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Dethonray Tender 1 – Sound Of Dreams

Dethonray Tender 1 – Sound Of Dreams

Detonray Tender 1 is a boutique high-end IEM with a 10mm Planar magnetic driver, and a price tag of 639 USD. It will be compared to other flagships, including Campfire Mammoth (650 USD), Moondrop Illumination (800 USD), and Metalure Wave (600 USD). I will also be including airings with Dethonray DTR1 + Prelude Music Player (1000 USD), Astell & Kern SE180 (1500 USD), and iBasso DX240 (950 USD). 



I really hope you already read and enjoyed my review of the Dethonray DTR1+ Prelude Music Player, because there we got to know a bit more about the boutique producer Dethonray and their excellent design for DAPs, as well as their unique approach to music. Their music players are surely not made en masse, so they try to squeeze considerably more performance out of their designs by using different approaches to music. Their products are generally reliable, but their music player was fairly barebones, so it will be interesting to see how their IEMs will look and sound, considering that they also have a pretty barebone design. 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Dethonray, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Dethonray and Mr. Anson for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Dethonray Tender 1 find their next music companion. 


Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3MMpUUC

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3taeF0z

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3tUUjHD



First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

The package of Tender 1 is actually also barebones, with two sets of tips included in the package, as well as the IEMS and their cable. 


Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

The technology behind Tender 1 is a tried and tested piece of tech, namely a single large dynamic driver, like Audeze employs in their Euclid, but much more affordable on Tender 1. The highlights of Tender 1 include a low impedance of just 28 OHMs, but paired with a low sensitivity of 98dB, which means that they will be somewhat hard to drive and will require a high quality source for the best possible sound. They have a rated power of 5mW and a maximum power of 10mW, although it is never clear exactly what those mean, as Tender 1 is an IEM that needs a ton of loudness from most music players to actually get loud. 

The cable has a normal length of 1.2 meters and is connected to the IEMs with a Gold Plated MMCX connector, and a single ended, 3.5mm jack. Like all Dethonray products to date, the IEMs were made with a single ended cable, but it is really easy to replace it and experiment with others, so you don’t need to own Tender 1 and DTR1+ both to get the best enjoyment, although arguably, they will sound beautiful together. Speaking about the cable, it has a silver construction, being a really high quality one, with no tangling and no over springy design, so Dethonray did not miss with it, the only downside being that it is Single Ended only, but they did make it especially for their own DTR1+ music player. 

The IEMs have Aviation grade Aluminum Alloy, and they have a super ergonomic design that tries to follow the ear curve more than smaller IEMS. Tender 1 is available in Blue and Black, and they provide excellent actual wearing comfort for my ears, but they are slightly on the large and heavy side. Someone with ears smaller than mine may experience Tender 1 as too large. On the other hand, they are good at isolating you from the outside noise, providing between 15-25 dB of passive noise isolation, depending on the frequency. 

There is good driver ventilation, with one ventilation port near the MMCX connector, and one on the belly of Tender 1, providing good protection against driver flex, which is not present with Tender 1. The metallic surface and touch is really pleasing and comfortable with Tender 1, and there is no discomfort while wearing them. 


Sound Quality

I have tried pairing Tender 1 with most of the high end music players I have, including Astell & Kern SP2000T, iBasso DX220 MAX, iBasso DX300, Lotoo PAW6000 and Cyrus One Cast. The interesting part is that although all of them seem to give a beautiful sound to Tender 1, the best pairing for Tender 1 is by far with their own DTR1+ Prelude Music Player. The sonic part of today’s review will be taken using DTR1+ Prelude Music Player, as well as Astell & Kern SE180 (as DTR1+ does not have USB DAC functions). The sound of Tender 1 is best at medium and higher volumes, for best dynamics, but the really good resolution and instrument layering helps a lot if you prefer to listen at quiet volume levels, and enjoy your music in peace, but still get the most detail available in it. 

