TAD Evolution One floorstanding loudspeakers designed and voiced by the legendary Andrew Jones. Rarely seen for sale. Simply beautiful voicing, warm, airy yet resolving with plenty of low end extension and finesses. A music connoisseurs loudspeaker with world class fit and finish with commensurate build quality. Actual condition physically rates 9/10 and functionality 10/10, never over-driven and kept in a non-smoking, dedicated, climate controlled environment. Factory packing and paperwork included, roughly 1.2 years old. Worldwide shipping available, as well as local pick up. Please call or email me directly for more information. Serious inquires only. No Trades. $33,000 List / Respectively asking $18,590 or best offer and lowballers need not bother to contact me but serious offers will be considered.
The Stereophile Review
By Kalman Rubinson
I had been anticipating getting to audition a pair of TAD
loudspeakers in my system since the introduction of the original TAD
Model-1, in 2003. It was designed by Andrew Jones, who had recently
assumed the mantle of chief designer at Technical Audio Devices
Laboratories (TAD), at that time a subsidiary of Pioneer. Although TAD
dates back to the mid-1970s, its research and development efforts had
been focused on the professional sound market, something that continues.
Jones came from a long line of speaker innovators at KEF and was
assigned the goal of developing state-of-the-art speakers for the
domestic market. The Model-1 was innovative with respect to both its
drive-units and its enclosure construction—it used 52 layers of ¾"
plywood. More important, it sounded spectacularly natural and vivid. It
was large, it was expensive ($45,000/pair in 2003), and it made a
statement: Pioneer, long a maker of loudspeakers, was once again at the
fore of the industry (footnote 1).In view of the rising costs of
materials and labor, as well as continuing advances in materials and
production, Jones redesigned the Model-1. The result was the slightly
smaller, still expensive ($78,000/pair), but equally impressive
Reference One, which has been a great success since its debut at the
2006 Consumer Electronics Show. However, even at the time of the
Reference One's launch, Jones was planning to design significantly less
expensive speakers based on the same technology. He's since taken this
in two directions. One is the Compact Reference CR1 ($37,000/pair), a
stand-mounted three-way reviewed by John Atkinson in
January 2012, and which he resoundingly approved. The other direction
was the production of EX series, into which Jones trickled down most of
the principles used in the Model-1 and Reference One to a price range
within reach of many audiophiles. When I reviewed the top of the EX
line, the S-1EX, in March 2007,
I felt it was an outstanding speaker: well made, fully satisfying as a
reproducer of music, and competitive with speakers costing twice its
price of $9000/pair. But there was a catch: The S-1EX wasn't called a
I recall seeing an advertisement in the New York Times Book Review in the early 1970s that read, in banner print, "Anyone who says that you can't tell a book by its cover has never tried to sell one."
The EX line bore the Pioneer badge, not TAD's. Despite the EX models'
competitive excellence, it seems that putting a mass-market name on what
were clearly high-end speakers discouraged buyers, and the entire EX
line seems to be quietly disappearing.
When I saw the Evolution One ($29,800/pair) at the 2012 Consumer
Electronics Show, I knew it was the real thing: a low(er)-priced TAD
model wearing the proper badge. And in view of my experience with the
S-1EX and the many excellent and entertaining show demos of the
Reference One that I heard, I bet on the TAD DNA (and Andrew Jones) and
jumped at the opportunity to review the E1.
The Evolution One is a slimmed-down version of the
Reference One, with which it shares not only its curved side and rear
panels, which greatly enhance the cabinet's rigidity and reduce its
resonances, but also its use of a very thick front baffle. This extends
above the top panel to form a framing arch for the coaxial
tweeter-midrange drive-unit, and stops a few inches above the base,
thereby creating a wide port to load the woofers. The base contains the
complex crossover, isolated from the main structure by compliant
mounting. I was surprised to see that the removable underside of the
crossover cavity is covered by a heavy, impregnated felt panel. Felt
seemed an unusual choice of material, but it effectively damps any
resonances. Four substantial, upright, multiway binding posts, suitable
for single- or biwiring, rise from the rear skirt of the base.
