The idea behind the development of Teufel’s new Varion speakers is built into its name: Variable.“Set them up horizontally or vertically, place them on the floor or a lowboard, on the wall or attach them to your television. The speakers are equally suited for the playback of music, movies and games. No other Teufel system offers so much flexibility,” explained Adrian Schichl, the product manager responsible for the system’s development. “With the Varion, we developed a design that’s perfect for a wide range of interiors and use cases. We wanted the Varion have an attractive look that can subtly blend into any living room. It was equally important to provide a range of well thought-out, high-quality accessories to assist in achieving the ideal room setup. So a lot of thought and energy went into the development of the table stands, floor stands, wall mounts and VESA compatible TV wall mount. The latter allows a TV to be attached to a wall as a single unit along with the front and centre speakers – a very practical solution that we’re quite proud of.”
A design becomes a reality: Creating scale models
Expectations were high and the long path to the final product wasn’t always easy for the development team. Beginning in 2014, Teufel product managers, acousticians and designers began searching for a way to achieve the ultimate system for easy room placement. “Our earliest models were much larger and clearly inspired by our column loudspeaker, the LT 4,” explain product designer Ansgar Thies.
During the course of the development process, the team was able to make the loudspeakers much more slender for a design that recalls Teufel’s compact Consono family. The tapered cabinets, grilles that extend around the sides of the speakers as well as the chrome ring accents on the drivers are all design characteristics the Varion shares with the Consono series. The guiding idea of enabling variable setup options was also integrated into the design. The Varion speakers are elegant enough to attract admiring glances as a stereo system, yet understated enough to be integrated into any style of interior.
Once the basic form was established, product development could commence. This ran along multiple phases. Teufel’s design department put together cardboard scale models in order to test the proportions and setup possibilities. Meanwhile, draughtsman Eugen Funk tested the system’s mechanical bracing, drivers and crossovers in order to create a prototype for production. After the details were approved by the design and product management teams, a model was created using a 3D printer. The end product, the result of months of hard work and brainstorming was almost complete.
After the design underwent Teufel’s internal design-check procedure, Funk sent the construction specifications to the suppliers with whom Teufel has worked for the past 20 years. The quality of the first sample they produced was so good that mass production could start right away. The Varion speakers measure only 7 cm across. Their wrap-around grilles and enclosures that taper to the back give them a graceful look, especially when placed on the slender floor or table stands specially developed for the system.
An integral part of the Varion’s design: Specialized speaker stands and mounts
TheVarion’s dimensions open up a wide range of placement options. Sturdy table stands make it possible to place the speakers on a lowboard or cabinet. This is a nice option for those who use the Varion as a 2.1 stereo system. Filled with premium audio hardware, two Varion speakers plus subwoofer deliver an amazingly full and detailed sound. Each speaker is constructed as a 2-way system with 6 x 55 mm midrange drivers surrounding a tweeter. This so called D’Appolito arrangement ensures an especially well integrated and broad sound dispersion. The way the drivers are aligned brings with it another advantage: It makes it possible to place the speakers horizontally or vertically. The sound that reaches the listener will be the same. A clever detail underscores the system’s flexible placement options: The Teufel logo adheres to the grilles magnetically and can be moved according to the speaker’s position.
Far from being an after-thought, the Varion’s stands, wall and TV mounts are an integral part of the product design and were develop in tandem with the speakers. But here as well, the design evolved in accordance with practical considerations. The original plan to deliver the stands as a single unit had to be discarded, for instance, as this would have made the delivery packages too large and shipping too expensive.
It was therefore decided to break the stands down into three separate pieces: The base, steel tubing and speaker holder. The steel tubing was designed to come with speaker cable pre-installed as a fixed and integrated part of the stand. The user need only attach the three parts, secure the speakers and then connect the speaker cable to terminals at the base of the stands.
The bases are massively weighted in order to ensure that the tall and elegant stands remain stable. Steel was chosen for the hollow tubes containing the speaker cable instead of the lighter and less expensive option aluminium as only steel offers the necessary durability and weight. In addition, Teufel product designers tested many different rubberised feet for the stands until they found the perfect compromise between non-slip properties and durability.
The loudspeaker wall mount as well as the combined TV / speaker mount went through numerous tests in order to locate any potential instability in the designs. This was especially important for the TV brackets which need to be strong enough to support even larger televisions as well as up to three speakers.
It was originally planned to create a way to mount Varion speakers to a free-standing television. This plan, however, had to be abandoned as the stability of the system could not be guaranteed. That’s why it was decided to develop a wall-mounted combined TV / speaker stand. The resulting mount can support televisions up to 120 kg and can be used with other Varion speakers. Teufel worked closely with its suppliers in order to achieve this load capacity and flexibility, even developing special tools for the construction of the final design. The mounting mechanism alone was subjected by Teufel engineers to countless tests in order to find the right balance between durability and ease-of-use.
A full two years passed between the first sketches to the final product. Next generation models of existing products usually take less time to develop. Two years is normal for a completely new product and shows how good our product managers have to be in predicting future trends.
Varion loudspeakers are available now in the Teufel webshop as well as in the Teufel Raumfeld Flagshipstore in Berlin. You can learn more here.