Based on my considerable experience with audio shows, and at that not only the Polish ones, but also those abroad, I am sure about one thing in almost one hundred percent. For some reason, although I think, this probably just consistently implemented knowledge rather than luck, there is only one brand in the world, which turns out to be performing great during almost all presentations. This is so repeatable, that it became boring for me, of course in the good meaning of the word. But let me cool down some hot heads – that is just me trying to be a little sarcastic to increase the atmosphere of today’s test, as usually the confirmation of what I said, is that during most exhibitions, people search for its presentation just to sit down and relax with music. So, who am I talking about the whole time? I can boldly say, that I am talking about an undisputed legend, but one which did not grow a whole layer of moss from damp breaths of older audiophiles, but manages to consistently surprise whole generations of music lovers. Of course I mean the Japanese company TAD, which returns to us about a year from its previous visit on our pages, and which decided to deliver us a whole set for testing, beginning with a sound source and ending with loudspeakers. Can I be more concrete? Of course. Due to the generosity of the German distributor we received the following: CD/SACD player D600, line preamplifier C2000, stereo power amplifier M700S and the top stand mount speakers, those with smaller rooms, lose sleep – the CR1 with the stands ST1.
I will start our encounter with the technical part of the set from the sound source. As appropriate for an extreme High End product, the device is split in two parts. A smaller one, yet surprisingly heavy, containing the power supply unit, and a second one, much larger, for a sound source even monstrously large, contains the CD/SACD drive and all the electronics. The chasses of the elements differ by almost everything, except one thing – the fronts of both boxes are a variation of a wedge. The angle is not very sharp, but still the motive is as prominent as an icebreaker breaking the sheet ice. The power supply is very simple in the overall setup. We have on the front a LED indicating its operation and on the back only two multipin connectors for the cables supplying current to the drive part, a power socket and a power switch. The main unit of the player is much more elaborate. First of all, its base is made from vibration dampening aluminum, covered with structural paint. On top of it there is an aluminum chassis, finished in light and dark graphite colors, containing all the components inside. On the fascia, which is wedge shaped as I mentioned before, there is a nobly moving disc tray, located in a milled recess. Above it, surrounded with the darker color, we have the display and many function buttons. Looking at the back we will notice, that this is not only a disc spinner, spitting out analog signals, but also a DAC, accepting digital inputs. We have here a recess with Coaxial and AES/EBU inputs as well as an AES/EBU output and a second recess with RCA and XLR analog outputs. Beside those, we find there the obvious multi-pin sockets for connecting power from the PSU.
Let us have a look at the preamplifier next. This one comes from another production line and looks different to the player. It has two colors – silver on top and graphite on the bottom. The general shape is just a flat cuboid with rounded edges. In the middle of the front, where the two different colors meet, there are two large knobs, and closer to the bottom, in its darker part, we have a power switch, function display and six buttons operating the basic functionality. The back panel offers digital inputs for the built-in DAC (Coaxial, USB and AES/EBU) as well as analog inputs and outputs in RCA and XLR standards as well as a power socket.
The third element we are going to look at is the power amplifier. When you look at the pictures, you can see, that it comes from the same line as the CD player. But this is not confirmed by a wedge on the fascia, but the colors of the cabinet and placement of the construction on an anti-vibration plinth with four solid feet incorporated in it, as the foundation for the very heavy amplifier. In the middle of the front panel we have a wedged shape, which lights up amber when the unit is powered on, embedded in a rectangular recess with rounded edges. Above that, there is the milled company logo. The top cover has some irregularly shaped vents cut near the back end, which allow the unit to keep cool. The back panel is as simple as you could expect from a power amplifier, offering only single loudspeaker terminals, XLR signal inputs and two switches – one selects mono or stereo mode, while the second one toggles automatic stand-by of the power amp. Finally, placed on a plastic base, we have the IEC power socket.
