Pros: Great sub bass, Massive soundstage, Great PRAT, Oodles of detail, Great imaging, Great for live music
Cons: Lack of tip options is annoying, Silver cable needs a more refined look and may be to unwieldy for some people, Mids may sound to thin for some people
Ladies and gentlemen say hello to the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 hybrid IEM. This little gem of an earphone easily falls into the group of pricey high-end mobile audio gear with its suggested MSRP of 1300 USD. On first glance this rather plain Jane piece of gear with its beefy silver cable may not look like much but you only have to give it a few minutes of listening time to realize it’s a brute like monster in the sound department. Before we get to the good stuff lets first get the small niggles out-of-the-way. At 1300 USD I expect a lot from an earphone both in the sound department and in the form factor department. Overall, I am generally pleased with the execution Tralucent Audio has taken form factor wise with this little beauty BUT there is room for improvement.
First of all, for such a pricey piece of gear I was rather put off that only 3 pairs of Ortofon tips were provided. These tips were useless to me and I found myself scrambling around going through my desk drawer trying to find tips that both fit the earphone as well as my ears. After a couple of hours and a lot of experimenting I settled on a pair of medium-sized Comply T-500 tips to give me a proper seal. The second little niggle I had problems with would be the removable cable. This cable is a pure silver 6n OCC cable with a very high MSRP all of its own. Overall, the cable feels quite sturdy and although a little stiff seems acceptably pliable enough for everyday use. The problem I have with the stock cable is for such a high-end cable I really am not to happy with its outer covering. The OC feels very rough to the touch and to the uninitiated gives an outward appearance that serves only to cheapen the product. At this MSRP I think a nicer more luxuriant feeling OC is a must have as well as a better selection of tips.
Now that all the little niggles are out-of-the-way let's get to the great stuff, the sonics. As stated earlier the 1Plus2 is a hybrid IEM. What that means is under the hood it sports dual Knowles TWFK balanced armatures (BA) that handle the high and mid frequencies but nestled behind the BA’s is a rather large 13mm traditional dynamic driver that handles all the bass frequency duties. The idea behind using a traditional dynamic driver is to try to give the bass frequencies a fuller more lush and natural sound. Because of how this dynamic driver is tuned, for me, the star of the show on these IEM’s is the bass.
It’s not a bass head-piece of gear by any stretch of the imagination but none the less it brings incredible speed, slam and punching power to the table. Because of its incredible speed and very tight control bass bleed into the mids is nonexistent. I’ve yet to hear an IEM that can throw out the amount of sub bass the way the 1Plus2 is able to and yet because note decay is so quick there’s no low-frequency smearing or bleed into the lower mids.
The mids are rather hard for me to explain. Edgy would probably be a good word to use. They’re very crisp, clean and almost thin on first listen when compared to the bass. After awhile of listening to more music you start to notice subtle nuances in the music made possible by the extremely high detail retrieval. Guitar plucks and other instrumentation such as horns etc sound more life-like and the listener feels like they’re sitting in on a jam session.
The highs, well the highs are a piece of work. They extend extremely high and give the listener a sense of air. It's a little peaky in spots but overall it’s quite detailed, controlled and lends to the IEM’s resolving sound. Cymbal crashes are clean and decay seems ludicrously fast. The best part, because it's so clean there’s no hint of grain that can be detected. And if that wasn’t enough there’s no metallic like tonality that lesser IEM’s sometimes exhibit.
If all I’ve written wasn’t enough we now move on to the icing on the cake, the soundstage. When you listen to these IEM’s they don’t sound anything like traditional IEM’s but instead sound far more like a high-end headphone. The soundstage is massive both depth and width and sounds completely out of the head. Strangely enough, these IEM’s especially excel with live music due to it being able to image in such a way that the listener feels like the music is coming straight head on at them. On top of that the 1Plus2 somehow is able to install an incredible amount of air between instruments giving the added feeling that the listener is sitting in a large stage arena somewhere near the front center floor area bopping along as the band belts out tune after tune.
Is this IEM to me worth paying an MSRP of 1300 USD? Well, unfortunately I don’t own these IEM's. They’re a sample unit I received from Gavin, the mind behind Tralucent Audio, and as of tomorrow they’re being packed up and sent on their merry way to the next reviewer for product feedback. These IEM’s have made me stop and double think what the term flagship IEM is about and I’m finding myself doing some soul-searching on whether my next investment on mobile gear will be my very own 1Plus2. To answer the question to me they’re very much worth it.
Many special thanks to Gavin of Tralucent Audio for allowing me the pleasure of listening to his product. I hope he reads my final thoughts on his product and addresses the few minor niggles I pointed out. What an incredible sounding IEM.