New York (August 14, 2008)–Logitech International will acquire privately held Ultimate Ears (Irvine, CA) for $34 million in cash. A provider of custom personal monitors for on-stage professional musicians and sound engineers, Ultimate Ears has over the last few years expanded its product line to include a range of consumer earphones for iPods and other uses.
Founded in 1995 by Jerry Harvey and Mindy Harvey, Ultimate Ears has grown from a sideline while Jerry mixed monitors on tour, into a sizable business. Harvey first spoke about his prototype personal monitors to Pro Sound News while on tour with Van Halen that year, noting that the results he’d had with drummer Alex Van Halen had led to a marketable product:
“Over the past few years, I’ve been using the current products out there, and I needed something a bit different for Alex; it needed to have more isolation on the drum kit, it had to be more durable than some of the pieces out there, and also I needed to be able to fix it while on the road…. Bill Leabody [of then-Garwood distributor Bill Leabody Systems] and I are going to bring this earpiece to market probably in April, because the prices of current ear molds are $800 to $1,000, and the guys in the field can’t really work on them; they have to be sent back. This is going to be aimed at the guy at the Holiday Inn who’s in a weekend bar band, that wants to do ear molds and wireless systems.”
Since then, Ultimate Ears developed the first high-performance two-way, custom personal stage monitors, and the company claims that an estimated 75 percent of “today’s top touring rock musicians” now use Ultimate Ears custom-fit personal monitors while performing. Since 2005, using patented, proprietary technology, Ultimate Ears has expanded its product line with universal-fit earphones for audiophiles as well as mainstream music enthusiasts. Pricing for the company’s consumer products begins at U.S. $40, while pricing for custom products can be as much as $1200. Ultimate Ears employs nearly 40 people.
“The iPod and iPhone have made it possible for each of us to have a portable and personal music-listening experience,” said Junien Labrousse, executive vice president of Logitech’s Products Group. “But for a truly immersive listening experience, you need an earphone with a comfortable fit that keeps out the background noise and lets you hear music as the artists intended, which is precisely what Ultimate Ears has mastered.”
“Ultimate Ears is a perfect fit for Logitech and our audio business,” said Gerald P. Quindlen, Logitech president and chief executive officer. “Since its inception, Ultimate Ears has been driven by innovation, close ties to its customers, and the desire to enable an immersive audio experience. Logitech’s success has been built on using a deep understanding of our customers to create innovative products that let people immerse themselves in their pursuits–whether they are listening to music, gaming, watching a video or otherwise enjoying their digital lifestyle. We look forward to using our worldwide distribution network and operational efficiencies to help more people discover this superior listening experience.”