Audio IEMs Reviews Universal-Fit

Tralucent Audio 1Plus2 | Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Looking Glass

Why have I spent so much real estate establishing this premise? Aren’t we talking about the Tralucent Audio 1Plus2, rather than an abstract discourse on audiophilic philosophy? Well, because in order to fully enjoy the Tralucent 1Plus2, the listener needs to yield and lay down full capitulation of the senses. In Lewis Carroll’s epic storybook, Alice follows the rabbit down the hole, and she has doesn’t stop to think about the plausibility of a white rabbit clinging to his pocket watch — she is simply compelled to follow him downward. She doesn’t question whether her adventures are reality, neither in Wonderland, nor against the mirror image of the looking glass. Alice simply allows it all to come to her. That is what the Tralucent 1Plus2 demands of the listener as well; it compels the listener to suspend disbelief and to just go along for the ride — for it is both exciting and wonderful.

However, before your inner Cheshire Cat grows ever curiouser and curiouser, I’d like to put in the disclaimer that the Tralucent 1Plus2 is not a traditional in-ear monitor. In-ear monitors, in their origin, were created as sound engineers’ production tools and musicians’ performance crutches. They were always utilitarian in design and concept, tuned for the most straightforward sound possible. As such, headphone and speaker aficionados would often complain of the soundstage always being too “in the head” with insert earphones. As IEMs have pervaded the consumer space more and more in recent years, manufacturers have attempted to tune away that “in the head” feel, with varying results. Tralucent Audio is one of those manufacturers. As mentioned in the Tralucent T1 review, its founder Gavin comes from a background of high-end full-sized speaker systems worth several orders of magnitude more than the $1300 USD price tag of the 1Plus2 — of course, one and a half grand is no paltry sum, but when it comes to sound, Gavin doesn’t deal with the question of “in the head” or “out of the head”, only whether the sound feels good or not.

So, right now, I must pose the question: are you an inveterate IEM user? Do you feel more awkward with an HD800 hanging around your neck than a JH13? I am one of these people, and if you are too, I don’t believe you’ll like the 1Plus2 at the onset. In fact, even before I received the evaluation unit, I was prepared not to like the 1Plus2. I didn’t really think about what it meant to hear and feel the music — for so long, I had been using IEMs that were tools of information communication. Immediate transmission of signal was the name of the game for me. Thus, I was prepared to take on all the forum members that couldn’t stop gushing about how ridiculously amazing the 1Plus2 was. In my mind, there was no way it could be that impressive. However, being a technically-minded person, the 1Plus2‘s construction and configuration intrigued me.

One, plus two. Such a simple operation of arithmetic — take a look at the insides of the 1Plus2 and you’ll immediately be reminded of the AKG K3003. Like the K3003, it stacks Tweedledum and Tweedledee (the Knowles Electronics TWFK balanced armature driver) on top of a dynamic disc of visceral vibration. People might think that the 1Plus2 is merely an imitation, but rest assured, it’s far more a case of one-upmanship. Guangdong Province has been the world capital in IEM production for quite some time, and Hong Kong has been stricken with audiophilia since the colonial days; the 1Plus2 has been quite some time in the planning. Both its anterior and posterior cavities are tuned to provide phase coherence to the entire frequency reproduction spectrum, as well as for damping of unwanted resonances. However, all of this enclosure design makes for a slightly awkward appearance; outwardly, it may look like a universalized version of a custom IEM, but the 1Plus2 is actually an uneasy amalgamation of acrylic, glue, and cotton-like vibration absorbers. Put it on, and the 1Plus2 sticks oddly outside the ears, and never fully settles itself inside the concha.

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16 comments

    1. That’s a difficult question to answer trivially. I think they’re all on par with each other; the main technical advantage that the 1Plus2 has is its low frequency reproduction, which has, in my book, surpassed the Sony EX1000’s bass capabilities. However, for the rest of the presentation, it’s a toss-up and up to your personal preferences. I personally like the presentation of the LS6 best, while the 1Plus2 has a U-shaped, yet very detailed presentation. The LS8+ also has a U-shaped presentation, but its mids are more forward and smoother sounding. I can’t really say for sure which has the “best overall technical ability”.

