Danish modern: Raidho Acoustics C 3.1 speaker
Speakers that break the reality barrier are extremely rare, but that's exactly what the Raidho C 3.1 does.
I had my first glimpse of the Raidho Acoustics' sound at thein Denver in October, but the Denmark-based company's demo didn't click for me. That's not uncommon; show conditions and hotel rooms may not be the best environments to hear state-of-the-art sound.
Then just last week I heard a pair of Raidho C 3.1 speakers ($39,000) at a friend's home in New York, and the sound was a revelation. We played an unreleased and 100 percent uncompressed audiophile recording of a solo piano, and the purity and clarity were simply astonishing. Reproducing the true sound of a 9-foot Yamaha grand piano is impossible, but the C 3.1 was a whole lot closer to reaching that goal than I've heard in a long while. Pianos are percussion instruments -- they make sound with felt-covered hammers striking metal strings -- and the C 3.1s made that fact perfectly clear. I was present at the recording session just a week earlier, so I had a good handle of what that piano really sounded like, and the C 3.1s brought it back to life. The "attack" of each note was presented with remarkable fidelity, and the rich tone of the instrument was fully intact.
The C 3.1 has three 4.5-inch ceramic woofers, one 4-inch ceramic midrange driver, and a ribbon tweeter. The curved cabinet's walnut burl finish was extraordinary.
The other thing that struck me about the C 3.1s' sound was the bass definition. These speakers nail the pitch, texture, and palpable feel of bass with rare precision. Truly deep, under 40Hz bass wasn't in the cards for the C 3.1s, but the speakers' reproduced subtle details, like the recording venue's reverberation and acoustics, really well.
The C 3.1 is one of the best-sounding speakers I've heard this year. I'm not claiming it's the best speaker in the world, just one I actually heard and fell in love with.