Today we share the full review of the $639 USD Dethonray Tender 1 planar magnetic universal IEM.
Disclaimer: The Dethonray Tender 1 was arranged for us directly by Dethonray.
Dethonray currently is a very boutique brand and the DTR1 Audio Player was their first child as a complete end-user product. And some product that was. It deserved an award from us to be one of the best DAPs available, especially for its price, in 2019. You can check that review just below and I suggest not to miss it.
Anson Tse is the man behind Dethonray, and he has huge experience in terms of audio processing. He believes that the universal designs in the market are not good for high-fidelity, so he came up with his own solutions. The same goes for his DAC and amplifier designs and I hope he continues to do the same. He thinks outside the box and comes up with quite different products.
I also reviewed the highly successful HA-2 portable headphone amplifier which has a very strong output power to drive most headphones out there. It also sounds excellent, hence it too has its place in our Best Amplifier Recommendations. Last but not least, I reviewed the Honey H1 DAC/Amp at the beginning of this year.
The “DethonRay” name is actually coming from a violin record Anson had listened to. The bass violin -to him- was very nice in the recording, and the recording itself was named “Dethon”, so he thought about using the name. After some time he decided to add the “Ray” part to the end.
Giving life to your music collection is the one and only objective for every Dethonray product.
About Tender 1
The Dethonray Tender 1 is the brand’s first-ever universal IEM. But to no one’s surprise, Anson came out with a different approach. This IEM uses planar magnetic technology. I know, that’s nowhere near the first planar IEM, but as you also know that this is not the most popular or widespread choice in the market.
It utilizes a 10mm planar magnetic driver, high-density alloy shells with CMF processing technology. Dethonray designed the earpieces in Tender 1 using aviation-grade Aluminum alloy material. This high-density alloy effectively restrains the internal reflection of the audio signal inside the cavity and presents the users with a soft and charming sound.
This landmark model comes in two different color options; Jazz Black, and Sky Blue. It’s supplied with a high-purity silver cable.
By now, all of the Dethonray products have had an underwhelming unboxing experience and the Tender 1 is basically the same. Dethonray is by no means flashy when it comes to product presentation, and I doubt Anson even cares about it. All that matters is the performance in terms of sound quality.
As a result, the package of the Tender 1 is very basic. It arrives with the exact same box as the other products with a serious approach. When you open it you see the IEMs placed inside a foam sheet, and under that, you get the silver cable, silicone tips, and some paperwork. Well, that’s it. There’s not even a carrying case and for that price, the package content is far from the best. What you get is basically the actual monitors and nothing else.
Design & Build Quality
The Tender 1, just like the previous offerings from Dethonray, has a practical approach in its design. Dethonray released its products with an industrial and somewhat raw design language so far and the same can partly be said for this IEM.
So overall the design is very basic with two color options. The black model looks quite good and professional in my view, and the “Jazz Blue” version is a bit more flashy. Yet, it’s still very plain and ordinary when you compare it with many monitors in the market today. However, the choice of aluminum shells is a great idea. The feeling of the IEMs in your ears is very refreshing and it’s a very comfortable and premium experience.
This choice also contributes to the build quality. The Dethonray Tender 1 is a very robust IEM with rock-solid shells and nozzles. The build is excellent and reassuring. The same goes for the MMXC connectors. These are probably the most robust MMCX sockets that I’ve experienced so far. As a downside, it’s very difficult to detach and attach them.
Fit and Isolation
One of the best parts about the Tender 1 is the fit and I’m quite surprised here, considering this is the debut IEM from Dethonray. The best-fitting experiences so far in my journey were with InEar, Vision Ears, and Westone. The Tender 1 is right up there with the best, fitting your ears almost like a CIEM. This feat is very impressive and the aluminum gives you a nice cold feeling when you first wear it. That feeling only happened to me with the Vision Ears Erlkönig before.
In terms of isolation, this is not the best universal IEM around. It blocks a sufficient amount of noise for most usage scenarios, but when the environment is too noisy, you’ll hear it. There’s always a balance between comfort and isolation, and one usually becomes a trade-off for the other. I tested better isolating IEMs than the Tender 1 but they weren’t this comfortable. So it depends on what you seek.