Laurent Rault has always worked in audio within the Marketing/Sales departments for major brands such as Kenwood (HiFi & Car Audio), Harman (AKG – Harman/Kardon, JBL, Infinity) and Monster (premium accessories and headphones). Since 2018, he has been the Sales Director at Audio Pro with the goal of developing the brand in European markets.
Can you present Audio Pro in a few words?
Audio Pro is a Swedish brand that has specialized in the design of active speakers for over 40 years. Hailing from the same country as a famous music streaming service (Sweden is the birthplace of Spotify – ed. note), the company quickly (as early as 2008) made the decision to go wireless. Today, Audio Pro offers a range of active wireless speakers that allow you to enjoy all music streaming services, whether it’s with a single speaker or in a multi-room setup.
How would you characterize Audio Pro’s philosophy?
Simplicity, design and excellent value for money. Audio Pro speakers are very easy to use and we stick to the fundamentals (no unnecessary features). Designing beautiful objects that add value to your home is also part of the Swedish way of thinking!
Who are Audio Pro’s speakers for? (Young people? Audiophiles? Geeks? Novices?)
Offering a rich and powerful performance, impressive timing, a wonderful dynamic range and tight, textured bass, the mature and refined sound of Audio Pro speakers is a pleasure to listen to. It will appeal to a wide audience, from beginners to demanding audiophiles.
Is the design of Audio Pro speakers simply an aesthetic feature or does it contribute to their sound signature? If so, in what way?
All our speakers are designed with a predefined acoustic objective in mind. Usually, bass performance determines the size of a speaker. Our technology and expertise in this area also mean we can provide superior performance with very compact speakers adapted to our living environments. The materials are chosen for the best possible acoustic performance, with wood being the central element.
It’s as much a visual signature (described as a koala design!) as it is an acoustic one. The design with a large woofer placed in the center optimizes the lows for the size of the speaker. The two tweeters deliver stereo sound to expand the soundstage of this monoblock speaker.
Can you tell us a bit about the Audio Pro A36 speakers?
The Audio Pro A36 are a pair of active floorstanding speakers designed to be used in a living room, notably to improve the sound of a TV thanks to their HDMI eARC connectors. But it is also a wireless system that can be seamlessly integrated into a multi-room environment (WiFi, Audio Pro multi-room, Spotify Connect). It is a versatile solution for enjoying excellent sound (in 2.1 with Audio Pro subwoofers) during a movie or with music.
Why release a pair of floorstanding multi-room speakers when the current trend in multi-room appears to be discreet, space-saving speakers?
We try to provide music and movie fans with a wide range of smart, multi-room speakers for every purpose and room in the house. The A36s are floorstanding speakers, but they’re still extremely compact (80cm high and 20cm wide). And for those who want an even more discreet and less cumbersome solution, this floorstanding speaker has a bookshelf version: the Audio Pro A26.
Is it difficult to combine traditional hi-fi with wireless and multi-room technologies?
It has become easier thanks to the improvement of local WiFi networks, increased bandwidth and rising number of high resolution streaming options that allow users to enjoy exceptional sound with our wireless and multi-room systems. And some are comparable to traditional hi-fi systems. Naturally, the sound and purpose aren’t the same, but it’s more in line with current lifestyles and the way we listen to music.
The Audio Pro catalog includes two subwoofers that are each equipped with a driver and two passive radiators (the SW-10 and C-Sub). What is the advantage of such a design?
We offer some of the most compact subwoofers available on the market and in this configuration, the use of two passive radiators provides a better result than a classic bass-reflex port. A love of clean bass has always been part of our DNA, starting in 1978 with the patented ACE-Bass innovation, which enables small subwoofers to deliver deep lows.
Do you have any plans to design an active wireless home theater speaker system? If so, in what format (4.1? 5.1? Atmos? floorstanding or compact?), when and in what price range?
Creating a wireless home theater solution implies additional restrictions and challenges to achieve a good result, as well as a relatively high cost. For now, we don’t wish to become a part of this sector. However, it is part of our research and development and anything is possible in the future!
Can you tell us a bit about the future of Audio Pro’s ranges? When will an Audio Pro soundbar be released?
We recently released the C10 MKII (the successor to our flagship C10 speaker) which offers unparalleled flexibility for enjoying music streaming services and multi-room sound.
Our new platform allows AirPlay 2, Chromecast and our own multi-room solution to coexist via our mobile app while still keeping Spotify Connect and Bluetooth.
We will be updating many existing devices in 2022 based on this new platform, which also provides superior audio quality as well as increased speed and ease of use.
Regarding a soundbar, we aren’t huge fans of this solution at Audio Pro. Soundbars aren’t usually very visually appealing and are often poorly proportioned. We much prefer our stereo and 2.1 solutions (A26 or A36 + SW10) both for the design and the quality of the stereo sound.
Personally, how do you listen to music on a daily basis and with what equipment?
A turntable connected to the auxiliary input of a C10 MKII used as a master speaker in a multi-room group. The “Wireless restream” feature lets me stream the sound of vinyl records throughout my home. On a daily basis, I listen to the radio a lot, as well as my playlists which are directly accessible via our preselections!
What is your fondest musical memory (record, concert, movie…)?
Stan Getz at the 22nd San Sebastian/Donostia Jazz Festival in 1987. And another one: Prince at the Paris Zénith, on June 1st 2014!