The TD1.2’s tonal balance is pretty darn close to neutral—within its range—but, as usual, can vary somewhat with changes in speaker placement. Even though neutral is a theoretical absolute, some speakers’ “version of neutral” differs from others. The TD1.2’s kind of neutral is pleasant, not the hair-shirt variety some speaker designers smugly insist really is neutral, but often sounds slightly bright and brittle—and not much like live acoustic music, actually. From the midbass on up, the TD1.2 is realistically balanced. The midrange is remarkably natural sounding, and the upper frequencies are extended, pristine, and revealing without sounding edgy or grainy. Bass extension is good but does not give some large orchestral music its full due. The speaker just doesn’t extend low enough with enough amplitude to carry that off. The lowest synth notes on some pop music are also just plain missing. Overall loudness level limits are higher than those of typical small speaker, but are still evident in the form of some hardness on hard transients when the speaker is pushed beyond its comfort zone. The TD1.2 is a wonder in many ways, but a mini-monitor with 6.5" mid/woofer—even if it is a honey of a high-tech tantalum-diamond one, mounted in a solid, well-damped, heavily braced ported cabinet—can still only extend so far in the bass with authority. In the bass, Raidho lists the –3dB level as 45Hz. That is credible and a bit conservative, as I got some meaningful extension below 45Hz present in my system. (The TD1.2 actually played a 30Hz tone, albeit softly, from a test record.)
I assume, though, that anyone considering a small stand-mounted speaker is already aware of the limitations of the product category and does not expect even close to full-range performance. Interestingly, the TD1.2 provided enough satisfying low-end foundation with a wider range of pop and blues recordings than it did with typical Romantic era orchestral music. Perhaps this is more a function of the complexity and wider frequency range of large orchestral music. (I attend more orchestral concerts—at least 17 per year—than any other type of live music, so orchestral music is my most relevant reference.)
Two Live Subs
Is the TD1.2 close enough to neutral in the lower octaves to integrate well with subwoofers? Some mini-monitors don’t match up very well with subs, often because the monitors have a sizeable bump in their upper bass intended to compensate for their lack of true low-end extension, and the crossover zone between monitor and sub becomes too problematic to allow for a smooth blend.
I took the Raidhos over to a friend’s house who has two REL G1 subwoofers in his system. Happily, the answer to the subwoofer question is, yes, the TD1.2 integrated sonically very well with the RELs with very little fuss and adjustment required. The TD1.2 is definitely sub-ready, and adding subwoofers may be a good approach for those who would like increased lower bass extension, especially in rooms whose optimal speaker soundstaging location is not its optimal frequency-response location (and for those who do not want to mess with DSP room correction, of course). Personally, I would try two very fast subs like the smaller JL Audio models rather than one larger sub.
As already mentioned, soundstaging is outstanding. Wide, wide, wide...as my guest listeners affirmed. Depth is also very good, with an interesting twist. Rather than portraying the soundscape as a large imaginary terrarium whose front is near the plane of the speakers—starting near the back of the cabinets and then continuing rearward from there—the TD1.2 also projects out into the listening area in a way that includes a good deal of the space between the speakers and the listener. In a recording where the brass section plays loudly, for example or a singer really sings to the balcony, that projected sound extends into the listening room in an approximation of what happens in live music. The effect allows for a greater sense of immediacy and listener involvement than a more “contained-box” soundstage does.
I don’t associate this soundstage projection with “forwardness.” For one thing, it only happens when the recording has an element that projects to the front as it would in real life. It is not a consistent characteristic across most recordings. And second, the TD1.2 is not at all hyped up or overly “hot” sounding, as is often the case with forward-sounding speakers. On the contrary, the TD1.2 is remarkably revealing without sounding forced or aggressive. Its grain-free, detailed-without-brightness quality is one of its endearing attributes, actually.
Individual images within the larger soundscape are also very well fleshed out, as is the space around musicians. Instrument and singer placement is believable—recording permitting—and images have substantial physical presence and 3-D depth. Even small instruments like triangles impart a sense of substance. Front-to-back layering is very good and in proportion to width and height. Soundstage height is good for a speaker of this size. I am used to a speaker with a much taller driver array (the YG Sonja 2.2), so I have to be fair here. Given the TD1.2’s size, its soundstage height is as tall as any reasonable person could expect. Having said this, I believe that the vertical dispersion of the TD1.2’s ribbon tweeter is narrower than that of some of the dome or ring-radiator tweeters found in other mini-monitors. That last bit of apparent top-to-bottom soundstage height is not as fulsome as it is with the Gamut RS3i, for example (another Meldgaard design).
Speaking of speaker/listener height, I hope Raidho is developing a new dedicated stand. The stand for the older C1 and D1 is not a good sonic fit for the TD1.2 even though the C1/D1 stand physically matches the TD1.2 cabinet perfectly. The old stand, in my opinion, is a bit too tall (30") for most listening positions and doesn’t provide a solid enough foundation for the TD1.2 to perform its best. The old stand (a pre-Meldgaard effort) is a clever design in terms of aesthetics and diffraction mitigation, but it is very lightweight and unstable. It actually wobbles without much inducement, and I would not be surprised if a C1 or D1 has been knocked off this stand because of its instability. Dynamics suffer quite a bit, soundstaging shrinks, and the speaker just doesn’t sound as “alive” in general with the C1/D1 stand. I achieved far better performance with a 26" sand-filled Dynaudio Stand4. (Raidho’s Sales & Product Manager Ronni Petersen actually recommended the Stand4, which I happen to own.) The Dyanuadio has substantial steel/hard-rubber/steel top and bottom plates with two large-diameter, fillable pillars, so it is sturdy, heavy, and well damped. It doesn’t match the speaker’s aesthetics or fit the cabinet bottom very well, so I look forward to seeing whatever new stand Raidho comes up with. Besides, the Stand4 is now, unfortunately, discontinued. I described its characteristics only to illustrate the sort of stand that yielded excellent results. One with similar stability and non-resonant qualities will most likely also allow the TD1.2 to perform well.