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Raidho TD1.2 Loudspeaker

Danish loudspeaker-maker Raidho initially caught my attention at CES 2012 with its C1 mini-monitor. It had wonderful resolution and outsized musical swagger. In underdog-rooting fashion, I like how some small stand-mounted speakers can deliver satisfying, larger-than-expected sound, and the C1 certainly did just that. Subsequently, the C1 went through several model revisions; then the similar looking, better performing, and more expensive D1—with a diamond-coated mid/woofer—took Raidho’s small speaker offerings to a whole new level. 

The $24k TD1.2 is the latest model in Raidho’s lineup to use the same cabinet shape and driver configuration as the C1/D1—namely a ribbon tweeter above a single mid/woofer. Other than that, it is a new design, with new drivers, new crossover, new internal cabinet construction. And it has a new designer—Benno Baun Meldgaard. Raidho’s parent company (Dantax Radio S/A of Denmark) brought Meldgaard into its group of companies (Raidho, Scansonic, Gamut, and Harmony) by acquiring Gamut Audio, where Meldgaard is chief designer of both speakers and electronics. The word on the street is that Dantax acquired Gamut, in part, to bring Meldgaard on board for his design acumen. I am familiar with Meldgaard’s work through his re-designs of the Gamut M250i mono amplifier (my long-standing reference) and the Gamut RS3i stand-mounted speaker, which I reviewed very positively in 2016. I also happen to be familiar with the earlier versions of those models as well as other pre- and current Meldgaard designs, and I can verify that he has improved them across the board.

I will cover some of Meldgaard’s design goals for the TD1.2 and its technology later, but let me first address sonic performance, which is the whole point of this affair, after all. The TD1.2 is, simply stated, the most revealing, musically compelling, and dynamically alive small stand-mounted speaker I have heard. It is also so coherent from top to bottom that it sounds very close to a single driver design—and a very wideband one, at that—rather than a two-way with drivers made of different materials. Just like the original D1, the TD1.2 sounds as if it is larger than its size might lead you to expect. It has dynamic presence and slam that compete with some floorstanders. Indeed, in dynamic impact and soundscape scope, the TD1.2 is size-defying in an almost chuckle-inducing way. That is what I think, but I wanted to know what others thought. 

Three Blind Mice
Ergo, I found three audio enthusiasts who agreed to listen, each separately, to the TD1.2 without seeing it or the system it was playing in—which is to say, blindfolded. I told them it was SpeakerX from a new company and that I wanted to get their impression of the speaker’s sound without being influenced by its appearance. This was not a comparison test sometimes used in blind listening in which blindfolded listeners are asked to rate three different items or variables before the order of the variables is changed and they are asked to rate them again. It was just a way to get three impressions of the sound based on sonic qualities alone—not in direct comparison to anything else. Sometimes, I suspect audiophiles—myself included—are unduly influenced by what we see in an audio system. Tubes, turntables, Class D amps, brand names, etc. all invoke expectations based on past impressions and opinions. It is human nature.

Listener One very adroitly deduced that SpeakerX was a planar-magnetic type like a Magnepan, although not a full-height one, that it was maybe five feet tall, and that it was either being reinforced in the bass by a small subwoofer or was a hybrid panel/cone design. He said that the mids and upper frequencies had the fine resolution and lack of grain of a Maggie—which he very much liked—but that the presentation on the whole had more dynamic punch and bass weight than a typical Maggie. When I asked him to point to the lateral extent of the soundstage, he pointed about three feet beyond the outer edge of each speaker, which is beyond the sidewalls of my listening room. He also thought the speakers were placed farther apart and farther away from his listening position than they actually were. Listener One wrote to me later, “I recall that in listening to the Raidhos it was not possible to locate an instrument emanating from a specific driver. The Raidhos did a nice job of filling in the space between and around them with precisely placed instruments and voices in all three planes. The other memory is that on the live concert material the Raidho’s did seem to recreate the experience of being in the ‘live’ venue.”

Listener Two did not want to guess what sort of driver technology was involved but averred, with some confidence, that the speakers were most likely not small stand-mounteds but more probably medium/small floorstanders. He also pointed to about the same location for the outer limits of the soundstage as Listener One did—well outside the enclosures of the speakers themselves. When I asked him if he could point to where he thought the speakers were located in the room, he said he could not possibly do so. As sound sources, “they completely disappeared,” as many audio folk like to say. He remarked how physically present the speakers made the music sound and how marvelously detailed and musically engaging they were.

