When I found out that Dunu were creating a couple of new models in their Titan line I knew this is one IEM that I couldn't wait to try out. Earlier on in the year we reviewed the Dunu Titan earphones (which are now distributed by Fiio under the name Fiio X1) and I was hugely impressed. The design is a little old school throwback. Reminiscent of Audio Technica's of the noughties but in doing things a little different the original Titan threw down the gauntlet with an all metal housing, a gigantic 13mm dynamic driver and a surprisingly low entry price. That wasnt all though. The Dunu Titan sounded awesome as well with a huge soundstage and great presentation of detail it went on to become one of the stars of 2015.
Its true to say that the original Dunu Titan (Fiio X1) was one of the big success stories of the year and Dunu are looking to capitalise on that momentum by releasing the Dunu Titan 5. This new in ear headphone has just hit the market and finally we have one in for review. On paper there is a whole lot to like about the new earphones so we give the Titan 5 a rundown on how they perform along with some select comparison's to the original Dunu Titan earbuds.
Dunu Titan 5 | Packaging
As with all Dunu products I have received in the past the Titan 5 come in some damn nice packaging. Theres good graphics on the box, an absolute ton of specifications and information about what you will find inside. The earphones are nicely presented in a Display window and the box is extremely rigid to prevent damage to the IEM from shipping. Unfortunately, on the inside you will find some nonsensical chatter about how great Max Barsky is. This includes numerous accolades by the said artist... top 30 artists in Ukraine 2010 anyone? Well thats great for Mr Max Barsky if only he existed... in fact I think they meant to refer to Max Barskih, spelling/translation error?. You might be wondering who is this Ukrainian superstar? Surely he is worth checking out if he's worth mentioning on the packaging of an earphone aimed at music lovers? Don't, he's thoroughly terrible... Is this an omen for the Titan 5? or have they been fitted out with an auto tuner that transforms Barskih's warbling into Andrea Bocelli's moving vocals? Lets find out.
Dunu Titan 5 | Accessories
I have commended DUNU in the past for the incredible attention to detail with the accessories they include. Yet again they have supplied everything you would need to get the most out of your Titan 5 IEM's. There is the usual selection of tips is various styles and sizes to help you find the perfect fit for your ears. A cable tie is fitted to the cable in oreder to help you wrap up the earphones safely. Some ear hooks will keep them in place (A new inclusion not seen with the Dunu Titan 1). Finally, there is the earphone's carry case, something that DUNU always do very well. The new case is a rock solid hard plastic case of excellent quality. It has a push button on the front with which to open it but the stand out feature is the soft touch rubber on the base that adds a little more grip on a hard surface. The inside is a nice soft texturised rubber which adds a little extra protection when these earphones are stored when traveling. It is a great case but internal space is limited so you won't be fitting much else inside other than the earbuds themselves.
Dunu Titan 5 | Design & Build Quality
The new Dunu Titan 5 in ear headphones are the spitting image of the Dunu Titan/Fiio EX1 model. Thats a really good thing because it is a style I had been familiar with many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed using once more. This style of earphone housing has recently been replaced thanks to the popularity of tubular IEM housings which allow for a deeper insertion depth into the ear canal. The thing is there are many people who preferred this kind of relaxed fit on the Titan's and they have been neglected for some time. I find the design and ergonomics to be incredibly comfortable my ears over long periods of us as well as being extremely easy to insert and fit. The all metal housing feels incredibly robust and that feeling is something that runs right through the entire design of the IEM. Jack points, cable cinch points and strain reliefs all feel very robust and I would expect them to last for many years of tough love.
The cable itself is the major change on the new Dunu Titan 5 over the original Titan. It is now of the detachable variety. The connection terminals feel strong and pop into place with a reassuring click. The only issue I can foresee with them is that Dunu has chosen to implement a proprietary connector Detachable cables are certainly popular in the market right now and it a feature I like as it adds to the useable lifespan of any earphone. The feel of the headphone cable is similar to what you would find on the old Hifiman RE272 & RE262 IEM's it has little to no memory, resists tangles well and is next to no existent on micro-phonics... Its a great cable.
