Keeping It Real In Montreal: Audio Plus Services/Plurison
December 12, 2012
When is a distributor not just a distributor? I witnessed the difference on a visit to Montreal just now, and the difference is impressive. For several decades Monsieur Daniel Jacques and his team have built up a company outside of Montreal that does more than just distribute products of notable high-end brands; as Mr. Jacques puts it, the “plus” in the name Audio Plus Services means that his company takes over all responsibilities from the manufacturer as soon as a product is ready to ship, and sometimes even before.
The thinking behind this stance is that a manufacturer should do only what their prime mission is and what they are really good at—designing, refining and building products. If the manufacturer then has to do the marketing, advertising, and distribution/shipping of the product after it has been launched, these activities take up energies that should be directed towards the design and manufacture of the next product.
This means that Mr. Jacques doesn't wait for orders to come in from the field before importing and then transshipping the products—the traditional distributor’s role—but that his company stocks all items at all times for same-day shipping. Audio Plus Services also does all the marketing, branding, advertising, tradeshow exhibiting, even product support including repairs and tech support, and takes care of servicing their own dealer network for each of the manufacturers whose products he takes on.
Audio Plus Services is registered in the US, while Plurison is based in Canada, but to all intents and purposes it is one and the same company, since all orders are shipped from Montreal, with US-destined packages simply being trucked across the border daily before being drop-shipped, at domestic US rates, from a US location to US addresses, to dealers only (no direct sales to end users).
This philosophy of total control and total responsibility is extended to the way reps are organized, not as commission-based sales people with their own agendas on the side, but as highly trained salaried employees, handling only the company’s product lines while responsible for assigned territories.
With a long history of involvement with home audio products, Mr. Jacques’ company has in recent years taken on products that are oriented at the pro audio customer, in particular Lauten microphones and the new Moon 3500 mic preamp.
Readers of Recording may remember that we reviewed Lauten microphones in our August 2007 (Audio Horizon LT-321), October 2009 (ST-221 Torch), and May 2011 (Clarion FC-357) issues, and the latest, the Atlantis FC-387 model, is being reviewed in the January 2013 issue. We also expect to bring you a review of the Oceanus in the near future.
Another company on Mr. Jacques’ roster, Sim Audio, is located in outlying Montreal, with a long history in home audio, remarkably making all the parts on-site to have full control over every aspects of production. Sim Audio has long been known for a high-end line under the Moon name, and as of this year it has launched a pro audio division, Moon-Professional.com, with the 3500MP 2-channel microphone preamplifier that we expect to review in an upcoming issue. Founder and owner of the company, Mr. Jean Poulin, led the factory tour and asked members of his engineering team to explain in detail the features of the 3500, and the level of meticulous research and care that went into this flagship product is impressive.
Focal is one of the companies that Audio Plus Services represents, and the French speaker manufacturer has a range of monitors aimed at the recording, mixing, and mastering studio. While visiting Sim Audio, we listened to a set of the impressively big floorstanding multi-component Focals, the Maestros that fall into the category of “if you have to ask then maybe the price is not for you”. Sim Audio’s engineering team employs them to evaluate their amps, DACs and other audio units, in a heavily treated room of their own design.
The next day we listened to another set of Focals, again not from the line promoted as studio monitors, but the even bigger freestanding Grande Utopia model, at the studio Le Lab Mastering in Montreal. That room is so fully tweaked to perfection that one is not only unaware of the room while listening, one is also not aware that there is no room influence. That’s not a misprint! The room is neither dead nor live, simply neutral and natural. One simply gets absorbed in the sound coming from those towers, at reasonable levels, with utmost clarity and depth. Le Lab belongs to Chief Mastering Engineer Marc Thériault who alternates between his Montreal mastering studio and his live-sound gig for the Céline Dion show at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Also present at Le Lab: Carl Talbot who does all audio work for the Montreal Symphony (under the baton of Maestro Kent Nagano).
Kudos and thanks to Daniel Jacques, and to Simon Côté, North American Sales Manager/Pro Audio, who organized and hosted the visit with aplomb, and to all who took their time to educate this visiting editor.