Pros: Power, transparency, control, battery life, simple design
Cons: Signs of being handmade might bother some people
For a more thorough review, please see my blog: http://passionforsound.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/tralucent-t1/
The T1 is a new portable amp from a new audio company (Tralucent). Don't be dissuaded - it's a brilliant product!
The T1 is a stocky design for a portable. Here it is with the Fiio E11.
As you can see, the footprint is the same as the E11, but it's about twice as thick. For some that might be an issue, but the performance definitely makes up for the size.
The T1 is simple (in a good way)
The only options are power on/off and volume. No gain switches or bass boost switches, just clean, transparent sound. It charges via USB and will operate while USB powered to save the battery, but battery life is great so you don't need to be precious with the power. A full charge from flat takes around 5 hours apparently, but seems to comfortably provide more than 10-12 hours of continuous playback (I left it playing all night to burn-in and it was still going strong the next morning).
In terms of design, the T1 does look handmade (or at least hand assembled) due to a handwritten serial number and the fact that on mine the 3.5mm output socket is on a slight angle. It doesn't affect usability at all and in some ways endears the product to me a little more because it adds a touch of soul. Some people might find it disappointing, but plug it in and take a listen before you get turned off by minor "imperfections" like that. In the end it's pretty perfect in all the places that matter.
The T1 comes with:
- rechargable NiMH 9V battery that you have to install yourself (so it can be shipped via air I guess)
- Allen key to open the T1 (to install the battery)
- 2 x rubber bands to attach to your player
- 1 x high quality 3.5mm - 3.5mm interconnect
- 4 x adhesive rubber feet
- USB charging cable
The sound from the T1 is clean, transparent and controlled. It seems to be very neutral without any discernible colouration to my ears. It's got plenty of power so you'll have the headroom required for good sound dynamics on most headphones.
Driving my IEMs (Re272 and SE535 LE) the T1 is just magic. Soundstage is clear, open and well defined and there is absolutely no background noise so the music has real presence and texture as it comes out of the "darkness". The sound is dynamic, engaging, controlled and exciting - without any colouration.
In reading over this I've noticed that I keep talking about control. The T1 does an incredible job of keeping the sounds tight and punchy, but still musical. There's no sense of artificial restriction to the sound, but it's SO TIGHT! I was listening to some Wolfmother and the individual sounds were so well defined and with such great impact that I had to go back and listen again. At the time my source was a 7th Gen iPod Classic which I find a little bit lacking in its presentation when compared to my iPod Video (5.5G) and Cowon X7 so for it to sound so good is a real credit to the T1.
When driving the HD650s, the T1 does a great job for a portable amp. It doesn't have the same dynamics as my Audio-gd NFB-5.2, but the general quality of the sound (i.e. silent background, clear and transparent presentation, etc.) is equal.
For me, the T1 sounds easily as good as anything I've plugged my IEMs into. Sure, it doesn't have the voltage swing to power less sensitive full-size cans, but for a portable amplifier it's going to be very hard to beat - especially for the price which is well below it's realistic competitors (2Stepdance, Voyager, RSA Hornet, etc.)
I hope to complete a full comparison review on my blog in the near future, but would already highly recommend the T1 based on it's merits alone. For the price I am very confident saying that you won't find a comparable portable amplifier!