Sandy Gross: the secrets of King Midas

Sandy Gross
Sandy Gross

Maybe you already know it. How can you make some money in the audio field? Starting with a lot of money…


Since the end of the ‘70s, when the so-called “stereo” was the technological must of the baby boomers, it was simpler to ruin yourself and squander a patrimony than make a fortune in this field.

This is why Sandy Gross became legendary, a kind of King Midas. Not under the technical aspect but from a commercial point of view. He founded three successful and still healthy companies*:

i Polk Audio, Definitive Technology and GoldenEar Technology.


*12 Questions For Sandy Gross, The Cofounder Of Three Legendary Audio Companies - Forbes, 12 March 2014: read HERE the article


In a world where brands like Altec or Acoustic Research (AR) have disappeared, this is more than an enterprise. Actually, these are three epic endeavours.


Sandy Gross calls himself a “serial entrepreneur”. From the symbolic point of view, he is the opposite extreme of those designers that have not succeeded in becoming real entrepreneurs. Who? Ad example David Berning or Don Garber, the creator of the Fi tube amps...


Anyway, Gross is not only a man of sales and marketing. In his companies, he dealt with Product Concept and Design, before becoming CEO and President. His GoldenEar speakers are currently winning many awards worldwide and like all his products, they benefit of excellent designs and of an eastern production with a strict quality control.

Gross also develops key concepts like the development of the driver in depth. The thin baffle responds to two criteria. The first one is the sound aesthetics; the second is the mere aesthetics. If the WAF - Wife Acceptance Factor - is low, it can prevent from purchasing.


The elimination of the baffle and its diffractions is at the origin of the hyper-realistic representation of the noise spaces, together with the techniques of multi-microphonic recording, in studio, with the single instruments recorded in spaces that are physically isolated and then mixed.


The oleographic sound, more real than real, - in the live event three jazzmen do not seem to play so isolated one from the other – has been the basic ingredient for the success of the mini-monitors. To make it give three-dimensional sound images the small transducer has to be placed on a stand and not on the wall or on a shelf.

The physical space it occupies is like a small tower, isn’t it? A small tower provided with the low range that is missing in the mini-monitor. The drivers for the low range are on the sides where the wide surface helps to support them without “damaging” the other ranges, as Tim Hall taught to the entire world when designed the AR9 in 1978.


If the global dimensions are limited, the physics prevents to reach the target of a good sensitivity - and not efficiency, as we normally hear.

In the traditional loading is possible to demonstrate the interdependency of three parameters: sensitivity, extension of the bass and physical dimensions of the air volume of the loudspeaker. Watch out: it is only for the bass range.


If we make the bass “active” and independent, with a crossover and a dedicated amp, we can use, for the entire range, many amps, more refined and less powerful, without the restriction of the problematic impedances in the high range that requires more energy. So, no more problems with the tube amps or with the single ended small transistors with low counter-reaction like the Nelson Pass’.


It is not the case of the AON 2. This small loudspeaker uses two passive radiators instead of a double reflex port and has only 86,2 dB of sensitivity while the Triton 1 has 91,3 (measurements by John Atkinson, Chief Editor of Stereophile...)


This is how GoldenEar implements the Triton 1, 3 and 5. Not the 7, completely “passive”.

A cheap trick? In part, yes, but very used. Up to the highest peaks of the Hi-End.


You can find active bass in pneumatic suspension to support the extreme bass of the Magico Ultimate III and of many “historical” Avantgarde, the ones that do not use the gigantic horns also for the low range. It is the same technology of the top range Vandersteen and similar. The switching from an active bass – like in the YG Anat Reference II Professional – to a total passive configuration - YG Sonja 1.3 – involves high costs and driving difficulties, also in what Jon Atkinson introduces as “The best loudspeaker in the world. Period." that is the l’Anat Reference: 107.000 US dollars per pair…


Triton 1, I would like to listen to you! Message to the Italian importer and to the manufacturer, lucky and skillful man…


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by Angelo N. M.
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