Country of Origin
This review first appeared in March 2023 on fairaudio.de. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated from the German original to reach a broader English audience. Ed.
Reviewer: Michael Bruß
Analog sources: J.Sikora Initial Max w. aluminum base and regulated power supply, Pro-Ject Carbon Debut Evo, Kuzma Stogi Reference S12 VAT w. Transrotor Figaro, Ortofon 2M Bronze or Ortofon 2M Red
Digital sources: ifi iDSD nano, Norma Audio Revo DAC module, Roon Nucleus, Waversa Systems Wstreamer with WLPS/LP linear power supply, MacBook Pro, Sony CDP X-707 ES, Innuos ZenMini Mk3, Auralic Aries Femto, Wattson Audio Emerson Digital, Mutec Ref10 SE120 und MC-3+USB, Innuos PhoenixNET und PhoenixUSB
Preamps: Norma Audio Revo SC-2, LinnenberG Bizet MC, Norma Audio PH3 phono
Integrated amplifier: Audio Hungary Qualiton X200 KT150, Linn Classik Movie II
Power amps: Norma Audio Revo PA-150
Loudspeakers: ATC SCM50PSL, Argon Audio Forte A5, JBL 4309, JL Audio e110 subwoofer
Cables: Ortofon Reference SPK Black, Audioquest Rocket 22 Bi-Wire, Fastaudio Black Science, Gutwire EON-Z, Ortofon Reference 7NX-705, Graditech Kide 1 & Kide 3 & Digital RCA, Audioquest Yuko, & Mackenzie, JIB Boaacoustic Silver Digital Xeno USB, Supra Cables Sword Excalibur USB, AudioQuest Vodka & Cinnamon & Carbon RCA, Supra Cables LoRAd 2.5 SPC, Gutwire SV-8 &G Clef 2, AudioQuest NRG-2
Miscellaneous: Supra Cables LoRad power strip MD08 DC 16 EU Mk 3.1, bFly PowerBase M & BaseTwo M, Ydol Relax 60 and fastaudio absorber, Acoustic System Resonators Silver & Gold, The Gryphon De-Magnetizer, Audioplan Antispikes & device feet, bFly Master absorber feet, Solidsteel SS6 stands
Rack: Roterring Belmaro 33 custom
Room size: 24.5m², 2.7m ceiling
Review component retail: €7.8K/pr
Compact class with a sedan's feel? Peruse Danish brand Raidho's TD range catalogue. We might ask whether these models are still hifi kit or already sculptural artworks. On the other hand, check out today's compact in the X range. The answer clearly favors classic hifi. Which is good. To convince ourselves of sonic advantages in the highly competitive €5-10K speaker class, one does well to invest one's R&D budget primarily into sonically relevant tech not industrial design chicane. Make no mistake though, the X1.6 is far from unsightly. It's just classically rectilinear. It's not a quasi airfoil like the first floorstander in its range, the X2t whose rear-slimming profile mirrors the larger TD series. That also reflects in a retail of €14'000/pr so nearly twice of today's ask.
Of course our Danks team have bestowed upon the boxier X1.6 form-meets-function elements which make it a recognizable Raidho. Two dark-grey aluminium baffle segments thinning out towards the bull-nosed edges improve rigidity and resonance behavior especially since the drivers see a certain mechanical separation as well as reduced edge diffraction. The cabs themselves use MDF with internal braces of the same material. Internal damping is relatively modest. Morten Kim Nielsen of Dantax Radio A/S, Raidho's parent company, explained that the energy released by their drivers shouldn't be suppressed so much that it "kills off the music's energy".
The entry-level Xer is the €5.8/pr X1t with 13cm tantalum-coated aluminium/ceramic membrane and just 8kg of fighting weight. The 12kg X1.6 gets the only 16.5cm mid/woofer in the X series but for cost reasons forgoes the rare transition-metal coating. At 3.5kHz, the company's near-legendary thin-foil magnetostat takes over. This proprietary planarmagnetic tweeter is engineered and manufactured in-house. Unlike a true ribbon which needs a transformer, the 11µm foil imprinted with circuit traces needs no transformer and according to Raidho has 50 times less moving mass than a conventional dome tweeter. That's a function of a 20mg membrane without classic voice-coil attachment. Raidho emphasize that as long as tight production tolerances are observed, the result is far less resonance and distortion. First breakup doesn't occur until 82kHz in fact. Whilst seemingly so far out of band as to be practically academic, anyone with experience of super tweeters knows how audible they can be regardless. Or think of the particularly silky refined treble of amplifiers with extreme bandwidth.
Like their thin-film tweeter, Raidho also produce this 16.5m mid/woofer with their signature Ceramix coating. That grows aluminium oxide skins atop a thin aluminium cone during tightly timed exposure to extremely high voltages. The finished cone is a homogeneous virtually seamless sandwich of ultra-rigid skins on either side of a softer aluminium core. This composite is even stiffer than a pure ceramic membrane would be yet retains excellent self-damping. According to Raidho, first breakup is pushed out to 12.5kHz. Cone drive is a strong neodymium magnet in an open-basket assembly for efficient ventilation and cooling of the thermally most resilient titanium voice coil to "eliminate mechanisms that lead to distortions." This mid/woofer loads into a rear-firing bass-reflex port tuned to 45Hz. To tip my hat early, subjective listening found it to actually extend a bit lower in my room. The two drivers separated at a relatively high 3'500 cycles put the Ceramix unit almost two octaves below its first breakup mode. That allowed a shallow 6dB/oct. 1st-order low pass. Whilst at such high frequencies a big foil sweats less than a dome tweeter, Raidho still use a 2nd-order high pass. Our amp needn't be a muscle specimen when impedance never crosses below 5.8Ω and 87dB/2.3V/1m sensitivity remains average. These speakers are quite good natured and single-wire terminals for bananas or spades don't ask for complicated biwire leashes. In my setup, the chic Danes shook hands with my Norma Audio Revo PA-150 amplifier via Ortofon Reference SPK Black speaker cable. Raidho recommend conditioning the X1.6 for a whopping 250 hours. Luckily the review samples were traveling demonstrators and only had to lose their transit trauma. After just 30 hours of play, they were ready again.