distinct raised lines that collide on the Shell face (to form a “K”) are so fresh looking and unique. The look is completely masculine and modern. The underbelly on the Shells have very cool looking raised surfaces leading up to the nozzles, obviously built around the Internals that are housed inside. However, the thing I like best is the brand-new paint job. Something I thought I’d never say is “Man that coffee brown looks dope!”. It’s true, the new colorway is gorgeous and Dunu made sure to color match the cable perfectly. Couple the coffee-gray with the brass-colored nozzle and you have yourself a design champ of 2023 under $100…maybe. Great job Dunu.
The new Classic version of the Kima shares the exact same 10mm DLC single Dynamic Driver set-up. The promotional literature of the OG Kima states that this driver boasts better rigidity & damping which reduces harmonic distortions. What houses this new driver is a dual cavity design with a N52 Strong Magnetic Circuit and high tension ultra fine voice coil. Also employed is a microcontroller airflow control technology to maintain airflow pressure in the cavity for better comfort. There is also a small front vent near to the nozzle and a larger back vent as well. The driver has pretty obvious good qualities which aren’t subject to crazy distortions and maintains good control.
Fit / Isolation
The DKC fits me fairly nicely when I fiddle for a minute. A small price to pay for a good seal on this latest Dunu single DD. The shape is kind of flat against the ear with a shorter front nozzle. Couple that with the fact that the Dunu S&S eartips are a sort of odd fit themselves and what you have is a fiddling session. No problem though, I expect as much from any iem I put into my ears. I have zero idea how the DKC will fit you, but I do think the DKC has a pretty universal build which should fit most ears. You may not have any of my fit issues at all, and they may fit you like a glove.
Isolation is actually quite good so long as you get a good seal. Once a seal is made there is very minimal sound leakage as well as pretty nice attenuation of outside noises. Certainly, these are not meant for stage use but for casual listening so this isn’t the greatest priority for most people purchasing the Dunu Kima Classic.
Drivability / Pairing
As far as drivability, the DKC is easy to drive to good fidelity. The DKC is rated at 32 ohms with a sensitivity of 108 decibels give or take a dB or two. Using a simple IPad 6th generation I was actually able to bring the DKC to a nice volume, but I noticed that separation, detail retrieval and the overall dynamic expression suffers a bit. So yes, you can bring this set to volume nicely with just a simple smartphone, but you will not get the most out of the DKC.
It was when I began using more powerful sources that I really started to see what the DKC was made of. Even something as mildly powerful as the Fiio UTWS5 was able to really bring upon great mobile sound quality. The embedded AK4332 dac issues a slight warmth and a beefed-up bass region and the DKC followed suit while also coming across pretty clean. Certainly, one of the best true wireless options on the market. Using the IFi Go Blu with its warmer and more lush Cirrus Logic CS43131 dac chip I found the DKC gained a bit more in note weight and vibrance, and macro-dynamics came alive. Especially on 4.4 balanced.
This part of my scaling up of sources is when the hi-res qualification within the DKC begins to show its face. Using the Hidizs S9 Pro on balanced, the sound brings the DKC right up to its peak in output power thirst. What’s best is how the DKC reacts to the ES9238Q2M dac chip and the tuning of the highly resolving S9 Pro. They sound lovely together. However, as far as dongle dacs are concerned, I found the Moondrop Dawn 4.4 to be superior as the sound has such a nice and clean sound, but also a punchy and dynamic presentation. The Dawn uses the same CS43131 dac as the Go Blu, but the tuning is much different. The DKC really jives with this type of analytical, crisp, punchy and detailed sound and the DKC’s balance throughout the spectrum plays very nice with the balance of the Dawn 4.4.
Actually, I found that the DKC has the sort of tuning and tonality which works pretty well with most any source as far as synergy is concerned. It has that warm/neutral type of sound that just resonates with most any dac. Using one of my favorite daps, the iBasso DX240 (basically a Dawn 4.4 on steroids) which has an ES9038Pro dac chip and a ton of power, the sound is fantastic and the full breadth of the DKC’s ability begins to show forth. I don’t necessarily think it has anything to do with power, but the DKC is scaling to the quality of the source being used. Even better was the Shanling M6 Ultra. Truthfully, I spent almost all of my time critical listening with this set-up. The M6 Ultra uses an AK4493SEQ chip with its velvet technology. The sound is sublime as a pairing with the DKC on medium gain settings with no hiss.
