The TAD ME1 (ME for Micro-Evolution) is the third stand-mounted compact loudspeaker to be rolled out by Japan’s Technical Audio Devices in recent years. Led by the Reference Series CR1, a beryllium-driver three-way of ravishing sonic quality and physical beauty, the procession continued with the Evolution Series CE1—nearly as formidable in some aspects, but at a more approachable, though still heady price. I’ve reviewed both of these fine efforts (Issues 205 and 256, respectively), and now it’s my good fortune to write about TAD’s latest offering. The ME1 is the company’s smallest Evolution Series compact to date, and its least expensive as well. Yet in some ways it could also be its most impressive.
The ME1 is a three-way, stand-mounted monitor that measures sixteen inches tall. It’s a bass-reflex configuration that is in many respects the physical spitting image of the CE1, only better proportioned. The ME1 has been scaled down impeccably. Where the CE1 always seemed a little top-heavy and precariously perched on its floor stands, the ME1 represents a speaker of uncommon balance. Its much smaller footprint will allow it to work well within the tighter confines of more modest listening spaces.
Among the ME1’s features is its star transducer, the redoubtable CST (Coherent Source Transducer)—the concentric driver that has defined TAD’s Reference and Evolution efforts. In the ME1’s case, TAD has engineered a new and smaller version of this design; the tweeter is an ultra-light casting of high-rigidity beryllium. (In contrast, the beryllium tweeter of the CR1 is formed using the more costly vapor-deposition process.) The tweeter is then concentrically inset in a new 3.5" magnesium midrange. Compare this with the CE1, which uses a 5.5" magnesium mid, and the CR1, which sports the expensive (but worth it) 6.5" pure beryllium midrange.
For the ME1 the CST was designed to cover the bandwidth from 420Hz to 60kHz. In addition, the directional characteristics of this coaxially configured midrange and tweeter have been matched to eliminate audio interference (i.e., frequency suckouts centering around the crossover region), on-axis beaminess, or that familiar cupped-hands honkiness that has plagued many concentric designs from the past. Thankfully the ME1 handily dodges these colorations. The woofer is a new 6" MACC (Diaphragm Multi-Layered Aramid Composite Cone), based on a diaphragm made from “Aramid fabric and non-woven materials that are separately formed then laminated for enhanced strength and low internal loss.”
The robustly built cabinet is constructed with a birch-ply frame and bracing, plus MDF outer panels. Thick (4mm) steel plates are added to the left and right sides of the cabinet to further reduce unwanted resonances. TAD explained that the cabinet’s internal space was analyzed to optimize placement of the damping and to reduce standing waves.
At a glance the enclosure might appear to be a sealed-type but the ME1 is actually a bass-reflex design of a very stealthy order. Like the CE1 it fools the eye with its bi-directional ADS (Aero-Dynamic Slot Port), a clever feature that uses flared openings along each side hidden beneath the aforementioned panels. The ports vent to the outside through narrow vertical openings. This symmetrical layout reduces the effects of a port signature (such as chuffing) in addition to moderating standing waves within the enclosure.
The enclosure is beautifully appointed, with a deep lustrous finish and high-quality dual binding posts that cinch a cable easily and properly. The raked stands are very stable, sturdy, and rigid, and bolt to the underside of the ME1, complementing the speaker to a tee.
The crossover network is no less carefully executed. The CST driver uses a polypropylene film capacitor and a non-inductive resistor, among other select parts. The 6.5" woofer filter uses a low-loss coil with superior magnetic properties, a low-loss electrolytic capacitor, a non-inductive wire-wound resistor, and an air-core coil in a configuration designed to lower resistance.