Friday, December 20, 2013

Harman Kardon factory tour: Pure to the art of sound

Some of the Harman and competitor headphones that we've recently tested.
Giving Harman R&D lab tours and presentations to customers and audio journalists is a part of my job. Recently, we played host to some automotive journalists in town attending the Los Angeles Auto show.

Automotive audio journalist Shawn Molnar wrote this great article about his visit to our R&D labs that you can read in his popular BMWBlog.

Shawn gives an overview of  his visit to our labs where we showed the journalists our R&D facilities used for testing and evaluating Harman loudspeakers, headphones and automotive audio systems.  Most people I meet know Harman for its JBL and Harman Kardon consumer and professional products. They are surprised to lean that 75% of our sales are from Harman branded (JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity, Lexicon, Mark Levinson) automotive audio and infotainment systems.

Research by CEA has found that consumers now spend almost as  much time listening to music in their cars as they do in their homes.  Moreover, the audio experiences in the car are increasingly more sonically satisfying than those experienced in the home. Branded audio systems in premium cars typically provide 7-channel surround sound through 16+ loudspeakers that deliver a full-range, balanced, enveloping sound stage that can reach concert sound pressure levels. Compare this to the tinny, spatially bereft stereo speakers in your MacBook Pro or flat panel TV, and you begin to understand why people are listening to music through headphones when they're not listening in their cars.

So, why don't automotive journalists spend more time writing about audio / infotainment systems in cars given that consumers tell us it's an important factor in their overall satisfaction rating of the car?  When reading reviews of new cars, wouldn't it be nice to hear more about the quality of the audio system than how many heated cup holders it has?