So, in the end, all you really need is a decently powered source, nothing crazy folks. The DKC does very well from multiple source tonalities so I’m sure whatever you have should be more than fine. Yes, the DKC naturally scales to the quality of the source and with a hint more power, but I don’t think it is entirely necessary.
Note: I just want to preface the sound portion of this review by informing you that I did burn the DKC in for roughly 50 hours before any critical listening was completed. I didn’t notice any benefit to doing this. I also always use flac files which are stored on my devices. For all balanced sources I did swap cables for the KBear Chord 4.4.
The Dunu Kima Classic comes across like a warm/neutral and more fun Dunu Kima OG. You’ll notice there’s an extra bass bump, as well as some added emphasis in the upper-mids through the treble which creates a more energetic Kima. A little more V-shaped in sound signature from the original. A little more on the fun side compared to the OG. The Classic is slightly V-shaped to a Harman type sound, yet one thing I’m not hearing is an obvious dip or recess in the midrange that would be considered a large detriment as with most V-shaped sets. The DKC is pretty nicely resolving considering the tuning.
Is there enough to really separate this set from the rest in the price point? Other than maybe it’s build, look, and the fact that the DKC is more of an all-rounder type listen. The Dunu Kima Classic doesn’t specialize in anything really but excels in a few key metrics. However, I really do enjoy them and am perfectly content and happy with them replaying my library of music.
Quick Sound Breakdown
Using my preferred Dunu S&S tips I find the bass region to not be overpowering at all. There is a deep enough rumble to satisfy any track requiring it and enough slam to satiate any fans of nice bass drops. The DKC can do it. However, I do notice some slightly underpowered oomph for a 10 dB bass shelf. Using smaller bore tips does aid in some added low-end extension but there are other issues which arise by doing so. I find the bass to be more than enough with the S&S tips.
The midrange comes across clean for a single DD. Just like the OG, the mids have an effervescent quality to them. They aren’t the most forward sounding but the midrange does do well with female vocals which sound shimmery and energetic. Males come across less vibrant and not as hard edged, in that I don’t hear that hard lined attack to a male voice. Males have good note body though. Imaging is excellent in the midrange and instruments sound authentically organic.
The treble has a nice emphasis and uplifts the entire spectrum as the treble balances out the added warmth from down low. Details aren’t lacking while the stage is about average. That’s my condensed sound review. Now let’s break it all down…
Listening to the Dunu Kima Classic with the Shanling M6 Ultra, using Dunu S&S ear tips; I find the sub-bass rumble to be sonorous, not at all overbearing and optimal against the rest of the mix. Deep enough for some guttural vibration with sufficient sub-bass extension for most any genre. There’s also a nice tactile texture to the sound, as I do get some reverberant haptic energy. Not the deepest dynamic driver sub-bass but also not lacking even in the slightest. The DKC has a solid rumble. Definitely not entirely for bass heads though. On the track “Cross the Globe” by Lil Durk I hear a hearty and meaty bass drop to begin this song that sounds rotund to a gratifying level. No, it won’t rattle loose your eyeballs from the sockets, but it is a very tidy response.
Bass singers like Avi Kaplan (of Pentatonix fame) can reach very deep in pitch with a low-toned and full-toned vocal delivery. Many of his tracks play ball in the sub-bass domain. One example is “I’m Only Getting Started” off his latest album [Floating On a Dream]. Listening with the Dunu Classic, they were easily able to cleanly replay Avi’s vocals in a nice manner. “On Melancholy Hill” by the Gorillaz begins a nice bassline right away and the DKC does well to replay the fast-undulating bass with palatable density. Basically, the DKC can dig deep when pushed to do so. It isn’t overtly obnoxious though. Same can be said for the mid-bass next…
The mid bass seems to fall off at a clean place in the frequency response, in that Dunu decided not to boost this region too much, but instead made a seasoned decision to give the DKC just enough. That being said, the mid-bass does color the lower-mids a bit and certainly more so than the OG Kima. This coloring is not a negative offense in my opinion.
