Ramesh Jayaraman, Vice President and General Manager, Harman Professional Solutions.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Ramesh Jayaraman, Vice President and General Manager, Harman Professional Solutions.

My Reading Room

What are latest the audio trends you’re seeing develop?

Well, we feel like Harman has been defining the trends given the number of companies under our portfolio. And that’s a trend in itself, because we’ve moved from a brand-focused company to one focused on integration.

For example with our new soundbar, we’ve taken the sound quality from JBL, the noise-cancellation from AKG, and technology from AMX and put it into a single plug-and-play solution that people can use at home. You can use it as a soundbar, you can use it for video conferencing. That helps in a very connected world. 

Would you say then that the trend is more of a case of multiple devices being integrated into a single unit?

Yes, but it’s multiple devices that serve different functions being brought together into a single hand-carry unit that’s easy for the user to get and use. Integration of various elements into a solution that’s easier to use than before. 

Self-publishing in all forms seems to be the trend for the creative industry, how is the audio world tapping into this segment? 

Online videos play a big part in the creative industry now, so I’ll talk about making music, and the music that can be made at home. We literally tap into budding musicians starting out by offering up quality microphones, mixers, sound panels… essentially a package for someone to get started on their musical journey. And that’s something we see as a huge area for growth for us.

What’s interesting is that, as the home artist is growing, the broadcast industry is also growing so we’re still building up products for all the spaces, but also taking professional quality equipment like sound monitors and shrinking it down to a size that the budding artist can use at home.

We’re also looking at Cloud-based solutions so as they move from one studio to the next, their settings can follow. Bringing many control units into a single device is also something we’re trying to do so you don’t need that much space to operate. 

Is there any benefit to maintaining a distinction between “professional grade equipment” and “consumer/prosumer” grade equipment then?

No, look, for us it’s the target market; it’s not the quality. We actually have the same teams producing devices for both segments, so what they do is create technologies that we try to utilize for different target markets. The distinction is really more the end consumer and the usage as opposed to the innovations. 

For example, when I was younger and single, I only cared about speed, and I could go for a motorcycle or two-seater car without concerns. Then I met my wife, and we had our first kid and I had to put a car seat in… now I have four children and I can’t look at anything smaller than an SUV. 

It’s no different in the music sector, you basically go from a budding musician all the way to being a guy winning Grammys. You gotta create different things, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Right. You talk about innovation, but given that audio quality has pretty much reached a point where any differences are minor at best, how do you keep innovating?

Innovation is a combination of design and the needs that you have. If you go into our experience center, you’ll see that sound has different shapes and forms that bring it to life. You’ll see like, 50 types of ceiling speakers. People might say it’s just a ceiling speaker, but there are 50 different types because there are many dispersion patterns and applications. 

I’ll give you an example. More and more sports stadiums around the region are being built near residential areas.That means they also get used for things like rock shows. And when that happens, something has to be done so the people living nearby don’t feel affected by the music, but the people in the concert are still enjoying the full experience. 

We’re able to do that because of things like intelligibility and direction control in our speakers which come via technologies that we have developed, and that’s the innovation we’re pursuing. 

In terms of audio products, what’s your personal favorite?

For home use I love AKGs, like the AKG 872s that I like to use. They’re professional level, but I love the sound quality and what it does. For my personal home audio use I actually have a JBL 705P and a 708P and there’s one called a 305.

Why do I like these speakers? Because I get technologies made for artists and it amazes me. What I like about our sound is that there’s a truth that shows. This is sound as the artist meant it to be, and that’s critical because typically when someone shows emotion in their performance, I can hear that, and that gets me going. 

“What I like about our sound is that there’s a truth that shows.”