July 2, 2011

Wow! Wow! Wow! TAD-C2000 Pre-Amp.

With a title like that, it sounds like I have gone mad. There is a good reason.

Last night was a watershed for me. A piece of hifi equipment arrived in my system and conquered everything else that came before it. It was so compelling to us that me, Big E and a couple of our pals kept on listening into the wee hours. It affected my audiophile consciousness so hard that I lay in bed afterwards, replaying in my head again and again what I heard and hardly had a wink.

That piece of equipment is no more. I had only a 3-hour encounter with it. The dealer needed to take it back to set up a system. The time with it was too short, but it stamped its presence like nothing else had. It left no doubt in everyone’s mind that it was greatness we were witnessing.

What am I going on about, you may wonder. Can you recognize it from the photo below? I bet the majority of you can’t.

It was a pre-amplifier, it was the one creating the effect on us.

You may now expect me to tell you its sound. I can’t.

That is correct, I can’t.

I can’t say that it sounded warm, or that it sounded sweet, or that it sounded impactful, or that its extension was seemingly limitless, or that the soundstage was wide and deep, or that it had great presence, etc. etc..

Big E and me said to each other a couple of times, “How the heck are we going to write about this thing?”

I can’t tell you how it sounded because I simply could not get a handle on it. Well, there was no handle to get, so to speak. Every CD we played sounded distinctively different. Marcus Miller’s electric bass (“Silver Rain”) was fast, impactful, the bass notes went deep with bucket loads of details; Eva Cassidy’s vocal (“Live at Blues Alley”) was clear and the recording was top notch transparent, though quite a bit sibilant; Shelby Lynne (“Just a Little Lovin’ “) was warm, the atmosphere was so ‘wet’; Sonny Rollin’s sax (“The Bridge”) was burnish, seductive, like he was talking to you, telling you a story. In all these, the artists’ mastery of their art was laid bare for all of us to see - small variations in speed and timing, little flexes, vibratos, their control, their effort, their ease.

There was no more hifi equipment, there was just the performance. To me, the debates about tube/solid state, analogue/digital, red book/high res were rendered moot. What were there were the music and the performance.

So what is it again? I am talking about TAD’s very new TAD-C2000 pre-amplifier.

To achieve a performance at such an exalted level, the TAD-C2000 did have help. It was paired with its stablemate, the TAD-D600 CD/SACD Player. The two gelled like peanut butter and jelly (the story on the TAD-D600 is the next to come). The duo epitomized the high end credo for me now. They had set a benchmark that was far ahead of everything that I have heard in my own system. I don’t want to imagine the withdrawal I’ll suffer when they both leave.

The TAD-C2000 was fired up new and cold. In the first half hour or so, the sound was a wee bit sharp with some emphasis on sibilance. In the next two hours, it transformed bit by bit and our sense of wonder grew and grew. At the height, every note was cleanly and clearly defined, the soundstage was solidly anchored and the images were tightly focused. Each musical thread was clearly delineated. The duo did not make every recording sound good, they just clearly portrayed the differences between recordings. We could hear into the quality of each one. However, the TAD-D600 and the TAD-C2000 never missed the music. The performances were always breathing and living.

The proverbial window on each recording was thrown wide open.

The TAD-C2000 pre-amplifier is dual mono in its construction. It has 4 analogue inputs and 4 analogue outputs. It has 3 digital inputs including a USB. Its look conveys an understated elegance. In fact, it looks much better in person than in photo. The TAD-C2000 weighs 23.5 kgs.

The left channel inputs and outputs (top half of the chassis)

The right channel inputs and outputs (top half of the chassis)
and digital inputs (bottom half of the chassis)

The admission to this exclusive club is RM128,000 for the TAD-C2000 pre-amplifier and RM129,000 for the TAD-D600 SACD/CD Player (story to come). That is more than a cool quarter million Ringgit for the pair. I ought to start buying some lottery now.

Please, I urge you, give James Tan of AV Designs a call at 03-21712828, ask to listen to his TAD system.


Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Until taht night, nothing has been able to shatter my love for my dream Nagra Pl-P preamp until I heard this fella, the TAD C2000 in your system.

Eventually, I may still buy the Nagra, if just for static display! :-)

When I can finally afford both that is.

OdioSleuth said...


I share your sentiment.

Money can buy happiness, the audiophile type at least. :-)