When I started participating in the Dunu review sample program it occurred to me that this was very professionally prepared on their side. Everything laid out from the beginning, straight to the point, very solid FAQ for reviewers. Wow – I thought to myself – they are really on top of their game. No wonder why, they are in business since 1994, so they are just a year younger than me.
As a brand, they’ve started in 2006 and since then they have earned themselves quite a reputation. Of course, that level of expertise will translate into the professionalism of a company, as I have encountered from the beginning. Titan S is the second cheapest headphone in their portfolio. It’s a single driver, starter IEM for newbs, or a side headphone for more experienced users. Its marketing screams to me: budget IEM done right. But is it?
You basically get everything that you might need in a pretty small box. I think that this style of box is a gold standard for IEMs under around $200. Simple, two-piece box with a thick paper sleeve over it. It contains your stuff and lets it get to you securely across the world. It’s good.
The first thing you see is an indigo blue case that is probably the largest case I’ve seen so far. It’s great, as you can fit there not only your headphones but also your dongle. You get some tips, three packs to be exact. To each their own, everybody should find something suitable for them. No foams sadly, but really, it’s an $80 IEM. BYOF – bring your own foams. Then there are the headphones themself and a factory stock cable. It’s a great cable, really. Silver-plated, monocrystalline copper. Super soft, rubber finished jacket, with uniquely shaped 2 pin connectors. Their shape plays together with the shape of the headphone themselves. On the source side, there is a 3.5 mm jack. No surprises here. Oh, also the headphones come inside the case each in their own, small ziplock bag.
Build Quality & Comfort
These are really great-looking IEMs. They have a little techno-cyber-punk look that I really like. Much nicer than the Shuoer S12 that looks like mad cyborgs eggs. Titan S is made entirely of metal with a brushed surface that will be scratch-resistant. Can’t see a scratch on more scratches. The coloring of the surface is due to a process known as electroplating, so no paint that can flake off. Nice.
The air port is just for aesthetics, the actual port is just a small hole underneath. The second one is on the other side of headphones which is, together with a dual-chamber configuration, a standard setup for DD only IEM. It’s not semi-open, so don’t worry about background noise leaking in.
Well, then you put them on, and man. They have a fairly deep insertion, probably the deepest in my collection. Still not as deep as Etymotic though. Once you find some tips that support that level of insertion it’s a very comfortable IEM to wear. Even after a long day of pretending to work, they don’t tire my ears. Oh, and also they are sweatproof, so that’s a nice feature.
I know that one DD IEM isn’t gonna generate much interest by itself, but hear me out on this one.
Simple isn’t actually bad, or worse than a hybrid. I’d take a good single driver over 27 bad ones. Oh, you know who I’m thinking about now. Especially that Dunu has made a really good driver for those. It’s quite large at its 11mm diameter. The diaphragm is made of polycondensate LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) and is driven by a magnetic drive of N52 magnets (strongest on the market as far as I know) and a super lightweight CCAW voice coil.
The super-stiff and super light diaphragm will bring a very good high-frequency response and it shows, as you will learn soon. It’s a really well-engineered driver that takes names and kicks butts. Also, liquid crystal polymer sounds like something out of Lex Luthors lab. You gotta give credit for that. Titan S despite its name is a light load for amps at 32Ohms and 110 dB efficiency. Your phone will barely notice it, let alone something nicer.
Officially it’s a neutral to neutral bright sounding IEM and I agree with the latter. My personal preference is for a bit more bass, but it is, what it is. We all have some sort of preference, but as a reviewer, I need to look past that. Balance is tilted towards midrange and highs with a peak around the usual 8kHz and another one around 13kHz. While I’m allergic to any peaking, especially past 1kHz. Here it doesn’t bother me, it actually plays very nice with extended midrange adding a nice spark and liveliness to the sound. Probably it’s time to rework my understanding of frequency responses as in the headphone world it is so much different than with loudspeakers. Noted.
The bass despite being not as present as other frequencies still do a very good job. Of course, it has all the DD factors: it’s punchy, has some weight to it. While Titan S is a lighter-sounding IEM in songs that have a lot of bass, you do get lots of bass. Take a listen to „Drop it like it’s hot” by two masterminds of contemporary music Pharrell Wiliams and Snoop Dogg. The song starts with a bang with lots of thick basses. It creates that pillow that the song rides on. It can create some rumble, trust me. On the other hand, what about the speed, and control? Kidnapped by Neptune by Scout Niblett is my go-to test for that. Drums feel very snappy and are separated from each other even in the most intense moments of the song. Another great thing about this bass is that it doesn’t interfere with the midrange. Even in the first song I’ve mentioned in this paragraph, despite the boomy sound from the song, the voices of Pharrell and Snoop are not distorted by low frequencies. Something that can happen in more expensive headphones. Takeout for this section is that lighter doesn’t mean bassless or boring.
