PAD Hifi, TAD speakers and electronics, Synergistic, Jocavi

Although TAD is a Japanese brand, there’s something dry, almost German about the name, which stands for Technical Audio Devices. It’s comparable, in my book, to T+A, one of Germany’s leading high-end companies, whose initials mean Theorie + Anwendung—that’s Theory + Application. I like this just-the-facts approach, as long as the products leave room for emotion . . . maybe even a spot of sorcery. On that score, no worries about either brand.

After a years-long absence, TAD is back on the US market, represented by Dave Malekpour of Massachusetts’ PAD Hifi Distribution (PAD stands for Professional Audio Design. Were these two made for each other or what?)

The Tokyo-based company offers a speaker line of three standmounts and three floorstanders, none more imposing than the top-of-the-line, $160,000/pair Reference 1TX—330lb of brutal beauty. The R1TX’s two-tone appearance, and the broad burly curves of the cabinets manufactured by Tendo Mokko, a Japanese maker of fine furniture, reminded me of Bowers & Wilkins’ famous 801D, ca. 2008.

The R1TX’s dual 10″ woofers take care of the prodigious low end (rated to 21Hz), while the mids and highs are produced by two coaxially-mounted transducers, 6” and 1.4″ in diameter. TAD talks about this combo as if it’s a single driver, called the CST (Coherent Source Transducer). Beryllium-diaphragm tweeters are no longer that rare, but get this: the entire surface of the CST, all 28 square inches, is coated in this expensive (vapor-deposited) metal.

By the way, did you know this about beryllium? “The element is relatively rare in the universe because it is not formed in the nuclear furnaces of stars. It takes a supernova, in which heavier nuclei disintegrate, to make this metal.” I just looked that up on the Royal Society of Chemistry website. Way cool.

Anyway, TAD claims that its CST gives “controlled directivity over a wide frequency range from a single point with uniform phase.” The woofer cones, meanwhile, feature a triple laminate with a core of foamed acrylamide sandwiched between “direction-oriented aramid fibers,” said to result in lightness and structural strength.

So what’s all that mean in terms of sonics? In short: magnificence. Beautifully layered textures. Realistic grand pianos (which, other than voices, are the most difficult instruments for hifi systems to get right). Also, bass reproduction that’s like a sumo wrestler: fat but nimble.

Electronics in the ballroom-sized space included the recently discontinued TAD-C600 preamp; a $123,000 pair of TAD-M700S stereo power amplifiers, used in a biamping configuration; and the $21,000 TAD-1000TX DAC. Synergistic cables and Jocavi acoustic panels tied it all together.

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