Breaking news has it that beloved audiophile brand Audio Research may be in trouble.
As you probably know, the company was recently purchased from (what’s now called) the McIntosh Group a couple of years ago. What you may not know is that, as of early April, the company is now in “receivership”. This is a new-to-me version of financial distress, oversight, and management. And to be clear, this is not Chapter 11 (debt consolidation) and not Chapter 7 (liquidation). This is something else.
An article on Strata-Gee, describes it this way:
This “assignment” solution under Minnesota law is a form of receivership, in which all of a debtor company’s assets are transferred to a trust controlled by an “assignee” who makes all operational and financial decisions to dispose of the assets in a manner that is best suited for the benefit of the company’s creditors.
What the outcome from this process will be, in both the short-term and the long-term, is unclear. At a guess, the options are new ownership or some more formal bankruptcy proceeding — or both. No idea. But according to the filing documents, there is a court date this coming May 17th. My assumption is that this is when next-steps will be formally determined.
In any event, all of this is sub-optimal. And while I expect we’ll receive more clarity soon, there are some rumors floating around. And, as usual, do remember to take them with the appropriate piles of salt.
An anonymous post on hi-fi forum Audio Shark has the following (posted on April 30, 2023):
Audio Research voluntarily agreed to assign its assets to a receiver, Lighthouse Management Group, Inc, on April 4th. I want you to understand what that means and how it affects our daily operations.
Audio Research has been operating since the assignment was filed almost four weeks ago, which was ten days before the AXPONA, show where our VP of Sales (Allan Haggar) worked with our dealer Quintessence Audio, which featured a statement system including Ref10, RefPhono10, and Ref160M MkII amps.
Little has changed outwardly. Audio Research remains staffed with Greg and Evan answering questions and assisting owners via email and on the phone; the service department continues repairing products; production is building new products and performing updates; our parts inventory has been good and we continue to receive parts shipments; our sales department continues to accept product orders, and our shipping department is shipping parts and product orders along with completed service units.
Trent Suggs was relieved of control of Audio Research and we have been working with individuals to purchase the company: we expect to have a new owner very soon. There will be continuity as production, engineering, purchasing, service, and critical personnel will remain working for Audio Research. Including Warren Gehl.
A small update (later that same day) about ownership can be found on What’s Best Forum (emphasis mine):
Trent Suggs was relieved of control of Audio Research. We have been working with individuals who want to purchase the company, and I expect that we will have a new owner within the week.
UPDATED (May 2nd, 5pm): I just spoke with David Gordon — and he confirmed the facts as they have been laid out: business is very much operational, orders are being delivered, customer service is still servicing customers, and sales are still being made. New owners are actively — and very much currently — being courted, and yes, something on that front is expected to be announced in the next week. That said, the process is still the process — everything proceeds up to the May 17th date, and it is at that point that everything will be decided officially — or the next steps clearly outlined.
UPDATED (May 6th, 2pm): Got a note from David Gordon, Managing Director of Audio Research. In addition to a press release (Audio Research Press Release May 5), which restates the information shared by “Commish” (aka, David Gordon, aka, “Commissioner Gordon”) in those online forums, and generally indicating that it is “business as usual” at Audio Research, he had this to say:
“We are in the process of finding a new owner and are currently accepting bids, with an expected deadline of next Friday, May 12.”
I expect we’ll hear more, then, in a week. More as the story unfolds.
In the meantime, Bill Leebens has some history of Audio Research over on Strata-Gee (2020). It’s a great read.
And to the company, our colleagues, and the past customers, and those that hope to be customers in the future, our best wishes. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome for all — and to an additional 50 successful years of Audio Research in our beloved, and peculiar, little hobby.
They seem to be drifting towards a lifestyle market segment snd consequently lost their audiophile soul, sort of like VTL and McIntosh. Got completely lost on the pricing map