Two and a half hour audition of the Raidho C1.1

I had the opportunity to audition this unique 2 way all by my lonesome (except for the dealer who was kind enough to remain invisible most of the time) with my own music. The speakers were hooked up to all Rowland electronics (monoblock amps, Criterion preamp, and new DAC) via top of the line Nordost cables. The room was a large open room with minimal room treatment. Unfortunately, there was a litter of speakers in between the C1.1s, like in most dealer show rooms.

I compared this "system" to my home system that I have been tweeking for the past two years with extensive room treatment (GIK acoustics), different cabling (Ridge Street Audio), amps (Carver Cherry 180 and Atma-Sphere M60), DACs (DAD Tube 10 and Tranquility SE), and preamps (Bent Audio Tap X, Dodd Audio Battery Buffer).

The C1.1 system (from now on I'll just refer to it as C1.1), despite being in a dealer room setting, came pretty close to my home system, and in one regard surpassed my system. First, the C1.1 midrange is neutral without sounding thin or harmonically bleached. My system has just a little bit more bloom in the midrange due to the tube DAC and tube amps. Midrange clarity was pretty close, may be the slightest advantage to the C1.1s. Vocals were just captivating with the C1.1s. Classical guitar was the most neutral I've come across.

Bass is more extended in my system (subjectively down to mid 30s), but the C1.1s are bit more punchy and dynamic (may be the solid state electronics have something to do with this). The Sasons and C1.1s are remarkable in the mid and upper bass information, and as such both systems have excellent bass definition and harmonics. I didn't think the C1.1s required subwoofers, unless you want to play organ or classical music and rock music to near concert hall levels.

Where the C1.1s surpass my system with most recordings is in the high frequencies. That planar magnetic tweeter is a remarkable. It is smooth, extended, and detailed a the same time. I did not get fatigued at any point in the session, except when a cut from The Who was played, but not unexpected from a 70s rock recording. The silk dome tweeters in my Sasons were outclassed. As far as silk dome tweeters go, the Sason tweeters are some of the best of its breed and integrate seamlessly with the mid/woofer. However, the C1.1 tweeters integrates seamlessly with the ceramic sandwich mid/woofer just as well, but with more detail and extension without calling attention. The microdynamics and detail in the upper midrange and treble are some of the best I've heard, equaling some of the finest electrostats and ribbon speakers.

In terms of sound staging and imaging, the upper hand goes to my system. My room has been tweeked for two years to bring out the best I can attain from my system. The Sasons in my room throw a taller, deeper and more layered soundstage. The C1.1s seemed to throw a little wider sound stage in the dealer room. Imaging is natural in both systems. Not over blown or microscopically pin point. However, the comparison is not unfair because of the two very different rooms, and the C1.1s were hampered by all the other speakers that were place in between them.

My overall impression: The C1.1 speaker is one of the few speakers out there that I would think about plunking down over $15k. Another speaker I would consider would be the Maggie 20.7s, but these are altogether different speakers with different set of requirements. It's very expensive for a 2 way (but not ridiculous like the Magico Q1s). Despite its performance, I'm still having a difficult time justifying the price of the speakers. The C1.1 system did not clearly best my system except for the upper frequencies, but the comparison is not really valid given the large differences in electronics and room. I think the Sasons are intrinsically slightly warmer speakers, although only side by side comparisons with the same electronics will tell. But I have this nagging feeling, if I were to hook the C1.1s in my system, the overall advantage (at least in terms of what I consider important in music reproduction) will go to the C1.1s.
If you haven't already figured out my speaker, they're the Ridge Street Audio Design Sason Si.
Here's a reviewer who is enamored by the C1.1. Alot more so than I am.
sounds like he likes the electronics just as much.
Thank you for sharing your impressions with us.
Great write up Dracule1. I'm curious about something. What effect do you think they other speakers between the C1.1 had. I'm wondering if the tonality would change in any appreciable way if the other speakers were not in the room.

I once had two sets of speakers in my room for a time. When I removed one set the tonality (especially the lower mids down) changed enough that a new speaker position was needed. Might have been a fluke but since then I prefer listening to speakers on their own.

