The Vibe shares the same elegant casework and compact footprint as The Groove, but with the addition of two, large, off-set rotary controls. In keeping with the non-metallic theme of the chassis, the knobs are carved from Delrin, with grooves to allow for three O-rings to be added to each. Despite the simplicity of the solution, it hits the holy grail of matching an attractive appearance with a really nice tactile and operational feel. The right hand control allows you to select between the five line-level inputs (single-ended only), the left uses a stepped attenuator to set level. Apart from the two rows of input sockets on the rear panel, you get a single set of record outputs (an uncharacteristic frippery?) and two sets of pre-outs, all on RCA sockets. And I didn’t forget to mention the remote control: there isn’t one – which is one less thing for me to leave in the box.

The Vibe’s optional, upgraded external supply is an altogether more substantial beast than the one for the phono-stage. Dubbed The Pulse, it is built into a metal case that occupies nearly the same footprint as the line-stage itself, the chassis echoes the distinctive (for which you could substitute, “love it or hate it”) octagonal section of the TEAD power amps. In this case it’s small enough and runs cool enough that you can tuck it out of sight if its looks offend.

And that is all she wrote: a pair of smallish boxes, offering volume, source select and the bare minimum of connections. The TEAD products are about performance first to last – and everything in between. These are genuine no-compromise designs – not in the sense that they’ve done everything it’s possible to do, irrespective of cost, but in the sense that they have done nothing that might compromise the best possible performance. You don’t buy them to impress your neighbours. You probably don’t buy them to impress your audiophile friends. You choose them because performance – the musical performance – matters to you. You choose them because they deliver that performance at a price and with a quality that normally costs a whole lot more.

Good vibrations…

The TEAD electronics have always been (and to some extent still are) unashamedly solid-state in nature and character. Yes – I know there are tubes in the output stage of the amplifiers, but not all tube-amps are lush, warm and romantic (or muddled, noisy and rhythmically challenged). From the inception of the Iso (and even the Finestra pre-amp before that) the designs have been about resolution and organisation – spatial, temporal and, above all, musical. But as they have evolved, the products have almost literally filled out, gaining weight, body, dimensionality and tonal colour. From their inception, the products have always had a solid spatial and temporal ‘skeleton’. Over the years they’ve put more and more flesh on the bones, all muscle and little or no fat. Listen to The Vibe and this is the lean, energetic and precise musical physique that will greet you.

I ran The Vibe in a number of systems and with a number of partnering amps and speakers. The TEAD Linear B monos were obvious choices, but the very nature of the beast lends it to partnering tube amps that enjoy a quick, clean signal (or simply need sharpening up). For years I ran both the original Vibe and it’s predecessor, the Michell Argo HR, with my Jadis JA30s and it was these amps that ended up spending most time in the review system, paired with the various Living Voice Auditorium speakers (R25, OBX-RW3 and 4), the Stenheim Alumine 2 and the Raidho D1s.