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Lars & Ivan ‘BoBo’ BK21 review

A post-modern micro system for the iPod age, this little hi-fi offers serious quality for a temptingly low price

What’s in a name? In this case, not that much. Lars & Ivan may be a slightly chummy-sounding brand name, but what really made us smirk was the company’s decision to repeatedly refer to this product using not its official product number but as the ‘BoBo’. 

BoBo apparently stands for ‘bohemian and bourgeois’, which sounds more like the recent nausea-inducing reformation of Kular Shaker than a micro hi-fi system. A shame, because despite being so semantically challenged, it really is quite a treat. 

Looks the part

The BK21 looks stunning – the speakers combine chunky perspex and exposed driver housings to winning effect, and the little PA-21 amplifier is similarly sunk into a little Perspex shelf. 

At the front, it has a volume control and a (pretty superfluous) balance control, while you’ll also find proper speaker terminals, a 3.5mm input and subwoofer pre-out at the back of the amp.

There’s even a second-tier shelf to put your iPod (or other MP3 player) on. All in all, the ‘BoBo’ (still gives us a chuckle) looks a sight more expensive than it actually is.  

Top-class sound

The amp’s claimed 10 watts per channel is staggeringly optimistic – the PA-21 gets breathless at fairly modest volumes – but as long as you don’t want to crank it to neighbour-baiting volume levels, the quality of sound is excellent.

Bass control

The bass is taut, articulate and manfully controlled, there’s decent separation of instruments and a well-judged treble. Of course, this system isn’t the last word in fidelity, but the BK-21 offers a confident, engaging voice with very few of the shortcomings common to this sort of price category. 

So by offering divertingly good looks and enjoyable, well-moderated sound at such a reasonable price (shop around and you’ll bag an even bigger bargain), the chummy Lars & Ivan sound like all the world like the iPod’s new best mates.


Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5