TAD Reference loudspeakers-How good are they?

Just wondering if the TAD Ref 1 and/or TAD Compact Ref 1 are as good as some of the show reviews suggest, although a recent review did mention a slightly "dark" presentation, albeit state of the art sound.

Does anyone know if the implementation of concentric tweeter/mid is superior to that of KEF/Thiel, or perhaps the Berylium constructed drivers and/or crossover sophistication.

I'm thinking about the TAD Compact Ref One as my "final" loudspeaker, as I have a small listening room at 14 x 16; Quite expensive at MSRP of $37K. I would appreciate any and all opinions and experience with the TAD Reference loudspeakers.

Thanks so much!
Very expensive to be sure, but I think the big ones are among the finest speakers made. At the recent Munich High End, I like the TAD room the most, in front of the Tidal, Soulution, YG etc. rooms. Just my opinion, of course.

A slide show from Munich - first two shots are the TAD room.


Maybe I'm a little biased since I owned Yamaha NS1000s in the '80s and really like the beryllium drivers in those units, so the TAD appeal. But the concentric construction is something the Yammies never had - you needed a big room for the images to settle down a bit with the NS1000s.

The smaller TADs were on display in the big room that TAD had at Munich, but they were not playing while I was there.

The sound from the TAD system was simply ravishing, and not a dark sound. Andrew Jones played a very fine high end, hi-rez digital from his computer - direct from the recording with no compression and no edits, and it was as alive as I have heard reproduced music.

I think the TAD Compact Ref One should be auditioned, that's for sure. I am very envious of you being in the position to afford them.

Thanks very much Metralla; I appreciate your helpful comments and the slide presentation!
Dealers are scarce but I'm gonna try to audition the CR-1's at one of the few dealers listed on the website.
I do have a couple of fine loudspeakers I am trying to sell locally; excellent sound but too large for my room. Maybe a trade in:)
Thanks again.
i'm interested too---but they have like no dealers in the US, so an impossible chore even if i could afford them.

Magico, Wilson, and even YG have a lot better distribution.
btw, i should mention i have a high respect for TAD because of what they have done on the pro sound spectrum. George Massenburg uses the drivers---that's high praise.
I have the TAD TSM-300 monitors for a second system, and will NEVER part with them- I can't think of another speaker at the ~ $1k price point that would be any better.
I was lucky enough to attend the Munich show in 2004, when the TAD 1s were being demonstrated against other high end loud speakers (Wilson, Sonus Faber etc.). Here is the link to my report on this usual demonstration:


I personally found the TAD 1s to be fantastic!
After the Tidal they were my number two favorite system in Munich's High End Show 2010. Everything else (YG, Magico, Hansen etc) was far behind those two systems
Heard them the past two years at the Munich show! Both times were one of the best sounds!
Ebm touts virtually everything he owns....Until he gets rid of it(then the real truth),so there is little credibility there.Take a look at any of his postings.Yup,ya have not changed one bit,and seldom add any "true" content to this forum.

Anyway,to the original question....

The TAD is a vastly superior speaker to the "still quite fine,by any standards" Magico Mini.The TAD is just a more complete/better design......PERIOD!!

TAD took many years to rework this design,and it is a masterpiece.They waited a long time and had the MINI as a benchmark,but have now bettered it by a "mile"!

I am always amazed by the dual concentric drivers' ability to resolve detail,while allowing stunning clarity and precision.The advantage gained in the area of imaging must be heard to be believed.

For one thing,it is a "true three way design"(the MINI is a two way,and does do a nice job).The dual concentric twin drivers are amazingly effective,and it does serious BASS!I will guarantee this speaker becomes an instant classic,and mfgrs who compete at this exalted level are quaking in their boots.For sure!

There is a BIG company behind the design of the TAD,and Andrew Jones' reputation is unmatched.Remember the Mini originally was introduced at about twenty grand.It was after extensive good reviews that(as usual in "things" high end audio)the price went through the roof.Yes,it is expensive to mfgr,but remember,most of "it's" parts are sourced out.Unlike TAD,which has a huge mother company behind it!...No comparison....and "I happen to love the Magico",so don't anyone get me wrong.It just is NO competition for the TAD!