Again, just curious about your thoughts on that.
Samac, the speaker set up was not ideal with several pairs of floor standing speakers in between the C1.1s. I suspected the extra speakers would affect the imaging. In a couple of recordings, I found the bass (ie, stand up bass and kick drums) to project in front of the singer. This was my system the bass is clearly behind the singer. However, those extra drivers act also like sound absorption devices and, like you experienced, could affect the tonal balance. However, I did not hear any gross tonal imbalance.
Hi Brian, I hope to hear your Vapors at LSAF!
Kclone, yea those Constellation stuff are ultra expensive and JV has a tendency to go goo goo ga ga over new ultra expensive gear.
Yeah I was wondering how much of an impact the Constellation gear had on the sound. Does it take the C1.1's to another level? Great writeup and thanks.
Do you have a Lindeman B10 on your list to audition?
Brian I am not familiar with the B10
I think you can read about it on Dagogo...
Dracule1, thanks for the reply. Great information and things I'll have to think about and listen for when I audition gear.
My system has undergone an update. Very simple but very revealing. My amplifier, Carver Cherry 180 tube monoblocks, comes with not so special stock volume pots at the input. I had them replaced with Gold Point stepped attenuators. I'm going direct from my DAC to amp now. The treble advantage that I thought the C1.1 system had over my speaker is no longer there. My system is as clean and detailed as the C1.1 system I heard in the audition. The bass response is also has improved along with dynamics and is better than what I heard in the audition. There is no advantage I hear from the C1.1 system compared to mine. Actually I prefer my system.
>There is no advantage I hear from the C1.1 system compared to mine. Actually I prefer my system.<

Unless you heard the C1.1 with YOUR amp and in YOUR room, you can't unequivocally say that. It may be your system that makes your speakers sound so good, probably is. Therefore, wouldn't it also bring out the best in the Raidho speakers? They may surpass your current speakers if all things were equal.

Actually I said upfront on my original post, I'm comparing systems, not the speaker itself. You don't need to point that it wasn't with MY amp and MY room. I know the limitations. But I'm see no need to audition a $17K speakers in my own setup, if it does not show significant promise at the dealer. Afterall, the associated electronics with the C1.1s were far more expensive (many times more expensive) and arguably better than my own.
I have to agree with shakeydeal. If you haven't compared them in the same system and room it's not a fair comparison, IMHO
I guess I should elaborate on Shakey's comments.

"Unless you heard the C1.1 with YOUR amp and in YOUR room, you can't unequivocally say that." Shakeydeal, I appreciate your comments but this is not a scientific journal article. It wasn't my intent to prove or disprove anything unequivocally. I do enough of that in my professional life. They're just my impressions, and what I decide to do with my impressions is up to me.

"It may be your system that makes your speakers sound so good, probably is." Or it may be my speakers that makes the rest of my system sound so good. This is a circular argument with no end. I like to think it's my system as a whole (room, electronics, cables, root treatments, speakers, dedicated circuits, etc).

"Therefore, wouldn't it also bring out the best in the Raidho speakers? They may surpass your current speakers if all things were equal." It may or may not, but based on what I heard at the dealer and what I'm hearing in my system, I see no need to go through the trouble of auditioning the speaker in my own system.

.....whatever you say.....
>There is no advantage I hear from the C1.1 system compared to mine. Actually I prefer my system.<

Unless you heard the C1.1 with YOUR amp and in YOUR room, you can't unequivocally say that. It may be your system that makes your speakers sound so good, probably is. Therefore, wouldn't it also bring out the best in the Raidho speakers? They may surpass your current speakers if all things were equal.


Hate to break this to you Dracule but Shakey is right.

You are in no position to compare one speaker to another when the speakers were heard in completely different systems.

Had you just left your commentary to what you heard of the C-1.1 at the dealers system that would have been fine and indeed in its own right quite a useful contribution.

But in taking the unfortunate step of comparing speakers in different systems and settings you lose all credibility.
Kiwi, I'm so devastated I lost my credibility with you. I've already stated the limitations in my OP. It's my opinion. Live with it.
Some of you are mistaking my post for a formal review between two speakers, where comparing two speakers in the same system is an absolute requirement. My post is not a review of the two speakers, just my experience with two different SYSTEMS. Why some of you keep thinking I am reviewing two speakers is puzzling when I make it point that I am comparing C1.1 system and my system? I have clearly stated that in my OP and my subsequent posts. Based on my experience especially given the recent upgrade in my amp, I have no desire to upgrade my speakers for the C1.1. If the C1.1 system was clearly better, I would audition the speakers in my own system. If you find my opinion faulty, that's fine. But don't mistake my post for a formal review between two speakers.
FWIW I've owned the C1.0 for ~3 years and would like to say:

Thank your Dracule1 for the review.