This is not the most boosted mid-bass and not exactly basshead worthy though bassheads may enjoy what they hear. It’s more like audiophile fun, tastefully boomy or… mature. Still, the DKC has more oomph than the OG Kima with very nice timbre in this region that comes across as warm and natural sounding. The outline of notes in the mid-bass comes across softer on the surface but not so much that it feels like loss of control or fuzzy. The mid-bass is still tidy enough to feel well developed against the price point.
Good Piece to a whole
Of course, this is a $100 single DD iem… so let’s not get carried away. Still, the DKC does have a mildly taught decay with an average attack speed. Again, not hard edged in its note outline but dense enough to quench my bass drop thirst. For instance, “Rose Colored Lenses” by Miley Cyrus has plenty of boom. Electric bass as well as bass guitar has enough of a presence in the mid-bass to sound gritty and gravelly. Kick drums have a rounded and abounding boom for the most part as well. Not the best, cleanest, fastest, or the most authoritative, but complete enough to regard it as a good piece to a good whole.
Kick drums fall just under completely satisfying for me as they feel held back a touch. The initial kick feels only mildly robust but the resulting harmonics and resonant echo does have some body and depth with an atmospheric decay. It’s almost there, still very pleasant but not quite what my ears listen for. Bass guitar offers good feels, but it doesn’t feel whetted on the surface. Still, the body of a bass guitar is fairly taught and the DKC is able to replay a droning growl when necessary. These may sound like issues, but I can assure you they aren’t. My thoughts are simply subjective, and they are subtle nitpicks. Truthfully, I find the bass to be very well done for most any instrument down low. The DKC is much better then many sets in this region within the price range.
More fun Kima
All things considered; I really dig the low-end of the Dunu Kima Classic. They won’t wow you in straight up bass density and boom, but the bass region isn’t one-noted and the DKC has nice sub-bass extension that reaches pretty low. The sound is clearly emphasized enough for most any genre and is robust enough to indulge the “fun factor” within us. Again, if you are comparing it to the OG Kima, the newer Classic has a lot more rumble and flat-out thump than the OG. This is much more of a party in comparison, and simply put…The Classic is more fun.
Downsides to the bass region
If anything, I would like to see a deeper and a more concrete note outline in the sub-bass. Also, the texture is there, but you can tell that the bass region isn’t the main focus of the Kima Classic, but rather a part to a whole. Some folks may even yearn for more bass quantity. There are certainly iems in the price point that reach Bass-Boi levels, which of course the DKC cannot. So those folks may not love it. One more thing which could be taken “either-way” and is more of a subjective point, is that there’s very slight bleed into the midrange from the bass region. I truly don’t find this a detriment, but there is some added warmth in the lower midrange and slightly less clarity than the OG Kima due to this.
The midrange experiences some spill-over from the bass region. Notably in the lower-midrange as it is warmer in that area of the mix than it isn’t. I only bring this up in comparison to the original Kima. There would be no reason to even add this to the review if not for the OG because this is a very normal thing to see. Granted, Dunu tuned the Dunu Kima Classic with a nice downslope into the mids. A nice cut-off for a V-shaped set. The sound is still very clean and reasonably resolute. Yet, for those of us who have heard the OG and enjoyed that extra clarity in regions like the lower-mids I just wanted to make the distinction.
The lower mids have a hint of warmth (like I’ve stated) and they also appear to be slightly held back, (as with any V-shaped set) but I’ll be honest; they don’t appear to be without a ubiquitous presence. For example, male vocals with a deeper pitch and tone like Cody Jinks in the track “Somewhere Between I Love and I’m Leaving” sit right dead smack in the middle of the rest of the instrumentation listening with the Dunu Kima Classic. Yet, his voice is clearly distinct and nicely weighted, with a smoother inflection to the fundamental tone of his voice and a crisp note outline at the outer edges. Of course, a lot has to do with Cody’s sharply heavy voice. The point is, even though there is a slight recession, it doesn’t come across dull, or flat, or pushed too far back.
Male vocals that are higher in the register actually begin to draw a bit more forward. “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell is a track that shows this while listening with the DKC. Jason’s exemplary vocal prowess is knife edged and full. I wouldn’t call it a perfect example of good vocals on an under $120 iem but I am saying that the DKC does do male vocals well. Of course when you have more bass and treble activity they may seem a hair further back in the mix, but all in all males come across just fine.
