Where do the Wand’s limitations reveal themselves? Put on a really good piano recording and it does lack the explosive dynamics, absolute clarity and sudden attack of a record player like the (much more expensive) GPA Monaco – but then, it’s far from alone in that. Shorn of exotic materials and with an essentially simple belt drive, there are always going to be limitations on ultimate speed stability, focus and dynamic range. But despite that, the Wand does a remarkable job of not just exploiting the potential performance of its materials and technology but actually delivering it too. In real world situations and systems, this record player oozes confidence and musical articulation, rarely getting flustered or over-faced and instead simply getting on with doing the important things well. What’s really impressive – and what separates the Wand from other, similarly straightforward designs – is just how well it does those things, giving away astonishingly little to some seriously exotic hardware. In many ways it is a sonic and musical performance that mirrors the design ethos – decide what matters and concentrate on that.
Playing for keeps!
How good is good? When you are paying out your own hard-earned cash that’s a far from rhetorical question. The Wand Plus (together with the more refined Wand Master tonearm – with all those niceties like damping, easy VTA adjustment and Nordost wiring) has already established an enviable reputation especially when it comes to the price/performance equation. The Wand 14-4 has been specifically developed to exploit that performance and the package of arm and ‘table together is simply remarkable in terms of both its absolute performance and value. It gets very close indeed to many of the massive and massively expensive competition, only really giving ground in terms of looks and finish. Summing up the Wand record player is a little like being asked to choose between a Caterham 7 and the ultra luxury Bugatti Chiron, except that in this case that choice might be between the Wand and a TechDas AirForce Zero. You know what – resale value aside – if I were offered a free hand I’d take the Wand. Just like the Caterham 7, it might not cost as much or look as impressive as the Bugatti, but when it comes to navigating the twists and turns in a record groove, the overweight, over-priced exotica is hard pressed to keep up. The Wand simply gets more of the music, more right, more of the time. If it really is performance that counts, more is so often less!