It was clear to me that Dracule1 was not scientifically comparing the C1.1 to his current speakers (which I'm not familiar with at all) ... rather, I assume that there's a significant price difference between his speakers and the C1.1 and he's not interested in pursuing the C1.1 anymore given that, based on memory, he didn't think the C1.1 with very good electronics significantly outperformed his own system. This makes total sense to me; when you're listening to something much more expensive than what you have or normally listen to, you want it to sound A LOT better than what you're used to - whether it's detail that lets you hear stuff in familiar recordings that you never heard before, amazing lifelike presence, etc. - otherwise why spend significant $$ ?

Granted it's possible that the dealer did a poor job of matching electronics with the C1.1, but it's probably unlikely that a dealer would demonstrate them in a system that severely compromised their potential (sub-optimal matching, of course, but not a severe mismatch like using a 3W SET amp with the Raidhos)
Perhaps some of you may better understand my intent if I explain it this way. My going to the dealer to hear audio equipment is no different than someone going to an audio show. You enter a room and find very pleasing sound from a system. Some may attribute the sound to speakers if that room represents a particular speaker manufacturer, although you are actually listening to a system. You may go home and decide to audition those speakers in your own home to compare to your speakers, if possible before buying. If you didn't feel the sound was better than your system, you probaly wouldn't bother going through the hassle of auditioning the speakers in your system. I'm in the latter
situation. I apologize to some of you for sounding a little ticked by some of the comments which in retrospect are valid criticisms if one were to
assume I was comparing two speakers in two different systems. Please understand that was not what I was doing. I was comparing two systems.
Dracule1, you stated very clearly that you were comparing the 2 systems both in your orginal post as well as the post update after changing the volume pots. I did not feel that you were comparing the speakers in two different systems.
You cannot bring ever possible candidate speaker home for an audition, so listen at dealers to find one or two that show clear potential to significantly outperform yours, and that are likely to work in your room, and then try them at home. I think it is the only way.
Finally! Thank you Analogkid, Ngchaisoon,and Mike60 for reading my posts carefully and understanding the intent of my posts. It's inevitable to have some people jump to wrong conclusions.
Here is how i read it Dracule.

“I had the opportunity to audition this unique 2 way all by my lonesome…”


You spent two and one half hours listening to a system which included C-1.1 speakers. You were unfamiliar with the system, you were unfamiliar with the room and unfamiliar with all the ‘solid state’ electronics. Furthermore the room (as observed) was constrained by minimal acoustic controls and the sonics were obstructed / retarded by the presence of a 'litter of speakers' between the C-1.1's.

You then initially conclude that the C-1.1 ‘speakers’ (not system) “… is one of the few speakers out there that I would think about plunking down over $15k” but “Despite its performance, I'm still having a difficult time justifying the price of the speakers”

How meaningful is it to arrive at any conclusions on the qualities or price justification of C-1.1 speaker or from ‘audio memory’ arrive at a comparison with your own system given the above context?
I was not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone here. Just stating my methodology for seeking a speaker upgrade. When i test the short list of candidates in my home with my stuff, the truth about whether it is an upgrade worth the cost is revealed.
Dude, Kiwi get a life! You can dissect what I said with a microscope all you like. If that's your conclusion, fine by me. I've already told you what my intent was. Being anal can really make your life miserable. Take an anxiotyic and enjoy your weekend. I'm happy with my system.
Happy weekend to you to Dracule.

I would like to think that one doesn’t have to be anal to understand that having multiple uncontrolled variables makes it impossible to draw any ‘valid’ cause/effect relationships and / or conclusions from the audition.

I am genuinely happy that you prefer your current system. The question of course remains very much open on whether you’d be even happier with your system if you replaced your Ridge Street Audio Design Sason Si’s with Raidho C-1.1’s?
Sigh...this is tiring. I've already clearly stated the limitations.
So who's gonna get the last word in? My money is on Dracule1
Markpao, it is my thread afterall :)
Yes the comparison isn't perfectly valid in every way. But to berate the effort is missing the point. It takes time to post impressions like this, and in doing so the poster always puts themselves "out there" for scrutiny. How about instead take the thoughts posted for what they are, and anything you're unsure of, ask for clarification ... no attacks.