The midrange reproduced by Titan S has a really nice color to it. It all comes from DD, as its diaphragm is not as stiff and not as light as it is in planars or BA. If you are a zealot fighting for the perfectly transparent sound it’s not the IEM for you. For the rest of us who like to enjoy our hobby, I think you will find Titan S midrange very fun. It is just so much fun. It provides very nice detail, good resolution, and tonality of DD actually helps to shield you from weaker-sounding albums. Biffy Clyro doesn’t shine in terms of recording quality, but they make great music. The Titan S will give you some awesome time with their discography. If you decide to dive into Alan Parsons Project, you will feel the improvement. You will hear more, the sound will be much more realistic and emotionally intensive. It’s also excellently all-rounded. Doesn’t favor any type of instruments, or vocalists sex. Perfectly coherent and universal.
The treble is a very pleasant surprise after seeing the frequency response. It is not at all tiring, and I’m very picky about that part. It has that bright, clean character to it. The trebles are rich and they play perfectly with mids. Overall DD sound of the driver is present in the same manner in every frequency range, including here. Cymbals, bells all are a bit forward and in your face which is actually very realistic if you ever heard them in nature. Listen to Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne and you will instantly get what I mean by that. These IEMs really like rock and metal. They shine with that kind of music. Shine because they are on the brighter side. Get it?
The soundstage is very good, for this price, there is nothing that we can reasonably argue about. It presents excellent width and very good depth. They are great at positioning. You definitely feel the instrument, or person producing the sound rather than an overall direction. It provides a very good sense of the presence of the musicians. When you listen to Symphony of Destruction by Megadeath after the short intro the main part of the song just rolls out into the space in front of you with no effort. Titan S easily provides it with a soundstage to do that. Another excellent quality of these headphones is how good they are at showing the decay of sounds in the background. It really creates another layer of realism and a natural feeling to the sound. It all just clicks together.
FH3 is one of my favorite IEMs at a reasonable price range. It’s a hybrid design that uses different, specialized drivers for each frequency range, instead of one for all like in Dunu. Bass in FH3 has more impact and is much more present overall. It’s thicker and slower, but overall more my style. While technically mids are better on FH3 thanks to the BA diver I actually prefer ones from Titan S. While lacking the insight and detail from FH3, it certainly sounds way more natural and analog-like. The top end is for FiiO this time. Even a good dynamic driver like here can’t compete with a dedicated BA. FH3 offers better quality, more refinement, and nicer glossier highs. Soundstage-wise FH3 is more precise but at the cost of more compressed width and depth. I was actually expecting the opposite, but surprise. My finishing thoughts is that FH3 is better (and more expensive), has a more balanced sound character, but it doesn’t have such a cohesive sound.
KZ is a much brighter and sharper sounding earphone. It’s 8 BA per side excel and delivering detail and resolution, but there isn’t much space for music. There is not much bass, it’s also very lean and extremely fast. It lacks the authority when it’s needed, so point for Titan S. Midrange in KZ is super spacious and resolving, the detail is on another whole level compared to Dunu. For me though it is spread to thin and lacks the emotion. It’s kind of dry, while Titan S sounds more natural and convincing. Highs are really dominating in AS16, it’s a top heavy IEM. They are intensive, big in quantity and super fast. That richness quickly leads to fatigue in my case. Dunu again – slower, less detail but better balance and effortless. Soundstage of KZ is very open and larger than Dunu, but way less precise. I guess it’s not the amount of drivers but how you use them.
Very often we, reviewers tend to say: these headphones are amazing at this, or amazing at that. It’s great to have so much choice, so many sound signatures to choose from. To each, they own, whatever floats your boat, etc. That can create an impression that you need to pick a style. You either go bass-head, vocal-heavy, whatever. That isn’t the case. There are products that are extremely universal and super user-friendly. Jack of all trades, but master of none, as they say. Dunu Titan S is a jack of all trades and basically a master of all of them at the same time. They took a great driver and reinforced its strengths while minimalizing weaknesses. You get a fun, exciting, smooth, cohesive sound that is just smack in the middle of traits, leaning just to the brighter sound. Am I excited, do I sound excited? Yes, I’m! It’s super hard to do and Dunu nailed it. Looking for sub $100? You have to try Titan S, end of the story.
Disclaimer : I would like to thank Dunu for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my unbiased opinion and it wasn’t influenced by anybody.