The Absolute Sound Reviews The TAD ME1 Reference Bookshelf Speakers


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."

Read the rest of the review for yourself.

Want to hear them in NYC? Call or email us for an appointment. Bring friends. Come late. We'll supply the drinks.

Is The Focal Kanta No. 2 The World's Best $10,000 Loudspeaker?


The Focal Kanta No.2's have been among our favorite speakers at Noho Sound since we received the very first pair in the world shipped to a dealer nearly two months ago. Some call it the world's best $10,000 speaker.

Now the first review has dropped over at Tone Magazine, and it's incredible:

"One of the most impressive things about Focal, is that their speakers all have a similar voice and tonality, but as you go up the range, progressively more music is revealed in terms of dynamics and fine detail resolution. But not everyone can afford $60k for a pair of Maestros or $20k for Sopras. $10k for a set of Kantas isn’t inexpensive, but by the time you add an amp, source and cables, marvelous sound can still be achieved for way less than a decent sportbike. Think of all the money you’ll save on speeding tickets!

If you’ve read this far, you know I’m a big Focal fan, and the new Kanta exceeds all expectation. They combine sound and build quality with fantastic dealer service and support, world wide. If you’ve enjoyed the sound of the bigger Focal speakers, but desire these sonic attributes in a slightly smaller package, the Kanta is for you."

Read the rest of the review over at Tone.

Want to hear them in NYC? Call or email us for an appointment. Bring friends and decide for yourself. We'll even stay open late, and provide the drinks.


Why White Speakers Are The Coolest


Obviously white speakers are the coolest. Just ask Tone Audio. Everyone buys black? You should buy white. Just LOOK at those badass white Focal Sopra 3's. Good thing they sound as awesome as they look, or the brand would be f****d. Do they look good in black? Of course, but if you want to be different, if you want to impress your friends with your good taste, you buy them in white. It proves you have time to spare to clean them, or pay someone to do it for you.

White makes even weird designs look like an artistic statement. Just check out the Swedish Larsen speakers in white:


Still not convinced? Pamela Dorgay, wife of Tone Audio Editor-in-Chief Jeff, just wrote a wonderful column about the merits of white speakers:

Everyone has a favorite color; mine is red, and my husband (it’s no secret about Jeff Dorgay) loves lime green. When it comes to accessorizing these are the colors that attract us.

However,  our favorite colors sometimes may tend to be a bit too harsh indoors, or too big (in the case of lime green, no offense my love).  What man or woman hasn’t incorporated black into their wardrobe, or home? It’s understated and elegant and goes with everything.   There isn’t anything quite as beautiful as a pair of black lacquer speakers or black cars. In reality, black is only beautiful without smudges or dust, which is almost impossible to achieve.  The opposite of black is white, a non-color that reflects light rather than absorbing it.  Even the smallest black speaker will look more massive than a white one; all an illusion.

Bowers & Wilkins matte white speakers blend in with the room and don’t fight with the colors you are already using, still looking bright and best of all, they always look smart. Europeans have favored white for years as they have less available light than other places – especially the Scandinavian countries. Whether you live in the Northern part of the U.S. and have more rain, or in the lower Southern states with heat, white speakers reflect light. The new B&W705’s that I’ve placed in the bedroom blend with modern as well as traditional settings, so eclectic does well too. White looks crisp, clean and pure; just like the sound.

Read the rest of her wonderful article at Tone Audio.

Why McIntosh's New Flagship Speakers Cost $130,000


Here's a crazy spec about the new $130,000 McIntosh XRT2.1K Reference Loudspeakers: each has 81 drivers per side. EIGHTY-ONE DRIVERS. If it tips over it will injure or kill small children and pets. Also, it has 81 drivers. Per speaker. They're too big to fit in the elevator of our current location, and too heavy for the floor at our second. The third? Coming soon.

We haven't heard the XRT2.1K Reference Loudspeakers, but we have received a lot of pictures, an absolutely crazy press release, and THIS here video:

Are they good? Are they bad? Are they the greatest speakers of all time? If you like McIntosh, I predict you will 100% love these. Ron agrees. Chris thinks real McIntosh fans will want more.

Read the press release for yourself:

The XRT2.1K Loudspeaker represents the next evolution of McIntosh home audio speakers. Borne from our 45+ years of designing speakers, the XRT2.1K is a full range system that provides spacious sound reproduction with an unusually deep sound stage. Standing 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall, a pair of them will grab the attention of every person in the room. But when the music starts, the only thing people will pay attention to is the enveloping sound they are experiencing. 

The XRT2.1K utilizes our renowned line array speaker principles to produce an even sound dispersion pattern. Listeners closer to the speaker will not be overwhelmed by extremely loud sound while those further away will notice hardly any drop off in sound level. The resulting sound is smooth and wide for all listeners, producing exceptional stereo imaging in nearly all listening positions. 

A 4-way speaker, the XRT2.1K produces excellent sound quality at all levels of the human audio spectrum. The unique left and right speaker each use a total of 81 drivers consisting of (6) 8” woofers, (2) 6.5” low frequency midranges, (28) 2” upper frequency midranges and (45) ¾” tweeters, to deliver a nearly unparalleled sound reproduction. The woofer and low frequency midrange drivers, housed in the large bass enclosure cabinet, are brand new designs that were specifically created for the XRT2.1K. Their extremely stiff yet lightweight diaphragms combined with a very long throw design ensures amazing extension on low frequencies. Located on the line array are the Aluminum–Magnesium upper frequency midrange and tweeter metal drivers, which have been specially customized for the XRT2.1K and feature neodymium magnets. 

The crossover network is engineered to ensure an even frequency response over the entire audible range. It utilizes capacitors and inductors with low loss and high current capacity. The type of inductor used in each section of the crossover network has been specially chosen for high linearity, even at high power levels. This prevents distortion of the music at any frequency. 

Visually, the XRT2.1K is as striking as it sounds. The reinforced bass cabinet is a combination of brushed and black aluminum and is finished with 7 layers of high gloss piano black paint. The line array mimics the timeless McIntosh front panel appearance with a glossy black center section and 2 silver aluminum end caps. It is suspended from the front of the bass cabinet via steel spiders that are capped with magnetically attached covers that look like a McIntosh control knob. The removable speaker grilles are attached via magnets and feature black knit cloth with high gloss trim. The cabinet pedestal is made of machined aluminum and glass; it is supported by 4 adjustable feet that allow the speaker to make perfect contact with your floor, thus eliminating a possible source of distortion or vibration. 

Our patented, gold-plated Solid Cinch™ speaker binding posts easily but securely attach your speaker cable to prevent them from coming loose while also ensuring a quality signal is delivered to your loudspeaker. Separate pairs of binding posts are available for the mid/high, low and subwoofer frequencies to allow for tri-amping or tri-wiring. The McIntosh logo on the front of the base plate can be illuminated green with the use of our Power Control technology found in our amplifierspreamplifiersintegrated amplifiers and other products. Contact your local dealer to learn more.

Want to hear them? We'll be able to arrange that in a few weeks. We hope.