DUNU TALOS Review: Dark or Bright side? Your choice.

The PLUS: 
-2 polar opposite tuning choice
-highly musical warm neutral tonality in Planar mode
-lush wide open female vocal in Planar mode
-one of most natural planar timbre
-wide open soundstage in Planar mode
-good note weight
-piano lover will be please by Planar mode
-smooth, sibilance free in Planar Mode
-extra bite and texture in BA mode
-superior IEM built quality
-nice accessories
-good sound value

The MINUS
-Hybrid mode can be fatiguing
-Hybrid mode can be sibilant
-Hybrid more is very niche bright W shape
-resolution while good isn’t very clean and sparkly in both mode

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TONALITY (planar mode): 8.6/10
(Hybrid mode): 7.4/10
TECHNICALITIES (planar mode): 8.4/10
(Hybrid mode): 8.2/10
CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10

DUNU is a well established earphones company with mroe than 10 years of experience. In my 10 years Chifi journey, I’ve test numerous IEM’S from them including budget single DD DM480, excellent hybrid DK-2001, very impressive Berylium DD Luna and energic fun sound Zen. Let say Dunu are very prolific lately and launch very diversify IEM and even good dongle like DTC500.
Today I will review one of their latest release, the Dunu Talos.
Priced 199$, the Talos is a Planar + 2 balanced armature hybrid with a tuning switch that permit you to choose between single planar or hybrid mode. They are the first to launch an Hybrid of this type and let say it represent an utopia becoming true. Its THAT exciting to me, the possibility to change soundsignature in a more drastic way that slight crossover change we often found with multi-BA’S with tuning switch.
But will it sound exciting too? Let check in this ”dualistic” review.

CONSTRUCTION

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Dunu rarely if ever disappoint with its construction quality and here it another prime example of excellent craftmanship with an all metal construction that feel as much sturdy that it look good. The housing scream durability even if it have an elegant sober design. As well, its the first time the tuning switch are well implemented and user friendly, in the sens you don’t even need to pull out the IEM, you can switch it on the go when it’s in you ears…so, this happen to me often, when i need more treble bite to enjoy this user friendly sound tweaking.
Back to construction, the 2pin connector seem sturdy and the rather thick housing sit comfortably in my ears. Ear hook is mandatory for these type of shell and the included cable do great job for this.

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Talking about cable, i was very impress by the quality of it, it’s a 4 thick cores High-purity Silver-Plated Monocrystalline Copper cable. For once, i don’t feel to upgrade it unless i need to go balanced way, this cable match Talos tonality perfectly and doesn’t justify intense quest for upgrading it. Nice look, Sturdy built. Comfy ear hook. What to ask more?

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Well, a good quality carrying case and plenty of ear tips perhaps, because Dunu cover this too. Let say whole packaging is excellent and 9 pairs of different ear tips are excellent too since it even include the new horn shaped silicone eartips that was missing in my collection. This is giving good result with the Talos, its my fav ear tips after short wide bore that isn’t include but offer very open sound presentation. It include a cleaning brush and 6.5mm plug adapter. Excellent accessories.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

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TONALITY

Planar Mode: Smooth mature neutral to warm W shape, their slight sub bass boost and good mids presence emphasis, treble without being completly dark is smooth, creamy yet with some snap when needed, not very airy or sparkly tough.

The planar mode is my favorite one by a big margin, it’s laid back in edgyness and just enough dynamic to avoid overly lean presentation that would lack dynamic. This make it perfect for long time listening session with great immersivity to it due to an open soundstage, very wide and holographic. To note that ear tips choice will drastically inflict on sound presentation, i use short wide bore eartips for this review, result is similar to Dunu Horn tips but taller and wider and less compressed in sound layers.

The bass have minimal punch to it, just enough to perceive kick drum energy, it’s well controlled and keep the mids clean. The sub bass is a hint more boosted, so with som trap rap you can be surprise by the slam it deliver, this Talos can deliver rumble when needed but doesn’t pack a big weighty chunky punch nor are aimed for basshead at all. Its quality bass, well textured, clean in presence and fast enough in control. With the track ”Moonlight” from IAMDD, its evident that kick have less amplitude impact than sub bass line, yet, even is vibrant and well bodied the sub line stay in the back of the female singer, which avoid veiling or vocal recession. This is a very versatile low end that don’t sound boomy or muddy not rolled off, acoustic bass extend naturaly with realist texture, so for jazz it’s excellent, for rock, electric bass too sound great but perhaps beat heavy music that need lot of bass thump will sound less energic and not induce headbanging.