Females are an entirely different animal. They sound more forward than males. Partially due to the rise in the upper-mids & lower treble area. The DKC actually has a striking resemblance to the Tripowin Olina yet with a slightly more bodied female vocal and also slightly less resolute. Very close though. Elle Goulding‘s beautiful rendition of “How Long Will I Love You” is so sweetly shimmery with a softness that somehow is resounding. I’ve heard better in the price range, but I adore the way the rest of the instrumentation plays around her perfectly up front vocal. There are moments when the bass digs deep on this song and doesn’t even come close to adding a veil as her voice cuts through with a forward and soft vibrance. I think the DKC has a nicely measured lift in this area that gives a slight sense of sparkle.
For the most part instruments come across well defined. This is a V-shaped iem and the midrange is smoother than sharp. Resolution is nice for a V-shape, but isn’t perfect, and this can cause a few minor clarity issues as far as instrumentation is concerned. For the most part though, instruments all sound organic and pretty darn clean.
Strings don’t have the greatest bite but also they aren’t wholly horrible either as the secondary harmonics and details are still on point in my opinion. The sound is slightly more colored due to the bass emphasis, which in bass heavy tracks will sometimes cascade over some of the more subtle instruments. Piano on the other hand is full (for the most part) and comes across melodic. Percussion mostly excels on the DKC, as stuff like snares have a very strident and authoritative “Pang” on my test tracks. The fundamental body of a cymbal strike is (most of the time) bodied and highlighted. Again, depending on the track and what is going on around them.
Downsides to the midrange
Like I’ve already stated the mids do have a slight recession and some instrumentation can be very slightly overshadowed on bass or treble heavy tracks. For mid-centric folks, the Dunu Kima Classic will not be enough for you. There are sets which perform vocals better and there are certainly mid-centric iems that focus on the midrange. The DKC is not that. Also, the midrange is only average as far as details are concerned partly due to some reasons I’ve already stated. In complicated tracks the sound blends a hair but nothing too noticeable. If any of this sounds lackluster, please remember that any nitpicks here are “subjective” nitpicks. I can almost guarantee that 85% of hobbyists will not even consider these issues at all.
Even with the downsides, the DKC has a pretty rhythmic, musical, and mellifluous midrange with good note weight which brings upon a sense of emotion, or atmosphere. There’s a melodic structure to the sound even with the downsides I’ve just stated. The mids will naturally sound a bit more pushed back. So, when a V-shaped iem can also give you pretty well defined mids with decent resolution then that’s a good thing. I will say that you won’t come across any glare at all, nor will you hear any sibilance or peakiness. Timbre is pretty nice as well and mostly organic and clean. I do have to add that I enjoy the original Kima’s midrange quite a bit more. It is more open and neutral across the midrange, and this helps to sound a bit more spatious.
I find the treble to have a tasteful rise that doesn’t feel forced in any way. This is a good thing. Some iem makers really push this end of the mix and many problems can arise. Instead, I found that Dunu added a good amount of air to the mix which helps the Dunu Kima Classic to have an open sound up top and an overall pleasant tonality across the frequency. Dunu took the Kima Classic right to the brink of where “non-offensive” lives and stopped just short of a fatiguing replay.
Dynamic balance, bass/treble
There is a nice balance in the treble region which is proportional to the rise down low. There is enough of a boost up top to keep the overall tonal color in that warm/neutral spot. For example, the Dunu Kima Classic has roughly a 3-5 dB rise above the OG Kima from the presence region through the air region, as well as a small bump in the upper-mids/lower treble. In the same breath, Dunu added anywhere from 3-7 db’s down low. Still the rise in the treble is welcomed and in my opinion is necessary to keep the DKC from sounding too warm for the Kima name. You don’t want a stuffy sound. Not for a “Kima”. The nice thing is that the dynamic balance is good here and the sound is more organic.
