Review: TAD (Tube Audio Design) TAD 1000 mono blocks

Category: Amplifiers

I actually stumbled on Paul Grzybek's tube amps from a close friend that had recommended the TAD 150 Signature preamp for my system. I hadn't even intended to buy another pair of tube amps, but the "package deal" that Paul was offering at the time (TAD 150 preamp, TAD 1000 amps, interconnect, speaker wire, and Panamax surge protector) was too good for me to resist, so I read the info. and took the plunge.

Let me first say that Paul is one of the best guys to deal with in this industry. He's always super responsive, courteous, and very knowledgable about many things in audio.

These are really terrific amps. Are they the "best" I've ever owned...? No, but keeping the price in context and comparing them to other amps I have owned/auditioned, they ARE the best amps that I have heard in, or even slightly above, this price point.

First, a quick history, which will explain the other amps listed. I had just sold my Halo JC-1's to look around, as an ever restless audionut, still in search of the "ultimate" amp, for my system. That last sentence is important because those of us who have been on this sometimes fruitless merri-go-round will realize that system matching, room acoustics, and even personal taste will ALWAYS determine which component is the "best", for YOU.

The Halo JC-1's were the best SOLID STATE amps that I have heard or owned, but having the ASL Hurricanes on hand at the same time I had the Halo's, indicated to me that even the JC-1's couldn't quite capture that total "in the room" presense that only good tube designs seem to be able to deliver.

So, back to the TAD 1000's. While I really suspected that 100 watts per side (even in "tube watts"), probably wasn't going to be enough for the big Prodigys, in my large-ish dedicated room, I still thought trying & buying would be an interesting venture.

After considerable break-in, and the patience and courtesy of Paul G. in answering my various questions, they are now fairly "tuned in" and sound pretty darn good.

Starting from the bottom; Bass reproduction is pretty good overall, albeit not as tight and center of the earth as bigger solid state designs (but what IS there is reproduced with a lot of "timbre" and body intact). This can also be "adjusted", to some degree, by varying the Focus Control, which adjusts the feedback. More -- increases bass tightness, but you tend to lose some of the harmonic structure, throughout the entire audible range. Less -- you again obtain more harmonic structure, with slightly looser bass, but as the Prodigys are obviously more than capable of reproducing every bit of harmonic structure you can throw at 'em, I tend to leave the focus control all the way off (that is no feedback).

Midrange; Of course this is any good tube amp's forte, and here the TAD1000's do not disappoint. All of the harmonic structure, realness and "meat on the bones" is here in spades. It is this "magic" on female vocal, male vocal, and really anything that falls in this all-important midband that makes you forgive the amps other shortcomings, and just sit back and enjoy the experience. I don't know what it is about tube amps (the Hurricane's exibited the same quality), call it some sort of coloration if you like, but I can only describe the midrange as having an "organic" real character that is addictive and again, hard to part with when sliding over to the solid state side of things.

High frequencies; In this area, it may not be a totally fair observation of the amp's true abilities as the Logan's drop to a wicked 1-2 Ohms at around 10k, so yes, the 1000's do exhibit a slight "rolled off" character. To be fair, I experienced the EXACT same effect with the much larger (and more $$) Hurricane's, and indeed, it was this failing that ultimately led me to the JC-1's in the first place. But I will say, amazingly, that the TAD's actually do a little better here than even the much lauded Hurricane's. Again, this is the top-most octave's I'm talking here, the "air" as it were, around percussive instruments, but in most cases, it is never a serious distraction to the overall sound (unless you consciously, purposefully focus on it). Bells, triangles, cymbals still project and ring out well, they just don't have the "decay trail" that indicates full extension to the stratosphere -- again, with MY speakers. (BTW - I briefly hooked the 1000's up to my highly modded Optimus LX4's, with the highly revealing Lineum tweeter, and DID NOT hear any high freq. roll off).

Soundstage; Again, another area that is hard to beat with a good tube design. E-X-P-A-N-S-I-V-E, extremely well focused, images well outside the physical bounderies of the speakers. The only SS amp to equal the TAD1000's (and the 'Cane's) were the JC-1's. One of my friends describes the TAD1000's soundstage as "an enveloping bubble of a sound field" -- couldn't have said it better myself. These amps image like a champ. Also stage depth is also on par with anything that I have had in my system.

Dynamics: Both Micro and Macro are superb. One of the things that I've yet to figure out is how tube amps are able to create such a startling "jump factor" on things such as loud hand claps, finger clicks, tamborine hits, etc. without using the soda can sized caps that you see in most big solid state amps. I hear these explosive dynamic contrasts reproduced better through the 1000's (as I also did with the 'Canes) than I yet have to hear as completely and cleanly through ANY SS amp that I've tried -- although the Halo's came VERY close. (One caveat --I concede that this lack of jump factor might have been an area that was created by my non-use of a preamp with previous amps, but again I didn't use a preamp when I owned the Hurricanes either -- but that's a whole 'nother story & review!) Also, I noticed that the 1000's are very good at late night, low level listening, something that most other amps failed at doing well.

