TAD Micro Evolution One Review
The TAD ME1 speaker is a compact bookshelf system which incorporates TAD's technologies into a smaller and much more affordable offering. The ME1 is a true three-way speaker that incorporates a 16-cm woofer and a 9-cm Coherent Source Transducer (CST) driver. The speaker is on the larger side of 'small' bookshelves coming in at 20kg (44 pounds) per speaker and dimensions of 251W x 411H x 402D mm (9.9 x 16.2 x 15.8 inches). The CST incorporates a mid-range with a tweeter mounted inside.
The concept of the CST promises to deliver unmatched sound quality throughout the entire room along with incredible imaging and depth. This is the same technology found in TAD's much larger and more expensive speakers. Bass is handled differently inside the ME-1 via a TAD technology called a Bi-Directional Aero-Dynamic Slot. Essentially a slot on the side of the speaker cabinet that eliminates unwanted port sound and reduces standing waves inside the cabinet.
The ME-1 is currently available in high gloss black and titanium finish. The quality is excellent and the cabinet is made of MDF, baltic birch plywood, and a 4mm steel plate all finished off with multi-layer paint which takes weeks to complete. The binding posts are also solid and incredibly well made. The whole package look extremely high-end design with a nod to contemporary design queues and worthy of the price tag.
So how does it sound?
In a word: incredible. It has an extremely smooth mid range coupled with an open air treble and punchy mid bass. The sound tends towards the warmer side but doesn't give up any of the top end, it's airy and smooth. The bass hits strong and deep for such a small box but for those looking for the ultimate in music reproduction we always suggest pairing speakers, especially bookshelves, with dedicated subwoofers. Compared to the flagship standmount TAD CR1 we find the ME1 actually easier to listen to and a little more forgiving with a variety of sources. Where the TAD CR1 blows you over with the tiniest details and pinpoint accuracy and attempts to extract every ounce of detail out of the recording whereas the ME1 lets you get on with enjoying your music and marveling at similar spaciousness and soundstage depth. It doesn't quite hit the same high notes with the extreme clarity of the CR1 but then again it's a quarter the price and might be more forgiving with some lower resolution sources.
What it does very similar and absolutely brilliantly similar to it's bigger brothers is the dynamics and stereo imaging. Thanks to TAD's innovative CST driver the dynamics and imaging is simply unmatched. Once you hear this kind of music reproduction it's hard to go back to other speaker designs, especially if this is something you value in music reproduction.
We used Tidal streaming for most of the review. Starting off with Caribbean Blue (Enya Remastered 2009) there's a distinct airy instrument hit near the beginning that's a torture test for speakers. A lot of speakers will make this note sound like it's clipping the tweeter as the music dances from the left soundstage to the right and emits a reverb hit. This area makes the track sound like it's distorted where as it isn't, some tweeters can't cope well in reproducing this sound but the TAD managed to tame it well without any hint of distortion. The new age track was reproduced flawlessly through the TAD ME1's.
Moving onto Pale Green Ghosts (John Grant 2013) we measured the performance of the mid-bass punch through the track. What we heard was spaciousness and a very tight bass line throughout, something that will make you get up and dance... or atleast tap your toes. The bass isn't nearly as strong as you'd get with floorstanders but it is extremely well defined and again a pair of subwoofers tuned and crossed over properly would give you all you need.
Listening to Here (Alessia Cara 2015) showcased how well the TAD can playback modern pop music. Alessia's voice is firmly planted and the track gives a wide soundstage with incredible layering of all the instruments. This continued to be true even when we tried listening off axis, perfect if multiple people will be enjoying the system or if you chose not to sit dead center between the pair of speakers. The vocals and instruments are projected into the room with impeccable precision and space localization. All of this with an extremely smooth and extended mid-range and treble make for a phenomenally fun pair of speakers.
We continued to be impressed by the TAD ME1's when playing back a variety of music through the system. Trying various electronics in the chain we noticed each swap out of a component resulted in easily perceived differences in the sound but the total sonic signature remained the same. The only negative we can think of is the slightly thin bass as it doesn't quite hit the bottom most registers but that's to be expected given the cabinet sizing, part of this will also depend on the room placement and acoustics. Something easily remedied by adding a pair of subwoofers. One further note: the midrange and tweeter CST assembly is behind a metal grille.
We definitely wouldn't recommend trying to fill a very large space with the ME1's with the idea of hitting reference level playback but for medium to smaller sized spaces we can't think of a more worthy speaker to audition. It's truly hard to imagine anything that can outclass the ME-1 in it's price bracket, especially if you're looking for something more modern in appearance and carrying a smaller footprint.
Please contact us to arrange an audition of this world class speaker.