Audioquest buys GoldenEar

"For Immediate Release

January 2, 2020

GoldenEar Technology, manufacturer of some of the world’s highest value audiophile loudspeakers, and The Quest Group, best known as the owner of the AudioQuest brand of cables, Niagara power products, and DragonFly DACs, are very pleased to announce that GoldenEar has become part of The Quest Group, a California corporation wholly owned by AudioQuest founder and CEO Bill Low. Below is the letter that Sandy Gross sent out this morning to GoldenEar dealers and Export distributors:

I have some very exciting news to share with you: Our industry has seen a remarkable series of mergers and acquisitions over the past few years. Now I am pleased to announce that The Quest Group, the owner of AudioQuest, has acquired GoldenEar Technology. Owned by Bill Low, an ardent audiophile, The Quest Group, best known as the creator and supplier of the AudioQuest brand, has defined how a focus on audiophile performance can combine with market savvy and understanding, marketing excellence and operational excellence, to achieve exceptional business success. All of these positives mirror what GoldenEar is about, but with greater strength, resources, and capabilities.

Don Givogue, Bob Johnston, and I started GoldenEar ten years ago with the vision of creating an American classic: a strong, performance-oriented high-end audio company that would take a leading position on the world stage. We have created superb products that are unmatched in their combination of performance and value. Through our hard-hitting marketing, advertising, and fantastic reviews, we have become a well-established force in the loudspeaker marketplace. We have established a much-envied distribution network in North America through the best brick & mortar dealers. And in the international markets, with distributors in 35 countries, we have begun to establish an equally enviable worldwide presence.

When Don approached me several years ago to let me know that he wanted to retire, he tasked me with the challenge of finding the right business partner with which to join GoldenEar—one who understands who we are, what we do, and how we do it. The choice was clear: I have known Bill Low for almost 50 years, dating back to my first trip around the country to set up Polk distribution. Back then, Bill had a small high-end audio store in Portland, Oregon, and, as two fanatical audiophiles, we immediately hit it off and have been friends ever since. So, I enthusiastically approached Bill with the concept of bringing GoldenEar into The Quest Group, joining AudioQuest, and here we are today announcing that combination.

I very much want to continue with my lifelong work of creating great loudspeakers and bringing them to market. Don was the operational side of the business, and I believe that the operational strength within The Quest Group will be more than able to pick up the ball and charge ahead. I think that TQG’s capabilities will help us to create and structure an even more effective market presence, and, with their help and backing, I am confident that our sales team will grow and be able to offer even greater support to you, our dealers, distributors, and to your teams.

Internationally, from a logistical standpoint, The Quest Group is way ahead of anything that we have ever had. Their strong presence on the ground in Europe includes full warehousing and a growing sales-support structure. Their excellent Asia-Pacific team will help our current vendor interface team, as well as provide in-person sales support. Combined, these assets will be a tremendous help for GoldenEar and our distributors toward achieving growth and taking a much stronger international position. Our engineering team, strengthened by the addition of new head Benjamin Seaman, who has tremendous experience organizing and running effective engineering teams in the aerospace industry, remains in place and is busy working on new projects to help me achieve my product dreams. And our sales team of Dave Kakenmaster, Chris Volk, and Michael Grover are also in place and in gear. In addition, our in-house sales team of Anne Conaway and Mary Conaway are here and busy as always working with you and helping to make everything run smoothly and efficiently.

Of course, GoldenEar will continue to slowly and methodically pursue its own unique and independent distribution strategy. At present, about one hundred of GoldenEar’s approximately two hundred North American dealers are also AudioQuest dealers. Over time, more AudioQuest dealers might become GoldenEar dealers, though only when and where appropriate. Under no circumstances will GoldenEar become available to all AudioQuest dealers. Of course, AudioQuest is hoping that it might be appropriate for more of the GoldenEar dealer community to become AudioQuest dealers, but there is no mandate for either community to merge with the other.

I look forward to working together with you on this new chapter in the history, development, and success of GoldenEar.

Onward and Upward,

Sandy Gross
GoldenEar Technology

Bill Low’s addendum:

I’m delighted to welcome GoldenEar into the heart of The Quest Group’s performance-oriented audio business.

Other than that, Sandy’s letter says it all—including the important fact that I am acquiring GoldenEar Technology because nothing is broken and nothing needs to be fixed. The businesses of GoldenEar and AudioQuest are simply complementary and compatible to a degree seldom seen when an investment business buys companies.

I have always been certain that I would only ever want to be involved with business activities that I initiated, from my stores in Portland, OR, and Santa Monica, on to AudioQuest cables, Niagara and PowerQuest power products, and the DragonFly series of portable DACs—but the opportunity to work with Sandy and share in the growth of GoldenEar is simply irresistible.