The treble has a nice bite and decently firm treble punch, especially from the original Kima. I find this set to be quite a bit more energetic up top with more sparkle. In general, the treble has a luster to it without a glassy sound. I liken the treble to a “controlled shimmer”. Cymbal harmonics decay nicely without sounding splashy, piano has some good body to notes. Harmonica, as evidenced in the Blues Traveler track “Hook” sounds edgy and bright, all the while not coming across “too bright” or out of control. However, I also wouldn’t call the DKC a treble Heads delight either.
Can they keep up?
As far as the technical ability and the speed of the treble. I think that Dunu did a nice job here for a single DD. You can’t expect the world out of this set. However, the DKC is actually able to keep up with some fast tracks like Billy Strings “The Fire On My Tongue“. His banjo playing is sounds pretty distinct, and the sound has nice macro-details and even decent micro-details on the DKC. The tuning is one which enables the details up top to shine forth a bit which is good to hear for a V-shaped set. However, I wouldn’t expect a detail monster here, something I will cover later.
Some other benefits of the treble are that it’s energetic and lively without killing my ears in any brazen peaks. Dunu tuned the treble “just outside” of safe. Emphasized enough to be vibrant yet held back enough to not sound as though it’s celebrating the shouty tracks in my library. I also don’t hear any real sibilance outside of bad recordings. The timbre is nice and without any metallic sounds. Like I said, I also don’t hear any real splashiness and tizziness up top. I’d say the treble is pretty well controlled. Yeah, treble Heads will yearn for more and may call the treble slightly dull but that’s to be expected.
Downsides to the treble
I find the treble to be quite nice considering what Dunu was going for in this “Classic” version of the Kima. However, there are always issues with everything. Granted, any issues I bring up are simply along the lines of possible subjective gripes from users. I think the only real improvements in my mind is the treble could use a touch more body and possibly some more depth and texture. In truth, the treble is nice for a single DD, V-shaped iem in this price point.
The soundstage will not wow anyone. In contrast I don’t think anyone will be let down by the size of the staging either. All the way around I hear an average stage. As it should be…at the least. However, there is some depth to the sound as well, which does help with adding some layering. Again, I don’t think that the DKC comes across as massive, but the stage is more than appropriate for my music library. The best part is that I don’t hear anything that’s lacking. Nothing ever feels congested or cramped to my ears.
Separation ability greatly depends on the track and type of music you listen to. All things considered I would say that separation isn’t bad at all. Still, if a song features a more complicated or congested musical arrangement than the DKC will likely not partition off every element of the stage perfectly. For a single DD at around $100 I’d say the DKC fares very well though. Again, nothing that will wow anyone. In the same breath I don’t think anyone goes into buying a single DD to be wowed by the separation. Let’s put it this way, you shouldn’t be distracted by the DKC’s inability to establish distinctions between instruments and voices during casual listening, especially in any track that isn’t littered with a garbage heap of congestion. I’d say the DKC is average here.
With the Dunu Kima Classic in my ears most pieces of the stage (instruments & vocals) do well to occupy noticeably evident spots on that stage. The spatial cues are very well done on this set. Listening on the DKC, I hear carved out delineations of the stage with unmistakable, clear-cut, lucid, segmented and subdivided instruments and their placement on an imaginary stage is very well established. One of the Dunu Kima Classic’s strong suits. Unless of course the track is too complicated. Again, if the music you are listening to has a mishmash of instruments all rapidly played at the same time, then you will likely hear a bit of blending of sounds. This should be expected and is a normal occurrence for what the DKC is.
Details on the Dunu Kima Classic are decent and decent is good. However, remember, this is a more fun and musical V-shaped iem. Those attributes (musical, fun) are its main calling cards along with a few others. Of course, this doesn’t mean the DKC is inherently bad at detail retrieval, but it means that it has that much more of an uphill battle at illuminating the fine details. For example, you won’t listen to this set and be drawn into the subtle little intonations within the instrumental harmonics of a live set if the bass is cascading over the spectrum. Also, it doesn’t mean you can’t hear these things, it’s just more difficult. I think the Dunu Kima Classic actually has nice clarity and decent resolution and while the transient response is generally not lightning fast… I do think that the DKC does well for what it is. I’d put the DKC as above average in detail retrieval.
