Dunu EST112 is a Tribrid IEM, combining a 1DD, 1 Armature driver, and two electrostatic drivers. Its price is set at 489.99USD.
Dunu is one of the most prominent Chinese IEM players for a long time. They’re pretty similar to Moondrop in one thing – all of their products are fantastic. That’s no different this time.
Dunu has invented the system of changeable connectors in their cables, which means that you can have one cable for all sound sources. In my opinion, that’s a really outstanding thing. Some companies like FiiO are trying to implement that system in their offer but based on that what I know, they are not even close to Dunu’s level.
The other new thing is, well, EST112. It’s the cheapest IEM with a Sonion double electrostatic driver, but this doesn’t mean that it’s bad.
Packaging & Build Quality
The first impression is amazing. The box has an inside look to the earphone on the front and specifications on the rear part.
But what’s inside? A lot. And I mean that, a lot. At first, you’ll see IEMs, the cable, and connectors. Under that, you’ll find eartips and a blue leather case. Dunu had hidden some extra things inside that case, Spinfit eartips, one pair of foam tips, an airplane adapter, 6,35mm jack adapter. That’s a pretty long list, but all of the products inside are excellent-made.
Talking about build quality, let’s start with the earphones. They’re both pretty big, made of matte metal, with fancy glossy parts on the faceplate. The metal shell is as solid as a rock. Their size results from the big, 13,5mm dynamic driver inside and the electronics for electrostatic drivers.
When I took them to hands for the first time, I thought about how I would fit these beasts into my ear. And… that ain’t a problem. Their shape feels like it was made for me. I have some space around the shell, so even people with small ears will fit them easily. If you’ve got bigger ears than a regular human being, the cable will make EST112 sit tight in your ear.
The cable is, well, spectacular. It doesn’t tangle, has a pretty loose weave, so you can even stretch it a little. In hand, it feels like an overboiled spaghetti, loose and soft. It’s way thicker than Campfire standard cables. It’s like Fir VxV’s cable, but with four strings, not two, but more flexible. I think Imma use it with all MMCX IEMs I’ve got, as I’m using Cross Lambda with all 2pins.
Dunu spent a lot of time testing their prototypes, from the tough V-shaped signature to a similar one that 64Audio Nio provides. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to borrow Nio’s for comparison, but that’s what we can read from the graphs.
So, what did Dunu applied to their newest EST112?
For sure, it’s a new shell. Their previous IEMs have a different shape, more regular, I’d say. This time it’s a more ergonomic earphone, which is about to fulfill your ear and makes it one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve used.
The next thing is the dynamic driver. It’s the third generation of their 13,5mm woofer, coated with beryllium on both sides. Compared to the second generation, it is 13% lighter, and basing on Dunu’s words, it provides a better soundstage by 9%.
Another part that improved bass quality is the bass reflex. As Dunu says, it allowed bass and midrange to become faster, more textured, and better separated. I can’t prove it because I couldn’t listen to their previous prototypes (but I’d love to), so we have to trust their words. Well, listening to the final product, I must admit it’s probably the best sub 500$ IEM on the market right now, so they definitely had known what they were doing.
EST drivers – the first thing you’ll probably think about that is, “oh no, I need an energizer.” Well, not this time. The whole needed electronic are built in both shells, and with 10Ohm impedance and 110dB of sensitivity, you don’t need much to empower them. But we’ll be back to this at the pairing section.
The cable used in EST112 is an upgraded DUW-02 cable, named DUW-02S. It’s a monocrystalline silver-plated cable with a patented Catch-Hold MMCX connector and a patented Quick-Switch modular system.
As I mentioned before, it’s a really soft and lightweight cable with the highest made-quality.
MMCX connectors are stiff, but they’re easier to release than the ones that Campfire Audio uses. Many IEM fans hate MMCX because, with cheap earphones, it can rotate, bend a little, and so on. This time, you have to put some power to spin the EST112.
The attachable jack connectors are another wonderful thing. I think it’s the eighth wonder of the world. If not the whole world, definitely the audio one.
Finally, we’ve come to the most valuable and most challenging part of each review. This time, it was even tougher to write because I kept forgetting that I had to write the review each time I turned on the music. And I think that’s the best short description of Dunu EST112. Those IEMs allow me to forget about the whole world. I can close my eyes and paint the music in my head. That’s a truly wonderful thing that can be provided by audio devices, fully saturated sound that lets us dream while we’re listening to music. But okay, let’s start being more exact.
The bass is definitely the kickin’ one. It won’t beat you like Jan Błachowicz beaten Israel Adesanya, but it still provides an incredible kick that’s not under nor overpowered. It’s faster than the one in Campfire Audio Vega 2020, more similar to Craft Ears Four’s one, especially in the CIEM version. Bass’ flexibility is easily shown at the beginning of “A Real Hero” by Electric Youth and College, where it starts with highly textured midbass, then comes with a fast and proper kick just to become the powerful subbass, which fulfills the sound at the end. Overall, the bass is way more prominent than the one you can hear in the Fir Audio VxV, with more texture but with a similar speed. And, let me remind you that the EST112 costs half of VxV’s price.
