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Meet the Scientists 

Harman Kardon employs real scientists, who have dedicated their careers to researching sound. And just because they are scientists, it doesn’t mean they are passionless. It is passion for sound that drives them to take such painstaking steps to design systems the way they do. They love the art of music, and use science to preserve it.

It takes scientists to make exceptional products, just like it takes artists to make exceptional music. Meet some of the scientists who have pioneered Harman Kardon’s approach to sound;


Dr. Sean Olive, Director of Acoustic Research

Sean Olive is Director of Acoustic Research for Harman International where he has worked since 1993. He currently directs the Corporate Acoustic Research Group that focuses on the perception, measurement and improvement of sound quality in Harman home, professional and automotive audio products. An important role of the Corporate R&D Group is to conduct competitive benchmarking on new Harman audio products to ensure their sound quality is best-in-class, using scientific-based, controlled listening test methods.

Prior to 1993, Sean was a research scientist at the National Research Council of Canada where he worked with Dr. Floyd Toole on research related to the perception and measurement of loudspeakers, listening rooms, and microphones. Sean received a Bachelors degree in Music from the University of Toronto, and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Sound Recording from McGill University in Montreal. His Ph.D. research was on room acoustic adaptation and the acoustical interactions between loudspeakers and rooms. Sean has taught various audio courses at CEDIA, McGill and UCLA on topics that include sound recording, room acoustics, and the perception and evaluation of reproduced sound. Dr. Olive has written over 30 research papers on the perception and measurement of audio for which he was awarded the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Fellowship Award in 1996, and two Publication Awards (1990 and 1995). He is the current Vice President for the AES Western USA-Canada region, and writes a blog on audio called "Audio Musings" at www.seanolive.blogspot.com.

Dr. Floyd Toole, Acoustic Consultant

Floyd E. Toole studied electrical engineering at the University of New Brunswick and at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London, where he received a Ph.D. In 1965 he joined the National Research Council of Canada, where he reached the position of Senior Research Officer in the Acoustics and Signal Processing Group. In 1991, he joined Harman International Industries, Inc. as Corporate Vice President Acoustical Engineering. In this position he worked with all Harman International companies, and directed the Harman Research and Development Group, a central resource for technology development and subjective measurements. Early in 2007 Dr. Toole retired.

Dr. Toole’s research has focused on the acoustics and psychoacoustics of sound reproduction in small rooms. Most notably, he established methods for subjective and objective evaluations which have been used to clarify the relationships between technical measurements of audio equipment and listeners’ perceptions. For papers on these subjects he has received two AES Publications Awards and the AES Silver Medal. A book, “Sound Reproduction”, for Focal Press (2008) is his most recent project. He is a Fellow and Past President of the Audio Engineering Society and a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He is currently active in teaching and course development in CEDIA and in 2008 he was awarded the CEDIA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Charles Sprinkle, Sr. Accoustics System Engineer

Charles studied Science Mechanical Engineering at California State University and prior to joining Harman International, worked in retail management, where he had a life-changing experience when he listened to a system that one of his friends had built. Immediately, Charles caught the bug and wanted to build his own loudspeakers, which his friend encouraged him to do. From that moment, Charles was hooked and audio and has been building loudspeakers ever since that defining moment.

To fulfill his dream, Charles returned to his local college to study engineering. It was through attending various Audio Engineering Society meetings, that he met Dr. Sean Olive, who encouraged Charles to consider an internship position while finishing his studies at the university.  Charles applied for a position at Harman, and was hired to work with Sean and Dr. Floyd E. Toole in the Multi Channel Listening Laboratory.  While there, Charles learned about the science that allows loudspeaker designers to create products that consistently sound good.

In 2003, Charles accepted a position as a systems engineer at Harman Consumer Group and since then has worked on the development of various products including the Harman Kardon MS100 and Harman Kardon MAS100. He also developed software for measurement of room acoustics using a regular PC with soundcard, software for design of low diffraction constant directivity elliptical and bi-radial waveguides and software for the design of loudspeaker suspension components. In addition, Charles developed a library for Harman Audio Test System to allow virtual “Spin-O-Ramas” so that loudspeaker designs can be acoustically verified before network prototyping or DSP programming.

Kurt Solland, Vice President of Industrial Design

Kurt Solland is vice president of industrial design at Harman Consumer Group, a division of Harman International. In his role, he is in charge of creating the design vision and language for JBL, Harman Kardon and Infinity products. Surrounded by innovation all his life, Kurt grew up inspired by various art forms such as Norwegian Viking craftsmanship and music. For generations, he grew up around a family of craftsmen who were passionate about machining and boat building. Kurt’s father brought boat building to extremes by being one of the first people to start racing hydroplanes. As a pioneer in the sport, he designed and built beautifully designed hydroplanes out of wood and captured numerous water speed records. On Kurt’s mother’s side was the influence of her cousin Eddie Lund, one of the most prominent names in Tahitian music.  The consistent and unique cultural and artistic forces in Kurt’s life inspired him to continually pursue the arts such as playing jazz starting in the fifth grade.

Growing up in this vibrant environment, Kurt developed a diversity of creative skills ranging from machining, hydro dynamics and music performance.  At 11 years old he designed components for hydroplanes and began inventing products.  Now with over 90 patents and dozens of international awards to his name, Kurt continues to innovate by balancing the fine line between design and functionality. Kurt has also independently designed and licensed a line of bicycle components, fitness products and LED lighting in addition to his work in the consumer electronics space.
Kurt attended the University of Washington and has a BS in Industrial Design.  Recently he graduated from Gemological Institute of America as a CS Gemologist.

Jurjen Amsterdam, Category Manager Home Electronics 

Jurjen has held the title of Category Manager Home Electronics EMEA for Harman Consumer International since 2009. He started at the Dutch sales office of Harman Consumer Holland in February 1996, working in Sales Order Administration. In the four years that followed Jurjen held several marketing functions including sales promoter and marketing manager.

Jurjen moved to Harman’s European head office in France in April 2000 to take the role of marketing manager Harman Kardon, and was responsible for the entire marketing mix in Europe. He became Harman Kardon Brand Director in 2005 to help set the worldwide product and marketing strategy of Harman Kardon home electronics.

Daniel Ashcraft, President and Chief Design Officer, Ashcraft Design

Daniel Ashcraft is President and Chief Design Officer of Ashcraft Design, a multidiscipline product design consultancy. The Los Angeles based firm has executed branded product design languages for a range of international clients, that include, Harman Kardon, JBL, Seagate, Qualcomm, Nike and Mitsubishi.
Ashcraft’s unique contribution to design has been recognized by a variety of publications, institutions and awards, including Industrial Design Society of America, Design Excellence Awards, ID Magazine, Germany’s Red Dot and iF Product Design Awards, Communication Arts and Art Directors Club of New York.
An educator, Ashcraft has taught at Art Center of Design and lectured at UCLA.