AXPONA 2018: Raidho Shines with Chord, SME and Nordost

Each and every show, Rune Skov seems to get great sound out of his Raidho-based systems. AXPONA 2018 had Raidho paired up with those crazy cats Jay and Richard at Bluebird Music and their sublime Chord Electronics and SME turntables. Cabling was Nordost Valhalla 2 with QB8 Mark 2 power box. Amplification was the relatively compact Chord CPM 3350 integrated amp ($14,400) and on the digital side a Chord Blu transport with M-Scaler technology ($11,788) and DAVE DAC ($12,488), a dynamite digital source. But my favorite was the Ortofon Cadenza Black ($2,000) on the SME Model 10 turntable with SME 309 tonearm ($8,700) playing a Glen Miller big band album from Direct to Disk Labs.  It sounded like a real band in a real room! The Raidho D4.1s are capable of astonishing detail and clarity and superb bass as well. Transparent with a capital “T”. Another contender for the best room at Axpona, this was a very smooth-sounding system. There was some help from Sabatini Acoustic Paneling in front of the windows.

AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

New to me on this system was the Chord Symphonic phono stage ($4,495).  I had not heard this phono pre before and I was mightily impressed. In the machined metal oval case that is similar to the DAVE’s case but with two large windows, this device was delivering all the analog goods. Selectable gain is 58db, 68db, 74db and a whopping 85db!  It nicely offers balanced and RCA input and output connections. The Symphonic is moving coil only.  Here are some other key specifications on the Symphonic:

Input Noise: 1.5nV/Hz

Max Output Voltage RMS: 10v

Equalisation Range: 0dB – 60dB, 40dB @ 1kHz

Equalisation Response: RIAA Curve

Equalisation Accuracy: +/- 0.1dB

Frequency Response: RIAA Curve = 12Hz to 25kHz

Dimensions (including connectors): 333.5mm (W) x 59mm (H) x 142mm (D)

Weight: 6kg

When we played digital, the DAVE was in its usual fine form with sublime dynamics and detail. Robert Watts’ FPGA chip designs are among the best out there and the deep resolution of the Raidho D4.1s helped showcase the clarity that Rob’s chips are known for. With digital this good, even jaded analog fans are likely to be impressed.

The Raidho D4.1s are really impressive loudspeakers. 89db sensitive, they are among the more musical transducers out there and they perhaps should be at $145,000 per pair. Of course the classic ribbon tweeter is in play here along with two 100mm diamond midrange drivers and 4 100mm bass drivers. Lightning fast is what they sound like. Range is 25 hz to 50 khz. Each tower weighs 64 kilograms. I would say the fit and finish is reference level, particularly nice are the gorgeous woodgrain side panels. The speakers are vented in the back with five small black tubes midway down.

Later, I asked Rune what he thought were the standout qualities of the D4.1s. He mentioned, “It is all done easily and with such a beautiful resolution and coherence that it just seems so natural and effortless.”  I think this described very accurately what I heard.

I heard this system early Saturday morning. Chief Designer Benno Baun Meldgaard was on hand and Rune suggested starting the day with some fine Danish bitter by the name of Gammel Danske (Old Danish). It was strong but delicious. I’m not sure what was a better way to start the day of coverage, the fine beverage or the stellar sound quality. It’s hard not to catch the enthusiasm of Rune and Benno. This Raidho team is making music come alive and they are having fun doing it!

About Lee Scoggins 118 Articles
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee's current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Wilson Audio speakers.