I have been in possession of Tralucent's new Ref. 1 for about two weeks now. I've listened extensively, done many comparisons, and I want to share my thoughts with you.
Please note that I am simply a consumer of the 1plus2, and have no affiliation with Tralucent in any way. What I share here are my honest thoughts and opinions, but only are thoughts and opinions.
I am not going to stand here and say this is the greatest earphone I've ever heard in my lifetime. It might be.
I am not going to stand here and say this is the obvious upgrade from the 1plus2. It's not.
In fact, you should forget the 1plus2 right now. I know it is clearly the inescapable, yet necessary comparison to make, and as such I will compare it to the 1plus2 extensively. Perhaps more-so to showcase their differences The Ref. 1, and 1plus2 are decidedly not the same earphone. If you're wanting an "upgrade" to the 1plus2, this is not it. That is also not to say that these are not a hallmark release, because it is.
Don't get me wrong. The Tralucent house sound is unmistakable: The bass is palpable and mesmerizing. And the Ref. 1 is also the most refined earphone from Tralucent to date. What you can count on is an extremely high quality listening experience. That is the guarantee of Tralucent. The sound is different than 1plus2. The sound is remarkable.
They feel good, we knew that they would, now:
Some people were not fond of the build quality of the 1plus2. But I don't think there was an epidemic of earphones that cracked their housings (like my ES5), or drivers becoming misaligned, or other typical IEM snafus. Yes, the 1plus2 were lightweight. But I never saw that as a detriment. When the iPhone 5 came out, some complained that it was too lightweight. An incredible feat of engineering maligned by the expectations of what consumers were simply used to - a heavier mobile device. The fact that it was so lightweight was a technological marvel. Because the 1plus2 was lightweight, I believe it gained a similar reputation for similar reasons, with not much to back that idea. I have used my two pair of 1plus2 more than any other earphone, at work, on the go, and I have never had any problems whatsoever with the build quality. Obviously I am not everyone, but the build quality just doesn't seem to be an issue whatsoever. Quality is what I came to expect from Tralucent.
The Ref. 1 have a nice heft to them. They are just a tad more weighty than the 1plus2. The looks and finish, combined with the weight exude a more luxurious and elegant feel. But the added weight does not impact the feel of the earphones in the ear. They are never even come close to heavy or uncomfortable in the ear.
The fit is similar to the 1plus2. The outer flat side has the same footprint as the 1plus2, however the the housing overall is more shallow, and curves inward in a more streamlined fashion, making for a smaller earphone. It is not smaller by significant margins, but it is definitely smaller.
Know this right now. Because of the isobaric dynamic driver, you will experience driver flex. I do not consider this an issue in any way. But the driver flexing with the varying pressure upon insertion is audibly noticeable. It is not harmful to the driver, nor is it much to notice at all. Of all the driver flex I have ever heard in any earphone, this is the most tame. I have had some drivers that were borderline painful in the pop they would create. Not these, not by a long shot. You will notice it, but it is never anything I think about, like I did other earphones, apprehensive about dealing with it upon insertion. It's almost a check-up of sorts. If you crank them up and blow out the driver in some extreme circumstance, it won't pop, or it may sound different. It is almost like a startup check : )
The new set of drivers is something to talk about. There is an isobaric dynamic driver with a thin membrane, allowing the bass the nimbleness it does. But note that in order for Tralucent to consider this specialized driver, they put it under strenuous durability tests, with loud volumes and (still) non-stop music to ensure the integrity of the driver. Not only did it pass with flying colors, but impressed in its technical prowess.
There are two, sealed, Balanced Armature drivers in each earphone, moving in tandem. This BA, when manufactured, was purchased solely and entirely by Tralucent, and is therefore a proprietary driver, not found in any other earphone.
Also it is important to note that special attention was paid to the internal wiring. It is of unprecedented quality, custom made by Tralucent, and also therefore proprietary.
Next up: Impressions on the Ref. 1 sound - a qualitative writing.