I for one love the Raidho's and appreciate anybody who takes the time letting others know how good they are. They're one of the few pricey monitors worthy of the asking price. In fact, I had a customer once ask me about my build times and when he realized he wasn't patient enough to wait asked me what I'd recommend instead ... I said the Raidho. A couple weeks later he said that's exactly what he purchased.

I will say that I'd wager in a same room/same electronics comparision, that you'd likely prefer the Raidho's. I know both speakers pretty well, and that's just my opinion based on what it seems your personal tastes are. The only downside to the Raidho I think is they can be a hair lean, and are best with a subwoofer. The Sason has a heavier presentation, and while they don't extend any lower, have more weight to the bass notes they do reproduce.
Thanks Vapor1 for your input. It may be true the C1.1 may sound better in my system, but I am happy with my system. The minor flaws I heard in my system have been pretty much solved by addition of a good stepped attenuator and going direct into the amp from my DAC. I do agree with you on the slightly lean sound of the C1.1s, which are excellent speakers by all accounts. But I do prefer the "heavier" and probably warmer presentation of the Sasons. I'm not sure if you heard my version of the Sasons which have the Dueland CAST capacitors and CAST resistors. I think mine are better than Robert's own pair which have the VSF caps and nonCAST resistors. If I didn't have the Sasons, the C1.1s would be my first choice.
04-18-12: Vapor1
Yes the comparison isn't perfectly valid in every way. […]


04-18-12: Vapor1
I will say that I'd wager in a same room/same electronics comparision, that you'd likely prefer the Raidho's.

That's interesting Vapor1. Other than the C1's bass which does go quite deep (Martin Colloms measured down to 29Hz in his room), but obviously not with much energy, how would you compare the treble performance between the Raidho Ribbon to the Sason Si's dome?
Well, I'll put it to you this way. When I was developing the Vapor Cirrus I had stacks and stacks of the best tweeters made ... still do. At the time the Raidho tweeter was available as a raw unit from Parts Express. Between it and the RAAL, it was a neck and neck race ... with both it and the RAAL leaving everything else in the dust in my opinion. I'm glad I didn't choose to use the Raidho tweeter because it soon became unavailable to OEM's. But compared to the other top tweeters I had like the Scan 7000, 7100, 6600, Seas Crescendo, Morel Supremo, etc ... the RAAL and Raidho tweeter both made all those top domes simply sound slow, lifeless, and boring.

I have a pretty bad-ass 3-way speaker with the Scan AirCirc in a big waveguide, and it sits collecting dust in my basement because even it sounds broken compared to what I'm used to.

I'm not saying everybody should agree with me, just stating my opinion that there no comparison between the top end of the Raidho and the Sason.
I agree Vapor. A properly implemented planar magnetic or ribbon tweeter has less distortion and are faster than silk dome tweeter. Problem is integrating a fast tweeter to the midrange/woofer. Many have failed at this (may be I'm just more sensitive to tweeter/midrange integration than most), but I think Raidho has pulled it off. However, some will argue that silk dome tweeters sound more natural and integrate better. As long as you use top quality crossover components to for the tweeter (eg, Duelands), the silk dome tweeter can come pretty close IMHO. The best stand alone tweeter I have ever heard is probably the Maggie true ribbon tweeter, but it doesn't integrate well with their planar magnetic midrange (the 3.7s are the best integration to date, but still I can hear the ribbons over the midrange). I have heard most of the "top" tweeeters, ribbons from RAAL and Raven, diamond from B&W and Thiel, and Beryllium from TAD and Scanspeak, and planar magnetic from BG and Raidho. With my current system as it stands, I have no wish to upgrade to speakers with these tweeters. If I wanted to go balls out on the best tweeter for my taste, I would get a 5 to 6 foot ribbon line source. Of course this means getting a full range ribbon line source speaker, but who truly makes a full range true ribbon speaker? I only know of one and they're in Sweden. Apogees had planar magnetic bass panel, despite claims otherwise.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us Vapor and congratulations on your Cirrus speaker which for many has pushed the boundary on price vs. performance.