The signature of Tender 1 can be described as really clean, resolute, analytical and U-Shaped, with good emphasis on both the sub bass and the upper treble, leading to a really crisp sound. The overall soundstage is natural in size, but Tender 1 has excellent layering and instrument separation, plus all instruments have perfect tonality and overall clarity, and a neutral presentation when it comes to their body, having the right amount of body to not be thin, but don’t go into the thick and chugg part of sound. 

The bass of Tender 1 is superb, as they are capable of rendering bass as low as 20 Hz, having excellent extension in the sub lows. The bass has a more neutral presentation after the initial strong sub-bass, which gives Tender 1 the U-Shaped presentation I was talking about. The bass is quick and has enough speed for Metal, rock, even Infant Annihilator and Queen Kona, the overall snare presentation having one of the quickest presentations provided by an IEM. Despite this, their sound is not overly fatiguing, and the analytical edge Tender 1 has is always kept in check by the musical midrange. 

Speaking of the midrange, Tender 1 has a beautifully musical midrange, with excellent overall clarity, and an analytical presentation that still holds good musicality for guitar solos and other instruments. To expand on this, the midrange is really resolute and detailed, and the sound of Tender 1 is super clean and crisp, but they have a slightly wet character to their sound, so they are never dry or fatiguing, or grainy. This works well for basically all music styles, giving a detailed and clean presentation to all music, but gives the best overall presentation to rock, metal and acoustic music, where the analytical presentation helps recover details that are otherwise lost with smoother and warmer sounding IEMs. The overall dynamics are insane on Tender 1, and the Palnar driver tech helps with it, compared to most Balanced Armature based competitors, and even when placed against IEMs with dynamic drivers, the sound of Tender 1 is dynamic and punchy, although most folks will probably listen at levels quieter than those needed for the maximum dynamics, since their tuning is U-Shaped and requires less volume to get the same level of details and clarity compared to a natural or smooth tuned IEM. The dynamics, layering, instrument separation and overall definition gets better with higher volume. Tender 1 has exceptionally low distortions at maximum volume, despite the reserved specifications the company wrote on the back of their package. 

The upper midrange has some emphasis, but it is not the strongest point in the highest of Tender 1, as their treble is something unique in the world of IEMs, their treble getting louder the higher it goes in the frequency range, basically making up for our natural lower hearing ability in the higher treble. The treble has a really clean and sparkly presentation, with a very slightly wet character that helps keep the treble in check from being harsh and fatiguing. Indeed, the treble of Tender 1 is really well done, fairly bright and sparkly, peppy, but still not grainy or fatiguing. The raw quantity of the treble alone may be a bit much if you’re looking for a smooth signature, but for my ears, it is perfect and I never felt the need to remove Tender 1, even after listening for hours at uber high volumes. 



Dethonray Tender 1 vs Campfire Mammoth (639 USD vs 650 USD) – The overall signature is very different between the Mammoth and Tender 1, but the first thing you will notice is that Tender 1 is larger and Mammoth is smaller physically and more comfortable. In fact, the sound of Tender 1 is more closely related to the sound of Campfire Holocene, but somehow most requests for comparisons for Tender 1 have been to compare them with Mammoth. The overall signature of Mammoth is heavy, thick, powerful and full. The signature of Tender 1 is crisp, lean, airy, wide and considerably brighter, with a particularly better treble presentation. Mammoth will be great for someone looking for a deep and full sounding IEM, and someone who doesn’t want a lot of treble, but for someone looking for an analytical IEM with more detail, better clarity, and a much more airy presentation, and more information in the higher registers, then Tender 1 should be the natural choice. Tender 1 also has a more musical midrange, that is leaner, and easier to enjoy with rock and metal, where Mammoth seems better made for Jazz, Rap and certain Deep House styles. 