No need for a sub,which introduces the possibility of problems....Like a certain audiophile's apparent blowing out of his Magico Minis,'cause he could not leave well enough alone!.....Sheesh!....Laughed for a week!
Sir speedy back from the dead? Always has an opinion with no stereo. He can always talk a great stereo as far as MAGICO MINI 2 just read Issue 70 of HIFI + For GREAT review of MAGICO MINI 2.Certinly better than speedy's latest speaker-none?. HO HO!! Good luck on your system if you ever get one.
If TAD is the best. Sirspeedy will buy them soon and report to the audiophile community with a wonderful report.He can demo them with his wonderful record collection!!
I heard the original TAD 1 one several occasions and really liked certain aspects of its sound. It is VERY fast and dynamic and unmuddled in a way that VERY few conventional speakers can hope to match (similar in that respect to good horn systems). Most conventional systems sound lifeless by comparison.

The downside was that the speaker sounded quite hard and metallic. I did not listen long enough to determine if that property would, in the long run, lead to a major annoyance. At one show, I heard them with Dr. Edgar (Edgarhorns) in attendance. We chatted briefly and we both agreed on the pluses and minuses of the speaker. He said that he has done quite a bit of experimentation with Beryllium drivers from TAD because he likes the speed and dynamic qualities of the drivers, but, he could never tame the metallic sound.

Overall, a VERY promising design. In some respects, the sound reminds me of some of the better designs using the Manger driver (like the Overkill Audio designs).

I am surprised that the current version is considered "dark," by some listeners, unless the designer went back to the drawing board to tame its more aggressive, forward presentation. If that is the case, it would be inevitable that some of the liveliness would also be lost; such is the case with all speaker designs, tradeoffs are always involved.
I think the downside is that sometimes it was reminding me of an old-school JBL. I mean, I felt that some microdynamics and transparency were missing, or maybe the "essence" if you like of the music. I may be wrong, it just gave me this impression a few times. But overall I can say I enjoyed the way it made music!

Happy Listening,

Firstly,to address the "moronic" statements from EBM about me(an ex/long time friend) with regard to my system and LP collection."Like you actually know what I am doing these days".

I have been active in the hobby for over 40 years,so my insights are certainly worth a mention at least.I never stated my thoughts are written in stone,but I've been around the audio block a few times.

I sold my system and LP collection 18 months ago,to fund the economic downturn because I would "not" cut my employees salaries,and additionally funded my daughter's upcoming wedding.It had to be done,and I don't have to answer to anyone,because I have the sense to "know the right thing to do".

Btw,I helped set up and voice EBM's systems for years,until selfish reasons came between us(not on my part)...for the record.Some folks have no problem trashing a 45 year friendship,rather than being inconvenienced,so I'd not be surprised by "any" dumb illiterate responses coming my way from him.I guess it's called "shallow".......Whatever!

I "apologize to other forum members" for this,as we are talking about the TAD designs,which I know well,but wanted to put things in perspective....Sorry!....Anyway....

I am "re-buying" a part of my previous LP collection in the near furure(the part that I wanted the most,from a decent, unselfish fellow hobbyist)and am actively planning my new system,as I am moving relatively soon.Most likely the Kharma 3.2 Fe powered by the Dehavilland 50A(an incredible amp,btw)and CAT amp/pre,with a VPI HRX....All new fwiw...Not bad,but also very different from the TAD,and what "it" would like to see downstream,electronics wise....

The TAD(which I LOVE) requires some big-ish power,but if carefully "voiced"(I'm thinking PASS amplification and I've heard that combo a few times)can/will be superlative by any standard!If properly and considerately driven we are talking of the kind of speaker that musicians call a "keeper"(regarding their axe of preferrence for life).