The last bit are the loudspeakers. In my honest opinion, they are unreachable for many manufacturers not only in terms of sound, but also with regard to their looks. Starting with the stands, I would like to tell you, that those are three-legged supports with an oval base, which can be placed on the balls, visible on the unboxing pictures, or on the supplied spikes. An important thing to notice is, that we bolt the speaker to the stand, we do not use any glue, or god forbid, leave the speaker loose. This greatly increases not only the anti-vibration abilities, but the overall stability and prevents a structural catastrophe of the whole construction. Regarding the speakers themselves – they are a legend. Why? Because of the usage of a coaxial speaker with beryllium diaphragms in the overlay on the upper part of the front, that handles treble and midrange, what besides the usual coherence of the sound associated with coaxial speakers, due to the skillful application of the, sometimes overactive material by the engineers resulted in a very expressive sound, but without any aggression. But this is by far not all, as the CR1 offer an impressively big woofer, for a stand mount speaker, that can generate appropriately low bass in a closed cabinet, without being overblown or monotone. This is what we can see from the front of the speaker. Turning it around we see an aluminum panel, which covers almost all the back, with a double wire terminal placed in a shallow recess. There is also the make, model and serial number placed there. But this is still not all. The most pronounced thing is the main cabinet of the speakers. First of all – of course combatting any harmful resonances inside – has a the top lifting to the back, and the sides are also converging there with a smooth curve. Secondly – fulfilling the most exaggerated visual wishes, it is phenomenally handcrafted. I do not know, how this could be achieved, but looking from aside, it resembles a drawing of the sand, irregular but initiated by the movement of the waves, with a dark brown gloss. This is pure mastery in the best Italian fashion. I would say this – even if you do not want to listen to music, although this is impossible in our case, we could spend the time just watching the loudspeakers. And I do not sneer. Absolutely not. This is as hypnotizing as watching 3D postcards, which were popular a way back, and it has quite an impact on the perception of the sound they produce, the result of many years of experience of the engineers.
OK, when we finish this very abbreviated, but taking into account how long it was, still an epos, let us move to the main part of the review. Unfortunately for the music lovers, who do not like to read long texts, in this case it will not be one, but two different looks at the tested ensemble. Those will be two separate takes. First is about the complete set from the Japanese manufacturer. The second one, due to the specific sound phenomenon the speakers are, will focus on them, powered with my electronics, to have an impression, how they fare in such setting. But is there a sense to such games you might ask? I assure you, there is. Due to many reasons we are not always able to, or just plainly do not want to, purchase a complete set from one manufacturer, and such comparisons give the potential buyer the understanding, what he or she can expect from the speakers alone. For me those were two completely different approaches to the same world of music. How different? For that you will need to read the paragraphs below.
For obvious reasons the test started with the complete TAD set. And here I not only confirmed my knowledge about complete sets of the manufacturer I had to date, but I lived through a positive surprise. This surprise came from the fact, that despite the size of the speakers not really fitting our listening room, the system generated not only big, but very free sound. No monotone, bulbous bass pumping – what I already mentioned during my initial description of the speakers – but very low reaching low registers, especially given the small size of the speakers; something that usually is an issue with stand mount speakers playing with big sound. I do not know, how the designers achieved that, but they deserve praise. Now I probably do not need to convince anyone, that this positive surprise was one of the things, that confirmed the overall good sound of almost each exhibition system presented by the Japanese. The systems were always playing nobly, regardless of volume levels. And this noblesse did not mean retraction of the sound, with the music playing somewhere for itself, and not for the listener, but presenting each disc with appropriate emotional attention – timbre, smoothness and swing – while keeping the phenomenal size of the virtual sound stage, with the 3D spectacle worked out to the sides and in depth, thanks to the concentric speaker. But this is not all, as we cannot forget about the usage of beryllium, a material many manufacturers warn about, because when not having the appropriate experience, diaphragms made from this material just plainly shout. However when the application is right – like in the tested TAD speakers – it splendidly reproduces even the smallest nuances written in sheet music. To show this off, I have chosen three discs from my collection.
The first one was grist to the mill of the tested system – the compilation disc of Bogdan Hołownia with Jorgos Skolias “Tales”. This disc may be regarded as boring, as this is just a piano and a vocalist. But the devil is in the details, which for me are the palpability of how Mr. Bogdan plays the piano and sewing his story together with the weighty, many listeners even call it spectacular, voice of Jorgos. This can be heard best in track no. 3, “Little Wing”. After listening to the whole disc, it was clearly visible, that the black varnished instrument can sound very noble at times, while at other times very ethereal and sonorous, turning the slightest reverbs only when this is commanded by the usage of appropriate pedal by the pianist. And this is only the prelude to the main dish served by this disc, because the swing of the vocal, sung from full throat, is completely unconstrained, what leaves no doubt, that the loudspeakers not only reproduce music, but are doing that delivering proper amounts of breath and emotion. Emotion based on juiciness, ethereality and energy of not only an instrument, the piano, but also the human voice, fully benefiting from all the elements composing good sound. Like I mentioned, those were just two sound sources, but they tell almost everything about the loudspeakers. But why almost?
