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.