Dunu Titan 5 | Fit & Isolation
The Dunu Titan 5 aren't going to win any prizes for isolation. If thats what you are after its better you go with a non vented earphone with deeper insertion. They aren't terrible isolators though, I would give them a 6 out of 10 as there is still a fair amount of external noise removed even in busy environments. Fit on the other hand was great. I found the Titan 5 to be easy to insert and the bonus was that they stayed in place and never fell out. The fit is best with the cable worn straight down and whilst you would be able to get away with wearing them over ear its not best suited to this style of use. The cable is the perfect length, I am 6'3 myself and had no problem using them with a DAP from a jean pocket.
Dunu Titan 5 | Sound Quality
The original Titan in ear headphones, just like the new Titan 5 earphones won some serious respect from the audio community and myself here at Audiophile On due to the sound performance. It really what set the Titan up for success at an incredibly competitive price point. Now the 5, being priced at $135 right now on Amazon need to step it up to another level. The hardware changes and detachable cable all go further to making this an even more attractive purchase but if the sound doesn't stand up to expectations then it will likely fall flat on its face... so lets get to it.
Over the course of the Dunu Titan 5 review it became clear that I wasnt looking at a more expensive version of the original Titan. Instead when it came to sound the two are very different IEM's indeed. Soundstage, something that the Fiio EX1 / Dunu Titan brilliantly is still big on the Titan 5. Its not as gigantic sounding as it was on the Titan's but it is still well above normal levels found on other in ear headphones at a similar price. Detail retrieval and imaging were found to be roughly on a par with the predecessor yet there was more of a sense of warmth and intimacy to the overall signature of the IEM.
Highs / Treble
First up lets talk about the highs. If anything was an issue with the Dunu Titan / Fiio EX1 then it was the treble. For the most part it could be considered detailed and "sparkly" but in some occasions it crossed that line into being far to hot sounding. Thankfully the Titan 5 has managed to tame that upper frequency into something that is now far more pleasant over longer listening sessions. The highs still remain detailed and prominent but I didn't find any occasion where they managed to become too much to handle and overall this made for a more relaxed experience overall.
Mids / Midrange
The midrange is something that, on the Dunu Titan 5, that has most affected the earphones overall sound. The Fiio EX1 / Titan had colder sound to it which worked very well in the balance with its other frequencies but the Titan 5 now adds more warmth to the mids. Position wise the Titan 5 earphones midrange sits behind the treble and bass. Its very clear and still detailed yet manages to become a friendlier overall signature that will work better with modern electronic music as well as hip hop and pop. Female vocals really do shine here especially when listening to different types of high energy EDM but guitars also benefit from the added overall warmth. If I was choosing one side by side I would definitely take the Titan 5 over Titan due to it fitting in with my own style of listening for pleasure. I like a bit of warmth in my audio gear so this is definitely a step forward from the Titan in my mind.
Lows / Bass
Good god yes. The bass is here and it is without a doubt the best thing about the Titan 5. It has the ability to go real low, even displaying good sub bass performance whilst still remaining fast and detailed. For a dynamic driver the Titan 5 puts out great speed that allow it to get in deliver the hit and then get out the way in order for the next note to roll over. This combined with the still prominent treble and recessed midrange leads them to become an in ear headphone that is fun and energetic and very different from its predecessor.
Dunu Titan 5 Review | Conclusion
By enhancing the bass output I finally see what Dunu have done with the Titan 5 earbuds. They haven't tried to make a refinement on the old design, they have instead managed to make a completely different earphone. When it comes to sound the Dunu Titan 5 are warmer more engaging and more fun than the technically good Titan. I suspect that the Titan 3 will also hold its own unique place in the line up and in doing so it seems that Dunu have managed to create 3 very individual earphones that can sit comfortably alongside each other and cater to ones individual tuning preferences as opposed to being the same thing with minor refinements at ever increasing price points. Out of the Titian and Titan 5 earphones I myself would take the 5 on the basis that I enjoy a bit more warmth and a deeper rumble to my bass but in reality both are excellent earphones and great value for money as an overall package.