Of course I am talking about the quality and quantity of the lower registers. This is the reason, that in the role of the second sparing partner I used another Polish musician, Adam Bałydch, in the project “Sacrum Profanum”. So what about that bass? Let me explain. In the very beginning of the disc, in my opinion, the main role is played by a big drum, which adds appropriate mysticism to the recording. Unfortunately I did not attend the concert in the Warsaw Old City, but from a report from one of my colleagues, who did attend, I know this drum is really big. And this kettle alone, like a true finger of God, allows me to verify, if an audio system just pretends to play low, or really does play them back fairly properly. If the sound is very low, then it often results in a big boom. But when the bass is treated too lightly, you might not even notice it. Here the result was really surprising. The set did show it very clearly, but still the bass did not flow on the floor. There was a lot of it, especially for stand mount speakers, but without any untoward influence on its coherence and energy. But it allowed to seamlessly sew the drum together with the rest of the melancholically playing instruments. And this is again, only the beginning of the feast for the ears, which was also the brilliant show off of the ability to master the violin by the soloist, and due to that the ability to frequently change moods from energetic drive to the mysticism suggested by the album’s title.
At the end I was brutal. Of course only in relationship to the material I listened to, as the player swallowed the disc “Morrison Hotel” from The Doors. This recording is not an easy piece of cake for many systems due to its weak mastering, and yet during the test session I did not notice anything aggressive on one hand, or anorectic on the other. When the music demanded it, I got a tad of smoothness, but in cases, where it was destructively thinned, I felt that something in the form of saturation was injected into it. But the most important aspect was, that it did not become “minced meat”, a dull, identically spiced from beginning to the end, but a classy “Wiener Schnitzel”. I hope that based on the difference in taste, you can understand what I am trying to convey here. But if not, I will just say, that the music was not served homogenized, but appropriately expressively when needed, what shows, that the system can easily deal with any kind of music, even the badly recorded ones.
After this disc, the change in hardware occurred. The loudspeakers CR1 TX-EB were attached to my system. And what did happen? Was there any progress? And finally is there any sense in such games? I will respond to the posed questions in reverse order. Question no. 3: Yes, based on the dozen days playing around with both configurations, I can unanimously say, that testing with different electronics is worth every minute spend on that. Question no. 2: This aspect everybody must assess in in their own configuration, as depending on the preferences of the guests visiting me, the result was different. In general positive, but with different final conclusion. Question no. 1: Here I have most to say. The sound did evolve slightly. But not in the domain of sound quality – although from my point of view – maybe yes, but from a different approach to some of its components. For the sake of this comparison, but also trying to constrain the text in some acceptable limits, I will use only one disc. The first aspect was bass. In the second version, on the Adam Bałdych disc it was not as strong in its upper registers, but with less accent on the contact of the drumstick with the membrane of the drum it reached a bit lower, and while it brushed minimal lack of control at times, it was much more differentiated, so it showed much clearer what is happening with the diaphragm during long reverberations. But again, this is a question of preferences, as I know people, who would gladly sacrifice some information for energetic body in the higher registers of the bass, this is why I am not evaluating this nuance, but only telling you it exists. The second change, this time with a broader spectrum of influence, was the removal of political correctness in the form of ever present sound smoothness. With my electronics, music gained vitality, what resulted in moving the gravity point of the recordings half a notch up, but at the same time it offered higher volatility of the midrange and stronger spark in the treble. Of course I would not be fully honest, if I would not mention, that also this time, the resulting sound had its supporters and opponents. This is the reason, that I cannot put any other thesis in place, than claiming, that the change of electronics I described showed two very good sound schools, and the choice will be depending on ones preferences. But regardless of everything, the way the sound was perceived, means only one thing – the tested loudspeakers are very universal. So when you do not have a chance of buying a complete TAD system, if you want to reach this quality of the sound, you need to try the loudspeakers on their own.
