- Bass quality
- Note weight
- Tuning nozzles
- Limited edition
- Treble can get energetic for some
- Mids aren’t neutral
- Sub-bass roll off
Inside the Box
- DUNU VERNUS;
- Tuning nozzles;
- A pouch to keep your monitors inside (sock);
- Sereveral different tips in different sizes;
- MMCX cable with 3.5mm, 2.5mm and 4.4mm interchangeable terminations;
- Carrying pouch;
- Cleaning cloth and brush;
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter;
- Warranty card.
Clocking in at $220, DUNU has decided to bring something else to the table by re-tuning the now infamous Falcon Pro but with a caveat: only 100 units were produced and sold.
At this price and together with its predecessor, that makes VERNUS one of the cheapest monitors of the ECLIPSƎ family. For those that aren’t familiar with it, it’s a type of driver tech used on DUNU’s iems like ZEN and ZEN PRO.
Now, given the lack of positive reception given to the Falcon Pro on the eastern markets, does the driver, the new tuning and a fresh coat of Hulk paint give it what it needs to shine?
The VERNUS uses the same shell and philosophy as the Falcon Pro, which translates into having an semi-open back design by using five vent holes in the back. While this might help with air and stage, something must be disclosed right from the start: the isolation on VERNUS is terrible and won’t be suited for all ambients (and I have tested this for a good while).
Other than the above, it’s pretty straight forward. The fit is shallow and won’t feel the most secure even if you have bigger ears, but with shorter tips you should not have any problem. Speaking about tips, as usual by DUNU, it comes with a hefty choice of tips in the box, of different sizes, materials and colors. The reputation for accessory kings extends to the carrying case that is solid while being covered by a teal colored fabric. It’s the same shape as the one found on Zen Pro’s package and I really like it, especially compared to the Titan S one, but those that prefer smaller carrying pouches, might find it too big. To wrap-up the in-the-box chit-chat, the most eye-turners of all the DUNU’s accessories, and that’s their cables. With swappable terminations, this very thin 2-core silver cable has grown on me, since I didn’t like it at the start, but I have to give it out for its practicality and light-weight during the outdoor walks.
Given all that, it’s now time for the real reason you are reading all this – the way it sounds, – but we can’t go there without talking about the obvious kicker: the tuning nozzles. Yes, that’s right, VERNUS comes equipped with three tuning nozzles that were kindly named Reference, Atmosferic Immersion and Transparency, and they graph like the following:
I think Reference sounds the best, despite the Atmospheric leaning more towards my preferences, and I think it is the one people would enjoy more so that’s the one I will be covering. I don’t enjoy the Transparency nozzle as it gives much more energy to the set than I would like.
I will start by saying the VERNUS really reminds of its big brother, the ZEN PRO, with a more V-Shape approach. Given my love for the ZEN PRO, that speaks volumes. I would describe the VERNUS as a warm neutral or M-Shaped if I had to label it.
The spoken above ECLIPSƎ tech inside its 10mm driver gives the bass a great sense of fullness and extension, despite the sub-bass roll off. The best way to visually describe its bass presentation is as if it filled the whole room with its presence, like a speaker, but without much bleed into the mid-range. All of this combined with good texture and tactitality make my library shine, despite the not so elevated frequency response (Cory Henry – The Line, Anna ft. Miss Kittin – Forever Ravers).
This frequency response will segway us into the first nitpick: the sub-bass roll off. Despite it’s deep extension and the rumble, it is clearly disfavored over its mid-bass counterpart, which is very noticeable in tracks like Trentemoller – Chameleon or Hans Zimmer – Why So Serious?, as it gets slightly thrown into the background.
Just by looking at the graph, the first question that will arise is how good is that mid-range, and let me guide you through it. Right out the gates, it is warm and thicc, and not in a bad way. You still get all the details of the sweet pianos (Hania Rani – Glass) but they are cozier than neutral, as if Lorde was wearing a blanket during her rendition of Buzzcut Season. While I think the mids are great and still clear, if you like neutral, transparent replays, this isn’t it. VERNUS has forward mids and despite the curve, the male vocals are actually good and clear, even when they share the bandwidth with heavy bass lines (Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit), giving a nice body to the replay.
The upper-mids and treble range are where most of the energy is caught by my ears. Firstly, it never crosses the shouty territory, even on tracks like Adele – Daydreamer. In fact, these female vocals having some good note weight, makes them a great replay in my book. Most of the energy comes from the area around 5k hertz that, being my nemesis, was concerning to me, so we bring out the jazz. Brass instruments, such as cymbal strikes, hi-hats or saxos will appear on the replay as energetic, but I never found them to be too emphasized or fatiding, probably compensated by the bass-shelf (Larnell Lewis – Change Your Mind, David Carroll – Hell’s Bells). In fact, I found myself lost deep into the Jazz by the live replay of Bob Reynolds – Can’t Wait for Perfect, where VERNUS just kept me hooked and immersed.
The upper treble follows suit with enough extension so you can feel some air and detail, without any giant elevation. Despite all of that, I can’t say you can blast party volumes with these, only just to medium or high.
The lower treble and brass talk lets us quickly transition to the technical department and start it right off by a word on its timbre – it’s not perfect but it’s good. It’s a fast and tight driver with a fast decay, but despite that it does not feel metallic or shrill at any given times. The stand out of the technicalities has to be its sheer detail after the magic recipe of a good driver plus some treble help and you get what you expect it to be – a very detailed IEM, despite its warmer tilt.
The imaging chops are where it got me twisted at start: the center imaging and stage width are actually very good for this price range, but as it’s more common than not, the stage depth could be better, especially on live replays. Despite that, I still think it has a good presentation and far from the usual “trapped inside your head” replay that most IEMs give.
The last word regarding technicalities goes directly into dynamics where VERNUS passes the test with flying colors and I have nothing to point on.
Quickly comparing the DUNU VERNUS with the Etymotic ER2XR, the first thing I noticed right out the start, other than the fit difference, was the accuracy vs the musicality. Etymotic brings you into the studio and clinical replays it while the VERNUS gives you a more musical approach. This is all done through the bass shelf as the treble between the two is very identical. VERNUS has a more open stage reproduction but the ER2XR feels more transparent and detailed in the mid range section. Despite the elevation difference in the low end, I prefer VERNUS intangibles in this department.
Tripowin Olina has a closer to my preferences replay, where there’s sub-bass over the mid bass and the more relaxed lower treble shine. Other than that, they trade blows technicality speaking with VERNUS coming out as more detailed and with a better driver response in the lower sector, while Olina has a more holographic presentation and depth and being less fatiding while costing half.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the VERNUS since you cannot get it anymore. If it wasn’t for that, it would get the full recommendation. To those who weren’t in the lucky 100, I would say to keep an eye on the used market, as someone might try to sell theirs. During a time where we keep seeing more of the same with just a retouch, DUNU has proven that green is the season color and that VERNUS isn’t just a recolored edition of an IEM, proven themselves right and that they are on a roll since the release of the TITAN S. I hope this review was helpful and that it has made your mouth watery for the upcoming review of the ZEN PRO, which I consider the true upgrade to the VERNUS, while I personally keep an eye out for the newly released VULKAN.
Value rating: 4.5/5; Personal ranking: 6,7.
Disclaimer: All the above notes were done using multiple sources and tips, but the final assessment was done using the Topping L30+E30 stack and Final E tips.
Thanks for reading!
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