March 4, 2012

Technical Audio Devices Compact Reference Loudspeakers TAD-CR1 - Part 2

Another look of the TAD-CR1, with the protective wire mesh on the bass driver

In this post, I would like to touch on the design features of the TAD-CR1.

In his interview with Ultra Audio’s Peter Roth (refer to the links in the Part 1 post), Andrew Jones, Chief Engineer and Director of TAD, told how the TAD name came about, “Going into the professional field as "Pioneer" wasn’t going to work, so TAD was established as a separate group. It was named Technical Audio Devices because it was producing technical audio devices.” I like that, no mumbo jumbo, I think this statement embodies the solid engineering approach that goes into all TAD products. I get the same impression surfing TAD’s website and reading its brochures. Sure, there is some marketing talk with acronyms thrown in (which you'll come across a few in this post) but the overall impression is still that this is a solid engineering company.

The specifications of the TAD-CR1 are as follows:

Model: Three-way bass reflex compact speaker

Driver units: Bass: 20cm (8.0 in.) driver / Midrange/Tweeter: concentric 16cm (6.5 in.) cone/3.5cm (1.4 in.) dome

Frequency response: 32Hz to 100kHz

Crossover frequencies: 250Hz and 2kHz

Appropriate amplifier power: 50W to 200W

Sensitivity: 86dB (2.83V @ 1m free space)

Nominal impedance:

Weight: 46kg (101 lbs.)

Dimensions: 341mm (13.4 in.) (W) × 628mm (24.8 in.) (H) × 444mm (17.5 in.) (D)

If you are more technically inclined, refer to the measurement page of Stereophile's review of the TAD-CR1 (click here), which John Atkinson concluded with “Summing up the measured performance of the TAD Compact Reference CR1 is easy: This is textbook behavior!”

(Well, some may come up with repartees like, “Sure, it measures well, but good measurement does not always translate into good sound”, or “It measures flat, but flat usually does not sound good”. I agree that measurement does not tell the full picture of a component’s performance in real life. However, properly done measurement does tell what the equipment is doing right and what it is doing wrong. One can compensate for the things not done right and still get good sound (for example in an over-damped room, a loudspeaker that tilts up the highs may sound good while others sound dull). However, I am of the belief that every component must ‘first, do no harm’, then it will be easier for the owner to get quality performance out of his/her system. This is especially important for loudspeaker, I believe, as it is the component that has the most variation performance wise. Just my 2 cents).

The TAD-CR1 is a 3-way loudspeaker, but outwardly it seems to have only 2 drivers. That is because the midrange driver and the tweeter are combined into one concentric driver which TAD calls Coherent Sound Transducer (CST).

The CST driver, made of beryllium, being very fragile is protected by a non-removable wire mesh

The use of a concentric driver is not new, it can be found, for example, in KEF’s loudspeakers too. What is different is in the CST’s material and its manufacturing. Both the CST's midrange cone and the tweeter dome are made from Beryllium. Beryllium tweeters can be more commonly found, such as in Focal’s and Usher’s products, but a beryllium midrange is rare. The other product that has a midrange beryllium driver, as far as I know, is the Yamaha NS-1000. TAD’s beryllium drivers are manufactured using a unique vapour deposition technique developed by them and refined over 3 decades. The beryllium driver is extremely thin and fragile so it is protected by a wire mesh.

The CST is mated to a 8 inch bass driver which uses a TLCC (Tri-Laminate Composite Cone) aramid diaphragm. The magnetic circuit features its “unique short voice coil OFGMS (Optimised Field Geometry Magnet Structure). With a long gap of 20mm (0.8in), it linearizes the magnetic flux density along the gap. This stabilizes driver performance from small to large amplitudes, achieving high linearity and consistently accurate waveform reproduction”.

TAD manufactures their own drivers and these are found only in TAD loudspeakers.

The TAD-CR1 is biwire-able / biamp-able

Much engineering also went into the cabinet itself, The SILENT (Structurally Inert Laminated Enclosure Technology) cabinet is inherited from the TAD Reference One. Its internal framework is formed by 21mm (0.9 in.) thick CNC machined birch plywood clad with high frequency hot press formed laminated MDF panels, resulting in extremely high strength. A 27.5mm (1.1 in.) thick aluminium base lowers the centre of gravity and further stabilizes the cabinet.

The cabinet has a nicce piano finish of natural Pommele Sapele wood, a veneer that I have so far not seen in other loudspeaker manufacturer’s offerings (Note 6/3/2012: I stand corrected on this point, Joki informed me that the venerable Rogers LS3/5A Classic Limited Edition has the same Pommele Sapele veneer too). The cabinet’s teardrop shape was designed to minimize sound diffraction and unwanted resonance from internal standing waves. In fact, the entire cabinet is rounded (similarly the stand too) there is no one sharp edge to be found anywhere.

The bass reflex port underneath the TAD badge

The TAD-CR1 is a bass reflex design. However, the first time I saw the TAD-CR1 I thought it was an infinite baffle. The port is a rectangular slot and is front firing but it was so well integrated into the look it is easy to be overlooked. TAD says that ‘the bass reflex port is aerodynamically optimised based on precise fluid design technology, the flare-shaped port produces absolutely no air noise or rectification effects, even when the bass driver is driven at the limit of its excursion range’.

The TAD-ST1 stand

The matching TAD-ST1 stand is made of wood and comes in at 16kg (35.3 lbs). It brings the TAD-CR1 about 54cm (21in) off the ground.

Upskirt shot! must be a world's first ;-). TAD-CR1 on the TAD-ST1 stand.
The inner, smaller platform is the top plate of the stand. There are 2 portrudung stud on it, which fit into two holes underneath the speaker's base plate, the speaker is further secured to the stand with a bolt, as can be seen at the centre of the photo.
The outer, bigger platform is the 1-in thick aluminium base plate of the speaker, which is bolted onto the speaker body

Three types of spike to choose from.
The left is the carpet piercing spike that comes with the stand. The next two come with the loudspeakers.
The middle one has a blunt tip and the one on the right has a rounded contacting face. All are interchangeable as the thread sizes are the same.
The rounded one makes speaker positioning easy on wooden/hard floor, since the speaker+stand can be moved around more easily. Once the optimum poition is found, one of the other two can be swapped in.

Next, my experience living with the TAD-CR1.
(to be continued...)

Contact James Tan of AV Designs at 03-21712828 to listen to TAD


Big E said...


I like that upskirt shot of the TAD CR-1.

This, coming from a fellow hifi pervert such as my self!

Ha! Ha!

jo ki said...


Having few but brief experiences with TAD CR1, all I can say is that it is undoubtedly a product conjures of technical excellence and a work of art! I am glad you bought it, someone I know! Congrats!!

A gentle correction to your report regarding the rare veneer Pommele Sapele done in piano lacquer finish found in TAD CR1 can also be found in my Rogers LS3/5A Classic Limited Edition only 50 pairs ever made - it remains the most beautiful of all Beebs ever made. However, this where the similarity ends; it is nothing compare to your CR1 in performance and stature.

Jo Ki

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...


Your LS3/5A Classic LE is anything but dissimilar to the TAD CR1.

It conjures the same awe inspiring sound in its own right. It is my favourite pair of LS3/5E, ever.

OdioSleuth said...

Hi Jo,

I was indeed not aware of the veneer of the Rogers LS3/5A Classic Limited Edition. Thanks for the info and I have posted a correction note in the body of the write-up.

You are too modest with the performance you can wring out of your LS3/5As. It is nothing short of phenomenal!