It was the first time, that I did not know, how to combine my thoughts into one, neutral conclusion, trying to finish this test. I used, as a reference point, my system, I collected for years, and this often is the first step to come to conclusions, which are far from objective. Fortunately I do this quite often, this is the reason, that after some thinking, I did not have any dramatic issues with that. So after my thoughts finally came together, when I put all the pros and cons against themselves, I can only recommend to try out the tested TAD system to all interested in finding a splendid set. Why? Because it confirmed again, this time in a room I know very well, the “boring” truth about it sounding extremely well. The main asset is playing with a big and spacious sound, with strong bass, smooth and saturated midrange coming from small speakers, Sound. With a big “S”. But the best part of it is, that this happens without any flaws, usually associated with such speakers. Is this a product for everybody? As usual, maybe because you already own a very good system like I do, or you do have only enough money for the speakers – no, it is not for everyone. But those two cases are the only that come to my mind. The rest of the population of homo sapiens that loves music, when confronted with this system will be close to asking themselves a question, if they maybe finally did catch the rabbit, with the help of the Japanese. And you know what, I am very confident, the response to that question has good chance to be positive.
I probably do not need to remind anybody, that history likes to repeat itself, and sometimes goes round, what many of us regularly, or less regular, has some déjà vu, what means, that he or she has the impression of having seen, heard or lived through something already. I am not claiming, that the perverse fortune stuck our “tape of life”, to put it metaphorically, in a loop, and we are spending our time in Punxsutawney from “Groundhog Day” , yet there are some clear examples of this phenomenon known to each of us. So please do not be surprised, that when looking at the tested system, you will feel like Phil Connors (Bill Murray) from the mentioned film. Everything is fine, and ¾ of what we are testing today we already described in the very beginning of Soundrebels, in 2013. Of course I am talking about the complete set of the Japanese TAD, which was then supplied by the Białystok based Rafko. But as you know, doing a remote session, we went out to the distributor then, has its merits, but even when it is very well prepared, there are so many variables and unknowns, that the experience gathered during it, could only be a foundation for further searches and try-ons for fitting the system in our room, and not an argument for to pose any constructive conclusions. This is just a snapshot, a frozen impression, a point in time, where, if we were lucky, something sounded well, or if we were not lucky, like we were staying in a cue or something, then it did not sound well. This is the reason, that if you were following our encounters with the TAD, every time we had any revelations during shows, or in audio stores, we tried to confirm them when emotions settled in our official listening room. And this is the kind of verification we are doing today, taking a closer look at the dream system provided by the European distributor, consisting of the CD/SACD player D600, the DAC/preamplifier C2000, the stereophonic power amplifier M700S and the stand mount speakers CR1 TX-EB mounted on dedicated stands ST1.
Despite knowing that you should not dispute taste, but at least for me, the D600, both in terms of looks as well as manufacturing, is an embodiment of the most hidden desires. It is majestic, made with truly watchmaker precision and designed by guys, who did not forget what ergonomics mean. The front reminds a bit a mixture of a railway plough and … an interstellar cruiser from one of the science fiction sagas. Hidden behind a block of acrylic an amber display, readable even from a distance of five meters, touch buttons placed on the sides divided in two logical groups, and the aluminum tray, covered with matte varnish which prevents laser reflections, moves with such nobleness, that Accuphase, often regarded as a master in that aspect, could take lessons at TAD. When we add to this that there is no plastic to be found anywhere in the mechanism, as all elements of the transport are metal, we can put aside all worries about the longevity of the device, as they are unfounded and unsubstantiated.
The back plate is the summit of minimalism in a sauce of conservatism. On the left side we have the digital interfaces – coaxial and AES/EBU inputs and AES/EBU output (did you notice the lack of USB?), in the center the multipin power supply sockets, and to the right two pairs of analog outputs – XLR and RCA.
Over 26kg weight of the main unit is not only the result of the armored, cast aluminum chassis, but also a massive, copper plated and galvanized steel plate, 6mm thick, hidden inside, used to counter vibration, but also to lower the center of gravity of the whole construction. The circuitry consists of a proprietary UCPG Master Clock, very potent in reducing jitter, two Burr-Brown PCM1794 digital to analog converter chips, connected in parallel in a balanced setting and the output circuitry based on discrete components. The 13kg heavy power supply was evicted to an external, dedicated enclosure – where the manufacturer placed a 400VA toroidal transformer and an impressive amount of capacitors.
On the other hand, the C2000, the preamplifier belonging to the lower Evolution series and equipped with a built-in DAC, catches the eye with a “sandwich” – the chassis is split between a lighter in color top site and black lower part. Its lower birth status can be noticed mainly by looking at the display, which is much less readable than the one from C600. But regardless of any visual aspects, an audio device is destined to reproduce music, which is most important. In the front we have also a source selector knob on the left, while on the right a volume knob. The display is surrounded with small buttons – on its left they operate the display itself, to the right five buttons allow to move around the menu and mute the device.
