At HARMAN, we are passionate about music and we cultivate that energy to create superior quality products and technologies for people who love music just as much as we do. We know what audiophiles look for in premium speakers, headphones and stereo systems because we are musicians and music aficionados ourselves! Last week, we asked two of our resident musicians to speak about their passion for music in recognition of Make Music Day. Continuing the conversation, we recently spoke with Armin Prommersberger, Senior Vice President, Research & Development for HARMAN Professional Solutions and Richard Powell, Technical Specialist for HARMAN Professional Solutions, about how music has shaped their lives.
Q: What instrument do you play and how long have you been playing? What type of music do you like to play best?
Richard Powell: I’ve been playing the 6-string guitar for the last 30 years. I still remember trading in an old black and white television for my first guitar at a second-hand store. I love to play Rock and I’ve been inspired by bands like Iron Maiden and KISS. I studied the techniques of Vinnie Moore, Steve Vai, and Satriani for years before launching my solo career, which resulted in four studio albums and numerous shows and workshops. However, my biggest influence is Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, and when I met him I discovered my love of instrumental music.
Armin Prommersberger: I play several instruments including the drum and synthesizer, and anything else with keys. I loved learning to play the synthesizer because it combined two of my passions, music and technology. My first memory of playing music is from when I was around five years old – playing drums in my family’s kitchen while my grandpa played the accordion.
Q: Did your passion for music influence your decision to join HARMAN? How does it influence the work you do every day?
RP: Of course! The opportunity to work in a field I love is a true gift. The passion I have for music is the same passion I feel for HARMAN’s audio products. As the Technical Promoter for Professional Audio, I want to help all listeners experience the magic of listening to music on a HARMAN audio system. When I see someone listening to music on our sound systems with a smile on their face, I know the magic is real.
AP: Absolutely. I’m lucky that I have been able to build a career centered on all of my passions – music, technology, gadgets, and automobiles. In my role as the Senior Vice President for R&D at HARMAN Professional Solutions, my interests in audio are nicely combined with the latest developments in networking, connectivity, video, and control.
Q: There is no shortage of innovation and transformation within the music industry. How has the way we produce music changed?
AP: The past 30 years have seen some major changes in the industry. When I started working, we still cut tapes and musicians were forced to try and record the perfect track in one take over and over again. Then digital audio workstations (DAW) started to gain traction, and suddenly, copying good vocals or slicing five guitar solos into one could be done in a matter of seconds instead of hours. It completely changed the ways people thought about recording. Recording sessions used to be the final stage of song writing, something artists prepared for months and weeks ahead of time. Now, recording sessions have merged with the songwriting process and allow for more creativity and spontaneity in the recording studio.
When computers became so powerful they could run a full studio setup on a laptop, it democratized music production. Today, anybody can create, record, and produce a song from their living room. It’s both an amazing and challenging time for musicians. However, the difference between a hobbyist and a professional still lies in their knowledge and expertise in acoustics and recording.
Q: You’ve mentioned before that you are motivated by the emotional experience of products, and that this sensation is the ultimate goal of innovation. How do these thoughts relate to the musically-focused products you and your team create?
AP: Historically, the way we engineer products is driven by data and technical specifications. I fully embrace this scientific approach as there is often too much “voodoo” used in audio products. As little as ten years ago, many professional audio products were very complex, to the point where it took many professionals an extensive amount of time to learn how to use it. Since then, audio systems have become so feature-rich that even professional users were challenged.
Yet what HARMAN excels at across all divisions is our focus on user experience. Our audio products are used by engineers to convey the emotional message of the artist to the audience, whether it’s at a live event or a studio recording. The moment when you forget about the complex technology and the number of products being used at one time and are completely immersed in the song, or the speech, or a really fantastic light show… that’s when we know it’s a job well done.
Q; Each year, you spearhead the creation of HARMAN’s USUSAL SUSPECTS SONG. Can you tell us more about this special production?
AP: The USUAL SUSPECTS SONG is a compilation of musical contributions from hundreds of HARMAN colleagues, and is a tradition that spans over 20 years. At the end of each year, HARMAN employees, friends, and family members contribute their musical talents to help create a special and very personal masterpiece. After selecting a song, everyone sings or plays an instrument and once all the recordings have been collected, I compile them into one cohesive song. The song may change each year, but the result is always the same: an extremely special and personal rendition of a classic song that truly demonstrates the love of music that we share at HARMAN.
Q: Fill in the blank: Because of music, I can…
RP: …realize many dreams, meet wonderful people, and be a happy and fulfilled person.
P.S. HARMAN is back as the official sound of Make Music Day’s Street Studios! Find out how you can participate here.