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.