The back of the C2000 also has a split based on the colors of the chassis. The silver top part houses the analog section with two pairs of XLRs and RCAs on input and the same set for the output. The lower part has some digital inputs – a single USB port and AES/EBU and coaxial digital inputs. I will also immediately mention, that the C2000 does not go beyond the quite archaic 192kHz, so you can forget about decoding DXD and DSD. The above is the result of using a quite ancient, 15 year old if I am not mistaken, DAC chip Burr-Brown PCM1794A supported by the UPCG (Ultra High Precision Crystal Generator) clock. To wipe out tears features a proprietary asynchronous USB port, adding extra control and better clocking, and full separation between the digital and analog sections, including their power supplies.
Similar to the preamplifier also the M700S is a fully balanced and symmetrical construction. The above is also true for the power supply, so you should be aware, that the 75.5kg weight can be attributed to two classic transformers hidden inside, with a combined power of 2.8kVA supported by a battery of four capacitors, 33.000uF each. Going back to the exterior, I must confess, that it looks splendidly. The 700 chassis is engulfed in an anti-vibration plinth, supported by spikes, and made from thick aluminum profiles. Its front is decorated with a small window with an amber lit prism, which looks as intriguing as VU meters, with precisely milled logo on top of it. On the back we find single loudspeaker terminals, XLR inputs, mode switch (there is an option of bi-amping), activator of the automatic stand-by/wake-up and a power socket hidden in the plinth. In the input circuitry a pair of FET was used, while the Real Class AB output stage used high-power multiple-emitter transistors.
And finally, as dessert, I left the phenomenal CR1 TX-EB, surprisingly heavy speakers, weighing 46kg, mounted on proprietary stands ST1. As true acolytes of the brand already know, its heart is the CST (Coherent Source Transducer) with a 3.5cm beryllium dome tweeter placed in the center of the 16cm midrange, also with a beryllium diaphragm. The beryllium diaphragms are made using a technology of depositing the material in gaseous form (a version of MOCVD – Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition). The shape of the tweeter membrane was designed using computer analysis method called HSDOM (Harmonized Synthetic Diaphragm Optimum Method). It allows for control of the differences in how different fragments of the diaphragm are resonating and moves them outside the audible range, allowing for a clean frequency response up to 100kHz.
Below this coaxial driver, hidden behind a metal mesh, a 20cm bass driver is placed, with a three -layer, laminated diaphragm made from aramid fibers. Its drive is built using a unique, short voice coli OFGMS (Optimized Field Geometry Magnet Structure). Together with a long slit (20mm) it allows for a very linear magnetic field. This stabilizes the performance of the driver in both the low and high amplitudes, reaching high linearity and creates a precise waveform.
The cabinet, shaped to resemble a tear, got the name SILENT (Structurally Inert Laminated ENclosure Technology) combining high stiffness with very nice exterior design. The design is a derivative from the Reference One. Incredibly stiff chasses were made from 21mm thick, CNC cut birch plywood, and the whole is placed on 27.5mm thick aluminum plinth lowering their point of gravity and stabilizing the whole speaker. The residual, half-round back plate is adorned by a massive, 27mm thick aluminum shield with a double wire terminal.
Having a complete system made by one manufacturer, you can do two things. The first one is to connect it as it should be, treating the whole as an inviolable whole, the second is … to start experimenting. As you can imagine we have chosen the second option, without any hesitation, because we decided, that besides the “monotheist” master, it is worth to test the electronics with different speakers and also check how the reference CR1 will fare with our reference system.
