Teres No.23, the first of the Chris Brady kits to earn a serial number, spun its first LP on August 21, 2001. Once I chose to paint the acrylic base over other finishing options, I had to select a color. I wanted anything other than standard audio black or silver. My auto bodyshop-owning friend had just completed restoration of his 1967 Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint Veloce coupe, so I chose this color. This is three coats of a standard automotive acrylic paint, without clearcoat. It appears tough and is wonderfully smooth and shiny.
After toying with sample slabs of Corian as footers, I chose hockey pucks ($1.50 each!). Given the color, the footers, and my home in Detroit -- Hockeytown USA -- I have christened my table "REDWING." Note the toy Zamboni (ice cleaning machine) on the ice-like platter. Don't laugh: If I can get this thing to work I'll fill it with Disc Doctor fluid and have the world's coolest record cleaning maching.
The table sits on a DIY wall mount shelf, since my trampoline floor defeated all other attempts at isolation. This uses very sturdy triangulated steel brackets from Home Depot, screwed into the studs of a load bearing wall, and two layers of 3/4" MDF. It is fully effective in isolating the TT from footfalls. I had planned on inserting a constrained layer of sorbothane between the two layers of MDF, but this appears unnecessary.
Tonearm is an Expressimo-modified Rega RB250 -- an RB300 steel counterweight stud replaces the stock RB250 plastic stud, the Express Machining "Heavyweight" underslung counterweight, Incognito cabling (uninterrupted Cardas 33awg silver), and a VTA adjusting sleeve. Total cost from www.expressimoaudio.com was $412, including shipping. Quite a bargain for near-superarm performance. Cart is a Denon DL103D feeding a McCormack Micro Phono Drive.
I faced several challenges in assembling my kit. The pre-drilled armboard had a 23mm hole for the armshaft, which is *exactly* the size of the Rega shaft. To fit the arm I had to hog this out using a grinding bit in a hand drill, which took about 90 minutes. The countersunk hole for the armboard mounting bolt is too small for the supplied washer. Mounting the pulley on the motor shaft took many nerve-wracking attempts, the first of which displaced the motor's shaft, causing a loud thunking. This was fixed, per Chris Brady's patient instruction, buy sliding the shaft's collar down on the shaft. I flunked Boy Scout, so I made several failed attempts at drive belt knots before arriving at a working but inelegant solution. I then tried both Michell and Clearaudio round-section rubber belts, and the thicker (0.085mm) Clearaudio works perfectly. When re-assembling the motor control board after polishing the aluminum motor plate and pod, I neglected to replace the small grounding pads beneath the transistor heat sinks, which Chris was able to diagnose for me. Finally, I had to experiment with the motor controller settings in order to get the green light to lock on. My control is now set at about 45 degrees from fully conterclockwise, vs. the recommended 15 degrees setting.
Redwing replaces an Oracle Delphi MKII with ETII arm, all extensively modified by Brooks Berdan. I finally gave up on ever getting this beautiful but recalcitrant rig properly adjusted and went back to my Kenwood KD500/Lustre GST801 combo. After a cursory initial set-up, my sound was somewhat congested in the mid-bass with reticent highs. A more detailed set-up, immediately after the Toronto convention of members of the Phonogram e-list, has produced magic but not yet perfect results. Bass is rich and extended, but on my best Lyrita and Argo classical LPs I can now clearly distinguish between the natural decay of 'cellos and the reverberant decay of the room sound, always mushed together by my previous tables. Tonal balance is smooth and continuous, from bottom to top. Dynamics, especially at the quiet end of the scale, are stunning, with massed string pizzicatos having the ripe "pop" of life. The table itself, and the sound it produces, is stone quiet, offering up more of the subtleties of music. Pitch stability on sustained piano notes appears absolute, allowing you to count the "beats" of a piano's bass strings as they resonate. Musically significant details on my favorite reference discs are astonishing -- I'm counting strings within each section now because I can hear each player's different bowing techniques. My top end is still a bit "hot," thought there is no audible mistracking, suggesting a need for further set-up refinement. I'll be borrowing several test records and a Dennesen SoundTractor to help with this. The standard arm board's height leaves my Rega just a smidgen too high in back (rear of cart raised just a bit higher than parallel to the record), even at its lowest setting, so I may shave a few millimeters off of the bottom of the armboard to regain range for VTA adjustability.
Summary: this puppy sings! I can't imagine ever wanting another table and,
at these prices, I feel like I've got a superdeck for half-price or less.
Chris Brady has been prompt and responsive throughout. Special thanks to
Teres listmembers Steve Zettel, Pablo Roufaglis and Jeremy Epstein for their
continued help and encouragement.