Listener Three pretty much echoed the impressions of the other two, saying that dynamic punch was very good, the soundscape was large, imaging was excellent, tone colors were well fleshed out, bass had decent presence, etc. Interestingly, Listener Three guessed that the speaker was a medium-sized two-way design, either a stand-mount or a smallish floorstander, with its drivers placed close to each other. While he thought the upper extent of the soundstage on the vertical plane was quite high (well above the speakers), he surmised the lower extent started at a higher level off the floor than that of a typical multiway floorstander. He said the TD1.2 sounded very well balanced and detailed. He could hear the “embouchure air,” for example, from the clarinet player during the LP playback of Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette” [RCA]—the same recording that was playing when I asked each listener to point to the outer edge of the soundscape.

When they removed their blindfolds, Listeners One and Two were surprised to see small speakers on stands about 95″ apart and 63″ out from a back wall that is, itself, only 12.5′ wide. All three thought the speakers were farther apart, farther away, and in a larger room. They commented on how impactful and revealing the presentation was. Two other audiophile friends also listened to the TD1.2 in my system, without blindfolds. Even with sight as part of their impression, they too were impressed by how dynamically powerful, open, and revealing the speaker sounded. I am not the only one who thinks the TD1.2 plays a lot “bigger” than it looks.

 

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.

 

Another “user experience” factor folks should be aware of is the break-in time required to allow the TD1.2 to perform at its best. The user manual suggests 250 hours. I would say that is a bare minimum guideline, and those hours should be at normal listening levels, not low “nighttime” levels. Bass response and agility improves, upper frequencies open up, driver integration and imaging get considerably better with sufficient break-in. If you hear a TD1.2 sound a bit constricted in the vertical plane, with imaging that is a little indistinct (accompanied by an odd surround-like effect) and mid/bass attack not quite keeping up with the upper frequencies, you are hearing a TD1.2 that has not been sufficiently run in, or that has been placed too high off the floor, or both. (There could also be problems with the partnering system, of course.) 

One Happy Listener
Resolution of fine detail is the main strength of this speaker. Within its frequency range, the TD1.2 recreates musical details so accurately and so compellingly that it is breathtaking. High resolution combined with unparalleled dynamic agility and impact—for its size—made listening to the TD1.2 an unreserved pleasure. The sort of low-level information that helps convey apparent musical intent comes through very clearly; therefore, I felt a close emotional connection to the music. Subtle dynamic shadings, shifts in phrasing and in rhythmic emphasis, rubato, etc. help make music evocative, and the TD1.2 has a way of digging into the details to communicate those subtleties. The resolution TD1.2 offers only enhances the immediacy of the music rather than seemingly laying bare every last detail as an exercise in “accuracy” for its own sake. Detail without musical beauty is not the result here, as is sometimes the case with ultra-revealing speakers. Tonal density, timbral fullness, transient snap, musical flow…they are all there in abundance. In its own right, I cannot fault the TD1.2 in any way. Its only limitations are related to its size, which really aren’t design or execution limitations, but simply part and parcel of the performance envelope of a mini-monitor. As such, the TD1.2’s overall presentation is without peer, in my experience.

Design and Technology
Benno Meldgaard shared with me some of his design changes over the previous D1.1 (designed by Michael Børresen): “First, the enclosure is completely redesigned internally, optimizing the airflow. Second, both drivers are new designs. The woofer utilizes our brand-new magnet system, which is not only one of the most powerful underhung designs today, but is also shaped in a way that ensures that no reflections of sound return to the cone. The cone is also updated from the previous one, using an ultra-thin layer of tantalum, before the diamond layer is added, which yields an even harder and stiffer membrane. Third, the crossover is also a completely new design, which not only ensures correct phase response at the listening position, [but also] ensures that both drivers are in phase at all frequencies and that the impulse response of both drivers is aligned. This is the reason why the TD1.2 reproduces the soundstage so precisely—easily heard in how big a difference there is in soundstage between different recordings.” 

On that last observation about differences in respective soundstage presentations, Meldgaard is not engaging in unsubstantiated promotion of his baby. I can verify that clearly discernible differences among the soundstages of different recordings are indeed clearly audible through the TD1.2. Some have vast and evenly laid out soundscapes; others have mashed-up players over to one side with other spaces that are left empty. Instrumental placement can vary from cut to cut on the same album—all readily heard through the TD1.2.