You've observed that RAAL and Raidho tweeters made many of the top domes simply sound slow, lifeless and boring. To add to this I have observed that resolution tends to be superior with ribbons. Furthermore, when I was auditioning speakers prior to my purchase of the Raidho’s I did notice something else which differentiated the Raidho’s and that was their uncanny quietness. I perceived the speaker as providing a really black background against which to provide the music. Sometime after ownership that I stumbled across a lab report which showed very low distortion for the treble – typically 0.05% 2nd and 0.025% 3rd which is practically non-existent and at moderate listening levels close to electrostatic levels.

While I have found no sense of discontinuity through the cross over area Dracule does raise a fair point around the challenges of integrating a ribbon like tweeter with a cone woofer. The challenge as I understand it is not about “speed” but more pointedly about dispersion characteristics – though there is obvious linkage. In a discussion I had last week with Alon Wolf (founder of Magico); Alon was quick to point out the challenges of ribbon/cone integration as the reason for selecting dome tweeters for his latest Q series loudspeakers. I have auditioned the Q1, an obvious competitor to the Raidho C-1.1 though since the audition was not in my own system I will leave my observations to myself on this.

As a designer I wondered whether you might share your thoughts on the integration puzzle?
The RAAL 140-15D has deflector pads that forces the dispersion of the ribbon to behave as a spherical point source rather than a line source. So this may help with integration with cone drivers, if your claim about dispersion characteristic is true.

Anyway, differences in dispersion characteristics can't be the only reason why I hear discontinuity. The Maggie ribbon tweeter and older planar magnetic midrange/bass are both line sources with similar dispersion pattern, but there is an obvious discontinuity between them. The planar magnetic doesn't have the low level resolution and speed of the ribbon and you can hear it. Yet, the lower end Maggies without the true ribbon tweeter doesn't suffer from integration issues. You can try to mate a long ribbon tweeter with multiple cone drivers in a line array so dispersion is similar, but IME this approach really doesn't solve problem either. A ribbon tweeter or electrostat can reproduce a square wave pretty accurately, but try doing that with a midrange cone driver, which is usually plagued by slow rise and settling time and ringing. I'm no speaker designer so some of my observation and knowledge may be wrong, so please correct me if I'm speaking out of my arse.

One of the virtues of the Sasons is their seamless integration, similar to coherence of "full range" single driver speaker without the high freq irregularity and low end roll off of single driver speakers.
Dracule have you ever heard ion plasma tweeters?
Yes, I forgot to mention ion tweeters from Acapella and Lansch on multiple occasions. While nice to look at, I think they are overpriced for what they do. Last time I checked couple of years ago, a pair of the Acapella ion tweeters went for $8K. I am told they can "burn out" over time. I think their performance can be matched by other technologies for lesser cost. The only tweeters I haven't had significant time to evaluate are Air Motion Tweeters.
There are many excellent tweeters out there. However, if the designer can't properly integrate the tweeter with the midrange/bass drivers, it's not worth the effort IMO. I would prefer a less detailed/extended tweeter that seamlessly integrates with the rest of the range, over any tweeter that calls attention to itself like a flash light.
I havent heard these but I have heard the top of the line in Monitor Audio which is also a planar ribbon tweeter and it it sounded magnificent.

I wouldnt doubt these speakers also sound very very good.
I'll add my opinion to all of this. First I get what you were doing. You also made this comment "My system has just a little bit more bloom in the midrange due to the tube DAC and tube amps" To me this comment says so much. You are used to that sound and they system you were listening to was completely different. It takes times to adjust to the different systems. It took me a long time to understand system differences and how to judge components and potential. Not all tube components sound like your system. Direct Heated Tubes IMO don't have the typical tube sound you are describing. To me you are listening to the same old manufactured components. I never could see a big change in mys system trying different typical manufactured components. They never helped my system get to the next level as they all had positive and negative results. Once I found better components then I was able to hear the differences and what speakers could do. I think the system you were listening to limited the sound of the speakers versus what you own (although I have heard great things about the speakers you own). I hope this makes sense to someone.

Happy Listening.
I have the Raidho C1.1s and they are superb. You may be able to pick up a pair on Audiogon these days for half price.