Does buying speakers from brick and mortar dealers still make sense?

GoldenEar Technology thinks so, and stands by its dealers.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read

Sandy Gross is a bona-fide audio industry veteran, but even so I was surprised that when he started GoldenEar Technology in 2010 he was still going to sell speakers through brick and mortar dealers, and not online. His logic was that the best dealers still offered a superior experience for speaker buyers than what they get online. Brick and mortar customers can see, touch and most important of all hear speakers before they buy them. Also, the one-on-one dialogue between salespeople and customers as they listen and compare a number of speakers is hugely important. Dealers can provide hands-on service, installation and help with setting up systems. Online retailers can't compete in those areas. 


The GoldenEar Technology SuperCinema 3 5.1 channel system

GoldenEar Technology

Gross' belief in brick and mortar was based on decades of selling speakers through dealers, first with Polk Audio and later Definitive Technology, two highly successful brands Gross co-founded. Still, the internet model of direct sales was already underway in 2010, but GoldenEar Technology quickly signed up 60 dealers, and now the company has 200 dealers throughout the US. GoldenEar Technology was co-founded by Gross and Don Givogue.

Gross has had personal relationships with many of his dealers, and he cited Soundscape in Baltimore, Maryland as a prime example. They were Gross' very first Polk dealer, then his first Definitive Technology dealer, and Soundscape was also his first GoldenEar dealer. That kind of loyalty between a manufacturer and a dealer isn't unique, but it still says a lot about how Gross and Soundscape do business.

So I asked Gross how and why GoldenEar started selling speakers on its website in 2017, are you moving away from brick and mortar? "No, our online sales can be credited to the customer's geographically closest GoldenEar dealer that has the model in stock," said Gross. The dealers then follow through and ship speakers to the customer, so the GoldenEar website doesn't cut the dealer out of a sale. The dealer can help their customer with any setup questions.


Soundscape dealer owners John (left) and Ed Dorsey (right), with Sandy Gross in the middle.

Justin Dorsey

I've favorably reviewed GoldenEar speakers a number of times on this blog, I loved their Aon 3 bookshelf speaker, and their Triton One towers to name just two. GoldenEar currently offers a range of floor standing, bookshelf, sound bar, in-wall, in-ceiling speakers, and subwoofers. The company has dealers in the US, UK, and Australia.