DUNU DN-23 Landmine Review – Here Comes the Boom

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First, I’d like to thank the folks at DUNU for selecting me to review the DN-23 Landmine IEMs.

DUNU is no stranger to me, as I’ve reviewed quite a few of their products in the past. Now, I have DUNU’s latest release, the DN-23 Landmine. At $80, it slots in below DUNU’s DN-19 Tai-Chi flagship and above the also recently released DN-22 Detonator. So, does the Landmine measure up or is it a dud? Read on to find out.

Accessories: 10 pairs of silicone eartips (Sony Hybrid clones, standard spherical and one pair of biflanges), a shirt clip, Airline adapter, ¼” adapter, cable winder (connected to the cable), soft drawstring leather pouch and square clamshell carrying case.

Design and Build Quality: The Landmine is similar in build quality to other DUNU IEMs I’ve reviewed like the Hephaes and most closely resembles the Crius, with its metal housings with a slight bulge in the middle to accommodate the driver. That said, the build quality on the whole is excellent, with a thick but flexible cable, a metal Y-split and chin slider, well relieved housings and a nice 45 degree plug and pre attached cable winder.

Comfort: With the Sony Hybrid style single flange tips, I had no problem getting a good fit that remained comfortable over long listening sessions.

Isolation: The Landmine isolates slightly above average. Good, but not quite on the level of balanced armature earphones.

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Sound Quality

Burn in: The DN-23 Landmine was given 50+ hours of burn in time prior to review. No significant changes were heard.

Being the obvious focus of the sound signature, the low end is expectedly strong with nice extension but tends to put a bit more emphasis on mid bass tones than sub bass. Because of the prominence of the mid bass, the low end can sometimes intrude on the mids but not excessively so.

The midrange is recessed slightly and warm and smooth in character thanks to that big mid bass. On the whole, I find the midrange quite enjoyable and pleasant due to its warmth and total lack of annoying piercing peaks but it is a bit smeared because of the mid bass prominence. Highs are similarly de-emphasized in comparison to the bass. Accompanying a relative lack of sparkle and shimmer, the highs are nicely clear and, like the midrange, free of irritating sibilance peaks.

Truth be told, after reading some other reviews, I was expecting stronger bass than I actually got. That’s not a bad thing, nor does that mean the Landmine is anything short of what I’d call “bassy”. No, the Landmine’s bass sinks in slowly as it lacks a really immediate punch, though it has the authority behind the soft impact to sufficiently rattle your eardrums. The Landmine’s bass is the kind that can catch you off guard. Sneaky, but enjoyable.

Compared to other IEMs like the HiSoundaudio Wooduo 2, the Landmine doesn’t deliver the same kind of seismic impact. I don’t hold that against the Landmine though as, to be frank, nothing I’ve heard can match the Wooduo 2 in terms of sheer impact and power except maybe the Monster Miles Davis Tributes and Future Sonics Atrio M5.

When I was trying to think of how to describe the sound signature, two words immediately popped into my head. Smooth and mellow. And that’s what the Landmine is about. Even its bigger than average bass presence doesn’t distract from that. In many ways, the Landmine reminds me of the atmosphere of a jazz club. Smooth, calm, warm but you’ll definitely notice the bass when it comes out to play.

Select Comparisons

Monster Miles Davis Tributes

The Landmine offers more mid bass impact and presence with less emphasized sub bass and admittedly less control than the MDT. In terms of overall fidelity, the Landmine just isn’t on the level of the MDT but being less than a quarter of the MDT’s original $399 retail price, I don’t expect it to be, either.

Sony MH1C

The MH1C and Landmine differ most obviously in the way they handle bass rather than pure quantity. Like the MDT before it, the MH1C is more emphasized in the sub bass regions than the Landmine whereas the Landmine carries more mid bass emphasis. In terms of overall fidelity, I’d give a slight edge to the MH1C but I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly due to its terrible cable and lack of accessories in the bulk packaging you’re likely to find them sold in. If, like me, you’d rather not be bothered with such an irritating cable, just get the Landmine. Even considering the MH1C’s lower price, it’s a pain to use on the go compared to the Landmine.

HiFiMan RE-400

As one of my benchmarks in the $100 and under price bracket, I’m not surprised that the Landmine can’t measure up overall. It does have a more consumer oriented sound signature with a much stronger low end presence than the RE-400. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if someone were to choose the Landmine over the RE-400 due to the latter’s flatter and more neutral sound, which isn’t for everyone.

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At $80, the Landmine runs up against some very, very stiff competition as companies continue to deliver better sounding products for less money than in years past but the wealth of included accessories and impressive build quality give DUNU a competitive edge that other companies can’t quite match in many cases, especially within this price bracket.

What we have here is a pair of earphones that delivers great but not exceptional sound for the money. I don’t think anyone would be remiss in purchasing these if they’re looking for powerful bass and a completely fatigue-free listening experience, though I wouldn’t recommend these to treble lovers as these are markedly subdued in that regard.

For fans of Hip-Hop, EDM, Pop and R&B, the DUNU Landmine should definitely be considered as it sounds great with those genres and its added bass thump makes these very fun to listen to.

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About Justin McBride

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