First we tackled the whole TAD family and for the consumption of such exquisite spécialité de la maison we treated it with our album on duty, “Ariel Ramirez: Misa Criolla / Navidad Nuestra” by Mercedes Sosa and? And we can authoritatively say, that this is all for today, we bar the door from the inside, switch off our phones and turn on the away message in our email app. But what is the reason for that? Well, this is quite obvious, the sound of the system is so complete, so finished, that you can put your reviewer ambitions on a shelf, sit down in your listening chair and wait for the courier to bring the C600. And now fully seriously, in our acoustically treated (among others with Artnovion panels) official listening room during listening we had not only the precision we heard already in Białystok, but also freedom, breath and tons of space. The reproduction of acoustics of the Estudio Coral de Buenos Aires, the placement of choristers not only in the depth and width vectors, but also in height, became a fact, and the memory of the moment, when the big drum sounds still gives me shivers. I will not even mention the disappearance of the speakers from the room, as in case of the TAD this is obvious, but the size and scale of the generated sound can be surprising. Very surprising. We can easily assume, that the tested speaker can compete with quite big floorstanders. There was a lot of bass and it reached regions, which is usually the domain of subwoofers. But instead of a monotone rumble, flowing somewhere around my ankles, and despite its undisputed juiciness the bass remained controlled the whole time and differentiated enough to define its structure and consistency with ease. On the album “Countdown to Extinction” by Megadeth issued by MFSL the lowest notes were in their own way dry, short and contoured, what was a clear departure from fleshiness and nobleness of their brethren during listening to “Misa Criolla”. Interestingly, despite undisputed musicality and difficult to replicate coherence available already from lower midrange, we could observe maybe not thinning, but attention to not overly exaggerate in saturating the colors. Here the palpability and impression of the musicians being in our listening room were created not by coloring, but by precise operating with the localization of individual presences on stage. Soloists and vocalists appeared a little closer than usual in our system, and the supporting instruments were kept in further rows, which, due to the phenomenal precision, were as readable as the first row, they seemed smaller only by rules of perspective. Additionally it was not possible to catch any signs of nervousness, or trembling. Regardless of the tempo, damming or sometimes even oppressiveness of the reproduced material, the TAD did their job. With their inherited calmness and aware of their genius they created a feast for our senses.
Exchanging the CR1 for our on-duty speakers – Consequence showed, that the Japanese electronics is a certain oasis of calmness and refinements. In the sound a note of thick, truly caramel sweetness, and even the mentioned above Dave Mustaine did not shout anymore as if he would cut himself with a zipper. But it is not about the treble being darkened, but rather about covering it with a golden dust, so that instead of our neuronal synapses being stung by icy pins, we got reflexes shining in the setting sun. On the other hand, the album that always sounded a bit too antiseptic or laboratory, “Just a Little Bossa Nova” by Susan Wong, was able to enchant with density and juiciness of the sound almost at the level of the newest disc of the vocalist, issued as MQA CD and SACD “Close to Me”. The sibilants stayed bold, but the eventual hisses never crossed the red line demarking the border of good taste. Then the phenomenal and incredibly climatic “Jazz Cinema Fantasy” Tokyo Cinema Jazz Trio sounded even more “clubby”, as if the ceiling was lower, cigarette smoke covered it even thicker and it was later in the evening. I mean – “magic” came into existence and the flow present between the musicians got also to the listeners.
Finally the beryllium speakers solo, what means we connected the CR1 to the Mephisto, what resulted in another avalanche of surprises. Although we could expect the precision worthy a fully robotized laboratory, the might and even more spectacular going down the sound spectrum even further we could not. Yet the “dark Dane” took the Japanese stand mounters in steel claws and keeping truly hardcore control made them believe, that with such amplifier, they can try to compete with its much bigger brethren, the might Reference One. The Swedish power-metal gallopades “Above the Sky” by Majestica, as well as the more beautiful face of heavy sound in the form of the symphonic “Chapter I – Monarchy” by Ad Infinitum, with the brilliant Melissa Bonny, who can push an unexpecting listener into the listening seat with her growl, if she wants to, got clearly visible pounce. Bas got even lower than with the company system and the treble resigned from coquetry and instead of a disobliging foreplay it immediately got to the point, or putting it metaphorically, to the “Sabre Dance” from Khachaturian. Please do not get me wrong – those were not cutting blades flying through air and shaving everybody with an axe, but the treble and midrange, when devoided from any rounding, which turned out to be created by M700S, showed what they really can do, and what beryllium resolution means. The wealth of information reaching our ears could overwhelm at first, but the longer we enjoyed that way of presentation, the more I was convinced that the CR1 should be mandatory equipment in all recording and mastering studios, which would like to make international career. Because with the help of the CR1 we can not only assess the rosin used by the symphonics for their bows, but also the kind of cologne used by the conductor. Does this kind of uncompromised approach have any flaws? Well, I would perversely claim, that those are not flaws but assets, as the last symphonic Metallica, “S&M2” would not be seeing any daylight for long time. And I am not talking about the repertoire, as the pieces coming from the albums “St. Anger”, “Death Magnetic” and “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” finally got some digestible form, by which I mean audible form, as the mastering itself is crying out to heaven for vengeance, and this is clearly audible on the TAD.
