Japan, once the source for ultra-high audio equipment, fell into a funk for several decades, but no longer. TAD, a name heretofore unknown in the USA, has now arrived with what can only be described as surgical grade reference hardware. Noho Sound just received a pair of their new $12,500 ME1 bookshelf speakers for evaluation. Resolution has never seen such resolution. They need big power to sound as good as they can, but OMFG, these can deliver a level of detail and imaging that is ghostly.
We thought we were crazy, but The Absolute Sound has just dropped their review confirming our impressions, and the fact that Noho Sounds needs to be a TAD dealer, as of now:
"The ME1 has very few obvious drawbacks, and its shortcomings are mostly attributable to the limits of its modest dimensions. However, its top-end still retains some residual dryness, and can’t quite summon up the same velvety harmonics of the CR1 or the barn-storming macro-dynamics of the CE1. In spite of the stellar imaging I’ve written about, soundstage width and depth were only adequate in my smallish listening space. But I’d imagine better results could be had in larger rooms. Finally I can understand how some listeners might not cotton to the sharp specificity of a concentric driver. The precision with which it draws boundaries around images seems natural to me, but it may seem mechanical to others. (Experimenting with speaker positioning is very helpful in finding an ideal balance between too much focus and too little.)
A lot is expected from TAD loudspeakers. And having now reviewed three of its compacts I can put them in perspective with one another. The CR1 leads this pack, as its $42k price would imply. Its uncompromising quality and performance remain a high-water mark for a stand-mounted loudspeaker. It has earned its flagship title. The CE1, in spite of its high-octane performance, is still the odd duck of this trio: It’s a little awkward visually, cooler in character, and frankly a little pricey in its segment. The ME1, however, gets it just right, emulating much of what is so musically satisfying about the CR1, and doing so at a cost that is more than justified in a highly competitive category.
So satisfying is the ME1 that, in the right room at the right levels, you’ll easily hear what all the hubbub over the CR1 was about. It can utterly destroy preconceptions about what a small speaker can do. Pound for pound, the ME1 is truly one of the greatest little loudspeakers to hit the audiophile market in years."