Like the Tri-Planar Mk VII, with which it makes a stunning combination, the Redpoint announces itself as special right from the start. Indeed, the Tri-Planar and Redpoint share many of the same sonic attributes—a very low noise floor that creates a spectacular sense of space and dimensionality, a feeling of near-limitless dynamic power (with this ’table, the Kharma speakers’ 40Hz-ish low-frequency response seems to extend another octave), remarkable degrees of detail (not for detail’s sake but simply as a part of the musical fabric that had previously been obscured), and terrific topto- bottom balance, combined with, when asked to, a feather-light delicacy. One moment, Roy Haynes’ drum solo during “Blue Monk” [Thelonious in Action] will explode from the rear of the soundstage with the startling snap and near-force of a real kit. Switching to Ella’s Clap Hands and “Good Morning Heartache,” with its delicately struck triangle, will leave you marveling at how percussive yet ethereal this instrument— one of the hardest for our systems to get to sound right—can be.
Citing more specific musical examples would be easy but potentially endless, as each record I spun on the Redpoint—from old transfers of 78s (Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues Singers [Columbia]) to early mono LPs (Sinatra’s The Voice [Columbia])—delivered a pretty mind-bending experience, the kind that leaves you feeling as if you’re hearing old favorites anew, the kind that makes you feel as if you have a whole new record collection to explore.
Do be advised that Redpoint’s ’tables (currently at least) are not for those who object to some fussing about. The fussing, which is related to the Mylar belts I mentioned earlier, is not major—the ’table itself is a model of simple setup—but it can be aggravating. Though the magnetic-tape belts (they’re actually recycled VHS tapes) are thinner and provide a readily heard improvement over the clear leader material belts, look at them the wrong way and they’ll easily crinkle and crunch. (Fortunately, they’re cheap, and Clark supplies a healthy backup with purchase.) This may happen at initial setup, while getting the belts to “ride” properly on the motor spindle and platter, or later if you accidentally move the motor pod while dusting. If either of these things occurs (belt change or pod shift), the speed requires a readjustment (knobs for 33.3 and 45rpm protrude from the top of the motor pod). Like I said, not a biggie for me. Pod-shift happened roughly once every two to four weeks, while belt crunch, once I got the hang of it, was pretty rare. But some of us prefer no fuss at all. (At press time, Clark was sourcing a new thin but less delicate Mylar.)
Great analog is like a drug. The better our playback components get, the more deeply rewarding the musical experience is, and the more of it we want. Despite some minor quirks that I believe Clark is in the process of ironing out, the Redpoint/Tri-Planar combo has turned a regular but semi-under-control vinyl user into a serious analog junkie.