04 October, 2013

Review: Pioneer/Exclusive/TAD TD-3401, Part I

model3401-Wの画像Review: Pioneer/Exclusive/TAD TD-3401, Part I

Part II details how my pair performed in another space.

Previous Encounters with various Pioneer/Exclusive/TADs
I have to confess I have always had mixed feelings about most of my previous encounters with Pioneer/Exclusive/TAD. The 2-way 2402 and even the bigger 2401 seem to be not efficient, not SET friendly and not even very "horn" sounding. I have also previously heard the TD-2301 (see the pdf cited below), and neither did that do much to me. Part of this I am sure is my general reservation about wooden horns. Those who want to read more about my previous experiences can read more here.

But then came my encounter with TD-3401. My impression was, for once, very positive. Now, despite its smaller size, and a small wooden horn (compared to the more popular 2401/2402), it makes a hornier sound! The reason for that is what I mentioned previously: "...although the wooden horn of 3401's midrange driver is very small, with the help of the tweeter the 3401 achieves an excellent dispersion, feeling of air and presence that to my ears OUTCLASSES its succesor 2401. Here lies one of my strong beliefs: A very good 3-way is better than an excellent 2-way. The 3401 is 3-way, the 2401 2 only. Enough said for me; YMMV...". Now, that is the one for me! First some useful info:

audio-heritage.jp has a lot of info on Pioneer/Exclusive/TAD loudspeakers:

Comprehensive catalog of individual components (Page on 3401)

Woofer 15" (EL-403)
Mid-range driver + horn (ED-915EH-351S
Super-tweeter(ET-703 Crossover Unit (EN-907)

And here is a useful Chinese pdf on various Exclusive/TAD models.

TD-3401 Redux
I am happy to report that thanks to some recent development I recently got a pair of TD-3401 to play in my reference system. I took some help and effort to get them into the house. They were casually placed in front of the Tannoy's, rather near-field and really too low in placement, but that will have to do until I elevate them. I briefly tested them with all Japanese electronics:

Digital: Sony CDP/DAC R1
Preamp: Leben RS28CX
Amp: Wavac MD-300B

Before hooking things up, based on previous encounters we had doubts about the viability of using 300B for the 3401. But after things warmed up it was not bad at all! Sound was tremendously detailed, if just a tad cool. The 300B did not plumb the greatest depths, but the bass was developed and the general sound was balanced, fast and lively, hardly betraying the limited power on demand. Considering that the speakers had been idle for more than 2 years, and the electronics had not been fired up recently too, that is remarkable! The rated 97 db of the TD-3401 surely is much closer to the truth than the 95 db of the TD-2402! This also attests to the great driving power of the Wavac MD-300B.

You will hear a lot more about the 3401 in the coming future.


  1. I don't understand how you can say 2401/2 are not efficient or SET friendly. All of the TAD 15" woofers - 1601,2,or 3 are extremely efficient, and obviously any compression driver from any manufacturer is far more efficient still. I would guess for normal all day listening type of volume, a fraction of a watt is all that is required. TAD professional drivers are among the most efficient drivers that have ever been manufactured, regardless of their age. - Malcolm

  2. Hi Malcolm, if one looks at the spec's on paper, one would likely reach the same conclusion as you. Indeed, the TAD woofers themselves may seem to be efficient, BUT as a whole the entire loudspeaker is much less efficient than the spec's suggest. I have heard 2401 and 2402 driven by 300B on more than one occasion, and the 8 wpc or so is certainly insufficient for "normal all day listening" (in this respect, 15" JBL finished products are quite similar). I suspect the substantial TAD crossovers eat up a lot of power.

    For true efficiency, I'd say Klipsch and Altec. For models with the same efficiency rating, these would be a lot easier to drive than TAD.

    Even Tannoy! I assure you the 96 db Tannoy Canterbury is a lot easier to drive than the 97 db TD-3401! Yes, I use them in the same room. 300B with the Canterbury can rock! Not so the TAD.

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  4. AnonymousJune 12, 2018

    What about the 2401 with optional ET-703 tweeter to make it a 3 way? tried that? I wonder if the crossover on the 2401 needs to be modified to accept the 3rd speaker.. they did sell models as 3 ways including the ET-703, but the majority seem to be 2 way..

    1. Don't know. The TAD's don't usually need a tweeter as the highs are quite extended and easily reveal grain in recordings (not so good for home). I suppose the smaller size of the midrange horn in the 3401 makes coupling with a tweeter desirable.