The sound is clean, and in comparison is slightly less resolute than a set like the Olina for instance. However, you also have to contend with the bass. I would say the midrange is lacking some details as it can be overshadowed. On the flip, the midrange doesn’t lack a musical flare. It’s a give and take. In the end I enjoy the tuning of this set. It doesn’t have to be some dry and analytical iem that brings out every last detail because that’s not what the DKC is or what it was tuned for. Also, I wouldn’t want it to be that. The DKC sounds really good. It’s fun enough, melodic, emotional, vibrant, and I can sit back and listen to my music and not be slaughtered with fatigue.
Note: The comparisons in this review are not a duel to the death. I have zero want or need to establish if one thing is better than the other. I use comparisons as a tool to hopefully better explain the iem that I’m reviewing.
Letshuoer X-Gizaudio Galileo ($109)
The Galileo is one of those sets that you simply couldn’t get around hearing about. I think for the price, the performance is pretty great. This is an iem that was a collaborative effort between Letshuoer and Timmy Vangtan of Gizaudio. Some may call this a “hype train” peice but I don’t think so. If a set lives up to the joy or “hype” of the people who remark about it, then… I suppose the hype is legit my friends. In this case I do believe that the Galileo is one of the best iems at or around the $100 price point. It comes with a great cable and accessories, it’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s tuned extremely well. The Galileo comes equipped with a hybrid setup; one 10mm liquid silicone DD and a 2389 Sonion Balanced Armature.
Build / Aesthetic
Both iems are built well. The Galileo is made from 3D printed resin while the DKC is made from alloys. Metal shells or resin? I like them both. Still, I think it’s pretty obvious that the DKC is the better built iem. to me the Galileo feels a bit less solid. They look rad though! As far as looks go… I think the Galileo gets the nod as they are stunning, in my opinion. The Galileo has perfectly contrasting colors with predominantly blue hues with some browns, orange, whites and turquoise colors. The DKC with the tough looking coffee brown is equally nice to look at. Both sets are built at least moderately well but the DKC feels more durable. Both iems look sweet, both come with great cables, and both come with good accessories.
The DKC and Galileo are both leaning neutral in tonality, with the Galileo leaning slightly further that way then the DKC. The Galileo comes across slightly cleaner to my ears while the DKC is a more fun and dynamic sound with a more V-shaped signature. Both are musical at heart, and both perform very well in the same price point. I would probably refer to both sets as smooth and even safe in tuning while the DKC is a little bit more energetic, and the Galileo is a little more laid back. The biggest difference in my opinion between these two is that the macro-dynamics of the DKC are more abundant. The sound is more expressive. The Galileo is fantastic but being “dynamically expressive” is not one of its core strengths. I find the Galileo to be softly melodic.
No doubt the DKC is boosted a bit more in the low-end with a plumper and more decisive slam. The Galileo on the other hand is almost bass lite to a degree. This doesn’t mean that the Galileo lacks down low as it conforms to the tuning very well and fits with the mix nicely, but compared to the DKC it comes across a bit bass lite. The DKC has the denser and harder edged note outline yet is also a hint slower in transient attack and decay. Obviously the DKC suits more low-end heavy genres much better.
The Galileo has the more forward lower mids yet sounds slightly leaner in comparison. I wouldn’t call the sound thin though. The DKC gathers some more warmth from the low-end effectively giving a fuller sound. However, the Galileo comes across cleaner and more resolute. For female vocals and the upper midrange, the DKC sounds more forward by a touch. The Galileo has a smoother presentation in this range whereas the DKC offers a bit more in the way of shimmer and liveliness due to the boost in pinna gain. The Galileo is generally set closer to the ear with a less pronounced low-end which does well to draw out some of the finer details in the midrange. As far as vocals are concerned, I like the Galileo better. Vocals on the Galileo come across smoother and more up front with nice presence in the mix.
The DKC has more of a boost in the treble region and you can hear it. The Galileo is actually a bit duller and more laid back with a tamed treble experience in comparison. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a badly tuned treble, but it is safer. The DKC on the other hand has more liveliness, pep, and better body with more of a treble punch. The Dunu Kima Classic also has better extension into the highest of highs making it easier to discern information past 10k. I can’t say one treble is better than the other as both sets simply have a different take on this area of the mix. Both sets offer a nice rendition of how they went about tuning this region.
