TAD Reference One: Without question the highest resolution reproduction at this or any CES Show I’ve attended and just maybe that I’ve heard in some four decades of pursuing this avocation. Driven by TAD electronics, the impression of hearing into recordings I’ve known for years and years is breathtaking. Yet the presentation is in no sense merely analytical or at any time breaks down into its constituent parts. Indeed, there’s a top‑to‑bottom coherence and integrality to the reproduction that surpasses every and all multiple‑driver dynamic speakers in my experience and for once could be likened to the great electrostatics (or the real thing itself). On orchestral music the impression of weight and foundation is such that David Chesky, with whom I was listening to the speakers, remarked that he felt as if he were sitting in front of the orchestra itself (like mine, David’s reference is Quad ESLs). Paul Stubblebine was likewise impressed. The musicians are lifesize, tactilly present, with amazing solidity and dimensionality. Transparency is absolute. The bass response is so well defined, articulate, deep, and solid that it makes most speakers, even big, expensive ones, sound thick and whompy. When the effect of the music is overwhelming, so is the presentation, yet it is no sense unrealistically overpowering the way some largely projected sound can be. There seems to be no practical limit to the dynamic range (and this room here is extremely large). I’ve heard the Bernstein Carmen on literally hundreds of systems over the some forty years I’ve owned this recording and never has it sounded as realistic with respect size, scale, and you‑are‑there soundstaging: you could close your eyes and imagine with no effort whatsoever that the performance is happening right in front of you.
My only cavil is a slight brightness to the overall presentation that I was inclined to attribute to the tweeter (perhaps owing to the coaxial mounting within the midrange driver?). David concurred but wasn’t especially bothered by it and attributed it to the room. Paul Stubbline also concurred but he wasn’t bothered by it either because it is in no sense detached from the overall presentation. That’s important to note: it’s not a brightness that sounds as if you are hearing the tweeter dancing along on its own (as is almost always the case, including with quite a number of very highly regarded super‑expensive speakers), as the coherence of the presentation is not affected by it. And it isn’t a severe anomaly and is in any case easily correctable by any rudimentary tone control, to say nothing of DSP devices. Altogether this Andrew Jones design is quite simply state‑of‑the‑art in just about every way imaginable. Pricing is in the vicinity of $60k/pair. Not cheap, but when you figure that this speakers for me trumps models costing two to nearly four times as much, hardly outrageous either.