Thank you to the folks at DUNU-Topsound for providing the sample for review.
I’ve reviewed a few sets of IEMs from DUNU-Topsound before and was offered the opportunity to review their flagship earphone, the ever changing Tai-Chi. I’ve reviewed many earphones with methods of tuning the sound to adapt to different sound signatures and different users’ tastes. So, without further delay, let’s get right to it!
Packaging and Accessories
I’ve praised DUNU’s packaging before (and been accused of being a paid shill because of it, no lie) and the Tai-Chi’s packaging impresses me as well. Indeed, packaging is one of those things many people don’t care about as they’ll just be throwing it away anyway but good packaging makes a good first impression and a good impression was certainly made on me.
Inside the package you’ll find the earphones, a metal, crushproof case, very similar to the one shipped with the Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 but slightly larger and not as sturdy. Also included is a small, thin black plastic case containing the shirt clip, an airplane adapter, a ¼ inch jack adapter extra sets of two different types of eartips and a baggie full of the bass tuning port covers (more on those later).
Design and Build Quality
The Tai-Chi is defined by its fairly large round housings, made of plastic with what appears to be a brushed metal plate on the front featuring a subtle Tai-Chi symbol. The cable is clear, showing off the silver wiring underneath and is fairly flexible and terminates in a beefy and well relieved right angled 3.5mm jack.
Comfort and isolation
This is probably the most divisive aspect of the Tai-Chi. The bulbous housings are huge. Now, we’re not talking Monoprice 8320 territory but those with small ears are probably going to have some issues getting these to fit comfortably. Though the Tai-Chi worked for me, as always, your mileage may vary.
Isolation was mostly average for a vented dynamic driver IEM.
Burn in: These IEMs were given upwards of 50 hours of burn in prior to review. No significant changes were detected.
The most significant aspect of the Tai-Chi earphones is their bass tuning system. I’ve reviewed similar earphones in the past with methods of tuning the sound quality to one’s taste and the Tai-Chi does remind me of those in some respects. Rather than utilizing a screw on bass plate like the XePort and MEElectronics IEMs, the Tai Chi goes for something a little more rudimentary. On both earphones, there is a hole that can be covered with tiny, plastic fittings (and I do mean tiny) to reduce the amount of bass you get. Thus, I’ll begin with impressions from the uncovered bass ports and continue from there.
Bass Port Uncovered
With the holes uncovered, the drivers have more airflow to work with and produce considerably more bass. The low end is thick, booming and powerful which makes these a joy to listen to with Electronic and Hip-Hop music. But the low end response is big enough that it does encroach upon the lower mids and seems to smooth over some of the finer details. The presentation is full bodied and has the depth to rival some of the best earphones I’ve heard in terms of sub-bass extension and rumble at some of the lowest registers.
Bass Port Covered
With the plastic fittings in place, the low end calms down slightly and is much more linear and even handed in response. Make no mistake, there is still more “oomph” here than you’re likely to find on many high end earphones but nothing that should come as a disappointment.
The midrange steps forward ever so slightly but remains laid back in presentation with the bass ports covered and the low end is far less likely to creep up. Mids are even handed and have the ability to present finer details but loses out slightly in comparison to earphones like the HiFiMan RE-ZERO. The high end presentation is like the midrange in that it is also linear and similarly laid back. Sibilance is nearly nonexistent, even to my sensitive ears, and the Tai-Chi is forgiving of low bitrate sources, presenting good clarity when it needs to but lacks “airiness” that treble lovers crave.
The sound signature of the Tai-Chi strikes me as warm, full and enveloping. No, it’s not tonally accurate but it sounds right and I don’t think DUNU was trying for tonal accuracy here anyway. What they have crafted is a sound signature that should appeal to just about anyone in some way. The presentation is spacious and coherent with nice depth within its soundstage and pretty good imaging performance.
There is also another method of tuning the sound which many audiophiles are likely quite familiar with called tip rolling. DUNU provides two different types of tips, the Sony hybrid clones (and nice ones at that) and gray tips with a slightly wider bore which opens the sound up a bit and reveals a tiny bit more micro-detail. Personally, I preferred the Sony hybrid clone tips despite the slightly (very slightly) reduced detail but your mileage may vary.
The DUNU Tai-Chi is on sale from several outlets at prices between $110 and $140, and for that price, I think they’re a pretty decent deal. These do face some stiff competition in their price range, but if a bassy sound signature is what you’re looking for, these are a pretty good choice.
Personally, I greatly enjoy the sound signature (bass ports covered and uncovered) with its lush and warm presentation. It’s a laid back sound that doesn’t smack you over the head and command attention like, say, the CC51P, instead relaxing you with a smooth, full sound that works for just about every genre. If you want a full sound that can shake the cobwebs loose in your head with big bass when you want it and step back when you don’t, the Tai-Chi is a solid all-rounder.