Dunu EST112 Review: Singleness
No doubt, electrostatic drivers (EST) are the hottest trend going on in the in-ear industry now. However, their power-demanding nature and expensive posts lead these IEMs to be significantly pricey and require high volume outputs. Well, these obstacles are still there but workarounds and solutions came across as EST drivers continue to evolve, allowing users to experience these IEMs for a more affordable price.
Chi-Fi takes up a major portion of affordable EST IEMs. And while Dunu is one of the leading Chinese IEM brands out, there yet they are still yet to release any of these IEMs… until now. Dunu announced their first-ever electrostatic model – the EST112, a tribrid IEM that consists 2 electrostatic drivers. Let us now see what EST112 has to offer us in terms of performance and sound signature.
The packaging from SA6 got me to think that Dunu shifted to a super compact packaging like Campfire Audio does but well not really. The packaging of EST112 looks similar to the DK-2001’s but thicker. I’d say the packaging sits well between premium and being economically friendly.
Other than the earpieces, EST112 comes with Dunu DUW-02S stock cable with modular plugs, a leather zipper case, 3 pairs of Grey Balanced eartips, 3 pairs of White Core eartips, 3 pairs of SpinFit eartips, a pair of foam tips, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a cleaning brush, Dunu DC-16 3.5 to 6.3 adapter, an airplane adapter, and some paperwork. Dunu has included a generous amount of accessories as usual, as pleased.
Earpieces – Beryllium-coated tribrid
The EST112 uses an all-new form factor that hasn’t been found in previous Dunu products. The aluminum alloy chassis is noticeably bigger and thicker than the previous generations. However, this new chassis is ergonomically shaped and offers a hassle-free fit without any discomfort. I personally find this to provide an even better fit than Dunu’s previous slim, round-shaped form factors as EST112 allows deeper insertion. Compared to the previous generations, the earpiece does extrude a bit further from the ears but nothing dramatic.
The cable connection is terminated with standard MMCX with reinforced pins that are more firm and durable than the usual MMCX components. As for the drivers, EST112 uses a 1DD+1BA+2EST (which explains the numbering from the name), consisting of a large 13.5mm dynamic driver with beryllium-coated diaphragms, customized Knowles mid-high BA driver, and two Sonion EST super tweeters. It’s worth mentioning that the diaphragm beryllium-coated on both sides just as Dunu’s limited 1DD IEM, the 17th Anniversary.
Cable – DUW-02S
The included Dunu DUW-02S cable is even smoother and lighter than the ones from the upper models yet not abandoned in quality. The wires are covered with grey shieldings and comprised of high-purity silver-plated OCC copper. The cable is very light, smooth, and causes zero resistance or microphonics – perhaps one of the smoothest cable I have encountered so far.
In fact, DUW-02S is the same cable as DUW-02 (which is included in DK-2001) but only braided in a different pattern. DUW-02 is braided in a twisted form while DU2-02S uses a square-shaped braiding. As usual, the stock cable terminated with Dunu’s modular plug system – the Quick switching connectors.
Sound impressions – Lows
Summarizing the overall sound from the get-go, EST112 has a feminine, delicate, and calm w-shaped sound signature. EST112’s lows are something special. It desires a linear bass reproduction all while retaining the meant and dynamics. Lows are soothing with moderate tightness and punchiness. However, the bass is tightened up only to the point of having them kept tidy and doesn’t get rock-solid. In other words, lows feel “roundy” and tender enough to make them feel organic but not getting loosened. With a well-established body, the bass maintains a very consistent flow throughout the low range. The reverbs are carefully controlled without degrading the natural dynamics but only keep the boominess calmed down.
The bass quantity is just about the same as other mildly v-shaped IEMs. Lows show neutral depth and thickness in color. The ultra-low extension is quite decent considering its calm nature yet not too ponderous in emphasis. The bass in general keeps its presentation in the lowland, offering a stable foundation for the upper-ends to build the headroom.
Sound impressions – Mids
Mids are very well connected with the lows – perhaps the most seamless and natural transition achieved from a hybrid (and tribrid) IEM from Dunu. Vocals are well highlighted by taking a slight step forward but not detached from the lows. In fact, taking this small step forward in vocal is done so carefully that mids sound more like they’re on top of the lows instead of feeling pulled up close. The thickness is neutral with a touch of extra meat, performing ideally on both male and female vocals.
Now that you have read this far, if EST112 sounding too “soft” or boring for an EST tribrid IEM is your concern – no worries. Vocals are meticulously worked in tonality which I’d imagine being a nightmare acquiring this tuning from scratch. Mids show a natural tone that also hints some mild shine and crisp lushness brought from the EST driver. I love this impression of “being unique and familiar at the same time” vibe going on with EST112’s tonality. It’s just wonderfully balanced between reference and fun. Vocals also carry subtle vigor and coolness without getting shouty or wacky in tone.
