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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 Review

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Goh Beng Yeow
Goh Beng Yeow, the Founder / Editor at Porta-Fi™, is a recipient of the IT Youth Award in Singapore. Twice nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Beng Yeow has previously founded startups such as PDALive.com, Coded Pixels Consultants and was a Tech writer for TODAY, a national daily newspaper under MediaCorp.

Since 2017, he has been writing, editing and producing commentaries, interviews, news and reviews on Porta-Fi™. In 2019, Beng Yeow was appointed Advisor to LHDC™, the industry's latest low latency and high-definition Bluetooth audio codec.

Sound Quality

The World’s first Bi-Wire In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) that is Bi-Amping capable, I first heard about the project in 2018 when I touched base with Jack Shyu, CEO of Ranko Acoustics following their acquisition of Tralucent Audio.

Having had my fair share of tweaking and experimenting with my home audio system, bi-wiring and bi-amping speakers were part of my never-ending pursuance for better sound.

One might ask, how would bi-wiring contribute to better sound quality? By separating the connections, the signal now flows across the wire with minimal resistance as unwanted distortions would not exist as the unrequired frequencies were filtered out by the crossover. Alas, my expectations for the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 were high.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 with Sony NW-WM1Z

When the Tralucent’s new Flagship arrived at the Porta-Fi Experience Lab, it immediately left me an impression. However, Caven, CTO of Ranko Acoustics advised me that they would require about 200 hours of burn-in time for the IEMs to be ready. For the next 11 days, they experienced a rigorous burn-in process, a standard one which the team applies to all IEMs that arrives at Porta-Fi for review.

Designed based on a tubeless implementation, the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 sports a pair of German-made Dynamic Drivers and four American-made Balanced Armatures in a hybrid coaxial arrangement aimed at reducing phase differences similar to implementations on high-end speakers.

I have always had a preference for IEMs with Balanced Armature and Dynamic Drivers hybrid configurations. While many manufacturers have done an impressive job getting Balance Armatures tuned for the low-end, I am still in the opinion that Dynamic Drivers does a better job in this aspect of the spectrum. The Tralucent team configured a pair of Dynamic Drivers, one sized 6.5mm and the other 10mm for the bass and sub-bass respectively. The pair did a fantastic job at reproducing an immersive low-end with superior control; the experience is one of dynamism and depth in high-resolution, layered texture coupled with an airiness in each every note without overly emphasising the low end. For the first time, I was able to fully experience the drums at the intro of Hotel California by the Eagles on a pair of IEMs. The low-end is one of quality and authority, which can be felt and heard coupled with a sense of warmth without any loss of definition.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3

Well resolved, layered and lush, the midrange provides weight and body to the instruments, with the upper midrange giving presence to the vocals as well as the rhythmic and percussive instruments, allowing them to stand out from a very dark background. The well-tuned lower midrange deserves a special mention; it adds bass presence to the instruments, a quality that was never so prominent on other IEMs and aids in providing coherence with the low-end.

Exhibiting clarity, definition and brilliance, the high-end is free from sibilance and hiss but filled with sparkles and the right amount of airiness. A more rounded tuning with the upper range of the high-end frequencies gently rolled-off ensures the absence of ear-piercing sharpness.

Overall, organic and natural, listening to the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 provides an experience similar to that of listening from a good pair of speakers in a home audio system setup. It has an expansive soundstage which stretches on all three axes of width, depth and height. The elements of presence from the midrange ensure impressive imaging which facilitates excellent instrument separation. Coupled with soulful vocals, both male and female and a balance in airiness, the Flagship pair of IEMs is one of the few offerings having ability depict music with near holographic staging and precise imaging as though the artiste right in front of you.

Hardly a reference signature, the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 does offer a different flavour of Hi-Fi experience from the Effect Audio King Arthur.

Part 1: Introduction, Design and Build
Part 2: Sound Quality
Part 3: Product Specifications
Part 4: Review Ratings, Summary

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