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  1. I see. I did try the LS6 and it was amazing. But I did not try playing all my test tracks, and so I wonder whether I might want more bass impact for some tracks (I am used to the ASG1’s). So I guess for now my options are the neutrals (LS6 and RDB+ 2v1, idk which one is better) or the more exciting ones (LS8+ and 1p2). Demos would be very helpful but since LS6 is the only available demo here I need info from knowledgeable reviewers like you. Thanks and cheers!

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    1. I’d say that my personal beliefs are as follows:

      Overall, the LS6 > RDB+ 2V1, but the 2V1 has the advantage of universal fit and small size, as well as that dynamic low end that’s just extremely difficult to replicate with BA drivers. I do believe the 2V1 is also more affordable.

      The 1plus2 > LS8+, with the former delivering more of a visceral feel to music, almost as though it’s live, while the LS8+ does better with “airy” music, like harpsichord.

      Here are some notes of mine comparing the LS8+, 1Plus2, and the FitEar TO GO 334:

      Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five (Drum Solo) – 24/88.2
      334: least wide presentation, best L/R pan presentation, best directional placement of micro-details, soft hiss, points you to the way the snares decay
      1+2: biggest, most visceral presentation, most realistic/articulate drum roll, picks up least hiss,
      LS8+: cleanest/crispest presentation, least decay, least punch, picks up recording hiss clearly, not enough decay to feel as realistic as the other two

      Rebecca Pidgeon – Spanish Harlem – 24/88.2
      334: vocals forward/intimate, full bodied, clear, great black space, good spatial presentation and center focus, clear winner
      1+2: thinner presentation than the 334, far less forward, but clear
      LS8+: sharpest vocals, body/thickness splits the difference between the 334 and 1+2

      Antonio Vivaldi: Recitative & Aria from Cantata RV679, “Che giova il sospirar, povero core”
      334: Imaging clear, but unexaggerated, most intimate, in-your-head presentation
      1+2: orchestra powerful but clear, vocals thinner. Can easily hear singer swaying side to side, left to right, great out-of-head presentation, vocals (though still clear) can get drowned out by the orchestral music
      LS8+: dark horse favorite, most airy presentation, harpsichords most crisp, string instruments play with staccato bow strokes, playing to the LS8+’s strengths

      Joshua Bell – Chovendo na Roseira (Feat. Dave Grusin)
      334: Good decay on triangle, but least bright yet still distracting possibly due to extra decay, violins very slightly too warm and smooth
      1+2: crispest violins
      LS8+: Least decay on triangle, good overall presentation, slightly sterile/clean

      Dr. Dre – Big Egos (Feat. Hittman)
      334: helicopter farther away, radio voice realistic, superior L/R panning (drive-by shooting vignette)
      1+2: larger presentation of helicopter, by far the best sub-bass performance, largest bass, but still tightly controlled, radio voice sounds like performer (which isn’t accurate)
      LS8+: slightly too sharp and crisp for this type of mastering

      Stacey Kent – It’s a Wonderful World
      334: warm and very intimate, almost too intimate (too much lower midrange because of Stacey Kent tracks), no sibilance
      1+2: clear sibilance, acoustic guitar presentation better, spacious,
      LS8+: sibilance heard, slightly less than 1+2, warmer vocals than 1+2

      Stacey Kent – La Venus du Melo
      334:
      1+2: mid-bass surprisingly well-controlled, but overall quantity of bass high, highs also slightly distracting, most engaging vocals, surprisingly
      LS8+: cleanest presentation, lightest bass, easiest on the ears

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      1. Thanks for sharing! I have contacted Rooth’s local distributor and they said I can order LS6 and LS8+ as universal IEMs. Currently I dont plan on getting CIEMs since some of my friend have horror stories with refits. I will think this through, but for now 1p2 sounds the most interesting (and expensive) choice 🙂 btw there is a new dual driver hybrid by Rooth and it is very cheap.it is called the Elpis.

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