Tralucent 1Plus2 – More Grado Than Grado

The Sound

What I do get on with it is its lively, clear, and fun sound. It’s a sound Beyer DT880 fans, and K701 fans will find easy to get into. It’s got more low-end punch than the K701, and it projects a stage wider than it should considering that it’s just an earphone.

It’s not stereo width described by crazy contrast between frequencies. No tricks. So when listening to Wu Tang Clan, Ghost’ll sometimes rap behind your head. I don’t know about you, but, honestly, that freaks me out. Voices almost linearly from one ear to the other, leaving plenty of room through which air weaves and dodges. But the stage isn’t just wide. It’s full.

Probably the biggest reason for this is that the 1Plus2’s polite bass extends nearly as far to the left and right. It solidifies basically everything above it, giving weight and presence to the super-duper wide stage. Most of the width is on the X-axis. Environmental cues don’t travel that far on the Z axis. Instead, they cover a centrally tall, but relatively narrow crescent on the Y axis.

And thanks to the 1Plus2’s speed, it puts up a pretty good 3D image. It is low-contrast with super-quick recovery. Elements important to staging spring to life and shimmer a bit in their niches. The interplay between each is absolutely natural: neither stuffy, nor too contrasty. You could call it live.

Extension in both directions is great, but what jumps out at you is what’s in and above the midrange. It’s energetic, it’s forward-tilted. It’s sharp where it needs to be, but never too sharp. And this is the biggest reason why I think Beyer DT880 fans will ‘get’ this earphone. That, or they just won’t go back. 1Plus2 completely out-classes the DT880.

But if you don’t like the DT880 much, chances are that you won’t enjoy the 1Plus2. I love the DT880. I also dig the Audio Technica CK10 and the Grado GR10.

The main area where the 1Plus2 leads the DT880 is its forward-tilted midrange. This range never leads to sibilance, though it does get sharp up top. It’s not a hyperbolic tilt but it is obvious. Think CK10, but with a wider upper-frequency stage. And there is no obvious U-shape to the music. There’s just glorious energy, glorious spread, anchored by a firm, but light bass.

It is an earphone totally meant for trance and progressive. And to a lesser extent, EDM. And metal. Oh yes, metal is GREAT through the 1Plus2. Despite packing in two balanced armatures plus a 10mm dynamic woofer, it keeps flawless pace with the fastest Russian trance stuff from the early 2000s. And a multi-tracking young Lars Ulrich couldn’t hope to Dyer’s Eve to out-pace it.

But this sense of speed is somewhat lost on hip hop and jazz. It’s great for classical, edgy enough for live, wide enough for live folk. It’s supremely natural. Come to think of it, you know what the 1Plus2 really reminds me of? Only my favorite earphone of all time, the Grado GR10, that’s what. It’s just more of everything the GR10 is good at. More space, more sparkle, transitions on par, and perfect cohesion. It is, however, a bit brighter than the GR10. I guess that goes in the ‘more’ column.

If only it fit like the GR10.

The Meh

And that is the 1Plus2’s major gotcha. Keeping it in place, and comfy, is tough stuff. And even when it gets where it’s supposed to be, it has to be situated and re-situate it every five or ten minutes. The cable is nice. The sound is freaking heaven. My god, the sound is heavenly. As said above, it’s more of what the Grado GR10 does, and a lot of that, better. Its accessory kit is good and its packaging so much better than the competition from the region. But it’s a bugger to use in portable kits unless you are absolutely devoted to a philosophy which I consider ridiculous. That philosophy? Best-sound-and-damn-everything-else.

The Conclusion

As long as thick midrange and globular bass isn’t your thing, I’d suggest picking up the 1Plus2 over the FitEar ToGo!334. Hands-down, it is the more natural earphone. It may not tap the toes quite as much, or sweeten the mids to the same degree, but holy frack, it sings. It sings so good- just before squirming out of the ears for the fifteenth time.

If Gavin can perfect a chassis that sits flush and stays put, there’d be very little reason ever for anyone that digs this sort of sound to ever think of another earphone. Well played.

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

8 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2015

    Ngọc Ánh

    What do you think between this and K10?

    • Reply February 23, 2015

      ohm image

      They sound completely different.

      K10: all mids and feeling with great transition to highs and lows. The K10 is lower contrast, from end to end, too.

      This one is more aggressive, way wider in apparent sound stage, and feels faster. If the K10 were more of an all-rounder, this one is more specialised.

      • Reply February 23, 2015

        Nguyễn Công Bằng

        An universal which has bigger sounstage than ciem ??? I’m curious 🙂
        Looking forward to your Layla review…

        • Reply February 23, 2015

          ohm image

          Well, they are voiced differently. The K10 has a more fleshed out 3D image in the mid range, but the 2Plus1 definitely sounds wider, and more airy than the K10.

  • Reply February 20, 2015

    gregliss

    Compared to earsonics The Velvet which is better ?

    • Reply February 23, 2015

      ohm image

      What do you mean by ‘better’? What’s your preference?

      • Reply February 23, 2015

        gregliss

        I like EDM music.
        In term of sub bass, soundstage, instrument separation, sound details.
        Thanks !

        • Reply February 23, 2015

          ohm image

          I also listen to a lot of EDM, but I got into it via trance and DJ remixes and of course, space music. We are brothers.

          Regarding ‘sub bass’, I find this word misleading, as many people label what really falls in the regular bass spectrum ‘sub bass’. Sub-bass is barely audible, if at all, and most earphones can’t render it.

          The 2Plus2 has hard and fast bass, but isn’t capable of bringing forth strong sub bass. Again, no earphone really is and it wouldn’t be good if they could. Neither would it make sense.

          But the Velvet can be tweaked to emphasise lower notes. That said, it can’t make them really thwack, as sub-bass cannot, as per its definition, thwack.

          As far as instrument separation, spatial separation, and throw from top to bottom and left to right, the 2Plus1 is in a league all its own. I’ve never heard its like. Details: both are detailed, but the Velvet is more bass and lower mid detailed, while 2Plus1 is spatially detailed as well as high-mid detailed.

          For EDM, I’d go with 2Plus1 hands down. That is, unless I was really into hard-hitting bass. But even still, most hard hard bass hitters have a hard time rendering space.

          As an old trance-head that came to EDM for its break from monotony, I fell in love with the 2Plus1 like I’ve fallen in love with few earphones. As far as I’m concerned, its only flaws are its fit.

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