Berrylium drivers are incredibly sensitive to virtually anything below,in the chain,and have huge advantages to other materials.Diamond drivers included!
I'd assume anyone "lucky enough" to get these TAD small-ish monitors will be savvy and give the design the right component matching.I'd consider them if I had the extra cashola to splurge a little more on the amp front(I like the PASS 200 class A's),but my budget(though far from small)is tapped out as I am buying everything from scratch.

My past? Well,I had come from a somewhat similar type of sound,with a lovely dynamic solid state set up driving Avalons,so a change is not so bad,right now.I just want to do something a little different this time around,and really get a kick out of tube rolling...Just me!I'd been blown away by a "properly driven" Kharma 3.2 set-up in the past,using my own LP's and CD's.I would like to get close to "that"!....That is the sound I currently want,but I'd sure be thrilled with a TAD oriented system.

I like inner detail,and soundstaging.The TAD should do this in spades,and more dynamically than my choice of the little(but superb Kharmas).....Yet,it is best served with a great,sweet/powerful SS amp,IMO.....Been there,but sometimes a change is good for the soul!

I will be most happy to trade anyone my Kharmas when they finally come to fruition,for their TAD monitors,if they are displeased with them -:)

I doubt that will happen.

Best to all.....almost.
Having a wonderful time with my system.Good luck with the Kharmas. My friend Mike A great guy is using VAC 100 Phi amp with the Kharmas 1.0 you should make it a point to hear this amp it is wonderful with Kharmas great stage imaging lots of punch A GREAT MATCH!!My wife and i recommend this amp after hearing it at EXPONA show in Jacksonville.Oh yes this is a stereo forum its not personal.Will be going to next show in Atlanta with my wife as well.
Will be going to next show in Atlanta
Is it just me,or do I sense a hint of a "call out"?
Ebm....yes it is an audio forum.Enjoy your show....btw....

Denise was SO RIGHT!!
Enjoy your life you bitter and Vindictive JERK!! Ps get a life and a stereo so you can be bitter with manufacterers again!!!!!!
I'm only bitter to "liars and cheats".

Quite happy otherwise.

Nice that the "always angry one" keyboarded your last thought.You surely are not that good with punctuation.A "dead give-away".

NOW,I'll go have my life....Kids,business,"actually playing an instrument",etc etc....Life is good....and...

Yes,I am spending too much time on this subject...Done!
Sorry folks,

I realize this is personal,and really has no place on this forum.Things got out of control,and I guess the need to have the last word was overused.Especially by "me".

The soap opera is over.....I promise!
Btw,I should have mentioned in my last(final post)....

Sorry Peg!You are actually an innocent bystander....and....

I "am" getting to bitter and vindictive.Time for a reality check.

My apologies to you for alluding things out of your control.

Time for everyone to move on.....
I finally got to hear the TAD Ref One loudspeakers. They are excellent and truly something special. I heard absolutely nothing that was bright, metallic, or forward. Quite the opposite, in fact.

They were big, coherent, involving, and fun. They have wonderful bass. I would rank them ahead of Magico, Wilson, and Rockport.
Under what circumstances did you listen to the Tad R1's?

I had auditioned the R1's before but the audition was quite bad because of the very bad room (sloped ceilings, lack of sidewalls). They were also mated with Viola electronics which I don't consider very suitable.
They were mated to the TAD CD player and the Dartzeel amp and preamp combination. When we substituted the BAT Rex for the Dart preamp, they sounded even better. Great mid-range depth and texture, along with an increase in dynamics from top to bottom.