The drive-units are arrayed vertically, with TAD's signature Coherent
Source Transducer (CST) coaxial driver at the top: a 5½" magnesium
midrange cone surrounding a 13/8" beryllium-dome tweeter. Magnesium and
beryllium are extremely light and stiff; together, these two drivers
provide a single-point source for all frequencies from 250Hz to 100kHz,
per TAD. Below this driver are two 7" woofers with layered Aramid
diaphragms. The coaxial driver is protected from curious fingers by a
fixed scrim of what appears to be a fine, open weave of synthetic fiber.
The woofers have removable covers.
All of these features are reminiscent of the Reference One and the
S-1EX. The tweeter elements are the same in all, but the diaphragm
material of the midrange driver is magnesium in the TAD-E1, beryllium in
the Reference models. The midrange is also smaller. "Since magnesium is
not as stiff and light as beryllium," said Jones, "the cone resonance
would be at a lower frequency. By going to a smaller cone, we manage to
put the cone breakup frequency back up higher, though not as high as the
CR1 and R1 beryllium cone." That said, the Evolution One exudes the
same quality of design and construction as its Reference brothers.
An hour after the Evolution Ones were delivered,
Andrew Jones arrived to set them up. He first put them precisely where
my main reference speakers sit. Then he hooked up his laptop to the
Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC via an AudioQuest Carbon USB cable. The Mytek's
XLR outputs were routed to a Parasound Halo JC 2 BP preamplifier and, in turn, to a Halo A 31 three-channel power amp, bypassing my usual Meridian 861 digital
processor. Then came the fun. As we tweaked the positions and toe-in
angles of the TAD-E1s, Jones played lots of tracks, many of which would
be familiar to those who've attended his entertaining show demos.
Finally, as his favorite Boz Scaggs cut, "My Funny Valentine," played
over and over, he finished. I hope he was happy with the final setup. I
After Jones's departure, I began my casual
cohabitation with the Evolution Ones—I prefer to let a speaker begin the
conversation before I move on to a more rigorous interrogation. The
sound was warm and rich, with extended bass and, at first, a reticent
treble, with little airiness. The reticence diminished as I turned up
the volume and found myself focusing on the copious detail and depth I
was hearing throughout the audioband. The soundstage was seamless and
very wide; sounds variously emerged from points just inside, at, or
outside the positions of the speakers, as well as from all points
between them. Even when I stared directly at one of the TADs, I could
never force myself to perceive what I was hearing as coming directly
from the speaker. If that isn't an example of a "disappearing"
loudspeaker, I don't know what would be.
The TAD-E1's bottom end was very full and tight at all volume levels.
Indeed, I could listen at very low levels without the bass ever drying
up; the overall sound thus retained a sense of presence and fullness.
For example, with "No Sanctuary Here," from Chris Jones'sRoadhouses & Automobiles (CD,
Stockfisch SFR 357.6027.2), I could not only follow individual voices
in the refrain, I could distinguish them spatially, and separately from
the bass drone, and at all reasonable volume levels. I evaluated the
TAD's low-end extension by listening to the pedalwork of organist Bram
Beekman on his Toccata (SACD/CD, Pentatone PTC 5186 003); the
speaker's bass wallop by paying particular attention to the timpani and
bass drum in Britten's Four Sea Interludes, with Carlos Kalmar
and the Oregon Symphony (SACD/CD, Pentatone PTC 5186 471). Both were
quite remarkable for a speaker of this size. Heck, for music, I wouldn't
have much use for a subwoofer with the Evolution Ones.