Technically the DKC has better detail retrieval in the upper portions of the mix whereas the Galileo draws out the finer things much easier in the midrange. I found the DKC to have a fuller stage. The Galileo is flatter in comparison but neither set are enormous in stage size. The Galileo separates instruments and voices a bit better from what I can hear, yet both sets create a nicely imagined stage where all elements of the stage are where they should be. Maybe the DKC has an edge in imaging but that is easily up for debate.
In the end
I love both iems here and couldn’t choose which I like better. I like them each for different reasons too. The Galileo has this beautifully neutral timbre with such a clean replay and is completely non-offensive. Vocals sound great on this set. The DKC is more vivacious, organic, fun and expressive. In the end this is a preference battle. I will add that these two are more alike than they aren’t.
Tripowin Olina OG (Mesh Mod) ($99)
The ever-famous Tripowin Olina. I shouldn’t need to do this little explanation of the Olina but for the sake of the review… I suppose I must. The Olina is the lovechild of none other than the Hawaiian Bad Boy himself of “Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews” (of YouTube) in a collaboration with the audio company Tripowin. The Olina was touted as being from the lineage of the Tanchjim Oxygen, in that it uses roughly the same driver (10mm CNT) and measures very close to the Oxygen in its frequency response. It’s a Harman tuned set that’s clean, resolute and punchy with a balanced neutral take on what $99 can buy you. For all intents and purposes… I… myself… rank the Olina in the top three under $100. I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Build / Aesthetic
The build quality of the DKC is a bit better than the Olina though that is very much up for debate. They are both well-built and both look great. I am not partial to either set here. The cable that comes with the DKC is much better as well as the other accessories. The Olina is a bit harder to drive to good fidelity. Well, scratch that, actually the Olina can simply keep taking power and it seems that it just keeps upgrading, and it’s a chameleon to any source as well. Both sets can sound nice on just about any device. Both sets fit me fine, but the Olina does have the edge here.
The Olina takes a more neutral approach whereas the DKC is a bit warmer due to the bass presence. So, take that into account. The Olina has better resolution and is more balanced across the mix while the DKC is clearly more fun and dynamic. Details come across better on the Olina and the Olina has a perceivably tighter and speedier transient response. I could simply say that all technicalities are better on the Olina and that would cover it. Does this make the Olina better? Absolutely not. That is a very subjective question as the DKC has its own rewarding qualities that Olina struggles with. Let’s get into it.
Right away the DKC has a more pronounced low-end with a much more dense and energetic bass region. The DKC sports a more fun bass. The Olina on the other hand is less emphasized but it also has the better detailed, tighter, quicker and punchier bass. The leading edge of an Olina bass drop has a more concrete surface texture. The DKC has a slightly softer note outline but better raw tactile mass and meat. Olina isn’t nearly as boomy. This is one quality that the Olina lacked for many folks. Hence all the mods. We have the nozzle mesh mod and the front vent mod etc. Even with the “Tanchjim Tanya Filter Mesh” over the front nozzle, the Olina still doesn’t reach the fun factor and straight up slam and authority of the DKC bass. This is a preferential debate here. Do you enjoy quick, punchy & detailed, or more bass emphasized, dense, & fun.
The Olina has a leaner midrange profile, again with a more detailed, upfront and forward sound. Perhaps the Olina can come across peaky in the upper midrange as well. The DKC is a more forgiving listen with a smoother approach and slightly more attenuated than the Olina or recessed. The DKC has a weightier sound across the midrange and a more musical sound all together due to the low-end, but this is not some enormous difference. Not to say the Olina isn’t musical either. In truth I do prefer the midrange of the Olina as it is very well resolving and so clean. Again, these two are extremely similar, yet the DKC simply has an added emphasis down low which affects the midrange. The Olina is more transparent, but the DKC is more emotionally melodic and atmospheric.
The DKC and the Olina share many similarities in the treble region. Both sets offer an above average detail performance with good clarity and bite. I’d say the Olina has a touch more bite, however. The DKC sounds a hint more smoothed over. However, the Olina does sound as though it has the greater treble emphasis of the two. Likely due to the bass emphasis on the DKC. The Olina sounds a bit snappier. Then again, the DKC has the more non-offensive treble which makes it much easier for long listening. The Olina has a bit more punch, but the DKC has the smoother treble. Both have a nice emphasis and both treble regions positively affect the entire mix.
