Two-year old manufacturing start-up VUE Audiotechnik, the sound reinforcement loudspeaker specialist founded by US-based industry veterans Ken Berger and Jim Sides, is to open a wholly owned European base in Berlin. VUE Audiotechnik Europa GmbH (VUE Europe, for short) is to be located in Berlin’s Media City in the south-east of the city, and represents a serious consolidation of VUE’s ambitions to showcase groundbreaking audio technology worldwide.
Speaking exclusively to PSNEurope, Berger explains the scope of this latest dimension to his company. “VUE Europe will serve both as a technical support, sales and marketing organisation for the whole of Europe and as a distributor for Germany, Switzerland and Austria,” he says. “The new structure allows more people to access and experience our products, and will help in establishing distribution to all points of the continent. We will be building and training a support team that will allow us to provide application and engineering support, product support and service throughout Europe.”
At the helm of the European venture is managing director Holger de Buhr, who a year ago bought into the VUE franchise by securing distribution of its portfolio in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for Media Logic, the company he founded in Berlin in 2006. Now making a full-time commitment to the brand, de Buhr will continue to guide VUE’s expanding range of loudspeaker products into those territories as VUE Europe takes over their distribution from Media Logic. Holger de Buhr has also joined VUE Audotechnik’s board.
Before founding Media Logic de Buhr worked for German MI retailer Just Music with a special interest in music technology and studio sales, while in the 1990s his company AudioSonic handled regional distribution for d&b audiotechnik as well as inheriting Neumann’s mixing console business from Sennheiser – a telling combination of live and studio experience. His three-tiered role encompasses membership of the Board; product management, especially as required by the European fixed installation market; and setting up distribution partnerships.
“The requirements for big touring systems are very similar all over the world, but the permanent installation markets vary,” he says. “In German-speaking countries, especially, you won’t find many active speakers installed in theatres, for example: the Tonmeister ‘best practice’ is to keep amps and speakers separate, particularly for maintenance. That’s not to say that tightly integrated electronics are not important; they are, but in a rack rather than within the speaker cabinet.”
“For setting up the new partnerships I will be frequently joined by Jim Sides, who’s experience here is invaluable. I’ve known Jim for quite some time, especially since his time spent working in Germany, and immediately became aware of VUE Audiotechnik when it was launched at Frankfurt two years ago. I went over to the US to listen to the systems in the late summer of 2012, and after 10 seconds I was completely won over – especially by the performance of the beryllium compression driver in the h-12 and the new ACM (Active Compliance Management) bass technology.
“After Jim’s visit to Berlin in late 2012 we started doing some work in the German-speaking territories, and by early in the following year I knew that the financing was in place for some serious investment in Europe.”
Under the auspices of Media Logic de Buhr was able to gauge the necessary adjustments to the American model needed for multi-lingual and cross-border distribution of VUE products on this side of the Atlantic, notwithstanding the vicissitudes of EU trading. By November last year he had decided to invest in the brand himself and secure a senior management footing.
“We decided it would be very helpful to establish a subsidiary,” continues de Buhr, “given the issues of structure, language and the different behaviour of the European market – especially in permanent installation. There are lots of small countries without major distribution, so it’s important to establish a full line of demo stock and make it available. We’re currently building a fantastic, acoustically high-end demo room in Berlin that will attract people from all over Europe. Their listening experience here will be the proof of what VUE Audiotechnik is doing.
“Berlin is culturally rich and diverse enough to supply a wide range of performance styles that we can use to showcase the versatility of the portfolio, from techno to theatre and from opera to rock festivals, and has a great population of engineers who can support us with projects and system designs.” This includes EASE pioneer Dr Wolfgang Ahnert, who’s Berlin-based Acoustic Design Anhert (ADA) is now working with VUE Audiotechnik on new beam steering technology.
“We want to emphasise that it is not our intention to go direct in territories beyond Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and that we will be supporting our existing distributors,” adds Berger. “It will also be VUE Audiotechnik Europe’s mission to establish independent distribution in all remaining European territories as quickly as possible.”