The TAD-E1's midrange continued to impress me, particularly with its
ability to present convincingly natural reproductions of voices in a
recording's acoustical context and perceptually distinct from the
speaker positions. I have two favorite reference recordings for testing
this. Every audiophile knows the Philips recording of Ariel Ramirez's Misa Criolla,
conducted by José Luis Ocejo and with tenor José Carreras, particularly
in its XRCD reissue (CD, First Impression LIM K2HD 40). Through the
Evolution Ones, I felt that Carreras was not only singing from just
right of center and a few feet back, but that his voice had a fullness
and presence often heard only with mono-miked or front-and-center
voices. My other example is a lovely solo by mezzo-soprano Marianne
Beate Kielland: "Come Away, Death," in a 24-bit/176.4kHz PCM recording
downloaded from 2L (SACD/CD, 2L-064-SACD). A clean and firm piano
(played by Sergei Osadchuk), quite up front, introduces Kielland, whose
voice, with a very pure and naked tone, emanated from dead center and a
bit above the TADs, and seemed to just float there—a compelling
Big stuff didn't faze the Evolution Ones at all. Played at
respectable levels, everything from Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the
Wall," from Burmester's Art for the Ear (CD 2), to Gustav Holst's Planets with
Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos CHSA 5086)
had presence, weight, and size, but there was also remarkable inner
detail that was not obscured by the ongoing tumult. Only Big
speakers—that is, only good big speakers—can do this. What
distinguished the TAD-E1 from many other big speakers was that it could
successfully scale all of this to lower listening levels without loss of
impact, and to even higher levels without loss of clarity. In other
words, it didn't "come alive" only at certain volume levels, but
satisfied me at any reasonable level suitable to the occasion or my
Indeed, from top to bottom of the audioband, and from whisper to
shout, the Evolution One always sounded balanced. At first I thought it
sounded a little dark and closed-in, but that seems to have been a
misleading result of its not favoring any particular region of the
audioband. A more significant concomitant was that, when present, the
TAD's lovely treble and spaciousness emerged naturally. That doesn't
mean that the speaker wasn't absolutely brilliant with delectable treble
as it delivered violinist Isabelle Faust's sweet, gutsy tones with the
requisite amounts of string, air, and space, that space shared with the
Orchestra Mozart, led by Claudio Abbado, in Beethoven's Violin Concerto
(CD, Harmonia Mundi 902105)—or shared more intimately with Alexander
Melnikov's piano in the Violin Sonata 9, Op.47, "Kreutzer" (CD, Harmonia
Mundi HMC 901944). And with recordings known for their generous
ambience, from the intimate tangos of Será Una Noche (CD, M•A Recordings M052A) to Roberto Gerhard's terrifying The Plague,
with Antal Doráti and the National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (CD,
Decca/Explore EXP0005), the Evolution Ones were nothing short of
This was true with either of my three-channel power amps: Parasound's Halo A31 orMcIntosh's MC303.
The latter actually brightened the balance a bit, but overall, I
preferred the Halo as being more consistent with the TAD's smooth and
self-effacing delivery. With either amp, the Evolution Ones were more
open in the treble and produced a wider soundstage than the similarly
sized and priced Sony SS-AR1 ($27,000/pair), which I reviewed in the July 2011 issue,
though the Sony's bass was even more impressive in size and power.
Compared to my resident B&W 800 Diamond speakers ($24,000/pair),
which I reviewed in May 2011,
the TAD-E1s were a bit more reticent in the treble, and comparable in
soundstage width and depth. The B&W's bass, in my room, was as
extended as the E1's, but quite a bit less prominent. In general, the
differences among the three speakers were immediately audible but not
big, and in regard to soundstaging and bass, greatly influenced by my
room and setup.
The Bottom Line
The TAD Evolution Ones played everything from
audiophile recordings to low-bit-rate Internet radio with aplomb and
authority. Teamed up with neutral electronics and a room not excessively
damped, they should provide the buyer with richly musical enjoyment for
years to come. It's easy for me to say that the Evolution One is a
marvelous speaker—I found no fault with it.
Sidebar 1: Specifications
Description: Three-way, reflex-loaded, floorstanding
loudspeaker. Drive-units: coaxial driver comprising 13/8" (35mm)
beryllium-dome ribbon tweeter and 5½" (140mm) magnesium-cone midrange;
two 7" (180mm) laminated-diaphragm woofers. Crossover frequencies:
250Hz, 2kHz. Frequency range: 28Hz–100kHz. Nominal impedance: 4 ohms.
Sensitivity: 88dB/2.83V/m (anechoic). Recommended amplification:
Dimensions: 45.5" (1166mm) H by 13" (334mm) W by 20" (512mm) D. Weight: 118.8 lbs (54kg).
Finishes: Wood, Piano Black.
Serial numbers of units reviewed: TP-001SA, TP-006SA.
Price: $33,000/pair. Approximate number of dealers: 12.
Manufacturer: Technical Audio Devices Laboratories,
Inc., 4-15-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan. US
office: Technical Audio Devices Laboratories, Inc., 1925 E. Dominguez
Street, Long Beach, CA 90810. Tel: (800) 745-3271, (213) 268-2748. Web:www.tad-labs.com.