Mid range might be my favorite part of the Talos, since it sound very natural and smooth for a planar. Its a hint warm, yet not lacking in resolution which have excellent transparency to permit accurate instruments presence positioning. Timbre is dense, organic with just enough texture to make it captivating. Female vocal are very good, very appealing, fowards and open with wide presence and hint of breathyness to them like I love. Their no sibilance apart if present in the recording, it will not over soft upper mids presence even if its quite smoothed. In the other hand, male vocal are a bit more recessed in dynamic, yet clear and well define in presence so they never feel too dark, just not as bodied as female singer. When I do my piano test on an IEM and it pass it gloriously, i know the mid range is excellent and this is one of these rare case here with the Talos: near full range of piano sound incredible, we have good note weight and natural resonance too, the note are well rounded and full in rendering, rich intexture yet not too boosted in noise artefact, it’s lush, its round and full, and most of all doesn’t sound distant, thin or dry. Talos are made for Piano and Female vocal lover it seem. Are they tune for me then? Well, i would love a bit more bite for violin, as well as cleaner space between note for piano too, so, their perhaps a warm sustaint after attack here, quite inherent to planar driver in general.

I will have more to talk about in Balanced Armature mode for treble section, but this doesn’t mean it’S lacking in planar mode, not at all in fact, as said it’s not an overly dark set, just smoothed in higher range texture, soft in edge and a bit euphonic in macro rendering. In fact, we even have extra snap for percussions. We are in safe treble territory where lower treble is dark and instrument presence not overly boosted in brightness-texture detailing. Sure, the Talos doesn’t put fowards lot of micro-details in planar mode, but nuance is there and speed too, especially in how sound layers are well articulated. Splash cymbals can feel a bit scooper in extension but this avoid harshness too. Overall, it sound full and warm here, with just enough minimal brilliance for acoustic guitar or percussions to sound alive. Percussions part can be extremely fast and precise in attack, snare too, so again, for jazz lover this can be super rewarding listening since you got a non fatiguing yet exciting macro-musicality.

Technicaly, these are quite good for a planar, and on par with Letshuoer S12 and Tangzu Zetian. Attack speed is fast but attack have slightly smoothed sustain, yet it doesn’t stole completly natural resonance, just warm it a little. Resolution while good haven’t the cleanest definition and we struggle to really see ”silence” between instrument, this is compensate by a grear layering capacity due to fast sound projection that avoid muddyness in busy track even if definition of each instrument will not be 100% sharply define. Their often a sens of euphony to planar accuracy and the Talos take advantage of this, it have this organic cohesion with extra treble speed that offer a good all-arounder performance.

Hybrid Mode: Bright balanced W shape to analytical neutral, with extra focus on mid treble where the texture get boosted and attack bite more edgy and immediate.

OK, here the biggest difference with Planar mode is all in treble section, so it’s a bit redundant to describe bass part, yet, let say it feel more recessed and less clear, due to more textured and opaque sound layer that affect overall transparency. We can say kick drum is more textured too, so its mostly sub bass that feel more recessed here.

Now, the mids aren’t my favorite part of Talos Hybrid mode, they become brighter and hint shoutier and more prompt to sibilance, its more textured and benefit some instrument like violin and electric guitar which become more upfront, energic and edgy in attack. Timbre tough is less natural and affected by balanced armature slight metallic sheen in timbre. Transparency too isn’t as good as planar mode. Clarity while boosted in presence, isn’t as open and well layered. Pina gain being more important, it can induce fatigue. I do feel saxophone is richer and better define in space, cello have more grunt too. Piano isn’t as felt in weight and natural resonance isn’t as airy. Overall mid range seem a bit compressed under treble section.

And there we are, the 2 balanced armature seem to boost 6khz and up section and indeed it isn’t trying to hide it’s presence at all, it’s quite in your face in term of energic boost, yet stay cohesive a a ”bright whole”. Here the Talos become W shape analytical, it dig alot of sound info and can overwhelmed us with micro details. Its very snappy yet not very sparkly still. Yet, this benefit certain genre, like string quartet are notably more energic and richer in texture as well as more define in attack, sure it’s bright but in a good way here. Clavichord too gain in immediacy, resolution and attack speed. If your not treble sensitive, rock can be very lively listen too, with abrasive detailed guitar line, highlight kick drum texture presence and snare impact, offer an ultra detailed and snappy musicality with unapological agressivity. Acoustic guitar too gain in bite and definition sharpness. Simply put, BA mode is for treble head and I do appreciate that it offer a very different soundsignature that planar mode.