Dethonray Tender 1 vs Moondrop Illumination (639 USD vs 800 USD) – We have an interesting comparison here, because Illumination, at least on paper, should sound better than Tender 1, but in actual practice, the treble of Illumination sounds quite blunted compared to the actual good extension and air of Tender 1. Illumination is the kind of IEM that has excellent bass and a thicker presentation in the mids, but the upper midrange and lower treble ends everything a bit soon, at about 8-10kHz, after which there’s less information in the higher registers, compared to Tender 1, which has excellent overall treble even up to the highest registers. The midrange is also more musical, more analytical, and more detailed on Tender 1, although Illumination has a more solid and stronger bass, Tender 1 having slightly better sub bass. 

Dethonray Tender 1 vs Metalure Wave (639 USD vs 600 USD) – Metalure wave is a good example of an IEM that is larger and heavier than Tender 1, but which was still fairly comfortable, iud you need to mentally place Tender 1 in the comfortability of IEMs out there. With Wave, the weight is more of an issue than is the size alone, whereas with Tender 1, the size may be the largest deterrent. The overall clarity of both IEMS is great, but they have a really different tuning, with Tender 1 being much more focused on the treble, and having a much thinner sound, Wave being one of the thickest and smoothest IEMs I heard to date, with one of the best overall bass thickness and substantial midrange presentations I heard. By comparison, Tender 1 manages to squeeze considerably better treble presentation, with more energy, more clarity and better sparkle, more information in the higher registers, and a more airy presentation. The soundstage of Tender 1 is considerably larger, and their levels of body for each musical instrument is closer to natural, where Wave is a thickening agent. They will surely appeal to very different customers and music lovers. The midrange is dynamic, engaging and musical on both IEMs. 



Dethonray Tender 1 + DTR1+ Prelude Music Player (639 USD vs 1000 USD) – To my surprise, this has been the best pairing for Tender 1, and it is visible that somehow Dethonray and Mr. Anson managed to optimize them to work the best together, as the pairing provides the best overall clarity, depth, musicality and engagement in the midrange. The overall soundstage has a really natural size, but excellent separation and layering, with the stereo imaging also being superb, DTR1 + really being able to take Tender 1 to a whole new level compared to what you’d expect when hearing them driven from a smartphone or dongle DAC. 

Dethonray Tender 1 + Astell & Kern SE180 (639 USD vs 1500 USD) – We have a smoother, warmer source in SE180, as it provides less sparkle in the treble for Tender 1, and they are brighter tuned IEM, so this change can be welcome, especially if you’re easily fatigued by stronger top end. The dynamics are also insanely good, along with the overall resolution and detail. The bass and low end is slightly better than with most sources, and the Astell & Kern Bass effect, where it provides a more substantial low end, is present once again, giving Tender 1 a really solid sonic tuning. 

Dethonray Tender 1 + iBasso DX240 (639 USD vs 950 USD) – DX240, especially if paired with AMP8MK2 will actually sound similar to DTR1+ and will give Tender 1 a similar, engaging, dynamic and punchy sound, but with more versatility as a music player, as DX240 can run Android apps, and has more functions, including a balanced output (not that it would matter for Tender 1 in particular). The overall sonics of the pairing are vivid, clean and sparkly, with a stronger upper treble, good bass extension and tons of detail, plus a wide stage, with good instrument separation. 


Value and Conclusion

For the price being paid, 639, Tender 1 is an excellent IEM with great build quality, a super high quality cable, ergonomic design, and detailed sound that actually is more resolute than most competition in the price range, yet which is still musical and enjoyable. 

I want to take the chance to add Tender 1 to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, but as a subchapter of, and part of the entrance for the DTR1+ Prelude Music Player, as the pairing is simply so good together that you want to get both of them if you go for either. 

At the end of the day, Tender 1 is a well made boutique IEM with a good price performance ratio, a really resolute sound, and if you’re looking for affordability and planar magnetic drivers in portable Earphones, Tender 1 is an excellent choice, and available from your favorite shops.


Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3MMpUUC

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3taeF0z

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3tUUjHD


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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!


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  1. […] / high end IEMs, including IMR Acoustics PRO Dark Matter (900 USD), Oriveti OV800 (999 USD), Dethonray Tender 1 Planar IEMs (639 USD) and Campfire Holocene (650 […]

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