CanJam NYC 2020: DUNU Luna and iFi Hip-Dac

Ifi hip-dac

No matter how much due-diligence I do before a CanJam event, I still do not know what is really new and exciting until I get there. Therefore, I start my exploring by walking the isles, dream-like, looking, waving “hi” to people, shaking hands, kissing babies – until something jumps out of the deck and screams “Look at me!” This year, as I wondered through the early morning crowd, I kept seeing this turquoise hip-flask-with-a-brass-cap-looking thing. I knew it was iFi’s new $149 USD hip-dac DAC so I stopped at the iFi table and gave it spin with my HiHiMan RE2000 IEMs. All I could say was “man-o-man” this thing has genuine moxie and an extremely neutral character. Think clean and solid.

I compared the hip-dac to my AudioQuest Dragonfly Red and found it less rich warm and textural, but more defined and balanced.

I have reviewed the iFi iCAN headphone amp; and use it still, all the time. Why? Because the iCAN, like the hip-dac, drives headphones in a most engaging fashion. It has force. But the iCAN is, in my opinion, too feature-laden; and not physically attractive. In contrast, the hip-dac might be the singularly most attractive audio product I have ever encountered. The color and surface are so damn cool. The hip hip-dac uses a Lithium-polymer 2200mAh battery, and is specified as putting 2V/400mW into 16 ohms. I requested a review sample.

DUNU Luna

I didn’t count, but there may have been more IEM tables than any other kind. But, the one that really engaged my senses, surprised my ears, and sparked my imagination was the table with the $1,699 USD DUNU Luna.

Yesterday, Final Audio told me, their flagship headphone uses the first full-range beryllium-foil dynamic driver ever installed in an in-ear-monitor. Today, I am listening to a fabulous story about how DUNU’s Luna took years to develop, and commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Mission, and how the “Luna is the world’s first pure beryllium rolled foil diaphragm flagship dynamic in-ear-monitor.” Meanwhile, I am just thinking how these new ultra-thin beryllium transducers might be lowering the distortion of audio playback.

Who’s first matters not at all to me; both IEMs shine a bright beryllium light on the future of perfectionist headphone development. Both appear to generate a new type of sonic clarity that appears to exceed the better dynamic and planer-magnetics – and my beloved HiFiMan RE2000s. Not to mention, during my two days of CanJam headphone listening no headphone (of any type) exceeded the Luna at sorting out David Byrne’s “I Dance Like This” from his album American Utopia. On most headphones and hi-fi systems this track sounds brittle, muddy, and annoyingly distorted. Over processed. The DUNU Luna clarified and humanized Byrne’s vocals, and un-distorted the drum-machine and deep bass synthesizer to a level of enjoyable precision and transparency I never thought possible. I requested a review sample so I can spend time comparing the Luna to my Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC and HiFiMan Susvara. I doubt the DUNU Luna will be embarrassed.

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