I hope, that it is quite clear from my writing, that the guys from Technical Audio Devices Laboratories make every effort, that all devices leaving their factory not only are a class for themselves, but that combined into one system, reach that kind of synergy, that is very hard to beat by less “monothematic” combinations. Of course I am exaggerating now, as if I would be a graduate from gardening and not from wood technology, as having the option, I would gladly own any of the above tested components and build my system around it, but still, it is worth to know, that just like with your family – the TAD sound like heaven from the start, while in less “dedicated” setups, they sporadically show their full potential.
System used in this test:
– CD transport” CEC TL 0 3.0, Melco N1Z/2EX-H60
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Reference clock: Mutec REF 10
– Reclocker: Mutec MC-3+USB
– Shunyata Research Sigma CLOCK
– Shunyata Sigma NR
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Gryphon Audio Mephisto Stereo
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Consequence
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”, Vermouth Audio Reference
– IC XLR: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC 350M2R Improved Version, Furutech NanoFlux NCF Furutech DPS-4 + FI-E50 NCF(R)/ FI-50(R), Hijiri Nagomi; Vermouth Audio Reference Power Cord
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Harmonix TU 505EX MK II, Stillpoints ULTRA SS, Stillpoints ULTRA MINI, antivibration platform by SOLID TECH, Harmonix AC Enacom Improved for 100-240V, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
– Acoustic treatments by Artnovion
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Step-up: Thrax Trajan
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
D600: 36.000 €
C2000: 25.000 €
M700S (stereo): 56.000 €
CR1TX: 70.000 € + 4000 € ST1 (stands) / complete set
Digital audio input connectors: AES/EBU, Coaxial
Input sampling frequency: 32 kHz – 192 kHz
Digital audio output connector: AES/EBU
Analogue output connector: XLR, RCA
Output sampling frequency: 32 kHz – 96 kHz
Audio output level: 450 mVrms XLR, 220 mVrms RCA
IHF S/N ratio
CD: 115 dB / SACD: 110 dB / Digital input (24 bit): 115 dB
CD: 4 Hz – 20 kHz
SACD: 4 Hz – 40 kHz
Power consumption: 32 W, <0.5W standby
Main unit (W x H x D): 450 x 185 x 440 mm
Power unit (W x H x D): 220 x 185 x 430 mm
Main unit: 26.5 kg
Power unit: 13 kg
Input connectors: 2 x XLR, 2 x RCA
Output connectors: AES/EBU, Coax, USB
Supported sampling frequencies: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz
Output connectors: 2 x XLR, 2 x RCA
Rated output voltage: 1.5 V XLR, 0.75 V RCA
Maximum output voltage: 16 Vrms XLR, 8 Vrms RCA
Rated distortion (T.H.D.): 0.003%
IHF SN: 120 dB
Frequency response: 10 Hz – 100 kHz, -1dB
Gain: 12 dB
Analog maximum permissible input voltage (−40 dB): 20 V XLR, 10 V RCA
Power consumption: 37 W, < 0.5W standby
Dimensions (W x H x D): 440 x 140 x 393 mm
Weight: 23,5 kg
Power output: 350 W/ch (1 kHz, 4 Ω) / 175 W/ch (1 kHz, 8 Ω)
Rated distortion: < 0.005% (1 kHz, 175 W, 4 Ω)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 125 dB
Frequency response: 1 Hz – 100 kHz, +0/-3 dB
Gain: 29.5 dB
Input terminal (Sensitivity/ Impedance): 1.5 V, 100 kΩ
Power consumption: 590 W, < 0.5 W standby
Dimensions (W x H x D): 516 × 296 × 622 mm
Weight: 75.5 kg
Design Principle: 3-way vented-box system (Aerodynamic Port System)
CST (Coherent Source Transducer) – 3.5cm beryllium dome / 16cm beryllium
Woofer: 1x 20cm TLCC cone (Tri-Laminate Composite Cone)
Nominal impedance: 4Ω
Sensitivity: 86dB (2.83V, 1m)
Frequency response: 32Hz – 100kHz
Crossover frequencies: 250Hz, 2kHz
Maximum input: 200W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 341 × 628 × 444mm
Weight: 46kg (1 unit)
Finishes: Emerald Black veneer – piano finish