The Wand tonearm was designed by Simon Brown (Design Build Listen Ltd) in Dunedin, New Zealand and was introduced in 2011.
This is a uni-pivot tonearm using Simon Brown’s own ‘defined contact’ uni-pivot implementation, a unique large diameter carbon fibre arm tube and stainless steel metalwork.
This model, The Wand Classic, is a ‘no-frills’ entry-level model with attractive pricing.
Geometry is Rega-style, effective length around 240mm (9.5-inch) and medium mass 12.5g. Mounting kits for other turntables are available.
There are also 10.3-inch and 12-inch versions of this ‘Classic’ series.
The Classic series is available directly from the manufacturer. (Pricing NZ$775 – 945 + shipping.)
Also available through retailers are (i) a ‘Plus’ series with damped cueing and heavier mounting base and (ii) a ‘Master’ series which features upgraded wiring, bearing, finishes and external damping added. (Pricing US$1300 – 2900.)
The Wand is more substantial than images suggest. The arm tube is an unusually large (22.5mm) diameter carbon fibre composite tube. There is no conventional ‘headshell’, a metal cartridge platform nestles under the tapered end.
The arm tube embeds into a bearing ‘boss’ machined from 52mm (2″) diameter, solid stainless steel. Most of the arm mass is concentrated around the uni-pivot bearing. Cartridges are balanced by a combination of plates added to the rear.
The stainless steel parts have a silky sandblasted finish. Tracking force is applied by a large rear screw – simple and effective. Anti-skating is a compact thread and weight.
The Wand Classic version is devoid of an arm-lift mechanism and is manually cued using the projecting tip of the arm tube – surprisingly easy with practice. Arm wiring (single length) is Cardas.
A nifty laser-cut stainless protractor-tool is supplied. It doubles as a spanner and cartridge protractor – alignment is a Baerwald variation.
The arm tube obscures the cartridge more than conventional tonearm headshells, but an alignment arc on the protractor-tool can be used instead of the usual 2-point protractor.
The Wand was immediately engaging. It plays consistently with an open, expansive ‘sound picture’, a beguiling, reverberant acoustic. (eg. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto 2, Postnikova, ’82 Decca).
Electric guitars are brimming with power and reverb, pedal steel and tremolo are deliciously resonant, treble has an attractive decay.
The Wand loves kick-drum, string bass, tympani. The bass spectrum is powerful. Reggae is ‘fat’ and bold (Third World – 96° In The Shade).
Regardless of relatively modest cost of The Wand, I installed a familiar Koetsu Red Signature. Consistently, the musical mix is writ large. Voice is fleshed-out and up-front. Concert hall perspective is Row C, not Row P.
The Wand is not easily embarrassed. I borrowed a ZYX Ayame moving coil cartridge. Loaded 90 ohms via a Fidelity Research transformer, there was extraordinary delineation, tautness and ‘speed’. Leading edges and upper harmonics almost exceedingly clear. Violin upper registers were a little uncomfortable with some digital recordings. The Wand is impressively revealing.
Then with a Denon DL103 (400 ohms loading) – the 103’s resolution is treble-dull by todays standards but voices had convincing presence (Dusty In Memphis Plus), energy, delicacy (Linda Ronstadt – Simple Dreams). Vocal harmonies readily separated (Lyle Lovett – Pontiac). Rhythm was noticeable again, flowing and richly ambient (Kate Bush – Lionheart). There is some synergy with this inexpensive classic cartridge.
The Wand has an engaging sound. Nit-picking at this price level, possibly The Wand infuses a very slight ‘flavour’ of its own – slightly prolonged ‘overhangs’ aid warmth and sonorousness. Leading edges, focus and dynamic contrasts, ‘drama’, (ever so) slightly tempered sometimes.
I have little doubt that The Wand is an excellent design. Its compelling signature includes a large powerful sonic presentation, rich bass tone, sweet timbres.
The Wand Classic images above are of a 2012 early production model. There have been product refinements and improvements since and also the additional Plus and Master series mentioned.)