Sound impressions – Highs, etc.
The EST drivers of course have to be another fun factor of EST112. Trebles are smoothly transitioned from the upper mids and offer a comfortably open-field environment. The texture of EST trebles varies by different IEMs from soft to roast crisp. As for EST112, the trebles tip towards the crisp side but only to an extent of securing a good tightness. Highs are analytical as expected from EST drivers with tonality and brightness that blends coherently with lows/mids.
Because of that, highs don’t necessarily highlight extreme quantity or brightness. It makes sense since EST112 is tuned for consistency and neatness. Carried with airiness, highs are articulated that expose fine grains and upper-end layerings but always under one circumstance: keeping things smooth. When you give it a listen, the trebles may come across to be calmer than expected. But then again, you would soon notice that it was the EST112 that the drivers were so carefully and seamlessly fused together. Highs show clear EST characteristics yet carefully integrated to complete Dunu’s wholesome tuning.
The headroom is delicate and elaborated. I would like to use the word “pretty” but trying to refrain as EST112 doesn’t get too miniature and cute in its presentation. The size of the headroom is slightly above moderate, not being so grand nor narrow. The separation is nicely done as expected yet doesn’t get too crazy in sensitivity to maintain EST112’s wholeness. The instruments are appropriately divided and pronounced – it’s just that they don’t fly away or get aggressive in separating.
Comparisons – DK-3001 Pro
Comparing these two brought a very unexpected outcome. If you ask why, that’s because I thought these two would vary a lot in sound – yet the situation was the exact opposite. Both are very similar in many aspects. Even the timbre is very similar between these two, though EST112 contains noticeably stronger sweetness and moisture while DK-3001 Pro is mildly more neutral. For the vocals, EST112 brings more thickness and shininess. Trebles were fairly different in presentation, as expected. The fine detailing is indeed superior on EST112, better fetching the tiny and fine details that linger in the music here and there. Though the crispiness and strikes are a bit better on the DK-3001 Pro which somewhat prevents itself from being defeated by the EST112.
As apparent as their form factors are, the headroom formation from the DK-3001 Pro is more linear and flat while EST112 does the headroom more spatial. Hence the headroom is larger on EST112. But then again, we can’t really say EST112 completely outdoes DK-3001 Pro as this comes down to personal preference. A neatly packed linear presentation is your thing, then perhaps DK-3001 Pro would still be a better option. If a larger, more spatial headroom is preferred, then EST112 would be a superior choice.
Comparisons – Campfire Audio Polaris II
For the lows, Polaris II achieves deeper and darker bass. It also offers a slightly better ultra-low extension. Yet the vocal timbre is more organically done on Est112 as Polaris II a bit of a metallic feeling to the tone. As for the trebles, EST112 offers more airiness and refined texture yet the differences aren’t really so drastic. Besides, Polaris II brings out harder and crispier impacts to the treble, offering extra crunch to the bite.
Headroom size is similar on both yet Polaris II does the staging in a more dramatic way that offers stronger dynamics. The staging also weighs more on the lower side while not degrading the upper notes. In EST112’s case, the staging is weighted right around the middle that desires an adequate amount of both lows and highs. In all, Polaris II sports a stronger hybrid tuning where the sound boldly fetches both aspects of DD and BA, whereas EST112 is all into wholeness.
Things are better than never. Things are also better to be slower and precise than quicker and sloppy. Although they’ve entered the EST trend a bit later, EST112 is a well-made product that proves Dunu has evolved in its hybrid/tribrid tuning techniques.
If we go back all the way to DK-3001 and DN-2002, their hybrid tunings used to be done in a very vibrant, bombastic manner. They gradually started to refine their hybrid tuning as they make progress through DK-3001 Pro and DK-2001, now nailing their first tribrid set up to have the finest sound among all of Dunu’s multi-driver IEMs. EST112 setups an easy-going presentation outwardly while on the inside it consists of soothing and skillful finesse. If a beautifully tuned, mid-fi EST IEM is what you’re after, this one should definitely mark the top list of your consideration.
Thanks to Dunu for providing EST112 in exchange for an honest impression/feedback.
I am not affiliated with Dunu and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
Value for the price9.5/10
- Comfortable, gentle, and coherent sound
- EST details nicely blended into for harmony
- A generous amount of quality accessories
- Thicker earpieces offer better fit (may differ by users)
- Comes with DUW-02S cable
- Not meant for those who seek bombastic sound signature
- Earpieces may be a tad bulky
- EST drivers aren't "vibrant" if you expect a treble-boosted sound signature