They were set-up in someone's home, which is usually much, much better than a dealer's set-up.
Sounds awesome. I need to do an in-home audition. I've heard nothing but praise for them from several well regarded people I know.
I have not had the pleasure to listen to the TAD REFERENCE monitor. They are "drop dead" gorgeous from the pictures. I have, however had time to listen to the MAGICO and KEF designs. Also, very fine speakers but perhaps not quite the cosmetic appeal of the TAD. But let's get down to audible reality. $37,000 for any loudspeaker places it into the realm of the rich and idiotic. Yes I have heard the Wilsons and many other extremely expensive speakers. From that perspective, you might want to take a look at VIVID. Their top end speaker is very special. Capable of playing at any volume that pleases you with absolute clarity while maintaining a sense of "0" audible strain. They only get better based upon the quality of the source electronics and recorded media.
Now here's my spin. If you are in Chicago, I suggest you look up VanL Speakerworks. John is a designer of custom loudspeakers that utilize a patented principal of imaging enhancement without the use of electronic "trickery" and at an unbelievably low price. Approximately 1/10 of the cost of TAD's. I have (2) pair, one of which I was somewhat instrumental in the design. The one I speake of uses HIQUPHON custom made tweeters out of DENMARK. Perhaps they can't do everything the VIVID's can (for instance) but my lifelong quest for sonic excellence (I once owned 8 AXIOM 80'S and let them slip through my fingers), has been pretty much put to rest, even if I had the cash to spend obliviously, into the "Megabuck" range. I have had several people listen to my current systems who attended the VIVID demo here in Chicago. My system totals up to about $13K, in comparison to the system we listened to, associated with the VIVID demo. It totaled about $250K (TRANSROTOR TURNTABLES, ETC). Virtually all agree that the systems I have with the Van L's at the heart, sound ouverall as pleasing a listening experience, for "mountains" less money.

Believe it or not!! That's all I have to add.

Excuse me, but the technology that adds dimensionality that the VanL speakers are using sure sounds like Polk Audio's Space Dimensional Array, available on the SDA2's and SADA3's. They to had a seperate coil for each channel, phased L-R and R-L. I do not refute that the technology works, I owned SDA2's, still do, but these new speakers sure sound like they are using the same methodolgy.

The Vivid speakers sure look interesing, but they would not fly in my home.


i heard the tad 1s when they were introduced at ces ,in 2004 or so. they were only a beta type , with more design time and resources to spend on the design. these speakers were incredible ,but not a finished, complete product.i've been following them since...with great admiration , i must admit........
at this year's ces the ref.1s were simply transformational with their sound- vey musical and engaging.
these speakers should be on anyone's short list of state- of the art designed speakers.
The feedback on the TAD's from RMAF 2010 is very positive. IMO & IME I find them overall excellent speakers with the typical advantages and disadvantages of Be drivers. That is detailed and needing very fine amplification to sound their best. Not tolerant of a weak upstream chain. If all is set up well; (Sirspeedy's recommendation of Pass XA200 sounds spot on) these might deliver all that one desires from a dyanamic speaker. They do need power and are not a warm or colored speaker. High power tube amplification might be an interesting match to consider but I have not heard. I would definitely put TAD on a short list for a top 10 speaker of all time at any price. But it needs to be listened to as it might be too neutral for some. I still prefer my Maxx IIs overall but I like a little color.
i'm interested too---but they have like no dealers in the US, so an impossible chore even if i could afford them.

Audio Video Logic, out od Des Moines, Iowa just picked up TAD. They are an excellent and trusted dealer and a long time member of Audiogon. Give John or Mike a call.

Hello Rtn1,

Sounds like a very good speaker, are they better than the Avalons?

Weseixas, The Avalon Isis remains ideal for me. In the reproduction of classical music, both large and small, I have not heard better.

I think the TAD Ref 1 might be good if your collection leans more heavily on jazz and pop. They are not as holographic, but very dynamic and involving.

If it is really down to these 2, I think people should seek a demo at a store or home set-up.
I would agree with Rtn1. While there are some fantastic holographic speakers out there, I have not heard a single system that did so many things so right as the TAD reference One.

