TAD Compact Evolution One TX Loudspeaker

Tokyo-based Technical Audio Devices Laboratories (a.k.a. TAD) is a company I’ve long admired. My first exposure to the brand occurred over a decade ago at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada—the first electronics show I ever covered. TAD’s room in the Venetian Hotel, where the high-end audio exhibits were housed, featured their Reference One mk2 flagship loudspeaker, finished in gorgeous Beryl Red. I was gobsmacked by the outstanding clarity of its beryllium tweeter, which was nestled in the middle of a beryllium midrange in a coaxial configuration. Because I was mainly covering budget gear back then, the notion of reviewing a pair of TAD speakers seemed as remote as Pluto. But the seed had been planted. This year, when TAD demoed their new Compact Evolution One TX ($32,500 per pair, all prices in USD) at the Florida International Audio Expo in February, I got to meet the TAD team, including CEO Shinji Tarutani. Several months later, a pair landed on my doorstep. Game on.

Emphasis on the technical

TAD began as an offshoot of Pioneer Corporation. In 1975, Pioneer undertook the so-called TAD project to develop high-end loudspeaker drivers targeted at the professional market. This led to a series of compression drivers that, in the two decades that followed, were installed in more than 300 recording studios in over 20 countries. These pro beginnings very much inspired the first consumer product efforts TAD released around the turn of the century, which in turn influenced the company’s current models. Their marketing material includes a quote from renowned professional audio engineer Bart Locanthi, who was invited to join the TAD project while it was still in its infancy: “Real technology should stick to basics, without being technology-oriented and always placing the highest value on sound quality.” This remains TAD’s guiding principle. The company’s development philosophy is predicated on “an engineering approach backed by thorough theoretical evaluations and accurate testing.”

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