The XT-5 is a Raidho speaker, but it’s a Raidho speaker with a difference. If you think you know how it’s going to sound, best think again. When Alan Sircom reviewed the company’s flagship model, the tall, elegant yet not too imposing DT‑4.8 (Issue 161), he discovered a new and impressive breed of Raidho. That speaker was preceded by this one – the XT-5 is where it all started, and the good news is that it is smaller, more attainable (if not entirely affordable) but every bit as pretty as the flagship. In fact, such was the step-change in performance compared to the previous models, irrespective of price, until the DT-4.8 showed up the XT-5 was the de facto flagship, despite sitting at the top of the company’s junior range.
Raidho speakers have always made a lot of noise. This is not musical output you understand – although they’ve always put on an impressive show – but profile, especially media profile. For a small company with a short history, they’ve achieved a lot of reviews and attracted a lot of attention: partly because they looked so distinctive (and generally attractive), partly because they incorporated some genuinely different thinking (and not just the obvious, visible stuff) and somewhat because they sounded different (again, apparently so). The planar magnetic tweeter and those white, ceramic – later, dark grey diamond – coated cones are pretty distinctive. The speakers sounded distinctive too, with phenomenal speed, dynamic coherence and transparency. It made for an immediately impressive and musically articulate performance, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Except that, alongside those demonstrable strengths sat a set of similar weaknesses. I suspect that the real revolution in the Raidho speakers was the direct connection between the motor assemblies and the machined front baffles, eliminating the traditional driver basket and creating a far shorter path for the escape of spurious mechanical energy – hence the exceptional dynamics and musical clarity. But you can add to that mix a sound that leant heavily on the leading edge of notes, cropping the harmonic tails, crossovers engineered to generate a mid-bass hump and power handling that could have been better – a potentially fatal combination. The result was that the most impressive Raidhos were always the smallest while, with subsequent development fastened on trying to fill out the harmonic envelope and further improve speed and dynamics, the bottom end discontinuities and lack of deep bass became more problematic the larger and more expensive the speaker. Ultimately, that imbalance did prove fatal – to the company – and Raidho was acquired by Danish mainstream audio electronics manufacturer Dantax, who set about putting things right. That involved improving service in the field, but it also meant reassessing the product line and underlying engineering.
There was no denying the striking appearance, innovative engineering or sheer attitude of the Raidho speakers but they needed a bit of balance and a little polish – preferably without losing their attractive industrial design. Dantax drafted in some substantial speaker design expertise, including Benno Meldgaard, the man behind the beautifully-balanced GamuT loudspeakers. The existing models are getting an engineering makeover, with suitably impressive results, but the XT-5 is a bird of a different feather, an all-new design that showcases both Raidho’s latest cone technology and the revised engineering approach. It’s the shape of things to come – and I’m not just talking about the elegantly elongated cabinet with its almost aerofoil cross-section…