Stereophile Cover Story: The Grand Evolution One


Review samples of some new high-end audio products do not grow on trees. They are more like dray horses trouping from one destination to another. After the US premiere of the Technical Audio Devices (TAD) Grand Evolution One (TAD-GE1), a floorstanding speaker from TAD’s Evolution series, at the 2023 Capital Audio Fest, the review pair came to stay with me in Upstate New York for a couple of months before traveling on to the 2024 Florida Audio Expo for another public appearance. After that, they returned to John Atkinson for measuring—then off again on another journey.

The TAD Labs GE1 is a three-way, three-driver design. Up top is TAD’s proprietary Coherent Source Transducer (CST), a 5½” coaxial tweeter/midrange driver. Two matched 7″ woofers fill out the middle of the front panel. On the back are two pairs of speaker taps connected (at the moment) with high-quality jumper cables; those who biwire or biamp are cared for. The GE1 is a bass-reflex speaker; its port fires down. The footers are the usual spiked cones; a set of metal discs is thoughtfully included for those who wish to protect their hardwood floors.

The cabinet stands just shy of 49″ tall, constructed out of 40mm-thick MDF panels and 18mm birch plywood bracing. The visual aesthetic is similar to that of a fine grand piano: sides and back finished in shiny black lacquer, the front kitted out in very handsome, glossy-finished olive wood, similar to the inside rims of some high-end pianos. The cabinet edges are smoothly contoured. The cabinets sit atop an attached combo port/plate (more on this in a moment). Including this platform, each speaker weighs 140lb. This is not a compact speaker, but it is hardly overwhelming in scale. The Grand Evolution One is handsome, with a good shot at a Best of Breed ribbon for its shiny coat alone. The physical appearance and bespoke build quality would enhance any interior decor.

The new TAD GE1 obviously shares technology genes with earlier TAD speakers Stereophile has reviewed, including the CE1TX standmount reviews reviewed by Herb Reichert recently, the Compact Reference reviewed by John Atkinson in 2012, and two earlier members of the Evolution family, the Evolution One and the Compact Evolution One. The TAD Labs Grand Evolution One is priced at $65,000/pair.

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