The Wand 14-4 Turntable and Wand Plus Tonearm

When cutting corners makes sense!


By Roy Gregory


The world of high-performance automobiles is a pretty broad church, running the gamut from hot-hatch wannabes all the way to the bespoke likes of one-off Bugattis or LaFerrari – with prices matching that spread. In that respect it mirrors the world of high-end audio almost perfectly – and the similarities run more than skin deep, with the same mix of dressed up ordinary and ostentatiously over-the-top, how-much-do-you-want-to-spend luxury, prices that stretch from the comparatively modest to the totally out of the question, via the eye-wincingly steep but almost affordable.

But within both markets there are distinct sub-groups and one of those is sportscars – cars where the performance is their sole raison d’etre. It embraces the Porsche GT3 and various Koenigseggs, the Spykers and the McLaren road cars – all of which are beyond the means of most mere mortals. But is also includes the Caterham 7 and the Aerial Atom, cars that sacrifice literally everything on the alter of useable, stick it on the road, A to B speed. And by everything I’m including the basic niceties of carpet (unnecessary weight), an in-car entertainment system (you couldn’t hear it anyway) and a roof (just unnecessary)! Basic beyond belief they redefine seat of the pants motoring – partly because the seat of your pants is mere inches off the road, but – and it is a huge, huge BUT – when it comes to their sheer acceleration, their performance and handling on real roads and at semi-legal speeds – they get awfully, awfully close to the more sumptuous, illustrious and massively more expensive alternatives. They’re not cheap, equipment levels are beyond basic and they lack supercar kudos, but they are quick – seriously quick and seriously fun to drive; and compared to luxury motors they are distinctly attainable.

Which brings us to the Wand 14-4, a turntable and its matching tonearm so prosaic in design, so resolutely performance orientated and so obdurate in appearance that it creates an alternative style that’s entirely its own – albeit redolent with its All Black heritage. A parked Caterham 7 hardly stops passers by in the street (at least not for the same reasons as a Ferrari or Bugatti) and the Wand isn’t going to have audiophiles sidling up to give it a surreptitious stroke, but experience either in action and the impact is as immediate as it is impressively enjoyable. With an uncomplicated, uncluttered directness to its delivery, this turntable is all about fun: the fun that’s encapsulated on your records, the fun the artists had making them. Hopefully that lengthy automotive preamble has set the scene for what is at first glance, a distinctly odd record player. With its missing rear quadrant, overhanging platter, plywood plinth and Captain Nemo controls, some might consider this turntable somewhere between half finished and half mad – especially compared to the sleek yet chunky lines of the arm. But fear not, there’s method in this madness and the reasoning is as flawless as it is apparent.