So, will I continue searching for the "ultimate" amp?? Yes, but the TAD1000's have reminded me why I tried tube amplification in the first place. They are eminently musical, their shortcomings are in the "sins of ommission" category, so they are always easy to listen to and enjoy. Finances permitting, I will probably keep them to continue to experiment with in bi-amping modes, and again, to serve as a benchmark in the midrange, for all amps to follow.

A good example of this -- I also have on hand the otherwise excellent EVO 200.2. While the EVO is certainly better at the frequency extremes, I constantly come back to firing up the TAD1000's as the much preferred amps to listen to. (The EVo is now boxed & up for sale).

Bottom line; If you are in the market for a great mono block amp set (tube or otherwise), at a great price, and you don't need TONS of output power, have dynamic speakers that might be slightly on the bright side of the spectrum, you could certainly do a LOT worse than a set of TAD1000's.

Very highly recommended.

Associated gear
Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 CD
PS Audio P300
TAD 150 "Signature" preamp
Analysis Plus Oval Crystal intrc.
Aural Thrills "Active Speaker" cable (panels)
Soundstring (woofers)
Acoustic Zen "Tsunami" AC cords (amps, preamp)
Acoustic Zen "El Nino" (speakers)
Virtual Dynamics Pwr III (P300)
Sonic Horizons "Skyline" AC (cd plr.)
MArtin-Logan Prodigy's
Infinity "Intermezzo" 1.2 pwd. sub
Sanus CF6 eq. rack
Argent "Room Lens" (3)
Shakti Stones (4)
Quantum Power "Symphony Pro" (1)
Quantum Power "Symphony" (2)
Wheatfield HA-1 hdph. amp
Sennheiser HD650
Moon Audio "Silver Dragon" hdph. cable
Vibra-Pods, Black Diamond cones, Mapleshade brass cones, AudioQuest sorbo feet.

Similar products
Antique Sound Labs "Hurricane" mono blocks
Parasound Halo JC-1
H2o S250 (2 week audition)
Bel Canto EVO 200.2
Spectron Musician II
Llano Trinity "Signature"
Classe CA301
Innersound ESL
AMC CVT2100 mono blocks
CJ Evolution 2000
McCormack DNA1
OCM 500
Post removed 
Paul is a class act. The build quality of his offerings is very high. Of note is his ability to service and support what he sells. I don't think you can go wrong here.
Jig -- I'll be posting a review on the 150 preamp as soon as I catch my breath!

I pretty much echo all that was said in a previous review/posting of the 150 -- in a word, it is terrific.
1mark -- I had the standard issue stereo S250. This was before my purchase of the TAD preamp and amps, so take this with a grain of salt... The sound in my system, with the Capitole running direct to the H2o (as it was designed to do) was pretty good overall, but ultimately was just "lifeless". It played plenty loud enough, but again, just couldn't get it to wake up & get your toes tapping, if you follow me. Not sure if it was compression related, micro dynamics, macro ???

Fairly hard to explain, and Henry @ H2o felt that it was definitly a mis-match between the Capitole's output (impedence or otherwise). I run fairly long (5.5 meter) interconnects, but they are the Analysis Oval Crystal, of which I was told by Mark Markel himself (of A.+) that even at over 100' lengths, there is no drop in signal or detectable degradation of any kind.

However, Henry Ho is probably correct, as the sound, much to my amazement, DID improve with the insertion of the TAD150 Sig. Of course this was well after the H2o had been returned.

I would like to re-audition the H2o with the TAD150 as again, I think the Capitole, by itself, wasn't enough to dynamically wake up the H2o. BTW -- the bass response from the H2o, even with this liability, was the deepest, tightest and fastest I have yet heard in my system.

What an incredible review of the TAD-1000. Very detailed and thorough! I have a set of TAD-1000’s and a TAD-150 hooked up to my Martin Logan Aerius i speakers and what they reproduce is quite wonderful. I do not think that I could have described what they do in my system anywhere close to how you have shared it. Great review! I have really enjoyed my system since Paul’s stuff from BizzyBee has infiltrated my system.

Jeff Aguilar
Thanks for the kind comments Jeff!

Yeah, Paul G. is the "real deal" and has some of the best kept secrets currently available in audio.

If you haven't already, try hooking up your Aerius's in a bi-wire config., using the following hook-up;

Woofer: - to the "0" tap on amp / Woofer + to 4 Ohm tap
Panel: - to the 4 Ohm tap on amp / + to the 8 Ohm tap

This was recommened by Paul as a "Quasi-4 Ohm" arrangement that he claims uses the transformers in a more efficient manner. Really opened up the mids & top end of my Prodigys, with the only minor negative being slightly looser bass.

Check it out!
Would anyone have a copy of the schematic available, please?
I sure would appreciate it, thanks,
Robert....I have the schematic for TAD 1000 monos, if you still need it.
Regards, John
spelly, i have recently acquired a pair of tad 1000 and would greatly appreciate a schematic. would be more than happy to compensate you for your efforts.
you can contact me at
I would be very interested in the TAD 1000 schematic, what would you charge for a copy?
Sorry, I hadn't gotten back sooner
The TAD 1000 are wonderful sounding amplifiers, I got the last pair Paul offered with all updates, but still need the schematic. No one answers any of the emails sent to the former Bizzy Bee website. Sorry for Paul's passing, wonderful man, interesting person, will be missed.