Interestingly, the smaller TAD Compact Reference speakers come very close, yet can't quite match the Ones in sheer authority, power and soundstage in very large rooms. For smaller rooms, the TAD compact reference is a fantastic speaker (priced reasonably at mid thirties for what it does), given the competition we heard - with very few excellent exceptions like Marten - rolls out speakers that cost more and do less right.
Very good speakers but pricey. I heard them at a Pioneer specialty store here in Southern California and they throw a vast soundstage and feature excellent mids. With that said, for the money, I think you can do better with ATC pro reference monitors. I think the ATC 100s and 150s are superior to these models, especially the active ones.
I have heard (twice) the Reference One. It is absolutely amazing. The soundstage is awesome. As pointed out by others in this thread, the speakers need a amplification of very good quality. Playing with Mcintosh MA7000 the soundstage was small, but with amplification by Hegel the Ref 1's played heavenly.

Until this week, I considered them (and even contacted my bank who said the loan would be OK). My reasons for not buying them at the present moment are: 1) the cost (together with the cost of top amplification) 2) the size and shape of my listening room.

Some information on TAD Ref 1 here:

and a great picture here:
The TAD Reference speakers are great sounding speakers.

Poor man's version of TAD Reference speakers are the Pioneer S-3EX speakers which incorporate TAD drivers and design by Andrew Jones of Pioneer/TAD.
The Pioneer speakers which have the same type of concentric drivers do not have the same richness of sound because they have aluminum and not berylium deposited on the drivers. This is what Andrew Jones told me. I have the good fortune to own a pair of TAD Ref 1 since a week before last Christmas. They are so amazing that even a pair of Neforce 9SE V3 sound fantastic. I have tube preamps (CAT Legend and VTL 7.5 Series2) and a couple of pairs of tube amps (CAT JL-3 Sig Mk2 and custom made monos along with the before mentioned Nuforce). The sound is fantastic with all of the equipment I have listened to on these wonderful speakers. The sound is very detailed and very musical. The image is holographic and large. My previous speakers were Avalon Eidolon which I loved but I could not go back to them. I am sorry that I can't describe in more detail my experience but several audiophile friends that have heard my system have agreed with what I have described.
For the money the Pioneer S-3EX is a hard speaker to beat period. I bring in many pairs of speakers over the years and easily can say the S-3EX is a contender for one of the best bargains out there. I had a room full of people comparing S-3ex vs the Thiel 3.7. I can say everyone in the listening room agreed the S-3EX out performed the Thiels.
Bugman03, Congrats on the speakers. Now you have the whole enchilada - top, middle, and bottom. Seems like you are having alot of fun.
Did you have the more expensive Pioneer S-1EX speakers or the S-3EX (as you listed). the S-1EX should even be a better speaker with the beryllium dome tweeter instead of the tweeter used in the S-3EX.
I've heard the Thiel 3.7 and it is outstanding and really hard to beat without spending more than $20k.
How was the Pioneer better than the Thiel - I'm very curious.
In case some readers are looking for a review of the S-3EX ... Dave Clark on Positive Feedback


They look pretty.

I'm an idiot - the review is of the S-1EX loudspeaker, but you can guess that from the URL.

I have been listening to the CR-1's for a week or so in a tube based system. I don't have them Fully dialed in yet, but there is clearly something special going on. I wouldn't mind getting another opinion or two if anyone In the NYC area wants to take a listen before I make my decision.
I just listened to a pair and they are indeed special. They were the Large ones, the 75K ones or there abouts. The size of stage, dynamics, ease of dynamics, live music transient response, and on and on. Now, before you plunk down the money, listen to the new Legacy Whisper which is also a great speaker. I heard both this weekend, and they both do things good and really good. Both need only modest power, and are near the end of the road as far as I am concerned. The new Legacy will also be having a special edition in the future with V-caps in the Xover which is said to be just spectacular. The price will be a little over 20k, but well below the TAD sticker. I have heard the legacy at length and was at a loss to recall anything at the CES show that really did anything better overall. Listen and see what you think. Jallen
The TAD's are very good speakers, we went with Raidhos - there is nothing else that we've heard that does so many things so amazingly well.
Waking up this thread....anyone with more recent and additional comments on TAD Reference 1 Mk I or Mk IIs, please post them!
I auditioned these speakers back in 2014- was not impressed for the price-point.  One can do better for much, much less money.