After our November chase of the floorstanding novelty, the model Evolution One (TAD-E1TX-K), which ended with a listening session in the Katowice based Audio Styl, together with Jacek we decided, that whenever something from the catalog of the Japanese company TAD comes within our reach, we will do whatever it takes, to listen to it in our Official Soundrebels Listening Room. It took a while, but our patience was rewarded, as finally, with some help of our friends at Hi-Ton Home of Perfection, we can host the beautiful, and seemingly ideal for small houses, standmount speakers TAD Micro Evolution One (ME1), placed on dedicated stands TAD-ST3-S.
Looking and then touching and knocking on the ME1, you cannot go around the impressions, that the Tokyo team (this time without Andrew Jones) tried to fit everything they have best not the small loudspeaker. So we have here not only the beautifully made, from birch plywood and MDF, and also beautifully finished chassis with characteristic, massive plates mounted to the sides. Those plates are part of the proprietary bass-refleks system, which allows for equal dispersion of the sound to the sides, to the front and back. But most of all, we have here the proprietary drivers. The midrange and treble are handled by the coaxial TAD Coherent Source Transducer, with a 9cm magnesium cone handling the medium registers, and a 25mm beryllium dome for the higher frequencies. The bass is handled by a 16cm transducer with a diaphragm constructed from a multilayer composite of aramid fibers (MACC). Due to all the above, the speaker does not have any holes in the front or the back. Furthermore, the mid-tweeter is placed behind a delicate mesh, while below the woofer there is an elegant, silver plaque with the manufacturer’s logo. The back plate is ornated with an elegantly lowered shield carrying the jewel like, double wire terminals. As a curiosity I can tell you, that the ME1 were initially only available in the piano black version, and only in 2017, during the Tokyo Audio Show, the silver-titanium version was presented, and the latter is the version we got for our testing. We could also claim, we got only 2/3 of that, what was available in the TAD-E1TX-K – one 16cm transducer “is missing”. And finally something about a purely handling issue – which might be interesting for people having small kids or pets – the loudspeakers can be screwed tight to the stands using the threaded holes in their bottom.
Starting the part describing our listening sessions, I must confess, that I approached those with a bit of uncertainty, as our listening room has almost 40 square meters, what does not seem a natural place for not so big standmount speakers. With is bigger brethren, the Compact Evolution One, we listened to in Katowice, or the flagship Compact Reference One, I would not have such concerns, but in this case… But when we said “A”, with which I mean our willingness to review the TAD, then we must say “B” and check, how those small loudspeakers fared in our listening room reality. Of course we prepared a rescue plan, in case our listening octagon would surpass the capabilities of those speakers with its cubature, as we have another, much smaller room, where we tested much smaller speakers, than the hero of this test, like the Trenner&Friedl Art.
Perplexed, I placed in the CD drive (C.E.C TL 3.0) the album “Hunt” from Amarok, an album, that starts quite slowly, and I waited impatiently for things to evolve. First notes of “Anonymous” and … the space created by the ME1 turned out to be absolutely phenomenal. The barking puppy was placed far outside the base set by the physical position of the speakers in the room, and the delicate, electronic passages flew throughout the whole listening room. The localization of the virtual sources did not fall below a high-end reference, what did not surprise me much, knowing the capabilities of the floorstanding brethren. It was similar with the midrange, which was so glued together with the upper registers, that similar homogeneity would be difficult to find even at much higher price levels. The speaker reproducing those sounds was not named Coherent Sound Transducer for nothing. This, incredibly involving combination of caramel sweetness, incredible resolution and hard to describe smoothness was pulling away our attention from the lower band, which was present, and splendidly controlled, but for obvious reason were reaching nowhere close to the regions reserved for the full spectrum speakers. So can we tell, that the TAD sound thin, or are deprived from a bass foundation? Absolutely not. They emphasize on quality, not quantity, and they play what they can play, yet a highest level, not showing anything, what would not fulfill the quality criteria. This is the reason, that they will show without issues the contrabass parts on “Afro Bossa” Duke Ellington or even the entrance of the French horn on “The Battle” from “Gladiator” Hans Zimmer, but then suggestively moving the interest of the listener to the higher octaves when tackling “J.S. Bach: Organ Works” by Masaaki Suzuki. Interestingly, this effect cannot be described as a radical cut-off, but a delicate lay-back, and if we know and remember the recordings from sessions with larger speakers, then our brain will add things to the sound, if we want it or not, and if there always was a low passage, it will still be there. The above “anomalies” do not really come to front with a less demanding repertoire. Even the pulsating pop-dance beat, at times fluently changing into country, album “Hurts 2B Human” P!nk not only was less than a challenge for the TAD, but it sounded so juicy, so resolved and … holographic, that it was able to put many audiophile recordings to shame. P!nk’s voice was incredibly strong, deep and saturated, similar to the voices of Khalid or Chris Stapleton, who appear in duets with her. The ME1 did one more thing. They showed without any restraints, where the instruments were real, natural guitars, drums, percussion, etc., and where the whole was, let us call it, “synthetic”, and where P!nk sung from her full lungs, and where her voice was “modified”, not always to the benefit. But instead of exposing those differences, or bash them, the Japanese speakers restrained themselves to show the full spectrum of information to the listener, leaving the final verdict to him or her.