Technicaly, the attack speed is pretty similar to planar mode but highs are more detaileds, crunchy and snappy, while i feel resolution loose some natural refinement, it gain vividness, its not cleaner but edgier. We have more extra dynamic loudness quantity, all concentrate in treble so this indeed shadow some part of lows and mids, especially in openess and proper perceived decay of attack. Soundstage get affected by the BA’s, which stole the holographic wideness and deepness and make the sound more in your head as if your very near the stage. Instrument separation have less space because it’s mroe saturated with sound info, incluing background noise artefacts.

COMPARISONS

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VS SHUOER S12

Talos is smoother L shape to neutral, less vivid and bright in dynamic, less mid bass punchy. S12 is brighter, with more upper mids bite and fowards vocal and texture. Timbre is a bit less smooth, natural, liquid but dynamic is more hefty and lively. Bass is chunkier, more define in punch but less clean and extended-rumbly and more prompt to bleeding than Talos, which have cleaner mid range, leaner yet better resolve ,effortles way. Treble is more snappy and agressive with the S12, in a good way since it offer more lively and immersive dynamic rendering, sharper in details yet not as rich in sound info than Talos which deliver high amount of details in a delicate way, with less highs grain and more transparent but not as holographic presentation. About this, Soundstage seem more out of your head and wide with the S12, yet layering is thicker and more prompt to muddyness.
BA MODE: Now, the Talos become more ”trebly agressive”, its resolution that was superior is now intensely better and a more energic way, female vocal are as upfront than S12, perhaps more bright (slight instance of sibilance like S12 too). Soundstage loose in depth. Bass is still untouch and notably less punchy and boosted. But here we have more similar W shape tonality, more bass light and analytical with Talos.

All in all, these 2 are great and quite different in tonal balance, S12 being a more bassy energic W shape while Talos being more mature neutral with slightly better resolution due to less spiky presentation. Both are great choice, but the ride is more fun and less refined with S12.

VS TANGZU ZETIAN WU

Ok, perhaps i’m bias here since these are my fav planar and first thing that hit is how it sound more open, bassier and more mid centric than leaner more neutral Talos. Again, the bass have chunkier punch and weight, yet its warmer in resolution where Talos is more textured and clean. Mid range is fuller, thicker and more natural-euphonic in timbre with the WU, tone of instrument is more versatile and accurate, yet definition is a bit darker while dynamic of vocal jump at you more and is more upfront and highlight than Talos that have less lower mids. Dynamic of the Wu is more W shape and energic, so it have even more note weight too. Transparency go to Talos tough, unless BA mode. Talking BA mode, as expected it become brigther harsher sounding than more mid centric Wu. Yet, even in planar mode the Talos have spikier treble mixed with darker fullness. Imaging is near on par but Wu have wider space between isntrument and more articulate layering.

All in all, the Zetian Wu sound more full bodied and lush in tonality, with heavier dynamic and notably more boosted bass, while I find it’s tonality more musicaly appealing, im struggling to conclude it’s technical performance is superior since the more neutral Talos have superior transparency, better bass separation and can go from darker to brighter than the Wu.

CONCLUSION

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Dunu really create a one-of-a-kind IEM with the Talos, for once I can say that an IEM switch transform the stock neutral tonality to something drastically different, a treble head W shape! This sure open new doors to IEM creation and merit an applause for a first try.

Because of this the Talos sound value is even higher, you have a warmish laid back immersive planar musicality, really versatile and easy to enjoy, with natural appealing timbre and full bodied mid range as well as a near analytical energically bright treble centric tonal balance.
To say the Talos is fascinating is an under statement, in fact, it never finish to surprise you. You feel like having an immediate vividness to your electric guitar or violin attacks? Swith to Hybrid. You feel like enjoying lush vocal and calm piano session? Planar mode is there to cuddle your ears.

While there no doubt I listen 80% of the time to Planar mode that feel more open in spatiality and natural in timbre, I find the 20% of Hybrid mode very entertaining for jazz, rock, folk and instrumental music in general.

The Dunu Talos is a Planar Hybrid IEM like no other that worth to have in any audiophile collection or be considerate for those seeking to taste both planar and balanced armature sound flavor.

Highly recommended!

——–
PS: I want to thanks Dunu for sending me this review sample. I’m not affiliated nor have show this review before publishing it. As always, this is my 100% subjective honest audio impressions.

You can buy the Talos for 200$ from this official retailer: https://www.linsoul.com/products/dunu-talos

For more info about Dunu products, give a look at their official website here:https://www.dunu-topsound.com

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