TAD Laboratories, Synergistic Research, Modulum, Jocavi

All prices listed in US dollars.

TAD was demonstrating a beefy all-TAD system, beefy in looks and sound. It consisted of a 3-way, bass-reflex TAD-R1TX-BR/EB Ultimate Reference One TX speaker system ($160,000), a two-chassis TAD-C600 preamplifier ($45,000), a 175Wpc TAD-M700S stereo amplifier ($60,500), and a TAD-D1000TX-S SACD/CD player. Rounding out the system were Synergistic Research cables and line filters, Modulum equipment racks and shelves, and Jocavi acoustic panels.

The result? As I listened, "An iron fist in a velvet glove" came to mind. Napoleon coined the phrase to describe being tough inside while acting nice outside. But, it wasn't quite accurate to describe the system's presentation.

More accurate is to say the TAD presented, on FLAC files streamed from Qobuz and a thumb drive, two sides of a coin: On the one, solidly expressive, forceful, tonally deep, with drive and a take-charge demeanor; on the other, articulately limber, texturally refined, nuanced and transparent, with a well organized and layered soundstage.