|As I said, the Redpoint Testa Rossa XS is a massive table that exhibits a merciless attention to damping vibrations and eliminating unwanted energy from the playback system. Even the lightest Redpoint table weighs in at over 100lbs.
The basic platter/base materials are PVC and aluminum, with the base machined from solid aluminum billet. In both the Testa Rossa and XS, the platter is filled with lead shot and oil. Again, the apparent aim is to convert unwanted energy into heat. Think of the table as a series of modular components: Base and bearing; platter; arm pod; motor pod. All Redpoint tables use lead shot and oil in the platter. You can customize your table in part by adding internal lead shot and oil damping to other components as well, e.g. the base or arm pod. In the ultimate Redpoint, all the modular pieces are internally damped and the platter is topped off with a layer of Teflon, a particularly expensive form of insulation and isolation. Peter is so committed to this design philosophy that he made sure that the review sample supplied was itself resting on a HRS isolation platform built specifically for the Redpoint. The HRS isolation bases are unrivaled in my experience in their ability to ward off unwanted vibrations. So we are talking about extraordinary attention to the reduction of noise, vibration and, ultimately, distortion.
Not every turntable designer believes that the best approach to analogue nirvana requires eliminating or damping all vibrations other than those 'in the groove' so to speak. And of those who favor eliminating vibrations -- as opposed, say, to shifting or otherwise controlling them -- not all believe that the best approach is mass-loading and internal damping. Take the Linn LP 12 for a contrarious example.
The approach that Redpoint pursues is not unfamiliar or novel. In one form or another, it is pursued by an array of excellent mass-damped tables including (in its price range) the Simon Yorke S-7 and the Brinkmann Balance, the Walker Proscenium Gold a bit further up the line, and (way beyond its price range) the Pluto and the Rockport. The Brinkmann, Yorke, Walker, Pluto and Rockport are integrated tables that include arms. The Redpoint does not which some may hold against it while others will appreciate not having to pay for an arm to make their own choice. All of these tables including the Redpoint are costly partially because of the attention to detail that goes into manufacturing a refined high-mass table. All of these designs are works of art, labors of love and manufactured in small numbers. Price reflects labor, costs of machining and an inability to take advantage of economies of scale.
At the price point of the less expensive Redpoint, one finds the Transrotor Fat Bob among others pursuing a similar approach. The Fat Bob can be had with or without an integrated arm I believe. In either case, it comes in a bit below the stock Testa Rossa. Redpoint tables are produced in insufficient quantities to permit Peter the advantages of larger-scale production runs. (If you think the law of small numbers affects the pricing of turntables, I hope you don't develop a taste for some of world's most cherished HighEnd arms like the Schroeder Reference and the Bruer!)
If you buy any of these tables, you will pay a premium. That premium in part is for the handiwork, the involvement of a designer in his or her product: and the reflection of a distinctive if not unique vision. You are also subsidizing the existence of such products and I for one am very happy to do so. I am prepared to pay for the fact that there is an artisan behind the product. I want to keep the art of music reproduction alive and part of the cost of doing so is paying for products based not just on their performance but also their authorship.
No Redpoint is fitted with a record clamp though Peter does offer the Anvil as an option. In keeping with the overall philosophy, the Anvil comes in at a full 6lbs. The review sample was fitted with the Anvil which sits on the record/platter/base like a crown. Many turntable bearings could not withstand the weight of the Anvil. In fact, it would have driven the bearing on the Well Tempered to beg for mercy or scream "uncle".
I did not like the effect of the Anvil on the Redpoint. I obtained far better results with the Harmonix record weight. Peter is looking into alternative clamping mechanisms and with good reason. The Anvil is problematic yet playback on a Redpoint that is not fitted with some clamp is unpersuasive and nonlinear. If you purchase a Redpoint, pick up an Harmonix record weight - at least until Peter designs a suitable weight or clamp of his own.
|So there you have it - the Redpoint Testa Rossa XS. This is a remarkable, distinctive table that executes a particular approach to analogue playback in a coherent and consistent way. It is a table without compromises to its underlying philosophy. It was most certainly not designed by committee. It is not based on a new philosophy but it clearly executes one man's extreme vision of a particular philosophy.
And therein lies an interesting story, much of which is best left for another occasion. Peter Clark was one of a handful of folks involved in the now famous Teres Project. The Teres project was a turntable designed by committee and an important moment in the modern DIY analogue history. The original group split up and went in many different directions. The principals continued to remain involved in various turntable projects. Of these, the Teres and the Redpoint are probably the best known. Those involved in the Teres project have managed to keep one foot in the DIY world, selling parts as well as completed tables over the Internet. The Teres crowd regularly displays their wares at CES and others shows and has a loyal following.
In contrast, Peter has completely abandoned the DIY aspect of his earlier association with Teres. Peter means to distribute his tables through a dealer network. These are expensive tables and he correctly believes that there is no future for an Internet-based distribution for him.
Unsurprisingly, the Redpoint XS sonically has much in common with other mass-damped turntables. It is extremely quiet and has a jet-black background, which favors the ability to resolve inner detail. At the same time, it has a powerful and substantial bottom end. This is a table that has no problem reproducing the lowest octaves in pitch-accurate fashion. The bottom octaves are not merely deep and well defined but presented with authority and weight. Coupled to these twin excellences of inner detail and deep, authoritative bass is the table's ability to convey large, tangible three-dimensional images.
Moving up the frequency range a bit, the midrange is full-bodied, well textured and dense. Voices were especially well rendered and extremely natural in their presentation. There was no hardness or harshness in the upper midrange. The portrayal was seductive by size, bloom and overall warmth.
The higher frequencies were never shelved down or claustrophobic. The sound was spacious and airy. Top to bottom, the presentation was full, warm, big, bold and even a bit sweet but not saccharine or sugary. If anything, the table erred on the side of 'old-fashioned' sounding. Think Clearaudio. Then imagine the opposite and you will have a sense of the character of the Redpoint.
Would you like to download the current image?