February 1, 2008

New Beginnings at ARC

I've met William Z. Johnson (shown right), the patriarch of Audio Research Corporation (ARC), one of high-end audio's oldest and most celebrated companies, exactly once. It was back in 2001, when Doug Schneider and I toured Audio Research. "Mr. Johnson," as we called him, was thoughtful and kindly, taking time to talk with two Internet upstarts as though we were industry veterans. I remember that he showed us some new circuits he was working on -- and seemed anxious to get back to work. We left him at his computer, glad to have had a brush with him.

Of course, since that time, we've reviewed many Audio Research components here on SoundStage!, so I was especially interested in the news that Mr. Johnson "is stepping back from his ownership role," as a press release puts it, after 38 years leading the company he founded. On January 25th, an agreement for the purchase of Audio Research was finalized. Quadrivio SGR, a private-equity firm based in Italy whose current holdings include Sonus faber, are the new owners, and key company personnel will remain. Terry Dorn, who has been with ARC for 22 years, will become company president, and Dave Gordon will become sales director. I've had many discussions with both of them about all kinds of things, and their expanded involvement in Audio Research spells very good things for the company. They are two of the best people I've met through my job with SoundStage!, and they know the audio industry like few people do.

Mr. Johnson won't be retiring because of the sale of his company. He will retain the title of Honorary Chairman and contribute circuit designs for future products. With all of the right people still in place, I expect that things around Audio Research will change about as much as the classic look of the products, and that's very good news for audiophiles everywhere.

...Marc Mickelson

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