After a few weeks of the presence of the TAD Micro Evolution One in our reference system, I dare to say, that those are exceptional constructions, with one small “but”. They do not bend the laws of physic and do not try to always sound to the full extent of each and any repertoire regardless of the size of the room there are placed in. So while in 20 square meters it will be extremely hard to accuse them of any shortcoming in terms of dynamics and bass extension, in larger rooms (our room has 38 square meters), if we do not see a chance of foregoing their holography and coherence, I would recommend to look for a subwoofer, as refined as the ME1 (I would start the search at least at the level of the REL G1 MkII, or even better, a pair of such subs). A heresy? For two-speaker orthodox people – maybe, but life has taught me, to never say never, and the TAD Micro Evolution One are the best example of such approach.
Do you remember our reportage about the hot novelties of the Audio Video Show 2018, the Japanese loudspeakers TAD Evolution One (E1TX-K)? If yes, then you probably know, that that was just a subtle introduction of our subsequent encounters with this brand, with the only change being, that those encounters would be in our listening room. True, from that moment some time has passed. But there is luck in leisure, time came for another meeting, now in controlled environment, with the legend of High-End, at least in my opinion. So what am I talking about? Let me tell you, that we got our hands on the standmount speakers Micro Evolution One (ME1), and we thank the Warsaw based distributor of TAD – Hi-Tone Home of Perfection for supplying the speakers.
Typical for a product from Japan, in case of the TAD standmount speakers we deal with a certain kind of usable art. Starting with the rounding of the edges, which give us some visual quietness, through the slated stands with similar design, and finishing with the care that was given to the double wire terminal on the back, the looks of the plaque with the logo on the front and the overall looks of “old gold”, everything seems to be subdued to one goal: find its place in each and every listening room. I do not know about you, but it bought me immediately.
After having finished the chapter about the looks, there is now time for some technical information. The analysis of the photos may lead you somewhat astray, as you can see only two transducers on the front, what might indicate a two-way system, but in reality, we deal here with a coaxial driver (9.5cm cone midrange and beryllium 2.5cm dome tweeter) and a composite 16cm cone woofer, what makes this small speaker a true three-way construction. Like I mentioned before, the wire terminals are on the back of the cabinet, while the bass-reflex ports are venting on the side walls. But you would be mistaken, if you think those are ordinary holes drilled there. The Japanese went their own path there and below the darker gold side panel covers they placed a proprietary solution – two-way venting ports for the air moved by the drivers. Unfortunately I could not put the speakers apart, so I do not know anything more about this solution. However I can tell, after a dozen or so days playing around with those speakers, that even when playing at high sound levels, those never produced any noise of the air vented through them, they just reproduced the lowest frequencies, just as they were designed to do that. And this is a feat, which is not often found at their competitors. Finishing this part of the test I am obliged to mention a few figures, which might influence your purchase: the weight reaches 20kg a piece, the impedance is 4 Ohm and the sensitivity is at modest 85dB.