Everyone who knows Sandy has witnessed someone doing what he loves—I hope the same is obvious to those who know me. Sandy and I will now be practicing our favorite “pastime” under the same umbrella.


William E. Low
The Quest Group
dba AudioQuest"

No disrespect to you, but why do you feel that way? It sounds like Sandy Gross will still be part of the team with much greater financial resources. It doesn't sound like GoldenEar is under financial distress. As long as everything is on the up and up, this should be a good move.

Bryston offers a Bryston-branded turntable.

ELAC purchases the reincarnated Audio Alchemy.

This is what happens in today's business world.

Thankfully, the Vandersteen kids are involved in the business, so my speakers should be safe for another generation.
IMO GE must not be doing so well if they are merging with Audioquest.  Many times when audio companies merge, it spells disaster.  First the product gets cheapened a bit to save money and make the stockholders happy.  No good will come out of this and as a consumer with a heavy investment in GE products, I feel slighted.
Usually companies have to be doing very well for another company to buy them.  What good is buying a company that has bad products or services or is losing money?  Many founders dream of building something so that one day they can sell the company, cash out, and retire.

I can't believe they didn't ask you first.  The nerve!
@stereo5... I could understand your concern(s), if the company that bought GE was non-audio related.

I happen to know both sides quite well and IMHO, they will continue to innovate and provide excellent product in both value and performance for many years to come.

Bill and Sandy, (and their respective personnel) will make a fantastic joint organization.
Based on the info.released by the OP, Bill Low and Sandy have been  acquainted for 50+ years and AQ may want a well regarded speaker brand to mate with their cable line.  This could be a good move for both concerns.  Not hard to imagine promoting the speakers together with AQ cables as a bundle!
It also makes you wonder if GE was in need of some cash, to perhaps,take the next step? Of course I'm just speculating. I have no idea of their financial health.
I don't want this to end up like when Clarion bought out McIntosh.  That was a disaster.  Thank God McIntosh is on solid footing again.  I hope it works out but I know there is more to this than what has been explained by Golden Ear and Audioquest.
Having done something like that myself, maybe a time in ones life where a price, joint venture and or an exit strategy was the right move for the company.  
Sandy Gross was involved with two other speaker companies over the years.
It looks like there may be some actual synergy in this acquisition. AQ will gain a high value, well known brand of speakers and GE will gain access to a larger, more well developed distribution network plus additional capital for expansion. The fact that the two CEOs know each other well is another good sign.

There are plenty of examples of acquisitions or investors that have hurt or even destroyed audio companies - Krell and Thiel are examples. This one looks very different to me. If I was in the market for GE speakers I would be more likely to buy them now than before the acquisition.
I have always liked AQ cables and they are heavily used throughout my 9.2 A/V system along with various Golden Ear A/V speakers and subs.  It has been a good marriage.

Last year at AXPONA I met Sandy and demo'd his GE Triton One.Rs  which led to coming home and getting a demo of the full size GE Triton R's and again the Triton One R's ...  I had to have the One R's for my stereo system , so to the dismay of my dealer (Speaker & Stereo Store ),  he got payment in lieu of return towers .  My win !  

Long story short ... GE is not/ was not in a financial dilemma. Their Tritons series are still in high demand as well as their A/V speakers & Subs, with short wait on the One.R's .   I believe the AQ purchase assisted GE in their continued growth in the market and improved service & distribution channels through AQ's well matured infrastructure. 

I for one, congratulate Sandy & Bill , hope to see them in April at AXPONA , and wish them all the best in their future endeavors. 

Happy Listening & Happy New Year ! 

So does this mean GoldenEar will try to reinvent the wheel with a new line of speakers every six months?
I know many here love  these speakers. I went to an audition when their speakers were introduced around 3-4-5 years ago. They were very underwhelming. I was very disappointed.
There is consolidation in the industry.  There is consolidation in every industry, including service industries like Banking and Health Care.  In Healthcare, it’s bad—the one one percenters suck the life out of everything and make everyone work like bees and suck money out of taking care of people.  In manufacturing, it doesn’t have to be bad, if there are shared interests and economy of scale.  I don’t see the synergy myself between Audioquest and a Speaker Manufacturer, but I’m a Doctor, so what the hell do I know about it?
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What are some examples in audio of where one company was acquired by another and it worked out better going forward for the company acquired?

This is a serious question, and I’m only asking because I’m not aware, not because I think it can’t or hasn’t happened. Many above say it’s encouraging, so I’m just looking for some exemplary precedent.