Italy, the country known for its fast cars, beautiful landmarks and now completely bonkers hi­fi! jr-1

When I first set my eyes on the Vario’s range of speakers at the High End Munich show a few months ago, I was taken aback by their completely unique design. This “in your face” design echoes though the entire range of speakers.

I was given the Vario Jr to review. From the unboxing onwards the speakers ooze quality. Each little speaker has its own carrying case which is a great touch.

They feel weighty for their size (120×175×150 mm) and once set up, will sit proudly on any desk.

Every aspect of the Junior’s design is near perfection.

The varnished wood casing and high quality plastic on the back and front are soft to the touch. No screws are showing on the front and sides which adds to the flow of the design. The speaker grill on the front is made to look like an eye and is very well done, it is magnetic which makes removing it very easy.

Behind the speaker grill is a tiny 2 inch driver that a lot of people may say is no way big enough, but the designers have worked around this and by some miracle the sound stage is huge considering the size.

The look of the Jr and the whole Vario line up of speakers has what I like to call a Marmite effect:

“You either love them or you hate them”

Personally I love them and I think it’s a bold step for a relatively new company and I respect them for that. They stand out from the crowd despite their small size. Very stylish and 100% unique.

Vincent and Lola (yes, they have their own names!) have their very own cartoony style and fun personality. -40-m-f

But are the Vario Jr style over substance?

The short answer is no!

When listening to the Varios I used lossless FLAC music files running though a Schiit Modi DAC and alternated between various amplifiers.

I tried to listen to many different kinds of music and although the Varios struggled with super bass heavy music like dubsteb and some hip­hop, they sounded amazing with rock, house music and just about anything with an acoustic guitar.

The driver is very responsive and snappy. The sound is bright and mids are rich. It is definitely favourable to the top-end but the bass is not in any way lacking. In fact at higher volumes the bass suddenly comes alive. So to get the most out of the Jrs you should run them closer to their limit.

The stand out songs for me with this setup were:

­By The Way by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The song was brought to life by the Jr. The vocals and electric guitar sounded raw andjr-5-1 natural. And the signature bassline sounded deep.

­Strobe by Deadmau5. Surprisingly this very bass heavy track sounded great on the Varios. They brought a kind of orchestral feel to the track.

­Feel Good Inc by Gorillaz. This mix of hip hop and alternative rock sounds sublime on the Juniors. The atmospheric and almost scary aspects of the song were accentuated by them. The calm acoustic section sounded very natural.

The Vario Jr proved to be very versatile across many genres of music.

Now moving on to price, the Vario Juniors are 850 Euros. It’s a lot of money for such a small speaker, but when you buy them you are not just buying a speaker, you are buying a piece of art….that just happens to be a great sounding, handmade Italian speaker too.

The Vario team have made a quirky unique speaker that not only looks the part but also sounds very good for its compact size. It is beautifully made and rivals the best of the best in build quality.

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Build quality: 9.5/10 

Sound: 8/10 

Value for money: 7.25/10 

Total: 8.25/10 

Price when tested: 850€:

Recommend for people looking for a smaller, desktop speaker that is incredibly well built and has a fun and unique personality….a work or art!

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