Shopping for a computer these days, you might note that it’s shipped with Harman Kardon speakers. And you may ask yourself, “Who is this Harman Kardon of which they speak?” And why exactly should the speakers of Harman Kardon matter to you. Well, the folks at Harman Kardon understand that the sound of silence isn’t very desirable for those who use their computers as entertainment devices. Inferior speakers were fine in the age of databases, spreadsheets and word processing. But today’s computing people want to be surrounded by sound for a better Blu-ray or DVD experience. They want to hear doors slamming in movies. They love the sound of lasers shooting at objects in games. And ultimately, good speakers make for good listening.
Sidney Harman, who started the company, wants us to remember that, “No valuable, enduring product ever arose from contemplation in (the) office – or in the engineering department… I know of no substitute for the firing line, for listening to the customer, for identifying and responding to real need.” That mindset is what led him to tinker with 1950s era public address systems to provide a better listening experience for customers.
If you notice that your computer also has Dolby sound, you can thank Ray Dolby who like Sidney Harman had a physics degree. Dolby’s big contribution was the elimination of annoying background hissing noises of recordings. But now Dolby is digital in a big way with its audio enhancements. Its technology includes Dolby Volume which prevents the varying sound level between say, advertisements and other content. Now it turns out that Harman Kardon and Dolby have teamed up, not only with each other, but also with computer manufacturers to optimize the sound experience in the latest computers. In an even more interesting twist, Thomas Dolby is really a Robertson who was nicknamed Dolby because of his obsession with his cassette player. He wasn’t blinded with Dolby science.
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