Technical Audio Devices, better known as TAD, was showing a speaker that looked disturbingly familiar. It was the same size and seemed to feature the same drivers as TAD's Model-1, but it lacked that speaker's silver hood and upper front baffle. That's because Andrew Jones had come to Vegas with TAD's Model-2, which he said would come in between $35,000 and $40,000/pair.

"The Model-1, with its 52 layers of ¾" plywood, was just too time-consuming to manufacture in quantity," Jones explained. "We'll still make it, but we had to give our cabinet maker a break." Yeah right, a shell constructed of 16 layers of 1/8" MDF is so much simpler! The Model-2 sports the same coincident-source 6" beryllium tweeter/midrange driver and twin 10" woven-aramid woofers as the Model-1, but it lacks that speaker's 8" lower midrange driver. "There are some benefits to that simplification," Jones said. "The crossover doesn't need to be as complex and that's always to the good."

Using some of Keith Johnson's 24-bit/88kHz masters played on an Alesis hard drive through a thoroughbred all-Pass Labs electronics chain, the Model-2s produced some of the most completely natural sound I heard at the show. They adapted themselves to the sound of the recording, creating a small, intimate soundstage for solo instruments and huuuge blocks of sound on orchestral tuttis.

I salivate every time I hear TAD's speakers, but Jones says that the Model-1s have essentially been built to order, meaning none have been available for review. That could change with the Model-2s, although John Atkinson might fire me if I made him measure a 300 lb loudspeaker. It might be worth the risk to live with the Model-2s.