Home Electronics: Smaller Wonder

  • M600 monaural amplifier ($53,000 per pair)
  • Compact Reference speakers ($37,000 per pair not including the stands)

Technical Audio Devices avoided ambiguity when naming its new loudspeaker, the Compact Reference. It is what its moniker says it is: a compact version of the company’s Reference One, a world-class speaker by any measure of performance, size, and price.

Seeing the need for a more "size-appropriate" loudspeaker—one smaller than the brand’s 4.2-foot-tall, 330-pound, $70,000-per-pair flagship—TAD director of engineering Andrew Jones and his team applied lessons learned from the Reference One to achieve a new benchmark for stand-mounted speakers. This point-source powerhouse—which weighs just over 100 pounds, stands about 2 feet tall, and costs $37,000 per pair—achieves Jones’ sonic goal of creating a holographic rendering of the musical image.

"In designing this loudspeaker, my goal was to match the no-compromise performance of the Reference One when playing in large rooms, but in a compact enclosure better suited for smaller rooms," says Jones.

The Compact Reference—also known as the CR1—sacrifices nothing but size and the very bottom of the frequency spectrum. At the heart of the speaker is TAD’s Coherent Source Transducer (CST). The CST has a midrange cone and tweeter dome made of the extremely lightweight and rigid metal beryllium, and they are configured concentrically, forming an ideal point source. Operating from 250 Hz to 100 kHz, the CST produces rock-solid imaging and an expansive soundstage.

The low-loss, high-linearity bass driver reproduces the loudest bass passages without distortion thanks to aerodynamic reflex porting, and it integrates seamlessly with the CST through a state-of-the-art three-way crossover.

TAD, a subsidiary of Pioneer that has been making professional-grade speakers and studio monitors for 30 years, also offers an amplifier and a disc player that synergize with the Compact Reference sonically, structurally, and aesthetically.

The M600 is a monaural amplifier that delivers massive power—600 watts at 4 ohms—and exceptionally stable performance with simple, single-stage voltage amplification and fully symmetrical topology. A 77-pound graphite cast-iron monocoque chassis controls vibration and enables you to make an impressive industrial-design statement with a brace of M600 monoblocks.

The D600 disc player features an ultrahigh-precision master clock that ensures accurate digital-to-analog conversion, enabling the component to reproduce music that is virtually the same as the original recording.

Technical Audio Devices, tad-labs.com

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