12. Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 (original version) mini Review
A few months into this hobby I started reading more about TOTL IEMs and since then I've been wondering how good/different can those IEMs really be? I couldn't comprehend why audiophiles spend thousands of dollars on them when I personally find myself content and happy with my H-200 at the time. I figured there's only one way for me to understand them... and that is to hear a TOTL IEM myself.
I am very fortunate, that Tralucent Audio gave me the opportunity to audition and finally hear my first TOTL IEM. Just for the record, the most expensive IEM I've ever heard prior to this was the Astrotec AX-60 (AU$399) and for a full-sized headphone was the Sennheiser HD800.
SETUP: Colorfly C3 > Tralucent Audio T1
iMac 2011 > Stoner Acoustics UD110v2 > Tralucent Audio T1
16/44 FLAC and 320kbps MP3
This is the original version of the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 and is no longer available. I believe the current model is a revised version with a better dynamic driver, further tuning refinement, and shell improvements.
For more info: http://www.tralucentaudio.com/shop/index.php/tralucent-audio-1plus2-hybrid-universal-iem.html
BASS: I am not a basshead but I truly appreciate good bass whether its forward or linear and the 1Plus2's bass quantity sits comfortably in between. True bassheads will still find the bass satisfying because it digs really deep to produce a sub-bass with great rumbling texture yet not overwhelming. Mid bass is a bit recessed for my liking but it doesn't take away from the overall presentation because the bass still sounds tight and punchy. I just personally prefer more bass guitar presence in most songs. Layering is technically great providing rich bass tones just oozing with fullness throughout the entire low frequencies. Speed and decay are perfectly tuned to my preference and that is fast speed with minimum delay in decay. I didn't have any problem listening to heavy metal bass kicks because the 1Plus2 keeps up really well. Details in the bass lines are easily heard most of the time but I did find however, the detail retrieval is a bit better on the H-200 when things get really busy with bass guitar riffs. I can still hear the detailed bass lines on the 1Plus2 but the H-200 just produces those riffs clearly with ease. NOTE: I think this has been fixed with the updated version because Tralucent Audio apparently replaced the dynamic driver with a better one. So even if I haven't heard the updated version, I'm confident that the revised 1Plus2 is at par if not better than the H-200's bass performance.
MIDS: This is the second time where I couldn't find something wrong in the mid section from an IEM; the first time was with the AX-60. To be honest, I can play any song in my library... even set it on shuffle mode; and enjoy every single one of them with the 1Plus2. Vocals and guitars are just sitting neutrally linear to my ears. I can't truly tell if there's any dip or peak but what I do know is I don't have any complaints. Unlike the H-200 which can be a bit edgy in the mids with some songs, and the DN-1000 sounding a bit too smooth with some female vocals. What impresses me with the 1Plus2 is the level of detail in the mids. I can hear details with ease that there's no need to make an effort to look for a certain instrument in the background. As a matter of fact, because the vocals in general are not upfront; the instruments are clearly heard all over the place and envelopes the vocals nicely.
HIGHS: The treble is quite nice and smooth on the 1Plus2. Rarely did I detect any sibilance and when i did, it was very mild that it didn't matter. I did find it a bit dry thus timbre is quite affected especially when cymbals come into play. They sound a bit thin for my liking but nothing of major concern. Again, detail retrieval is superb and I can easily hear thin sounding instruments that you don't normally hear on average IEMs. What sets the 1Plus2 apart from other detailed IEMs is its ability to produce the same or more detail without sounding harsh or fatiguing. I can listen to the 1Plus2 for hours at a time and never get tired or fatigued.
SOUNDSTAGE: The 1Plus2 can present a stage wider than the DN-1000 and nearly as wide as the AX-60. It is impressive because the 1Plus2's instrument placement and separation are the best I've heard in an IEM. There wasn't a song in my library that sounded congested on the 1Plus2. This is a very well tuned IEM in my personal opinion.
CONCLUSION: As my journey in this hobby moved farther; owning and auditioning other mid-tier IEMs brought a realisation that no matter how minute an improvement is, the impact on the overall sound is what really matters. Now that I've personally heard a TOTL IEM, my realisation is further confirmed! If I quantify the strengths of the 1Plus2 and compare them against my mid-tier IEMs, the difference isn't really that far fetched. In some areas, my preferences even swayed in favor of the other mid-tier IEMs. Despite all these, I'm surprised that I actually find my enjoyment with 1Plus2 significantly better than all the other IEMs I've tried. I do admit that this is very subjective and I am truly just relaying my personal experience.
I may have praised the 1Plus2 but it isn't a lost cause for the mid-tier IEMs either. My satisfaction goes both ways: 1. I got to appreciate mid-tier IEMs even more because they sound so good in spite costing barely half of TOTL IEMs. 2. My experience with a TOTL IEM was such a pleasure because I love music! I personally think that the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 was made to enjoy all kinds of music. I definitely enjoyed every moment I placed them in my ears. An experience that I will never forget and has become my new benchmark for the best sounding (musically) IEM in my books.
Now for the real question at hand: Is it worth paying so much money to enjoy your music? It really depends how you value the overall experience. Reminds me how I always tell my friends on what really matters: "It's the journey... not the destination."
Special thanks to Gavin of Tralucent Audio for letting me review this unit and to @H20Fidelity for making this happen!
Edited by d marc0 - 1/18/14 at 5:36pm