The midrange is charming with its warmness and calming but yet engaging style. That’s a little unusual style that lets me dive in the chair with closed eyes and start dreaming with gentle swinging to the music. It doesn’t matter what music genre is that, some country, pop, rap, older rock, or jazz. The lowest male vocals are a little smoothed, but they shock with their depth. They sound like they’re coming from hell, with the comprehensive and robust beginning. And that isn’t bad, trust me. It just makes them more powerful, with a more substantial meaning in the whole show.
Female vocals and higher male vocals, even those like Kendrick Lamar’s one, are different. They aren’t smoothed, it’s very close to being a natural part, but as I mentioned initially, it’s delicately warmed. In addition, the midrange got a fine extension of microdetails. There’s nothing that can hide from you.
The treble is another excellent part of the sound. It provides a genuinely natural style, with many details, which delicately reminds the Fir VxV treble. If you’ve listened to them, add more sparkliness, and push it delicately to the front. That is it, the Dunu EST112 treble. So, I’d like to tell you more about the moments when it shines, because that’s an exciting thing. I think all of you have seen the bonfire for one time. Do you remember those all sparks that were going up to the sky, but they were extinguished at 2-3m above the ground? It’s similar here. Some violins, drum plates, or words of the vocalist rise from nowhere to expire after a moment and let the listener fell into dreams about them. Of course, they aren’t sharp at any point, so that you can be calm about that. Maybe I’m weird, but that’s how I’m feeling it.
The soundstage is impressive in the music, plays really wide and deep, the height also doesn’t disappoint. But maaaan, the holography is something that just makes me look like “WOW.” Jesus, I’m trying to write down its description for the third time in the row, so I’ll try to do it most efficiently.
Imaging and holography are outstanding. There are many layers of the sound sources, but they’re trying to keep in line, not to disrupt each other, thanks to another wild part of the soundstage, which is the separation. It means that they’re placed in the set place, moving, but not into another sound source. Never. There’s no way for one instrument to crush into another. Of course, there’s so much space that the music can use, so it’s easier to do that.
And a little “who asked” part. That’s pure magic what EST112 can do with vocal in “Knee Socks” by Arctic Monkeys. The lyric that starts around 2:30 is feeling like it’s rolling on the other side. Amazing.
After the excellent soundstage in the music, what surprised me is how it acts in video games. It’s just not useful at all. It’s cringing like a baby animal in danger. So, after all, it’s hard to use them with gaming, especially in competitive games.
Dunu EST112 (489,99USD) vs. Campfire Audio Vega 2020 (899USD)
CFA Vega 2020 are a lot darker than their cheaper opponent. They put a solid subbass layer at the ground when EST provides that only when it’s essential. The vocal in Vega is put deeper, and it’s more nasal compared to the more natural and only delicately warmed vocal in Dunu’s IEMs. The treble is way more delicate and hidden in Vega 2020, with better details reproduced by electrostatic drivers in the EST112.
In terms of soundstage, it’s short – EST112 provides way better imaging in music when Vega works better in games. In terms of height, depth and width, they’re quite similar.
Dunu EST112 (489,99USD) vs. Fir Audio VxV (999USD)
Fir Audio VxV is a way more transparent pair of IEMs, but there are some similarities between those two. Starting with the lowest frequencies, VxV is more patient and calm, with similar speed, less texture, and of course, less power in the kick. When I can say that the subbass of EST112 is like nothing compared to Vega 2020, the Fir’s one is blankly related to EST112.
VxV’s midrange is delicately more splashy in higher parts but also colder and more transparent. As I mentioned before, the EST112 has a little warmed mids, with a charming style. Treble is pushed back in the VxV, with more minor shiny parts, but the details are similar.
Staging is also likely the same in both IEMs but shown differently. Sound sources in EST112 have more space around them when in Firs, it’s placed closer to each other.
Dunu EST112 is quite sensitive for sound sources in terms of signature, but its quality remains the same even with cheaper sound sources, like EarMen Eagle. Even with the small amount of power that Eagle provides, it isn’t a problem for Dunu EST112 to spread its wings. Obviously, the volume isn’t a problem. Mainly I was swinging between 10 and 25% of volume.
Of course, there are changes in the sound that you can’t just walk through, like delicate softness in the bass, when I’ve paired EST112 with xDuoo XD-05 Plus, but those are only cosmetical things. I didn’t spot any gamechanger when I was plugging in different DACs, amplifiers, or combos. The only thing that bothered me is a slight hiss with xDuoo XD-05 Plus, but that’s really silent and doesn’t disturb when the music plays.
Dunu has made a little crush on the audio market with EST112 that can easily fight with other IEMs that costs twice as Dunu’s newest release. It’s matching all equally important subparts into one excellent pair of IEMs. Gently saturated sound, perfect layering and imaging, highest build quality, and valuable accessories. I don’t need anything more than this. I have spoken.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Campfire Audio Vega 2020, Meze Rai Penta, Final A8000, Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Solaris LE, Fir Audio VxV, Craft Ears Four UIEM
- Sources– Cayin N3Pro, JDSLabs Atom stack, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, EarMen Eagle, EarMen TR-AMP, ddHiFi TC44B