This simply goes to the Olina. Across the board the Olina has an edge over the DKC. However, what the Olina lacks in contrast is the musicality of the DKC. Not to say the Olina isn’t musical either. Again, there is a give and take to anything in audio. Both sets do the technical stuff well, but the Olina is cleaner, faster, better balanced and more polished in this regard. The Olina has a much more holographic and realistic stage with better separation of elements, imaging and has better resolution across the board.
In the end
I can say that these two complement each other very well. In some ways they are alike and other ways they are worlds apart. Like any comparison this comes down to preference and between the two of these sets this is no different. Both are very well tuned in their own ways; both are built well, and both look very slick. Still, the Olina will always have a special place in my rotation, and I simply feel it is the better iem while costing $10 less. However, I am not everyone else.
Is it worth the asking price?
The Dunu Kima Classic is a master class of… nothing. Yet, the Dunu Kima Classic does almost everything pretty well. The biggest issue the Dunu Kima Classic faces is the competition in its price point. If it were my decision to price the DKC I would probably set it around $89. That would be a fair price. However, at $109 it is still one of the better single DD iem’s at that price. I suppose the accessories alone account for a nice chunk of the asking price. However, with all that said, I do think the DKC is worth the asking price. Especially if you are after this type of tuning. At which point, it’s a no brainer. The best way for me to conclude if the DKC is worth the asking price…because I bought them and really like them.
The Dunu Kima Classic is built like a tank with its all-alloy build. The look and aesthetic is very well designed and there are no other iems that look quite like this set (other than the OG Kima). I love the coffee gray colorway! So freaking dope. I’ve already said all of this, but the sound comes across as a nicely done “slight” V-shape with a stirring musicality, an ardent and subtly emphatic auditory expression which carries nice macro-dynamics and a nicely detailed treble region too. Timbre is more organic, and the sound is mostly non-offensive throughout. It’s a good listen my friends. I don’t think many would look at this purchase and wish they wouldn’t have made it.
Can’t win ’em all over
The DKC won’t be for everyone though as many hobbyists enjoy an even more neutral sound. On the flipside many also enjoy a darker and smoother sound. You can’t win ’em all. Still, the Dunu Kima Classic presents itself very well and for those who just want something which will last, looks fly and plays music really well… in those cases maybe the Dunu Kima Classic will suit them.
Note: all ratings are based upon my subjective judgment. These ratings are garnered against either similarly priced sets or with similar driver implementations or styles with the unique parameters of my choosing. In the case of the Dunu Kima Classic ratings below, that would be $75-$125 iems in any configuration. Please remember that “ratings” don’t tell the whole story. This leaves out nuance and a number of other qualities which make an iem what it is. A “5” is exactly average and please take into consideration the “lot” of iems these ratings are gathered against. $75-$125 US is a broad scope of iems and so seeing a 9 better mean something special. My ratings are never the same and each set of ratings tells a different story. Each time you read one of my ratings it will be unique to that review. Basically, I create a Rating that makes sense to me.
-Build Quality: 9.8
Not bad for a set in this loaded price segment. You have to consider every iem within the ranges of $75 and $125. I thought about this one a lot. Sifted through every set I’ve heard within these parameters. This is a very large pool of iems… huge! Also, there are a lot of iems within this pool that specialize in one thing yet not so great in the next. Also, the larger the pool of iems, the smaller the number has a chance of being. So, an 8.2 in the midrange is actually quite good if 5 is average. I would love to explain each Rating and show my notes, but this review is already way too long.
To conclude my review of the Dunu Kima Classic I simply want to make sure that anyone reading this review will also check out other reviews. It is true that I will tell you exactly my thoughts every time you read my reviews. Despite that, I am only one man with my own particular taste and preferences. Others may also have different gear, hearing ability, musical libraries and not everyone has been down the same audio path. Please click other links, read other perspectives, listen to other perspectives, or watch other perspectives. I want you to get it right my friends. These reviews are for you and the joy I get from helping if I can. Also, I love explaining what I hear from some of these products.
Thank you for reading and please take good care, try to stay as safe as possible and God Bless.