Meet the Harman Luxury Audio Team
Name: Peter Kuell Position/Job Title: Senior Principal Engineer With Harman Since: July 2017 (Arcam June 2006)
Welcome to our new newsletter feature, Meet The Harman Luxury Team. Our goal is, quite simply, for you to get to know us better. Each month we’ll be featuring a different member of the team. It’s no coincidence, however, that our inaugural edition of this article features Peter Kuell. June 2020 will mark Peter’s 14 year anniversary with Harman (2006-2017 Arcam, 2017 – current Harman) and his years of meritorious service have recently earned him a promotion to Senior Principal Engineer. Please join us in congratulating Peter on this well-earned achievement.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
I am responsible for the Arcam products’ hardware and software. This involves working with the engineering team, project management team and the supplier to get products from product concept to mass production. My daily tasks vary based on the specific project that I am working on, but most often include the following:
What did you study in school? Did you always imagine yourself doing something like what you’re doing now or did the fates just take you in that direction?
I studied Electronic and Broadcast Engineering at University.
I always wanted to be an engineer, like my father. He was a mechanical engineer and spent most of his time at the lathe or drill press, but I didn’t fancy getting dirty and covered in swarf every day.
I was interested in computers and electronics. I learned BASIC programming on my Spectrum and basic electronics with a Johnny Ball kit that I received at Christmas one year. I used that kit to make a rudimentary AM radio. So, based purely on the fact I didn’t want dirty hands and the success I had with my Johnny Ball kit, I picked electronic engineering as my degree. I didn’t really have a career plan in mind at the time, but I was hopeful I would wind up working with electronics.
How did your career path lead you to Harman?
After University, I began work as a design engineer for a company that made broadcast video equipment. My job involved designing the hardware and software for the equipment. Because it was a tiny company, I also got involved with building the PCBs, writing manuals, parts procurement and building the final products. Six years later, I started working as a junior hardware engineer at Arcam. Since joining Arcam, the team and I have worked on dozens of amplifiers, DACs, disc players and several generations of AVRs. Over the past 14 years since I started working at Arcam, I have progressed from junior engineer to senior engineer and now to a principal engineer, managing the Arcam development team.
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
There is no substitute for good engineering practices.
Any other advice you would share with people just starting out in this industry?
Always be mindful that someone is spending his or her own hard-earned money on the product you are working on. If you wouldn’t be happy spending your own money on it, then you need to do a better job.
On to more questions about you the person rather than you the worker...
What are you most proud of in your life?
That people choose to spend their own money on something I have designed or worked on.
When did you realize you had a passion for music or audio? Was there any one band, song, or movie that did it for you?
The first time I really got interested in quality audio (rather than just how loud it was!) was at the London to Brighton Mini run. There was a Mini there playing Injected with a Poison by Praga Kahn (it was the 1990s!). It was ridiculously loud, but it wasn’t distorting at all (unlike the dubious Goodmans kit in my Mini). I promptly ditched all the existing kits and spent half my student loan at the local car audio specialists on a couple of decent amps, subs and speakers. It sounded better than my home stereo at the time. It goes without saying my next student loan went toward my home system which continues to get upgraded, now with some of the products that I helped create and has been upgraded in various ways over the years.
The first track I always play on a new system is "Poison" by The Prodigy.
What kind of gear are you rocking at home these days?
An Arcam Solo Movie surround setup in the living room and a JBL charge in my home-office.
What current technology impresses you the most?
The speech recognition in smart home devices never ceases to amaze me. To see how much it has improved over the last 5 years is impressive.
Favorite music genre?
Drum and Bass.
The desert island question, of course. If you were marooned for eternity & could listen to only 3 albums, what would they be?
Stanton Warriors – The Warriors
The Prodigy – Music for a Jilted Generation
Chase and Status – Tribe
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself.
I believe Genesis was better with Phil Collins as a front man.