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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.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3, which succeeds the Tralucent Audio Ref 1 as the brand’s Flagship was announced at the Hong Kong High-End AV Show 2019 in August 2019, making it the World’s first pair of Bi-Wire In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) that is Bi-Amping capable.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3

Established in 2010 by Brit Gavin Chiu, an individual raised, educated and worked in the UK. Tralucent Audio (Tralucent) is a Hong Kong-based company founded with a focus on the development and manufacturing of High-End IEMs following his retirement and return to Hong Kong where he was born. As the name suggests, Tralucent, Latin for “Transparent”. The company aims to produce products which have a neutral tuning while staying true to the recording.

Ranko Acoustics, a US-based audio cabling company acquired Tralucent in 2018 and has successfully retained the house sound signature that is synonymous to the brand. Since the acquisition, the company has released the Tralucent Audio 1 Plus 1.2, the Tralucent Audio 1 Plus 2.3 and the Tralucent Audio 1 Plus 5.2 refreshing the company’s line of IEMs.

Design and Build

The Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 arrived at the Porta-Fi Experience Lab in a Piano Black finished Wooden jewellery box-like enclosure. While it is not as extravagant as the Effect Audio King Arthur, one cannot help but appreciate the degree of attention to detail by the team when putting the package together.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3

Opening the box, one would find the top tier is outfitted with laser-cut custom foam, allowing a linear presentation of the two monitors, the pair of 2.5mm and 4.4 Balanced to 3.5mm Bi-Wire adapter cables and the six pairs of ear tips. Attached to the inside of the lid of the box is a divider with a jacket containing the user guide and product documentation, behind the divider one would find two compartments which house the 3.5mm Single-ended as well as the dual 3.5mm Bi-Wire Monocrystalline (OCC) Silver-plated copper cable. Beneath the laser-cut custom foam, there are two accessories packages with the bigger one containing the black genuine lambskin leather carrying case.

Shelled in transparent black resin, the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 monitors sports a carbon fibre faceplate with the brand’s iconic design. Similar to its predecessor, the pair of Flagship IEMs features a hybrid multi-drivers configuration with each monitor comprising of four Balanced Armature and two Dynamic Drivers. The choice of the shell and faceplate materials has made the monitors light and comfortable to wear, even over extended hours. The dual 0.78mm 2-pin connection also did not cause any discomfort though it did catch the attention of some curious eyes in public.

Interiors and Dual 0.78mm 2-pin configuration of Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3
Photo credit: Tralucent Audio

What is unique about the design of the new Flagship is its 4-way crossover which features an LC circuit design using fourth-order filtering, which is complex to design in passive form. On its own, the IEMs do not have capabilities for bi-wiring, the 4-way crossover takes the input signals from its dual 0.78mm 2-pin connectors and filters out the frequencies that should not go to the respective drivers. The sub-bass, bass, midrange, treble drivers are individually connected to their dedicated connection at the crossover, keeping the sections for sub-bass, bass, midrange and treble separate.

The inclusion of dual 3.5mm Bi-Wire Monocrystalline (OCC) Silver-plated copper cable catered for enhanced playability for the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3. When used with 2.5mm or 4.4mm Balanced to 3.5mm Bi-Wire adapter cable, one can connect the Flagship pair of IEMs to their preferred Digital Audio Player (DAP) or DAC/Amplifiers (DACAmps) via a balanced connection.

Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3

On its own, the dual 3.5mm Bi-Wire Monocrystalline (OCC) Silver-plated copper cable allows passive bi-amping.

During the review process, a USB digital audio source from a Huawei Mate 20 X was connected to a USB to SPDIF converter, providing a pair of digital output, a coaxial and an optical for two Chord Electronics Hugo 2 (Hugo 2). An asynchronous output to the dual 3.5mm Bi-Wire inputs, in alignment with the importance of symmetry when bi-amping which meant as much as possible the cables and amplifiers should be identical.

In pursuance of portability, a FiiO K3 USB-C DACAmp which provided a digital coaxial output to the Hugo 2, as well as an analogue output for one of the two 3.5mm Bi-Wire inputs, replaced the USB to SPDIF converter. While this removes the need for another Hugo 2, it breaks the rule of symmetry, ensuring that one has to align the analogue output of the two DACAmps to achieve the same loudness. The above are just two of the many ways which one can experience the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 and has established itself as the most playable pair of IEMs ever to grace the Porta-Fi Experience Lab.

Included in the Piano Black finished Wooden jewellery box-like enclosure with the Tralucent Audio Ref GEN 3 monitors are:

    • a 3.5mm Single-ended Monocrystalline (OCC) Silver-plated copper cable
    • a dual 3.5mm Bi-Wired Monocrystalline (OCC) Silver-plated copper cable
    • a 2.5mm Balanced to 3.5mm Bi-Wire adapter cable
    • a 4.4mm Balanced to 3.5mm Bi-Wire adapter cable
    • a black genuine lambskin leather carrying case
    • an In-Ear Monitor Maintenance Kit
    • a gold-plated 3.5mm (1/8 inch) Female to 6.35mm (1/4 inch) Male adapter
    • a flight adapter
    • six pairs of ear tips (S, M and L in Silicone and Foam)
    • user guide and product documentations

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

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