When I asked Meldgaard to tell me about his performance goals for the TD1.2, he offered the following: “I wanted to raise the sensitivity from 83dB found in the old D1.1 (using industry standard measurements). I wanted to make the speakers phase and impulse correct. I wanted to lower distortion levels even further. I wanted overall performance to become more natural and organic sounding. As regards impedance, it is actually 6 ohms on both the old and new. But the electrical phase is much flatter, and the sensitivity has been raised from 83dB to 87dB, which means the TD1.2 runs fantastically with tube amplifiers, as well.” Hmm, I better check that out. 

I borrowed an Audio Research VS115 (120W) from a friend to find out if a medium-powered tube amp would show any signs of distress. None. It sailed right on. I also tried a solid-state Hegel Röst integrated amp (75W). Same result. It could be argued the VS115 is on the more powerful side of medium-powered for a tube amp, and the Röst is not your average 75W box, but I think Meldgaard’s claims of easing amplifier load are legitimate. Having said this, there is no question that the TD1.2 sounds more commanding with the Full Monty treatment of my current reference electronics (Constellation Virgo III linestage and Gamut M250i mono amplifiers). The 6-ohm, 87dB rating is believable and means a wide variety of amplifiers can drive the TD1.2. Of course, with transparency galore, you would do well to assemble the best possible associated gear and cabling to take full advantage of the TD1.2’s capabilities.

I have put off the subject of price—the thorniest subject in our business—to the end. The cost of entry here is admittedly high ($24k), especially when one considers that many good, closer-to-full range floorstanders cost less, some considerably less. Smaller stand-mounted speakers fit better with some music lovers’ circumstances—small listening spaces, shared living areas, multi-unit dwellings with neighbors on the other sides of walls, etc. Some listeners simply prefer the purity of a well-executed, small two-way speaker; there are fewer things to go wrong compared to a multiway floorstander with a larger and more resonant cabinet, more surface area for diffraction, at least one more crossover, driver discontinuities, and room placement conflicts between optimal soundstaging and smooth frequency response. If you are a music lover who favors a small speaker, and can allocate the necessary funds to buy it, the Raidho TD1.2 is well worth your consideration.

Conclusion
The TD1.2 is the highest-performing, small, stand-mounted two-way loudspeaker I have heard—and I have heard some of the best. Its winning combination of exceptional overall resolution, expansive soundstaging, and musical swing in the form of lightning-fast and robust dynamics is just wonderful. This is a speaker for the two-way enthusiast who is willing to acquire the best of breed. 

The Raidho TD1.2 appealed to my heart and head, to my musical soul and analytical reviewer self, and to my underdog-winning delight every time I heard it belt out stunning dynamic slam. Everyone who’s heard the speaker in my system loved it and marveled that such accuracy, lack of grain, and musical beauty came in such a small package. A marvel, indeed. Highly recommended.

Specs & Pricing

Driver complement: One TD ribbon tweeter, one 6.5″ tantalum-diamond mid/woofer driver 
Frequency response: 45Hz–50kHz -3dB
Sensitivity: 87dB/2.828 V/m
Impedance: 6 ohms, 5 ohms minimum (@120 Hz)
Recommended amplifier power: >20 W 
Crossover point: 2.5kHz stepped slope, phase and impulse linear
Cabinet: Aluminum baffles (integral to tweeter and mid/bass drivers), curved wood sides, ported
Dimension: 7.8″ x 14.2″ x 16.1″ 
Finish: Black piano, all possible paint colors, walnut burl veneer
Weight: 33 lbs. each
Price: $24,000 (without stands)

RAIDHO ACOUSTICS/DANTAX RADIO A/S
Bransagervej 15
9490 Pandrup, Denmark
+45 98 24 76 77 
raidho.dk

Associated Equipment
Analog source: Basis Debut V turntable and Vector 4 tonearm, Benz-Micro LP-S MR cartridge
Digital sources: Hegel Mohican CDP, HP Envy 15t running JRiver MC-20, Hegel HD30 DAC
Phonostage: Moon by Simaudio 610LP
Linestages: Ayre K-1xe, Hegel P30, Constellation Audio Virgo III
Integrated amplifier: Hegel H390
Power amplifiers: Gamut M250i, Hegel H30
Speakers: YG Acoustics Sonja 2.2, Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature
Cables: Shunyata Sigma signal cables, Nordost Heimdall 2 USB, Shunyata Alpha SPDIF and AES/EBU, Shunyata Sigma NR power cords
A/C Power: Two 20-amp dedicated lines, Shunyata SR-Z1 receptacles, Shunyata Triton v3, and Typhon power conditioners
Accessories: PrimeAcoustic Z-foam panels and DIY panels, Stillpoints Ultra SS

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