«Our machine is now sturdier than ever»

Varia Instruments, RDM20 Von Dominik André am
They tinker for the best sound: Marcel and Simon with their RDM20 Rotary Mixer in their workshop in Bern.

When Marcel Schneider and Simon Schär create something, it is not only technically and visually sound, but also has something to offer. With the revised RDM20 Rotary Mixer, they invite us to take a closer look at the inside of their product. Because we find this incredibly exciting, we asked Simon a few questions.

Official Video: Welcome to Varia City - Inside the rotary DJ mixers of Varia Instruments

Can you give us a brief overview of what Varia Instrument is and does

We are a small manufactory which develops and produces high-end DJ goods. Our first priority is quality, this is why all our products are handcrafted by our small team, here in Bern, Switzerland.

Your RDM20 - the first product you launched - has undergone a major overhaul. What was the reason for this and what are the new features?

The RDM20 was our first product. When Marcel developed the prototype - roughly ten years ago - the idea was to create one single device for his own use. Back then there was no need for efficiency in the build process - this has changed with time and with increasing amounts of orders. We realized that we need this change if we want to keep having fun building this device for the long term! The circuit board was redesigned from scratch. A smarter layout of the components helps us to be faster at the assembling (yes, it's all done by hand!) and the whole connectors are now directly attached to the PCB which saves time later on in the build process. We also did some changes to the hardware, such as new cables. All in all nothing too exciting but many small changes make a big difference in the end: Our machine is now sturdier than ever and we're happy to get even better results when it comes to the audio signal too - less distortion and less noise, hooray!

What is your favourite new component that you have added to the RDM20?

I'm a big fan of the new cinch connectors! We introduced this part on the RDM40 and boy, it was a long way to find them. Hours of digging in the www, trying to contact the factories and ordering a sample whenever possible. We now sourced a super reliable product that is top notch both from the mechanical and electronic point of view.

«[...] they are looking for a device which fulfils their needs regarding features, quality and design.» – Simon Schär

"Handcrafted in Switzerland" is your slogan - what does it mean to develop and produce a product that is intended for a global music and audiophile community?

It is not easy indeed - Switzerland is one of the world's most expensive countries and then we're mostly exporting our goods. To define a price that lets us pay our bills and is still affordable for DJs and audio enthusiasts abroad is not an easy task! And then there's the whole topic of shipping, VAT and customs which is an extra pain for us as a small company.

How would you describe a Varia Instruments customer and what are they looking for when they buy one of your products?

They are so different! From the 60-year-old guy who enjoys listening to Jazz records in his man cave to the young prosperous DJ who needs a reliable tool for the road to audiophile venues. What they all have in common is that they are looking for a device which fulfils their needs regarding features, quality and design.

What do you wish you had known when you founded Varia Instruments that turned out to be important?

There would have been a ton of helpful things to know and little by little we learnt them - and still do! Sometimes we've experienced it the hard way, sometimes with the help of a good soul.
I'm happy that we were those two naive young guys who didn't know about business and the whole stuff in the beginning. Otherwise, we might have been scared and ended up never starting what turned out to be a pretty good thing so far, haha!

Are there any other projects you have in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

The next big thing is our trip to Asia in April! We'll be in Korea from April 3 to 17 and then in Japan from April 17 to May 02. I can't wait to discover the emerging scene in Seoul and check out all the audiophile bars in Tokyo. We will hold some test events in both countries and I'll play a couple of gigs too. Exciting!
Product wise we start working on something new in a couple of months but it seems a bit early to talk about it. Other than that we're finally working on a case for the RDM20 that should be out later this year!

Q&A by Dominik André