TAD’s Excellence

By now, the excellence of the big TAD Reference One loudspeakers ($78,000/pair), designed by Andrew Jones, has become well-known to Stereophile readers. Less familiar, perhaps, may be TAD’s Reference electronics: the TAD D600 CD/SACD player and DAC with external power supply, the C600 preamplifier with external power supply that Michael Fremer reviews in the June 2013 issue ($42,000), and M600 monoblocks ($68,000/pair).

For the first time, Andrew paired the TAD Reference chain with a prototype Blue Smoke Entertainment Systems Mk.II music server (approx. $8k). Scheduled for launch in a few months, it was first shown at AXPONA Chicago. “That’s where I first heard it,” Jones told me, “and decided I needed to be using it.”

The warmth of the system’s midrange immediately won my heart. I would have stayed longer, but I wanted to save my time for any less familiar entities I might encounter. Hence I missed entirely Andrew’s second room, where he connected the $130/pair Pioneer S-BS22 speakers that will be reviewed by Robert J. Reina in the July 2013 issue of Stereophile. “I thought it would be fun to set up the cheapest possible system that would produce sound that no one would expect,” says Andrew. The Pioneer integrated amp with phono input was $300, with the most expensive part of the system a Pioneer N50 network player playing off a thumb drive (maybe $599). Perhaps I missed it because this little system has Stephen Mejias’s name all over it.