The Wand 14-4 Turntable and Wand Plus Tonearm

But, as we all know, it ain’t hard to make a record player sound fast, but making it react to and express rhythmic shifts and moods is quite another thing. It’s the Wand’s sure-footed ability in this regard, combined with its sense of natural presence and substance that allow it to punch so far above its weight (and price). How far above its weight? Listening to Britten conducting his own Young Person’s Guide… (Decca SXL 6110) will leave you in no doubt as to the Wand’s musical capabilities, with both the way it delivers the sheer power of the piece and its dramatic shifts in level and density equally impressive, but to really appreciate its musical agility and fluid, easy grace, look no further than Julia Fischer playing the infamous Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No 2. Played on the Wand, music that can appear disjointed angular and all too obviously testing becomes fluid, poised and beautifully structured, echoing Fischer’s commanding technique and the graceful phrasing of her playing. Reputedly she plays, or at least played, the complete Sonatas and Partitasevery day by way of a warm up and her confident navigation of their familiar twists and turns is as apparent here as it is live. Just how much of that confident tread comes from the player and how much from the record player is an interesting question, but if it wasn’t there in the performance then it wouldn’t be there to hear and if the record player didn’t have its measure, then again, you wouldn’t get to hear it. It’s a perfect example of the Wand’s un-intrusive ability to work with or fit around the music it’s asked to play, rather than imposing its own perspective or character on events. It’s also a salutary lesson for many other, vastly more expensive record players…

Playing nice…

In that context I was able to run the Wand adjacent to several, distinctly performance orientated ‘tables, most notably the Kuzma Stabi M and the Grand Prix Monaco v2.0, players that in musical terms, have consistently banished significantly more expensive alternatives. No, the upstart antipodean ‘table doesn’t oust these established decks, with both offering lower noise floors, greater transparency and a broader expressive and dynamic range, especially in the wide-bandwidth systems I use. But nor was it embarrassed – and I suspect that in a more real-world system context, its failings, such as they are, might be even less significant. What’s really important – and what it shares with those more expensive ‘tables – is the ability to capture the overall shape, structure and sense of the music: what makes it interesting and what makes it worth listening to. That’s partly down to its uncanny sense of presence and uncluttered organization, partly down to its more explicit than usual dynamics and firm but supple grasp of rhythmic signatures and shifts. But it’s mainly down to the inherent balance it maintains between those qualities.