When applying of such little speakers in my room I always take into account any issues that may arise regarding the lower registers. Yet after years of playing around with similar speakers, I know, that manufacturers often try to show, that even high listening rooms are nothing they are afraid of. Usually such approach ends with even a high level, but very monotone lower part of the spectrum. So how was it in this case? With a lot of pleasure I must calm you, just after the first moments with the TAD I was very content, that the Japanese did not force bass too much. But what is important, even with quiet listening, bass was always present. Without being insolent, it was just a readable impulse. Is this too little for you? Please hold your horses. For me this was an asset, because moving the volume knob to the right did increase its amount, but I did not lose anything from the resolution. Translating this into more understandable language, the sound was not based on low frequency magma, but a multi-dimensional virtuosity of the instruments operating in that area. This is the first, very positive, point of experiencing those speakers. Another one is theoretically reserved only for standmount speakers, but in this case it was splendid, the way the musical events were built in my room. And I am not only talking about the depth of the virtual stage, but also the way of placing the virtual sources in the 3D space. Usually, the standmount speakers defend themselves by spectacular depth, but due to their size they are not able to visualize it at appropriate size, with the palpability of the individual scenic presences, what is absolutely necessary for being able to become one with the music listened to. In those aspects, the Micro Evolution One were phenomenal. So let us move on. The third positive aspect of this meeting was the incredible coherence and vitality of the reproduced music, thanks to the beryllium tweeter placed in the acoustic center of the midrange driver. Regardless of the distance between my listening seat and the loudspeakers, I was not able to detect any departure of any part of the sound spectrum from the musical line. Yes, this is absolutely the domain of coaxial speakers. I used such speakers some time ago, and I know, they are unbeatable in that aspect. Ok then. Everything seems fantastic. But how was that shown by specific musical pieces? Very well. Of course with a correction for the speakers being placed in a room, which was too big for them. But without any panic. Surprisingly, during listening to classical music, when the volume was close to the real thing, it turned out, that when the orchestra played the tutti, the speakers reproduced that in a brilliant way, given their size. There was swing, speed but also a significant mass of the orchestral multitude. It was like the Japanese speakers would bent the reality in a fantastic way. But not in a widely known way, like a molten lava, but with the lower registers full of information and energy. After this experience I changed the genre, and in the CD player I placed a disc with ancient music. Why? This is often recorded in big buildings, what allowed me to check, if such little speakers will be able to take me to the recording session I am listening to. And? This time the midrange-tweeter combo showed its class. Swing, air and nice colors of the vocals and ancient instruments did not leave anything to complain about, the small speakers are very good at this too. Of course they were not able to beat my Austrian wardrobes in terms of saturation, but I would not make a big deal of that even in the most mischievous review. And I am not talking about pointing to class differences to the compared speakers, but just a common sense approach to their potential. If I would like to find any limitations, I would turn my attention to the choice of music. Namely the only thing the Micro One had slight issues with, was rock and electronic music. With quiet listening it was still OK, but with higher volume levels, it was shown, that our test hero was designed for something completely different and for smaller listening solitudes. But even this I would not treat this as something bad, as no thinking music lover would torture his or hers ears with such refined constructions, but will reach for other, fire breathing monsters, maybe from the pro market. Am I wrong? I assure you, I am not. If someone thinks otherwise, then he or she does not know much about this game on High End level, to which the tested TAD are absolutely belonging.
Well. For the casual reader, the analysis of the text above may seem like me being detached from reality. But after listening to the tested speakers I could not put it on paper otherwise. Of course, again, I encourage you to apply an appropriate filter regarding the room they will be working in. Trying to be objective, I did this without any issue, what resulted in me turning your attention to the biggest assets you can hear in your rooms. And now, when I analyze my conclusions again, I would not be surprised, when harder music would sound great if the environment would be more favorable. But this you would need to check for yourself. I can only tell, that when you connect the TAD Micro Evolution One to your audio gear, you will face the beauty of music in the interpretation of masters in building the reality of a virtual world.
System used in this test:
– CD: CEC TL 0 3.0 + Reimyo DAP – 999 EX Limited TOKU
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Reimyo KAP – 777
– Loudspeakers: Trenner & Friedl “ISIS”
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond, Statement
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”,
– 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
– 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
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
Distributor: TAD https://tad.tokyo/
Loudspeakers delivered by Hi-Ton Home of Perfection http://www.hi-ton.pl/
Price: 55 000 PLN (pair)
Type: 3-way bass reflex bookshelf
– Woofer: 16cm cone MACC
– Midrange/tweeter: coaxial 9cm cone/2.5cm dome
Frequency response: 36Hz – 60kHz
Crossover frequencies: 420Hz, 2.5kHz
Maximum input: 150W
Sensitivity: 85dB (2.83V, 1m)
Nominal impedance: 4Ω
Dimensions (W x H x D):251 × 411 × 402 mm
Weight: 20 kg (1 unit) .
Finish: piano black, titanium silver