As Belgium’s APEX Audio celebrates 20 years of business, PSNE presents 20 facts about the manufacturer/distributor.
1. APEX stands for Audio Products of Excellence.
2. APEX boss Paul Van Hees began his career in 1983 at EML Belgium (in the sales department of PA giant, EML). After three years he became sales manager and added many famous brands to the company’s product portfolio, including Nexo, Harrison Information Technology (HIT), C-audio and Amek.
3. The first APEX office was located in a former water-powered flour mill near Munsterbilzen, Belgium.
4. Paul Van Hees and Eddy Bergers started APEX NV in 1991. Eddy Bergers was an ex-employee of electrical manufacturing giant Philips Hasselt. In 1993 Paul Van Hees purchased the shares of Eddy Bergers to become the outright owner of the company.
5. Because of the questionable quality of the HIT equalisers, Van Hees and Bergers decided to design a new high-quality and revolutionary equaliser for themselves, the APEX PE-133, which was the first device on the market to combine both a graphical and a parametric EQ.
6. The first PE-133s were sold to the recording studio Videaudio in Wirtzstreet, Brussels. “It was an established company active in video and film post-production,” says Van Hees. “After a few years very prestigious customers were buying the PE-133. For example, Disneyland Paris ordered 70 PE-232 units (the stereo version of the PE-133). It was really exciting.”
7. APEX quickly established a distribution division representing Amek mixing consoles, Carver amps from the US and Mogami cables.
8. For APEX products, EMEA and Asia are now the biggest markets.
9. A most unusual success story stems from the APEX CDR-40. “It was a CD recorder from the mid-’90s, designed for recording and broadcast studios. The Korean distributor sold a lot of them, although not for traditional recording or broadcast activities. A popular pursuit over there was/is for people to go to karaoke rooms after work and, with the CDR-40 they could take their singing efforts back home with them. Apex sold over 500 CDR-40 devices to Korean karaoke bars.”
10. The R&D director is Renaud Schoonbroodt, who has worked for APEX since 2000. He started as a service engineer for studio, live sound and broadcast products and quickly became a project engineer on major broadcast installs in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. He has brought important broadcast features into the company’s new PA and install products: for example, synchronisable DSP cores, multiple and simultaneous PC control, and low jitter Wordclock I/O.
11. Schoonbroodt wrote his first piece of software when he was 12 years old.
12. APEX’s main product line is currently the Intelli-series. These next-generation 192kHz system management devices are designed for applications such as live sound and fixed installation.
13. “The biggest selling line in our distribution portfolio? The strength in our distribution part of APEX is the total package of brands and products we can deliver to our customers together with our service,” says Van Hees. “Our goal is to satisfy our customers’ demands and wishes in their projects. It does not matter who is the biggest.”
14. The company’s biggest single order was 30 for APEX Intelli-X processors to an Asian installation project.
15. APEX considers its greatest historical launch to be the PE-232 – the world’s first stereo paragraphic EQ.
16. Belgium is a small country in the centre of Europe, with different cultures and languages, while almost all of APEX’s customers are internationally focused. “That makes our country very interesting to do business in,” says Van Hees.
17. Priorities for APEX in the live sound arena include improved equipment ease of use, and decrease in set-up time.
18. Seven Apex employees are actual sound engineers.
19. Budget-friendly dB-series products are made in China with a comprehensive QC system in place. Each unit undergoes further testing at the APEX premises in Belgium. The Intelli- and SL-series devices are manufactured in Belgium.
20. Belgium is famous for beer: buy APEX staff Duvel from Moortgat or the white beer Hoegaarden, and they’ll be very happy.